Take a look at this image by comic blogger xkcd that gives tips on how to create strong and easy to remember passwords:
Any guess on how many links that this image has gotten?
Seriously, I want you to pause, take a good hard look and shout out a wild guess of how many links you think this image has gotten.
When I plug in this URL into Ahrefs Site Explorer I see that it has gotten over 4,100 referring domains!
How did you do on your guess? Close?
Put your guess down in the comments. I’d love to see how many links people think the image got.
As for me (in the famous words of Dumb & Dumber) – “I was way off!”.
It’s crazy to think that this single image has gotten 9X’s more referring domains than the blog you are reading right now! ( Sorry Ahrefs )
Aside from links, this image has received social shares getting into the hundreds of thousands.
Will you be able to replicate this kind of success with one of your own images?
But even if you only get 0.1% the results (which is totally doable) – that is still 40 links.
So here’s how you build links with images…
How To Create Images That Attract Links
Gregory Ciotti has a great post about creating visual assets that I recommend everyone reads.
Aside from the huge list of great examples of visual assets I like this quote:
Great visual assets do more than just put words to images, they must offer creativity, clarity, or new insights on a popular topic.
And there’s a perfect visual that Gregory uses to illustrate his point:
The article where this image was featured is only 100 words long. But the way they’ve illustrated the “features VS benefits” concept is so amazing, that it generated 142 links from 75 domains (and almost 5k tweets).
Now this visual doesn’t seem to be too hard to put together – a few images of Mario (that can easily be found in Google) and a few phrases of supporting text.
But if you are not a designer, like me, you’ll have a hard time putting the whole thing together anyways.
So I usually prefer to leverage cheap services like Fiverr whenever I need to design a simple image like that!
Actually, you can find a lot of different design gigs on Fiverr.
Take a look at this recent post at Ahrefs blog: “How To Sell SEO Services: Getting Your SEO Business Off The Ground With Freelance Gigs“.
For as low as $5 they were able to visualize the main idea behind that article in a cool simple comic:
The main downside of Fiverr is that you need to give a lot of direction, and since it starts at $5 you get what you pay for.
If you are looking to get a lot of input and help from a designer, I suggest using99 Designs or Dribbble.
Audit Images That Build You Links
I can hear a lot of you saying right now:
But Ben I don’t have any image ideas OR I can’t afford Fiverr OR I’m lazy OR _____________.
Don’t worry, the truth is that every website has images that they can leverage for link building.
In fact, most of the time your images are being used and you don’t even realize it!
I call this Link Harvesting, where we use the assets you already have to build links. This saves a lot of time and doesn’t cost any additional resources.
Start by doing an image audit to find all of the images that could be used to build links.
These can be:
- Logos – This includes all old logos. You can find who is using outdated ones and let them know about the newest version.
- Brand Mascots – Some famous examples are Ronald Mc Donald and Google Android.
- Product Photos
- Badges / Awards
- Employee Photos
Note down all the images that you think have the potential to attract some links and proceed to the next step.
Find Who Is Using Your Images
Alright, now that you have a list of images, it is time to see if the images are being used online.
For if someone is using your images you can simply request that they link to you as the source.
Handy Image Search Tools
- Google Image Search (Free)
- TinEye (Free)
Just upload your image into any of these tools and you’ll get a list of pages where your (or similar) image was used:
I recommend you to use both tools, because quite often they will give you different search results.
How To Automate Image Link Building
Using TinEye and Google Image Search is great to see if an image has been used online ever. But if you want to check back monthly to see if anyone new has picked up your image (which I highly recommend doing) those tools are really difficult to use.
Instead, I use a tool called Image Raider.
This tool gives you a ton of free credits to start and allows you to automate checking your images as often as you would like.
- Add images to Image Raider
- Set frequency of how often to check (once, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly)
- Get emailed when they find new occurrences
- Email them asking for a link to your image
This simple process has allowed me to find links on major publications who were linking to the wrong place as the source!
Below is an example of how I have it set up to monitor the infographics thatSolarWinds creates:
Always Check Pages For Links
Image Raider lets me know where the images are being used, but not if they are linking back to my site. Before reaching out to these websites, you need to make sure that they are not already linking to you.
You can use the Moz bar to check if a given page has any links pointing to your domain.
But in case you get too many alerts from Image Raider, maybe it would be more convenient to create some automatic script that will check all these pages on autopilot.
Create Email Templates
Now that we’ve automated finding image opportunities with Image Raider, it’s time to email webmasters and request that they link to us as the source.
To help speed this up, you should use some kind of template.
I personally use BuzzStream because of their auto fill template feature, but a simple canned response in Gmail also works.
Here is a quick generic example:
First off, thank you so much for including us in your article on [Domain Name].
[URL of Article]
I noticed that you included our image and was wondering if you could link to us as the source.
Thank you again for including us.
We covered a lot, so let’s summarize an action plan so you can start growing your backlink profile with images:
- Create awesome images!
