Topic: Social

Reputation Social

Junior Marketing Analyst 0

Junior Marketing Analyst

Marketing, Saskatoon, SK, Canada

Description

Vendasta’s marketing team is seeking an eager recruit to research, qualify and manage new sales prospects. This role is crucial to maintaining the quality data that helps our sales & marketing teams stay organized and generate more revenue.

If “Organized” is your middle name and you’ve got a killer eye for detail, this is the job for you. As an entry-level position, it’s the perfect opportunity to join our dynamic marketing team and learn the ins and outs of our industry. There’s plenty of room for growth, and self-starters are sure to thrive.

 

Responsibilities

  • Research optimal prospects for Vendasta to engage with and input them into our CRM
  • Compile, sort, and verify the accuracy of data before it is entered into our system
  • Interact with marketing, sales and business operations teams to ensure that inbound & outbound lead efforts are being managed effectively
  • Manage reports and maintain data quality

 

Skills and Qualifications

  • Ability to work independently as well as collaborate with a team
  • Exceptional organizational skills and attention to detail
  • Desire to be proactive and create a positive experience for others
  • Willingness to learn and accumulate industry knowledge
  • Proficiency in spreadsheet software (Google sheets experience a plus)

 

Why Vendasta

Vendasta is a software company that believes in local, and is driving local economies. Located downtown Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, we build a online platform that helps B2B companies sell digital solutions to local businesses. Through our partners around the world, we’re helping more than 650,000 local businesses thrive and succeed—and we love what we do.

Learn more about Vendasta

The post Junior Marketing Analyst appeared first on Vendasta.


Source: Vendasta

How Close Are We to Search Engine Marketing Running Itself? 0

How Close Are We to Search Engine Marketing Running Itself? was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

We are well on our way with the fourth Industrial Revolution, and the internet is alive … almost.

artificial intelligence

All around the web are speculations regarding artificial intelligence (AI) and the future of our civilization. The idea that computers will take over the majority of jobs in the workplace today has become well accepted. Some careers will be destroyed, although many more will be born as a result.

From the great benefits to the potential risks to our species, some of our modern day economic titans have expressed their hopes and concerns. A few examples …

Warren Buffett stated that he believes AI will kill jobs but is ultimately good for society.

Elon Musk is attempting to morph nature and technology with his new idea for Neuralink, a company he is launching to merge man and machine.

And Mark Cuban thinks that the world’s first trillionaire will be as a result of AI.

So what? How does this affect your day to day, or even your future?

What if I said that this future applies to PPC search engine marketing? We’re talking about the wave of SEM automation and the not-far-off day when search engine marketing runs itself.

PPC’s History

To understand the trajectory of SEM automation, let’s take a brief look at PPC history. GoTo.com (launced in 1997) successfully pioneered the pay-for-placement search marketing business model, which at the time was strictly based on pay-per-click.

The more a company was willing to spend per click, the higher its ad would appear in the sponsored ads section of the search engine results page. So the companies with more money to invest were able to gain an advantage.

Goto.com Search Results in 2001

GoTo.com search engine results page screenshot in 2001.

Google home page in 2001

Google.com home page screenshot in 2001.

Then Google launched AdWords and improved the previous business model.

Google incorporated good user experience into the judgment of placements on the search results pages and rewarded advertisers with lower CPCs and better positions. Advertisers with better quality ads and bigger budgets had an advantage.

Over the years, more improvements were introduced, giving advertisers more control over how their ads were displayed. This allowed for a more targeted approach that resulted in a lower CPA for them and better-targeted ads for their customers.

With more advertisers adding product after product to their advertising portfolios, managing thousands of campaigns, ad groups, keywords and bids became a real challenge for both agencies and business owners.

Smart Automation Ramps Up in SEM

With all of the bidding options offered by Google, it was difficult managing all of them efficiently.

So bid management tools were developed. As the industry grew, there were constantly new opportunities to improve an advertiser’s efficiency with their Return on Ad Spend (ROAS).

Since the opportunities were too many, machine learning bots were introduced to monitor, learn and run much of the bidding off of history, device, time of day, location, etc. We use the power of PPC automation tools to automate some of the common tedious and time-consuming tasks associated with data gathering and CPA optimization. Paid search campaigns are efficiently and automatically adjusted 48 times each day — far more than a human can manage alone.

