First of all we are talking about Quality SEO Services not the cheap ones. Of course, not all SEO is expensive, but that only means with cheap services you don’t get proper SEO at all.
Some SEO clients actually get nothing in return, literally. Others get an SEO service that enters your website and a few keywords into an automated program that simply churns out links all over the Internet. Your site may rank for a week or two and then it drops all the way down to page 20. Others charge cheap fees because they outsource their services to even cheaper and crappier services overseas.
So a proper SEO campaign will cost money, for the following reasons:
First it will start with a meeting to discuss your goals, and then setting up your account. All these will take a bit of time. Analytics and webmaster tools are set up, and your website is also backed up. A monthly schedule is also set, so you know precisely what’s being done. Your website is then audited Everything is checked—every link, plugin, and feature is tested to make sure that they all work appropriately. Then every technical aspect of your site is inspected to see that Google will have no problems analyzing your website content.
The audit alone can take several days. Details such as web page titles and meta tags are inspected. Your website speed is also evaluated, along with the navigation and site structure.
The quality of your backlinks will be checked too, because low-quality backlinks (from unpopular sites or websites totally unconnected to your niche) can hurt your rankings. Even your hosting service provider will be assessed, because if your site constantly falls over or is always subjected to hacking then the best SEO efforts in the world won’t matter at all.
Following this audit, a report is generated and another meeting is set up to discuss the results
Research will then be done regarding the right keywords to target. While you as a client can and should make keyword suggestions, these suggestions are tested and analyzed to see if they are actually used by your potential customers. Then the SEO pros will also check the competition’s demand for those keywords too. If all your competitors are also targeting the very same keywords, then it will be more difficult to rank highly for those words and phrases. So your SEO professional will suggest alternatives based on the research and analysis they’ve done in your niche. They will then start building links for your site, while checking the links that your largest competitors have and try to replicate them.
That’s just the start, mind you. SEO takes a while, and as time passes you need to determine which methods work so you can tweak your strategy. And if your SEO pros offer complete services, they may offer content creation as well, and that’s expensive too. Since your competitors are likely using SEO professionals, that only means you need to hire a pretty good SEO firm if you want to see actual improvements in your Google ranking.
How to Save a Struggling Content-Led Link Building Campaign
Poor link acquisition isn’t always the result of a poor concept; it can be caused by any number of factors ranging from external events in the news to not getting the hook in your outreach email quite right.
Maintaining a flow of relevant, authoritative link building is an ongoing struggle for marketers. Long gone are the days where links could be built on discussion forums and comment sections to flood links building back to your site. Now, getting link building that Google will trust has become harder than ever. If you want to rank in the top spots, a high-quality back link building profile is crucial. However, one tactic that has helped to redefine link building, more than anything else, is content marketing.
Too many campaigns are regarded as a “flop” before every effort has been made to secure links and coverage but what must be remembered is that link building is tough. Link building from top-tier publications is even tougher.
It’s rare that campaigns go viral overnight. Many never do and that’s quite alright.
You’ve just got to be prepared to put in the work; change your strategy and keep pushing for results.
If you’re able to relate to this and are looking for ways to turn a poor performing campaign into a great performing one, it’s time to:
Change your focus.
Re-evaluate your approach and processes.
Map out a strategy to save the campaign.
1. Make It Easy for Journalists to Cover Your Content
One thing you must always remember when taking a PR-led approach to link building is that journalists are busy people.
They’re looking to cover the stories they think their audience will love – but are often pushed for time and aren’t able to spend hours going back and forwards with you for further information.
Take a look at your campaign asset and initial outreach email and ask yourself how easy it would be for a publisher to cover without any further communication with you at all.
There’s a good chance you’ll realize that it would be far harder than you first thought.
It’s easily done, especially when you know your campaign inside out, but you need to make sure that you aren’t putting up barriers which could see a journalist move onto something else.
Think about what’s commonly asked for when writing an article: images, quotes, data sources. The list goes on.
Don’t make it so that journalists have to work hard to get what they need.
If you’ve struggled to gain traction on your campaign and haven’t supplied supporting assets, take the time to gather:
A series of quotes from a senior figure in the business.
A selection of images (including stills which can be used if you’re promoting an interactive asset).
A data sheet containing any calculations and raw data.
In many cases, this won’t all be used. However, the easier you make it for a journalist to cover your campaign, the stronger the results.
This becomes even more important if you’re promoting a campaign across different time zones when it could be the next day before you’re in a position to respond to a journalist’s question but they’re ready to write and publish today.
2. Find New Headlines in Your Campaign
Did you pitch headlines to journalists during your first round of outreach? Or simply share what it was that you’d created?
If not, you’re missing a trick and, likely, a heap of coverage and links.
You see, it’s all too easy to send outreach emails which do nothing other than say, “we’ve launched this campaign… what do you think?”
It’s lazy and it does no one any favors.
It all comes back to making a journalists job as easy as possible, while also getting them excited about your campaign.
As an example, here’s a campaign I launched last year. A simple concept which earned links from more than 100 domains, however, it’s a great example of the use of headlines vs statements.
The campaign looked at the most hashtagged sneakers on Instagram, and could quite easily have been pitched out as:
“The Most Hashtagged Sneakers On Instagram [Infographic]”
Does that get you excited about the campaign and the data? Probably not!
But what about:
“Adidas NMD Revealed As The World’s Most Instagrammable Sneaker…”
“You’ll Be Surprised By The World’s Most Instagrammed Sneakers…”
See the difference?
Journalists don’t care about formats. They, quite honestly, aren’t fussed whether you’ve designed an infographic, developed an interactive asset, or even launched a game.
Journalists cover stories, not content.
When it comes to saving a struggling campaign, you often need to back to the first phase and work out what your headlines are and stick to them.
Don’t be tempted to try and sell in five different stories from a single asset in one go. It’ll get confusing.
Choose your main headline and run with it, understanding what makes it stand out and of interest to a journalist’s audience.
3. Follow Up Your Original Outreach Emails
The industry often seems divided on this, however, you need to ensure you’re always following up on outreach emails where you’ve had no response or coverage.
As already mentioned, journalists are busy people and it’s not uncommon for original pitches to be missed.
If you’re tracking opens and clicks (recommendations here are BuzzStream, Mixmax or Yesware), you’ll already have a good indication regarding the activity.
However, follow-ups are an opportunity for you to give a gentle reminder on the pitch, offer further insight or answer any questions (this is a good time to send additional assets including quotes and the like as mentioned above).
4. Compile a New List of Journalists
How comprehensive was your outreach prospect list when you first pitched out the campaign?
One of the most common mistakes made when pitching stories to journalists is going either too niche or too wide.
The best practice here is to be able to justify exactly why you’re sending to each of the contacts.
Don’t waste time by sending to those who covered a tangentially related topic three years ago. That’s just embarrassing and shows you haven’t done your research.
It’s also a bad idea to simply pull down contacts from a media database without manually verifying the topics they cover on a daily basis. That can leave you with contacts who wouldn’t be interested in the content you’re sending.
If you’re struggling to gain traction on a campaign, go back and revisit your outreach list.
If you originally pitched the campaign largely to top-tier media, consider stepping back a little and compile a list of contacts from second-tier publications or niche sites within your industry.
Take a wider approach, yet one where the prospects are all still highly targeted in so much as you’re able to justify why each is being pitched.
On the other hand, don’t be afraid to pitch a campaign to multiple journalists at a publication. Different journalists will have different daily agenda’s and content schedules and pitching only to a single one from each can result in missed opportunities.
If you’ve been manually compiling outreach lists, consider investing in a media database such as Anewstip or Gorkana.
This can save time by providing you with a searchable database. Just make sure you manually verify contacts for relevancy.
5. Find a Fresh Hook
In some instances, a campaign underperforms simply because the timing was wrong.
It’s easy to launch a campaign without truly considering the timing and when you relaunch at a later date, you see the results you’re looking for.
Launched a travel campaign in the winter months? Ask yourself whether it was really the right time or whether there would have been a better hook as the summer approaches.
While it’s always a good idea to avoid campaigns which are hooked to a very small period of time (a sporting event, a music festival, Christmas or the like), what can work brilliantly is hooking in wider evergreen campaigns to specific events.
Spend some time checking out Days of the Year or Awareness Days to find potential events and hooks and use these to justify why you’re sending to a journalist now.
6. Rewrite Your Outreach Email
Did your original outreach email really engage journalists and sell the story?
Hopefully, you’re tracking clicks to your asset; and if you are, pay close attention to the click-through rate.
If you’re seeing worryingly low figures, there’s a good chance that your email simply didn’t capture the attention of the recipients and get them excited about your campaign.
As strange as it sounds, this isn’t always the worst scenario to be in.
If recipients have opened your email but haven’t clicked, in theory, they haven’t seen your campaign asset which gives an opportunity to totally rewrite your outreach email and re-pitch as if it were a new campaign.
Did you send a short email originally with the main concept highlighted? Try going far more in-depth and offering further details and hooks.