- Keep a list of all the images you own for your website (Ex: Logo, Infographics, etc)
- See if images are being used online (TinEye)
- Automate image discovery (Image Raider)
- Check to pages to see if they are already linking (Moz Bar)
- Email those who are not linking and request they link to you as the source (Buzzstream)
If you follow these 6 steps I’m confident that you will find and create new link opportunities each month.
But there’s a nifty little hack that will speed up your research by a great deal and make it a lot more convenient.
I’m talking about “bookmarklets”.
New To Bookmarklets?
A bookmarklet is a small “one-click” tool that adds extra functionality to a browser. It can do many useful things such as modifying how a web page appears, querying a search engine, or even show what fonts that are used on a page.
Bookmarklets can automate monotonous steps, and reveal important information, such as:
- the keyword density of a text;
- the owner info of a domain;
- the backlinks of a page.
And here’s why I prefer them to browser add-ons:
- they do not slow down your browser;
- they work in every browser (most of the time).
Handy Bookmarklets For Quick Access To Ahrefs Tools
Here’s my personal collection of bookmarklets that I use for quick and easy access to various Ahrefs tools.
Feel free to “steal” any them from me and supercharge your SEO research:
- 9 BOOKMARKLETSFOR QUICK ACCESS TO AHREFS TOOLS
- Show Referring DomainsShow the referring domains of the currently visited domain.
- Show Dashboard PageShow the dashboard page for the currently visited domain.
- Show Inbound Anchor PageShow the anchor page for the currently visited domain.
- Show BacklinksShow the backlinks page for the currently visited domain.
- Show New BacklinksShow new backlinks for the domain.
- Show Lost BacklinksShow lost backlinks for the current domain.
- Show PagesShow the pages for the current domain.
- Show Outgoing AnchorsShow the outgoing anchor texts for the current domain.
- Show Outgoing Linked DomainsShow which domains this domain link to.
But that was nine, right?
Wayback Machine Bookmarklets:
- Show Ahrefs Dashboard for domain seen on archive.org
This is very, very nifty. If you are analyzing an expired (or live) domain at archive.org, it’s annoying to have to format the URL for analyzing the domain, over and over again.
Let’s say you’re looking at some oldish page like this one:
With my bookmarklet you can easily truncate it to justhttp://www.facebook.com/ and submit to Ahrefs.
Pretty useful hack, if you’re an extensive user of the Wayback Machine, right?
How To Use These Bookmarklets?
Bookmarklets are no different from bookmarks and can be added to your browser in a split of a second:
- Hover the mouse pointer over the bookmarklet text.
- Drag the text to your browser bookmarks toolbar.
- The bookmark, and often an icon, will now show.
And whenever you decide to use one of them, just click on it the same way you would click on a bookmark when you’re visiting a website.
This is it!
I hope you’ve enjoyed my collection of bookmarklets. If properly used they will tremendously streamline your SEO workflow.
If you need more, feel free to browse an extensive collection of SEO bookmarklets on my own site and let me know your feedback.
To help you leverage these advancements, I’ve put together a list of a few lesser-known business growth tools you may not have heard of before.
Skim through the list and see if any of them catch your eye. If so, add them to your arsenal today.
Their impact on your overall productivity and the growth of your business could be astonishing.
Automate your Twitter growth with Narrow.io. It’s a simple tool that automate the tedious, yet effective, tasks that can lead to huge growth with your Twitter profile.
And don’t worry, it’s not your general “follower spambot.” These guys use a sophisticated algorithm to target people that care about things your target audience cares about.
It’s all about building an engaged audience on Twitter. You can’t do that by randomly following, unfollowing and favoriting people without a plan. You’ve got to find the people that talk and care about the things you do. Only after you do that will you be able to effectively grow your account.
Narrow.io will help you do that in a strategic manner that works.
Every customer will have a unique experience with your company. I don’t think two people will ever have the exact same path to purchase. Some will sign up for your blog newsletter, others will only download your white papers. Some will choose to pay a monthly plan, others would rather the annual payment. You get the idea…
And so does Customer.io. Their software sends targeted messages to customers based on their specific behaviors and path to purchase.
It’s a great way to get a bit more personal with your emails. Use it to create new emails based on where your customers are in the buying cycle, as well as the behaviors they’ve taken. That level of personalization will lead to more purchases, loyalty and growth for your business.
Don’t you hate it when a new visitor leaves your site without filling out a form or taking action? It’s frustrating – especially for a business that’s trying to fuel growth.
Picreel offers solutions for these exact types of situations. Their tool helps propel conversions by putting your message in front of the audience at just the right time using exit-intent technology that captures visitors’ attention before they leave your site.
Yes, there’s a huge debate around how much people hate pop-ups, but despite their feelings about the tactic, no one can argue with its effectiveness. When you put the right message in front of the right audience at the right time, it works.
And you can create popups around other things too, not just exit-intent. The tool has features that show your visitors exclusive message based on specific behaviors and that target visitors throughout your site as they discover content.
Honestly? It’s a little like having a miniature 007 spy working for your site – serving up the right content when it matters most.
