Online Marketing Blog - TopRank® » Link Building http://www.toprankblog.com Mon, 31 Aug 2015 14:14:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 Linkbuilding the Right Way #SESCHI http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/11/linkbuilding-the-right-way-seschi/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/11/linkbuilding-the-right-way-seschi/#comments Thu, 07 Nov 2013 00:32:13 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=15988 In late July, Google updated it’s stated policy on what ‘linkbuilding’ activities now constitute link schemes. While the update was clear  – heavy hyperlinking in press releases, advertorials and large scale guest-blogging are now considered link schemes – the repercussions of the update and it’s lasting impact on SEO have been far more murky. Nobody [...]

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Linkbuilding Panel at #SESCHI

In late July, Google updated it’s stated policy on what ‘linkbuilding’ activities now constitute link schemes. While the update was clear  – heavy hyperlinking in press releases, advertorials and large scale guest-blogging are now considered link schemes – the repercussions of the update and it’s lasting impact on SEO have been far more murky.

Nobody likes murky. Not in a drink and especially not when real business outcomes are associated with search visibility and the traffic it generates.

With the session promise of sharing how to linkuild the right way, Jennifer Slegg introduces Chuck Price, Founder of Measurable SEO. Jumping off the stage to begin his presentation, Price’s goal is clearly to dispel the notions that links ‘no longer matter.’ He starts with humor and honesty, “[l]inkbuilding is NOT sexy! Nor is it fun.” But, Price asserts, links are still the number 1 factor influencing search ranking. Two thing are certain, Matt Cutts has said as recently as July in an interview with Eric Enge, that links still matter and not all linkbuilding is bad.

However, linkbuilding has changed and Knowledge Graph was one of the game changers. Relevancy matters more than ever. Links that were once deemed powerful in 2010 may offer little value today.

What Would Google Do?

If Google operated a web based business, what would they do with their site? This is not a hypothetical posed by Price. It’s a reality. Google Ventures is, drum roll….the venture fund owned by Google. And according to Price, one can make the logical assumption ‘your house, your rules’ to use the site as a great barometer for the linkbuilding activity that you can learn from and replicate.

So more specifically, marketers looking to linkbuild the right way today need to understand:

  • Quality is key: Real and relevant editorial links are so important.
  • Quantity is NOT key: A few of the right links can get the job done.

Price continues the conversation on link quality and introduces a great litmus test all marketers should follow, courtesy of a quote attributed to Eric Ward and paraphrased as: Would you want that link even if it Google didn’t recognize it. It’s an important reminder to us all that the true value of the link – whether it’s a follow or nofollow – is derived from whether or not the site linking to you is relevant and reputable.

Time for Action

Using this litmus test to guide your linkbuilding efforts, Price recommends marketers think of a tight action plan that includes:

  • Get Your Free Links: Using Google Webmaster Tools, locate pages that are throwing 404 errors. Instead of losing the link equity of that now defunct page, 301 redirect that URL to the most appropriate page on the site.
  • Assess the Competition: In this instance competitors are the businesses outranking you for a key term. Using link intelligence tools (see list below), you can identify the high quality links that your competitors own. Focus on the links that are relevant for your business as well and commit to creating the content and/or relationship to earn that link.
  • Issue Press Releases: It’s not what you think! The role of the release isn’t to acquire links through the over optimization and inclusion of hyperlinks. Instead disseminate unique and clever releases with the goal to ‘earn’ coverage from other sites and/or media outlets. To be clear, coverage is not re-posting the release, it’s a site crafting a unique story or mention of your brand.
  • Reverse Solicit Guest Posts: While guest blogging on relevant, high value sites still deserves a place at the ‘marketing tactics table’. Consider the opposite action as well as a powerful linkbuilding opportunity. Solicit authors who contribute content on topics important to your brand and with Google+ rel author and considerable Klout. They’ll be naturally incentivized to promote their posts on your site.

Helpful Linkbuilding Tools

To execute a plan like the one above, access to link data is important and the tools Price likes include:

Nate Dame, a new father (wait for the relevance!) and CEO of SEOperks, brings the session to a conclusion with a few important points that help frame the true activities and interactions that we should associate with linkbuilding.

2 ‘Dame’ Good Linkbuilding Points

  1.  Let People Link Naturally: Dame has found that the more hands off he is with ‘directing’ people how and where to link, the better the results. Inspire sharing and step back!
  2. The Link is Not the End-Result: Receiving a link should mean something much more meaningful than another tally in the link column. Your content resonated with someone, and because you followed point #1, you didn’t creep them out with directions like ‘actually, link here’.

While not all of us are new parents like Dame (think of the crazy population increase if that were true), maybe we should think like them when we linkbuild. How about a new litmus test: could you look your real or hypothetical child in the eye and say ‘I’m proud of the way I grew links’?

If not, it’s time to put these experts advice into action.

Stay connected for more posts from SES Chicago. For instant information, you can plug into the conference by following @elizalynnsteely and @bslarsonmn on Twitter.


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The Incredibly Useful Value of Links Beyond SEO by Dixon Jones http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/01/link-insights-beyond-seo/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/01/link-insights-beyond-seo/#comments Tue, 29 Jan 2013 11:28:52 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=14760 Whether it was at SES London or one of the many other search marketing conferences in the U.S., I’ve always been able to count on Dixon Jones for great advice on link building. Dixon was recently recognized for his content contributions to the online marketing world in our Top UK Online Marketing Influencers and Bloggers [...]

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links beyond SEOWhether it was at SES London or one of the many other search marketing conferences in the U.S., I’ve always been able to count on Dixon Jones for great advice on link building. Dixon was recently recognized for his content contributions to the online marketing world in our Top UK Online Marketing Influencers and Bloggers list.

Working with Majestic SEO as their Director of Marketing, (TopRank has used Majestic for years) Dixon has been a fountain of smarts when it comes to the value of of links for SEO, but also for many other purposes. Links are the connective tissue of the web. Before Google and other search engines, links were the only way to find content. Their importance has changed over the years but not diminished.

In this invited guest post, Dixon shares his insight into how link information can be valuable for online marketers, public relations or advertising pros.

Dixon Jones

Dixon Jones

Links are for life, not just for SEO. That is to say – knowledge and insight into the link profile of a URL, or the ability to manipulate it, can help you influence your world way beyond search.

If you’ve ever managed programmers (or been a programmer yourself) you’ll know how easy it is to get into “programming mode” when you wrestle with a problem and try to build the best thing you can, without regard to the real world marketing problem that you are trying to address. In a similar vein, Marketers tend to think about links as “something that affects SEO”. Here’s 5 practical reasons for marketers analysing links beyond search.

1: Do you trust this page or site?

There used to be many tools that showed PageRank in your toolbar and we used PageRank intuitively to get a sense of how much we trusted the page. These days, looking up PageRank on the fly is harder than it used to be as Google clamps down on automated lookups – but you can still to it, using the Optfirst extension available in Chrome and Firefox.

OptFirst Extension

However, the publicly available value of PageRank is only a number between 0-10 and is very rarely updated publicly by Google – maybe twice a year. There are now other metrics, which are more granular than the 0-10 value that PageRank offers. The two most well known are Majestic SEO’s Flow Metrics® and SEOMoz’s Moz Metrics. Both are available in browser extensions. The Majestic SEO Chrome extension will tell you instantly the Trust Flow in a score or 0-100 and the Citation Flow in a score of 0-100. These are different algorithms to PageRank, but are still iterative in nature and give excellent initial indications as to whether you might trust a page or whether it was created yesterday just with a view to scamming you.

2: Should you consider advertising on this site?

MajesticSEO’s Flow Metrics and SEOMoz’s MozMetrics are extremely helpful in understanding whether you should consider any advertising or sponsorship relationship with a site. If you are like me, you get people on a regular basis tracking you down trying to pitch their business model with your site – claiming to have the ideal audience for your business. The headline numbers will give you some idea as to how much advertising on a page might be worth – but actually visiting the strongest of those links will give you an excellent feel for the types of people coming to the site and talking about the site. Indeed – there may be some merit in using Majestic’s Trust Flow score to create a dollar value as to how much you might bid or pay for advertising on any given page or site, as it is more qualitative that just visitor counts, link counts or referring domain counts alone.

3: Understand the history of any business

Looking at the way in which a website has developed links over time give an indication as to not only the age of the business, but the strength of the business. This is easy to see for free using Majestic’s free link history charts. In particular – when looking at a site, looking at the referring domain pattern, not the referring link pattern, because site wide links over time can cause the latter chart to appear more erratic than the business deserves. In addition, switching the chart to a cumulative one will show you how a business has built over time.

4: Find other websites in a group

Often, one business represents its business through many brands. Usually there will be links of some sort between the brands – but even if there aren’t, they often all reside on the same server or – in the case of large companies – the same data center and therefore the some IP range. One of the cool things that you can do for free on Majestic is see what domains reside on a given IP number or range, simply by looking at the links into that IP number. Other systems do this as well. For example Domaintools.com.

5: Find the REAL influencers in any vertical

We all know that Lee Odden is influential in search, because we are reading his blog right now! (unless you are reading a scraped version, which is even more of a testament to his influence that someone should take the trouble to steal his content). But if you knew nothing about the industry, could links help to find the main influencers?

At least two companies that I know of have invested in being able to find these people through back link analysis. Linkdex and CognitiveSEO both are able to take link data wholesale, then parse the link URLs to see what type of pages and links these are. They both do a pretty good job of finding links embedded particularly in BLOG content. If the blog pages themselves are influential (again we are back to Flow Metrics® or Page Rank® to see this) then we have ourselves an influential blogger for that vertical.

Now you have 5 useful ways to use web page link data for purposes that range from determining advertising value to discovering influencers for blogger relations and outreach.  How are you using link analysis and tracking tools outside of search engine optimization?

Save the date: If you want to find out how to use link tracking tools like Majestic SEO for creative content marketing purposes, be sure to check out my session at SES London on Creative Content Marketing: Winning Hearts, Minds and Wallets on Tuesday, February 19th  at 11:45am.


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© Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®, 2013. | The Incredibly Useful Value of Links Beyond SEO by Dixon Jones | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Link Building for Beginners in 3 Simple Steps http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/01/link-building-for-beginners-in-3-simple-steps-tips-from-nmx/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/01/link-building-for-beginners-in-3-simple-steps-tips-from-nmx/#comments Thu, 10 Jan 2013 20:00:48 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=14671 Historically, link building was critical for companies to appear in search results, as links have long been an important signal to search engines. However, the new link building is about mentions, social visibility, and building your company’s presence, says Alison Groves, Product Coordinator at Raven Internet Marketing Tools. Groves presented her three simple steps to [...]

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Alison Groves from Raven Tools talks link building in an introductory SEO track at NMX Las Vegas.Historically, link building was critical for companies to appear in search results, as links have long been an important signal to search engines. However, the new link building is about mentions, social visibility, and building your company’s presence, says Alison Groves, Product Coordinator at Raven Internet Marketing Tools.

Groves presented her three simple steps to link building for businesses in a presentation this morning at NMX Las Vegas. Her process, she says, revolves around relationship building and nurturing in order to earn mentions from relevant websites. We need to focus less on the technical and more on attracting targeted traffic by getting our sites in front of the people most likely to be interested in our product or service, she said.

With those goals in mind, here are Groves’ three simple steps for link building:

Step One: Research

What is a relevant website and how do I find it? Look for relevant websites for your business, locally, in your industry, etc.

Start with a simple Google search and query descriptive, long-tail keywords. Take it a step further and add a site operator (keyword-site:domain.com) to weed out the site you already know about and discover new sources.

Don’t forget that Facebook also has an internal search. Not only do you find relevant websites, but you can see the social aspects of it as well and begin to build relationships.

Use the web catalog to find out which websites link to the site that you are examining. Start building out your list of relevant, trusted sites.

Step Two: Outreach

You’ve curated a list of really good, high quality, relevant websites. Now how do you get a mention from them to bring awareness to your business?

Stay on point with your story. There are a few simple rules to remember when doing outreach:

  • Be genuine. Tell your story, be compelling and let people know you’re passionate about what you do and not just hitting them up for something.
  • Don’t immediately go in for the kill. Build relationships first, no one wants to write about you the first time they’ve ever heard from you.

Start at Social Mention, where you can type in your keyword and see real-time mentions across a variety of social sites. This helps you identify people for outreach and you can actually start building a relationship within the platform, as it is connected to social sites.

Create Twitter lists to curate people around relevant topics and begin to contact people to start relationship building.

Try out Rapportive to find contact information on people you’re interested in contacting. You might already have the person’s email, but this gives you access to their social presences, where you might choose to connect or follow up.

