Backlinking In the Real World
In our last post, we discussed the basics of external linking: Both the reasoning and logic for using them. Most business owners that are aware of the plusses of linking, fall victim to simply buying them – and lots of businesses say that this is the only real-world way of getting a decent Return on Investment, but I always disagree: Just because you have links from highly ranked sites, how does your vendor get them? How does he have access to easily do something that others struggle with?
Are there real companies behind these sites? Any kind of ranking is a 3rd party ranking, not a Google one, so it isn’t the search engine giving these figures. How can you trust them? Are the links ‘DoFollow’ – these get more positive scoring than ‘NoFollow’ – are the sites you are promised to get a link to really there? Are they any good? Does it redirect the reader to another site, completely off topic, that you are unaware of?
Forking over hundreds of dollars for links that you can only have access too after you have bought them is a sure-fire way to attract Scam artists in the field and other ‘black hat’ techniques. This is something that is bound to get you downgraded in Searches, not ranked higher. However, your vendor has already taken your money and vanished. Think of this from a logical point, too, how does a Bot see this? Your site hasn’t had any links since it’s inception, now you have 10 that appeared on your site since the last search! Doesn’t that look fishy?
Getting your site to be ‘cited’ on another site is hard. Would you allow such a citation? Perhaps a row of past customers’ logos that are larger concerns than yours is great, but there aren’t many other reasons. So why would anyone else. Well, as mentioned in our last post, Search Engines like relationality: Go for links that are in your online neighborhood: Suppliers and Vendors, Chambers of Commerce where you do business. An easy way is to comment on other blog posts in your business field, because you have the chance to add your web address to your comment. Not too much, however. Try to get links via different methods and in different styles of sites.
The ‘Holy Grail’ is using Google to your advantage: This search engine has other properties, so use them: The Google My Business block, You Tube, Google Maps, G-Mail and the Google Drive. They will love these links to them! Blogging sites in your niche that accept guest posts on the subject you know most about, or even adjacent ones: Want to promote your Kitchen Cabinet design company? Post on general Interior Design blogs and newsletters – publications like this are always looking for new content.
Linking takes work – just like any other marketing avenue for your business, so don’t try to shortcut the work. Finally, the real reason I am writing this post – ensure that all of your links work. When WordPress forwards my likes and comments to me, they always include a link to the readers site – half of these people’s sites don’t even exist! If I like your site, I will get in touch to offer to write for you. I’ll use your site to find your email address, or your name and face to track you down on LinkedIn. If you aren’t there, I can’t contact you!
Think of linking, both internal and outward looking, as telling Search Engines something positive about your business. As usual think of the “5w’s” and answer them.
Linking Your Website: The Myths and The Must Do’s
Backlinking is an important part of your marketing and outreach program. However – like most SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tips, fads and fakes – it has become entwined with good website ‘back end’ practice.
This has made the entire process contradictory and confusing to many business owners – including many in the Digital Marketing business that simply want to charge you more for their services. Let’s look at Backlinking logically:
What many people don’t grasp about ranking in Search Engine results is the fact that they are ‘relational’. That is to say that a good deal of the work you can be doing is based on your online ‘neighbourhood’ and your relationship to both it and its components. This is not the only thing you should be doing, nor is it something you can ignore; marketing success is never a black and white proposition, like this. It is all varying shades of grey, so the more toward one end of the spectrum you can get, the better.
Let’s concentrate on two types of links: Internal and External.
Internal: You describe in one line on the home page of your website a subject that is covered in more detail on another. For instance, you sate: ‘Find out more on our blog.’ The words “our Blog” is a hyperlink that – when clicked – leads the visitor to your Blog page.
When search bots crawl your site, they know your keywords and know what this page is about, then see a link to another page that also says more on this subject. This ‘Subject Double-Down’ is a good thing for Bots to see, because you are offering answers to the questions searchers are looking for, then offering even more specific information. These additional ‘proofs’ make your site more likely to lead to a high placing, more visitor clicks and – at some point, when combined with other tactics – a higher ranking for these searches.
Why? (The famous $64,000 question!) Because you are offering more up-to-date, true, real and cited information – thanks to your links – than the website above you, generally, for this search term. So, you should be ranked ahead of them.
External: A favored client, customer or supplier has a website and you place their logo on your website. This logo is actually a link to your partners’ website. Because it is someone you have done business with before, bots see that your website enjoys this ‘expert citation’ and adds it to your “online neighborhood” score. This information is stored and adds to your site’s credibility for future search results. Hopefully, your new ‘partner’ will do the same for you, giving both of you more of the fabulous “Google Juice” that all marketers are looking for – an invisible score that your website receives from Search Engine Bot searches that will – again, in partnership with other marketing outreach methods – lead to a higher ranking compared to your competition that don’t perform any of these tactics.
