Many digital marketers believe that their brand provides a positive user experience. However, in many cases, the consumer feels differently. This disconnect can damage brand reputations and hinder the success of marketing efforts.
We now live in a customer-first world. Consumers today have their choice of countless companies within nearly every conceivable niche, and it’s up to the organizations to demonstrate why they should gain more business over their competitors. Staying ahead of digital marketing trends and adapting strategies accordingly are essential to success.
The brands that succeed are the ones that build an online experience tailored to the consumer, meeting their needs every step of the way. Sixty-one percent of customers report that they would not return to a brand’s mobile site after a negative experience, and 40 percent say they would go to a competitor’s site, according to Google.
The need to have an intimate familiarity with customers, what they like and the platforms they live on, is critical. As technology and customer expectations mature, brands need to be alert to the rising trends so that they can provide the optimal user experience for consumers. These top five trends below comprise a critical component of the modern digital marketing strategy. Here is what you should know to make it a part of your organization.
Trend 1: Data and personalization
In the increasingly competitive digital ecosystem, brands need to stand out for their customers. These consumers want to know that you care about their individual needs, and thus you need to create a highly personalized experience. Personalized calls to action, for example, convert 42 percent more than ordinary CTAs. Data and personalization will be the cornerstone of marketing moving forward.
Data can help you uncover topics that matter the most to your target audiences. It also allows you to better track how different personas interact with your content, move through your buyer’s journey, and learn what material will be most helpful for them next. Thus, data informs personalization efforts.
Tips for succeeding with data and personalization
- Secure data on a broad scale by uncovering trends within your industry and important topics that matter the most to your customers. Rising topics can help you get material published before competitors, building a strong presence in those areas as well.
Look at personal data to see how particular personas use your website.
- Look at the content they enter your site on, how they move about the site after reading it, and how they go from visitor to lead to customer. This will help you create personalized experiences, because you will know which content to display next to visitors.
- Gather statistics about how data and personalization impact the traffic and revenue of your site.
- Examine your site statistics before beginning these campaigns, including bounce rates, traffic rates and revenue rates, and then compare them to the statistics once the efforts have been enacted. Successes will help you build a case to budget more for data and personalization, driving your site strategy forward.
Trend 2: AI and intelligent agents
The demands of technology and customers are quickly outpacing the capabilities of human marketers. Although the amount of data is expected to reach 40,000 exabytes by 2020 (up from just 130 in 2005), the human brain is only capable of holding about 1 million gigabytes, according to Northwestern University professor Paul Reber. The technology available today can collect information about user behavior and help marketers better understand personas, points in the buyer’s journey and what that particular customer likely wants to read next.
The key to using that information, however, will be artificial intelligence. AI could double the rate of economic growth by 2035, according the Accenture.
AI will never replace quality marketers, because it cannot replace human creativity. What it can do, however, is help optimize content throughout the creation process, make it easier for brands to select topics and assist with the creation of digital strategies. It will allow for the automation of all the steps that can be completed simply by analyzing data and spitting back answers, freeing marketers to focus on how to best utilize this information.
What’s interesting is how digital marketers view and implement AI. There is a clear disconnect between importance and adoption, and brands must come to grips with implementation of AI in 2018.
Tips for using AI for your brand
- Find areas in your marketing strategy where AI can help, such as the optimization of content or triggering email campaigns. This means taking a closer look at steps that can be automated.
- Avoid excessively using AI to the point where customers are turned off or feel uneasy interacting with the brand.
- Incorporate AI into the broader strategy. The same way marketers in different departments, such as PPC and SEO, need to learn to work together, brands need to make sure their AI technology seamlessly integrates with the rest of the team.
- Have a defined role in the workflow, such as uncovering popular topics and guiding them through the optimization process, to ensure that everything runs smoothly.
Trend 3: Mobile and connected devices — the Internet of Things
We already know that mobile has begun to dominate search: The number of searches performed on mobile devices in the US, and several other countries, outpaced desktop back in 2015. Google has also announced an imminent mobile-first algorithm that we should see by 2018. Optimizing content for users should be second nature for website owners now.
Moving forward, we also need to consider the rise of alternate mobile devices, such as fitness trackers and smart watches, as well as the growing importance of voice search, both with personal assistant devices and on these mobile devices.
Customers use this technology to gain rapid answers to their questions, often while on the go. Brands that want to thrive need to make sure that they have prepared their content and digital strategies for these trends as well.
Tips for succeeding with mobile and connected devices
- Optimize for more verticals than before. Technologies such as personal assistant devices, often use alternate search verticals to find the information for their users. As an example, Kayak.com is used by some devices to pull flight and hotel information, or Yelp supplies information on local businesses.
- Use schema and high-quality content to move into top spaces whenever possible. With the smaller screens on mobile devices, and even fewer search results given on many non-smartphone devices, brands need to prioritize gaining access to the top spots on the SERP and earning Quick Answers whenever possible.
- Monitor how customers interact with your content. When you do earn top slots, see how it impacts your mobile traffic and conversion rates. This will offer key insights into how customers interact with your content and help you improve your strategy.
Trend 4: Content and SEO convergence
SEO and content cannot be regarded separately. All content developed needs to be optimized to boost its rankings on the SERP and to ensure its relevance, which means that content and SEO teams need to work together from the beginning.
Fortunately, most companies seem understand this need. A survey completed by my company, BrightEdge, found that that 97 percent of companies view these two functions as more integrated or converging into a single function. There are still ways that companies can improve their integration.
