May 8th, 2012 @ // No Comments
(Page 1 of 2 )
How do your website’s visitors spend their time online? That can vary not only from person to person, but at different times with the same person. Why? Users pursue a variety of different goals. If you keep this in mind, you can write effective content to optimize your site for the most likely goals.
Stoney deGeyter covered this topic recently. He approached it from the perspective of building a mental image of visitor “personas.” You form a persona based on a visitor’s motivation. What do they need? Why are they on your website? Once you can answer those questions, you can think about what kind of content will help your visitors, and create it accordingly.
I don’t disagree with deGeyter, but I like to think more in terms of goals. If you really want to try to think like one of your customers, don’t just ask yourself what they need; ask yourself what they’re trying to accomplish. If your website is set up with analytics that let you track user behavior, you should be able to figure this out. Careful examination of your analytics data may also give you clues as to how your visitors hope to accomplish their goals. Understanding the “how” as well as the “what” and “why” can really assist you in creating content geared to your visitors’ needs.
By the way, you’ll need to accept that your visitors’ goals are THEIR goals, and not necessarily YOURS. Not all or even a majority of visits to your website will end with something you consider a conversion. Your visitor will consider her visit successful if she accomplished her goal – and may come back the next time she needs to do something related to your website’s topic. On that visit, or a subsequent visit, she might well convert (by your definition). If you make it as easy as possible for her to meet her goals, in her way, you’ll encourage her to come back and eventually meet your goals – when your goals and hers complement each other.
So, are your visitors looking to be entertained? Do they want information? How much do they care about getting the latest and greatest thing? Will just about anything do the trick? Why are they on your website? Before your head starts spinning with all of the possible reasons a visitor might have for dropping by, remember that you can help most visitors best by focusing on the basics. “Because there can be dozens, if not hundreds, of reasons a visitor might be coming to your site, it’s easy to get bogged down in trying to develop a persona for every possibility. Don’t get stuck in that trap. With a little work, you can boil everything into a handful of personas that you can use to craft content that meets virtually all of your potential customer’s needs,” deGeyter explains.
May 8th, 2012 @ // No Comments
Some of the greatest challenges my previous ecommerce clients have faced have revolved around developing a cohesive and long-term content/link building strategy. They’ve done all the changes they can on the technical backend of the site, incorporated keywords on the site, created a crawlable internal linking structure, and have paid for PR releases, submitted directory submissions, and written the occasional blog post. Now they ask, what’s next?
Category pages are the money pages for ecommerce sites. Getting links to these pages is a major win because these are the pages that will be ranking for key head and mid-tail terms. Furthermore, even as products are rotated or as the site undergoes a redesign, the category pages will still remain a part of the site architecture and are the pages least likely to be impacted. However, it’s also a major challenge to garner links to these pages. Who wants to link to a page full of products?
Start thinking about how you can redesign your category pages to make them more than just another page. For instance, Hema’s category page was designed to become a wacky Rube Goldberg device. This page has gotten 20,826 links from 2,686 linking root domains.
Often times, it can be challenging to revamp or redesign category pages, so that valuable, unique content can be added. If that’s the case, selling interesting products on your site can become an effective form of linkbait.
Threadless sells creative t-shirts. After the homepage, their second most linked to page is this product page. This product page received 5,065 links from 686 linking root domains, 3,068 Facebook Shares, and 1,167 Facebook Likes. It has received links from high authority sites, such as Wired and Boing Boing.
Another linkbuilding tactic is to build and maintain a deals/sales page on the site that fulfills SEO requirements, such as having crawlable, indexable content, static URL, incorporating targeted keywords on the page etc… Then keep the same URL and revamp it every time you have a new deal or sale.
Think about what makes people feel special. Everyone appreciates personalized gifts. With Mother’s Day just around the corner, why not create a care package to the top 50 most passionate moms within your community with a personalized thank you from you and your team? It doesn’t have to be expensive to show that you care. Now take the surprise of the care package, combine this with people’s insatiable desire to share via Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook, and they’ve just published and pinned beautiful photos of this sincere gift to their network for the world to see.