Step Three: Keep Relationships Going

As Alison said, there’s no “wham bam thank you maam” in link building or online relationship building. Nurturing relationships is incredibly important and pays dividends over time. Always reciprocate and share the love you’ve received from website owners.

In link building, it’s critical to stay organized and hang on to as much data as you can. Even in a simple Excel sheet, keep track of the date of your first outreach, dates of follow ups, the types of links you’re working on or have acquired, the site domain, the website owner’s contact information and any other information you may need to track your link building efforts.

Conversation notes are a handy tool, according to Groves. It’s helpful to have a reminder of a conversation you might have had months ago, to avoid an embarrassing situation where you forget how you are connected with someone.

See the entire process outlined in Groves’ presentation from NMX:

 


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Social Media Links – How SEO and Social Work Together for Link Building http://www.toprankblog.com/2012/07/social-media-links/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2012/07/social-media-links/#comments Wed, 11 Jul 2012 14:58:31 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=13849 Just about every day I do a Q and A with someone new related to Optimize, online marketing in general or about topics related to our agency’s marketing consulting practice. It might be prep for a journalist interview, blogger interview, Twitter chat or helping a friend out with a book like the Q/A below for Rob [...]

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social linkingJust about every day I do a Q and A with someone new related to Optimize, online marketing in general or about topics related to our agency’s marketing consulting practice. It might be prep for a journalist interview, blogger interview, Twitter chat or helping a friend out with a book like the Q/A below for Rob Garner (VP at iCrossing and SEMPO board member).

Q/A is a great format since so much of search and social media based content discovery is about answering questions.  Editorial calendars for blogging are useful, but new topics add some nice flavor to the theme. Social linking for example. I don’t use that term at all, but the practices and outcomes involved are absolutely relevant to connecting consumers with brands for business.

Here are 6 questions and answers on the fundamentals of using a social media focused approach for link attraction and acquisition.

How do you define “social linking”? 

I don’t really use that term but I suppose social linking most often means using social media channels to promote content that inspires social shares with links. A Tweet, Facebook status update or Pinterest pin that includes a link to the content being promoted are all examples of social links. Social shares with links = social links.

It’s worth considering that social channels are also used to promote content to communities that include bloggers and journalists who may notice and link to the promoted source. Those are not social links per se, but they are inspired from content promoted through social channels.

The advancement of social media and SEO integration has created a shift from seeking links purely for the potential impact on better search visibility to a content focused approach which emphasizes the impact that promoted and optimized content can have at attracting traffic directly. Social links achieved as a result of promoted content are either an equal or a secondary objective.

How do you define the key types of social links?

I think social links have different characteristics and so the definition depends on what you’re after.

One marketer might look at links within social shares and discern value based on nofollow vs. those that pass PageRank because of a primary focus on traditional SEO.  Another marketer might evaluate links based on how much traffic was sent in a particular time frame, additional levels of shares of the link and overall propagation because of a focus on awareness, branding and reach.

Other basic social link characteristics or types might include:

  • Content shared on social channels that includes a link (temporal and permanent)
  • Links contained within feeds (RSS, fire hose, syndicated)
  • Links contained on social profile web pages
  • Clean links that pass PageRank
  • Nofollow or crawler “un friendly” links
  • Shortened links/URLs

With so many social networks using the nofollow attribute, do you see any indirect search benefits from sharing in these networks?

The most important value from content promotion through social networks is to create awareness, interest and consideration for people that interact with the information.  People that are empowered to publish through blogging, commenting or other social content sharing may decide to act on content they’ve been exposed to through social channels in the form of a link to it.

It’s completely up to the discretion of search engines to adhere to nofollow, or not. Search engine policies and terms of use are not something we can control, so approaching direct and indirect benefits from links within social channels should focus on the ability to affect a target audience first and foremost. Doing so in a search engine friendly way can make that effort even more effective.

If nofollow social links are of little SEO value now, who’s to say search engines won’t value them in a different way that could be come a SEO or Social SEO asset in the future? If the links provide value to the influencers and followers we’re trying to reach and they act on those links in a meaningful, measurable way, then the most important objective is achieved.

How much of an impact do you believe social linking is having on search engine algorithms for non-logged in and non-personalized users?

The links contained in the millions of social shares that happen on a regular basis is too rich (in my opinion) for search engines to ignore completely. If content resonates with a community and they actively share that content at an accelerated rate, I can’t imagine why a search engine would not factor that signal for generic searches. It might not be a signal with substantial influence now for logged out users, but I suspect it will grow proportionate to the growth of social network usage.

It’s important not to forget the ancillary impact of social shares with links that surface interesting content to people who decide to create “follow” links from their blogs, in comments or from other content sources that are outside of social networks. That’s an example of social linking that can impact search, albeit, indirectly.

How do you view the measurement of social links, versus traditional links? 

Social shares with links are important for driving traffic and creating awareness of content. The extent that they can be a signal for generic search or logged in search is a value too. The authority of authors that share the links, the rate and quantity of social shares and the topics associated with source and destination are all worth considering when evaluating social links.

The reason why the link is created, the context, is as important as the distinction of social vs. traditional. A blogger might link to another web page or blog within an article that contains hundreds of words.  A link within a Tweet might only involve a handful of words. But that same link could be re-tweeted hundreds of times in a very short period of time. It’s less likely that hundreds of bloggers would write blog posts including hundreds of words within a similarly short period of time.

The anchor text and page/domain authority of the source are important values for traditional links. The annotation (since there is no anchor text with a social link) and rate of link duplication/propagation are important values for a social link. I think there’s still value to the cumulative number of social links but not in the same way as traditional page-to-page links.

Is there an ROI on social linking, or should marketers approach the same as link building, in the sense that it is known to be a key cornerstone for achieving higher visibility? 

I would evaluate based on determining whether social linking is contributing to identified goals.  Social linking purely for achieving higher search visibility is a narrow view and leaves a lot of value unrealized.  Inspiring social shares of relevant and optimized content can drive direct traffic, additional waves of awareness and provide longer-term benefits for visibility through search.  New content discovery through social media often motivates a search. Brand awareness when searching can result in greater clickthroughs in the SERPs, even if the position is beyond 1, 2 or 3.

 


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12 Timeless Link Building Tips for Business Blogs http://www.toprankblog.com/2012/04/timeless-link-building-tips/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2012/04/timeless-link-building-tips/#comments Mon, 30 Apr 2012 14:37:59 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=13582 As a key component of a hub and spoke online marketing strategy, blogs can be very effective for social media network engagement, online PR, customer service, and as search engine optimization assets. While there are numerous cases studies of business blogs (I like to think Online Marketing Blog is one) providing tremendous value, blogs are simply [...]

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link building

Link Building for Business Blogs Doesn’t Need to Be Risky

As a key component of a hub and spoke online marketing strategy, blogs can be very effective for social media network engagement, online PR, customer service, and as search engine optimization assets. While there are numerous cases studies of business blogs (I like to think Online Marketing Blog is one) providing tremendous value, blogs are simply software tools and what you get out of them is in proportion to how well you know how to use them.  One of the common areas of lost opportunity with business blogs is link building.

Despite Panda, Penguin and maybe someday “Zebra?”, updates from Google to further filter out what constitutes useful content and links on the web, links will always be valuable for attracting traffic.  Some online marketers chase exploits, tricks or shortcuts only to get spanked by a black and white named-animal update from Google.  Why not spend that creativity on something of value and competitive advantage that withstands the advancing filters applied by search engines?

Here are a few timeless tips for building natural links that will attract and engage customers to your business blog:

1. Create content worth linking to. No matter how many tactics you find here and elsewhere, there simply is no substitute for creating content that others may find useful. With an Optimized approach to online marketing, understanding your market and customers is essential for developing an approach for content, SEO, Social and promotions that result in links. If you understand what content types, topics and formats resonate with influential link sources and the communities around them, your content promotion and social networking efforts can become more effective, more quickly and a “win” all around.

2. Competitive Link Research on competing web sites or blogs will help identify who is linking to competitor sites that are not linking to yours. This is back link analysis 101 and can still be useful for spotting opportunities of all kinds. For example, if another web site or blog is already linking to multiple competitors in a list of resources relevant to your product or service, there is a chance they’ll link to your blog about the same product/service category as well. Monitoring the competition using SEO link tracking and social media monitoring tools can reveal many, many different types of linking and content opportunities. They can also reveal what NOT to do.

3. Engage on other blogs and industry news websites that allow comments. Interactions should always be useful, timely and relevant.  Simply promoting links to your event or blog post as the first time comment does not provide much value. It’s like interrupting a conversation and trying to sell something to a group of people that know each other and you’re the stranger. Develop connections, ask questions, answer them, share resources and recognize others that contribute. When guided by topical themes and objectives, those behaviors can be instrumental and developing connections with influential link sources and the media.

4. Make Sharing Easy where ever you’re publishing useful content, especially on blogs.  While the social proof offered by Twitter, Facebook, Google+ counters is fairly superficial, they do work at attracting attention and validating to the reader that the blog post is worth checking out. Make the act of sharing easy by including sharing options but also by including titles that are social media optimized. Share titles will pre-populate a Twitter sharing window with text that is more interesting from a social share perspective.

Don’t leave it to the reader to write their own description of the blog post they’re sharing, although that ability should certainly exist. Of course, title tags should be keyword optimized for search engines. Sharing expands the visibility of your content on social networks and communities. Shared links can be a useful signal for search engines and the expanded visibility can catch the eye of another blogger or journalist that might link back to the source from their own website or blog.

5. Guest post on other blogs and include a link to your blog in the bio. In the course of getting to know blogs that already rank well on the keyword phrases you’re targeting, you may notice that they often accept guest blog posts from others. Contact the blog owner and suggest a compelling post that would be first and foremost, valuable to their readers. If it makes sense editorially to link from within the guest post to your own blog, be sure to use relevant keywords as the link text. Do not use the exact same link text every time. Make the anchor text relevant to the source and the destination.

6. Write testimonials or case studies for services and software that you use. They may publish with a link back to your blog.  Testimonials must be well written, genuine and specific in order to be useful for the service/product owner. Get at the essence of what’s great about the product or service and even add something unique. If you’ve written a review of the product/service on your blog, that can also get you a link from their press page.

7. Event and Job listings should always have a link back to your blog. Blogs can be useful recruiting tools that help candidates understand the culture of your company. When purchasing job listings on other web sites, add a link to your blog. The listings may expire, but may also introduce your blog to candidates that write their own blog and decide to write about a listing with a permanent link to the hiring company blog. The same goes for event listings, which like job listings, are often syndicated to networks that turn up in RSS feeds, as Tweets and updates on other social networks.

8. Distribute optimized news via a wire service with a link to your blog included. PRWeb, is a pioneer in providing competitive SEO value with press release distribution. It is essential the the release is well-written and offers compelling news worth sharing and linking to.  Many blogs and some news web sites will re-publish your press release exactly as it was distributed, including good links back to your blog. Journalists use News Search engines to look up past press releases and research on stories, which presents an opportunity to be found and included.

9. Contribute Op Eds or Articles to industry web sites, online newspapers, magazines and association websites. Your article can include a link to your blog in the credentials area.  If you suggest content to another web site such as a letter to the editor, why not keyword optimize the title? You might also include a link back to your blog where you’ve written many more articles on the same topic. Those links build credibility of your article and also for you as an author and subject matter expert.

Along the lines of op eds and contributed articles, be sure your media relations efforts include a link request when an industry publication decides to include you or your company in a story. Many newspapers and magazine websites have a policy of not linking out, but if you are diligent in asking and give a good resource for the link destination, it could pay off very nicely. News websites can be very useful to search engines and link sources.

10. ABN – Always Be Networking and growing your social networks, email lists and channels of distribution. Share especially useful content from your blog where relevant. Be useful to others and they will useful to you by promoting your content and attracting links. Don’t be gratuitous when sharing links to your own content, but when you have something particularly special and valuable that’s highly relevant to a particular network, then by all means, share it with them. Some are bloggers as well and may link to it from their own blogs as well as pass the link along to others.

11. Sponsor content on web sites or newsletters archived to the web that allow you to include a link. It may be a nofollow link, but it may not.  Many newsletters sent via email are archived to the web or have landing pages on the web. Ask those newsletters if you can buy an ad or even contribute a short article.  The article credits should include a link to your blog where there are more resources on the same or similar topic.

12. Hire bloggers to write content for you. They’ll often cross-post it to their own blog with a link back to yours. Of course, you should be considerate and simply mention that this is ok, don’t ask them or require them to do it. If you have regular contributors to your blog, those bloggers may be prone to promoting and linking to their work on your blog as a way to build attention to themselves.