Every day, the bots monitor and gather more information, allowing them to make better decisions. Each time a user conducts a search, it is a new opportunity for the bots to learn to become more efficient in maximizing profits and decrease an advertiser’s wasted spend.

robot

Each account becomes a custom bidding portfolio, assuming it has been set up correctly. Over time and with data, the bots learn, increasing either click-through percentage or conversions while lowering CPAs/CPLs, depending on the client’s needs.

In time, the automation portion of web marketing increases alongside AI. An effective, streamlined marketing experience, a better user experience, and more profits for the search engines are the results.

We see news about machine learning technologies in the online advertising space every day. Platforms are being built and leveraged in this space more and more.

Today’s Machine Learning Advances

So who is the real winner when every business gets to take advantage of machine learning? Everyone involved! Why?

Advertisers win because the bots optimize for their specific website and its audience, factoring in all traceable micro-moments in the process. There will always be competition for traffic and conversions, but since each site is slightly different, bots can optimize for that specific site and its audience.

If a site is winning conversions at a certain time of day with a certain set of keywords, the competitors can also win, either with a slightly different set of keywords or slightly different times of day. Where two advertisers go head to head on a specific set of keywords at a specific time of day, account structure usually wins, as better structured accounts usually have a higher Quality Score.

Search engines win because a better user experience means more clicks, which results in more exposure and more revenue.

What’s Next for PPC?

Why isn’t all of this automated yet? Ideally, I believe we need to be living in a digital world where a non-tech-savvy small business owner has access to an SEO-optimized website generated by a smart bot.

The only work for the business owner would be to fill out a questionnaire with business and industry information, in order to guide the bot in the right direction.

Data and analysis by artificial intelligence should allow for an effective site to build itself, customizing and building for user experience.

Once the site is built and ready, the social media bots can begin the buzz to introduce the brand to the public.

Meanwhile, based on industry information gathered about the business and its competitors, an effectively built SEM account emerges, applying years of learning and best practices to begin and improve performance, to hit and exceed the client’s goals.

The bots will do it all, with the small business owner having zero knowledge of how the industry works. All he or she knows is that it works well and provides a positive return on investment, which is enough reason to increase budgets and ultimately profits.

robotic hand

The best part is that digital marketing applies to just about all industries, growing businesses time and again, industry after industry. So when will SEM run itself? In many ways, the transition is happening now.

And what does a business need to do to take advantage of the benefits provided when robots fine-tune and manage SEM?

Although we are on our way, I think it will still be a long time before the industry is efficiently automated. Until then, the business opportunities need to be captured through a competent search marketing agency. Especially one that utilizes nearly two decades of experience in building and scaling performance-driven client campaigns through experience and data.

Success is assessed through efficient client account growth, achieved in time through intelligence and effort. After 20-plus years helping shape this industry, we have built the talent and environment to start your efficient paid digital campaigns or scale them to the next level.

Are you ready to increase your digital profits? Contact us today.


Source: Bruce Clay

Make Content Your #1 SEO Strategy Initiative in 2018 0

Make Content Your #1 SEO Strategy Initiative in 2018 was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

It’ll be 10 years ago this January that I first walked through the doors at Bruce Clay, Inc. and entered digital marketing.

I was fresh out of journalism school, which I’d studied because I wanted to write truth to the world. By making information publicly available, I thought I could contribute to the greater good. I saw myself educating readers by sharing the stories of the world. Pretty altruistic, right?

I never thought I would work in marketing. Who plans on a career in marketing? What 10-year-old says, “I want to be a marketer when I grow up, Mommy!”

Well, I’ve learned that marketers play a similar role as journalists but in the private business sector. We’re in the business of communications — crafting messaging and figuring out how to get those messages in front of as many people as possible.

We use our storytelling talents and distribution know-how for our companies and our clients. Our job is to get the right story in front of the right audience.

seo is storytelling and distribution

I’ve learned that SEO wins happen at the intersection of identifying storytelling opportunities and maximizing the visibility of those stories through search.

And yet I think it can be easy for an SEO to forget a critical role they play for clients and for organizations: that of the content evangelist.

SEOs can fall into a trap of focusing on the technical requirements for making content findable by search engines. And while crawlability and accessibility issues are key SEO responsibilities, big brands today are demonstrating that the competitive advantage lies in crafting 10x content and investing in SEO content strategy.