The guys over at SellHack know how to get things done. Their service revolves around finding a person’s email address for you – and they’re amazing at their job. All you need is a person’s first and last name and the domain where they work.
Sure, there are ways to find a person’s email on your own. But, trust me, it’ll take you hours of research. And even then, it’s not a sure thing. Don’t waste time with that frustrating trial and error.
If you ever send out cold emails, then you’ve got to try these guys out.
I don’t know about you, but I find it a huge hassle to switch from my customer service app to my email marketing program, and from my customer relationship management system to my marketing automation platform. And I find it even more frustrating when these different kinds of software don’t integrate with each other.
That’s what I love about Intercom.io – it brings all these services together into one product.
Even better? The money you save from using one app (instead of five) can be used to help fuel your business growth even more.
If you want a solid system that integrates everything together, try setting up a system with this service. It just might be the best thing you’ve ever done for your business.
Typeform does everything it can to make forms and text-based surveys a fun experience. Now, I don’t know about you, but that seems like quite a challenge – and yet, the company does a great job with it.
By making your forms interactive and fun, you’ll increase the number of people that actually fill them out. That’s more leads for your sales funnel, and the potential to generate more sales for your business. It’s truly growth at its finest.
Hiring a PR agency can be a costly expense. And unless you’re a fully-funded startup superstar, it’s probably not a feasible investment. Unfortunately, that means you either forget PR or learn how to do it yourself. Most people, I think, choose the former, because the latter seems too difficult and time consuming.
That’s the pain that JustReachOut wants to eliminate. It’s a great tool for startups and entrepreneurs that want to pitch their company to the media, but don’t know where to start. They’ll help you get setup and perfect your pitch – cutting the time and expense associated with working with a traditional PR firm.
Quickmail.io is another great tool for professionals that rely on cold emailing. Once installed, the system sets you up with a complete funnel and follow-up function. As soon as a prospect responds to your email, they’re taken out of the sequence and won’t receive additional emails.
It’s powerful if you want a way to keep up with cold emails and add a personal touch. And although people can use cold emails for evil, they can also use them for good. Obviously, I’m only advocating this tool for the good guys!
Like many apps, Totango helps you understand the user experience and drive conversions. But what really makes the company shine is their trial conversion feature, which helps you identify prospects that are actively evaluating your product and separates them from the average free users.
Once you have that kind of information in your arsenal, you can strategically follow up with particular customers and really see an enormous increase in your conversions.
If you want to make waves with YouTube, you can’t beat the guys over atFamebit. They’re helping entrepreneurs and startups connect with YouTube influencers that will talk about your product – and that kind of exposure can do great things for your company’s growth.
I’d definitely recommend it to anyone wanting an easy, affordable way to get their product or service in front of thousands of people.
Wrapping it up…
You’ll notice that I didn’t mention the mega-tools that you’ll find on so many other posts. Why? Because I believe these small, nimble tools work well for small, nimble companies – and cutting your software expenses frees up capital that can be spent on bigger, better growth campaigns.
“In the middle of the journey of our life I came to myself within a dark wood where the straightway was lost.”
For the past 5 years, I always managed to get out of the dark woods to get back on the road again.
Below I want to show you how I accomplished this feat, so you have a better understanding of the path you can take to become a true SEO copywriter.
The Five Circles of Hell to Become An SEO Copywriter
1. Creating a low-quality writing portfolio
When I first started writing for others, I realized I needed to expand my portfolio. To do that, I went on Fiverr.
It was a brilliant move to start my writing career. After all, who would not want three articles from an American writer on Fiverr?
However, jobs on Fiverr only pay $3.5 after PayPal and Fiverr fees. My work reflected the payment I received.
The articles were so poor that looking back on them today, I am aghast at the quality. However, the clients approved them and said they were great. I guess they did not even read the content.
Soon after I abandoned Fiverr as a revenue generator. It was not a sustainable model.
Lesson: Use Fiverr as a testing ground, but to find quality clients you should start looking at other places where you can get paid for writing quality content and build your portfolio.
2. Taking every job you can get your hands on
So what do you do after you start working on Fiverr? You take the first job someone offers you!
After working on Fiverr for a month, I found my first client. They needed 54 articles on laser hair removal. Money talked, and I said “yes” despite knowing nothing about the topic.
My first client taught me that pricing really does matter. The client paid me $5 per article. My eyes flashed at the possibility of earning $270.
Yet, I ended up spending over 40 hours on those articles. And according toCopyscape none of them are even online anymore. What a waste of time.
Lesson: Value your time. Quality articles are paid by the amount of hours invested, not by the word count.
3. Stuffing your writing with tons of keywords
Back in 2005, keyword stuffing was the norm. However, what worked 10 years ago, does not work today (shocker, I know).
My original clients wanted me to stuff those articles with keywords for all they are worth.
Going back to the laser hair removal guy. He gave me a bunch of long-tail keywords that I had to magically transform into a sentence.
Can you guess how many times I could put the keyword like “the best laser hair removal procedure San Diego” in a single paragraph?
