Five Steps to Implement a Championship Link Building Strategy

June 9, 2015

Guest post by Jason Parks.

The Stanley Cup is the most coveted trophy in all of professional sports. In order to hoist Lord Stanley at the end of the season, the winning team must have desire, dedication and determination.

The Stanley CupUnfortunately, the search engine optimization field doesn’t have a shiny silver trophy to display for the top performing SEO specialists. Still, the reward for implementing a championship link building strategy can be just as satisfying as winning hockey’s most coveted prize.

There is a reason why television ratings for professional sports’ playoffs skyrocket, compared to the regular season. The product on the field or on the ice is top quality, and the fans always appreciate top-tiered competition.

Search engine specialists need to have a playoff mentality when it comes to their link-building tactics. The content they create needs to be championship quality so users will be eager to read the articles. Just as a hot goalie is key to winning a Stanley Cup, stellar content is the backbone of a championship link-building strategy.

Follow the five steps below and your link building strategy will be poised for a long postseason run. A champion strategy will lead to more links back to your site, which in turn will generate more referral traffic, organic traffic and ultimately more leads and conversions.

Championship link building strategy1. Create a digital PR strategy

All companies should have a digital PR strategy in place to improve their online exposure. This allows your business to earn more web mentions while bringing top stories about your company to light.

Imagine if your favorite hockey player scored a hat-trick, but there was no media outlet on-hand to write about the game. It would be a shame for this tremendous accomplishment to go unnoticed.

This is the equivalent of not having a digital PR strategy for your business. Your company should be able to record and share its many exciting accomplishments as it expands into new territories or donates part of its profits to a local charity.

Signing up for a service like HARO or ProfNet is a great first step to connect with media outlets to share your story. These services provide business experts with perfect opportunities to be quoted in well-known publications.

2. Create an outreach strategy

Businesses need to write down and create a “dream list” of the top ten websites where they would like to contribute content within their industry. By providing articles to a reputable site within your field, it will establish credibility for your company and lead to more online exposure.

For Scarborough East Tennis, a tennis club in Columbus, a site on their “dream list” was TennisNow.com. This tennis site has over 695,000 Facebook fans and includes a readership base of avid tennis fans from all over the world.

Using Site Explorer, the tennis club was able to determine that TennisNow had an Ahrefs Domain Rank of 53, which meant any backlink pointing to their website in the “Author” section would be extremely valuable for their SEO strategy. They were also confident that they could drastically increase their website traffic with solid referral visits.

When creating an outreach strategy, one of the most important components of outreach is the pitch that you intend to make to the site on your dream list. The head tennis pro of Scarborough East Tennis, who happens to be a PTR certified instructor, would write the articles for TennisNow.com and provide “tips and tricks” for recreational players. This strong pitch provided a greater likelihood of the article being picked up by a powerful and reputable site.

By contributing quality content to one of the most well-known tennis sites, Scarborough was able to further solidify itself as an industry expert while achieving amazing referral traffic back to their own site. This relationship could not have been forged without a stellar outreach strategy.

3. Championship Content

In the previous paragraph, we briefly alluded to creating awesome content. Too often, we see generic, boring content created for blogs, which has no potential of being shared.

One of hockey’s most popular blogs is Yahoo’s Puck Daddy. A Zamboni driver was able to contribute a clever article to this extremely popular blog by writing about “Confessions of a Zamboni operator.

This is a perfect example of creating championship caliber content. The article was witty and unique, and because of the blog’s creativity, Gerald Morton was published on one of the most popular hockey blogs out there.

If Gerald’s article linked back to the ice rink where he works at in Vancouver, this would have provided an extremely valuable backlink to the ice rink’s website! Nonetheless, by writing for Puck Daddy, Gerald was able to establish his credibility and expand his readership base.

According to Unbounce, 73% of people prefer to get their information about an organization through a series of articles rather than in a traditional advertisement. This is yet another reason to create championship content, just like Gerald.

4. Consistency

Let’s say you are creating championship-worthy content and have forged relationships with highly respected websites. In order to take your game to the next level, consistency is a huge determinant of your future success.

According to HubSpot, companies who blog receive 97% more links to their website. Creating content regularly and consistently is crucial for generating links. Impact BND states that companies that increase their blogging from 3-5 times per month to 6-8 times per month almost double their leads.