Tips for succeeding with SEO and content convergence
- Remember that customers recall experiences more than text. Use SEO insights, such as trending topics and keywords, to find topics. Then create outstanding content for digital experiences that align well with customer needs.
- Do customer analysis. Look at how customers interact with your material, including what devices they use to read your material, customer impressions of your brand and what customers want to see from you.
- Set realistic goals for your content, and regularly measure how well your efforts align with these benchmarks. Goals might describe traffic rates, rankings, conversions or revenue.
Trend 5: Native advertising growth
Native advertising will increase exponentially over the next few years. An estimated $7.9 billion was spent on this style of advertising in 2015, but that number is projected to reach an incredible $21 billion by just 2018. Mobile native ads are also expected to reach 63 percent of the mobile display ad revenue by 2020.
Native advertising has taken off because of its ability to fit more smoothly into the user experience. Customers have turned away from disruptive advertising practices. They do not respond to pop-ups or other ads that hinder their user experience. They want to see promotions that relate to them and their needs and experiences.
Native ads, which focus on creating ad copy that is relevant and natural for customers reading a particular web page, create positive outcomes both for the host websites and the company formulating the promotion. This form of advertising focuses on creating ads that align with the content that already appears on the website, thus making it more appealing to customers who had arrived on the page organically.
Tips for succeeding with native advertising
Research the audience and the target site’s content. The more familiar you are with these criteria, the easier it will be to select advertising platforms that align best with your target audience while also making it easier to create content that fits well with those visiting the host website.
Create content that will add something for the reader. To attract readers and make a strong impression, you want to focus on creating content that creates a positive experience for them. Just like your search optimization strategy, your native ad strategy should include providing value for those interacting with the material.
Test what advertising content works best where. Unlike using PPC advertising on Google, for native advertising, you have a better ability to target particular audiences that fit particular personas. Track not only what customers respond best to your content, but also the platforms where you find them and how well the traffic on your advertising content ends up becoming leads and then customers on your main site.
Digital marketing continues to change rapidly as technology and customer expectations evolve and mature. Brands that want to not only keep up with the curve, but thrive in this environment, need to capitalize on these emerging trends. These five that I have identified I believe will be the most significant moving forward through the rest of 2017 and into 2018.
When it comes to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), focus keywords often get all the attention
, but they aren’t the only element you need to keep an eye out for. Meta descriptions are also critical to achieving a good click-through rate from search engines
, and you’ll need to pay attention to them if you want to increase your organic traffic.In this article, we’ll go in-depth about the role of meta descriptions in SEO, discuss their benefits, then show how to optimize your own in three different ways. Let’s get our SEO hats on!
An Introduction to Meta Descriptions (And Their Benefits)
Simply put, meta descriptions are the brief descriptions that appear below the title of your pages on search engines. However, they can also appear wherever you share your content (social media, for example), so it’s important to make sure it gives readers an idea as to what to expect.
A great meta description is all about providing as much information about your piece as possible within a narrow format (usually 135 to 160 characters). To do so, it should fulfill the following criteria:
- It should be straightforward and not come across as too ‘salesy’.
- Your post’s focus keyword should be included.
- It shouldn’t be a duplicate of any of your past meta descriptions.
- You should include a Call-to-Action (CTA) if possible, since it can help boost your click-through rate.
Point number two can be particularly important since Google highlights the keywords it finds within your meta description. If we were to do a search right now using Elegant Themes as our keywords, here’s how one of the results would look:
Technically, the bolded text doesn’t make any difference in your Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), but it can help boost your click-through rate by making your content pop. When it comes to search engine traffic, you need to use every tool at your disposal to make your site look more attractive.
3 Ways to Optimize Your Meta Descriptions for Search Engines
So far, we’ve already discussed what makes for an excellent meta description. Now it’s time to talk about how you can improve yours using three simple techniques (that apply regardless of your field). First, let’s talk about structure.
1. Consider the Structure of Your Meta Descriptions
Similarly to blog posts, your meta descriptions should be clearly structured, yet more condensed. Your structure is key because you have only a limited amount of words to play with. As we mentioned earlier, the ideal length for a meta description is somewhere in the range of 135 to 160 characters. Any longer and search engines will truncate the text, which means potential visitors will only see part of your description, which may not be enough to ‘hook’ them.
In most cases, your meta description should first introduce a compelling problem, fear, desire, or question, then present an answer.
Structuring your meta descriptions properly is the best way to adapt to the format’s limitations.
Take this article for example. In this case, we went with the following meta description:
Meta descriptions are critical to your Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and this post will show you three ways to optimize them for search engines!
This excerpt checks all the right boxes: it falls within the 135–160 characters mark, presents a desire, and promises a solution. While we’ve only used a handful of words to describe the article’s content, in conjunction with the title, you should be able to glean what the post is about. On the other hand, expanding the description means readers wouldn’t get the full information due to truncation. In that case, they might choose to go for another, simpler result.
2. Match Your Meta Description’s Tone With Your Content
Tone – in this case, the ‘writing voice’ you use – is just as important as structure. In fact, it’s one of the biggest factors in whether the reader will click through to your article, so it has to be right.
A friendly tone is always useful when it comes to tackling complex topics.