Remember, online searches are based on one of two criteria: to answer a search query based on general terms: Because a searcher is trying to find out more concerning a subject they know nothing about (Garage Door Repair in my city), or to learn more about someone they have heard of (ACME Garage Door Repairs). What you are trying to do is to rank Number One for the first query as well as filling out a search page with answers to the second.
To have either Internal or External link types is very good, to have both is very, very good, but to have none isn’t terminal to your website’s success – it can just be better: The Shades of Grey, again.
So where to go for your external links? We’ll address that next time.
How is Your Business Doing? A Checklist for 2023
We have all heard that things are going to change for the worse in the coming year. A likely recession is about to hit, supply chain problems persist, and customers don’t have enough money for anything – either as individuals or businesses.
Considering that you have been doing less business than usual in the last 12 months, how can you move forward, forearmed with this information, and ensure that you continue to get prospects, but – more importantly, you move them along the funnel to become The Ideal Customer?
Aer you doing everything you can to make your business as accessible as possible and are you doing the wrong things?
Can you grow, or should you think about retrenchment to ensure that you are still around? Can you make more of the revenue you are earning?
This is the perfect time of year to look at where you need to be next Christmas and how to get from here to there under less than favorable conditions. You may need to play these little exercises out, perhaps on a piece of paper, or several – or an expanse of wall in your office and a collection of post-it notes.
Do you have the Right Customers?
Just because you attract prospects to your business, doesn’t mean they will magically turn into the kind of customers that you want: Those that not only buy from you consistently, but also evangelize to others about you. Do these magic customers exist? Yes, but you probably aren’t getting them. So how do you find them? Well, here is a group of exercises you can do to start to discover them:
The Ideal Customer
What does your ideal customer look like to someone else? How do we find them: At work, at home, and where are these places? What is their pain, and how do we solve it? What do they receive from us and how do they find us?
The answers to these questions get to the heart of the matter of how you can see your perfect customer from an ‘exterior’ point of view.
What is so Important about Us?
Why should people buy from us rather than our competitors? This is tough, of course, to answer yourself. You may want to do the difficult thing and find out from you current customers how they found you, and the value proposition that you had that turned them on, or at least made them make the decision to become a customer. You will find that there was some routine that happened, some pitch and conversation that paved the way to the conversion.
This is a simple exercise in striking up a conversation during service – you would be surprised what people will tell you when they are in a happy, relaxed frame of mind. How a customer chose you over your competitors is something that is part of your value proposition.
What are you NOT doing?
Where are your gaps in customer engagement? If this path has worked before, why doesn’t it work every time? Are you rushing your closing or giving your prospect too much time in the process of making their mind up.
There are distinct phases of the buying circle – find out where your prospects are, and time each one carefully, before guiding them to the next one; know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat and refer. What is the one piece of engagement in each stage that will move them to the next one? Through this exercise you can investigate the gaps in your engagement and close them.
How do you Grow?
What are our 2-3 highest priority objectives for growth? There are so many things to do, so many projects to guide through to their finish. Why are you so busy, just standing still? No matter how important they may have seen in the past to helping your company make the next step, or reach a goal, it’s time to concentrate on the two or three that are most important, guide those projects into these ‘uber-important’ themes, mix them together, or drop them altogether. Clear the decks, find an end point for these projects, and fix a critical path to get them completed. If the goals are hazy now, or you have reached a dead end, and are ‘waiting’, drop them, or get them moving to the next step.
It’s time to concentrate your efforts for growth, but having recognised the customer views of you above, you will be able to focus these goals easier.
How can we Create more Streams of Revenue?
It’s seven times easier to grow an existing customer than to go get another one. So, perhaps you should come up with ways to expand your existing customer relationships, and thereby exploring what gaps are in your product line that could attract new customers.
The final way to do this quickly is to increase the size of each transaction. If these ideas mean another project, as noted above, drop a current one, or meld it into an existing one, and grow the three major revenue growth streams.
What relationships do you need to develop? Is it marketers, vendors, builders, suppliers, co-operators? Perhaps it’s a change in the way you are supplied? If you need to make a change to engage, or sell more, do it. Don’t ruin any relationships already doing their jobs, but strengthen them, get more from them, or change them. What metrics impact our growth most? Perhaps it is the number of conversions, or the amount those conversions earn, or the number of times they come back. Find the metric that has been responsible for the most growth to date, and re-position your practise to that one area, ensuring measurable and reportable growth in one main area.
There are some difficult choices to make, here, I know. However, you are still going to be busy, so while you are looking at possible changes to your business, do it for the current financial situation and strengthen your position in the minds of your customers and prospects.