The Job of an SEO

Here’s an infographic you’ve probably seen before. It’s Search Engine Land’s Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors. It does a really good job of hitting on every component of an SEO’s domain.

seo periodic table

Click to visit SearchEngineLand.com where you can download the Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors.

It’s neatly divided into on-page and off-page factors. Of course, nothing in real life is ever so neat. There’s always overlap and grey. There are no links without content. But if we accept this diagram at face value, we can still interpret a lot about an SEO’s top priorities.

For instance, look at the on-page factors. You’ll see content and you’ll see technical SEO. We know that Google has said that the two most important ranking signals are content and links. From that we can infer that technical SEO does not provide as big of a competitive advantage.

content and links seo ranking factors

Technical SEO is more like the barrier to entry for ranking. Is your site crawlable, is all the HTML in the right place, are duplicate pages consolidated with canonicals and parameters excluded in Search Console? These technical SEO issues are critical to search visibility. Still, I’d argue they represent the lowest common denominator. You’re rarely going to climb to the first page or the top 3 rankings on the basis of clean, crawlable code. Not having these things will hurt you, but having them won’t give you a competitive edge.

Remember what Google said — the most important ranking factors are links and content. And if you have to prioritize one of those things, it has to be content, because content is what generates links.

Why Content Should Be Your Top SEO Priority

Here are concrete ways that you can empower your role in SEO by evangelizing content to your company or your clients.

1. Content is in your control.

When it comes to generating links and content, don’t put the cart before the horse. As long as you’re not buying links (and you’d better not), you’re going to need link-worthy content on your site that attracts links.

Who links to you is an X factor. It’s not as squarely in your control. What is in your control? Content.


Who links to you is an X factor not in your control. What is in your control? Content.
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2. Content has trackable metrics.

What gets measured gets done. While bottom-line KPIs are traffic and conversions, those results are the outcome of the effort you put in to make your site an authority with a satisfactory user experience.

Leading metrics you can focus on improving are:

  • The number of thin pages that you make better.
  • The number of new ranking pages you add to the site.
  • The number of pages on the site and pages indexed.
leading metrics for content

What’s awesome about focusing SEO campaigns on content is that you can truly track your progress while you’re creating more great content.

3. Bigger sites make more money.

When your boss asks you, “What’s the ROI of this content initiative?” you can say that big sites make more money.

When Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post in 2013, he brought a new growth strategy to the paper. WaPo grew WaPo traffic 28% from 2015 to 2016. The effort resulted in WaPo surpassing The New York Times’s traffic in 2015. How did they do it? By adopting a content strategy around producing a high volume of content aimed at long-tail and niche interests.

How can a small website compete with a larger one? Who are the major competitors in your space? How many pages do they have on a topic? More pages mean more opportunities to rank. More pages demonstrate depth of expertise, making you more likely to rank on a topic.

Just like a company needs to grow to make a profit, so does a website.

How to Set Content Apart as 10x

At this point, you might agree that an SEO has to prioritize content strategy. You may be thinking to yourself, “OK, I get it. I can make the push for my clients or in my group to add good, quality content to the site to see ranking gains.”

That is certainly a worthy goal. But the truth is that good, quality content isn’t good enough. Today’s bar for Page 1 rankings is 10x content.

The skyscraper technique popularized by Brian Dean is the process of looking at the top result for a query you’re targeting and then outdoing that top-ranking page with your own page. Dean calls this content marketing for link builders. See what ranks the best and then shoot even higher with your own answer to the query. Sounds like a lot of work, right? It is. Of course, smart SEO minds have refined the process.

So what is the process for creating 10x content? For a succinct answer we turn to Rand Fishkin’s classic Whiteboard Friday “Why ‘Good, Unique Content’ Needs to Die (And What Should Replace It).”

Research the pages that are ranking. Use Google to see the top-ranked pages and use BuzzSumo to see the most shared content on a topic.