This is a textbook definition of keyword stuffing.
A lot of SEOs learned their lesson with this technique when the Google Panda algorithm slapped their thin sites.
Lesson: “keyword optimization” and “keyword stuffing” have nothing in common.
However, I reasoned at the time that it was what the client wanted. Happy client means paycheck! Paycheck means rent and internet paid!
And yet, that line of thinking can mess up your client’s website as well as your base of business.
4. Knowing which writing gigs are worth your time
I remember the first time I saw an ad on a job board about how I could make up to $300 per guest post. My excitement lasted till the moment I reached out to these guys.
The reality is that they want you to get your content published on a large site like Forbes, so they can garner tons of traffic.
In essence, they want to leverage your connections with publications like Mashable, Huffington Post, and other large-scale blogs and publications.
The challenge is that those publications never accept you being paid by a third party. They want a cut larger than your paycheck.
That means you spend all that time working on a blog post for someone that just never passes muster.
As Carole Tice stated in her post on The Write Life:
“It’s all too common for freelancers to latch onto the first client who comes their way, and then never let go. Even if they’re obnoxious, or it isn’t the type of writing you really want to do, or they don’t pay well.”
Writing for companies is like dating. There are plenty of fish in the sea.
If one is not right, then you need to move to bigger and better fish.
Lesson: Do not spend social capital ghostwriting for others when you can write your own articles that will eventually bring you bigger and better clients.
5. Neglecting your grammar
One of my editors asked me the first time we worked together if someone from the Philippines wrote the draft I sent her.
While I believe I hail from the windy city, it was an interesting observation. That is why it is important to have a good editor. They filter the junk from your article.
Plus, collaborating with editors shows you what works and does not work in your writing. You learn how to correct your writing as you grow.
Lesson: Take your time to edit your content. Search engine optimization today is as much about great content and good editing as it is about backlinks and keywords.
Writing articles for business is a great reward and challenge.
The challenges and lessons that I’ve shared in this article are a culmination of of over 5 years in the industry developing my professional standards.
If you are just beginning your own journey down this path, the best thing you can do as an SEO freelance writer is to create your own standards.
I’m really keen to know how you avoided your own circles of hell when you started your freelance writing career?
Perhaps you are going through those challenges right now. Let me know if I can help you!
In every year since the Internet was first created, it has continued to rapidly expand to more users with more devices to access it with. Now with the New Year in its first month, it would seem logical that the same change is ahead for 2015. Considering that SEO is a dynamic field, it’s no surprise that best practices are constantly evolving and changing each year.
In 2015, companies can expect some shifts from the “go to” SEO practices of previous years, consequently affecting the overall SEO strategy. Below are three things that will gain importance and require action in the coming year.
1. Mobile SEO will be even more important
The increased use of mobile phones has continued on an upward trend for years and that movement is not projected to stop anytime in the near future. During 2015, in fact, it is predicted that the volume of mobile traffic will overtake the volume of normal web traffic. Even with these projections, many companies don’t take advantage of the opportunity to reach their customers and followers through mobile devices, but instead persist on normal web traffic as being the only route.
Creating a mobile website and SEO strategy does not have to greatly differ from your current SEO plans, but it does require some adjustments, especially in design and ease of use. Businesses will need to focus on changes that enhance mobile use such as creating a responsive design, having a mobile sitemap and optimizing embedded images and videos. By remembering that mobile phones are the future of internet access, your company can get ahead of the game by connecting with your consumers on their phones sooner rather than later.
2. Social media takes over
The dominance of social media in 2015 is not something that comes as a surprise. Similar to smartphones, social media has been on the rise for years. The number of Facebook users has increased to more than 1.5 billion since its creation a decade ago and new platforms are popping up on a regular basis. Whether your company seeks a more professional network or a network to post their most recent video creation, there is a social media platform that can be optimized.
One important trend for social media in 2015 is the necessity to be present in a real-time context. Consumers have become accustomed to having information and communication available to them when and where they want it. The implication for companies is to utilize online analytics tools to continuously tweak SEO and other online marketing campaigns according to the real-time data it receives.
One final trend to keep in mind for social media is the growing importance of videos in the online space. A recent survey showed that customers are 64-85% more likely to purchase a product after watching a video promotion. As a result, the amount of video SEO increased 57% in 2014 and is expected in increase even more in 2015.
3. Content is king
Every professional who works in a digital marketing company knows the uphill battle of staying up-to-date with the latest Google algorithm. In 2015, Google is expected to reduce the value of links and keywords and increase the importance of the content itself. Websites and pages will be indexed and ranked based on what it thinks your site means rather than what links you include.
To increase the reach of your high quality content and continue to improve your SEO, it is important to connect to your social media presence, email campaigns and other marketing initiatives at your company. Email marketing is one of the most well provenmediums for reaching a large number of clients in a targeted manner. With the overload of real-time data consumers will be processing on social media and online, it will be extremely important to send a well-designed email with personalized content as well.