Your company needs to start creating championship content on a consistent basis. So much time is spent on the outreach process of creating content for reputable sites; make sure that after the relationship has been established, you continue to create content for them at least on a monthly basis.

A trick to success when it comes to consistency is to schedule a content calendar for all of the articles that you plan on writing. Prior to each month, write the dates, topic ideas and outlets where your content will be published.

The great part about writing content is that it can be done at any hour of the day. For me, I personally enjoy writing early in the mornings before anyone else is in the office. I also like going to coffee shops on the weekend and hashing out new articles.

Find a time where you will be productive in writing your content and follow a content calendar each month to stay on course.A calendar should also be followed for your outreach strategy.

Dedicate a timeslot each day for reaching out to different websites to forge relationships where you can contribute championship-caliber content.

5. Creative Research

It takes creativity and research to find great online outlets where you can contribute your content. The Zamboni driver knew from reading various hockey blogs that Puck Daddy was one of the more popular ones.

A dental practice in Dayton, Ryan Long Dental, reached out to some of the most well known dental blogs, like dentalbuzz.com and brightnow.com. A lawyer in Tampa, Denmon & Denmon, seeked a content partnership with Lawyerist.com.

Make sure to follow various industry leaders on Twitter and take the time to read at least three news and business articles each day. You will be amazed how many different ideas you can get for content just by reading new material. Then make sure to reach out to those sites that you have on your “wish list.”

If you just read a blog about a Zamboni driver and found the content appealing and you are passionate about the field, don’t be shy to reach out to the author. This can potentially lead to contributing content on their website and establishing another solid relationship!

In conclusion, quality content is the backbone to a championship link building strategy. If you are consistent in creating your articles and reaching out to new sites, your search engine optimization strategy will continue to improve.

Don’t forget to implement a digital PR strategy, as this will diversify your backlink profile and bring attention to all of the great activities taking place within your company.

If you follow these five steps to implementing the perfect link building strategy, at the end of the calendar year, your business will be hoisting the Stanley Cup of link building!

Jason Parks is the owner of The Media Captain, a search engine marketing and web design company.

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31 Shopworn Catch Phrases to Avoid Like the Plague

June 2, 2015

What would business communication be without catch phrases? (Other than clearer and more authentic.) Those bits of business wisdom or profound insights captured in clever metaphors are indispensable to the corporate world. Who doesn’t want to take an idea offline and bounce it off the wall to see what sticks, every now and then?

Business buzzwords to avoid

Image credit: AMP Agency

The problem of course is that over time, such phrases go from popular to common to annoying—much like an over-played pop song (anybody want to whoop it Gangnam style just one more time? Call me maybe).

Travis Bradberry recently compiled a list of 25 ridiculously overused phrases on Inc. Inspired by that, here are 31 more cliches to shun (the first 10 from a subsequent Twitter conversation).

To avoid sounding like a character out of Office Space (yeah, that would be great), try to stay away from these long-in-the-tooth, over the hill, Elvis (has left the building) expressions.

1-10

Business catch phrases to avoid

Some catch phrases come from the sports world. It would be better if these were all left on the field.

11. Slam dunk (as in an obviously great idea or foregone conclusion)

12. Skate to where the puck will be

13. You miss all the shots you don’t take

Some (many actually) come from the movies. Thankfully, almost no one says “make my day” or “surely you aren’t serious” (yes I am—and stop calling me Shirley) any more, but some of these moldy quotes refuse to disappear.

14. Carpe diem

15. You can’t handle the truth

16. Life is like a box of chocolates

17. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for (using any other word in place of “droids”)

And some come from the world of advertising. After 31 years, people have (generally) stopped asking where the beef is, but one still occasionally hears an updated product described as “not your father’s (fill in the blank).” (That’s #18.) Ugh.

Change is the only constant (19), so there are catch phrases describing different degrees of it:

20. Move the needle (a small but significant change)

21. Game changer (an idea with a larger impact)

22. Paradigm shift (a really big change)

Famous quotes often become catch phrases. Please don’t be the one billionth person to trot out Einstein’s definition of insanity (23) or what Henry Ford said about faster horses (24).

And some come from…elsewhere. News events, misplaced metaphors, late nights at the bar, etc..