2022 Google Updates and ‘The Old Black Hat’
It’s always a good idea to read others’ ideas on your niche. After all, there are a lot of points of view in any field and small business management and growth is no different. You can always learn something from people that are a little bit ahead of you in their similar business journey and any time that you can save money or time (or both!) is a plus for you, no matter how successful you are at present.
Sometimes, some of these ‘experts’ make more and more sense to you, and you may well follow them or subscribe to their newsletters, blogs, social feeds or even meet them in person. Perhaps you will trade notes, experiences and hacks. It’s a great way to make yourself an influencer in your field as well as learn more.
In the field of Digital Marketing, there are no shortage of Gurus that offer information – either free or for compensation and, just like any other niche, some are more trustworthy than others. I follow a few experts – sometimes not even from my own industry – that offer great information in my field that have offered great advice not only on small business marketing, but also provisioning, e-commerce and international import/export – all subjects that I needed to know at a certain time of my past.
There was a lot of articles written on the latest Google update a few weeks ago by the experts I follow, and many others and it reminded me of a dividing line between those whose word you trust and ‘others’. While the trusted experts simply laid out the known facts about the somewhat big algorithm tweak, the beginners immediately began predicting ‘sky falling in’ scenarios and ‘End of the World’ situations.
If you fell for the fear being stirred up online about this latest update, remember that Google update all the time and no single one of these upgrades can do your listing too much damage in search listings. It is true that the Core Updates tweak was the largest one in a long time, and it brought together a few previous mini updates that may affect certain sites but read between the lines and you will see that it shouldn’t be a problem for you.
A word, here about ‘Black Hat’ marketing techniques. These were sold En masse in the early days of the ‘net promising better listings using techniques that Search Engines didn’t know about. Those days are gone, but there are still managers out there, trying to bend search engine’s will to their own! Personally, I believe that anything you do automatically to promote your business, from specialized content writers to buying backlinks counts as ‘Black Hat’. If you want to be known as a ‘real person’ or a ‘real business’, then be one and promote yourself honestly. Taking the time to get to know your prospect pool will result in – guess what – a deeper knowledge of your prospect pool!
The Core Update performed by Google in the early Summer of 2022 had one aim: To ensure that it was site visitor clicks that drove the rankings Google are looking or, with those efforts aimed directly at Search Engines being downgraded somewhat. This is good news, because as we said in this post, marketing to your perfect customer is the best way to gather both them and others that may be on the fence.
So, if you perceive massive change in your industry, listen to those voices that you trust and have been responsible for honest predictions, before. Ignore the voices that don’t know and tamp down your own panic. Look for ways to use these changes to your best benefit and forget the short cuts to success. In this particular case, keep on doing what you are doing and know that if you are doing it the right way, there is nothing to be concerned about.
Brainstorming Your Way to Better Blogs
If you have added blogging to your Marketing efforts, you have probably already realized that you are forever facing an uphill climb on new topics. Although ‘everyone’ appears to do it, the time you must devote to this promotional avenue can, more often than not, appear onerous.
So, what’s the secret to a popular, fresh, entertaining ongoing blog? The answer is brainstorming.
If you have started on this path and are stuck, it may be time for a reset, but if the fear of running out of ideas has stopped you from even starting an ongoing blog, you are actually in a better position. Here’s why:
Blog writers usually start with one idea: ‘This is too long for a Social Media post, but I bet I could write over 800 words on it!’ That’s great, but where do you go from there? As with all long-term marketing ideas, the answer is having enough material to start the process. I would suggest collecting ideas from all over until you have at least 5 written blog posts. This allows you to write, finish, edit and rewrite one post, publish it and then move on to the next one. It readies you for the ongoing task and allows you to publish one post at a time, while working on the next one, giving yourself a little more time before you have to post another.
Some of my posts for this blog take weeks to write. From ideation, through actual writing, editing, rewriting and promotion, I have arrived at the point where I know it will take me a week to finish each post. I may have several posts in various stages of development.
If the toughest part of this is the actual creation of the subject, then ask yourself the following questions:
Where did the idea for that original post come from? Brainstorm more subjects from that same area. Was it something you read, a question from a customer, supplier, an employee? Then what other questions have you heard? Perhaps there are changes to your industry as a whole, or to the Prospect community that you are hoping to reach. There are lots of ideas out there – it’s just a case of ‘inviting them to you’.
Start making notes on a pad of paper, small notebook, or the ‘Notes’ app of your phone. No-one starts (and continues) to write because you have an hour to write it and are facing a blank page to write it on. If you get ‘blocked’, this post can help.
You may find that some ideas you save morph into another subject entirely, or you discover a way to answer the same question from a different angle. This is normal – I have pages of paragraphs, half-finished ideas or even complete posts that never saw the light of day, because they weren’t quite ‘right’ – they didn’t finish off addressing the subject in a way that I was sure they would when I started.