On the other hand, if you went in depth the first time around, there’s a chance that the main headlines and hooks got lost amongst too much information. Try a simple and to the point pitch which highlights the main single point you’re pushing.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with attaching press releases, sending a short introduction and a link to your asset, and embedding images.
There’s no one right way to conduct outreach but the more testing you can do on your own campaigns, the better your results will be.
7. Try a Different Platform
This is a simple one. If you usually only promote campaigns via email, try a new platform.
Drop a link to your campaign to targeted journalists on Twitter or pick up the phone.
No two journalists are the same. And don’t forget how many emails they’re likely receiving.
Remember the importance of following up on emails? Using a different platform is a similar concept.
You simply need to look at how you can cut through a busy inbox in many cases and get a journalist’s eyes on your campaign.
8. Test New Subject Lines
Did your original outreach emails even get opened?
Again, it’s so important that you’re tracking activity (at least opens and clicks) to inform your outreach strategy.
If you’re seeing poor open rates, there’s a good chance that your subject line simply isn’t catching the attention of a journalist.
(From our own data, a first send typically sees an open rate of around 40 percent, up from around 30 percent following six month’s worth of rigorous testing and refinement.)
Don’t be afraid to experiment here and one of the best pieces of advice is to take the headline of an early piece of coverage (assuming at least something came in) and use it as a fresh subject line.
This isn’t about tricking a journalist to open something other than what it really is. Rather, it’s about presenting your subject line in a way which makes them want to find out more.
Aside from using the headlines from other pieces of coverage, consider using key statements from your campaign rather than simply the campaign name.
Using phrases such as “Exclusive Research Reveals:” or “New Data:” can often work well, as can including shocking statistics upfront.
9. Offer an Exclusive
Journalists love to have something that others don’t; and offering an exclusive (either on the campaign or a specific dataset from within) can be a great way to kickstart traction on a poorly performing campaign.
Consider reaching out with a highly personalized approach to a small set of journalists who you’ve worked with in the past and offer an exclusive for a period, with the assurance that you’ll pause outreach until this ends.
When you’ve got a strong hook and a great campaign, it can start further links and land you that all-important first piece of top-tier coverage.
Don’t be afraid to take this route and really highlight why it’s a good fit and of potential interest to a publication’s readers.
At the end of the day, campaigns underperform for a number of different reasons. However, it’s often not because of a poor story or concept.
It takes time to build links and it’s hard work. But by taking the time to re-evaluate processes and approaches, poorly campaigns can be turned around and KPIs achieved.
You often just need to change your tactics, try something different, or re-think your approach.
How to Align Your Content & Social Media Efforts for Link Building Success
Link building (also known as link–building and linkbuilding) is the practice of promoting your website to other website owners with the primary goal of securing a link (hyperlink) on their site to your page. What is it good for? Absolutely everything.
But, seriously. Generating high-quality links to your website is not only valuable to build authority, it also helps:
Drive referral traffic.
Increase brand visibility.
Reach new audiences.
While the many benefits of link building are clear, SEO professionals are challenged to select the tactics that will have the biggest impact.
It might seem overwhelming. There are so many potential strategies to execute, including:
For this reason, aligning content and social media efforts with your link building initiatives is crucial. In this article, I’ll be providing a variety of tactics to do just that.
Creating Link-Worthy Content
Let’s start with the first part of generating authoritative backlinks to your site – producing high-quality content.
It’s important that content and link building efforts are aligned from the very start, before the content creation process even begins.
Not only will this ensure that you’re creating the write type of content, but it will also help you reach and engage key targets when possible, whether that includes specific influencers, industry publications or other third-party websites.
When it comes to creating valuable and link-worthy content, here are some of the tactics that I’ve found to be successful.
Create content around industry influencers or experts by sharing their unique insights.
This will offer valuable content to your readers, further position you as a thought leader in the space, and encourage these influencers/experts to share the asset with their highly targeted audiences.
This content could include:
Lists of predictions or trends.
Get creative based on the type of content that you know your audiences is most receptive too.
The best place to start with identifying influencers? Your link building targets.
If you don’t already have a list established, use FollowerWonk to determine credible profiles that are related to the topic.
For example, if you are writing a piece about The Top Artificial Intelligence Predictions for 2019, you can use FollowerWonk to search Twitter bios that reference “artificial intelligence” or “AI”.
Then, sort by Social Authority and Followers to find the best opportunities.
Once the asset is published, be sure to reach out to the people/websites directly, and let them know that you’ve mentioned them in the article.
Depending on your relationship with them, you could even directly ask them to link to it.
No matter what industry you’re in, research is valuable, which makes it link-worthy.
What common questions are you hearing from customers or clients?
It’s likely that other people within the industry have already been asked, or will be asked, similar questions. These types of considerations should help spike ideas for research-based content assets.
People love to reference statistics that prove the value of their jobs, or research that backs initiatives that are typically more difficult to get buy-in from leadership.
Once you distribute this research across social media (and, I’ll get to that shortly), this extremely valuable asset will naturally generate links.
You should consider ways to further align this with link building initiatives from the beginning.
If you have a list of specific link targets related to the topic, be sure to share the article once it’s live. If you don’t have a list already built out, again – you can use FollowerWonk for this.
Or, BuzzSumo also allows you to search for a topic/keyword to determine profiles that are sharing similar content.
By sharing resources and tools throughout your content, you are making the piece more actionable for readers and creating the opportunity to share the asset with those you are promoting.
To improve your chances of acquiring a link, it’s important to put yourself in the shoes of both your blog subscribers and link building targets.
What would make this asset more valuable for readers?
An outline of not only tactics, but also:
The specific tools they can use.
How they can use the tools.
Insights on what other experts have to say.
Other resources and guides around the topic.
Bonus: Each of these elements also presents the opportunity to reach out to the sites mentioned, and encourage them to share the asset and link to it.
What would make this asset link-worthy for the targets mentioned?
If you’re referencing a tool, provide an explanation of what exactly it is, why it’s so helpful, key features, how they can use the tool, and screenshots of what the tools look like.
If your content includes insights or other resources/guides, call out why the guide is unique, what it has to offer, and what makes the resource so credible.
OK, so you’ve created all of this amazing content. I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but that’s really only half the battle. Now, you need to promote it appropriately and strategically.
One of the most effective ways to do this is via social media.
Here are some specific ways you can use social media to support your link building campaigns.
How you’re sharing content across social media can be a make or break when it comes to link building.
With the number of automated messages going out on social media, you need to figure out a way to stand out to your targets.
My advice is to share individualized, customized and engaging messages – always.
For example, instead of tagging every person/website in one tweet, send out individual tweets that are engaging and won’t come off as automated.
Use their name, say something that shows you know them, consider using custom graphics, or quoting them in separate social updates.
It’s important that you reach out to the people and websites mentioned in your content directly, whether via direct message on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or email.
Automated messages also won’t cut it when it comes to direct outreach. Here, it’s especially important to create personalized messages that stand out to your targets.
In addition to reaching out directly to those mentioned in the asset, look for other opportunities to distribute across the community.
Leverage some of the tools mentioned above (FollowerWonk and BuzzSumo) to figure out who has shared your content in the past, and may be interested in the topic at hand.
Or, aim to turn sharers into linkers by analyzing the users who have shared your asset on social media that may be an applicable link building opportunity.
You can even set up Google Alerts using related keywords to determine specific articles or websites that would benefit from linking to the asset.
Now that you’ve created this extremely link-worthy asset, make sure it gets in front of your key targets.
There are numerous targeting options that could be successful here; however, the most refined approach would be to create Tailored Audiences using the list of link building targets that you’ve gathered and/or those mentioned in the article.
You can target those specific profiles, as well as their followers.
Integrating and aligning your link building tactics with content marketing and social media efforts can help move the needle. All this while making your digital marketing campaigns more efficient.
Remember, high-quality content is essential, especially when your goal is to build links back to a website.
Distributing engaging and personalized messages on social media is also key. These principles should remain at the foundation of your digital marketing strategy.
Hopefully this article has given you some actionable ways to align your content and social media efforts, in order to drive link building success.
Cliched as the phrase is, the idea that we can build links or gain coverage without having something valuable to say is, frankly, preposterous.
But while many conferences and articles over the past couple of years have instilled the values of great content, few have talked practically about what that looks like – or how we can use it to supercharge our content promotion efforts, too.
Here are six kick-ass content strategies you can incorporate into your strategy for optimal off-page success.
1. Use What You’ve Got
Whether you’re working agency side or in-house, knowing what assets you have at your disposal can reveal a goldmine of digital PR and link building opportunities, just waiting to be exploited.
It’s well worth taking the time to dig into what already exists, and to speak to the people around the business who are willing to be figureheads and to comment on issues or topics that can help you gain features.
Use Hobbies & Unique Interests – Content Strategies
Got a marketing manager who loves jumping out of airplanes? You need to know about it!
This knowledge can lead to some fantastic comment (and link) opportunities for minimal effort. Take this example here:
Become the Expert
If you/your client can identify an area in which they want to be thought leaders, all the better. Create a profile as an “expert” and you’ll be able to respond to journalist requests and put yourself/your client forward when opportunities arise.
