Links And Big Brands

In my mind, one of the most rewarding parts of being a search engine optimisation consultant here at SEO Liverpool, is the reverse engineering of websites. Any SEO consultant worth his or her salt analyses a site in an attempt to discover why they rank so well.

We’ve always found link building a little different!

The small businesses wonder how the bigger brands succeed with their link building efforts. In a big corporation, it would take jumping through a lot of hoops to get the correct managers to sign off on link building approval, especially as they may want to verify that every site that they link build upon is desirable.

Do big brands really do link building? I think not so much. They are already pretty well known and established so well within the sphere, that their links usually come naturally. However, if they really wanted to engage in building other links, it’s suggested that they participate in some viral marketing campaigns and linkbait.

Once you’re so a big company, you may not have to worry about “link building,” perse, but other strategies

I suppose you could say that past a certain point its more a matter of being aware of links, how they work & the value they do or do not bring. When opportunities come up, maximise them.

 

 

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The Art Of Internet Marketing

Last week, I had a rather nice discussion with a top SEO in Liverpool. It was regarding the tricky subject of SEO outsourcing. Like others, we receive lots of unsolicited emails from companies who wish to partner with us. It’s very tough, as our reputation is the key component of our business strategy. To make sure we find the right candidate, we try to have a discussion around current marketing issues and this brought up some interesting points…

The way advertising used to work, is by interrupting you, by intruding on your TV or radio show, or with full page ads in print. Then the smart companies – all of whom produce very average products like soap and toothpaste – would take everything they earned and reinvest it back into more ads. Eventually, having heard or seen the message enough times, you might try the blue box instead of the yellow box, next time you’re in need for what’s in the box.

These days… the best advertising comes from your friends. From social networks. From the conversations of people with like minds and tastes.

What you need to do is to create something remarkable. Special enough that it evokes emotion and compels people to leave comments on your blog and discuss the idea. To be successful in today’s market, you need a product worth talking about.

Then you need to create a story. It’s the story that people will relate to, claim as their own, and repeat to anyone who would listen. If you tell a better story, you can ask a lot higher price for your product. Then having a remarkable product, and an exceptional story, people will find you, and buy your product for the story. They’ll want to tell their friends, family, coworkers and anyone else who will listen.

Suddenly everyone is running around telling your story. They start doing the interrupting, that the advertising used to do. That’s what it means to be remarkable. In the near future… who knows? Maybe you’ll create something remarkable, package it in a marvellous story, and have everyone talking… doing the interrupting, that advertising used to do.

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How To Create Ideas That Spread

How to create ideas that spread. How do you do this yourself or do you try some SEO outsourcing? We know, here at SEO Liverpool, the big challenge is coming up with the ideas.

We can look at what’s worked, but many successes don’t tie back to your business. As with all Search Engine Marketing, there are different ways to approach this. The Coke and Mentos case (one of the largest scaling virals) doesn’t get you to consume more of those products.

3 Rules:

1) Thou shall know thy customer – find out what customers are looking for.

2) Thou shall be remarkable – about doing something different from what you’ve done before.

3) Thou shall try, try, again – most efforts don’t take off. Every try improves your chances.

Brainstorming the ideas:

Need to ask – what do customers love about you? In our case, small businesses like us because we have a small business. What do customers not like about you? Whats your biggest challenge? Address a problem like customer service.

What sparks online conversation? You must always be part of the conversation – important to be in the forums and social networks.

Can you do something outrageous like the Coke and Mentos and Will It Blend? Gets the marketing message across. Can you do something funny? Funny sells. Scary also tends to go viral.

Tie into holidays or events like the Olympics. You can find cool charts that show Twitter activity, with spikes. Great, see whats getting people to talk about online.

Can you get the most of something? Biggest this, etc.

What do you want people to say about your company? Can you get people to address this?

Create or embrace controversy? Can be dangerous.

Underdog stories.

Look at your analytics. See what sends people to your site. Not just traffic but engagement. How long are they spending on the site (Anyone involved in web SEO should be doing this!)

What motivates customers? Price? Service?

Look at your capabilities. Look at your budgets and limitations. Can you create and edit videos? Can you create and edit Flash games? Can you create and edit widgets? Do you have a skilled writer? Do you have a skilled researcher? Humorist? Do you have an email list or can you buy one? Can you partner with a non-profit?

Understanding campaign costs. If something is free, you must know if the ROI is sustainable. Starbucks got in trouble by canceling a free offer that went out of control. A competitor took advantage of that. Know your break even points.