When it comes to content, it is important to remember that it doesn’t all have to be new content. Small and large businesses alike are working to optimize and update existing content that had a big impact on traffic and leads. By focusing on what worked in the past, the company is well positioned to continue the success into the future.
Mobile SEO and a continued presence on social media are two staples of 2015. If there is one major trend to keep in mind, however, it is the importance of content in the SEO landscape. To get the best results, know the magic equation set by Google but don’t live or die by it! Everything you do should work towards providing excellent content to your users and not be focused on outsmarting Google. In 2015, it is predicted to value good content over than keywords and linking, a win-win situation for your company’s SEO and your customer’s experience.
The perfect website is the Holy Grail for web designers and we at Active Design want to be your Indiana Jones, leading the way to success. We have come up with some recommendations to help you achieve this illustrious goal.
The perfect website is achieved when all of the key components; design and content, call to actions, on-site SEO, and code, all work together seamlessly and intuitively.
DESIGN & CONTENT
A first impression is lasting and this is why your website’s headline can make or break your website. The headlines job is to accurately represent the website and to reassure the user that they have come to the right place. It is also extremely important that the headline has in-built SEO (search engine optimisation) properties and a ‘clickworthy’ quality so that users are attracted to the page through both SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) and social media platforms such as twitter.
Navigation is fundamental to the usability of your website. The navigation of your website should make it easy for users to find the areas they want to visit whilst also guiding them into areas that you want them to go. To help you to achieve this goal, brainstorming the kind of things users are trying to accomplish when visiting your site, then keep them in mind whilst designing the navigation component of the website. It helps to categorise pages in one way or another to create intuitive flow between pages. Using images has not only been proven to be more memorable but some users exclusively use pictures to navigate through websites. When using pictures in your web design it is important that they are clearly relevant to the navigational pathway. In terms of website usability, supplying the user with breadcrumbs ensures that the user is aware of where they are within the site and allows them to backtrack to where ever they have been in the past without tedious use of the ‘back’ button. They usually appear near the top of the screen in a format similar to this: Womans > Clothing > Skirts. Finally every website should have a footer. Footers provide information such as; ‘About Us’, ‘Contact Us’ and links to other relevant websites such as social media platforms or blogs. They are an expected component and are often a last resort for users having trouble achieving their goal on the website. They can also be looked at as an opportunity to showcase some originality and flair.
When creating copy, we often forget that it is not only for humans but for robots too. To make the job easier for the robots responsible for SEO, the copy must be unique with key search terms imbedded within it. This ensures that your website with appear on SERPs when relevant search terms are entered. Once the robots have been taken care of you can start to craft your copy with the users in mind. Most users will appreciate simple, straightforward language with minimal jargon as it makes for easier and more genuine communication. The way the copy is presented is of upmost importance as many users will appraise a website, looking for the copy that is specifically relevant to their aim. This means your copy must be ‘scannable’ and to achieve this the font must be legible (correct size and typeface) and the line length and height comfortable to read. It is also important to make the spacing between sections of text clear.
CALL TO ACTIONS
A ‘call to action’ is the one action that you want your users to click above all others. Often it is repeated multiple times throughout your website and due to this fact it can be the source of immense web design improvement. It pays to research the type of call to action your site is reliant on and improve it according to what the research recommends.
To attract more users to your site, it is a great idea to provide current users with ‘sharable’ content so that they can share your material on their social media sites and publicise your site at the same time. To make this approach effective it is important to provide the user with social sharing buttons to remind the user that they can share the content and should. The ‘count’ feature provided with social sharing buttons can encourage users to share content as it shows them how many other people have shared the content before them. The feature encourages them to conform to the actions of others, a phenomenon called ‘social proof’.
Site architecture is hugely important for your SEO status and the terms used for your navigation should always correspond to the language used by your user and URLs should be keyword rich. Your site should be organised into thematic ‘silos’ based on semantic relevancy. A flat site structure that incorporates silos and cross silo linking is typically the most effective option for high SERP ranking. Additionally it is wise to make the deepest level of your site only three clicks deep.
Title tags are important to think about in terms of SEO and should be no longer than 70 characters. It is wise to craft them to fall into one of four structures:
- Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword – Brand
- Primary Keyword – Brand – Secondary Keyword
- Primary Keyword – Value Proposition – Brand
- Primary Keyword – Unique Selling Point – Brand
Your meta description plays no part in SERP rankings but is important for ‘clickability’ and ‘sharability’. It should be no more the 155 characters and be a clear and concise description of the page.
If you want images to be recognised by search engines then it is important to provide clear Alt Tags (or Alt attributes) that describe clearly what the image represents.
Well-optimised code is hugely important for both users and SERP rankings. This is because fast load times improve the user experience and therefore reflects well on the search engine.
There are many ways to improve upon your site speed and image compression is one of the more straightforward methods. You can improve page load times by optimising your images, the key is to find a balance between aesthetics and load time.
A responsive design, a web design that responds to its environment and adapts to the device it is accessed from, is a recommendation from Google.