25. Make the pie bigger

26. Place at the table

27. Preaching to the choir

28. Drinking the Kool-Aid

29. Put on your big boy (or girl) pants

30. Open the kimono (please, no, this one hits a trifecta: overused, creepy, and vaguely racist)

Finally—catch phrases don’t have to be old to be annoying. They can reach eye-rolling, wince-inducing, fingernails-on-chalkboard status quickly through overuse, misuse and abuse. Case in point:

31. Growth hacking

What catch phrases would you advise others to avoid?

 

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How to Make News Content Viral Using People-Based Marketing

May 27, 2015

Guest post by Jack Dawson.

There are a lot of resources online that can help you move from newsjacking – “stealing” potentially viral news items before they become viral – to creating potentially viral news yourself. The most important technique to date is through people-based marketing.

Using PPC ads to promote newsWhat this means for marketers is that it is no longer necessary to research and pitch thousands of publications, hoping and praying that some of them stick and make news. By creating your own news, you gain an opportunity to earn greater PR for your organization as well as win over higher traffic and more inbound links.

Pay-per-click marketing provides an important platform through which content promotion and other social PR efforts can be successfully driven, and just a minimal investment can lead to huge returns for your business. This article describes just how to do this.

Introduction to people-based marketing

Also called identity targeting, people-based marketing is founded in creating audience segments based on different characteristics; this allows you to actually target a certain person with a specific ad that will appeal to them. Some characteristics include location, employment status, age, income level, purchase history, interests, among others.

Essentially, PPC harnesses the power that email and social media marketers have had in their arsenal for a while now.

PPC Marketing for PR Pitching

Online marketing technological advances have enabled us to automate many time-consuming and tedious processes. PR pitching also has the potential for automation, which would be a breath of fresh air compared to the present technique:

  • Create stellar content which you are ready to transmit to the world
  • Identify news media and opinion influencers within your niche
  • Pray that you have some kind of previous relationship, at least a few, so that they are not all cold pitches
  • Find their Twitter handles, emails or other contact info
  • Draft a personalized form letter which can still be considered impersonal, or spend hours personalizing all pitches you send out
  • Pitch and pray and pitch and pray some more, until you catch someone’s interest before you’ve annoyed them so much they block your contact

As an alternative, you can take the same stellar content from about and share it on all your social media profiles. In Twitter, for instance, you can create a customized list of your influencers using Twitter Ads.

On Facebook, you can do even better. Facebook allows you to get more granular by creating different layers according to demographic information. For instance, you can target people within your contact list that have a specific interest, or job title.

Within a few minutes, you have placed your content within the reach of industry experts, journalists, or influencers with huge social followings. Your content will show up on their activity streams/newsfeeds, where it’s difficult to miss. They can then click, read through and share within their networks and voila! Job done!

Value of Virality through PPC

Using the scheme presented above can get your publicity within a few hours, and all for less than 10% of the effort you use on old-fashioned pitches. You can earn hundreds of mentions on media, not forgetting backlinks to the post and your site in the process, all of which improve your search engine optimization strategy.

All you need to do is have newsworthy content, and have it picked up by just one journalist. Soon, others will flock in on it to stay ahead of the curve before it blows up, and then all you need to do is sit back and watch traffic, links and mentions come in by the truckloads. They may not all be potential consumers, but it is a more effective way of content marketing and raising brand awareness.

 

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10 Top Marketing Thought Leaders in Social Media

May 21, 2015

If you were asked to name the top thought leaders in marketing today–the 10 marketers you’d definitely advise others to follow on social media–how would you proceed?

You’d probably start by looking at those you’re connected with on the major social networks, then do some additional research. Perhaps you’d look at existing “top” lists from other sites. You’d develop a “long list” of worthy experts, then gradually narrow it down based on followers, level of engagement, quality of posts, and other factors. You’d carefully develop your final list, possibly using a method like pairwise ranking.

Top 10 Social Marketing ProsBut—what if you had to answer on the spot? What if you had to respond immediately, or within just a few minutes? You’d forget some important names, of course, but your answers would reveal those you keep top of mind.

If you’re up for it, try this now; spend no more than five minutes listing your top 10—then come back to this post.