In this example, the client was keen to be known as a leader in manufacturing and by keeping a calendar which showed when key manufacturing data and events would take place, it was possible to get them featured by the BBC and a range of other linking publications:
Mine Existing Data Sources
Data is still an incredibly powerful source of new content and PR hooks.
You (or your client) may hold more data than you realize.
If you have internal data sources – anything from customer numbers to data that forms part of your product offering – you can use it to craft a story or content campaign that is both newsworthy and compelling.
In this example, the company’s product is data, so using that data overlaid with a topic news story (football in the UK) led to a creative content piece that attracted traffic, links and news features:
2. Borrow from Others
As creatives, we should be able to make content that is engaging, compelling and that can attract links, no matter what industry or vertical we’re working in.
One way to achieve this is to borrow from others.
Now, before we get into a duplicate content discussion, let’s be clear: this is about using publicly available data and other marketing collateral, but giving it a new spin.
Office for National Statistics
Check out the Office for National Statistics for UK based data that’s freely available and accessible to anyone. The reality is that the majority of this data goes untapped, leaving a huge opportunity for you to capitalize on the information therein and to use it in your own campaigns.
When a small business website wanted to build links but lacked information to use internally, they found a table of information within a 136-page government report that would be of great interest to their audience. This data, which showed where investments into small businesses had been made around the country, was visualized in a simple graphic and achieved visits and links from their target publications:
Wikipedia can also be a goldmine of new content and PR hooks. That, too, is publicly available – and free!
In this example, data on Dragons’ Den investments taken from Wikipedia was visualized in an infographic and news stories based on that data were used to gain a wide range of new links and placements around industry press and business publications:
Don’t Neglect Offline Marketing
In today’s digital world, it can be easy for us to forget that marketing exists beyond the realms of our laptops and internet devices. In fact, it’s that offline marketing that can inspire online campaigns – helping you to gain more links and coverage, and supporting the success of the campaign overall.
By creating a cohesive online/offline marketing plan, you may find opportunities to integrate the two.
In the example below, an offline dinosaur exhibit inspired an online dinosaur drawing competition that gained links, features, and some cute pictures from kids of all ages!
3. Hack the Press
This tactic is all about understanding what the press are looking for, and giving it to them!
PR hacking is all about understanding what content travels well and what journalists are likely to appreciate.
There are certain content formats that are always well received, and we can make use of those in our strategies for coverage opportunities.
Be Ready to Comment on Topical (and Non-topical) Stories
Journalists love to give a human angle, and comments are a great way for them to do this.
If you know that something is coming up that will be relevant to your industry, preparing a comment in advance will mean you can jump straight on it as soon as the story breaks.
You can make this process even easier by planning a PR calendar and noting down anything that could be a hook, including new data releases, political updates or even national and international awareness days.
What’s Been Covered Once Will Be Covered Again
It’s important to recognize the stories or content topics that work – and build on them.
It’s far too common that an idea be struck down simply because someone else has done it already.
Try to think “have they done it as well as they could have done?” and, more importantly, “could I do it better?”
If a story has performed well in terms of reach and engagement, it’s more likely the journalist will use something similar again. You can boost this by using tools like BuzzSumo to show the journalist how well the story traveled last time, and therefore to incentivize them to use your take on it.
Journalists Love Data
If we’re talking about getting PR coverage, there are few better tools at your disposal than data.
We’ve already touched on how valuable an asset data can be, but applying it to a news story and presenting it to the journalist to use in a visually appealing way can reap huge rewards.
Be aware of trending topics and be ready to provide data you have if it’s relevant and of genuine value.
This also means being prepared where possible. If you know a story will be breaking, look for opportunities to gather the data in advance so you’re ready to pounce.
4. Make News From Nothing
The idea of “making news from nothing” is all about being able to spot things that have the potential to be topical or sharable, and hooking onto it in a new and creative way.
A New Angle
Tapping into an existing news story can be an easy win when it comes to PR coverage and links. By spotting what’s being talked about in your niche or industry, you can create something new by simply identifying a unique angle.
When we saw that Nottingham’s house prices were lower than many others in the UK, we quickly pulled together comments from Nottingham business owners to talk about the effect house prices have on attracting new talent to the area. It was an angle that hadn’t been covered before, and it meant new links and features for our clients, by creating news from nothing.
This example was inspired by something that was already happening.
But what if there’s nothing currently happening that you can use? Or you want to tell a different story?
Brand New Content
This is where you can really affect the news, by creating stories that align with what you want to tell.
For example, when we worked on a survey based campaign for our client, every single question we asked as part of our survey had a clear PR story in mind (that would be a story no matter which way people answered) and the result was 48 separate press releases and more than 100 mentions and links from around the web.
When attempting to create news from nothing, consider the story you want to tell and how best to get to that point.
Surveys are still a great source of news from nothing. We recommend tools including YouGov, Google Surveys, and even forums like Reddit as a source for inspiration and content.
5. Find Content in Forums
Forums, as noted already, are a great source of inspiration. People love to talk, and when you can tap into those conversations, you have the potential to create highly sharable, great content.
Ask Reddit is one place we love to look for new content ideas.
The questions people ask are sometimes hilarious, sometimes insightful, sometimes newsworthy in their own right.
You might create content based on what people are already asking or, if need be, create your own questions and gather feedback that way.
Subreddits are also valuable when seeking topic-specific feedback.
Social listening is also worth investing some time in, especially if social reach is one of your KPIs.
We recently started using BuzzSumo to find content that’s already traveling well. There are free versions that will give you access to this information.
We also like to use Hootsuite, where mining for PR opportunities can be done in various ways. (We’ve also heard good things about Crimson Hexagon, though we’ve yet to try it ourselves.)
What you’re looking for on social media is topics that are interesting to people, and that are being shared. If you can identify the influencers in that niche, you may choose to reach out to those people for further insight, or try to build relationships with them as a means of spreading your content once it’s live.
6. Multiply Your Content
The final strategy is more of a way of thinking about your content. It’s about getting as much “bang for your buck” as possible.
When we invest in creating content, we want to get as much interaction and engagement as possible. One way is to create one piece, that is itself highly sharable and can gain links through a solid outreach strategy.
Another way is to consider how we can “multiply” that content. That could be through finding different angles.
When we conducted a survey with our client, each respondent was asked to give their business size, location, and industry, which means every story could be spun and segmented by those metrics.
Multiplication could also come through the addition of new content over time.
For example, when our client conducted research to prove the effects of hard water on skin conditions, we were able to gain widespread coverage of the story itself. When it came to multiplication, we considered all the elements of the study and now have a plan in place to create supplementary content that will enable us to outreach again with new angles on the story.
There are various campaigns which have created two clear “bites at the cherry” through their design.
One such piece, created for Halfords by Branded3, asked users to complete a set of questions pertaining to their driving abilities. This was the only thing they promoted in stage one, where the survey in itself was enough to gain coverage and engagement. With the survey completed, they then had the data generated to use to create more stories and coverage in stage two of their promotion.
The Secret to Great Content
So, what’s the secret to great content?
We’ll never know for sure.
It may sound fluffy, but great content is in the eye of the beholder. That’s why a really solid understanding of your target (the audience who consumes the content and the publications that feature it) is so essential to your campaign’s success.
By considering these six content strategies, you’ll be well on your way to creating content that attracts, engages, and converts.
link building is understanding what people want and showing them where to get it. Content is about giving users what they want, what they need and in some cases teaching users how to achieve their aspirations. Both are focused on users, as is Google when they rank a web page.
the process of encouraging links can improve when it’s done together with the content side of a business. I hesitate to call it link building because it’s not really building links in the way it’s commonly thought of.
The reason why content creation and link acquisition should coordinate with each other is because of how tightly Google matches the context between the page where a link is created and the page that the link is pointing to and the search query a searcher is making.
I believe those three matching contexts helps a page rank better.
A link graph is the map of the web, which can be organized by topic and/or niche. The ideal link, in my opinion is from a site that occupies a topically relevant part of the link graph. With enough links, a single page might be able to occupy a topically relevant position in that kind of link graph.
Of course, the page on which the link originates has to be on a topically relevant. And that should ideally exist on a site that is topically relevant. And that site should ideally belong to a topically relevant branch of the link graph.
The importance of the context of a link and and the context of the linked page and how it matches to the intent of a user making the query is important because it may predict a more successful outcome.
For example, during the course of link building I’ve noticed that certain topics are trending and that sites are beginning to link to content that is about that topic.
This screenshot of a Google trends report for the phrase “kombucha”
shows how at a certain point the topic took off. That takeoff point is where users and websites needed more content on the topic.
That’s when I turn to the content side and ask for content about a certain topic. I know that if we produce content on a certain topic we have a higher likelihood of obtaining links for content about that topic.
As someone involved in acquiring links, I am in a position to see that the sites I want links from are talking about a certain topic and that they are linking to other pages that talk about that topic.
Coordinating between the link building side that is looking at sites and the content side that’s creating content can help make a site become more popular.
The link building side may have insight about content topics that the content side might not be aware of.
The content side can give advance notice to the link building side about content that is under development. Advanced notice can put the link building side on alert to create an outreach plan to help promote the upcoming content.
