Every digital marketing agency’s SEO tactic has been changing exponentially since the industry came about, mostly because Google and other search engines have kept it evolving to keep providing results on content that is relevant, of a high quality, and add an overall value for the end user, that is to say whoever you are trying to direct to your website to, your target audience.
But through all the changes, the importance of backlinks have entrenched themselves deeper into SEO strategies, so much so that any mistakes made with them can have utterly devastating results for the overall rating of the sites concerned.
So if your traffic has been struggling to reach your target mark lately, you might want to take advantage of the internet to gather helpful tips in selecting a web hosting company, SEO firm, or whichever digital marketing agency you feel can best assist you in achieving your business’s goals, and reach your target audience properly by ensuring that your website ranks highly enough to reach your targets audience and provide a favourable conversion rate.
Or, you can go ahead and read on to determine where you could have been going wrong, and what you can do to change it for the better. This guide will help you review your link building profile and polish it up by pointing out some of the most common mistakes in this regard.
They include spamming your homepage with all your links; taking a backseat once you’ve achieved your initial results; not making the best use of your anchor texts and trying to push links to content which are not relevant to who you are attempting to link to.
So let’s start with the first of these:
Building most of your links to your homepage
You obviously do want some of the links referring back to your homepage, this will help with making your site all the more crawlable which will help your rankings, but it happens all too often that just about every one of a website’s links directs you back to landing pages.
The trouble with this is that it makes for very shallow indexing of your site, and so can end up being counter-productive.
It’s recommended to spread your link building efforts equally across your site to ensure that users don’t have to trawl around for ages to find what they need, and so it is incredibly good at building trust with your users and creating an overall, high quality user experience.
A good rule to follow is that when navigating your site, a user should never be more than three clicks away from finding content which is relevant to them, anything more and they start losing interest, which means you will undoubtedly suffer a ranking drop from a high bounce rate.
Deep linking (or spreading your links across your website) will give your site more link juice, making it easily crawlable and therefore having favourable outcomes for the site’s ranking.
As far as SEO is concerned, deep linking gives you more opportunities to achieve favourable search engine visibility since it backlinks to all of your pages. This also makes your links seem a lot less like spam, which Google dutifully penalises heavily for.
Slowing down once you get good results
SEO is a dynamic field, and changes are just about constant. Getting to the first page of the search results is an enjoyable achievement indeed, but don’t expect it to stay that way once you’ve gotten your website there.
Staying on top (in fact featuring at all) requires you to constantly work to get the best online marketing for your business today, and not later. So keep on building up those backlinks and with a bit of luck you will enjoy the fruits of your labour for a long time to come. Give up on it however, and you will soon be taken over by sites which are consistently active, since Google doesn’t really want to push sites that seem inactive.
This means concentrating on building an energetic link-building profile by reaching out to other website administrators who share some form of relevance to your site. Beyond that, your efforts should still be as strong when it comes to creating interesting and informative content that will attract backlinks, and most importantly, you should still be conducting regular site audits even when everything seems to be working properly.
Doing this will not only help ensure that you consistently achieve favourable rankings, but will tighten your current paradigm and keep your backlink profile easy to manage in the future.
Leaving these efforts until later may not have an immediate negative affect on your SERP appearance right now, but it will make things easier for your competitors, and will almost surely lead to poorer results when Google eventually releases any updates (forcing you to rush back to your profile and knock out another site audit to rectify your link profile when there isn’t really time to do so.)
Forgetting about Brand Anchor text
So you’ve opted for extensive keyword research through a supplier of SEO services and you are adamant that only the keywords that they kick up should be used as anchor texts. And why not? They are the professionals. But how many times in your content have you used your name, brand, or URL?
Using either of these without making them into backlinks is just a wasted opportunity here you could be doing more to push your brand, so try not to forget to do it whenever it comes up.
The important thing to remember here is that the names and URLs you’re referring to should come up as naturally as possible, if it sounds forced and robotic, it will likely just end up looking like spam.
Thereby taking what could have been a great marketing opportunity and making it detrimental to your efforts. Always take the opportunity to attach appropriate links to your company or brand name, unless it runs the risk of making the content sound unnatural.
Not bothering with content relevance
Even before the days of Google, content relevance has been a big determining factor for search indexes. Search engines want to provide their users with websites that are of high quality and are relevant to what is being searched; and that’s the bottom line.
This is often overlooked, especially when sites take advantage of mass backlink services (or link farms) which may boost your ranking initially, but when users arrive at your site and leave in annoyance, not having been directed to what they are looking for, it will negatively affect your bounce rate, and ultimately damage your site’s rating.