 

Bonus tip: When others link to you, THANK THEM!  Building good will is one of the most underrated marketing skills online. Be genuine, thoughtful and courteous. Also be SMART and driven to get links where it makes sense.

What linking tactics for blogs have you found to be most effective? What challenges are you facing in attracting other sites to link to your blog?


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© Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®, 2012. | 12 Timeless Link Building Tips for Business Blogs | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Linkbuilding Like a Nerd #SESNY http://www.toprankblog.com/2012/03/linkbuilding-like-a-nerd-sesny/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2012/03/linkbuilding-like-a-nerd-sesny/#comments Tue, 27 Mar 2012 18:00:46 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=13480 Linkbuilding has to be one of my favorite aspects of SEO. All too often people use the analogy of linkbuilding being a popularity contest. As someone who views linkbuilding in a somewhat different light – and as someone who was considered by only his parents as ‘cool’ – I think it’s time to put that [...]

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Linkbuilding EssentialsLinkbuilding has to be one of my favorite aspects of SEO. All too often people use the analogy of linkbuilding being a popularity contest. As someone who views linkbuilding in a somewhat different light – and as someone who was considered by only his parents as ‘cool’ – I think it’s time to put that analogy to bed. Yes, being the sexy-fun brand will undoubtedly drive links for your site. But in my opinion, it’s the quality of the information on the page that will not only help you succeed in proactively acquiring links, but will also inspire others to link to your page. Or to return to the analogy, the cool kid might start out with the lead, but it’s the smart kid (see nerd) who ends up winning in the long run.

It is that passion for linkbuilding that drove me to put Linkbuilding Essentials as one of my can’t miss SES New York sessions…and it didn’t disappoint. Debra Mastaler, President of Alliance-Link, presented solo and here are just some of the highlights.

Create Quality Content

At the end of the day links represent another sites ‘vote’ for your page. To earn that vote you need to offer content that can’t be found on just any site. Provide resources, include imagery and ensure your headline grabs the reader’s attention. If you want to inspire sharing, give them something worthy of sharing.

4 Linkbuilding Considerations

1. Quantity – The number of links pointing to an individual page.

Take-away: Because the quality of links strongly influences the links value, link quantity can be dangerous to view in a silo. Use this number along with link quantity to evaluate your linkbuilding success and identify new opportunities.

2. Quality – Different search engines have different names for the metric used to evaluate link quality. For Google that is known as PageRank. PageRank – wisely titled – ranks a page based on the PageRank number for all pages linking to it.

Take-away: Online marketers learned many Google updates ago that Google places a strong emphasis on the quality of a link. That is, a link from Forbes is more powerful than a link from bookmarking site, although both may deserve a place in your linkbuilding strategy.

3. Relevance – The context or relationship between the page linking out and the page receiving the link is an important aspect of linkbuilding. The pages should likely have some similarities in order for the link to be of value to either web property.

Take-away: If you’re a business that sells high-end IT software and yet most of the links that point to your site are from a site that sells boiled peanuts, there’s something wrong. As you consider what sites to target in your linkbuilding efforts, ask yourself: is it reasonable for your audience to want to visit that page? If the answer is yes, it is likely a good link to acquire from both a SEO and UX standpoint.

4. Anchor Text – Links that leverage text to link to another page. When done right, the text of the link should provide insight as to what information will be found on the linked page.

Take-away: From a SEO perspective, anchor text links can be more powerful than a spelled out URL link. Why? For the same reason it is more powerful from a UX perspective. The text of the link provides the search bot with information about the page being linked.

No-No’s for Linkbuilding

Now with an understanding of some of the key aspects to consider when developing and maintaining a linkbuilding program, let’s switch gears and discuss a few practices that every marketer should avoid.

  1. Building Links in Bulk – Seems counter-intuitive, right? If link quantity is factored by search engines, why not acquire as many as possible at once? The reason is simple: with exception to major announcements, product roll-outs or big advertising, it’s unnatural for most pages to suddenly have a burst in the number of inlinks. In addition, the types of tactics that lead to a sudden surge in links are likely against Google’s Terms of Service.
  2. Not Linking Out – There is an old belief that linking from your page to a 3rd party property is a bad thing and hurts your PageRank score. In reality, linking to other sites offers far more pros than cons. The only caveat is that you need take a strategic approach to how you link out. For starters, don’t use an important keyword in your anchor text and don’t link to sites that you don’t want associated with your brand
  3. Talking Like a Robot – Using the exact phrase in each anchor text link you acquire is not ideal. Although it’s difficult to quantify how this approach can impact the SEO value of your links, think of it this way: no two people talk the exact same way, so it’s unreasonable that the only language relevant to your page is X. Consider mixing in long tail derivatives to strike a healthy balance.

One thing that I especially enjoyed in Mastaler’s presentation was the way she broke down the large world of linkbuilding into neat little segments that allow you to form an action plan. Get nerdy and start your linkbuilding initiative with a commitment to provide better content than your competition. Next, evaluate your current inlink situation against the 4 key considerations. Identify your opportunities and be sure not to violate the linkbuilding no-no’s.

While we’re talking linkbuilding, what’s the best linking tool? Make your case with a comment below.


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Thanksgiving Wishbone Competitiveness & Content Marketing Tips – Who Knew? http://www.toprankblog.com/2011/11/5-steps-keep-readers-engaged/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2011/11/5-steps-keep-readers-engaged/#comments Thu, 24 Nov 2011 11:00:43 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=12993 For many people who have grown up celebrating Thanksgiving, the holiday for giving thanks has a underlying theme: Winning the wishbone. Besides the mounds of wonderful food and extended family gathered at many US households, there might be plenty of turkey to go around, but there is only one wishbone. Believe it or not, competitive [...]

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For many people who have grown up celebrating Thanksgiving, the holiday for giving thanks has a underlying theme: Winning the wishbone. Besides the mounds of wonderful food and extended family gathered at many US households, there might be plenty of turkey to go around, but there is only one wishbone.

Believe it or not, competitive pursuit after a Thanksgiving turkey’s wishbone is a perfect metaphor for understanding better customer centric content marketing.  Prepare yourself for a Thanksgiving themed post without the tryptophan side effects.

5 Steps of A Wishbone Strategy Applied to Content Marketing
Here’s how the wishbone strategy works and how you can apply it to your content marketing strategy.

Thanksgiving-Turkey

Step 1: Lobby Mom to ensure turkey is on the Thanksgiving menu. Every year, there are Moms across the country who set their sights on trying some new tradition without any input from the people who will be eating the meal. To avoid a holiday dining catastrophe, kids start begging said Moms to get a Thanksgiving turkey as soon as Halloween is over. Content marketers need to listen to and understand prospect and customer interests to ensure they provide the information that matters most. To this end, consider the content your target audience needs at every point in the purchase cycle from awareness through post purchase support.

Depending on your product or services, this can translate to a variety of different types of content. Here’s an extensive list to choose from, and don’t forget to serve seasonally appropriate content which resonates with your audience. To carry on with our Thanksgiving theme, an example could be links to cool Turkey carving apps, Thanksgiving recipes or instructions for how to make paper decorations look like turkeys.

dad-carve-turkey

Photo Credit: carbonated via Flickr

Step 2: Beg Dad to carve the turkey. While this seems like pandering, in our house, Dad was a surgeon when it came to carving the bird and, unlike Mom, he carefully preserved the wishbone for a fair battle. As a marketer, it’s important to go beyond just defining your target audience to understanding what various segments want and need to attract and maintain their attention. Just as many of us play up to Dad’s carving skills, our content must also tightly synch with the needs of prospective readers.

wishbone-contender

Photo Credit: lapstrake via Flickr

Step 3: Be chosen a wishbone contender. Again, this requires advance planning. It helps to go that extra step with regard to chores and homework as well as positioning yourself nearest to the turkey when it appears fresh from the kitchen. Depending on your family, getting the wishbone can be a situation where, if you snooze, you loose. Similarly, content marketing must be available where prospects are searching for it. We all know there is a dizzying array of apps, ads, channels, widgets (and so on…) vying for our prospects’ attention.

Think strategically in terms of your communication channels such as campaign-oriented website landing pages and emails, seasonally appropriate blog posts from your CEO and instructional videos from product development. Of course don’t just duplicate, rather integrate the appropriate versions of your content on social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. Depending on your audience, consider third party media placement such as providing articles for other media or sponsored content. Make it easy and compelling for your prospects to choose you through relevant content.

wishbone-stance

Photo Credit: Roger Smith via Flickr

Step 4: Assess your wishbone stance. When you’re ready to wrestle for wishbone bragging rights, it’s essential to realize that an effective strategy is all about positioning. You must get your thumb as close as possible to the tip of the wishbone. Further, it helps to let your competitor take a first try since this weakens the bone on his side. In terms of content marketing, asses your messaging stance and ensure your tailored content is integrated with the rest of your marketing. This includes linking to the appropriate products in your blog posts, providing commerce on channels like Facebook where your prospects are engaging with you, or sending a post-purchase emails with helpful product usage tips. To help inspire you, check out this Clutter Control Freak post that links to the specific product, a holiday card keeper.

make-a-wish

Step 5: Make a good wish. Of course, all of this work is for naught if you don’t have a really good wish. In marketing terms, (I know this is a reach, but bear with me) this means having a contextually relevant call-to-action for your prospect to take the next step in the purchase process. A problem for many marketers is that once you’ve primed your prospect and they leave without buying, they still have an unmet need. Therefore they’ll probably purchase from another firm and, as long as they’re somewhat satisfied, they may not return to your firm – ever.

The one content marketing element missing from this wishbone list is ensuring you’ve got great information that, like the smell of your mother’s fresh cooked turkey, will lure people in. Without quality content, it’s difficult to get your prospects, customers and the public to return for seconds and thirds. You may get them once, but after that you’ll find yourself searching for new customers. Therefore, pack your content with real protein and nutrition to engage your readers over and over again.

What else would you add to this wishbone strategy? How are you ensuring your content marketing remains focused on your target audience’s needs while working to get them to close the deal?


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How to Become a Link Magnet – SES NY 2010 http://www.toprankblog.com/2010/03/link-magnet-ses-ny-2010/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2010/03/link-magnet-ses-ny-2010/#comments Tue, 23 Mar 2010 16:04:44 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=9316 Links are the lifeblood of the web. Without fresh links, your website has no authority in the engines or consistent referral traffic. Some companies and individuals appear to attract links without really trying. Others struggle and never break through to the point of building links at increasing velocity. We’ve shared plenty of linkbuilding tactics at [...]

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Links are the lifeblood of the web. Without fresh links, your website has no authority in the engines or consistent referral traffic.

Some companies and individuals appear to attract links without really trying. Others struggle and never break through to the point of building links at increasing velocity.

We’ve shared plenty of linkbuilding tactics at Online Marketing Blog, and it’s an ongoing popular topic for search marketers. In addition to direct and mechanical tactics, becoming a link magnet in your own right is an indirect yet powerful strategy to attract organic links.

The rise of the social web has set the idea of personal branding on fire. By developing a brand for yourself, your company and even the individuals within it, you can build an army of advocates ready to link to everything you post.

How can you develop your personal brand so that you only have to publish that sticky idea and links occur as a byproduct?

During SES New York 2010, Greg Jarboe, President & Co-Founder of SEO PR, moderated a notable group of linkerati:

  • Rand Fishkin, CEO, SEOmoz.org
  • Jennifer Slegg, CEO, JenSense.com
  • Aaron Kahlow, Chairman & Founder, Online Marketing Summit

Jennifer Slegg, CEO, JenSense.com


Jen started things off by talking about the building blocks to creating a personal brand with the goal of link magnetism:

First, ask yourself, “What an I doing it for?”

  • Rankings
  • Clients
  • Job opportunities
  • Stardust
  • Recognition

Figure out why you want to be a link magnet before anything else.

Next, consider your name.

Personal name

  • Is your name fairly unique? If not, you may have a difficult time building a personal brand.
  • Are there others with similar names? If so, there is the potential for confusion, and you’ll want to consider developing a handle.
  • Is the domain name available? This is vital for your blog, and you’ll want your domain name to be your personal brand if possible.
  • If you use a handle, does it narrow your focus too much? I.E., if your name was “content queen,” you may limit your appeal.

Company name

  • This is potentially problematic in that you and the company brand are forever merged. This can create potential company marketing conflicts in the future.
  • Consider using a spin on a company name (i.e., GoogleGuy or Company CEO).
  • Remember company name and your name will always be tied together. What if the company gets sold?