The tone you use will be based largely on your site’s branding, and it’s usually best to try and harmonize the tone of your article and description. That way, there’s no dissonance once readers click through. For example, we usually strive for a friendly tone in our articles since it can help to explain and understand complex subjects. Our meta descriptions try to match the tone so potential visitors have an idea what they’re in for. Take this example from our archives:
Landing your ideal client seems like a dream. In this guide, we’ll show you how to make that dream a reality and get noticed by potential clients.
It comes across as friendly, and looks to strike an inspiring tone. On the other hand, if our blog had a more technical slant to its pieces, we might have gone with something such as:
Landing your ideal client is all about selling yourself. In this guide, we’ll teach you how to do that in three well-structured steps.
While this description is a bit more to the point, don’t be fooled into thinking it’s the wrong approach. In this case – as in most others – your unique voice should be the deciding factor. If your writing has more of a technical style, your meta descriptions should match it – otherwise, it might come across as forced.
3. Use Keywords Properly Within Your Meta Descriptions
We’ve already touched upon the importance of including focus keywords within your meta descriptions, so let’s discuss how to properly include them.
First off, you may be tempted to stuff your meta description with multiple instances of your keyword, but that’s the wrong approach. The same rules on keyword stuffing in articles also apply to meta descriptions, and not heeding this could impact your SEO. What’s more, keyword stuffing could affect your description’s tone, make it sound stilted, and take away from the limited real estate you have to ‘sell’ your post.
Let’s take another look at this article’s meta description:
Meta descriptions are critical to your Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and this post will show you three ways to optimize them for search engines!
You’ll notice that the focus keyword is only included once. It’s all you need for the sentence to make sense, and placing it near the beginning of the description makes it pop out even more in the SERPs (visually speaking).
A bad example of how to approach using focus keywords within a description might look something like this:
You can get more clicks on your articles by optimizing your meta descriptions. In this article, we’ll talk about how to improve your meta descriptions using three techniques.
Not only is this description way too long, it also sounds stilted and it repeats the focus keyword unnecessarily. When it comes to meta descriptions, even the smallest details are amplified by the short format – paying attention to all of them might just give your content the boost it needs to succeed.
It’s easy to overlook meta descriptions in favor of other elements, but that’s an SEO mistake you shouldn’t make. If you pay attention to your meta descriptions and craft them carefully, you could find your posts making their way up through the SERPs.
Before we wrap up, here are the three main ways you can go about improving your meta descriptions:
- Consider the structure of your meta descriptions.
- Match their tone to that of your content.
- Use keywords properly within your descriptions.
Do you have any questions about meta descriptions and their impact on SEO? Ask away in the comments section below!
In the SEO world, we don’t need to be convinced of the value of off-page SEO.
We know that well before people seek our brands out, they have formed an opinion of it based on reviews, comments from friends, family members, or online acquaintances, and whatever information we can glean online or offline (apart from your website).
Therefore, we’d be fools to disavow making off-page SEO a priority, given how important it is.
However, the more common mistake — among SEOs at least — is to see off-page SEO through only the prism of link building, which, while important, is not the be-all and end-all of off-page SEO.
That is, in working to build your brand’s off-page SEO prowess, links are certainly a benefit, not the goal.
Think of it this way:
- Goal of off-page SEO: To accumulate positive signals and interactions for your brand, with the hope of those factors being a net positive.
- Benefit(s) of off-page SEO: Brand mentions, positive reviews, links, etc.
So while it’s important to think of links when making off-page SEO a priority, it’s also vital that you (a) view them in context (important but not singularly so) and (b) give priority to the host of factors that lead to off-page SEO providing a boost for your brand.
Those factors include, but are not limited to, creating an excellent, worthwhile product or service; guest posting on popular, relevant blogs; building relationships with influencers; earning positive press; capturing positive reviews and responding to negative reviews; and monitoring mentions of your brand, to name a few.
Because our goal is to create a post that’s accessible, interesting and immediately useful, we’ll break down what we think are 8 key areas worth focusing on for off-page SEO under three umbrellas:
The intention is to provide a prism through which you can more easily categorize your efforts and a framework by which you can make those efforts a reality.
“No amount of SEO in the world can help a crappy product or service (at least not for long).” This is a sentence I frequently utter to folks who refuse to prioritize what they offer in favor of trying to put lipstick on a pig.
#1: Create a 10X product or service
When your product or service is recognized as the best in its class, your job as SEO becomes much, much easier.
That’s because both online and offline, people are likely saying great things about the product and brand, which leads to visits to your website, positive reviews on third-party sites, and increased sales of the product.
This only occurs, however, if you focus first and foremost on creating the best product you can.
Easier said than done, I know.
Here’s a great place to start, depending upon where your product/service is in the evolution cycle:
- Existing product: Deliver the goods on features customers would most benefit from based on requests and complaints online regarding competing products.
- New product: Focus on the most essential benefits your new product can provide to the prospective audience. When you do this, you remove objections and features present themselves.
#2: Customer service
No one who’s watched the United Airlines meltdown needs to be sold on the value of customer service as an effective asset for off-site SEO. The brand will be paying for that epic disaster for years as millions of folks continue to share the video and images of the event.
It’s not hard to imagine how poor customer service has made the brand’s SEO and PR teams’ reputation management efforts a nightmare.
For your brand, focus on a singular goal: Leaving everyone your brand/brand spokespeople comes into contact with — online or offline — feeling as though the interaction could not have been more positive.