Beyond this, irrelevant content will do nothing for a natural link building profile. No self-respecting website administrator wants to link with a site that may put a dent in their own profile, so in this regard, your content’s attractiveness should come almost purely from its relevance.
A final note
Always consider the do’s and don’ts of link building to stay ahead of the game. SEO and content marketing is a long running and time consuming process which, if you’re doing it within the search engine’s guidelines, shouldn’t give you staggering results over night.
If that’s what’s happened then chances are that you are exploiting some kind of loophole. These black-hat techniques may give fantastic results initially, but when they are eventually flagged by the search engine’s crawlers, your visibility will take a nasty hit, one that is an absolute hassle to fix.
The trouble comes when you’re not prepared when Google rolls out an update, and their newly developed algorithms make the site’s rating suffer horribly as a result. So avoid the temptation for the quick fixes in your link building strategies; slow and sure wins the race, and gives you time to learn from your mistakes.
Spreading the destination of your links out evenly, staying active on your website where you can (this is where blogs are helpful) and remembering to keep links relevant are essentially key points in achieving SEO greatness for your site.
“Here’s what we do know: Google pays attention to social interactions such as likes, retweets, shares, and even +1’s.”
I like his analogy that Google is an “independent filing system” for a continually ” expanding library of virtual content” online. He argues that Twitter gets our content indexed more quickly and social search measures performance.
More importantly, all social networks are indirect link-building mechanisms. The more your content is shared across social media, the more likely a content creator will find it and decide to link to it.
Targeting the Right AudienceJust getting content shared is not enough; the point is to get content to your target audience. Targeting the right audience is just as important in social media as it is in SEO. Start with this tip from Capital Merchant’s “Tips to Improve Your Social Media”:
The most important thing is to define your audience. Think of your ideal customers and write down any and all information you can think of about them. Be specific with regard to gender, race, age, and profession. The more info you can think of, the better. Now expand it a bit — you want to have three to four different target audiences that will get your messaging at different times, letting you cast a wider net and still be able to figure out what messaging resonates with what customer.
Nothing is more important than reaching potential customers and clients, rather than wasting marketing money on people who aren’t interested in what you have to offer. It is not just a matter of getting impressions. The point is to get interactions: favorites, retweets, reshares, likes, +1s, stumbles, and especially clicks.
Those interactions are likely to also be important to SEO value. Mentions on social media improve brand recognition, increasing clicks during searches. The tighter your focus on the correct audience, the stronger your results will be.
SEO Specific Social Media StrategiesIn his Forbes post “6 Social Media Practices That Boost SEO,” Jayson DeMers argues there are six social media strategies that definitely improve SEO. His first strategy relates to growing the number and quality of your followers.
Our social media profiles have their own trust flow and page authority, which is affected by the quality of sites linking to them. This is easily seen by comparing Twitter accounts for writers who contribute on major sites to non-writers.
Look at @Kikolani, @GrowMap or @SEOsmarty and compare them to the average Twitter account. This holds true on all social networks. They are authority sites, and although the links are typically nofollowed, they are still considered valuable as indicators of trust.
According to “How Valuable Is That Link?,” a post gleaned from a forum discussion with SEOchat member PhilipSEO:
“Some observers think that a nofollow link from a trusted site still passes along some kind of SEO value, even if it doesn’t pass any link juice. Phil states that ‘Many have reported and speculated, for example, that nofollow links from Wikipedia and similar high-trust sites can provide a great boost to rankings in spite of nofollow.’”
It seems safe to assume that social media accounts can develop higher trust rankings dependent upon where the links originate. This could include which other authority sites mention them or reshare their content. If those links are dofollow, the Page Authority (PA) of those social media profiles will be higher.
How to Use Social Media to Boost SEODoes it then follow that shares from higher trust and PA social media accounts are more valuable for SEO purposes than shares from ordinary accounts? I would say, yes. It is possible to use social media to boost SEO.
SEOGenius Director Bruce Smeaton drills down even further:
“I think the key is in understanding what ‘more valuable for SEO purposes’ really means.” It stands to reason that a highly trusted social channel is, by default, going to generate more shares than a social media property with lower authority. And by doing so, the likelihood of these shares turning into links increases accordingly. This in turn results in higher traffic volumes being directed to your site… and this is where the magic starts. No, it doesn’t matter whether the links are “follow” or “nofollow.” What really counts here is that the traffic generated indirectly via social media interaction must impact positively on your site’s perceived value and authority. To quote the words of Search Engine Journal’s Dario Zadro, “What is more likely happening is that Google is recognizing these social signals as ‘brand signals,’ which they love.”