This recently happened to me. Below is my list in response to the question:

“Tell me the top ten marketing people you would follow on social media, those people that you think are the top ‘thought leaders’ in the marketing space today?”

Cheryl Burgess would unquestionably be on the list. In addition to being an expert on enterprise b2b marketing, she’s the co-author (with Mark Burgess) of The Social Employee, and the authority on how to inspire employee social media advocacy inside large organizations.

Ann Smarty knows SEO inside and out, and is the guru-ess of online tools. She also hosts the highly popular weekly Viral Content Buzz Twitter chat.

Meghan M. Biro is an acknowledged thought leader at the intersection of HR, social media and marketing.

Carla Johnson is one of the top experts on enterprise content marketing. Plus, she went to grade school in a one-room schoolhouse, making her ascent all the more impressive (or perhaps that just explains it?).

Robert Rose is another top resource on enterprise content marketing, co-author with Carla Johnson of Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing, and an original member of the Lebron team.

Jeff Bullas — does anyone know more about blogging than Jeff? He’s one of those guys who seems to defy the laws of time and space by being able to consistently churn out bookmark-worthy blog posts, speak at events all over the planet, write ebooks, and still engage actively and prolifically on social media.

Glen Gilmore has long been known as an author and expert on the intersection of social media and the law. But not content with that, he’s more recently emerged as a top authority on the Internet of Things (IoT) as well.

J-P De Clerck is a “digital business and marketing strategist” whose expertise stands in the crossroads of content, search, and social media. Plus he’s from Belgium, so along with Jeff Bullas (Australia) he keeps this list from being too U.S.-centric.

Gini Dietrich is a top PR pro, author of Spin Sucks and co-author of Marketing in the Round (incidentally a great primer on building a team to execute a web presence optimization strategy), and tweeter of consistently good stuff.

Wendy Marx is a brilliant b2b PR strategist whose B2B PR Sense blog is a must-read for any marketing or PR pro seeking wisdom and insights into b2b content marketing and social media.

In the moments after rattling off this list, my first thought was: not bad, for a group quickly compiled off the top of my head.

But my second thought was: wow, I missed a lot of important and worthy names!

How could I have left off some of the most engaging social media marketing and PR pros like Harry Hoover, Judy Bellem and Jayme Soulati?

Or within just the PR realm, thought leaders and key influencers like Deb Weinstein, Lisa Buyer, Jeff Domansky and Arik Hanson?

In the realm of content marketing, Michael Brenner, Neal Schaffer, Rebecca Lieb, Heidi Cohen and Ann Handley are certainly worthy additions. As are, getting more granular, experts in developing b2b buyer personas, like Ardath Albee and Tony Zambito.

Closer to home, I could have highlighted the fact that some of the smartest people in social media marketing are fellow Minnesotans, including Lee Odden, Marty Weintraub and Angie Schottmuller.

How about CMOs and others focused on leadership, like Patrick Strother, Tony Karrer, Chris Schenk, Kent Huffman, Eric Fletcher, and Margaret Molloy?

Or leaders in academics on social media, such as Gary Schirr, Mike Johansson and Dorie Clark?

Even at that, there are deserving names left off the list.

If I’m ever again asked to name a list of the top 10 social media marketers, I think I’ll answer—I can’t name 10. But I can give you 75 or so.

Who’s on your “top of mind” top 10 list?

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How To Turn Video Marketing Into a Successful SEO Strategy

May 12, 2015

Guest post by Jason Parks.

YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, yet the SEO aspect is often overlooked. The simple truth is that a majority of search marketing specialists do not invest the necessary resources into the largest video-sharing website in the world. Videos can raise brand awareness and appear in Google’s organic search results, so it’s smart to take advantage of that.

YouTube SEO tips and techniques

IQ Visibility states that you can double your search traffic by having a video thumbnail in the search result. While doubling your search traffic from a YouTube video certainly isn’t guaranteed, the thumbnail appearing in the search results is more likely to capture the users’ attention than a standard search result. If the video is of a high quality, this rich media can allow users to learn more about your product or service.

Chad Hurley, the co-founder of YouTube, summarized our sentiments perfectly when he noted, early in YouTube’s existence, that YouTube is becoming much more than an entertainment destination. It can be educational while also helping businesses gain exposure.