Good luck and have fun creating your perfect website.
In many cases the same people offer content marketing, growth hacking and search engine optimization services.
Here are some differences and common aspects potential clients might want to compare before paying for them.
WTF is content marketing anyway and why do I need it?
Content marketing might seem like the most obvious of the three disciplines mentioned above. That might be even one of the main reasons for its growing success over the recent years. After all the term is pretty self-explanatory.
Both words, content and marketing are well known ones you don’t need to explain. A content marketer will most probably create and promote content for you. The only question remaining is why?
Why would someone want to create and promote content?
After all most website and business owners aren’t really into publishing. Instead most business people on the Web either offer products or services online. Content is none of the two. Content is neither a product (unless you’re from Hollywood or something similar) nor is it a service (unless you are a writer, photographer etc.).
Does a plumber need content marketing? This is a really good question I seldom see answered.
Content marketing is taken for granted these days it seems. There is no need to question it anymore. The plumber example is a good one because most businesses out there are in so called “boring” industries which are not sexy like architecture, design or photography. Can content marketing help the average small business people too?
Before I answer this question let’s introduce the other two, the growth hacker and the search engine optimizer.
Why do I need to hack for growth and is it illegal?
Growth hacking sounds dangerous! You might laugh know as a hipster living with his Mac but for 99% of people hacking is illegal and done by criminals. Like everything menacing there is a certain amount of coolness radiating from it.
A marketer is considered a sleazy sales-person in a shiny suite and with a fake smile by the majority out there. Instead you might prefer to style yourself as a hacker. You’re not a computer hacker who steals passwords though. You hack (for) growth!
Yes, indeed, there is a need for growth hacking these days. It’s not born solely from the wish to be cool. Marketing is a discipline rooted in the past. It’s closely related to advertising and sales, both of whom have a very bad rep on the Web.
Nobody wants to see ads or get sold to online. Unless of course the ads are funny and spread virally or we are already looking for a product. That’s the exception though. In all other cases advertising and sales suck for the majority of Internet users. Most ads are simply annoying. Overselling on social media is obnoxious. Also they do not work for businesses either.
Here’s comes the growth hacker. S/he focuses on technology not persuasion or downright annoyance. The growth hacker uses technology to build a spreading mechanism into the product or service you offer itself. It’s a profession for the digital world where self-replicating memes are not the domain of linguists but are a phenomenon of the masses.
In capitalism a thriving economy relies on growth. This may be controversial by now (as we already outgrow the resources the earth has) but it still works like that. On the Web growth is only limited by technology and human resources. Nobody cares for all the energy Google’s server farms use up.
Growth hackers are mostly preoccupied with helping start-up entrepreneurs
to create products and services that grow super-fast until they reach critical mass and can be monetized (or sold off). Such start-ups often have millions in venture capital and can afford to spend money with earning it fr years in a row.
Does the average business owner need a growth hacker? I’m afraid not really but s/he can learn a lot from such a person.
Why does someone optimize search engines and what is SEO, a Korean musician?
While SEO or Search Engine Optimization has been around since 1997 it’s still the most underrated and misunderstood online discipline I can imagine. The large majority of people neither know what the acronym means nor can explain the discipline as such even in case they already came across it.
SEO is the largest enigma on the Web and most business people liken it to black magic.
Roughly 18 years after its inception SEO is more about Google pleasing than anything else it seems to me. I’ve called myself an SEO for a decade but I’m increasingly confused about it myself. Do I really still want to be considered a spammer? This what most people still think of SEO. In some cases they are even right. After all who wants to risk getting affected by unnatural links, negative SEO, HTML and other sexually transmitted diseases?
While the SEO practitioner is adding content to sites as well plus is also preoccupied with growth s/he focuses on reaching people by way of search engines (mostly Google). S/he optimizes and improves all aspects of an online business ideally.
SEO for Google is of course an ever shrinking market as Google shows increasingly more ads, its own products and third party content instead of search results. Optimizing websites for the remaining real estate in search results is a bit like fighting with the Last of the Mohicans.
It’s possible but it’s harder every day. I witness more and more website owners giving up and trying to buy their way to the top of Google using advertising these days. With Google’s search traffic monopoly there is not much choice anymore it seems.
SEO is still useful but compared content marketing and growth hacking it’s impact becomes smaller these days.
The reason is simple. Google aggressively pushed ads, their own services and scraped content from third parties in “search results”. There is less space for organic search results each year. In contrast Google earns money by using your content and that’s why they demand people to create content for them.
Which discipline is best for me and my business?
As you might already fathom all three approaches to online popularization have their pros and cons. None of the strategies is a one size fits all solution for all kinds of businesses. Generally
Publishing oriented business can benefit from content marketing most. Of course all types of businesses can benefit but some need heavy investments and a change of the whole business culture to be able to compete.
- In case you already have a lot of content online or an paper and you publish regularly it’s a welcome addition to plan, distribute and promote your content assets strategically.