Seems to me that the typical content and site creation part of a business happens in isolation from the link building part. The link building part is treated as separate. But in my opinion, for some websites, a better outcome will happen if the link building side is an informed partner from the beginning.
On a certain level, link building is understanding what people want and showing them where to get it.
Content is about giving users what they want, what they need and in some cases teaching users how to achieve their aspirations.
Both are focused on users, as is Google when they rank a web page. So if your content and link acquisition is aligned with the users needs, then your page is going to have what users are looking for and Google will find it because of the meaningful and on topic links to those pages.
For that reason, because of how web pages are ranked, link building can’t rightly be considered an activity that happens independently of the content production, PR, site design and social side of a business.
The relationship between the content and social side is a good model of how the content and link building side should cooperate.
And you know, it’s not just links that matter. A quality link building initiative can focus on non-link projects that result in building awareness among important demographic audiences.
A project that puts your message in front of 20,000 potential customers is every bit as good as a link. In the long run, these kinds of projects result in a demand to see your site in the search results. Google search is about showing users pages that meet their needs.
A section of Google’s Search Quality Raters Guidelines is called:
Part 3: Needs Met Rating Guideline 13.0 Rating Using the Needs Met Scale
The “fully meets” rating level, the highest rating, is described as:
“All or almost all mobile users would be immediately and fully satisfied by
the result and would not need to view other results to satisfy their need.”
What users need is constantly changing. The link building side can help identify those trends and keep the content side on top of user and website needs.
Coordinating the link building (and awareness building) with the content side may be a useful approach to creating a website that satisfies users and because of that may rank better since it is better positioned to meet user’s needs.
4 Tips for Creating a Successful Link Building Strategy
Nowadays, many businesses leverage search engine optimization (SEO) to boost their credibility, visibility and trustworthiness online. With the online market being so highly competitive and oversaturated, it’s important for companies to have a reliable way to stand out and become more visible. One of the best ways to do that is through SEO. That being said, one of the major activities for SEO is link building. Efficient link building helps you build relevancy as an industry expert.
1. Know your target audience well
Understanding your target audience is the key to having a successful link building strategy. The main reason is that you must craft links and content that is in accordance with your audiences’ preferences and likings. Otherwise, you’re simply wasting time on building irrelevant links that won’t yield any interest or drive more traffic to your website for that matter.
Therefore, you should conduct some thorough market research and find out as much as you can about your audience. For instance, who they are, what their interests are, what their needs and expectations are, as well as what their core demographics are. That will tell you more about what type of content to create for both your audience and for your link building campaign.
2. Seek out relevant sources for your links
When creating quality backlinks, it’s important to do so on credible and reputable sources. The main reason is that the more credibility and domain authority your sources have, the more credibility you gain in return. Not only that, but you must also target sources, such as websites and blogs your target audience visits or follows.
That way, the links you build on those sources will be more efficient and will engage your audience and help you build awareness. A good way to start would be to identify good guest posting sources. By becoming a contributor on relevant blogs, you ensure that your audience notices and shows interest in you. In addition, you’re positioning yourself as an expert, which will help you build trust with your audience.
3. Focus on creating amazing content
As you’ve may already heard before, content is considered king in the marketing world. There’s a really good reason for that. Content is the most efficient in driving customer engagement, interest, as well as in inspiring loyalty in your audience. However, in order for your content to be as powerful as you need it to be, it has to be top quality and highly relevant to your audience. If you are unable to curate great content, you need a content marketing agency that will guide your decisions. Otherwise, your content won’t be able to engage your audience no matter how credible the source of your guest post may be and thus your backlinks won’t be able to drive the necessary results.
Therefore, you must focus on creating amazing content and matching it with the sources you plan on publishing it on. That way you’ll ensure that your audience has an interest in your content and that they’ll be willing to check it out. Just don’t forget to include backlinks to your website and other relevant content pieces that may interest your audience.
4. Start reaching out
When considering sources for your guest post, you must understand that it’s not a one-way street. While some web owners or bloggers may accept your articles with no strings attached, there are those with whom you must establish relations first, in order to get them to accept and publish your posts. Those are usually more reputable bloggers, influencers and website owners. That’s why you must start reaching out to them before you kick off your link building campaign.
For example, make sure you follow them on social media and that you regularly comment and like their pages, articles, comments and other things. Also, share their content on your own social media pages, blog and website. That way, you can build a good relationship with them, so that they will be more willing to accept your posts once you ask them to do so.
Link building is essential for both your SEO and for your exposure online. That’s why it’s important to plan ahead and develop a good strategy for your links. If done correctly, link building can improve your web traffic, audiences’ engagement, reputation and online visibility among other things. Not only that, but having as many quality backlinks as possible will also vastly increase your rankings with the search engines.
4 Tips for a Successful Content Strategy
Many businesses, especially small businesses, struggle to keep their content marketing strategy on track. With constantly changing trends in social media, influencer marketing and other media, it can be hard just to determine a strategy, let alone keep it up to date. However, as marketing evolves into a targeted, data-centric field, it’s more important than ever to ensure that your content has a strong presence.
Try these tips to help your content strategy succeed.
1. Use an editorial calendar
Whether you type it up in a spreadsheet or use a plug-in for your CMS, a good editorial calendar can focus your content goals and help you achieve them. Keep a list of topics along with the best medium for delivering the content. Good content strategies will diversify and include multiple formats, such as infographics, videos, social media campaigns, blogs, press releases and more. Use the editorial calendar to plan out when you want content posted, but avoid focusing on too many details. Topics can be moved around to suit trends in your industry, and formats can be changed or combined if it works best for the piece.
2. Be trendy
Know what’s going on in your industry, and share this knowledge with your audience through new formats. Try a webinar or go live on Facebook. Create a quiz or contest. Don’t be afraid to fail at something new. Not every medium will work for your audience, but you can learn a lot from the campaigns that don’t work. If you see a new challenge that matches your brand voice, make it a priority to try that next. You never know which piece of content will go viral.
3. Invest in your content creators
Doing everything yourself is incredibly difficult, so it’s important to have a good team backing you up. Having a strong team will allow the work flow to continue even if one person is out and will help to create a more cohesive voice throughout your content. Building a rapport with your content creators will ensure they understand both your brand voice and goals, whether they are internal or external. The more invested they are in the company, the better the content will be. Find people who create content that best showcases your brand and be willing to listen to their ideas.
4. Analyze everything
With so much data now available, content marketers have unlimited numbers to help them determine what’s working and what’s not. Keep track of when content is posted; send reminders to customers that may have missed it at a different time and see which does better. Try different newsletter styles to see if one has a better open rate. Look over your social media posts and engagement rates to develop a strategy for each platform tailored to that audience. Adjust your strategy often to keep it running smoothly.
Having a good content strategy is essential for every business. By constantly evaluating that strategy, you’ll have a better chance of meeting those goals and staying on track.
There are a number of statistics out there around the fear of public speaking but a study done in 2017 put the number around 65 percent. Think about that – for every 10 people you know, at least 6 of them are afraid to speak in public. Think about that – for every 10 people you know, at least 6 of them are afraid to speak in public.
The problem is, that fear can lead to issues in our careers. Fear of public speaking can lead to 10 percent lower wages and decrease your chance of being promoted to management.
For anyone in marketing, and particularly search, the ability to communicate is a big deal. From internal presentations to calls with clients or prospects, the ability to communicate is imperative to our success.
All freshman were required to take a public speaking seminar. Even though I was pumped to get up there and regale everyone with tales of my life, my friends were freaking out.
“If a disaster happens, something explodes or I trip and fall, I’ll have more attention from the audience than I probably had 30 seconds before. And if I don’t care that much about my disaster, I can use the attention I’ve earned to do something good with it – whatever I say next, they are sure to remember… If you’d like to be good at something, the first thing to go out the window is the notion of perfection.”
You are probably going to mess up. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said the wrong thing, misspelled something on a report, or in one case, set incorrect timings on my SearchLove presentation. Whoops!
Don’t expect perfection. Know that those around you don’t expect perfection either.
One of the things we teach our team when it comes to communication is it’s OK to say you don’t know.
If we are on a client call and someone doesn’t know the answer to a question, that’s OK. Perhaps someone else can help – but if not, we simply say we’ll get back to them ASAP.
The fear of public speaking is often tied to the fear of failure. As Berkun noted, the key is to keep going and don’t let that fear of failure get in the way of being good.
2. Practice. Practice. Practice.
I was walking the hallways of MozCon this past July and I came across Wil Reynolds, headphones in, pacing the hallway, as animated as ever. His session was coming up and he was rehearsing his presentation.
Now, if you’ve ever seen him speak, you know he is one of the best out there. What does that tell us? If Reynolds has to practice, then so do we.
Whether you are giving a presentation in a conference room or a conference center, take the time to get it right. Outline what it is you want to say, read your slides out loud, and go over it.
Now, there are people out there who will tell you there’s such a thing as too much practice, and I don’t disagree (this is actually a pretty good article). That being said, knowing your material is never a bad thing.
Want to take practice to the next level?