Then ask these questions as you’re taking it all in:

  • What are the questions that are asked and answered in these pages?
  • How thorough is the information? What’s missing? HubSpot shared word-count analysis of its blog posts compared to organic traffic and found that a word count of 2,250–2,500 words gets the most traffic. So you definitely want content to be thorough and comprehensive.
  • What’s the format and delivery mechanism of these pages? You might also call this the user experience. Is it visual? Is it video? Is it rendered well for the device? Is the info I’m looking for on the page, or do you have to click to another page? Is it easy to find an answer?
  • What are the sources of the information and are they credible?
  • What’s the quality of the writing?

Once you collect all these answers and identify what search engines are rewarding and what people are sharing, you’ll know what you at least have to do to compete. And you can figure out how to better it.

My 3 Best Tips for Capturing 10x Content Magic

Here’s the sucky thing. Generating 10x content requires sweat and grind. But there are some likely sources of 10x content magic that you can mine.

Data-driven content: This is the Pricenomics model. Pricenomics is a content agency that turns company data into content and then tracks the distribution and performance of the content.

If you read the Pricenomics blog, they’re always posting this in action. It’s a really fun blog, so I recommend you check it out. Here’s an example:

Venngage, an infographics company, used the Pricenomics content marketing model to sift through all of their client data and come up with the most popular font types in America. What data can you bring to light that will make people think, “Huh, I’ve always wondered!” or “Hey, I never would have thought.”

There’s story in data and people just eat that stuff up.

Expert voice content: This is just journalism 101. You go to the expert source and you name your sources.

Honestly, if you can find a good expert, maybe someone on your staff or maybe the biggest name in your industry, and they agree to an interview, this is one of the fastest ways to 10x your content.

You get that credibility factor. You get the network effect of the expert and their followers sharing and reading.

What you want to steer clear of here is the trap of the expert round-up. I think we’ve all seen that. And those aren’t all bad, but they are kind of cheap.

We’re not going for cheap. What you’re looking for in talking to your expert is to raise your page to the next level. Bring something to the forefront that the normal person misses, but that will create that light-bulb moment in those reading it for the first time.

Start your practice of nurturing relationships with experts with this Bruce Clay guide.

Voice of Customer content: Writers start by thinking about their audience. You get into the target audience’s head to find out what they want, what they need, what they know, what they don’t know they need. And then you write to solve a problem in that audience’s – or persona’s – life.

In marketing, we’re matching the pain point with our solution. And what really resonates with your target audience is hearing or reading the thoughts that are actually going on in their head, or close to it.

There are many possible ways to gather the information used to synthesize VOC: focus groups, individual interviews, and contextual inquiries (like on-site surveys) are a few. But you’re basically using structured in-depth interviews, focusing on the customers’ experiences with current products or services. Need statements are extracted, organized into useful categories, and then prioritized and used by the business all the way from product development to marketing.

voice of customer data sources

I learned about the methodology around Voice of Customer data from Copy Hackers. User-generated content, product reviews and testimonials are essentially forms of VOC content.

And maybe this is where the altruist in me comes out, because when we turn our focus on SEO content, we’re doing something special. We’re not trying to find a loophole to exploit and win on a technicality. We’re sharing stories that will enrich people’s experience. We’re teaching people about solutions that will make their lives better. And we’re making connections with people like us.

SEO has to encompass those 30-or-so factors on the Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors. But the forensic-style technical SEO is not the bar you’re holding your work up to — it’s the minimum viable SEO. Today, getting the technical stuff right is just the ticket to entry.

If you’re actually trying to reach the top, you’re going to prioritize content as the top SEO issue for you to solve.

If you like this post, please share it with your friends or colleagues. For more like this, be sure to subscribe to our blog.


This post is based on my presentation “Thin Content Is THE Top SEO Issue” which I shared at Pubcon Las Vegas last week. Check out the full deck below.


Source: Bruce Clay

How to Optimize for Voice Search – Content Marketing & Technical SEO Tips 0

How to Optimize for Voice Search – Content Marketing & Technical SEO Tips was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

In 2016, Google reported that 20% of the queries it gets today are voice searches. (Source: SearchEngineLand)

Around the same time, Mary Meeker shared a prediction that by 2020, 50% of searches will be voice or visually based. (Source: Recode)

If you’re not familiar with visual search (and I wasn’t in this context), it’s search and retrieval instigated by the searcher “showing” a device or product like the one they’d like to buy (or if not buy, then get more information about). Here’s an example: shop for dog food by showing your device the near-empty bag of dog food in your pantry, and then buy it from Amazon or another online retailer. Go ahead and look into the Amazon Echo Look for a visual-search-type device that’s almost to market.