For example, at in-person events, make sure staffers wear a smile, empathetically interact with everyone they meet, and go out of their way to answer questions or provide general help. It also means ensuring any content you create leaves people feeling good about your brand.
It’s unlikely this billboard was much of an off-page SEO benefit to SouthBendOn.com.
# 3: Focus on web searchers’ intent
Turns out the old cliche that “you attract more flies with honey than vinegar” is very relevant to SEO. People are typically more willing to buy and use your products and services if they can first find them.
A lot of times, our products and services fail to live up to their full potential because we aren’t matching our offering to the needs of our prospective audiences.
A great example of this is creating and sharing content without keywords the audience might be using to look for a similar product.
In addition to matching titles, descriptions, and keyword phrases to searcher’s intent, make sure you focus on where the content is shared and discussed.
It also starts with putting the needs of the audience first.
“For uncovering searcher intent…[s]earch, refine, broaden queries, talk to people, read discussion threads, have empathy,” wrote Rand Fishkin in a recent tweet.
Use Google Autosuggest, Keywordtool.io, and Answerthepublic.com to get in front of what it is people are looking for online relative to your product or service.
The better you know your audience, the more easily you can interact with, share with, and learn from them.
What does this have to do with off-page SEO? Everything.
Next to no one wakes up and decides to interact with your brand.
#4: Have a responsive social media presence
A typical search comes about because a person has an unmet need (e.g., “where is the nearest pizza joint?”) or has a question they’d like answered (e.g., “how tall is the biggest building in Tokyo?”).
After using Google Autosuggest to find the answer, they’re likely to visit social media to learn more, ask questions, and interact with their friends, family members, and acquaintances.
You see where we’re going here, right?
Social media must be an invaluable component of your off-page SEO strategy.
It’s much easier than most brands think, too:
- Be there: If you have a social media account, make sure someone is monitoring it and can answer questions and respond to comments in a timely fashion.
- Be human: People online expect genuine interaction, not robotic responses or constant brand promotion.
- Be proactive: One of the best things you can do to help your brand is to use social media to be seen as a resource for the online community in the vertical you serve. Even if someone asks a question about a product or service you don’t offer or that is offered by a competitor, don’t be afraid to chime in and offer praise when due.
As you can see, the price of unresponsiveness on social media negatively impacts far more than SEO:
#5: Build connections with social media/online influencers
When people say “Social media does nothing for my brand,” most SEOs must think, “Oh, but how wrong you are.”
Whether it’s the largely unmeasurable dark traffic social sends to your site or the connections with a base of people who could be customers or supporters at some point, social media can be an asset for any brand, if used wisely.
For off-page SEO, one of the biggest benefits of social is the ability to create and nurture lasting relationships with influencers, those people with huge reach in the way of name recognition, myriad followers and fans, and connections with numerous high-ranking websites.
They’re also typically very much connected with other influencers.
As we see in the image below, even if Google isn’t using social signals to help determine rankings, the interplay of influencers and the sites they represent, like, and visit makes being on their radar a positive.
An effective strategy for enlisting the help of influencers to boost your off-page SEO is to get to know them in person, at events, and online via group chats/tweets and such, which puts you on their radar without much heavy lifting on your part.
Then, in the future, when you do create and share content, they’re more likely to recognize you and your brand and might share the content themselves.
Even better, later on, after you’ve developed a stronger relationship, you might even collaborate on a piece of content — for their site, your site, or a publisher such as an online magazine.
#6: Recommit to frequenting forums and discussion boards, and comment blogging
Want to get noticed by your desired audience and the influencers they follow?
Visit the most popular blogs in your vertical, and leave comments. In recent years, comment blogging has fallen off in popularity, in large part because comment spam led to most blogs no-following their links.
For the purpose of off-page SEO, links are less of a priority.
Your goal is simply to be where the action is and to leave a thoughtful comment that might catch the eye of the blogger, the platform’s editor, and any influencers who might be reading the content.
The same applies for sites like Reddit and Quora, where you can follow topics specifics to your brand or vertical and quickly get noticed for being knowledgeable, thoughtful, and empathetic in answering others’ questions or helping to drive discussion.
The SEO subreddit is very popular, frequented by many of the big names in SEO.
The relationships formed on these platforms have a way of paying huge dividends and can be invaluable for off-page SEO and reputation management.
Often someone notices your comments on one of these platforms, starts following you there, and then later does a Google or LinkedIn search to learn about you or your brand, which ultimately leads them to your website, where they might sign up for your newsletter or subscribe to your blog.
#7: Quit guest blogging for links
You read that right.
Instead of guest blogging solely for links, use this tactic to help you build a rapport with some of the top publishers, editors, influencers, and brands online.
If done correctly, the links do come. But as long as you make links the priority, whereby it’s obvious that you’re looking for a transactional relationship as opposed to one that is mutually beneficial, the tougher it’ll be for you to use guest blogging effectively for off-page SEO.
Read, leave comments on their blogs, and connect with the top publishers in your vertical — or publishers that cover your vertical. Once you have developed a rapport and, hopefully, have a reputation for creating quality content, inquire about creating a guest post for the platform, assuming that option is available.
Even if that door doesn’t open, you’ll be able to hone your pitch and eventually get a foot in the door with other publishers.
Remember, too, that your website is but one tiny fish in a vast ocean of options. You need to connect with others in many places off-site to build the reach and influence that’ll drive attention and visits to your site, which is where guest blogging can big a huge asset.