Here are a few other ways to make the most of your practice sessions:
Record Yourself on Video
Yes, I realize that none of us like the sound of our voice or the way we look on camera but too bad. That’s what you sound like and that’s what you look like.
Instead, focus on the presentation itself.
Is what’s being said clear? Were there any stumbles? What should you change?
Practice with a Friend or Colleague
Before a recent presentation, I sat down with a fellow speaker and we each went through our decks.
He caught a few things I hadn’t and I was able to adjust my messaging ahead of my talk.
Know Your Environment
If you are going to be giving a presentation in a large conference room with 25 people and an echoing phone, then practice as if you are in a large conference room with 25 people and an echoing phone.
Heck, run a practice session in the room if possible. The same thing applies to speaking on a stage.
While you may not be able to practice on an actual stage, you should practice standing up. It’ll give you a better feel for your body language and any hand motions you may use.
3. Ask for Feedback
I’ll be the first to admit that feedback can hurt. After all, no one wants to be told what they aren’t good at.
The thing is, we aren’t going to get better living in a world where everyone tells us how amazing we are. I love when conferences send feedback after shows. It tells me where I can improve and what I should change for the next time.
But how do we get feedback in our daily lives, when we aren’t on a stage or at an event?
One of the things we do in our organization is to take notes during presentations. For example, when an account manager is reviewing a presentation, I note what they are doing well and what they can improve. When the meeting is over, we then go through the specific points.
Improving communication in real-time is difficult but the opportunity is there if you ask for it.
4. Turn to the Pros
A few days ago, my colleagues alerted me to the At&T “Just OK is Not OK” campaign. First off, the commercials are pretty funny and second, the broader point being, we don’t want just OK – we want the best.
If you want to be a great public speaker, spend time learning from the best.
Everyone looks at TED Talks as the example for public speaking. While the speakers truly are some of the best out there, what makes it so valuable to me is the way they communicate a story in such a short amount of time.
Getting your point across and keeping an audience engaged is key to being a successful public speaker. Spend a lunch hour or two seeing how it’s done.
Improv might be the scariest thing on this list but the great thing about it is you can take one or two classes and get a feel for the skills you need to be a good speaker.
Most require no commitment and it can be a fun way to learn. Hey, if it’s good enough for Michael Scott, it’s good enough for me.
5. Do it Again. And Again.
At this point, I think we are all familiar with Gladwell’s 10,000 hours concept. Whether you believe it’s right or wrong, the idea that we can only become better at something by doing it over and over isn’t exactly shocking.
The same thing applies to public speaking. I have watched team members go from sounding like nervous nellies on phone calls to leading presentations with CEOs. I have watched in awe as fellow search colleagues grew from panelists to international keynote speakers. All of this was achieved by repetition.
If you have a bad presentation, focus on being better the next time. If you received less than stellar feedback, focus on taking that feedback and integrating it into your next presentation.
Perfection Is Impossible & That’s OK!
Despite what I may have thought my freshman year of college, I’ve come to realize that public speaking isn’t easy and certainly isn’t something most of us are born being good at. It takes practice and even the pros are likely backstage rehearsing.
Public speaking requires us to overcome our fears and be confident in what we know. Something that’s certainly easier said than done.
If you are looking to get into public speaking or improve your communication, I highly recommend relying on those around you.
Ask your boss or colleague to give you notes. Ask a friend or roommate to watch you practice. Remember, their feedback is only going to help you get better.
Most importantly, remember that perfection is impossible and if you mess up, it might just make you more interesting.
Practice Does Not Make Perfect
Good communication is never perfect, and nobody expects you to be perfect. However, putting in the requisite time to prepare will help you deliver a better speech. You may not be able to shake your nerves entirely, but you can learn to minimize them.
SEO encompasses a lot of skills and approaches. It is critical that we stay open-minded to different techniques as user and search engine behavior evolves.Skills Every Great SEO Professional Needs to Succeed.
SEO also requires adaptability and thick skin. Our industry changes, and sometimes we have to admit to clients that directory submissions, PageRank sculpting, link disavows, or other things we once recommended aren’t really the best idea anymore.
It’s about putting the client’s goals first – sometimes ahead of SEO revenue opportunities
Learning theory alone is not enough, others will say. You should hone your craft with a practice website. This might be your own blog or an affiliate site.
You can test out your newly acquired knowledge, learned from others’ experiences and ideas, without risking anyone’s livelihood. This too is solid advice.
There is nothing like getting stuck in at the deep end to put your understanding to the test.
How though do you identify where you are going wrong if you aren’t seeing growth in your “practice site”? It can be difficult to see where your gaps in knowledge are which are preventing progress.
The necessary skills of a successful SEO are wider than just the ability to make a webpage rank. We need to be able to communicate, think strategically, and understand the wider marketing landscape.
This article sets out some alternative methods of testing your existing knowledge and making you a well-rounded SEO.
You need no introduction to Reddit, if you are within the digital marketing industry you are likely already familiar with it. However, you might not be aware that it’s a great educational tool as well as a place to lose 3 hours looking at cats.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of Reddit is that there are communities for just about everything, including digital marketing.
There are some dedicated sub-reddits specifically for SEO; r/SEO, r/bigseo and r/TechSEO are popular ones. Here you can ask your questions about SEO or the impact of a recent Google announcement.
John Mueller, Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, is also known to frequent these “subs” and is very helpful in answering Redditors’ queries.
By asking a question in these forums you are inviting answers from SEOs around the world. It is instant access to professionals you may never meet otherwise.
Be warned though, there are no barriers to providing advice on Reddit. Anyone with an account can comment on a post. This means there is no way of vetting the advice you are given. That is, apart from the down-voting and corrections of other Redditors.
This brings me on to the second use of Reddit in building your SEO knowledge, answering questions yourself.
There is nothing like mustering your courage and giving your opinion, just to have someone swoop in and correct you. It can be painful, but it is also an effective way to learn.
If you have an opinion about a subject someone has raised in their post, take a risk and voice it. Accept that someone with more experience may tell you why your suggestion would not work. You can guarantee you will never forget what they said.
You may disagree with them, but that process of reasoning through your argument will strengthen your knowledge. Please don’t actually argue with them, let’s keep the SEO industry a friendly one.
You could ask them more clarifying questions, however, which will help you dig deeper into their reasoning. You may listen to their response and realize they are correct. They may save you making a serious mistake.
Posing your response as an opinion that you are asking to have sense-checked is a safer way of opening up your theory for challenge by others. It is also a better way of preventing the original poster from following your advice if it might not be right.
2. Write SEO Guides
Another way to sense-check your SEO methodology is to write guides for other people. It will help you to organize your thoughts and identify where you may be lacking detail in some areas.
You could create material for others in your team, or to publish online, and ask for feedback. This will strengthen your processes as well as expose you to new ways of working.
The key is to make sure you ask other people to try out the guides and allow them to constructively feedback on them.
The process of creating a guide means you will need to have enough knowledge of the subject that you can bring someone else through it step-by-step.
Through writing it you will likely need to research some aspects and inevitably discover other methods of achieving the final outcome.
It may lead you to discover more effective ways of carrying out your regular SEO tasks.
3. Teaching a Family Member
If you have been in SEO for a while there is a high chance you have spent at least one family gathering explaining that you don’t actually work for Google, but you do care a lot about search engines.
Use this opportunity to sharpen your SEO skills by exposing your knowledge gaps and refining your powers of communication.
When asked to explain what you do for a living you are stress-testing your understanding of the fundamentals. Teaching family or friends the basics of SEO will force you to think through what you know in a logical way.
It will highlight any gaps in your knowledge, especially if your willing subject starts asking questions that you feel unable to answer. This will give you an indication of what you need to research in more detail.
Take the question, “what is a search engine robot?”. You might be certain you know. However, explaining it to someone else could show that you are not as sure of the finer details as you thought. Understanding what a search bot really is could greatly open up your understanding of technical SEO.
If every question you struggle to answer is used as a jumping-off point for your own learning you will fill gaps in your knowledge quickly.
Teaching an industry-outsider will also help you learn how to efficiently communicate SEO to someone with little to no knowledge of it. This is a very valuable skill as we frequently need to talk about SEO to clients, stakeholders and bosses who may be only aware of it at a top-level.
It could also give you ideas of the sorts of questions a client may have, or where there are frequent misunderstandings of how search engines work.
Discuss SEO enough times with those who don’t know about it and you will soon have a multitude of analogies and illustrations at your disposal.
4. Learning from Colleagues in Related Fields
Don’t work in isolation.
Ask a colleague or acquaintance who is in a related field to give you an overview of their job. It can be a great way to dig into how their profession can impact yours.
For instance, learning more about PPC can help you understand conversion funnels. Asking a developer how code is rendered is invaluable for growing your proficiency in technical SEO.
Discussing other stakeholders’ jobs with them gives you a better idea of how SEO fits into the wider picture of a website and profitable business.
Whenever someone else’s decision impacts your SEO success ask them why they chose that course of action.
Why did the developer add that line in the robots.txt?
Why did your boss decide to lower the SEO budget in favor of display advertising?
You will learn more about other teams’ pressures, priorities, and goals. In turn, the way you form SEO strategies could become more commercially effective.
