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Is Link Buying Evil, or Extremely Good for Your Website?

When I think about link building I think about the psychology of internet marketing. If you’re reading an  article and that article imposes a rigid set of rules on your online marketing tactics (especially in regard to your link building) then you should probably exercise some careful discretion.

All these rigid rules are great for beginners, but they often don’t help you understand the reasons why a specific type of SEO tactic is helpful or not helpful to your website. To understand link buying you really need to understand some of the history behind inbound links.

link buying

Link Building in the Early Days

Back in the early days, link buying was considered to be a norm. That’s changed since then and now people get very worried whenever the topic is brought up. Many write it off as a nonsensical thing for you to focus any time on. But it didn’t start that way –

  •       Buying links worked like a charm
  •       Buying links was expensive and took up a lot of time. (Not a lot of SEO’s were willing to pour that kind of effort into their clients websites.)

SEO is Not Always the Same for Everyone

Frankly, it’s hard to take one approach to SEO and apply that to everyone’s websites. I think seobook states it well, “Rand [fishkin] recently stated that he no longer recommends paid links. If you philosophically didn’t believe in buying links then why would you spend $1,000,000+ building a web graph of link data?”

That’s an important point!

Buying links might not always make sense, but it does accomplish the same types of things that broken back-link building would accomplish for your website (Which, by the way, is considered a totally white hat thing to do).

The real risks in buying back-links compared to broken back link building are associated with purchasing links from domains that are, in effect, merely a link scheme. However, before we get “linkomatically correct” here, let’s just remember that even the white hat Inbound Marketing Software company, Moz.com was warned by Google at one time that they would face a manual penalty if they didn’t cut down the guest posting links (because of it possibly looking like a “link scheme”). Needless to say, this made Rand Fishkin very unhappy.

If Moz possibly faced a penalty, it definitely sends the message that none of us are really safe from having a website that look like a link scheme.

I promise you, the solution is not to get up on any specific type of inbound marketing tool soapbox and start proclaiming your tools or strategies work the best and that SEO is dead… wait, isn’t it?

link buying action

Start Taking Action

If you’ve burned your website, start a new one and change the way you do SEO. The problem is not SEO, the problem is the style of application you’re using. Are paid links bad? Some, but you can get really great results with paid links as well.

Recently, I paid to feature my company at a partner event. I was given a sponsor link on the partners website… is that “paid” link wrong?

No, good SEO’s think outside the box.

Power needs to be wielded with responsibility. When you understand how to wield the power of page-rank, you will become a better SEO.


7 Steps to Creating High Quality Content for Your Content Marketing Campaign

Writers block is a common problem that causes consternation and frustration among even the most experienced writers. It can be caused by a variety of factors, but whatever the source of the problem, the result is the same — disabling writers from producing quality content.

When preparing to write marketing content, there are several steps that can be taken to ensure the final product is high quality and attractive to viewers.

content marketing strategies

Target Your Audience

Everyone knows that it’s nearly impossible to hit a target you can’t see. In the same way, you can’t write quality content if you don’t know what kind of buyer persona you are aiming to attract. Once you know which buyer persona matches your product, you will then be able to follow the remaining steps to produce content that will attract your desired audience.

Choose A Topic

When you go to select a topic, keep your buyer persona in mind, but also think of your company brand. Select a subject that your audience will be interested in that will also accentuate and draw attention to the unique characteristics of your company.

In preparation for your writing, consider what style of writing to use. Whether it be forceful and technical or instructional and creative, find what works and try to write adhere to that style consistently throughout your article.

Also consider investigating how other writer’s content on the same topic has faired, and if there are particular traits or styles that have been successful and would be worth replicating. A little research into what has and has not worked previously could be all it takes to make your content outstanding.

Select a Title

When considering how to title your article, there are a couple tips you should know so that you are able to produce a title that will attract the eyes of viewers.

Keep It Short

It’s ideal that your title be no longer than 70 characters, since that is the point at which search engines tend to trim the title. Keep it short and sweet so as not to have your title get lost amidst all the other headlines.

Keep It Real

Title your article in such a way that the important words and phrases are toward the beginning of your 70 characters. Also be sure that they are an accurate representation of the content of your article. No one likes to select an article and then find out that the text has nothing to do with the title shown. Be strategic, but also be honest.

content marketing team

Build a Structure

As you prepare to structure your content, be aware that some people will just want to scan through the headings and grab what they need, while others will want to comb through the content and pull out every intricate detail. Your writing structure can meet the needs of both.

Write for Readers

Don’t be afraid to invest time in producing quality content for those that are interested in reading deep on your topic. Your knowledge about the topic could be the information they want and need.