If we as marketers understand that text-based search is trending-down-to-obsolete over the next two years, and that our customers will be searching with their voices and images, what do we do to evolve our marketing strategies?

Director of Account Strategy at Marketing Refresh, Katy Katz, and VP of Industry Insights at Yext, Duane Forrester, shared their plans of attack for exactly that with the rapt audience at Pubcon Las Vegas this week.

This post covers (jump to section with links):

Eye-Opening Stats and Findings about How Well Voice Search Serves Consumers

What are people trying to do with voice commands today? Katy shares the findings of SEER Interactive’s 2017 study about the kinds of actions people use voice search for:

User actions by voice search study data from SEER

Look at those top voice-activated actions! They’re pretty personal. Your customers expect personalization. They’re expecting you to know who they are and what’s important to them. They want you to personalize their experience.

Consumers ask questions in a personal way. Artificial intelligence (AI) is now smart enough to answer these questions. Katy’s 5-year-old used Alexa and said, “Alexa, play Darth Vader.” Smart Alexa played the Imperial March.

We can type 40 WPM, but we can speak 150–160 WPM! With voice search, people will articulate their queries more specifically and precisely.

In SEO and content marketing, voice search is making a big impact on strategy in these areas: keyword research, content strategy, and technical implementation. (That’s all. Just like, everything.)

Technical Considerations for SEOs and Content Marketers Optimizing for Voice Search

First, understand the anatomy of a voice query. These are the key features:

  • The 5 Ws: Voice-triggered searches are usually looking for a result that answers a who, what, where, when, why or how question.
  • Conversational: Voice searches are typically conversational (that is, use natural language).
  • Long-tail: Voice searches are long-tail queries by their conversational nature.
  • Mobile: Voice searches are done primarily on mobile devices.
  • Clear intent: Voice searches are performed with a very clear and specific intent in mind.

Here’s an example voice search query where we can see how a digital marketer’s work to identify keywords, implement structured data markup, and gain positive reviews come into play when Google is determining result relevancy:

anatomy of a spoken query

To establish a solid foundation for voice search SEO:

  1. Define your goals. You know the drill. Make sure they’re specific and measureable. Help you focus on what to focus on. She probably spends 80% of her time helping clients identify the goals that will give the highest ROI.
  2. ID your audience. Take the time to get to know your audience in audience interviews. You’ll learn about their pain points and goals and the questions they want to answer. There’s nothing else like talking to your customers.
  3. Achieve language-market fit. This term isn’t used a lot but it’s a big deal when it comes to search. It’s qualitative research into the exact words and phrasing that your buyers use to describe your product, service or category. Talk like your customers!
  4. Katy Katz speaking at Pubcon

    Katy Katz speaking at Pubcon Las Vegas

    Map the buyer’s journey. Your customers are working through questions at each phase. If there are gaps in your content you’re missing out on opportunities.

With your foundation in place, optimize for these technical considerations for voice search:

Long-tail keywords. Here are keyword research tools for long-tail:

  • Keyword.io
  • Answer the Public
  • Buzzsumo Question Analyzer
  • SEMRush
  • KWFinder
  • Quora
  • Google autocomplete

Snag those snippets. Design your content to optimize for featured snippets. Google Home and Siri are pulling quick answers for this. Short in nature. Simple, concise. Answers the questions in a way that provides utility for the user. The amount of snippets doubled this year. A snippetable post is short and digestible, fact-based logic; if Google already owns the Knowledge Graph, don’t even try to answer it.

Schema markup. Tell the search engines and AI what information is about. Making sure your house in order with different schema types is imperative for voice search.

Brand optimization. Manage your brand across the web. Off-site SEO and PR is everywhere. Local SEO, social media, off-site SEO, reviews are all influencing your consumers throughout their journey. It takes 6-8 touches for a prospect to convert to a sale. For local SEO, check out Moz Local, Yext, Reach Local, GMB. For reviews, check out Get Five Stars, Review Trackers, Yotpo, Reputation Loop — help you with automated tools to grow your reviews and show yourself as a trustworthy provider.

In sum, your buyers have questions each step of the way. There is no part of the journey that is more important than any other. Own the conversation. Own your brand.