Setting the groundwork

Whatever name you go with, register it everywhere. Then, set up your blog on your site – everyone who wants to develop a personal brand needs a blog. Create a unique design/logo and ensure it is just as brandable as the name you use.

Define your personality

People link to personalities as much as quality information. What do you want to be?

Helpful – Great way to start if participating in forums is key to your branding. If you show knowledge, people will follow and then link to you.

Informative/expert – The most important thing is, you need to know your stuff. If you don’t consider yourself expert quality, start researching and learning now. You’ll get called out if you post bad info. Try these ideas:

  • Guest blogs
  • Speak/participate in events (offline/online)
  • Answer questions via Twitter

Controversial – Take the opposite stance on any popular industry topic. If everyone is singing praise about a company, look at the negative. If a company makes a move that everyone loves or hates, take the unpopular view and run with it. But tread carefully – you could develop a reputation for being “anti” or “pro” on a topic.

Being a jerk – This is very difficult to pull off, but those who are successful can be extremely popular. This gets you noticed, but you live with the rep. It could prevent you from being an authority. So if that’s your goal, this route may not be the way to go.

The key point to remember is the entire world is a stage – everything you say or do will help or hurt your brand.

Rand Fishkin, CEO, SEOmoz.org


 

Rand started his presentation with the notion that link magnets are the new paradigm of link acquisition.

How is a link magnet different than linkbait?

Linkbait = Content that’s built to attract links (but not necessarily reward their creation).

Link magnets emotionally or physically reward the linker, creating an incentive.

Why is this so powerful? Overall, the web has become jaded. Previously, we used to get plenty of legitimate blog posts/links due to great content. Now this has shifted. With a great post, we’ll get tons of Facebook status updates, Tweets, etc.

There was a golden era of linkbait where people loved and supported great content. Now we’re too sensitive; “The fish have figured out that there is a hook attached to our content.” This suspicion has created difficulties in attracting linkbait.

But people still link when it benefits them. Savvy marketers are rewarding linkers in non-financial ways.

For example, Yelp created a digital badge version of “People Love Us on Yelp” that restaurants could use on their websites. This made the most relevant pages on the web link back to the Yelp site.

There is the notion that great content earns links. According to Rand, this is a myth. You could post the absolute best piece of content on a subject on the web, and people will not link to it just because it’s good. It’s like saying, “The best ideas in politics are supported by the voters.” Instead, it’s branding and marketing to sell a concept that has an impact on where content goes.

The new bait is an emotional and obvious hook. Linking to content should do something for the people linking to it. Play to a linker’s psychology:

  • Self-fulfillment
  • Satisfaction
  • Efficiency
  • Effectiveness

One of the most beautiful things about the concept of link magnetism is that much of the time, especially when it’s embeddable, you have control of targeted links and anchor text.

You need a strategy for promotion & spreading of links. You need to create a distribution mechanism and a way to attract people, or it will never work.

Examples of great link magnetism:

Vimeo – When you click the “share” button on a video, it creates the overlay box to copy-paste the code and share it. By embedding the video, Vimeo also gains three links.

OKCupid – They create trends all the time using their data to help market the site. Their blog is frequently an example of both linkbait and a link magnet. By sharing the information on the blog, users are rewarded by sharing something interesting.

Techmeme – When they launched the learderboard, more than 30 of the top 100 bloggers linked to them.

Simply Hired – They publish the data/stats/salaries behind jobs. It is both interesting and useful data that frequently acts as a magnet for media.

Aaron Kahlow, Founder, Online Marketing Summit


 

Aaron decided to be interactive and not give a presentation. He gave just a few tips before turning over the panel to an audience Q&A.

Content – If you don’t have great content, there’s no reason anyone should link to you.

Personas/branding – If you don’t have a personality or aren’t comfortable with yours, you’ll never form the affinity necessary to gain links.

Social – Every time you create something, ask yourself if your colleagues/constituents would share.

Friends – Make sure you build relationships with those who are link magnets.

Suggestions:

1. Decide who your target market is, and then address them appropriately. For example, you can’t “geek out” and get technical if your audience is not.

2. Make sharing simple and easy. For example, if your audience is active on Twitter, leverage the Tweetmeme button on your blog.

3. When you find things you like, say something about it and link to it as opposed to always linking to the source.


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Two Biggest Advantages of Small Businesses SEO http://www.toprankblog.com/2010/02/small-business-seo-advantages/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2010/02/small-business-seo-advantages/#comments Mon, 08 Feb 2010 12:00:12 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=8644 With search engine optimization, small businesses have two advantages larger competitors often can’t match: creativity and agility. By embracing these two philosophies as part of their digital marketing DNA, small businesses can carve out a search marketing strategy that runs circles around larger competitors. Today, we’ll briefly explore why creativity and agility are advantages small businesses [...]

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agility-creativity-search-marketingWith search engine optimization, small businesses have two advantages larger competitors often can’t match: creativity and agility.

By embracing these two philosophies as part of their digital marketing DNA, small businesses can carve out a search marketing strategy that runs circles around larger competitors.

Today, we’ll briefly explore why creativity and agility are advantages small businesses have for search marketing, and some quick tips to activate each.

Creativity as a search marketing advantage

Large = more risk management – Small = creativity/individuality can shine

Larger corporations are naturally risk-averse. Most won’t create blogs that take sides on issues, create controversy or linkbait, push the envelope with snarky ideas or allow shining examples of individuality. Which is why individuals and smaller companies have a continued advantage: there are far less stakeholders so it’s easier to sell creative, controversial or compelling ideas. The more creative your content is, the more editorially earned, organic links you’ll attract from the web community that content builds.

Tips to activate for SEO benefit:

Develop creative linkbait – small, creative groups have the perfect environment to brainstorm linkbait. Where larger companies will mostly follow proven archetypes, a small business can break the mold with clever, catchy and outside the box linkbait ideas. It’s an opportunity to create the kind of linkbait social web influencers are looking for but larger competitors do not understand. By embracing this it’s possible to outpace those who can only engage in manual/mechanical linkbuilding efforts because the content they are working with is dry.

Create controversy – success in small businesses comes from dedicated team members passionate about their industry of choice. Due to this passion, they will naturally have strong feelings about the industry they are in. Why not turn that passion loose on the web to attract others who feel the same? It’s going to be more authentic, let you leverage an angle larger competitors can’t or won’t use, and more closely connect with an audience. Even those who disagree with you play into this strategy, because as they respond to you in droves, they bring an influx of links and referral traffic. Individuals in your niche are dominating the SERPs by leveraging this approach and it’s an opportunity if your small business can artfully direct controversy.

Leverage a creative CMS – where large competitors are stuck using SEO-unfriendly CMS platforms, your small business can take advantage of cheap/free SEO-friendly online publishing tools like WordPress. Creative web developers can turn WordPress into an entire CMS to power your site at an extremely reasonable cost. If you need something more powerful, a CMS like Expression Engine is both affordable and natively search engine friendly. Small businesses have a choice where larger companies frequently get locked into complex systems or dated technologies.

Agility as a search marketing advantage

Larger = slower moving – Small = the advantage of speed and agility

Agility isn’t just a factor for influencing the social web. It’s an effective way for a small businesses to create an SEO strategy disruptive to competitors. Because larger corporations naturally have complex layers of approval processes, lawyers and committees, smaller businesses have an opportunity to exploit this by being first. Many small businesses try to act like large corporations, however this is not embracing the advantage possible by being able to turn on a dime.

Tips to activate for SEO benefit:

Flip your mindset about web content from formal to improvisational – particularly with content published through a social channel such as a blog.  According to the recent TopRank Marketing survey on blogging and SEO 94% of bloggers reported seeing measurable SEO benefits from blogging within 12 months. A majority see benefit, since more content  equals more hooks in the water for search engines. Data from Hitwise showing search phrases are getting longer reinforces this, showing you should feed the tail now more than ever. By having an agile content development process, smaller companies can and do outpace larger competitors who have more resources, but can’t get out of their own way.

Embrace personal brands – when a company embraces their team members having personal brands, this will as a by-product provide a search marketing advantage. For example: in interviews, on their own blogs and through their own exposure, a company and the individual both benefit since both parties frequently get mentioned/linked together. It’s a win-win situation. Where larger corporations use their many partners as an advantage for links, small businesses can encourage and embrace their passionate, trusted team members to develop personal brands in their industry.

Break news – as we’ve noted previously in social media marketing applications (and also discussed by Brian Clark at Copyblogger): every company is now a media company. By breaking news right along with media, you’re going to attract links and referral traffic. Instead of relying on external entities for attention, your company will start to become a trusted source as its own brand of media. To embrace this in a way that matters, agility is essential.

The more small businesses take advantage of their ability to be more creative and agile than larger competitors, the more their online content marketing and SEO programs will succeed.

What other advantages do you think small businesses have for search marketing?


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Top 5 Reasons for Ongoing SEO Services http://www.toprankblog.com/2009/12/top-5-reasons-for-ongoing-seo/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2009/12/top-5-reasons-for-ongoing-seo/#comments Fri, 11 Dec 2009 13:22:35 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=7959 For many companies, an ideal world involving Search Engine Optimization would be simple, quick and a one-time task to check off a list. An organization would create a website, optimize its content for target keywords and promote the site. Soon, the website would acquire a strong number of inbound links and start ranking for those [...]

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Ongoing search marketing consultingFor many companies, an ideal world involving Search Engine Optimization would be simple, quick and a one-time task to check off a list. An organization would create a website, optimize its content for target keywords and promote the site. Soon, the website would acquire a strong number of inbound links and start ranking for those target keywords. End of story.

Unfortunately, that’s just not the case. In reality, SEO isn’t just about adding keywords and linking. SEO is increasingly social and sits at the intersection of multiple business functions outside of marketing including public relations, customer service, recuitment and branding.

Ongoing SEO consulting is an important part of any internet marketing mix. Truly good consultants save companies significant expenses and contribute to increased leads and sales by providing unique expertise and insight into the technical, creative and increasingly social sides of internet marketing.

Back in 2007, Lee pinpointed 5 Advantages of Ongoing SEO Consulting. As we near the start of 2010, I think it’s the perfect time to revisit those points to see if they hold just as much weight today as they did 3 years ago:

Failure to implement SEO recommendations1. Ongoing search marketing consulting is important because a large percentage of organizations fail to implement the recommendations provided to them by their SEO consultants.

There are many reasons companies do not implement the advice they’re paying for. In difficult economic times, some companies aren’t able to justify the expense of making major changes to their content management systems or devote significant resources to content creation.  Many web development or copy writing staff are overbooked and SEO implementation requests never make it to the “done” checklist.  The best optimization recommendations in the world can be given, but if they aren’t implemented properly or at all, then they’re useless.

An experienced search marketing consultant can lend a hand in implementing recommendations at once, in phases over time or provide quality control oversight of client side implementation on an ongoing basis. Ongoing SEO helps companies avoid costly mistakes in situation such as when SEO work is overwritten or implemented in a way that actually hurts search engine spider interaction rather than facilitate it.

For one B2B e-commerce site that TopRank has worked with for several years, SEO oversight over time has been instrumental at achieving compounded search traffic. Because the company’s web site encompasses a vast number of product pages – and because product focuses change over time – ongoing attention to keyword glossaries, on page optimization, anchor text and link sources has been vital.

In order to maintain search momentum and integrity to target keywords and audiences, the SEO team revisits optimized content to ensure keywords are still relevant and that pages retain their ability to pull search traffic. Since 2007, top 10 search engine rankings for this site have increased by more than 150%.  While the value of “rankings” can be argued with Google’s new personalized search for everyone, ongoing measurements using consistent means can provide a relative measure over time. The end result has been a significant increase in relevant search traffic over time, despite changes in keywords and target audiences.

Ongoing link building2. Search marketing consultants can help organizations proactively build links over time.

Link building continues to be one of the most common victims of a neglected search marketing program. Yet ongoing link building is still one of the most critical factors in determining page relevancy, crawling and rankings.

From content marketing on social networks to optimized press releases to link bait, search marketing consultants can help organizations acquire links that drive traffic directly and influence better search visibility, which also drives traffic. SEO Consultants can even assist in more passive link building efforts such as directory submissions, bookmarking, widgets and operationalizing the link opportunities that exist with other types of online content such as job listings, events and public relations efforts.

For one retail SEO client, TopRank has provided ongoing search marketing consulting – ongoing link building, in particular – that has resulted in over 80% of all web site traffic coming from natural search. On any given month, the site receives anywhere from a handful to several hundreds of new inbound links from relevant sources. Since an ongoing effort to acquire links was started, the website and blog have increased unique visitors by 214%.