Opening yourself up to learn about other people’s jobs will improve your relationship with them, which can pay dividends in the future. It will also broaden your knowledge of the relationship between SEO and other factors that can impact it.
Organic traffic to a website is affected by a multitude of elements, some of which are controlled by your colleagues or clients. It is crucial that you understand what these are and what causes them to happen.
5. Study a Related Subject
A great way to become a more effective SEO is to study other disciplines.
For instance, learning about information retrieval and databases can help you better understand how a search engine may read, store and serve your content.
Studying psychology, sociology and political science could help you identify the driving forces that impact search behavior.
With SEO being such a vast discipline, it is understandable that you would want to dedicate the limited time you have to studying specific SEO skills and industry developments.
Think how more compelling your meta descriptions will be when you have a better idea of what motivates human decision making.
Imagine how more effective your outreach campaigns will be when you know the psychology of what causes something to “go viral.”
With such a prevalence of free and low-cost study material available online it is extremely easy to access beginner-level information in these subjects. Udemy and Alison are two online providers who offer free and low-cost courses.
You might pick up some tips that put you ahead of the competition.
6. Audit Other Websites
When you have been working on a website for a long time it can be hard to see the wood for the trees. You may be stifled by long development queues or struggling to get copy written due to internal politics.
Sometimes you need to step away from the projects you are close to and have a look at what other people are working on.
If you are aware of a website within your industry that is dominating the SERPs take a look at it in detail. Go through an audit of the website. Look to see how they have configured the site for SEO.
Through assessing someone else’s work you may discover they have handled aspects differently to how you would. It might uncover new ways of achieving results that you hadn’t previously considered.
The issue with looking at a website objectively, however, is that you don’t know what has led to the decisions about it being made.
You may notice a lack of schema markup but not know that it is being implemented through Google Tag Manager. This might be due to limitations with the development of the website.
Don’t take a successful website’s seeming SEO practices as the best way to do something, use it as a prompt for further research.
7. Learn Through Job Interviews
During SEO job interviews candidates are often asked questions to prove they have the required level of knowledge and experience in a test-like situation.
The pressure of being put on the spot and your answers judged will likely bring to the surface the areas of SEO you feel confident speaking about and those you do not. The questions themselves may prompt you to go away and study.
If you are in a situation where an interviewer asks a question that tests your knowledge of SEO, and you feel you have not answered it well, then use that as a prompt to look into the subject more.
Anyone who has interviewed candidates for SEO roles will likely have heard some interesting answers to their questions. If you are interviewing someone who is more junior than you, you may be tempted to dismiss their answer as “wrong” if it doesn’t match up with your experience.
Within SEO, however, different websites within different industries will find success through a multitude of SEO techniques. It may be that your experience of SEO success is not the same as another’s.
Take the opportunity when asking questions of an SEO candidate to delve into their reasoning for the answers they give. It will not only help you to distinguish if their experience is genuine, it may aid in highlighting other methods and routes to success.
8. Investigate Your SEO Tools
Digging into the unused features of your SEO tools may sound like a strange method of learning SEO, but it can be fruitful in expanding your knowledge.
If you notice there are reports that you never use it would be worth looking into what data they provide and begin researching its use.
Most tool providers have extensive documentation about the features they offer. This will likely lead you in the right direction of what they have been designed to achieve.
Tools will often add new features. This may be in response to an announcement by a search engine, or simply to meet market demand.
Whatever their reasoning, they obviously considered its use to be important enough to spend time developing it.
An example of Ahrefs’ new software features
Updates to tools will usually be accompanied by a lot of press releases! Read into why the new functionality has been introduced.
Understanding how the software developer intended them to be used and what they felt they are important for could open up new SEO skills for you to explore.
9. Go to Talks That You Think You’ll Find Boring
Digital marketing conferences and meet-ups are prevalent. This is great news for people wanting to learn more about our industry.
One trap that it is easy to fall into when attending these events is only going to see the talks on topics you are already interested in. This can lead you to become narrow in your focus.
Purposely go to the seminars and workshops at SEO conferences that you would normally avoid. See what new tips you can pick up in an area you don’t normally find engaging.
However, if you have had little exposure to other areas of SEO this could be highly valuable in expanding your knowledge.
If your SEO career has been very specialist so far, you may well have been missing out on the fundamentals of other areas without realizing it. This might be the case in particular where your agency or team has a particular focus, like outreach or technical SEO.
Attending talks about subjects you are less familiar with will have the added benefit of showing you what enthuses other people about that specialism.
Your perception of that field may have been highly skewed due to your own experiences. You can learn a lot by listening to others talk about the side of SEO they are passionate about.
10. Read Popular Business Books
Reading popular business books can help you learn something about business that you can apply to your own company. It will at least help you to better understand what motivates your clients or management team.
This can aid you in positioning SEO activity in a way that gets their buy-in. This is a particularly important skill as you progress in your career.
Your local library may also have a section on business books. Speaking to a librarian may uncover which are the more popular books, or at least help you to find a copy of the ones you saw on Amazon.
Popular books are more useful to you as these are the ones your manager or client is likely to be reading themselves.
Equally, if you are operating in an industry that is less focused on commerce, such as education or charity, it would be prudent to look at the popular books within those sectors.
SEO Professional Need to Succeed:
Speaking & Writing Ability
Technical & Programming Skills
Social & Drinking Skills
Drive,Motivation & Adaptability
A sense Of Humor
1. Critical Thinking
This is a hard one to measure, but it’s important for SEO pros to be able to have an analytical mind that’s capable of differentiating correlation and causation.
I want an SEO who can understand the “3 What’s”:
Why “what happened” happened.
What we should do about it.
There are many ways to measure this, but I stop short of asking them to figure out the shortest way to cross a bridge with a shared flashlight or the classic lightbulb problem.
Instead, I’ll give hypothetical interview questions to help me understand their thought process.
Some sample interview questions include: “Assume you and the client disagree on what we should do. Walk me through that meeting with them and your approach to it?”
Another one is “Account just emailed a client’s new website. They want to know if we can help their SEO. What are the first couple of things you look at?”
And my favorite is: “I need you to open an office in Albania. You’re in charge of getting it done. What’s your first step?”
There are no right or wrong answers to these questions, but they help me get an idea of a candidate’s thought process and how they attack problems.
I want to see that they understand the problem from multiple angles and use data and logic in their decision making.
2. Speaking & Writing Ability
An SEO professional who can do their own keyword research and author content that includes it is incredibly more valuable.
We aren’t just talking about writing articles like this one or speaking at conferences though.
I want an SEO who can convince internal teams and clients to do the right thing and that comes from speaking at meetings and writing decks, case studies, POVs, etc. All of those encompass speaking and writing skills.
SEO requires not only confidence but the ability to distill complex ideas and thoughts down into concepts that non-SEO people can understand and make decisions with.
3. Technical & Programming Skills
I’m sure there’s going to be some debate about this. I’m equally sure there’s tons of SEO pros doing a kickass job right now with no programming knowledge whatsoever.
The truth is, they could be doing even more of a kickass job with some programming knowledge.
As SEO professionals we make recommendations about page speed, rendering, lazy loading, server side redirects, microdata tagging, and basic HTML tags.
All of these conversations go easier if you can speak with the developer and offer insights rather than just demands.
Understanding where the developer is coming from when they push back is amazingly helpful at reconciling differences.
Estimating the level of effort vs. the SEO impact is also key. I’m not saying SEO pros need to be able to write code, but they need to understand the coding implications of the changes they ask for and what that entails for the developers, what the common mistakes and objections are, and even how to overcome them.
There are literally hundreds of crazy technical things that become easier to find with some basic programming knowledge, too. Like lazy loading for example.
Many of the common plugins will use a srcset attribute but not a src attribute for images – and Google won’t be able to see those. I know that, because I tested them all and implemented them all – things I couldn’t have done without some programming knowledge.
4. Social & Drinking Skills
Over the course of my career, I’ve made so many great relationships and learned so much just by hanging out at the conference bars. To do that, however, you can’t be a creep and you have to be able to get along with others.
If you spend your bar time arguing about politics you’re going to miss out. You’ll also need to be able to hold your liquor or respectfully decline – as many great SEO professionals love to drink.
Reminder: the conference bar is never the place to look for a new girlfriend/boyfriend but it’s a great place to talk about SEO theory and tactics.
Nobody wants to hear about that one specific problem that only applies to your site and takes 10 minutes to explain (unless you’re buying the drinks). However, they will love to hear about new and exciting things you’ve seen or done.
5. Analytics Skills
SEO professionals can save a lot of time if they can log into Adobe or Google Analytics and pull their own data.
A basic understanding of business KPIs is also required for proper SEO strategy.
I offer my teams the opportunity to get Adobe and Google Analytics certified because even if they aren’t pulling the data, the understanding helps – but also, most of the time we end up pulling the data.
If you aren’t able to pull and segment data, you’re likely missing out on some insights.
6. Excel Skills
Pulling the data isn’t enough. Sometimes you need to manipulate it a bit to get the insights you need.