User Behavior and New Technology That Is Shifting SEO

Duane Forrester speaking at Pubcon

Duane Forrester speaking at Pubcon

The media we consume is shifting from the silver screen to our digital devices. With that, influence is shifting and celebrities are losing ground. Today, 6 in 10 YouTube subscribers would follow advice on what to buy from their favorite creator over their favorite TV or movie personality.

And there’s the consumer dependence and preference for their mobile device. Technology companies are investing across the board in assistants and AI. Duane asked the audience, “Who believes in the mobile-first Google index?” Well not only should you believe in it, Duane says that it is certainly live now and in use. He expressed that there’s one index and it’s filtered for mobile. He challenged marketers with the question, “Why would the search engine trust your site for the desktop user when you haven’t invested in the mobile user?”

Another area where user behavior is opening new avenues for marketing is local search. Location search is exploding. Note, however, that the growth in “near me” searches is flattening as it becomes assumed.

Want some more eye-opening stats? Duane shared these ones on local search and map behavior:

  • 76% of people who use location search visit a business within one day.
  • 28% of location searches result in a purchase.
  • Digital maps reduce travel time by 12% on average.
  • Digital maps save people more than 21 million hours per year.
  • 63% of digital map users take advantage of them to plan safe routes.
  • Digital maps have supported more than $1 trillion in sales for businesses.
  • Geospatial services help companies raise revenue and diminish costs by more than 5%.

Hundreds of attributes contribute to local visibility:

local search attributes chart by Yext

Anyone hear about RankBrain lately? No one? That’s because it’s too busy out there learning.

Voice search is an important inflection point for us in the marketing community. Where we saw mobile coming, voice search is now here because all the tech that makes it possible developed independently.

There are 180 companies in China developing voice search speakers. Duane predicts that in a year, North America will be inundated with cheap, accurate voice search systems. The current players will carve out the higher end and the newer players will carve out the lower end that is able to perform nearly as completely.

Voice search is going to take off because people are lazy. Now we can just talk and get what we want. The next stage is visual search (image-based search) where the Alexa or Home device will show the searcher what they are trying to buy to confirm that’s what they are looking for.

Voice search tech is being embedded into home products like refrigerators and coffee makers. Your refrigerator will ping your phone when you’re at the store and tell you that you’re out of milk.

Tactics to Compete in Voice Search

Google’s not going to tell SEOs via Search Console which organic queries were performed with text search and which were voice search. Look into your site’s organic keyword data and find the queries that brought one visitor, maybe with the stop words removed, and then bundle those up and consider them your voice search terms.

Make sure your site is clean and accessible. Mobile-friendly matters and consumer behavior is happening on mobile devices. PWAs are the future – one code base for all UX and devices. Your developers are going to love having only one code base to manage, but it’ll be a few years for the technology to allow for this.

Secure your site, move to HTTPS. Check out the Wired.com articles where they detailed their move to secure. It was hard.

Today’s consumers want to attach to businesses that reflect their values. That doesn’t equate to donating to a cause, it’s more like getting your whole company to do a 5K in support of that cause and documenting the whole thing. Really invest in developing your brand in terms of its support of relevant and interested communities. Brand loyalty dropped a while ago and now businesses have to demonstrate their mission in their actions.

Skills Required of the Digital Marketer of the Future

This is your future: the digital knowledge manager. It’s a senior-level, cross-functional position. The digital knowledge manager requires a deep, varied career that has spanned many of the traditional core digital marketing competencies.

The digital knowledge manager needs to be able to speak the language of everyone. They will be adept at persuasion and convincing different groups to take on specific tasks. They are an investigator, negotiator, communicator, thinker, and builder.

As always in digital marketing, the future is now.

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Source: Bruce Clay

Bruce Clay’s Views on Building Links for SEO 0

Bruce Clay’s Views on Building Links for SEO was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

Links are the fabric of the web. And in the SEO world, how we view them and earn them has changed dramatically in the past 20 years.

If you’re in the business of attracting traffic to a website and building brand awareness, you should care about how links impact your key performance indicators. As an SEO agency, we’ve written about how to get high quality backlinks in the SEO Tutorial. That resource covers link building best practices in black and white. But where personal experience and opinion are concerned, we have our own view of how links should be managed.