SEO quickly evolving3. Ongoing search marketing consulting is necessary because the search engine industry changes often.

This point may be more relevant today than ever before. The major search engines are constantly fine-tuning and the search engine landscape continues to change.  Bing didn’t exist 3 years ago and who could have imagined that Yahoo and Microsoft would actually be working together let alone Google achieving 70% market share?

As an example, in just a little more than a year, Google has completely revamped the way it crawls and indexes Adobe Flash files. Before summer 2008, it was virtually impossible for a Flash-based website to gain search engine rankings. Today, many of the rules for optimizing on-page text can apply to text in Flash files.

More importantly are the impact of personalized search for everyone, the influence of social media and real-time search. The implications for SEO with these recent developments are profound and consultants that are on top of such changes provide invaluable advice to their clients, saving time, money and increasing competitive advantage.

Keeping up with the changes can put a strain on companies’ IT and marketing departments. In a win-win scenario for the client, search marketing consultants stay on top of these constant changes and consult on the implications for individual client online marketing efforts. Not only will the client’s site continue to reap the benefits of SEO, but as Lee noted in his post, he or she can “look like a rock star to their management team.”

Marketing and IT departments short staffed4. Companies have thinly spread employees; ongoing search marketing consulting acts as “more hands on deck”.

Now, more than ever before,  employees are wearing multiple hats within their organizations. A company’s web development staff, copywriters or other marketing personnel might be tasked with SEO in addition to all of their other responsibilities. Compounding the issue, the person responsible for ongoing SEO might not even have previous experience in search marketing.

Having a search marketing consultant on board gives the people tasked with SEO with useful resource so they can focus more attention on core responsibilities.

For example, TopRank acts as a partner with a B2B distributor of industrial products for all of their online marketing activities, including content optimization, blogging and PPC management. With a capable internet marketing team as a resource, the client is able to focus its in-house employees on making sales. As a result of their top 10 rankings on important keyword phrases increasing by 125% since the beginning of the year, search traffic has also improved significantly. More qualified traffic = more qualified prospects for this B2B company.

Web analytics and metrics5. Many companies don’t actively or effectively use analytics on their own.

From measuring SEO performance to mining new keyword opportunities, Analytics are as important as ever.  This is especially true as organizations are increasingly demanding proof that their marketing budgets are being put to good use. Marketers must definitively prove marketing ROI and tie efforts back to corporate goals.  Concerns about effectively measuring web site ROI have given way to questions about measuring social media ROI.

Qualified SEO consultants have the necessary experience in monitoring keyword traffic, referral trends, time spent on sites, visitor interaction, social media conversations and other vital metrics to enable companies to make smarter decisions about what’s working and what’s not. The increasingly social and real-time nature of search brings new opportunities for on-demand SEO tactics that would be lost without proper analytics oversight.

Web analytics are certainly more present in most company online marketing programs with the introduction and acceptance of Google Analytics, but even there, constant innovation on the part of Google creates competitive advantages for those companies that stay current. SEO consultants providing ongoing web and social media analytics insight can reveal long term trends, cyclicality and the effect of the many changes mentioned above to an organization’s ability to attract new business and manage it’s reputation online.

Conclusion:

Organizations that invest in ongoing search marketing consulting are putting themselves a giant step ahead of the competition by allowing the company to focus on its core skills and relying on the SEO agency either completely, strategically or to fill in where needed. Do what you do best and outsource the rest.

Companies that hire and manage in-house SEO teams continue to leverage the expertise and strategic advice of competent SEO agencies to provide insight that proves highly valuable in staying competitive, reducing online marketing costs and increasing bottom line sales.

What are your thoughts on the value provided from ongoing SEO consulting? Do you think SEO can be handled in-house all the time, some of the time or never?  If you’re a company considering SEO, what are some of your major concerns with outsourcing on an ongoing basis?


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10 Link Building Tools for Tracking Inbound Links http://www.toprankblog.com/2009/11/1-seo-tools-for-tracking-inbound-links/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2009/11/1-seo-tools-for-tracking-inbound-links/#comments Fri, 27 Nov 2009 17:07:33 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=7730 Quality inbound links are an essential element of web site marketing and search engine optimization programs to increase traffic and online sales. The greater the number of relevant and authoritative links to a web page, the greater the potential for higher search engine rankings and qualified traffic. A recent survey from SEOmoz illustrates just how [...]

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Measuring Inbound LinksQuality inbound links are an essential element of web site marketing and search engine optimization programs to increase traffic and online sales. The greater the number of relevant and authoritative links to a web page, the greater the potential for higher search engine rankings and qualified traffic.

A recent survey from SEOmoz illustrates just how important inbound links are to rankings. An impressive 4 of the top 5 ranking factors involve inbound links:

  • Keyword focused anchor text from external links: 73% very high importance
  • External link popularity: 71% very high importance
  • Diversity of link sources: 67% very high importance
  • Trustworthiness of the domain based on link distance from trusted domains: 66% very high importance

Conversely, the No. 2 negative ranking factor was link acquisition from known link brokers or sellers (56% high importance).  Incidentally, TopRank has never engaged in link acquisitions in this manner, focusing instead on earning links through creative content promotions, social media and online public relations.

Tracking links to your web pages — and those of your competitors — is a major part of any SEO strategy. Fortunately, a host of free and paid tools exist to provide a comprehensive looks at where your web pages stand.

Since link building is so important, Lee and I have collected these 10 tools for tracking inbound links for you to test:

1. Majestic-SEO

Majestic-SEO allows users to track link information for any domain – their own sites or those of competitors. Illustrated in the image below, users can access the number of:

  • Sub domains
  • Pages
  • Links
  • Referring domains
  • Images
  • NoFollow links
  • Redirects

By verifying ownership of a domain, users can obtain a more detailed report that includes unique links and their anchor text. With registration, the service for your own site is free. Users can buy credits to obtain that same information about other web sites such as competitors. Downloadable data is given on top anchor text, top referring domains and top pages. Plus, the tool offers a “daily update” feature that provides a daily journal of new inbound links.

majestic seo

Majestic SEO

2. BuzzStream Link Building

BuzzStream Link Building focuses on providing tools that help automate redundant tasks in relationship building. It’s a CRM system for link building with applications for SEO as well as online PR.

  • Find Contact Info
  • Track Email & Twitter
  • Manage Link Prospects
  • Monitor Backlinks for anchor text, nofollows, outbound links, banned words
  • Track activities and conversion rate
  • Delegate contacts, split prospecting from outreach

BuzzStream Link Building tools are very robust for link detection, suggestions, relationship management and link management. The BuzzMarker bookmarklet allows easy addition of new link opportunities via the browser. Many other tools focus on link detection, acquisition and the technical site of management. The CRM aspect of BuzzStream and the conversion tracking reports make it unique.

There is a free trial for BuzzStream and monthly costs range from $29/mo to $249/mo. There are also options for Agencies and Enterprise use.

BuzzStream Link Building

BuzzStream Link Building

3. SEOmoz Linkscape

This inbound link tracking tool offers both a free basic version and an advanced version with a subscription to SEOmoz PRO.

The basic search (illustrated in the image below) allows users to determine the number of inbound links to a page and the number of different domains linking to a page. The tool also gives a ranking of the page based on number and quality of inbound links, as well as a ranking of the domain overall.

In the full version, users can not only judge the quality and quantity of links to their own web pages, but to their competitors as well. Users can compare number of links, number of domains and domain ranking side-by-side against competitor sites.

Users can also determine the keywords competitor sites are targeting in their anchor text and identify competitors’ most powerful links.

SEOMoz Linkscape

SEOMoz Linkscape

4. Raven SEO Tools
Raven is a suite of SEO tools including a Links Manager that allows you to easily manage the link status, contacts and tasks related to each link.

Raven will automatically alert if any changes have occurred on an active link, if the nofollow attribute was added, the anchor text changed, the PageRank changed, or the link was removed. There is team link building management functionality as well as the ability to import, export in CSV format or generate reports online.

A standalone linking too is not available for purchase. The cost for the suite of Raven SEO Tools starts at $79 per month.

Raven SEO Link Builder

Raven SEO Link Builder

5. SoloSEO Link Building Tools
SoloSEO is a collection of SEO campaign management and implementation tools which includes “Links Manager” and “Link Build It!” modules for building and tracking inbound links to your web site.

The Links Manager module helps discover links, assess the strength and quality and track progress. It also includes ongoing link detection and automatic notification if a link is deleted. Link Build It! is a bookmarklet that shows backlink count, PageRank, and Alexa rank for the site, DMOZ listing, .edu or.gov links and the ability to easily add the URL of the page being viewed to the Links Manager.

There is a free trial and the cost for SoloSEO is $29 per month for 5 domains and $4 per domain after.

SoloSEO Links Manager

SoloSEO Links Manager

6. Yahoo! Site Explorer
Yahoo! Site Explorer is a popular, free tool for analyzing and tracking inbound links for users’ own and their competitors’ sites. Users can:

  • Determine the number pages within a domain indexed by SLURP, Yahoo’s search engine crawler
  • Explore each page to determine inbound links for each
  • Exclude inbound links from the domain
  • Exclude inbound links from the subdomain
  • Export results into a TSV file

Yahoo! Site Explorer

Yahoo! Site Explorer

7. Page Inlink Analyzer
Page Inlink Analyzer is a tool created by Eric Miraglia that leverages the Yahoo Site Explorer tool mentioned above in a more useful interface that combines a left side column listing of indexed pages for the site being researched and the inbound links to the focus URL in the right column. This allows the user to quickly research the inbound links to each page of a particular site.

For each inbound link the page level and domain level inlink counts are reported as well as the number of Delicious bookmarks (with a link to view them) for each link and the associated keyword tags.

The Page Inlink Analyzer tool is free.

Page Inlink Analyzer

Page Inlink Analyzer

8. pluginSEO Beta Linking Tools
pluginSEO is a service in Beta that works to simplify SEO and linking tasks by having users input keywords and competitor URLs to generate advice including link building suggestions.

Link features include:

  • The Reactor:Links page makes suggestions
  • My Links shows inbound links to your own site
  • Competitor links documents inbound links to the competing sites entered
  • Link suggestions provides a visual listing of new linking opportunities displayed below

pluginSEO is in Beta and is now offering free trials.

pluginSEO

pluginSEO

9. Sheer SEO Backlinks Watchdog
Sheer SEO is a set of SEO project management tools, one of which, monitors “guarded” inbound links. The Backlinks Watchdog tool monitors the following link characteristics:

  • Anchor text
  • Page rank
  • Number of outbound links in the referring page
  • Availability of the page
  • Presence of meta tags “nofollow” and “noindex”
  • Existance of the link to your site
  • Presense of “nofollow” attribute on the backlink (rel=”nofollow” causes the link not to pass rank)

There is a 90 day free trial for Sheer SEO with paid options ranging from $7 to $40 per month.

Backlink Watchdog

Backlink Watchdog

10. HubSpot Website Grader
This free SEO tool provides an overall SEO score for websites based on inbound links, website traffic, SEO, social popularity and other factors. Users submit their website URL, along with competing site URLs, and are then emailed a detailed report that includes:

  • Google PageRank and number of Google indexed pages
  • Number of inbound links, with the option to analyze links through HubSpot
  • Competitive analysis with website grade, Google PageRank, number of inbound links and number of del.icio.us bookmarks

A sample report is shown below.

HubSpot Website Grader

There are many other link building and tracking tools ranging from the SEOBook toolbar and Backlink Harvester to SEO Spyglass Link Assistant. These 10 should be a good start.

What web based or desktop software tools have you found to be useful for tracking inbound links?


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25 Link Building Tactics to Improve Blog Search Engine Rankings http://www.toprankblog.com/2009/11/25-link-building-tactics-to-improve-blog-search-engine-rankings/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2009/11/25-link-building-tactics-to-improve-blog-search-engine-rankings/#comments Sun, 08 Nov 2009 06:06:43 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=7458 Blogs are often touted as good for search engine optimization. The reality is, blogs are simply software tools and what you get out of them from a SEO perspective is in proportion to how well you know how to use them.  Good keyword categorization and content are a start, but blogs are not much of [...]

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link buildingBlogs are often touted as good for search engine optimization. The reality is, blogs are simply software tools and what you get out of them from a SEO perspective is in proportion to how well you know how to use them.  Good keyword categorization and content are a start, but blogs are not much of a SEO asset unless they attract links.

The myth of “Build it and they will come”.  Not many businesses that start blogs have the patience to create great content and wait for others to find that content all on their own as a linking strategy. Without clicking on a link or finding it on a search engine, how will others find your blog?   Content is King but only if you promote it.