Structure for Scanners

Let your sub-headings and headings encapsulate the idea you want to communicate through your article. Allow the flow of headings to provide the general idea you want communicated to your audience.

Learn to Write Well

Spending time to learn how to write engaging, entertaining, and attractive content is a worthwhile endeavor. Here are some tips to keep in mind while producing material.

Avoid Pointless Sentences

If a sentence or statement does not add meaning or clarity to your topic, it needs to be either fixed or removed. Readers are engaged by content that is informative and entertaining, so avoid sentences that are just ‘spinning wheels’. Fresh content and accurate terminology is also a must.

Broaden Your Vocabulary

When you notice certain words appearing repeatedly throughout your writing, grab a thesaurus and look for a word or words that say the same thing in a different or stronger way. This helps to captivate your readers and keeps them away from boredom. Repeated words = uninterested reader.

Watch Your Grammar

If you are a writer, you ought to be familiar with general punctuation and syntax. When you have a grammatical question that arises, the internet, writing professors, and grammar books are all resources you can utilize to find the answer and perfect your style.

content marketing strategem

Check

After your article is complete, go back through and comb through every paragraph. While this may seem tedious and time consuming, often this is the point at which writers recognize silly mistakes, missing words, or bad sentence structure. Checking your work twice gives you the chance to replace weak verbs with stronger ones, remove or edit poor sentences, and correct any errors in grammar or punctuation.

Read It Aloud

It is highly recommended that after you have gone through and checked your content, that you read it aloud. This enables you to hear your content, opening up further opportunity for editing and clarification.

And there you have it; our list of strategies inherent in good marketing content. While our list may not be perfect or complete, we hope it has taught, encouraged, or inspired you, as a writer, to put your best foot forward and produce incredible content.


Got SEO Problems? Here’s Where You Start…

As Google updates continue to change and sketchy, black-hat SEO tactics become more and more a thing of the past, gobs of websites are in a bit of a pickle. Whether you’ve received a Google smackdown, or your site has never been optimized in the past, if you have SEO problems, here’s how we suggest you start.

SEO problems and solutions

Start By Looking Behind You

Search Engine Watch recently published an article by Jennifer Van Iderstyne on, “Learning to Carry Your SEO Baggage.” In that article, she says, “If your website has been online about a year or so, then consider it an adolescent, with enough history to make it interesting. Whatever your long-term plans or goals may be, you have to take what’s behind you into account. Your baggage will determine how you need to move forward.”

Identify the Extent of the Mess

Secondly, you’ll need to fix whatever SEO problems you currently have. That might be a lack of any SEO work at all, or a past history of shady SEO tactics that have you backpedaling in an attempt to recover.

Jennifer Van Iderstyne remarks, “Even if you’ve given up those practices now, like that protest that got a little out of hand in college, the arrest record stays with you and so does the potential effect of low-quality links. Your website’s past extends far beyond what you’ve done in the last year.”

Are those past underhanded SEO tactics following you around? It would behoove you to find out.

Find Today’s SEO Expert

Unfortunately, there are still a lot of shady individuals out there who will promise to send your site skyrocketing to the top of the SERPs. If it were that easy, then anyone could do it. And, Google has made a point of making it more and more difficult to be a faker.

So, don’t listen to those guys.

Instead, find that SEO expert that can identify the dubious gimmicks of the past and promises to never let them near your website. Use this list of 12 questions conveniently provided by Mashable to find the SEO expert that can save your site.

SEO-problems-solutions 

Be Cautious

However, be careful when shopping for an SEO expert. Oftentimes, those involved in SEO efforts only provide you with one piece of the puzzle. If you’re looking to gain more clients or customers through the internet, Google is making it more and more difficult to do this without a comprehensive internet marketing approach. While you can place Google ads, and find other methods of promotion that use the internet, many businesses find this to be less than satisfying. Reason being, they’re using a less than comprehensive approach.

Instead of looking for SEO, we’re convinced that your website would do far better with a comprehensive internet marketing approach. To learn more about what this looks like, feel free to give us a call or continue to explore our website. We used to be an SEO agency, but changes  in the internet marketing world have prompted us to turn a different direction – toward a comprehensive marketing approach that drives sales, not just traffic.

How Much Patience Should You Have With Your Marketing?

marketing strategies

A blog posted on The VAR Guy by information technology sales and marketing expert, Kendra Lee, titled Pick Your Lead Generation Mantra to Live By reminded me that patience is definitely part of the marketing game…but how much?

Before we examine this, think about today’s modern business owner and executive team members;

  • Their online lives are controlled by apps
  • More information is delivered to them more quickly
  • Marketing resources are vast, and growing – how many times have you been called by an “SEO company” in the last year?