- In case you don’t publish yet and your website or overall web presence focuses strictly on the image aspects of your business solely displaying promotional material made by third parties you have a problem.
You’d need to establish a whole new workflow and team to take care of the content strategy and its implementation. What doesn’t work is to tell your existing employees to write, photograph, film and promote their work by themselves.
The average small business with fewer than a few dozens employees won’t be able to cope with the demand of ongoing publishing.
The costs of outsourcing such ongoing activity to an outside agency are also not to be understated. Quality content is costly and with content marketing being en vogue the costs for it rises as content creators who know their trade are few and far in-between.
In most cases brands try to buy into audiences such content creators already have. Sponsorships of teenage Vine video creators are such an example.
Growth hacking is best suited for technology based start-ups that sell online software
or short webware. It also works fine for those who specialize on apps and other mobile technology enhancements. Growth hacking for the plumber might be useless or downright harmful. Imagine a growth hack that leads to hundreds of new customers over night. It’s similar to what happened when small business embraced Groupon. Some of them got overrun and lost money actually while gaining lots of negative reviews.
Likewise low quality SEO can harm your bottom line quickly. Some people tried it and then assumed that all SEO is actually bad. While its still possible to optimize sites with no content (sales copy or product descriptions are not content strictly speaking) it’s a major disadvantage. Ideally there is content already or you create content for an SEO campaign.
While content marketing focuses rather on content by itself employing numerous tactics to spread it SEO still attempts to gain an audience by way of Google. SEO practitioners will also promote content on social media etc. but they will do so in order to get links. These will make their clients rank on Google.
Small businesses that sell a practical product or service in their niche without being overtly sexy or spectacular can benefit from SEO the most.
They won’t be able to implement a working content strategy while growth-hacking wouldn’t work for them simply because they need revenue right away not years later. Especially so called local SEO can help.
You’re reading a link building post…
And feel like you’re smashing head against a slab of concrete.
You know the advice is good and that you should do whatever the author says. But you just have no clue what half of the terms they used mean.
Link building is so complex and technical. It can be hard for a beginner to grasp its key concepts. And then there’s that imminent danger of building one bad link and sinking your rankings.
That’s why I decided to explain 35 of the most common link building terms.
Here they are.
Alt tag is a text that appears when a cursor hovers over an image. This copy typically resides in an image HTML code. It describes the image to Google and provides a strong relevancy signal.
Anchor text is a visible and clickable portion of a link. It should give a reader an idea of what the content it links to is all about and tease them to click to it.
A website’s authority is based on its domain’s age, quality and popularity of content, quality and quantity of its backlinks and ranking.
Backlink is a link pointing to your site from another site. The amount and quality of backlinks are both strong ranking signals.
This is simply a mention of a brand online. Brand mentions often include a link and may also include additional information about a brand. Companies use them as a metric of popularity or content marketing success.
A broken link is link pointing to a page, site or other resource that no longer exists. Users who click on broken links typically go to a 404 page or content irrelevant to one they hoped to find.
Broken links provide bad user experience and too many of them on a site might render it less trustworthy.
Broken link building
Broken link building is a strategy of acquiring links that originally pointed to non-existing resources. In the process, a link builder seeks out broken links on other sites, contacts their webmasters and offers a relevant substitute on their domain.
A citation is a mention of a business’ name, address and a phone number on another website. Citations are a strong local SEO ranking factor.
Citation links are non-linked mentions of a business’ website on another site. For instance www.mystore.com is not an active link (i.e. you can’t click it) but Google can still index and crawl it.
Click Through Rate (CTR)
CTR denotes a percentage of times your search listing is clicked vs. the number of times it is shown. Originally this term related to PPC ad impressions, however Google started to also indicate CTR per keyword in Google Webmaster Tools.
Competitive backlink research
This term refers to a process of analysing a competitor’s link profile with an aim to discern their strategies and find quick link building opportunities (i.e. links you can quickly recreate for your business).
This term is used to describe any information available on a page. Content can refer to various media: text, images, presentations, graphics, videos and more.
Content’s quality is one of the ranking factors.
Deep links are backlinks pointing to any other page on a site than a homepage. An example of a deep link would be www.mystore.com/product/grumpy-thirt.
A tool you can use to tell Google or Bing which of your links they should ignore.Disavow tool helps to assure that those low quality links pointing to your site will not potentially hurt your rankings or cause a penalty.
These links send what’s called a link juice to a page they point to. You should strive to gain as many of those into your backlink profile. You can tell them by the lack of re=nofollow attribute in their HTML code.
Domain Authority (DA)
A metric developed by Moz to indicate how a website might perform in search. DA is scored on a scale from 0 to 100 with the highest score denoting the highest authority.
Ahrefs’ own metric indicating the importance of a domain by measuring the quality of its backlinks. Just like DA, Domain Rank is measured on a scale of 0 to 100.
A link building tactic involving posting a flattering content about an individual in hope that they will link to and promote it.
These are links that point from your site to another resource. Linking out to other relevant sources provides a good user experience and is also considered a minor ranking factor.