If higher trust and PA matter, it is highly likely that relevance does as well. There are tools like Klout and Kred that measure influence. Kred is of particular interest because it measures influence by topic.
No doubt Google algorithms can measure what is most relevant to any particular social media account. By identifying which social media users are most influential on any particular topic, they are also most likely to be valuable for SEO purposes.
SEOs need to be thinking about how identifying and using influencers will impact their SEO rankings. Those who do not will be wondering why competitors are outranking them without having any idea why.
One of the most valuable assets a company can own in today’s economy is truly great written content on their website!
I know… you may think that sounds a bit over-exaggerated… even crazy, right? You may be one of those people who think that website content is just something you use to "feed Google" the same way you might offer a grizzly bear some food to escape its killer instinct.
After all, written content is not really a tangible thing like the business inventory you may have stored away or that you have drop shipped to your customers, right? Written content is just a bunch of letters, words, sentences, and paragraphs…. right?
WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!!!
Great content can transcend anything tangible you have in your business. When a little magic is applied to words, they can elevate the mind to new heights, motivate people to do things they never would have otherwise, and set emotions on fire!
- Great content can increase your sales conversions into crazy good territory!
- Great content can turn reluctant browsers into enthusiastic buyers!
- Great content can earn you respect and build customer loyalty!
- Great content can keep your best customers coming back for more!
The following guide will explain very specific ways you generate GREAT content ideas for your website, whether it be for blog posts or website articles. You can use these ideas to write the content yourself or have a professional writer write the content for you. Remember, truly great content starts with a truly great idea. If you give a dull or only mediocre idea to a great writer and ask him or her to write something for you, you’ll probably never get content that truly shines because the writing will be limited by the dull or mediocre idea itself!
To get GREAT content, you need to start with a truly GREAT idea!
Feel Your Customers’ Pain
You may consider this a very basic suggestion but it is amazing how few businesses actually put this extremely effective technique into practice when deciding on content for their website! It’s also something that you need to keep in mind as you read through the more advanced tips below.
If you can help your potential customers solve a pressing problem they have, they will often be so thankful to you, they will buy from you, especially if you sell products that are related to their problem in some way. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be directly related!
For example, if you can explain 7 cheap ways to prevent a kitten or cat from urinating on the carpet, you have a much better chance of selling other cat supplies to that person! If you give someone very specific instructions on how to consistently brew the perfect pot of coffee every morning, i.e. not too bitter and the perfect strength, you have a much better shot at selling that person gourmet coffee beans and coffee paraphernalia.
Even if your product(s) specifically address your customers’ pain, such as a natural treatment for acne, you will sell more of that product if your customers sense that you can actually FEEL their pain. Great content can show them that you do indeed understand what they are going through and why it is painful to them.
Tune Into Your Customers’ Passions and Emotions
This is another basic tip that you should keep in mind as you read through the rest of our suggestions below. People make most of their purchasing decisions based on emotion rather than facts. Yes, you can provide detailed product specs and pages of advanced information about every product you sell on your website. However, what really sells a product is how a person FEELS about a particular product or how they THINK that product is going to make them feel!
This is why soda pop commercials often feature people who seem so happy while drinking the beverage. It’s also why greeting card companies feature sentimental situations that make people tear up! They never talk about having the best artwork, best verses, or best quality paper!
This doesn’t mean you should never develop content that deals with factual information. However, it does mean that you should find some way to filter than information through the passions and/or emotions your potential customers might have for your products or services. For example, if you are a personal injury lawyer, it may be great to talk about the specific laws and how you excelled in law school. However, you may want to filter that through the emotion of a person who may be dealing with enormous medical bills or property damage. Good information may get you on the short list. However, understanding the emotional side may help you become the final choice.
Crowdsourcing – The Direct Approach
Crowdsourcing is a relatively new but extremely effective business method. It allows you to tap into the collective wisdom, creativity, and intelligence of many people. Instead of seeking the opinions from only one or a few consultants, you can instead ask for opinions and ideas from hundreds, or even thousands, of people… all at once! Remember too that the sum of the parts is often greater than the whole! Each member of the group feeds off other ideas, thus proposing enhanced versions of them. The best of the best ideas coalesce and they get refined!
There are many free and paid platforms online that allow you to seek the collective ideas of many. However, one site that deserves special recognition in creating website content is MyBlogU. This site allows you to crowdsource your ideas in brainstorming sessions that build on your original idea and catapult it into "epic content" (a borrowed term from the MyBlogU website) that people will love and want to link to from their own websites.