The better question might, therefore, be not how much patience, but which marketing activities require more patience and which should you expect to get results faster with?

In her article, Kendra encourages readers to pick one lead generation method (like email marketing, social media, or paid search) until they’ve mastered it – sage advice!

This takes patience and is great advice for those just learning about marketing since they may not really know where to start or they have had success with one method (like email marketing) and are ready to add on to their marketing capabilities.

All marketing takes patience to get results, but lets examine the spectrum of how you might look at the speed of obtaining results from a few popular marketing activities.

SEO marketing strategies

Fastest: >30 Days

  • Setting up and configuring Google Analytics and Webmaster tools for your web site can start to give you online marketing data right away, but knowing what the data tells you will take some analysis.
  • Paid search marketing including Google or Facebook Ads and retargeting gives you almost immediate feedback as to whether or not the adds draw clicks and if those clicks come to your web site and convert into leads.
  • Conversion rate optimization (CRO) design and A/B testing will tell you within 30 days, given a large enough volume of visitors, which design for your website’s home (or internal) page will convert visitors to leads best.

Moderate: 1-3 months

  • Content marketing, including blogs, microsites, eBooks, press releases, and landing pages all take time to create, but are usually evergreen content – it could take 30-90 days to start seeing traffic results from your efforts
  • Email marketing establishes an immediate connection if someone opens the email and clicks on the call to action within the email, but it could take multiple emails to finally deliver a qualified lead – it all depends on where the buyer is in the buying cycle.
  • Event marketing: this includes attending or having a booth at an industry event to network. Although you are likely to get cards of people you meet and they may visit your web site, it tends to take several months to develop strong relationships from these events.

Slower: 3-12 months

  • Social media marketing is usually good when you have already touched a prospect or partner with 2 other forms of marketing first. For example, I personally have connected with Kendra Lee through email and on the phone prior to linking with her on Twitter and LinkedIn – this has taken a few years.
  • Website and keyword rankings take a constant, iterative approach to making adjustments using SEO techniques and could take a solid 6 months to make marked improvements – and longer if your website is under penalty from Google.
  • Outbound calling probably takes the most patience of all of the marketing techniques mentioned because the best outbound is done across multiple stages

The nuances of marketing in today’s business world can go very deep and take sophisticated talent to be done really well.

So, my advice is to first understand what your marketing problems are, then define what you need your marketing to do to obtain your sales goals. Then, be patient with the marketing activities you are employing.

Rome (or any great marketing capabilities) was not built in a day.

What is A Good Keyword, Anyway?

This is a good question, and we get asked it it a lot in one form or another in our conversations with clients.

A good keyword can mean a lot of different things. Here are some definitions we hope you’ll find helpful:

  • A high volume, low competition query that is relevant to the website (SEO)
  • A commercial intent query that is cost effective (PPC)
  • A query that is used by your target market and converts well on your website (CRO)

As you can see, it depends on who you ask. To the SEO, whose primary key performance indicator is usually engaged, buying traffic, the volume of searches the keyword has every month is more important than the relevance of the keyword. The relevance is still important, don’t get me wrong, but the most important thing is volume.

The PPC professionals in the crowd would respectfully disagree with SEO’s. To them, it’s all about maximizing their return on advertising spend (ROAS). Volume isn’t very important. What’s really important to them is that they get intent, not relevance.

To the CRO, neither of these is really all that correct. Their interest is somewhere in between. True, you need relevance, and you need volume, and you need intent, but one without the other two is useless. They can’t iterate on the conversion rate without enough traffic volume, but junk traffic doesn’t exactly work either, and it doesn’t matter what the user’s intent is if you’re not selling what they’re looking to buy.

What’s our strategy?

At Fannit, we use something of a hybrid.

A great keyword matches all three of these factors, with one more aspect thrown in: closing potential. If a keyword doesn’t have a decent amount of volume, isn’t very relevant to the website, doesn’t convey commercial intent, or can’t realistically be expected to close into business, it’s not a great keyword. These keywords are the ones people who want something right now search for. They are at the bottom of the funnel.

Now, you can take out any one of these factors and still get a good keyword. For instance, if a keyword isn’t going to close into a sale, but matches all the other factors, the person is at a higher level in the funnel. They need to be nurtured down the funnel before closing into business.

A low volume keyword can yield unexpected results in commercial intent, upping the closing rate dramatically. Keywords you thought weren’t relevant can turn out to be very relevant indeed for a particular subset of customers. Even keywords with low commercial intent have their value, if you can but capture the user’s attention.

It all comes down to strategy. You can’t be everything to everyone- in marketing, or life. Make the most of your marketing efforts by appealing to the best audience for your company.