Links from relevant, credible sources balanced with on-page keyword optimization make it easier for search engines to find, index and sort blog posts in search results. If there’s an expectation for a company blog to rank well in search results, be sure to consider some of the following link building tactics:

1. Create content worth linking to. No matter how many tactics you find here and elsewhere, there simply is no substitute for creating content that others may find useful. Take the time to look at blog posts that already rank well in search results and notice their structure, quantity of words and word placement.

2. Conduct backlink analysis on competing web sites or blogs – find out who is linking to competitor sites that are not linking to yours. Ask sites linking to multiple competitors to link to yours as well. If another web site or blog is already linking to multiple competitors, there is a chance they’ll link to your blog as well.

3. Make useful comments on other blogs that don’t have rel=nofollow. Comments should always be useful, but if you become aware of a topically relevant blog that does not discourage search engine spiders from crawling links in comments, it’s work spending the extra time to provide helpful insights a links to resources that you’ve published on your own blog.

4. Encourage social bookmarks & news submissions of your content using services without rel=nofollow. Show links to those services like Folkd, Spurl or Feedmarker in the blog post template code so they are visible for blog readers to use. Some social bookmarking services will make a copy of what you bookmark or a static web page of the bookmark including a do follow link back to the source (your blog).

5. Get listed on other blogger’s blogrolls.  It never hurts to ask another blog that you’re active with to see if they’d consider adding your blog to their blogroll or curated lists of blogs.

6. Guest write on other blogs and include a link to your blog in the bio. In the course of getting to know blogs that already rank well on the keyword phrases you’re targeting, you may notice that they often accept guest blog posts from others. Contact the blog owner and suggest a compelling post that would be first and foremost, valuable to their readers. If it makes sense editorially to link from within the guest post to your own blog, be sure to use relevant keywords as the link text.

7. Submit to blog & RSS directories. Many directory links have no follow links or are not visited by a large volume of people, but making sure your blog and RSS feed are included in niche categories and collections of blogs can be a positive signal to search engines as well as to long tail users. Many bloggers that aggregate large lists of topically specific blogs will cultivate blog directories as a easy way to find blogs on similar topics. If your blog isn’t on the niche list in those situations, you won’t be included.

8. Submit to regular web site directories like botw.org. While there are blog specific directories (BOTW has one of those as well) many don’t discern web sites from blogs. If a quality directory has a relevant category with other reputable web sites in it, then it makes sense for your blog to be among them as a useful information source.

9. Be sure to include your blog URL in profiles and bios on social media sites. While most social media sites that allow users to add links to their profiles add no follow to the links, there are many that do not. Public profile links on LinkedIn and YouTube channels for example, are good links. Rather than focus on registering with 300+ sites using Knowem, just make sure that of the social media profiles you do set up inlcude a link back to your blog.

10. Write testimonials for services and software that you use. They may publish with a link back to your blog.  Testimonials must be well written, genuine and specific in order to be useful for the service/product owner. Get at the essence of what’s great about the product or service and even add something unique. If you’ve written a review of the product/service on your blog, that can also get you a link from their press page.

11. Job listings should always have a link back to your blog. Blogs can be useful recruiting tools that help candidates understand the culture of your company. When purchasing job listings on other web sites, add a link to your blog. The listings may expire, but may also introduce your blog to candidates that write their own blog and decide to write about a listing with a permanent link to the hiring company blog.

12. Event listings should always have a link back to your blog. Blogs can be effective tools for promoting events and if you are listing your event with 3rd party services, a link back to your blog post with more details will be useful to readers that want to know more. That link can also be useful to search engines.

13. Contributions to non-profits often have a donor page with a link. These links are now very rare but you should contribute anyway.

14. Article syndication can still result in a few good links. Include your blog URL in the article bio. Take some of your best tips oriented blog posts and re-write them for specific industry verticals or applications. Then submit them to article repositories. When others re-use those articles, the bio link back to your blog can be picked up by readers and search engines.

15. Distribute press releases via a wire service with a link to your blog included. Our client, PRWeb, is a pioneer in providing competitive SEO value with press release distribution. Many blogs and some news web sites will re-publish your press release exactly as it was distributed, including good links back to your blog.  Journalists use News search to look up past press releases and research on stories, which presents an opportunity to be found and included.

16. Contribute Op Ed pieces to Mainstream Media web sites. Contribute a link to your blog of course.  If you suggest content to another web site such as a letter to the editor, why not keyword optimize the title? Why not include a link back to your blog where you’ve written many more articles on the same topic?

17. When you get media coverage (or placements) in online publications, be sure to ask the journalist for a link to your blog. Again, it never hurts to ask. Many publications have a policy not to link out from stories. Many leave it up to the journalist or their editor. If you don’t ask, you will never get the link.

18. Develop social networks and share especially useful content from your blog where relevant. Be useful to others and they will useful to you by promoting your content and attracting links. Don’t be gratuitous when sharing links to your own content, but when you have something particularly special and valuable that’s highly relevant to a particular network, then by all means, share it with them. Some are bloggers as well and may link to it from their own blogs as well as pass the link along to others.

19. Linkbait. Create or aggregate disparate content that provides value and is not easily found elsewhere. Promote it to those that would be interested and in a position to distribute to the right audience. Again, create useful content, but be thoughtful about packaging it in a way that makes it unique and is easy to pass along. Look at other blog posts in your topical category that have “gone hot” on social news sites and understand their structure, format and tone. Leverage what has worked for others in your own content to be promoted.

20. Sponsor content on web sites or newsletters archived to the web that allow you to include a link. It may be a nofollow link, but it may not.  Many newsletters sent via email are archived to the web or have landing pages on the web. Ask those newsletters if you can buy an ad or even contribute a short article.  The article credits should include a link to your blog.

21. Hire bloggers to write content for you. They’ll often cross-post it to their own blog with a link back to yours. Of course, you should be considerate and simply mention that this is ok, don’t ask them or require them to do it.

22. Run a contest that may involve others deciding to link back to your blog. This can be tricky, but Marketing Pilgrim does a great job of this with their SEM Scholarship Contest. Readers write blog posts and the first cut is based on which posts get the most traffic and presumably, links among other criteria.

23. Offer a widget, when posted to others’ web sites, includes a link back to a credits page for the widget on your blog. TopRank’s Thomas McMahon created a RSS buttons tool and it’s use by other blogs has resulted in over 322,000 inbound links.

24. Review other blogs and offer a badge for those that get included. We’ve done this with BIGLIST and it has resulted in over 64,000 inbound links. Focus on quality and be consistent. Also offer a version of the badge that does not include a link for those that want to display the “blog flare” but don’t or can’t link to it. You should include your logo on the badge for improved brand awarness whether there’s a link or not.

25. Create an exceptionally useful tool. Others will link to it simply because it is useful. (See step 1) TopRank created a Social Bookmarking Tool several years ago and still has over 50,000 links as a result.

Bonus tip: When others link to you, THANK THEM!  Building good will is one of the most underrated marketing skills online. Be genuine, thoughtful and courteous. Also be SMART and driven to get links where it makes sense.

    What linking tactics for blogs have you found to be most effective? What challenges are you facing in attracting other sites to link to your blog?


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    Strategic Link Building for SEO http://www.toprankblog.com/2009/06/strategic-link-building-for-seo/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2009/06/strategic-link-building-for-seo/#comments Thu, 18 Jun 2009 17:14:50 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=5543 Not many in the Search Engine Optimization game would argue that link building isn’t tactical. The problem is, approaching link building as an end goal and tactically, is very much like a hamster running in it’s cage.  That’s what many mechanical SEO consultants do: Chase links one by one or get creative with link bait [...]

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    link buildingNot many in the Search Engine Optimization game would argue that link building isn’t tactical. The problem is, approaching link building as an end goal and tactically, is very much like a hamster running in it’s cage.  That’s what many mechanical SEO consultants do: Chase links one by one or get creative with link bait to attract an influx of links from blogs that write about the kinds of things other blogs do for link bait. I should know, in the past 12 years of providing SEO services, there have been many opportunities to do just that. It’s not scalable, not sustainable and certainly not strategic.

    The best links from one site to another are often a byproduct of something much bigger than standard link building.  They’re evidence, in most cases, that the link destination offers value and that the linker feels will be of value to their readers. Being cited by an online publisher of content that has credibility is meaningful to readers and builds credibility in the same way that being cited by a well respected print publication results in brand influence. Links can drive traffic and search engine bots to your web site.

    Building links is a goal, but many companies that do a fantastic job of it see links as a KPI or a proxy measurement to something else. Something more meaningful and bigger picture in a marketing sense. Strategic link building means having an understanding of audience, tactics and measurement as well as how links can be achieved anciallary to other marketing activities. Many of the most successful sites (at link acquisition) don’t ask for links at all. They build up their channels of distribution and focus on providing useful content that recipients link to and pass along to others who might link.

    Google’s offers this advice, in it’s special way, on link building:

    “The best way to get other sites to create relevant links to yours is to create unique, relevant content that can quickly gain popularity in the Internet community. The more useful content you have, the greater the chances someone else will find that content valuable to their readers and link to it.”

    That’s fine as a guideline, but there’s a lot left out as far as planning and execution. The web is a competitive place and it’s getting more so. Companies can’t gain a competitive edge by leaving link acquisition totally to the collective wisdom of the web. There needs to be a mix of efforts by internal resources as well as outside expertise. The question is, how to do that.

    Our agency’s roots are as a public relations firm and in the course of providing media relations services (pitching journalists to write stories about our clients) the goal of being covered in a relevant industry publication was first and foremost. Often times, those newspapers, magazines and media would publish stories online, as well as in print, and would include a link to the companies being mentioned.

    As far back as 2001, we noticed that pure media relations clients (no SEO) would experience increased search engine rankings on important phrases, even though there was no formal effort to optimize content or conduct specific link building tactics.  We would do a certain amount of keyword research for those companies to facilitate searching editorial calendars like Bacon’s (now owned by Cision), or MyEdCals for potential stories and publications. We’d coach executives during media relations training to use some of those phrases in order to stay on message.  A byproduct of the story being published online was a link. Sometimes those links would use anchor text for the keywords mentioned in the interview. Those links from highly credible editorial sources were recognized by search engines and boosted search rankings.

    Were links the goal? No, media coverage was the goal. But additional value and market visibility was achived by focusing on the marketing and not on individual link acquisition.  Long term “meritocratic” link building is strategic and focused on creating and promoting content of value that publishers can decide to link to. The idea is to have an understanding of what structure/syntax/format to flavor content with in order improve the chances of earning such links.

    What does this have to do with strategic link building for SEO?  My point is that while it does make sense to do a certain amount of forms, profiles, content syndication and link bait type of link building, the longevity of a linking for SEO effort needs to be tied to broader marketing, communications and PR activities. Companies interact in many ways on the web that produce links, or could produce links.  The key is to take advantage of what’s already being done and uncover the link opportunities as a process.

    One of the most productive link building strategies is where companies leverage a SEO consultant’s expertise for the mechanics of content based link building in addition to gaining an understanding of how to leverage what corporate communications, PR, HR, Marketing, Sales and even Investor Relations are already doing that could result in relevant inbound links. A process of creating awareness, building value, training on link building mechanics and mechanisms for feedback on performance within a company can do wonders for link acquisition by leveraging existing content publishing and promotion activities.

    Here are a few examples:

    • Public Relations: Links can be included in press releases, an online newsroom, within email pitches to journalists and bloggers, pdf documents of case studies, media coverage and one of the best tips:  When a journalist confirms they’re running a story citing your company, ASK FOR A LINK.
    • Human Resources: Job listings and open house events are good opportunities for links when promoted on aggregation sites for jobs and events. Optimize the job and event listing titles and always add a link back to an optimized web page for more information. In some cases, paid job listings will include a link, but one that gets redirected by ad tracking software. ASK FOR A LINK that is direct.
    • Marketing: Companies partner with other companies, join associations and often produce microsites, buy ads, sponsor events/conferences/causes and many other off-corporate-site communications. All of those present some type of link opportunity.  For example, find email newsletters that are archived to the web and that include good links from the ad (and anchor text if possible) and sponsor them. You get visibility via email distribution and when the HTML version of the newsletter is published online, there’s a link back to your site.  Charitable giving often involves a web site that lists donors. ASK FOR A LINK back.

    The bottom line here is that for a productive link building strategy, it makes sense to leverage both company communications and marketing resources as well as those of a SEO consultant that understand the specific mechanics of linking and can train client side departments how to leverage their current activities to earn citations online. The resulting links tend to be more valuable for driving traffic and for providing search engines with a signal with which to better rank your content.