Can you do this in house, or do you need to outsource this? Bring all this together to know your starting point.

Make it easy for people to spread content. Establish relationships. You need to be involved in the community. That’s the key. You lose that credibility of the pitch if you’ve never been heard of before.

Before pitching – aim for at least half of these:

1) Read at least 3 posts on their site.

2) Comment on one or two existing posts.

3) Write at least two sentences that are unique to the person pitching. Needs to be personal.

4) Have at least one other person read the email before you sending it.

5) Contact the blogger to share feedback before the pitch.

6) Keep track of which sites you pitch. Can get tough to manage a big campaign.

Must do’s before pitching:

1) Make sure your pitch addresses the person by NAME. Simple but few do it.

2) Make sure you have the right email address. Don’t send to webmaster@domain.com unless you are looking for the right email.

3) No mass emails! People will know.

4) Be transparent. Let them know who you work for.

5) Spell check your message.

6) Familiarise yourself with their readers. Read the comments.

7) Ask yourself in all honesty if the pitch is really relevant to readers.

8) Check to see if they have a policy about accepting pitches.

9) If you pitch multiple writers at the site, let them know in the text of the email.

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More Viral Marketing Tips

At Summit Online Marketing we want to give our readers tips, we know that some business don’t need to pay for SEO Packages, they just need a little helping hand. On that basis some information in a recent survey from Nielson shows that recommendations from consumers are most powerful. On the web, this translates into thousands of people.

As a Google SEO have a look at this frankly salient advice

Case Study – Starbucks announced closure of stores. Stock price dipped. At the same time there was a huge spike in the blogosphere regarding Starbucks.

More Stats. 7/10 Brits use the net for news. If your in that space, you have a huge opportunity. 97% of journalists go online to find stories on the web. 79% find stories on the news wires.

Budget – How many people have a viral marketing budget? Not too many. This is a definite issue.

Myth – Web and viral marketing costs a fortune. If you’re writing a white paper get an interview in the Times and other industry related magazines. This approach can take time, but their isn’t much cost involved.

Basic Elements – Free is really good, like a white paper, if you give away your expertise you will reap the rewards.

Make it easy for your content to spread and share

  • Make sure it scales easily from small to large. Don’t crash your server! Use Youtube to host your content if need be.
  • Social media takes advantage of common motivations and behaviours. People are generally social.
  • Utilise existing communication networks like the news wires such as PR Web. Can you put news or podcast or video on there. Take advantage of these resources.
  • The key is great quality content! There many different strategies. Great tip is adding an RSS feed.
  • To blog or not to blog? Need a strategy. Who is going to say it? How often? You really need a plan. Don’t start a “me too” blog.
  • Basic techniques: Forward to friend, bookmark features, etc. “Addthis.com” is a great tool to enable sharing.
  • Youtube – Setup your own branded channel – create simple videos that are fun and quirky. Tell your clients and friends. Optimise your channel. Link from your website. Get a Flip Video Camera!
  • Tubemogul is a free service that distributes your videos across the major channels. Can check the stats and pull reports.

Measuring success – Links – We know that links are gold for organic rankings. In our early days, we had a page on our website with lots of new free emoticons. From this we generated over 2,000 links within a couple of weeks

The best SEO advice is to make sure you have a plan to create the right connections.

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Viral Marketing with People of Influence

Today’s topic will be igniting viral marketing with people of influence. You know, the PR dudes and the customers, etc. Working in the seo sem industry, these points are vital.

With online marketing consulting It’s very important to define objectives. Most viral campaigns aren’t massive, just like real viruses. They can be small but have a massive impact! The goal might be as simple as to brand or promote a product launch.

People of influence are experts, journalists, or top bloggers – These people have the power to promote, and people tend to support things from people they trust. Most news organisations recycle news and it’s your job to take advantage of this.

The approach- You can launch and then contact these people of influence. Develop relationships ahead of time, this way they’re more likely to help you. Lets say you want to target a specific blogger. Why don’t you send them leads, tips, content – then down the road, bring them on board for consulting. They will be more likely to respond vs. a random email.

Cartoonists – You can hire a university student, don’t be afraid to outsource.

Bloggers – Have your blogger come up with something creative or hire a guest blogger with a following and give a financial incentive. It will cost you but may be well worth it. If you have a start-up it may put you on the map. Think… can get their followers to follow you?. Don’t look at just A list bloggers, every industry has their own.