Merely posting any video onto YouTube though will not generate desired results.  A marketing strategy behind the video must be in place in order for Google to recognize the content as compelling and deserving of a rank on the first page of Google’s search results. For instance, we implemented a video SEO strategy for a local tennis club in Columbus. They are now ranking in the first overall position on Google for an extremely popular search query in the tennis world. The video has been viewed all over the world and now has over 150,000 views. This tennis club has established themselves as a leader in their industry for creating tennis videos on a wide variety of topics. Moreover, the video has generated an influx of clients for the tennis club. Specifically, the instructor featured in the video has been in high demand for lessons due to the video’s popularity.

Video search result example for tennis

Here is the six-step process we use to ensure tremendous success for your next video marketing campaign.

  1. Select a Topic That Will Be Beneficial To The User
    When we deliberated with the tennis club, we determined there were very few “how to” videos on “how to hit a faster tennis serve.” By reviewing Google Adword’s keyword planner, we were able to recognize the popularity of this query and concluded tennis players would benefit from this professional advice.

We created a script with the club professional instructor and set a date to film the video. Selecting a topic that users will enjoy and benefit from is a crucial component for laying the proper foundation down for your video marketing strategy.

  1. Invest in a Quality Production
    If you are going to take the time to create a video, you want the user experience to be good. Google can detect whether or not someone visits your video and drops off within five seconds, just like they can on your website. By creating high-quality video content, you are going to receive higher quality traffic that Google will take note of.American Relocation Connections spent a lot of time creating a video on the topic, “Best Tips for Hiring a Mover.” {Watch video}. An attorney for the law firm Alvin H. Broome and Associates created a video showing off the personality of his firm. {Watch video}.This video content needs to be informative and benefit people seeking this information on Google or on their website.If you think you can stuff keywords into the title of a mediocre video, think again. This might work for a low competitive keyword but the strategy won’t pay off if you really want to achieve true video marketing success.
  2. Upload a Transcript
    After selecting a topic, the next step is to create a script. The script can actually be uploaded to YouTube as a transcript. It automatically syncs with the speakers and voiceovers in the video and allows those who are hard of hearing or deaf or those without volume or working sound on a computer to read the transcript and comprehend the content of the video.How to add a video transcriptGoogle offers support on proper formatting of transcripts and proper implementation of transcripts into a video.
  3. Make Your Content Desirable To Share
    After the tennis video was complete, we developed a list of 50 websites that would benefit from having this video embedded on their website. We then reached out to each website on our list, requesting they embed the video on their websites, describing the advantages of the video’s existence, and offering an article to correlate with the video written by the tennis club’s head professional instructor. Five different tennis sites agreed to feature the video on their website, including TennisNow.com, one of the most well-known and visited websites in the industry.Once the video was embedded on these sites, the visibility increased dramatically on YouTube and within the search results of Google. Once the visibility increased, the video took off.
  4. Advertise Your Video 
    Video advertising on YouTube can be a great bang for your buck if implemented correctly. When you create a video, it is helpful to allocate advertising dollars to the videos to give the media momentum. With a cost per view as low as $0.02, you can get 2,500 views on your video with a $50 budget. In the eyes of Google and YouTube, this adds legitimacy to the video and can help catapult your video higher on the YouTube and Google organic search results.
  5. Proper Title Tags and Description
    Title tags are an extremely important element that Google detects when determining the ranking power of a video. For the tennis video, we had previously performed our research on popular search queries. If you are a business, you cannot merely stuff keywords into the title tag. Make the title organic. For example, if you are a Dentist in Dayton, Ohio, you should not make the title tag, “Dayton Dentist.” If the video featured client testimonials, a better title would be, “Testimonials for Dr. Smith, a trusted Dayton Dentist.”In following the six steps for a successful video campaign, you will add a key component to your marketing efforts, which will give you a leg-up on the competition.  If you dedicate the proper time and implement a memorable strategy, your YouTube video will receive great exposure across numerous marketing channels.

Jason Parks, owner of The Media Captain, contributed content to this article. The Media Captain is a digital marketing agency that specializes in SEO, web development and online advertising. Jason has been quoted in the New York Times, Success Magazine and Yahoo! News. Jason has assisted in launching successful digital campaigns for publicly traded companies, national brands, and local, family-owned companies that have gained national notoriety.

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