    If you work as a client side marketer on SEO, what other ways to leverage existing content publishing and promotions have you found to be useful for link building?


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    SEO Tool Review: BuzzStream for Link Building http://www.toprankblog.com/2009/05/seo-tool-review-buzzstream-for-link-building/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2009/05/seo-tool-review-buzzstream-for-link-building/#comments Thu, 28 May 2009 13:32:54 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=5355 As I work with our clients on their link building projects, I am often testing out new tools to make the process more efficient. After meeting with Lee at PubCon South in March, Jeremy Bencken – one of the founders of BuzzStream –  followed up with Lee for the opportunity to demo and test out [...]

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    As I work with our clients on their link building projects, I am often testing out new tools to make the process more efficient. After meeting with Lee at PubCon South in March, Jeremy Bencken – one of the founders of BuzzStream –  followed up with Lee for the opportunity to demo and test out their link building tool – BuzzStream for Link Building. Lee requested that I take a look at this tool, and I was glad for the opportunity.

    For many webmasters, managing link building campaigns can seem pretty daunting. Identifying a link building strategy is one key to success. Another is ensuring link building efficiency and follow up. Identifying processes and tools to help increase this efficiency can greatly increase the amount and value of links you achieve.BuzzStream for Link Building

    BuzzStream is one such tool. Developed by the creators of ApartmentRatings.com, BuzzStream helps identify sites from which to request links, and makes this link building process efficient and human. The BuzzStream for Link Building tool works in 4 key ways: Identifying contact information, managing communications, managing link opportunities and link request sent, and monitoring backlinks achieved.

    When searching for link building opportunities, BuzzStream’s BuzzMarker can help quickly identify contact information and website information to easily categorize within your BuzzStream Dashboard. By pulling this information automatically, BuzzMarker helps save time, rather than the link builder spending minutes searching for a contact email address or documenting content categories. Then, when this information is placed in the BuzzStream Dashboard, you are able to sort by a variety of factors, such as PageRank, date found, type of link, and contact status.

    BuzzStream also allows you to easily manage communications between themselves and the website’s owner or writer. BuzzStream identifies Tweeting between your accounts, as well as emails being sent back and forth. This communication monitoring helps you, as a link builder, begin a relationship with this webmaster, and build it over time. The website owner is more likely to link to a person they know, so these relationships matter.

    Once the link request is sent, BuzzStream catalogs this request to easily be found later. You can search by requests sent within a particular timeframe, requests sent to sites with a certain PageRank and many other sorting factors to make documenting and reporting these request simple and efficient.

    BuzzStream Links

    The main objective to all of this opportunity documentation and relationship building is acquiring the link. BuzzStream keeps with its efficiency trend and employs a backlink checker which automatically runs each week to detect the achievement of a link from the link requests you’ve sent out. This information is then automatically documented in your contact dashboard, allowing you now to easily sort by which link you’ve received. On top of that, the backlink checker also identifies if any links were taken away, if the links were NoFollowed, if the anchor text changed, or if the page that holds your link all of a sudden becomes populated with spammy content. Because of this, you can also easily see the value of each link you’ve achieved, and you know how to request updates if necessary.

    BuzzStream does an great job of streamlining the link request process, and the automatic documentation of it all is incredible. With affordable price points for up to 20 different users, BuzzStream can be an effective linking asset for individuals starting their own link building to agencies looking to automate some of their processes.


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    Link Building Tips for News SEO http://www.toprankblog.com/2009/05/link-building-news-seo/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2009/05/link-building-news-seo/#comments Mon, 11 May 2009 11:31:15 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=5231 For those readers just joining us, this is post #8 in a series of 10 on the intersection of search engine optimization and public relations, “Top Ten SEO Tips for PR Professionals“. Besides content optimization and making sure a site’s news pages and digital assets can be found and indexed, attracting relevant inbound links is [...]

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    Link Building TipsFor those readers just joining us, this is post #8 in a series of 10 on the intersection of search engine optimization and public relations, “Top Ten SEO Tips for PR Professionals“.

    Besides content optimization and making sure a site’s news pages and digital assets can be found and indexed, attracting relevant inbound links is the next most important tactic for improving search engine performance of Public Relations related content.

    There are literally hundreds of ways to acquire good links. There are even more ways to acquire bad links, so knowing the difference can be important. Read more about that below. But first, we’ll describe some general guidelines for news content link building.

    Whenever PR professionals execute digital communications, there should be links included in those messages. The best content in the world is unlikely to rank well in search engines if there are no links pointing in. It is essential that link sources (whoever you’re pitching stories to) are informed about the content so they know to link to it. Don’t just broadcast links either, give a reason why there should be a link and make it easy to do so.

    news release link building

     News content creation, optimization and ongoing promotion are all critical for successful SEO efforts.  Promoting optimized content makes potential link sources aware and increases the likelhood of link acquisition for news content.   Where should you include links?  Start with emails pitches, press releases, newsrooms and any other news content being published to the web.

    Including full URL links in press releases can often result in an added bonus for link bulding efforts because some content management systems that copy press releases as content from newswire feeds will convert full URLs to a hyper link, but ignore or strip out anchor text links. Making it easy for readers of news content on blogs, newsrooms or elsewhere on the company web site to save, bookmark and share can also add to the link building effort. 

    General linking guidelines for news content:

    • Earn links with great content
    • Promote optimized news content on social networks, vial email, RSS and within past media coverage
    • Link up with marketing and business partners
    • Include links in pitches and other news content promotion
    • Cross link internally
    • Embed anchor text and full URL links in news releases
    • Social bookmark pickups

    Many online mainstream news publications do not link out, but some do and blogs associated with online publications tend to be a little more liberal about outbound links. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of knowing to ask. When a media relations effort results in confirmation that a company, product or spokesperson will be included in a story, be sure to ask if the journalist would link to a helpful resource on the company site. Don’t just ask for the link, but provide something useful to link to. Many times a simple request and having a useful resource can result in the highest quality links you could ask for.

    When promoting news content on social media sites (we’ll be covering SEO, PR and Social Media in our next post) it’s important that you’re sharing news content and that it offers unique and/or distinct value. Submitting press releases to social news sites for example, is rarely going to be productive as a way to attract positive attention within the social community. Social communities tend to distrust formal marketing communications. They do respond well to creative, clever and useful ways to communicate information and ideas that are not formal or overtly trying to “sell” something.

    For an abundance of ideas on link building for traffic and SEO benefit, see these link building resources.

    Have you found useful ways of attracting links to news content such as press releases, newsrooms and corporate communications? 

    We’re in the home stretch of our series on Public Relations and SEO. Next up is post #9 of 10: “SEO and Social Media Promotions with News Content“.


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    SES NY: Improve SEO Through Blogs & Feeds http://www.toprankblog.com/2009/03/ses-ny-improve-seo-through-blogs-feeds/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2009/03/ses-ny-improve-seo-through-blogs-feeds/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2009 15:25:59 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=4809 Do you have a blog? If so, a panel today at SES NY shared how to improve SEO results with your blog and its RSS Feed. Michael Gray, Owner of Atlas Web Service, shared the following tips to increasing SEO value with your blog. 1. Don’t write blog titles that suck Bad titles lack keyword [...]

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    Do you have a blog? If so, a panel today at SES NY shared how to improve SEO results with your blog and its RSS Feed.

    Michael Gray, Owner of Atlas Web Service, shared the following tips to increasing SEO value with your blog.

    1. Don’t write blog titles that suck
    Bad titles lack keyword focus, are often clever or amusing and therefore not intuitive to a reader or search engine.

    Good titles include keywords and are focused on topics covered within the post.

    2. Partial feeds are like being half dressed at a party
    Why do you want to use full feeds or be fully dressed?
    Full feeds allow you to benefit from web scrapers and build links for you. Make sure you put keyword optimized hyperlinks within your post, specifically to pages that are more difficult to build Links to.

    3. Build domain authority with a blog
    By putting your blog on a sub-domain or sub-folder on your domain, you are able to consolidate Link equity.

    4. Stand out and be Link worthy
    Don’t blog for the sake of blogging. Have a purpose.
    Blog at whatever frequency allows you to be exceptional. The longer the time period between posts, the more exceptional you have to be.

    Have an opinion, be serious, be funny, be politically incorrect, be a moral compass – be something.

    5. Just because you blog, doesn’t mean they will visit
    Michael shares that great writing without shameless self promotion is like locking Shakespeare in your basement.  :)

    Leverage your network, before and after the post goes live, to help promote your content. Make sure people know who you are. Connect with other influential bloggers. Start by Linking to and/or commenting on their blog.

    Next is TopRank Marketing CEO, Lee Odden, who takes the audience through building Inbound Links to your blog, in turn creating increased search engine visibility.

    How do you organically build Links? Follow these 8 Tips:
    1. Tell your friends
    Give them a reason to link to you and read your blog.
    2. Link out
    Blog software will often fire off an email when someone Links to your blog. Link to influentials and at the very least get on their radar. Don’t Link for Links sake, but do it with purpose and to provide value.
    3. Make a big ass list
    Check out  the TopRankBlog BIGLIST. It currently has just under 60,000 Inbound Links.
    4. Get on ‘other lists’
    Make comments on other blogs in a way that adds value and gets you noticed. Once you get on one list, publicize that publicity and you’re likely to get on multiple lists
    5. Make a killer tool
    For example, an RSS Tool created by TopRank Marketing SEO Guru, Thomas McMahon, has over 260,000 Inbound Links.
    6. Run a contest or poll
    Give recognition to a useful tool while letting the community interact and engage. Or run a poll and create a badge for the winner, which gets placed on their site and Links back to your blog.
    Create a badge page and make it easy for someone to upload the badge to their site, with a Link back to you.
    7. Get Syndicated
    Getting syndicated, in an intentional way, to create Inbound Links back to the blog. Collectively, the Inbound Links add up.
    8. Network OFFLINE
    Make it obvious what your blog is. Print your blog URL everywhere you list your phone number or website.
    BONUS Tip.
    Dynamically embed a Link to the post in your RSS Feed.

    Key Takeaways:

    • Give blogs a reason to Link
    • Remember the golden rule
    • Don’t obsess, focus on value
    • Quality is better than quantity
      (but quantity has a quality of its own)

    Next up is Michel Leconte, CEO of SEO Samba.
    Search engines, including Google, pay attention to relevancy, freshness and quantity.

    Build up RSS Feed subscribers by writing content, re-purposing existing content and distributing.  Gain traffic and juice by deep Linking.
    Distribute broadly by formatting, promoting latest posts and by dicing content into categories and interest.

    Make subscribing to an RSS feed easy with:

    • One click subscriptions
    • Email subscription
    • Auto discovery tag
    • RSS directories

    Audience Q&A
    Question: What about Linking within comments?
    Answer: Oftentimes the Links are no follow, so it may not be useful for building Inbound Links but commenting is useful in networking with other blogs and providing value to the conversation.

    Question: What about news blogs that don’t have time to do more than post press releases? How do you get additional coverage for the news content?
    Lee spoke to the idea of discovery. Identify which news sites you would like coverage on and then make your content discoverable to the influentials.

    You can do this by networking with people already getting covered on the site or network with the decision maker directly.

    Michael added that you can check out other aggregating sites and identify who is submitting content relevant to your topic or vertical and begin by networking with them. They can become a great resource to getting your content more exposure.

    If you have more tips on creating SEO value through blogs and RSS Feeds, please share below.

    Additional coverage of this session can be found at:

    Outspoken Media – Lisa Barone

    Search Cowboys – Bas van den Beld


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    5 Link Building Tips for New Websites http://www.toprankblog.com/2009/03/link-building-tips-new-websites/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2009/03/link-building-tips-new-websites/#comments Fri, 20 Mar 2009 11:00:46 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=4639 Despite the constantly evolving nature of search engines and ranking methods, inbound links continue be a significant influence on website rankings. The higher quality the link, the more authority that link passes on. Sites that have been live and active on the web for many years attract a substantial number of links when well promoted. [...]

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    link building

    Despite the constantly evolving nature of search engines and ranking methods, inbound links continue be a significant influence on website rankings. The higher quality the link, the more authority that link passes on.

    Sites that have been live and active on the web for many years attract a substantial number of links when well promoted. But, what about those sites that are brand new? How should they go about getting quality links right off the bat?