This type of crowdsourcing website will work particularly well if you happen to be in any form of business that sells to online marketers or internet entrepreneurs because many members of the "crowd" may be potential customers.
Crowdsourcing – The Indirect Approach
At online crowdsourcing sites like MyBlogU, you directly ask for help. However, there are all sorts of ways to indirectly crowdsource on the internet without anyone even knowing what you are doing! In many ways, this can actually be more effective because people tend to be more open and truthful when they don’t know you are crowdsourcing.
One very good tool for indirectly crowdsourcing are online forums related to what you sell on your website. For example, if you are a tour operator, you may want to check out forums related to travel and the geographic region you promote. If you sell fresh roasted gourmet coffee beans, you may want to join some foodie forums. If you sell solar panels and other solar equipment, it would behoove you to look at do it yourself forms and alternative energy forums. Be sure to look for forums that have many people very actively participating so you get a good crowd of people discussing the topics you are interested in pursuing.
Once you find suitable forum(s), you can first try lurking a while and just see what people talk about and follow any interesting threads. Then, once you have a feel for the type of community the forum is, you can start adding your own comments to threads where you’d like to know more about what people think. Finally, once you establish yourself a bit, you can post a specific question or topic, i.e. start a thread, and then follow along with the responses you get and ask for clarifications and more detail when needed.
Blogs with a high readership and many active commenters are also a great tool for crowdsourcing! Just like with forums, you may want to hang back a bit at first until you get a good feel for the blog and its followers. Then, you can start posting comments and asking questions. Be sure not to do this with the SOLE intention of crowdsourcing your own ideas. You will get much better responses to your own questions and comments if you become part of the community and contribute in meaningful ways.
Reading online reviews are another great way to indirectly crowdsource ideas related to the products or services you sell. If you have a lawyer website, check out the reviews found on Avvo for other lawyers in your specific area of law. Are your products, or similar products, found on Amazon?
The reviews on this site are a treasure trove of crowdsourced comments, with commenters feeding off each other. In fact, you can even ask questions and make comments on other people’s comments! If you sell handcrafted items, check out the reviews on Etsy. Even the reviews at big box stores like WalMart and Target can offer indirect crowdsourced comments on products, or categories of products, you sell.
YouTube has become one of the "go to" spots on the internet to learn how to do things because it is visual in addition to verbal so it’s easier to show people. If you are contemplating a "how to" post or article, do a search for it on YouTube and look at the very active comments section of the videos you find. You can even ask the original poster of the video questions and he or she will often respond. Other commenters will often chime in too!
Feed Off a Popular News Story
Popular news stories are some of the best fodder for getting ideas about blog posts and online articles! Plus, popular news stories often appear on highly authoritative websites. If you link to these in your post, you’ll provide a truly useful and relevant link in Google’s eyes.
Google loves authoritative links and this will help you with your SEO. However, be sure not to overuse this technique. Treat it like cayenne pepper! A little goes a long way and even a little too much can make both your audience and Google gag on your content.
Imagine yourself standing around the water cooler at work or sitting in an old timey barber shop chatting it up about current events. What kinds of news stories would get the most interest? How would the conversation about these news stories evolve?
For inspiration, you only need to turn on BBC or CNN International or read your local newspaper! For more ideas on newsworthy local events, listen to the news breaks on local radio stations. Radio stations are really good at keeping up with the emotional pulse of a broadly defined community.
Here’s another really good trick for news story inspiration. Go to Google’s News page (or simply click on "News" at the top of Google’s homepage)
First, read through the top few pages of recent news stories to see if anything strikes you as being somehow compelling to your business or organization’s target audience. For example, if you run a website on home improvement, auto repair, electronics, technology, or energy efficient products, your potential customers may be very interested in Apple’s announcement of a new electric car to debut in 2019. Just make the story tie into something you sell. If, for example, you run a home improvement website, you can talk about the upgrades that would need to be made to the home to charge an electric car.
Second, depending on your business select one or more of the Google News subcategories such as Business, Sports, Technology, Science, and Health and then peruse the top few pages of news stories related to these categories. For example, if you run an alternative health website, you may want to make a habit of checking out the latest "Health" news stories on Google News. Today (9-21-15), there’s a story in the New York Times about a new report from the CDC (Centers For Disease Control and Prevention) on how much junk food teenagers eat and the ill effects this has on their health. You could use the stats from this story to write your own and then link to the news article and to the original report at the CDC, two authoritative links for the price of one!
