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Guest blogging has become the de factor link building technique for some people. It’s become so popular that Matt Cutts recently declared it dead – too spammy. The good news is, it’s not the only link building method there is. It never was.

To be really effective at link building, you have to get creative. That requires a little out-of-the-box thinking, but it also requires some level of understanding how the Internet works.

Here are three easy-to-identify but often underused link building methods don’t involve guest blogging.

  1. Webinars – With webinars, you can list all the information for your webinar on your website. If you promote it properly, you’ll get others linking to your webinars page. Beyond that, offer resources on your website that you promote through your webinars. Your webinar attendees will leave pumped up and link back to your resources page.
  2. Video marketing – You can do essentially the same thing with videos. Create a few outstanding videos, upload them to YouTube and other video sharing sites, and lead people back to your resources page. You can do the same thing with podcasting.
  3. E-books – Write and publish awesome e-books. Create an e-books page where people can download your latest. If these are truly valuable resources, they’ll draw links.

You don’t have to scour directories and go on a guest blogging spree to create great links. Just get a little creative.

Affiliate marketing icon Sugarrae posted a rant knocking Google and Matt Cutts off their conjoined high horse. Near the end of her post is this brilliant little gem:

From here on out, you work on generating traffic. From here on out, you work on generating branding. From here on out, you work on obtaining customers.

There’s more. You’ll have to excuse the profanity, but you should read the post. I’ll add this caveat:

This is really nothing new.

Your job has always been to build traffic and brand. That hasn’t really changed. The problem is, many online marketers got away from the real goal and started focusing on search engine rankings. Rankings are nice, but they’re not an end in themselves. They’re not the end goal. They are a means to an end.

With personalized search, Google+, and other late great algorithm changes, you can’t predict search rankings.

You might have a page rank #1 for a search phrase only to later in the day rank #10 for the same search phrase. There are a number of reasons for this. One reason is because different searchers have different search profiles and Google is tracking them. You can’t control that. That’s why you shouldn’t focus too heavily on ranking in Google.

Online marketers now have a lot of reasonable avenues for attracting new traffic to their websites. You have:

  • Facebook
  • YouTube
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Bing
  • Niche websites

And more!

Focus on building your brand and traffic through a variety of online promotional means. If you do that, rankings will take care of themselves – as long as you don’t get too spammy.

If you are trying to figure out whether you’ll get more mileage from a blog or a newsletter, then I congratulate you for thinking of it. You’re well ahead of most small businesses who are still trying to figure out how to get started with online marketing.

To be sure, there are advantages to both platforms.

A blog allows you to get feedback through comments. You can interact with your audience, which increases your engagement. You can also have a more robust social media experience when you promote your blog posts. And your blog has the added benefit of being searchable through the search engines.

An e-mail newsletter offers you the opportunity to develop a warm list. This is very important for direct sales.

Blogs are typically poor media for making direct sales pitches. They’re great for engagement and reach. You can, however, use your blog to increase your newsletter subscriber numbers. Then you can use your weekly or monthly newsletter to drive traffic to important landing pages and increase your online sales.

So it’s not a matter of which is better – your blog or your newsletter. It’s really a matter of how effectively you can use each tool.

For better marketing, engage with readers through your blog and invite them to subscribe to your e-mail newsletter. Then close the sale there.

Chad Whitman of EdgeRank Checker conducted a study on Facebook reach and engagement and discovered that there are two types of content that Facebook has targeted as specifically low quality content and should be avoided. What are they?

  • Memes
  • And calls to action

This is interesting because that second one – calls to action – flies in the face of everything we’re taught about writing great content. You want a strong call to action.

Not on Facebook.

Based on the study cited by Whitman, if you frequently ask for engagement, Facebook will punish your content and cause it not to be seen by the people you want to see it. The same goes for frequent memes, you know those jpeg images with witty sayings? People like them, but Facebook doesn’t.

Another suggestion Whitman makes is to increase the frequency of your posts on Facebook. That’s drastically different than what is recommended by experts who use LinkedIn.