    Here is a list of 5 link building tactics for new websites to get them off on the right foot:

    1. Links from Local Organizations – If your company is registered with the Better Business Bureau or the Chamber of Commerce, the links from these sites can be very relevant for geographically specific terms and topics. Also, locate other local businesses and organizations that maintain lists of businesses to request a link from.
    2. Optimized Press Releases – Your business  just launched or you have compelling news to announce – why not tell the world about it? There are many great press release distribution services available that will not only increase your brand visibility, but also earn you inbound links. Press releases that get picked up will often mention and link to the company being mentioned. Press releases that are copied whole, as content to blogs and information web sites will frequently retain any embedded links within the press release.  However, the links in press releases hosted with wire services are commonly short term or devalued.  See this past post for tips on press release optimization and distribution.
    3. Reputable Directory Submissions – While some online directories have gotten a bad rap or have become irrelevant, certain directories can still pack a punch when done right.  A few of these directories include Yahoo! Directory and Best of the Web. Also, if your business services a specific geographic area, find some good local directories to submit to, such as Google Local or use a service like GetListed.  Optimizing and including your site in local data sources, search engines and directories can help boost your local search visibility.
    4. Charity and Non-Profit Links – Does your company’s business model include philanthropy? When you make charitable contributions to organizations and non-profits, find out if it has a “Donors” list on its website and suggest a link.
    5. Blog Based Link Building – If you’re thinking of starting a blog for your company, be sure to network online with complimentary blogs. Share industry news, original ideas and useful tips and you’ll attract links, often times, without asking. Link to other blogs in your industry, and reference fellow industry bloggers.  They’ll notice and may link back.  Links that come as a result of sharing useful blog content with others can attract traffic in the short term and boost search engine rankings overall. Just look at our own TopRank Online Marketing Blog with over 700,000 inbound links as an example.

    When starting a link building campaign for new website, keep in mind relevancy and authority, because nothing beats a first impression. Whether the first external sites that link to your site make a difference in how search engines undstand and rank your web site may be up for debate, but the value of association on consumers that click, visit and share is  unmistakable. Focus on attracting links that add value to web site visitors and best represent your most important keywords at the same time.

    What link building tips for new websites do you have?


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    SES San Jose: Igniting Viral Campaigns http://www.toprankblog.com/2008/08/ses-san-jose-igniting-viral-campaigns/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2008/08/ses-san-jose-igniting-viral-campaigns/#respond Tue, 19 Aug 2008 00:47:25 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=2706 Viral makes you think of something horrible, right? Like an outbreak of a virus taking over the world’s population and turning us all into zombies? Well, trust me, when it comes to online promotions and link building, “viral” means “success”. During the session this morning, we heard a lot of fantastic tips for how to [...]

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    Igniting a Viral Campaign

    Viral makes you think of something horrible, right? Like an outbreak of a virus taking over the world’s population and turning us all into zombies? Well, trust me, when it comes to online promotions and link building, “viral” means “success”.

    During the session this morning, we heard a lot of fantastic tips for how to create and promote viral campaigns. Fionn Downhill of Elixir Interactive gave some fantastic statistics about the use of social media for viral marketing purposes and how to leverage that to gain buzz for your product.

    According to a recent Nielsen study, 78% of respondents trusted recommendations from consumers over what they read in the newspapers. This is nothing new, as word of mouth has always been one of the most trusted sources of information, but finding out where consumers are getting these recommendations (blogs, online media, etc.) is very important. Fionn also showed that 7 out of 10 Americans use the internet as their main news source. And guess what – journalists are online too! 97% of journalists use the internet to find resources for their stories, 79% use it to generate story ideas and 72% of journalists read blogs to find out what is going on in the online media space.

    Keeping all of these statistics in mind, it is easy to see how a successful viral campaign can gain tons of coverage for a company or product. But how do you go about creating this campaign?

    Jennifer Laycock of Search Engine Guide gave some fantastic tips on what to think about when planning out a viral campaign. She gave three very simple commandments to follow, under which every bit of planning should belong:

    1. Thou Shalt Know Thy Costumer – in order to successfully market to the correct customers, you need to know a bit about those customers. Listen to their feedback and get involved in their online communities. This first hand knowledge will really come in handy when creating strategic messaging
    2. Thou Shalt Be Remarkable – You must be different to get attention in this world. Creating the same old “me too” campaigns wont get nearly as much coverage and buzz as being the first to do something great. An amazing message should translate into an amazing company.
    3. Though Shalt Try, Try Again – You can’t know what is going to happen with a campaign idea until you have initiated it and tested it out. Not all campaigns will be come viral. But with each new campaign you learn more about the process, more about the messaging and more about the consumer so the next time, you’ll get it right.

    So, you have the plan underway, and you know what you want to do. But how do you actually get it done? Justilien Gaspard of Search Engine Watch and Chris Winfield of 10e20 both gave fantastic examples of how a campaign, marketed to the right people in the right places, will become viral within a few days.

    Justilien stressed first that we need to have clear objectives. is the objective of this planned viral campaign to increase brand awareness? To launch a product? To gain new customers? To acquire thousands of inbound links? Once the objective is clarified, the plan will form around it.

    A good strategy, Justilien said, is to find the people of interest, those who influence the space you are marketing in. These people could be the prominent bloggers in the industry, or the social media power users who have hundreds of friends and whose opinions everyone trusts.

    Chris Winfield brought us through how to use social media to get the initial message out about our new campaign launch. Since social media is basically word of mouth marketing after drinking a lot of Red Bull, beginning a conversation within the social media sphere can be very successful. Chris shared this step-by-step progression that a viral campaign could follow on its way to popularity:

    So, you have a story that was submitted to Digg, and makes it to page 1. This is seen as Mecca for some marketers, and here is why: Now you are getting 1,000s of visitors to your site every few minutes. Bloggers, who need content to write about, find this Digg top story and share it on their blog. Other bloggers see it and write about it as well. Now the individual readers of the blog see this coverage and share the cool piece of content with their friends via IM or email. Journalists – as Fionn stated above – also read the blogs to get ideas for new stories and they could write about this piece of content as well. Now you have mass exposure in multiple media sources from one tiny little link on a popular site. Excellent.

    In order to keep this success going for future viral campaigns, the basic steps spoken by the entire panel were to outline a clear objective when starting the campaign, make sure the content is good and relevant, take time contributing to online communities to spark life within social media and make all pieces of the campaign work together.

    What are some of your favorite tactics for promoting viral campaigns?

    And be sure to check out all of TopRank’s coverage of SES San Jose and sessanjose08 Photos.



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    Link Building vs Content Promotion for Links http://www.toprankblog.com/2008/08/link-building-vs-content-promotion-for-links/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2008/08/link-building-vs-content-promotion-for-links/#comments Wed, 06 Aug 2008 17:06:54 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=2516 When marketing web sites on the internet 10 years ago, people “surfed” the web, clicking on links between sites they already knew about, links from directories and review sites. Search engines like AltaVista, Lycos, Hotbot, Excite, etc were around as well. Remember those? People like Eric Ward pioneerd the practice of promoting web sites editorially [...]

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    When marketing web sites on the internet 10 years ago, people “surfed” the web, clicking on links between sites they already knew about, links from directories and review sites. Search engines like AltaVista, Lycos, Hotbot, Excite, etc were around as well. Remember those? :)

    People like Eric Ward pioneerd the practice of promoting web sites editorially resulting in links from these sorts of resources. Links had to come from relevant sources otherwise the traffic was irrelevant.

    Google came on the scene with PageRank and boosted the value of bot detected links. Search engine quality improved substantially but opportunistic webmasters and eventually SEOs, identified and took advantage of as many methods of link acquisition as possible. Many of those links being topically relevant and many completely out of context. Think “link farm”.

    The ongoing back and forth between search engine efforts at improving quality and website marketers finding shortcuts or even ways to spam links for competitive advantage isn’t going away any time soon. As long as links are important for search engine visibility, web site owners will hire firms and consultants to acquire them.

    However, there’s a big difference between link building to content & content promotion that attracts links. Long term, promotion of content that attracts relevant links from those empowered to publish will win. The act of linking is performed, unsolicited, by individual publishers. There is no risk, no tricks or loopholes being exploited and links are contextually relevant.

    The rub is, it requires content of value that others are keen on linking to and willing to share with others. Most web sites do not see themselves as content publishers.

    The model for unsolicited link acquisition based on content is pretty basic:

    Promotion > Awareness > Links > Direct Traffic & Search Engine Traffic

    The challenge comes from a combination of:

    • The need to create new content that travels and that others are motivated to link to
    • Convincing web site owners that they need to create and promote content on an ongoing basis outside of their brochureware corporate site or online product catalog

    What it boils down to is marketing. The SEO most consultants practice today isn’t really search engine optimization, it’s marketing web sites online. SEO marketing efforts that focus solely on keyword lists, meta tags and directory submissions are just one small slice of web site marketing.

    The technical aspect of SEO will always be important thanks to web developers/designers and content management systems that ignore search engines as an important audience. Search engines may be getting better at indexing complex URLs, Flash and finding content behind forms and JavaScript, but there are plenty of issues that still hinder search engines from finding content and crawling links.

    For content promotion, the good news is that many web site owners are wising up to the idea that they need to provide more value, in the form of information, to their customers. That informational content can be leveraged for promotion to attract links. The most common example would be blogs used as platforms to publish and promote content via RSS, RSS to Email, Twitter and social networks.

    Distribution channels are important for creating awareness of content to link to plus they can attract traffic on their own. As a content distribution network matures, it builds traffic simply through publishing new information for recipients to consume and link to.

    Does it still make sense to build links through directory submissions, back link analysis link requests, article submissions, etc? A certain amount of traditional link building is appropriate for just about any web site marketing effort. Realizing the advantage of a quantity of quality links takes clever content and clever promotion. Clever like Link Moses.


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    Online Marketing Tips from TopRank http://www.toprankblog.com/2008/06/online-marketing-tips/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2008/06/online-marketing-tips/#comments Mon, 09 Jun 2008 23:32:34 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=2454 The TopRank team works really well together, bringing to each team meeting various areas of expertise and interest, which makes for a well-rounded environment here in our Lake Minnetonka office. We know how to play off of everyone’s strengths and ensure our clients are fully serviced based on their needs and objectives by those who [...]

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    The TopRank team works really well together, bringing to each team meeting various areas of expertise and interest, which makes for a well-rounded environment here in our Lake Minnetonka office. We know how to play off of everyone’s strengths and ensure our clients are fully serviced based on their needs and objectives by those who can best take on that role.

    Below is a list of our favorite online marketing tips , which – as a team – makes us stronger than each individual.

    • Build Out Social Relationships Gradually – Social media and social networking are not “dump and run” tactics. Relationships need to be built over a long period of time in a venue that enhances the product or service you are promoting, which is when the promoted piece gets the most positive attention.
    • Spell Check – Nothing ruins online credibility faster than misspellings or incorrect grammar. Check your spelling yourself and have someone else review your work. Don’t depend only on spellcheckers, as they may not catch the appropriate word usage or necessary punctuation.
    • Understand How Your KPI’s Tie Back to Your Objectives – Will ranking #1 in Google for “wedding favors” automatically equate to meeting your sales objectives? Or, will an increased ranking be a trigger to focus your work on how best to nurture these new potential prospects to customer status?
    • Incorporate Keyword Phrases into Promotions – whether it be press releases, online advertising or social media promotions, using a keyword phrase along with yours or your client’s name can enhance how searchers search for the website in the future.

    • Use a Clear CTA – When using a Call to Action, ensure that what you are asking is clear and to the point. Also ensure that you are indeed asking a person to do something.
    • Identify Yourself – Come up with a good handle and avatar so that no matter what channel you are engaged in, you are easily recognizable.
    • Identify How Visitors Use Your Website – When customers and prospects visit your site, what type of content are they looking for and where do they click on the page to find it? By knowing what your visitors are looking for, you can provide the content they need and a user experience to keep them coming back for more.
    • Understand your End Goals – Online marketing is similar to traditional direct marketing when trying to reach certain inquiry levels. Understand the desired inquiry level, and follow that back through your amount of projected traffic, touchpoints and the whole universe you need to target.
    • Plan & Understand – Be sure to plan ahead when it comes to Online Marketing. There is no shortage of promotion opportunities, however the promotions you select should deliver the desired results. As an online marketer, be sure to first understand what promotion channels deliver the results desired.
    • Look to the Future – The online marketing landscape is constantly changing, whether in the form of updated search engine algorithms, new social media outlets or any of the other aspects of marketing that fluctuate. Devote time to keeping yourself educated on what’s new and upcoming in the online world by reading blogs and other industry publications so that you are prepared to meet the new challenges these changes will bring.
    • Be Patient – online marketing typically doesn’t work overnight. Once your online marketing program is deployed, be patient and continuously monitor, analyze and refine.

    That wraps up some of TopRank’s favorite online marketing tips. Do you have any you’d like to share?


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