These links point to your site from other sites. When you build links, you try to acquire more inbound links.
This term refers to a process of cross-linking relevant pages on your site to provide additional reference and information.
That’s a link from one page of your site to another, aimed to point readers to more relevant content you created on a subject.
A piece of content on your site that should drive interest and compel people to link to it.
A link building strategy designed to creating link assets guaranteed to attract links. Take ThinkGeek’s Canned Unicorn Meat. Naturally such product does not exist. But its product page drives a lot of links and publicity.
Link juice is a term describing SEO benefit from a link. Typically link juice relates to the amount of Page Rank a page receives from the linking domain.
This term refers to all sites linking to a particular domain. The term encompasses the amount, quality, variety and authority of its backlinks.
That’s the speed at which a site amasses new links. As a general rule, gaining links too fast is bound to look suspicious.
A rel=nofollow attribute in the link’s HTML code tells Google that it should not pass any link juice to its target. The nofollow tag is often used on sponsored or paid links to avoid any suspicion on trying to manipulate a site’s rankings.
A link a site earned naturally without any work from its owners. Ideally you should gain all your links organically by creating content other webmasters will want to link to.
Google’s metric used to analyse the importance of a web page by measuring the incoming links from other sites. According to Google’s John Mueller however, Pagerank might have already become a redundant metric.
A referring IP denotes an IP address a linking website is hosted on. Many SEOs believe that variety of IP addresses and IP neighbourhood (quality of other sites on the same IP) is a link profile quality factor.
This is a base domain of a site, i.e. mystore.com.
A sitewide link is located on every page of a site. You can often see them in a sidebar or footer of a site. Sitewide links are now considered to be a negative ranking signal.
This is a link that’s been intentionally placed on a site with an intention to improve a site’s rankings. Google often sends webmasters unnatural link warnings if it considers particular links in their backlink profile spammy or suspicious.
Ahrefs’ metric to indicate how important the URL is based on the number and the quality of backlinks pointing to it. URL rank is scored from 0 to 100.
Let us first take a look at how Google Plus can be the right social platform for a SaaS company.
Integration of sales and service
It is like hitting two birds with a single stone. As a social networking platform, Google Plus has built a fairly large user base resulting in the generation of millions of posts every single day, thereby making it one of the top social networking sites.
Moreover, it has the right interface and functionalities to increase user engagement by allowing lengthy, uninterrupted conversations and exchange of information. A business profile must simply aim to convert the high level of engagement into potential leads.
Increased visibility allows the users to understand the company’s true objectives and its willingness to provide quality service. Case studies can be posted and queries can be answered much to the delight of the customers who will want to come back for more.
Google Plus is one of the several services offered by the Internet Giant – Google. Associated services such as Google Drive, Google Maps and so on make for the brisk exchange of information. Many of the SEO goals can be reached by imparting the search key terms right into the Google Plus business profile, which surely lead to better search listings. The Authorship feature can be used to tie up the content and its creator.
SaaS companies must give their YouTube marketing a little more prominence, since video demonstrations and reviews of a product will easily increase customer satisfaction. The cross-platform feature of all Google’s services provides an ease of access to the excess.
It is evident that the latest Carousel form of results has had a reputation of increasing leads and user engagement simply because of their visual appeal. The more visible is the name of the company, the more is the chance of it being discovered by the customers. Google considers data from the performance of the Google Plus page and even the information available in Google reviews, boosting the user’s online visibility.
Information on publisher
When people make a Google search for a business, the search engine tries to draw some information from the Google Plus business page, if available. It provides a detailed ‘Knowledge graph’, which consists of a picture of the business logo, the map for the location, reviews, phone numbers and websites. This is the information that customers of SaaS will always be looking for.
Buyers are getting smarter with the vast amount of information circulating them. Non availability of information on the other hand, can prove to be a loss of any kind of credibility on part of the SaaS company, which is why efforts have to be taken to provide sufficient information.
In cases of information which happens to have a negative impact on the company, care must be taken to thoroughly address it and turn it into something positive. After a pleasant experience, a customer is bound to share it with the world, which in the digital age is just a click away. One just needs to make sure that these aspects are highlighted.
Tips for Google Plus Marketing
- Posts on Google Plus can be of any length, which makes it easier for the SaaS companies to post information about their new line of products, services and case studies of their customer service to boost the buyer’s interest.
- A SaaS company owner or anybody who manages the business page must first build interpersonal relationships on his/her own Google Plus profiles since it could also help boost the views of the business profile later.
- Make smart use of hashtags only for relevant terms. Overuse of hashtags brings a bad taste to the posts and decrements the value even if powerful words are used.
- The cover pictures must be adapted to the responsive design so that all the messages conveyed and the themes implied are seen by the viewer regardless of the device they use.
- Google Plus allows unlimited use of GIF images, which in some cases can be effective replacements to plain images.
- Customers must be encouraged to post their reviews. It is important for any SaaS company to do so.
- Put the links to your G plus profiles on the main websites. Also, paste the links to your main website on your G plus profiles.