I’ve met a lot of SEO pros who can’t do the simplest tasks in Excel.
Vlookups, Concatenates, and IF statements (among literally 473 other functions – seriously there’s 476 built-in Excel functions) should be part of every SEO’s toolset.
Over the course of my career, I’ve created countless Excel templates that help solve everyday problems.
Whether it’s turning a Screaming Frog crawl into an XML sitemap, measuring algorithm changes and their impact with GA/Adobe data, creating custom CTR by position curves, or quickly bucketing keywords from search console into brand/non-brand or by product groups, Excel is invaluable.
7. Drive, Motivation & Adaptability
The thing I both love and hate about working in SEO is that it doesn’t just turn off at 5 p.m.
Marketing isn’t one of those jobs that you leave at the office every night. It stays with you in your brain.
To truly be a great at SEO these days you have to have the internal drive that forces you to keep learning.
Whether it’s a new programming language, a new framework (WordPress, React, Angular, etc), a new search engine standard like Schema or AMP, or understanding machine learning, there’s always something to learn.
The candidates who jump to the top of my hiring list are the ones who have their own side project websites or who create their own tools to solve their problems. For example: using the webmaster tools API to automate data pulling and formatting for reports. I just hired that person.
SEO also requires adaptability and thick skin. Our industry changes, and sometimes we have to admit to clients that directory submissions, PageRank sculpting, link disavows, or other things we once recommended aren’t really the best idea anymore.
It’s about putting the client’s goals first – sometimes ahead of SEO revenue opportunities. (I told you I was going to start an argument in the tweets leading up to this article.)
8. A Sense of Humor
We deal with a lot of ups and downs in the SEO industry – and often at a fast pace.
It’s important to sometimes take a step back and remember that we aren’t saving lives, we’re just doing marketing.
As stressful as the job can be, most of it can wait til tomorrow. A sense of humor goes a long way toward making our jobs a lot more enjoyable and productive.
SEO encompasses a lot of skills and approaches. It is critical that we stay open-minded to different techniques as user and search engine behavior evolves.
Whether you are new to the industry, or have been a practitioner for years, there is always more to learn.
Keep your skills fresh and avoid stagnation by embracing new ways of learning. Be more effective in your job by looking to other fields for inspiration.
SEO Marketers – 5 Ways to Work Smarter with Bigger Brands?
SEO Marketers – SEO is the marketing channel that takes on accountability for websites in their entirety.Larger brands have unique challenges and untapped potential. That often comes with bigger entities and their marketing dilemmas. Here are five ways to use SEO and work smarter with the bigger brands.
This includes a consistent lead role and performance enhancement covering:
Website maintenance & health
Data (integrity, tracking, insights, visualization)
Total site performance
Search footprint & coverage
PPC has dedicated landing pages and a clearly defined page focus to maximize revenue and return on advertising spend (ROAS).
Social media primarily entails broader external attention and driving buzz, awareness, content longevity plus on-site engagement and interest. (As an aside, here are some great tips for brands to effectively use Twitter.)
As user experience (UX) and content strategists have highly targeted goals and KPIs.
Not focusing as much on the total site in a consistent way.
Five ways SEO helps you work smarter with bigger brands.
1. Setting a Solid Foundation from Which to Build
Perhaps the most overlooked value enhancement that SEO offers in an all-channel marketing approach is the creation of a solid base to grow site success.
Tasks such as 404s, site speed, content reviews, and content gaps, often span specialisms to the detriment of anyone taking ownership and getting them regularly audited and improved.
An SEO expert with their span of expertise can easily become the go-to for all of this and a whole lot more.
As site health, functionality and performance becomes a monthly focus item, and discussed agenda point, it moves away from being nobodies job to everybody’s performance enhancer.
Here is where SEO takes the lead, puts in place improved working practices, and regains control over unwieldy and under-loved websites.
Technical performance impacts:
Micro and Macro goal completions
2. Creating More Comprehensive Data Ecosystems
The data-driven approach of SEO, combined with the role of the integrated lead, positions SEO perfectly for managing and improving the data ecosystem.
Typically this will include fundamental responsibilities covering:
Data collection, integrity, and tracking.
Data visualization and reporting (integrated).
Automating data-led insights.
Prioritizing actions and tactical changes from data.
Expanding the data points, sources and data recombination.
With bigger entities, the data dilemmas are frequently more expansive, repeated and complex, reinforcing the priority and timely application of a data improvement role from SEO.
SEO can include pulling all the data into a single place.
Integrate Search Marketing into Your Organizations Culture
Integrate Search Marketing – Digital marketing continues to evolve and search remains a big driver of performance within it.
In fact, the industry terminology continues to shift into things like “performance marketing.”
Regardless of what we call it, search marketing and drilling down specifically into SEO and paid search, is often still siloed or walled off from the rest of the marketing mix.
There are a number of factors as to why search is treated differently. Some come from the broader marketing team, company, or agency, and trouble prioritizing and categorizing the channels.
The other side of it comes from the search team and the strategies, tactics, and metrics that look and sound different than other marketing channels.
Regardless of the reason why silos and walls still exist, there are some compelling reasons to find the common ground and benefits of integrating search into company culture more and removing perceived and literal barriers to unlock some great benefits for the search team, the company (or agency), and overall.
Search Team Benefits
The search team has a fast-paced market to compete in and search has been around long enough that at a basic level, they want the work they do to simply be accepted.
With the maturity of the industry, there is more common knowledge of what SEO and paid search metrics, strategies, and tactics are.
However, there are still people from the outside that don’t get it or want to question it as a valid marketing channel and challenge the search team’s process and competency.
When an organization integrates search and accepts it, there’s an added layer of transparency that comes with it.
Twelve years ago, I was able to do SEO mostly in a silo by myself. I worked directly with my clients and the only outside things I needed were their feedback and approvals.
The world changed with several fundamental updates the search engines made over the years (and that’s a good thing).
Now, SEOs need UX, IT, content, social media, PR, and other areas of support. I have yet to meet an SEO who wears all of these hats – or should.
While the shift to context and engagement has been a good one, the dedication of these resources outside of the search team by brands and agencies hasn’t always been.
Simply providing support to the search team through the resources they need is not enough.
I can tell stories of many cases where SEO requests go to die in IT ticketing systems or on corporate content request lists.
SEO is a long-term process, but requires short-term iterative updates.
Paid search is real-time marketing and often needs new and updated assets and resources in specific timeframes to shape success.
The speed of execution is critical for the success of a search team especially in areas where they rely on other resources for support.
It may be easy to use SEO as a verb and ask someone to “SEO this blog post.”
While an SEO can probably help with that, the production model and reactive nature of the request is short-sighted.
To get the most out of the search team, it’s important to:
Know what the top-level goals are.
Know the performance in other channels.
Know the content and strategies being conducted in other parts of the marketing plan.
Be given a chance to collaborate.
Ever wonder why search marketers always seem to be non-committal when pressed for performance forecasts and timing?
By easing up on seeking absolutes and breaking down the silos by implementing the aspects noted above (acceptance, support, speed, and collaboration), you can expect to get more commitment to absolutes in terms of timing and performance from the search team.
The Company or Agency
Most brands and agencies understand their target audiences, have built personas, and have conducted specific research into prospects and customers.
Does any of this research include data from search?
A benefit to the brand or agency in breaking down silos is realizing the opportunity to tap into the search team for valuable insights.
Keyword research is part of audience research. If your search team is doing it, why not use it and package it up with the rest of your insights.
Similar to audience research, you can probably find a wealth of competitor research in your search team.
A critical component of both paid and organic search is knowing:
Who the competitors are.
How effective they are.
What they’re doing.
Utilizing competitor content profiling, link profiling, and the various ways that search marketers reverse engineer competitor sites can provide some great insight to help other marketing channels and sales efforts.
Due to ranking factors and the growing importance of organic search, SEO professionals care about website security and UX factors like the accessibility of code and page speed.
Efficiencies and new ideas can be gained by getting the perspective of search marketers.
Whether it is in navigation, page flow, forms, or technical factors, getting on the same page of the search team can greatly benefit the brand or agency. It will also prevent the need to do work in different buckets to meet different channel needs.
Paid search is a great place for quick results and reactions when testing branding and marketing initiatives.
Whether it is updated messaging, offers, calls-to-action, or sales tactics, search can return quick results compared to other channels.
Treating search like the rest of the marketing team can help align the search campaigns around broader activities in the organization.
By bringing it into the fold the benefit of gaining more clarity and visibility on activities and performance can be unlocked.
Much like the search team not wanting to be unfairly pressed on expectations, they don’t have to be if the brand or agency integrates them and includes them throughout the process.
This brings clarity without having to ask, demand, or challenge the effort.
Cultural alignment isn’t a measurable or tangible thing. However, by looking at the benefits of the search team and of the brand or agency detailed, it can be achieved.
Having shared goals and KPIs is important. There’s nothing worse than having everything look good on an SEO or PPC report and then the stakeholder or client says, “But I don’t care about any of that as I saw no new real sales or leads.”
Aligning on top-level business goals and trickling down to the channel specific goals allows for the development of a shared vocabulary. What I call keyword research and you call audience research can be synced up.