If personalized product giveaways aren’t possible, consider running effective contests in conjunction with identifying influential individuals on channels using tools, like Followerwonk. This would allow you to systematically target the type of audience and sites you want involved (while also expanding your brand awareness). You need to give something away that people would actually want, especially your target audience. It’s also worth having a little fun with it and seeing if you could come up with some creative tactics that would require contest submissions to link back to your site.
Who doesn’t like looking at pretty pictures all day? We’re all visually stimulated by beautiful images and so really, it’s worth the effort to incorporate large, high-resolution photos on your site. Not to mention as an ecommerce site, your website is the main vehicle for visitors to take a closer look at the products you offer. If I can’t see the product clearly, why should I buy it from your site? How can I even trust it?
There’s something to be said about building anticipation before a product actually hits the market. People are naturally inquisitive and want to be the first to be granted access and try out a product. Think about the huge lines that were outside of Apple stores the day the iPad 3 was released or the anticipation surrounding the release of Diablo 3.
Sometimes we become so entrenched in trying to attract our target audience (What’s their persona? Who do they follow? How can I build a relationship with them?), that we can lose sight of all the other potential opportunities that are out there. Brainstorm all the cool things that you’re doing as a company and what your next initiatives are. Can you make any of these into a story? If you can’t think of any, then think outside your site and your target audience and write a blog post that speaks to them.
The new online marketing landscape offers new opportunities for storytelling and adds a human element to the type of stories that we share. The Coca Cola content initiative demonstrates that content marketing is growing and becoming a vital part of online marketing. There are several other brands that also utilize storytelling as a channel, such as Nike’s story on how running reunited a long-distance relationship.
Let’s say you have a limited marketing budget and aren’t sure that you have the resources to create linkbait content. Having such constraints for marketing is normal, but being creative, bold, and taking a risk can still pay off. Take the Dollar Shave Club as an example. With less than $5,000 budget, Dollar Shave Club was able to create a Old Spice like video about their product that led to over 4.5 million views on YouTube, 27,000 Facebook Shares, and over 2,000 tweets. This LA-based startup combined razors, a monthly subscription model, and a video introducing their company to the world with humor as their way to break into the space. Creating content like this isn’t without its risks, but when it pays off and is aligned with your core offering, there are many added benefits (brand awareness, growth in revenue, and word-of-mouth).
Here is another great example of how something as random as a late night Facebook comment manifested itself into a No. 1 Amazon.com selling book almost overnight. Adam Mansbach, author of the children’s book for adults titled (kids, cover your ears for this one) “Go the F**k to Sleep” quickly garnered the attention of celebrity Samuel L Jackson to do the narrative once he heard there would be an Audible.com version of the book. It was this combination of interesting, yet unique content narrated by a recognizable voice that transformed Audible.com’s sales page into one of the domains top linked, most socially shared, and highest reviewed pages on their site.
Pinterest has experienced rapid growth over the past 6 months with over 10 million registered users. The power of Pinterest is in its ability to drive referral traffic to your ecommerce site. This type of platform presents an opportunity for ecommerce sites to use Pinterest’s user base as a way to effectively engage targeted users by creating content that is relevant to them, and make its products more visible to the right audience. Ideally, the strategy should be to create compelling and valuable content so that users want to click on the pins and land on various product pages. Colby Almond of 97th Floor has created a Viral Guide to Pinterest Marketing, as well as written additional blog posts that introduce how to effectively build your Pinterest following and create the right type of content for this medium.
Everybody loves a Rube Goldberg machine. They are fun, smart, interesting, and super darn creative. Honda created a Rube Goldberg device crafted out of their car parts called “The Cog”. You know what made this video less cool? The fact that still, to this day, this content is nowhere to be found on any of Honda’s websites or YouTube channels. Guess who this did bode well for? A car enthusiast channel known as Web Rides TV with over 3.7 million views and counting. This URL also received links from 582 linking root domains.
Link building is hard work and results often don’t appear until months after you’ve invested an incredible amount of time and resources. However, these case studies show that it works and even though results appear minimal at the beginning of the curve, results will grow exponentially at the end of the curve. It’s all about constantly pushing the flywheel, working really hard until you get even a hint of momentum, and then continuing to build upon that tiny amount of momentum until it starts to ease up and pushing through becomes easier. Just keep iterating and don’t give up!