While we are sure some people will disagree with some of these views, we created this declaration that outlines what we hold true when it comes to web links.

We believe …

Google likes links. Google does not like link building. Links are the “voting system” of the web, and Google believes that they should be earned. They are earned by the nature of the content as a result of it being useful or entertaining to a particular audience.

Links are contributors to expertise, authority and trust. A link is a vote for a website. The more links it has, the more votes, showing Google that the website is one of authority. Within that, there are weighting factors for how strong the signal is. When weighing inbound links, a high expert ranking is a stronger signal than a spammy site.

Content is a link magnet — without it there is nothing to link to. Content is the stuff the web is made of. It’s what people want to link to and share, and it allows you to acquire links naturally when it’s quality.

Content needs to be relevant to your brand. The only way to become a subject matter expert in the eyes of Google is to have a themed website. A themed site happens when a brand contributes meaningful content to the conversation that it is an expert on. Sites that have too many topics all across the board are confusing to both search engines and users.

Content builds trust … over time. As a website adds more and more content on a particular subject, the audience starts paying more attention to it. Do it at the right level for that particular community, and people will start remembering the brand.

Write to high quality, not to high volume. It is far better to write high-quality content than to aim for quantity of content. Follow that rule, and gain readers’ trust and links. Once you can maintain quality, then you can increase quantity. Maintaining high quality is the only way to “blog often.”

You need standout content to earn links. Millions of web pages are published daily. Content needs to be able to be noticed among all the content out there. Only a handful of web pages are considered relevant enough to make the first page of Google. In addition, create and follow a supportive outreach strategy to inform others of your content. In theory you have already earned the link through great content, but nobody knows about it until you tell them.

“Unicorn” content gets a lot of shares, links and traffic. Publish content and pay attention to the popularity and traffic, visitors and shares. If it does well, then publish on that topic again, perhaps with additional content. Keep hammering on what people are excited about versus blindly following an editorial calendar. Know the competition and watch for their unicorns, too.

Cheap content doesn’t perform. “Cheap” content can end up being expensive in the long run. You get what you pay for when low-quality content doesn’t perform for a site. As the saying goes, “The cheaper you want it, the cheaper you get it” — and that hurts quality. Hire true professionals, optimize the content, then publish. And remember that content contributes to a brand’s key performance indicators, brand awareness and ROI.

Optimize articles to match the links. Make sure that your content uses keywords and is clearly relevant to linking anchor text for greatest positive SEO impact. While building links is a natural process, too many “click here” links could indicate that there is too much complexity to your page. Content, once written, needs to be reanalyzed and its inbound links evaluated.

Opinion pieces, once you are an authority, get links. Establish your brand and its people as subject matter experts. With credibility in place, opinion articles become very valuable.

Certain types of content get links. Articles showing the results of worthy research will get links; detailed and lengthy research articles do well. “How to” articles, because they are searched on a lot, also get links.

35 link earning ideas from bruce clay

Looking for inspiration for content worthy of links? Check out these 35 link earning ideas.

Evergreen existing content; don’t allow content to become stale. Content that was once great can age, leaving it less useful. Refreshing those pages and linking to them from somewhere else on a website can renew interest and, perhaps, links.

Keyword and topic analysis drives content. Identifying opportunities to create content based on active keyword queries, social media topics and “unicorns” the competition has can drive important content for a website. If it is useful to others, determine if it is useful to you.

Choose guest blogging partnerships wisely. Posting to other authority websites may make sense, but if the site is not considered “expert,” adding content there may be a waste of time. Choose carefully when vetting and strategizing your guest blogging opportunities. Google’s official stance is that guest blogging for links is against their guidelines.

Link spam kills rankings. Google’s link scheme guidelines state: “Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.” This includes: paid links, unnatural links, low-quality site links, off-topic links, widget links, footer links, run-of-site links (links in a template placed on many pages across a site), unpoliced post sites, reciprocal links, links from pages of all the same PageRank, many links from the same IP or sharing the same WhoIs, and links with the same anchor text. Google fights this link spam.

Domain authority, however measured, helps. The authority of the linking site, while it’s not pure “PageRank,” does indicate expertise. In an ideal world, expertise and authority are what domain authority is all about. If a high-domain, authority site is linking to a website, in theory, that site will have elevated domain authority, because an expert links to another expert most of the time.