Your brand’s success depends upon a lot of factors outside your website. Image source
“Should you do guest posting for SEO? As a primary objective, I’d say no. But… reality is that the indirect impact remains very powerful,” wrote Stone Temple Consulting’s Eric Enge. “There is nothing like building your reputation and visibility to cause people to want more of your content. You get to build up your own audience, and ultimately some of these people will find their way to your site, find great content there, and link to it.”
When most people say, think, or write “content,” they most often think of text, images, videos, and information shared via social media.
In reality, content represents the entirety of the experience your brand designs, creates, and shares online and offline, from logos and tag lines to personnel, phone calls, signage, blog text, images, videos, etc.
If a prospect or customer can interacts with it, you’d better believe it’s content.
And before you offer up, “Well, Ronell, what if one of my staffers has mustard on her shirt in a video we post online?” (Trust me, someone would ask that.) “Is that content, too?” Yes, that faux pas is part of the content experience a prospect or customer could have with your brand.
In fact, it’s the sort of thing that can lead to someone seeing your company as not having all of its ducks in a row, injuring your reputation in the process.
#8: Experiment with content types
But don’t fret. When it comes to off-site SEO, the main thing I want you to focus on with regard to content is to see beyond text.
I’m a writer. I love words.
As a newspaper reporter, I always argued with my editor when he said “Words without images lead to words getting ignored. Images sell.”
The same for video. People eat it up.
You’ve no doubt heard that mobile is gobbling up the world as I write this. Well, guess what those untold millions are doing on their mobile devices?
Largely consuming videos, which are expected to account for 85% of the content being shared online by 2019. Snapchat, Instagram, or Facebook Live, anyone?
Videos and images can be a huge boon to your brand’s off-page SEO, largely because they can both be a low-investment/high potential vehicle used to drive awareness and traffic back to your site, enhancing your off-page reputation in the process.
A few low-cost, low-effort ways to use video and images include:
- Post how-to videos on YouTube, which is the second-most visited website in the world and the #2 search engine behind parent company Google. What’s more, popular videos can and do rank in the SERPs.
- Share daily musings or recaps of distillations of recent events via Facebook Live
- Snap meeting or office funnies via Snapchat
- Compose image albums on Imgur, Flickr, and other popular photo-sharing sites
- Tweet videos of interesting things you notice throughout the day
Video and images are great way to show some personality and make your brand feel human, real, and alive to people who might not have heard of your company, or who’ve only recently discovered it.
They can also work wonders for your off-site SEO.
For example, say your brand has found that customers who visit your white papers have an increased likelihood of becoming customers. You might shoot video interviews of the subjects or clients featured in the most popular websites, then post the videos to YouTube, in addition to sharing them with the clients to post on their site and disseminate via social media.
This increases the likelihood of even more people seeing the videos and wanting to learn more about your brand.
It’s time to think holistically
The complete list of off-site SEO tactics that can bring your brand success contains far more than eight elements.
Our goal with this post is to spur you to think beyond what’s comfortable or convenient, and instead consider what’s (a) doable in a reasonable amount of time and a reasonable degree of effort, and that (b) has the potential to yield a significant amount of success.
We’re convinced that a brand who works diligently to deploy the tactics listed above will be better able to thrive.
Link Building and boosting SEO rankings has always been a challenge for SEO professionals. Google doesn’t like many of the practices popular among “the SEO experts”. Most of these practices can lead to a Google penalty these days.
In fact, Google doesn’t recommend any “tactics” to engineer backlinks. For them, the best links are the ones you earn through your visitors in a natural way. It seems easy at the outset, but it’s one of the most difficult tasks. It’s difficult because you need excellent traffic and quality content on your site before you expect your readers to point links to your content. This is a catch-22 situation.
Today, we’ll tell you how to build links and boost your rankings using a wonderful SEO tool known as “Ahrefs”. Ahrefs is quite popular among digital marketing professionals across the world because of its great features.
First, develop your own Linkable Assets.
This is how QuickSprout describes Linkable Assets:
Linkable Assets are the pages on your website with valuable content that you can use to market your website for building natural links. The content should be so awesome that you can use that over and over again.
Now, the next challenge is producing such content, which is not that easy and you need both the budget and the resources to create that.
Your linkable asset should be in the form of a blog or a news site, where people from your industry can find useful and interesting content classified according to different categories.
This content should be so compelling that people love to point links to it.
There are no shortcuts and secret tactics to build natural backlinks.
Unfortunately, many small businesses and SEO agencies with a lack of expertise end up building backlinks using foul methods. But, the engineers at Google’s spam team are so smart that they will never allow such manipulative tactics to be used to win search engine rankings. If you spam, they will throw your site back to where it came from.
How to use Ahrefs’ SEO tools for link-building?
Ahrefs can actually help you create the best linkable asset for you.
Let’s delve into the process to know how we can use Ahrefs to attain this objective:
Govind Agarwal, an SEO expert from Mumbai has identified the following three ways you can use Ahrefs for link-building, in his post, “Make Use of Ahrefs to Build Links and Boost SEO Ranking”:
A. Conduct Research on your Niche Market for Keywords and Backlinks
B. Create your Own Linkable Assets using these insights
C. Sourcing Linkerati to get better links
Using Ahrefs’ Content Explorer tool
Ahrefs’ Content Explorer tool will help you to research the keywords that you should focus upon to target your niche. If you’re not an expert at finding the right keywords, you can visit the linkable assets of your competition. Ahrefs’ Site Explorer tool can help you in this.