May 8th, 2012 @ // No Comments
With the newest Google algorithm changes, penalties have been taken on many websites for unnatural and artificial linkbuilding tactics. This update hit websites that used black hat SEO practices particularly hard, but it also affected many seemingly appropriate linkbuilding strategies. Because of these changes, careful, strategic, and natural linkbuilding is more important than ever. In the first part of this blog series by Rebecca, she talked about building natural links through event sponsorship, answering questions, holding contests, attending industry trade shows, and using public relations tactics. Let’s take a look at some additional ways to build great natural links.
If you’d like to get the word out about a new products, reaching out to bloggers for a product review is a great idea. Many blogs regularly review products, services, and events, and offering a free item (or one at a significant discount) offers excellent incentive for bloggers to write about your new product. You can guide them to use the anchor text that you specify in order to maximize your links.
Another way to get links on product reviews is to search for existing reviews. Many blogs, such as The Impulsive Buy, specifically focus on reviewing brand new products found in the store. Once you find a blog post that already makes mention of your product, create a friendly and personalized email to contact the blogger about adding in a link. Setting Google Alerts is a handy way to monitor mentions of your brand, or products in your specific niche.
If your website is heavily dependent on pictures of clothes, design, beauty, entertainment, fashion, jewelry, photography, or food and recipes, your site is a natural fit for image sharing on Pinterest. Pinterest can generate great exposure for your brand through high quality, aesthetically pleasing photos of your products. It’s a great way to build a visual representation of your brand, find new followers who are interested in your products, and increase authority.
The trends in search engine optimization have been leading toward more social interaction, and Pinterest is a great way to communicate with people outside of your regular circles of interaction. The links on Pinterest became “nofollow” in March 2012, but that does not mean the links lack any value. Click-throughs on images on Pinterest are a great way to drive traffic to your site, especially now that Pinterest is the third most popular social network, behind Facebook and Twitter. In order for Pinterest to add value to your company, you need to be an online social butterfly. Be social, like, repin and comment on other users’ pins, and fly around to different pages to socialize with relevant users. Accounts that appear spammy will not gain a following like a comprehensive, personalized and organized Pinterest profile.
Before the changes of Panda, private blog networking websites like BuildMyRank.com, Unique Article Wizard, and SEOLinkVine were often used to bulk up link portfolios. In the past month, many of the links from these sites have either been deindexed or penalized. Does this mean that putting effort into any “blog network” site is a waste of time? Absolutely not.
There are many blog networks that are well-respected, moderated, and completely legitimate opportunities for linkbuilding. One of the most popular and robust blog networks is BlogHer. The site is geared toward women and divided up into several niches, such as family, sports, health, style, and tech. BlogHer operates an ad network to help bloggers monetize their blogs. They have stringent guidelines for what is posted on the site, where the links direct to, and have a no-tolerance policy for abuse and plagiarism. I have been a member of the BlogHer network for several years, and have not only found excellent content, but have created friendships and relationships with many bloggers within the network.
To join BlogHer, you just need to register for the website with your blog’s URL. Although the site has a feminine focus, there are male bloggers one the site as well. BlogHer does accept guest posted content, but they show preference to bloggers who are active in the network. Besides BlogHer, there are many other niche-specific blog networks. For instance, Entrepreneur.com accepts guest blog posts, is considered authoritative, and has a robust staff of industry experts on entrepreneurship. Search for networks within your niche or industry where you can interact with other users to gain credibility.
One great way to get the name of your brand out is through testimonials. Businesses love to get positive feedback, and asking them if they’d like a testimonial for their website is an excellent way to get your name and link on their site. They offer benefits to both the one who testifies, as well as the recipient. Testimonials are often placed on popular or important pages of a website, such as a homepage, which would be otherwise impossible with a standard link request. You can leverage existing relationships you have and ask if the site is interested in your feedback, and you will have a better chance getting a link by offering them something valuable.
What are some other tactics you use to build links using existing marketing strategies? I would love to hear your comments on how your linkbuilding has evolved, especially over the last few weeks since the most recent Google Panda and Penguin webspam updates.