Keep in mind that every social media website has its own guidelines and set of preferences – that goes for users as well as the site. If you want to be effective in using social media, learn how they are all different and pay attention to what actually works when you post it. In other words, use intelligent analytics and measure your results.

SEOs love to talk about link building. Everybody does it. The problem is, everybody does it.

Let me explain.

Yesterday, MOZ posted a blog post titled 31 Link Building Tactics Discovered From Competitive Analysis. That’s a great title. And a lot of the link building strategies recommended are real solid. But many of those same strategies are used by spammers, which is why Matt Cutts declared guest blogging dead.

The list contains all the usual items you’d expect on the list, such as:

  • Contests
  • .edu domains
  • .gov domains
  • Guest blogging

You get the drift.

The list also includes items that might not be relevant to all online marketers. For instance,

  • Eco-friendly causes
  • Student and minority resources
  • Offering a job

I’m not saying these aren’t good link building sources. I’m just saying they may not apply to all types of businesses or websites.

When it comes to link building, it’s important that genuine value-oriented marketers distinguish themselves in some way from the spammers. Matt Cutts and the Google web spam team are after the bad guys, not the good guys or the people with good intentions. Educate yourself on best practices and try to do the right thing. That’s how you do link building in 2014.

If you run frequent social media campaigns, you will undoubtedly use certain applications to assist you with posting messages. There are quite a few of them out there. The purpose of this blog post isn’t to discuss the merits of those applications or compare them. What we’d like to discuss today is whether or not it is prudent to pre-schedule your social media messages.

Some of the applications you can use allow you to pre-schedule your social media messages on the various social media sites.

Hootsuite, for instance, will allow you to pre-schedule messages on Facebook and Twitter, but you can’t pre-schedule on Google+. Do Share is a Google Chrome application that allows you to pre-schedule messages for Google+, but you have to be logged in for those messages to actually post.

Despite these drawbacks, there are benefits to pre-scheduling. First and foremost is time management. By pre-writing and pre-scheduling your messages, you can save time. Write your messages in advance and schedule them to post when you want them to.

I’d be careful to rely on this method too much. You still want to interact with your audience, retweet and re-share posts on the various social media sites you participate on. You want your presence to be personal and approachable if not spontaneous. Still, pre-scheduling some of your messages – those that are not necessarily timely or that are easy to write and can be posted at any time – can benefit you in the long run.

Our recommendation: Pre-schedule certain posts that you can share at any time without detriment. More timely messages should be posted when prudent for your business and your audience.

One of the most important principles of doing business online is the push-pull principle. You “push” your content out and “pull” your prospects in. But in order for this principle to work, your content has to be findable. You have to make it easy to find by the type of people you want to find you. The best way to make that happen is to start with a simple inventory.

How are people finding you now?

There are various ways to be found online. Here are a few easy ones to pick:

  • Your website
  • Your blog
  • Other blogs in your niche
  • YouTube
  • Social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.)
  • Paid advertising
  • Organic search
  • Podcast directories
  • Business directories
  • Wikipedia

There are others, but the point is, you need to take inventory. If you don’t know how people are finding you, then you need to take some time and figure that out before you go on.

After finding out how you are currently being found, do an inventory of your content assets. What resources do you have available to push your content out to the places you are more likely to find prospects to pull in?

Having a good idea about what assets are at your disposal is critical to being able to use them effectively. Once you know what is available, you can put together a content strategy to reach the type of people you want to reach. Create awesome content that pulls people in to your sales funnel – then sell them what you have to offer.

Since 2011, content marketers have learned a few things about publishing content online. First and foremost is this: Produce quality content, not rehashed ideas that have been done over and over again.

Content marketers stuck in the past are still talking about link building techniques. Many of those link building techniques still work, but not always. Some of them work well most of the time. Still, online marketing is not all about link building, and the sad truth is that most SEOs are talking about it as if it is.

So if isn’t about link building, what is it about? In a word, it’s about authority. Do you have the authority to back up your claims? Can you prove your authority?

There are different ways to prove authority. One way is to present social proof. That is, you are active on several social media platforms and constantly churning out great content. Another way to prove authority is through search engine rankings and search engine recognition. If Google considers you an authority, then who is going to argue?