All you need to do is to enter the domain name of your competitor and begin your search using the following steps:
Hit the search button when you enter the domain of your competitor
Look at the top left corner and click “Top Pages” section
On the next page hit “Backlinks” tab
The result will display the best pages on this website in terms of backlinks
Create your Own Linkable Assets
Now developing your linkable assets becomes easier.
You can follow these steps in order to create your linkable assets:
Identify the content that’s popular in your niche
Use better design and bring in more value
Create superior content (by adding more insights, bigger lists, more links, more examples, and more case studies)
If you can’t do it alone, hire a team or outsource some of the tasks
The best way to get links is to approach the people, who are already linking to content similar to your asset.
Again the process would be:
Go to Ahrefs’ Site Explorer
Enter the URL of your competitor’s linkable asset
The result will provide you the source contacts
Using Ahrefs Alerts
Ahrefs’ alerts are very popular with digital marketers. You can use it for competitive analysis before you run your outreach campaigns. You can subscribe to these alerts for the best phrases that are relevant to your business. Ahrefs alerts provide you the feed as soon as some new content/post appears on the web that is related to your phrase or keyword.
It will also notify you whenever your competitor receives or loses some backlink. In both the cases, you can try to get a link from that source.
You can also use Ahrefs to analyze and monitor your backlink profile. It will help you to snoop on your business rivals.
Search Appearance Optimization- Is it the future of SEO?
When I researched the top SEO trends that are influencing the search engine rankings of websites in 2017, content and user experience came on top. These are the two major trends almost all prominent bloggers and agencies agree on as far as rankings in the year 2017 are concerned.
It means that the future of SEO is going to be different from what it’s today.
If you continue doing the same old things, soon you’ll realize that you’re lagging behind in the race.
In 2015, with Google’s announcement of a mobile-friendly algorithm, an immediate impact was seen in the form of a noticeable traffic loss for the websites that were not optimized for mobile phones.
Soon, companies started talking about the need for improvement in the entire mobile content ecosystem. Open source initiatives such as the Accelerated Mobile Pages project were launched.
Beware, Google is doing similar water-testing at present and some big changes are expected soon.
Search appearance is everything that is displayed in the Google search results. So, products, events, recipes, reviews, software applications, articles and local business information, etc. everything can be a part of search appearance.
Let’s discuss user experience and content specifically with respect to search appearance.
Well, when we untangle the complexity linked with user experience, we come across several pointers. We will begin with annotation of content for a better understanding of your business by Google.
Appearance on new search channels
“Structured data markup” is one such thing we use for content annotation for machine understanding. So, when you use this markup your data can be indexed in a better way and appear prominently for relevant search queries.
This markup also helps in boosting your search visibility, on the new search channels such as voice answers, maps, and Google Now.
Voice Answers is a personal assistant app, which can answer your queries and assist you with different tasks to be performed on the web, and it is controlled by voice. You can control your web world through Voice Answers and give instructions for tasks such as setting up reminders, sending an email, and getting something translated into another language.
Google Now is also an intelligent personal assistant. It comes with the Google Search mobile application. You can use it to get your questions answered, make recommendations and issue instructions to a host of web services.
Both these platforms are being used widely apart from the normal search query field of Google.com and this trend is bound to grow further in future.
Using “Structured data markup” and schema.org, you can make your site appear in the search results for these virtual personal assistants as well.
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
Now move to another aspect of user experience – faster mobile pages or the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), which is an open source initiative that will help publish mobile content that will download faster.
Local Business Cards
It’s reported that Google is experimenting with a new search feature – local business cards. The official Google name for the project is still unavailable but the idea is to make your site appear on top of search results pages with local business keywords.
Schema.org has a vocabulary that is compatible with many different encodings such as JSON-LD, RDFa, and Microdata. It is used by nearly 10 million websites. Furthermore, these terms are being used by big names such as Microsoft, Google, and Yandex for their applications to support extensible and rich experiences.
As you know, you can leverage schema markup to make search engines understand your website’s content in a better way enhancing its visibility. In fact, developers around the world are using structured data to create signals that are easily understood by search engines.
It impacts your rankings. Google officials have also speculated about the inclusion of structured data markup as a ranking factor.
One more problem faced by the business owners and SEO professionals is that their properties appearing in the organic searches disappear fast. So, we need to make the sites more Google friendly with local business cards (another feature of Google).
Through Place Actions, you can fix appointments, place orders, and complete reservations, etc.
This is also under experimentation but will decide the future of searches as Google wants to be “your best friend on the planet” and help you with everything technology is capable of.
Knowledge panel card
When you search for a business on Google, a highly visible “Knowledge Panel” card appears on the right. It’s not just an image, but a combination of many things – all of which are directed to provide relevant information about the business without having to open the home page of the website.
You can see Place Actions inside the card. It also offers deep linking to relevant landing pages directly from the card.
JSON for Linking Data
Google has expressed its commitment to support JSON-LD in future, but has also made this clear:
Using AMP articles and future mobile rich snippets
Google has recently released AMP articles in the content carousel. To improve user experience, search engines are also putting emphasis on mobile rich snippets. So, you can click the call button directly and go to deep links through rich snippets.