In reality, there’s a lot more in common than there seems on the surface when integrating search in with the rest of the marketing channels.
The overall culture also benefits from the resource efficiency that comes with the integration of search. No one has to produce content or make dev updates just for the search team.
A more holistic approach can be taken by having shared duties and shared teams working together. Chances are if there’s content the SEO team wants, it probably also could benefit email and social media audiences.
Starting at the top and working down is much easier than having channels come up and ask for things to take back down into their silos.
Collectively, by embracing the benefits for both the search team and the brand or agency, the culture over time will integrate search and it will become second nature rather than something off to the side.
The integration of search into brand and agency culture has many distinct and shared benefits for the search team and organization as a whole.
Silos and walls come down when efforts are aligned around common, top-level goals.
Acceptance and understanding come through the development of a shared vocabulary.
Overall, organizations become smarter, better integrated, and more efficient when valuing search and getting it in alignment with the rest of their marketing channels and efforts.
Top Holiday Social Media Campaign Ideas – Abu Dhabi
Top Holiday Social Media Campaign Ideas – Abu Dhabi. Social media is more competitive and noisy than ever, but the holidays offer a perfect opportunity to cut through the noise and gain an advantage over your competitors.
This is because people’s emotions are actively engaged with a combination of excitement and nostalgia. If you can tap into that, then you can often multiply the effectiveness of your social media efforts.
Most people simply phone in their holiday marketing, though.
Many will just slap some clip art together, offer a small promotional discount, post it to Facebook, and call it a day.
Then they’ll wonder why they didn’t get much traction.
The key is to engage with your audience on an emotional level and get your message in front of enough people. This will typically also require some amount of paid ads.
The beauty is that there are so many holidays that you have a year-long stream of opportunities. Some holidays may be better suited for certain industries, but creative marketers in any industry should be able to leverage just about any holiday.
In this chapter, I’m going to outline several tactics you can use in your own social media marketing for the holidays, along with a number of specific examples of some of the content you might consider creating.
These examples aren’t necessarily meant as a blueprint, but more of a spark to get your creativity flowing so you can come up with specific holiday-themed content that’s relevant to your business.
Let’s get started…
Decorate Your Profile
This is the first and most obvious component of social media marketing for the holidays and it takes the least effort.
Simply update your cover photo and profile picture to reflect the holiday.
For your cover photo, this might mean replacing your normal photo with one of your staff wearing Halloween costumes in front of your building or maybe throwing candy from a Christmas float. Or you might just use a holiday-themed graphic.
How you handle your profile picture might depend on whether it’s a headshot or a logo.
For example, if we’re talking about a headshot, you might put on a Santa hat or reindeer antlers. If we’re talking about a logo you might superimpose falling snow over your logo or drop some candy canes or holly in the corner of the image.
On some platforms, you might even use holiday-themed background colors in some of your posts leading up to a holiday. You could even include holiday-themed static images or animated GIFs in your posts.
Be Like Santa
Everyone loves getting gifts. Well, maybe except for those people with warrants who got lured into an arrest by police under the guise of a free prize.
But pretty much everyone else does.
This can make gift-giving a powerful way to generate exposure through social media. Some holidays may be better suited for this, such as Christmas or Valentine’s Day.
But it can work for most holidays. And the beauty of this approach is that it’s exactly the kind of thing that can get a lot of people talking about it and your company on social media.
Now when I talk about giving a gift, it’s important to point out that it doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive, but it does need to have some real value.
I’ll give you an example of what not to do.
I worked with a photographer several years ago who sent me a Christmas “gift” that consisted of a cheap Christmas card with a note handwritten on the inside that said:
“I wanted to thank you for being a customer. As a Christmas gift to you, I’d like to offer you a 10% discount on any new photography projects between now and the end of the year.”
That’s not a gift.
It’s a promotion. And not a very impressive one at that.
If you’re going to give a gift, give an actual gift with no strings attached.
And that gift should be of sufficient value, relative to the price point of your products or services, but it doesn’t need to be related to your business.
For example, you might send out a fancy box of Christmas chocolates to their top customers. In a tight-knit and tech-savvy industry like ours, many of the recipients of a gift like this would immediately hop on social media to post about their amazing gift, and they would usually tag the company that sent it.
Some may and some won’t, but you should never ask anyone to post about their gift because that will make the gift seem insincere. They’ll probably question your motives in giving it to them, and may even question how much you really value them as a customer.
The keys to giving the kind of gifts that are more likely to get people talking on social media are to:
Give something of sufficient value. (When in doubt, more is better.)
If possible, tailor the gift to their personality and interests.
Don’t ask them to post about it on social media. Not even subtly.
There are a virtually unlimited number of topics you can come up with to help promote your business around a particular holiday.
There are two paths you can take here:
Publish long-form content on your blog and then share it on social media.
Publish short-form content only on social media.
So what kind of content is going to get people talking and encourage them to share it?
While this content probably won’t drive traffic from an organic search perspective in the short term, it can start to drive traffic from a social perspective immediately.
This is because it’s exactly the type of content people are likely to share while a particular holiday is at the front of their mind.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
The best horror movies. You could further refine this by creating a separate post for the scariest, funniest, or kid-friendly horror movies.
A comprehensive list of local Halloween events.
The origin of various Halloween traditions.
Halloween decorating ideas.
Top horror movie villains.
A list of Halloween treats for kids with food sensitivities.
Scary short stories from local authors.
The best Christmas movies. You could further refine this by creating a separate post for kids, teen, and general Christmas movies.
A list of gift ideas for a particular type of person (digital marketers, journalists, construction workers, Marines, etc.)
Stories shared from people about their worst or best Christmas memories.
A comprehensive list of local Christmas events.
The origin of various Christmas traditions.
Christmas decorating ideas.
A list of bargain, luxury, or gag Christmas gifts.
The best (or worst) Valentine or romantic movies.
A list of gift ideas based on how long you’ve been in a relationship.
A lot of unique Valentine’s Day get always.
Stories shared from people about their worst or best Valentine’s Day.
A list of local romantic restaurants.
A list of bargain, luxury, or gag Valentine gifts.
Polls, questions, and funny memes rule here. The idea is to generate quick engagement in the form of comments and shares.
This is a starting point, but to get significant traction, you’ll need to find a way to connect holiday-themed topics to your business and/or industry.
A poll of the best (or worst) horror villains.
Ask people to share their scariest Halloween experience.
A poll of the best (or worst) candies.
Ask people to comment on the plot holes in popular horror movies.
A poll on trick or treating vs going to a Halloween party.
A poll of the best (or worst) Christmas movies. Bonus points if you can get people debating whether Die Hard is a Christmas movie or an action movie.
Ask people to explain their theory of the science behind how Santa travels around the world, flies, carries all those toys, and gets in and out of homes undetected.
A poll of people’s favorite Christmas food.
Ask people to comment on the best or worst gift they’ve received or given.
Ask people to share their best Christmas memory.
A poll of the best (or worst) romantic movies.
Ask people to comment on the best or worst gift they’ve received or given.
Ask people to share their best Valentine memory.
A poll on who they “love” most in your industry or what they love about your industry.
Ask people to share how they fell in love or how they knew their partner was “the one.”
Note: In cases where there are multiple options, each option should be its own post.
Create a Holiday-Inspired Hashtag
Hashtags can be a great way to get a lot of people talking about a particular topic while making it easy for everyone to find those conversations.
All it takes, in some cases, is for a few people to use a particular hashtag in order for it to take off.
The key is to make it powerful, funny, or timely, or ideally, a combination of those elements.
Some ideas might include:
Important note: avoid tying politics in with your hashtags because that can go south really fast.
It’s equally important to make sure the hashtag you want to use isn’t already in use. The baked goods company, Entenmanns, learned this the hard way when they jumped on the #NotGuilty hashtag a few years ago.
Elf of the Shelf
If you have kids, or know anyone who does, or have been at least somewhat conscious for the last several years, then you’ve probably seen the festive, yet creepy Elf on the Shelf toy.
If you haven’t, well, first, welcome back from your coma. Next, I’ll give you a quick explanation of what it is.
The short version is that it’s a magical elf who has traveled down to your house on Santa’s orders to monitor and report on your kid’s behavior.
From the time your kid wakes up, well into the evening after they’re asleep, these elves watch them. Then, after your kid has finally gone to sleep, the elf travels back to the North Pole to report to Santa.
This explains why the elf is in a different place each morning. Often doing something funny.
Why can’t these elves just use email? Or FaceTime?
I don’t know.
What I do know is that you can use this elf to promote your business.
“How can this creepy stalker elf help promote my business?” you ask?
In the same way that parents set these elves up doing funny things at home, you can set them up doing funny things in your business, and then posting them to social media each morning.
Ideally, your elf should do things closely related to your business. For example, a home builder might have an elf sitting atop a truss wearing a tiny helmet.
But you’ll get even more traction if your elf has a habit of doing things that are funny or ridiculous.
That same home builder might have their elf sitting on a tiny front end loader, with an opened bag of cement in the background, dumping a tiny load of cement into a cup of coffee.