There’s also a hilarious USA Today story in the "Health" subcategory, complete with a video, showing a rat carrying an entire slice of pizza into a New York City subway terminal! You could write a tongue and cheek blog post on, "Why Do People Like Rat Food So Much?" and include a link to the industrious rat… you might even want to joke about how even though the rat eats junk food, he at leasts gets enough exercise… and you could then tie this into how important exercise is in addition to diet.
If you do add your musings on this comical story to your blog, be sure to tweet the URL of your blog post and include the now popular hashtag, #pizzarat. Because this news video has gone viral, your post inspired by it may end up being seen by thousands of people! In essence, you are piggybacking on a very popular news story.
By the way, here’s the famous pizza rat.
As you can see, there are all sorts of ways to turn news stories into blog posts or articles.
Third, use the search feature of these Google News pages to look for news stories that will very specifically interest your readers. For example, if you have a website about a senior living facility or provide content for older adults, you could search for "scams on older people" and find all sorts of news stories on common frauds perpetuated on older adults and how to prevent these scams.
If you sell bicycles or bicycle parts, a simple search on "bicycles" turns up a story on how Litespeed Bicycles, the company that builds one of the world’s lightest bicycles, was called upon by NASA to build the legs on the Mars rover! You could use this news story as a lead in to talk about lightweight bicycle parts, and perhaps lightweight bicycles, you sell…. and your subliminal message by linking to this news story would be how cool lightweight bicycles are because even NASA thinks so… and if you buy one, you would be cool too!
Hopefully, you are beginning to understand the value in using news stories for inspiration in your website content. News stories, both serious and light hearted, can lead to blog posts that will draw in your potential customers like moths to a flame!
Eavesdrop On Your Customers’ Social Media Channels
One of the best ways to really tune into your customers’ pain and passions is to "play voyeur" on their social media channels! First, you need to encourage to "friend you" on Facebook and become a "follower" on Twitter or "join your circle" on Google Plus, etc!
Once your customers have become integrated into your favorite social medial sites, you can begin watching and listening to what they talk about and how they talk about it. This will help you tune into what they truly care about and why. By turning into your current customers this way, it will allow you to develop some truly GREAT content ideas that will attract new customers and keep old customers coming back.
Eavesdrop On Your Competitors’ Social Media Channels
Identify your top ten competitors and make it a point to monitor their social media channels. Click through into the social media accounts of their customers and see what they are passionate about and why. In this way, you may be able to expand your business to cater to a different type of customer that you have been overlooking before.
Inspiration From Random Thoughts
Things that happen to you in your everyday life can be an inspirational goldmine for website content, especially once you open yourself up to this possibility! These everyday occurrences are generally things that many people can relate to, because if they are happening to you, they are probably happening to your customers as sell.
You can use examples from everyday life to create the perfect "hook" to draw people into your blog posts and articles.
Here are a dozen examples of everyday occurrences that may inspire you:
- The song lyrics to a song that gets stuck in your head
- Silly dreams you remember vividly or dreams told to you by friends and family
- Funny commercials that you can poke fun at
- Getting a surprisingly great tasting gourmet meal from a food truck or discovering a great new restaurant in the "bad part" of town
- The exquisite taste of a really sweet strawberry picked at the peak of the season
- Something your child says that gives you new perspective
- A "private" conversation you overhear in a bar. Something amusing your dog or cat does that makes you laugh
- A problem you have with another business such as not honoring their return policy
- A frustrating home improvement project that you finally finish
- A visit with your parents or in-laws
- A difficult family crisis such as a sick cousin
Whether you are philosophical or practical in your approach to using these everyday occurrences as the foundation to a blog post, the hook is the same. It is a hook that will have mass appeal. For example, if you sell anti-aging creams and you overhear two women talking privately about how they think their wrinkles are affecting their job promotions, you can use this "private conversation" as the lead in to a great blog post!
If you have a frustrating time returning a flawed product, you can use this personal experience to tell how this made you re-evaluate your own return policy and then make an announcement on your blog for your new and improved return policy!
Truly GREAT content can be your most valuable business asset because it can help you achieve all of your most significant goals, including significantly increasing your bottom line! If you find one or more of the ideas we present above to be helpful in creating GREAT content for your website, feel free to post a link back to our website to help others create GREAT content too!
We have gone through a period where the internet almost became a sea of mediocre to dull content due to people trying to game the search engines. It’s time for us all to say something more meaningful to our potential customers and clients!