Anything which improves user experience is also good for SEO. Visually enhanced and user-friendly sites are at a greater advantage and they are more likely to appear in the SERPs. So, businesses should focus on improving their expertise, reliability, authority and technical efficiency. To become better at SEO, one should have some coding skills as well, so that they can add schema.org markups etc.
You spend hours researching, writing, finding graphics and uploading your blog posts, but your work isn’t done yet. To get the most out of each blog post you need to promote it as much as you can.
Below are thirty ways you can promote each blog post, most of which are free. Bookmarked this handy article and check off each item as you do it. With a little work and planning, you’ll get the most leverage out of each post.
Blog Success Tips
1. Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. Write in your own voice and be authentic. There’s only one of you.
2. If you want to gain readers, be consistent with your blogging efforts, even if that means you blog less frequently. Pick a frequency, daily, weekly, monthly, etc and stick with it.
3. Have visually appealing photos with each blog post. Make them relevant and original. Don’t steal other people’s photos.
4. Building a following takes time. The adage “if you built it, they will come” is incorrect. Instead, think “if you market it, they will come.”
Sharing each post on social media should be your first avenue for promotion.
1. Facebook: Add it on your personal and business pages, groups, and through ads.
2. Twitter: Schedule it on Twitter 2-3 times per day for the next 30 days. (Change the title)
3. Pinterest: Create a board specifically for all your blog post and pin each post to it.
4. LinkedIn: Share on your LinkedIn profile in groups you belong to and through ads.
5. Google Plus: Share with your circles and publicly, on Google for added SEO benefits.
Bookmarking sites have millions of users. Add them to your strategy.
1. Stumble Upon.Com: Create an account at StumpleUpon and start stumbling your posts.
2. Digg: Submit each post to Digg.com to share with others and help them discover.
3. Reddit.com: One of the most popular bookmark sites. Reddit.com is a must.
4. Delicious: Help others discover your post when you submit to delicious.com
5. Technorati: The top search engine for blogs. Technorati.com is a must.
Don’t forget to optimize each blog post for specific keywords.
They signed up for your newsletter or RSS feed because they want to hear from you.
11. Add your latest blog post in your email newsletter.
12. Share your blog post with people in groups or forums you belong to.
13. Add your latest blog post to your email signature using Wisestamp.com
14. Send an email to your list with your latest blog post and ask them for feedback.
14. An RSS Feed automatically pushes your post to those who sign up.
Leverage other bloggers networks to gain more exposure.
16. Comment on relevant blogs and include a link to your blog post.
17. Submit it as a guest post to other relevant blogs (with a bit of rewriting)
18. Ask influential bloggers to link to your relevant blogs.
19. Submit it as reprint to other relevant blogs.
20. Join a blogging community and exchange links with other bloggers.
It’s not about blogging more, its about promoting more.
Syndication allows you to spread your content across many networks. Here are ten sites that make syndication your blog post super easy!
21. IFTT.com allows you to syndicate to over 50 different sites.
22. Blog Catalog.com helps you connect with others bloggers to share ideas and post.
23. DemandStudios.com distribute your blog posts to publishers like USA.Today.com, Salon.com, and eHow.com
24. Amazon.com Submit your blog to http://www.Kindlepublishing.amazon.com/gp/vendor and get paid when Kindle owners read it.
25. NetworkedBlogs.com Get found and get more traffic when you submit your blog. Also links to Facebook.
26. Alltop.com Syndicates content in every category, from autos and food to business and sports.
27. Scribnia.com The source for reader reviews of the webs blogger and columnists.
28. Syndic8.com Syndicates blog that cover a wide variety of topics, one of the most popular syndication services.
29. EvanCarmichael.com if you provided business related content, this is a must.
30. Outbrain.com Syndicates your blog post to sites like CNN.com and FastCompany.com
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Search Engine Optimization (SEO), most of us would agree, is vital in ensuring the success of many clients’ WordPress websites.
If nobody finds your client’s site, that client isn’t going to get business from it and they’re not going to be able to justify spending any more on it (i.e. on you) in the future. A bit of SEO can make a big difference to your client’s feelings about the Web, and can bring a lot of money your way from projects as a result of recommendations, or anything else that clients needs.
The problem? SEO takes time: lots of it.
Nevertheless, your clients cannot be expected to know how to optimize their sites alone – not least because effective SEO practice changes with such frequency; mostly at the whim of Google’s algorithmic variance. And it won’t do to allow their sites to become neglected – that wastes their money and won’t bring anything new to you in future.
There are ways to get the best of both worlds, though, by making sure your clients have excellent search engine rankings without the necessary steps being too much of a drain on your time – and what time you do invest will be paid upfront and well worth it in terms of overall client satisfaction and future work coming your way. This article will guide you through a few of the most effective ways to make this compromise work for both you and your clients.
Include SEO From the Beginning
First things first: You need to explain what SEO is and why it’s important for your client.
Another point is that keeping things simple to start off with for clients is probably a good idea. Many will not have heard of SEO before, much less thought about how to use it effectively to improve their business; to this end, using Google as the reference point for what you’re aiming at might be worthwhile – and anything else you can do to avoid confusion or information overload for the client. Make things as simple as possible to begin with and you can introduce more at a later date.
One nice easy task to get the client started with is setting up a business presence on Google if they haven’t already – they can even do this while their site is still being developed. Although not pure SEO, it will improve their Web presence and make their pages look better on Google results.
Setting up a business presence on Google can be favourable for the world’s most popular search engine. It’s simple enough that your client should be able to create one themselves.