Link relevance to a website and query are big ranking factors. The relevance of the page that’s being linked to should match the relevance of the page it’s coming from. But it shouldn’t be just about the target page; the words should also match how people search. When a link points to a page, that page and the anchor text pointing to it should contain keywords with high search volume that matches the content of that page.

The theme of the linking site is important. If you have a link coming in from an unrelated site, Google takes that into consideration when evaluating links. Links need to come from sites that are in the same realm of topics as the site being linked to.

The linking site’s quality counts. Google looks at the quality of sites linking to a website, and takes that into consideration when evaluating the site’s authority.

Internal linking matters. Siloing is a way to theme the content on a website through links, and it helps the website become a relevant source on the topics it publishes. The technique helps search engines better understand what the website is about through the strategic organization of content.

It is wrong to say that links make up a certain percentage of the algorithm, since the algorithm changes for every query. In 2016, Googler Andrey Lipattsev said the most important ranking signals were links, content and RankBrain. It’s still wrong, however, to think a third of the Google algorithm is based on links for every query. For every keyword, based upon the intent and geographic location of the searcher, the algorithm itself will vary the weighting percentage of inbound links.

Major ranking signals include mentions. Online mentions are important for search engines because they help determine brand sentiment and whether people have an interest in what a brand is about. Social updates may not generate very valuable links to a site, but they signal to the search engine that people are talking about a brand.

Social media works well for links; fish where the fish are. To catch fish, you have to use the right bait (what the fish are eating) and fish where the fish are. Write what the audience is looking for, and then put it in front of them. Social media puts the bait in front of the fish and catches links and traffic.

Influencers with a large following can generate both links and traffic. Think of creative ways to engage the influencers in a space, whether it’s co-marketing, collaborating on projects, interviewing them, or having them write for the brand’s website. Including their opinion in “roundup”-type content can increase the content’s visibility by leveraging the influencer’s audience.

Links from within your expert community are great. Every industry has a pool of “experts” — sources that are known as subject matter authorities. Links from other experts to a website show a brand’s authority. You can also partner with non-competing experts to gain PageRank and links.

A competitor’s links are a gold mine. Identify sites that link to the competition and determine why those sites link to them. Then, reach out to those who link to the competitor, and offer them a better page to link to.

When trying to get a link from journalists, put yourself in their shoes and their audiences’ shoes. Journalists respond to their favorite topics and news. The only good way to get a link from a journalist is to understand what they like, what they normally write about, and understand that they are writing for their audience. You don’t only want to pick a topic that a journalist may like; you also want to write about what their readers will like. In other words, target the journalists and their audience.

Videos are link magnets. Make relevant videos and keep in mind duration best practices, then host them on a website and YouTube to drive links and traffic. Videos also contribute to a brand’s expertise.

Use testimonials for links and conversions. A testimonial on a website helps with conversions, and it also helps with links. Give a testimonial to another site, and they will often publish the testimonial and link to the source (the site the desired link should go to).

Good online reviews generate traffic and conversions. If you have a positive review, the sentiment is positive and will be considered by Google to be a testimonial — whether or not it’s passing PageRank.

Email as a way to get links has been overdone. Sending email requests to try to get someone to link to you is played out and ineffective. My advice is not to bother.

Advertising drives traffic, not link equity. If you are buying advertising, expect no link equity or PageRank. If you’re buying advertising to get a link that passes PageRank then expect a penalty. You should not be able to buy links, and advertising is often a purchased link. If buying ads, make sure they are “nofollowed.”

Broken links on your site are bad, but it’s worse if someone is linking to your site with a broken link. When a site has a broken link to another site, the user will arrive at the new site and see a 404 error page. The majority of people will have an immediate perception of a low-quality site when they land on the linked-to website. Identify incoming broken links and recover the link equity and traffic with 301 redirects.

Broken links to competitors create an opportunity. Determine who has a broken link pointing to a competitor, and contact that website publisher and ask them to consider replacing that broken link with a link to your desired website instead to improve user experience with current and updated content.

Local links are absolutely needed for local businesses. A company cannot be an expert in their region without having experts in their region link to them.

So there you have it — my linking view. We urge you to follow these guidelines and hope your link building journey is one of safe travels.

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Source: Bruce Clay