Get accustomed to writing on a schedule: I post monthly, because I have found that when dedicated readers see my byline repeatedly, they remember that last one they read. In the past, while working for a Tech. B2B client, I posted once per week, then bundled four posts into a newsletter that I repeated monthly via email, in case someone missed the original. In both of these cases, adhering to a strict timeline has equaled more views, likes and sign-ups.
If you have found that you can complete a post in a week, and you have your five original posts ready to go, you now know that you have a little more time to write Number Six. You may get some feedback from your readers on your original posts, so you can incorporate those into future posts – or even one ‘Omnibus’ post when you directly answer these questions, showing that you really care about those that read your posts.
Keeping your ‘ear to the ground’ becomes second- nature. After all, you do this on a daily basis as part of your everyday business activities: You talk to regulators, customers, partners, service providers. This information is the logical base for your nebulous marketing messages that many posts turn into.
Answer the replies you get to show that you aren’t a machine, or a team of specialists working for a whole bunch of businesses: You write these posts about your company, for your customers – and, of course your prospects.
So, start listening and making notes, put some time away on a daily basis to commit these facts – and the questions that come with them – to paper and look forward to that time, this week, when you can shut yourself off from the World for an hour and write your post. When you have a handful, add your Blog page to your website and spend a little time disseminating it through a whole host of methods (More on this in the next post), then continue writing.
You are the expert of your own business, so let it show. Listen to what is going on around you and create ways to get this into cogent posts that readers will find interesting. Let that Brain Storm!
The Best ways to Blog Unique Content: Part 2
In our last post, we opened the subject of where and how to find and use unique content to help your website stand out in a crowded marketplace. Of course, this takes a little more work than you are – perhaps – accustomed to, but worth the aggravation in the long run as the deeper you can go on a given subject, the more interested your current and future audiences will be. In turn, this leads to more interest in you as a writer, the company you work for and your offerings to both customers and prospects.
So, now you have seen 7 ‘basic points’, let’s get a little deeper on the subject with more actionable items, now that you are interested in finding that unique content that your blog needs:
8. Dig Deeper
Write about a little-known aspect of something that’s covered a lot. Find a hot topic in your niche that you know well. Other bloggers are probably just writing about basic, general information, so go further and give your readers information that they’re not finding anywhere else. If the topic is already getting a lot of interest and you’re able to provide more detail and knowledge than others, you are likely to benefit from a jump in traffic.
9. Know Your Subject
Without substantial knowledge, all you will be able to write about is basic information. You don’t have to be an expert on the subject right now, but you at least need to be willing to constantly work on improving your knowledge so that you can eventually get to this point (and you need to have some patience until you get there).
10. Solve Problems
The most successful blogs focus on solving the problems of their readers. Obviously, the reason for this is that a lot of people are online searching for answers. If you can provide the best solution, you’ll be the first to do so, and be remembered.
11. Act Quickly
As most writers in any style or genre will tell you, it’s way too easy to procrastinate in writing. There are days that you simply ‘can’t find the muse’, which can often lead to days on end with no productive writing. Get accustomed to writing something every day – even if it’s just an ideas list that you are adding to. Don’t sit on your best ideas, someone else may beat you to the punch.
12. Plan Ahead
Putting a writing schedule together in advance is actually easier than it first appears. You know what your company is trying to promote at certain times of year, or ‘dead spots’ when prospects don’t join your marketing chains – Summer, for instance. What is on the mind of your prospects, that are outside of your usual subject matter, where you can help – tax time, for instance. Pretty soon, you will have a calendar that will be a guide for months to come. Sitting down at the computer and giving yourself 15 minutes to create and publish a new blog post is almost guaranteed to force you into using rehashed ideas. By planning ahead you can come up with ideas and lay out your blogging schedule.
13. Focus on Actions Instead of Results
A lot of bloggers incorporate goals into their daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly routines. Goals can be highly effective because it gives a blogger proof of the success of their work: How Many new readers or subscribers can you get, how many additional pages have been read, etc.
These provable results, however, is not the point of what you are doing. You are trying to write interesting copy that will grow the interest in your blog and both retain and grow it’s readership. Give yourself more actions to do, rather than concentrating on the possible results.
Telling your Boss that you are guest blogging on other platforms as well as your corporate one, or have created a list of the next 100 posts you are going to write over the next few months will mean just as much and keep you on track to performing best at what you are doing.
While it may be things like the number of visitors and the number of subscribers that you’re having trouble improving, by focusing on these specific actions, you’re likely to improve your blog, which will result in better numbers that help to move forward – another great indicator of success that will help you procrastinate less.