Contests – You can have them regularly, and promote them internally. Or can recruit judges of influence (think free ipod touch).

Interviews – Make it easy as possible on the interviewer. Get a list of contacts to spread it. Really you want to find out who they know to promote them.

Research – If you are small on a tight budget – chambers of commerce, local business leaders and influential social groups.

Find brand advocates – Forums, blogs, social media, your own customer list, sales newsletters, blogs – create relationships. Get them behind your brand, give them an incentive. Discounts, upgrades, etc.

Recruiting influencers can be difficult – Approach this from a sales point of view. You must get past the gate keeper so attending a conference is a great way to establish face to face. Better than cold calling.

Want to target a blogger? – Buy advertising space, it’s much easier to get them on the phone.

Hire consultants! – Experts, bloggers, journalists, forum owners. This is the easiest way to use their names and gain media publicity.

Utilise customers to spread campaign. Look at emails, invoices, press releases. Talk to sales reps.

Brick and mortar – Do cross promotions, explain the benefits and find points of contact.

Many other ways to spread the buzz – Individualise, sponsorships, PPC, PR agencies, press releases, newspaper ads and even local fliers in the city centre!

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Igniting your Viral Campaigns

Online marketing strategy will usually involve Viral marketing.

What is viral marketing and social media? Which methods work, and what typically goes viral?

Viral marketing: A top SEO will tell you it’s to spread information quickly. At it’s essence, word of mouth marketing online. Supercharged. The web allows things to move quickly.

What is social media? In short – a giant conversation online. So many different avenues, networks – places for people to talk online.

Who has a company blog, who has a personal blog?

Blogs and microblogs: Check out Technorati directory. Blogs are highly consumable. Easy for people to read and they get it. People are used to it. Good place to put message. Allows comments, discussion, linking. On the other side, you want bloggers to link to you and talk about your stuff. You have to look at it from both ways.

Social networking: Ask most people – they will say Facebook and Twitter, once upon a time it was Myspace. Just one component. These are the big ones. There are more niche ones – like myartspace.com which is for artists that share a common interests. Look and see beyond the big ones – look at the ones in your niche – the ones you should build a presence on.

Online video: More than uploading and telling friends. A place where people can comment and respond. A quick way to spread message. A good video like ‘will it blend’ spreads easily. Youtube makes it easy for people to link directly.

Forums and groups: Often most overlooked. Forums are most powerful for expert advice and groups. Strong and passionate communities. One key take away regarding forums is a site called Bigboards.com which ranks forum sizes. The biggest ones are niche – Paintball, Volkswagens, Bodybuilding. Look at the forums in your niche and build a presence. Get involved. Talk to people. Look at logs of a viral campaign to see the forum activity.

Social news and bookmarking: The big guys are Digg, StumbleUpon, and Delicious (although some on this list may close soon). They’re more than just bookmarking. It’s about allowing people to see what your interested in. With Digg there is a large barrier to entry because its competitive. In any niche, there’s a social news site for you.

Our SEO training If your content gets to the top of Mount Digg, it will result in millions of viewers. The traffic is good. But most important is how it influences other sites. Bloggers need Digg and social network to find content and information. Gets popular and people bookmark it, IM, email it. Reporters also use these sites to find content. It’s a way to get people who know nothing about you to find out about your company. Lots of eyeballs and info spread.

What is good content that goes viral?

* Lists – Lists work. Shows 10 commandments which started the trend.
* How To’s – People love how to’s. “how to tip like a gentlemen”, etc.
* Surveys – “top 25 best nights out “. Don’t have to interview thousands of people to get this content.
* Comprehensive – Something that’s comprehensive, that will be a strong resource – that a .gov will want to link to.
* Strong opinions – It can backfire – if it’s controversial it can go viral bot not in the best way.
* Best of lists – People love best ofs. Best of the Beatles. They love it.
* Calculators, tools, anything that helps people do something better. Great ways to get people excited about your stuff.
* Video: Must be interesting and makes people go “wow”. Will it blend is the classic example of a boring product made interesting in a video.
* Widgets – great for people to put things on their site and builds links.
* Quizzes, badges – makes people put them on their site or pages, and spreads.

Ending tips:

Have clear goals and objectives. Lots of people come to Summit Online Marketing asking to do something on Facebook – but why? What’s the goal? Promote great content. Don’t do something half-baked. Do something great – take extra time. Contribute to communities. Find the right communities that make sense to you. Build relationships on these sites. Give back. Make the sites work better.

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