Take Advantage of Existing Software
As a WordPress developer, you’ve got the power of plugins at your disposal, which can make lots of things easier. SEO is no exception.
Having explained the importance of SEO, you can offer your client an SEO plugin install and configuration on their project for a small extra cost. There are some very good SEO plugins available free in the repository, such as WordPress SEO by Yoast, which includes a helpful traffic-light-style visual representation of how good SEO is on any given post or page.
You should also use a keyword monitoring tool by adding Google Analytics code or activating the Site Stats module of the Jetpack plugin. These will show the user which keywords are getting them the most success and on which content, enabling them to tailor their future content to cater to these successful areas in a more focused way.
Since you want to give your client a fighting chance with SEO when they first start out, you can offer – again, for a reasonable fee – to have a few of their site’s first pages (e.g. the About page if they will have one) written in an SEO-friendly manner before the site is handed over to them. If you don’t want to be doing this, you can still offer the service but find a freelance writer who’s good at following instructions and has a good grasp of SEO concepts; take a small cut of the fee the client’s paying for the writing.
Offer SEO Training
So far, nothing I’ve suggested will actually be a huge drain on your time – the biggest would be configuring the settings of an SEO plugin, but they’re generally quite good to start with and require only a few minor tweaks. Now, however, let’s consider something that does require more time – but can absolutely be worth it for you and your client if you do it well.
SEO training is something you can have as a separate service, sold independently of your Web projects – although you should advise it for any SEO-conscious client alongside a new website. Using quite a bit of your time as it would do, you can charge a premium rate for it; the justification for clients is that it should overall improve their business’s prospects for the Web if they make the most of their session and go away with knowledge on how to boost their online impact.
What exactly needs to be included in such a training session will depend on a number of factors. Primarily, the client’s current understanding – do they have a vague idea of why keywords might be useful already, or are you going to have to explain that “Google” and “the Internet” are not synonymous? The amount of time available (roughly one hour per session is advisable) and changing SEO trends will also play a part, but the basics probably include:
- Reiterating why SEO is so crucial for their business – getting found by the right people equals more sales.
- The importance of writing content for their site’s blog regularly. Having a blog will give their rankings a boost in some search engines anyway (an advantage of blog-centric WordPress as a CMS platform) and writing regularly allows them to build a following of people who see them as an authority; post regular, interesting social media updates if they have accounts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or other websites; over time, create a large amount of SEO-friendly content for people to find in search engines.
- How to write SEO-friendly content, including:
- Using the SEO plugin, if you’ve installed one, to create good browser titles, descriptions and perform useful analysis.
- Coming up with eye-catching titles.
- Writing content of an appropriate length – less than 400 words will generally be considered “thin” content, whereas Google is looking for high-quality, helpful content.
- Weaving in keywords to their content, including linking them and making them bold to improve SEO. In saying this, content should still flow well and be interesting for humans to read it or they’ll just leave and it’ll be pointless.
- Never, ever, ever plagiarizing content – duplicating another site’s content will lead to penalties, not a quick boost.
- Noting again how crucial blogging will be: they need to stick at it, creating a bank of good content, and results will start appearing over time.
Generally, you should try to keep at least the initial sessions as simple as possible – once the client is confused, it’s hard to get back on track without wasting a lot of the session.
Given the ever-changing nature of SEO, you can offer your clients refresher sessions in the future. This way, you keep your clients’ techniques up-to-date, their sites fresh and bringing in business (reflecting well on you as the developer) and keep earning on the sales of the sessions.
You could also consider compiling a booklet for those who have taken the session to refer to (again, this could be sold as an extra if you wish), updating it with new trends. This might also help you keep up if you spend a lot of time doing things other than SEO because you’ll have to dedicate a little time to finding out anything new.
Build a Network of Affiliates
Development isn’t everything in the Web business, but if you’d rather it were, you can make that happen – just make sure your clients don’t miss out on anything important as a result by building a network of affiliates to whom you can outsource various other tasks for them. This does have the advantage of allowing you to have a greater client base as you spend your time only in the one area (development), not in several (SEO, copywriting, and anything else).
If you’re not hot on the idea of giving SEO tutorials then find someone to whom you can refer clients for that training. They’ll still receive the benefits, as will you (active, fresh, successful site to your names) and in fact you could work payment through the agency so you take a small cut.
The same can be the case with freelance writers and SEO copywriters if the client feels that despite SEO training they might not be up to the task, or won’t have enough time. You can negotiate good deals and get the best people for your clients, making your service more valuable and hopefully ensuring your clients stick with you for a long time.
Once you’ve established these ties, you hardly need to invest any more time in them – although you could continue to take a small cut of the fee for setting up the affiliates with the clients. Your clients get good service, your affiliates employment and whilst reaping the benefits of an improved site for your client, you also make a little extra.
The core message here is that you should be making SEO part of your Web development services because it’s important for the client, and for you to retain the client. Making websites more successful is only going to be a good thing for the client and will keep them enthusiastic about the new opportunities you can offer them on the Web. Yet it needn’t be a loss leader: you can make money out of providing and/or recommending SEO services.
Whether you set up the services in-house or do build relationships with affiliates, it will benefit everybody not to ignore SEO and getting business’ websites found in favour of simply pursuing new development jobs (tempting as that can seem). To do the best for your clients, you need these services available in some form – and you can be paid for it, so what could be better?