After last year, many online marketers are at a loss as to how to win favor with Google. It seems like many of the things that used to work are now only producing meager results.

Here’s a hint: Focus on your readers. Make them happy. If your content is written for your readers, you stand a much better chance at making the search engines happy and leveraging social proof.

Things may be getting ugly real soon at Yelp and other sites that allow anonymous reviews of businesses. In Virginia, a judge ruled that deliberately false statements are not protected speech. The problem is, the business owner suing in this case hasn’t proven that these anonymous reviews contain deliberately false statements.

Online reviews certainly change the way certain laws can be used in court. Previously, if you didn’t like a certain business, all you had to do is tell a friend. What you said to your friend in the privacy of your conversation couldn’t be disputed, but online reviews can.

Even if they’re anonymous.

Yelp and other sites have been hiding behind the First Amendment since their inception. That party might soon come to an end, however, if more businesses sue in states where the laws allow them to question the legitimacy of reviews.

These matters are complicated by the fact that a competitor can pay someone to post fake reviews of your business. Not many people, that I know of, would consider that protected speech. If you’re a business owner, I doubt that you’d want such fake reviews influencing people’s decision to do business with you. And that’s the problem. Right now, they can.

So will anonymous reviews soon be a thing of the past? Andy Beal has an interesting suggestion. Maybe it’s time for Yelp to introduce a verified customer attribute, but that makes me wonder just how they’d be able to do that.

What’s your take on anonymous reviews and social review sites like Yelp?

A listicle is a short form of blog content where you make a list of items and write a paragraph or two on each items so that the list looks more like an article. They’re very popular for online content and the reason they work are several-fold.

Here are the top 5 reasons to write listicles for your blog content:

Listicles are easy to read

Your blog readers can scan them and decide for themselves which parts of the article they want to stop and read.

They make great SEO

You can include your keywords in the list items, which serve as subheads for the article. This is an SEO-boosting tactic that still works as well as it did ten years ago.

A listicle is a tightly-focused area of knowledge

The best listicles serve up a short list of items on one particular topic, so the information is relevant to a particular niche audience.

Listicles are easy to write

Just write your list then go back and write the commentary for each list item.

Better than a bullet list

Instead of littering your blog with endless bullet lists, you can switch things around and write longer articles with subheads. Your listicles serve as lists without the bullets.

The next time you are tempted to write a blog post will bullet lists, write a listicle instead. They’re also easily share-able on social media.

High profile SEO Bruce Clay conducted a study concerning content creation and search engine rankings. What he found out was pretty astounding. Content curation can work better than original content if

it contains original content.

In other words, the key to successful content marketing is original content. That hasn’t changed in several years.

The Key To Successful Content Curation

The most popular kind of content curation is aggregation. This is where the curator simply takes a handful of links or content on a particular topic and aggregates them into a single post. It’s easy and doesn’t take up a lot of time. However, if this content isn’t accompanied by original content, it will be much less effective.

Distilling a lot of content into a smaller post where the original content is the star is a much better approach, though it does take up more time. Still, it is more effective.

Mashups can also be very effective. This is when you take a bunch of content and merge it into a single piece with an original point of view. That requires original content by definition.

As long as you include original content in your curated posts, they will achieve a certain level of search engine visibility. The more original content, the better. This is true SEO. Taking content that has already ranked and re-using it, even spinning it, is much less effective. SEO is, and always has been, about originality.

Every landing page is either a winner or a loser. If it’s a winner, it will convert prospects to customers. Here are five essential elements to include on your landing page if you want it to convert.

  1. USP – An acronym for Unique Selling Proposition. What sets you apart from the competition? Why should people buy from you? Establish early on. With a USP, you are not likely to convert sales.
  2. Name Capture Form – Whether you are closing the sale or collecting contact information for use later, you need to get your customer to give it up. Put a form on your landing page if you want it convert.
  3. Strong Call to Action – A call to action asks for the sale. Provide a strong call to action and visitors will buy, opt-in, and convert like crazy.
  4. Benefit-Focused Content – You have to sell the benefits of your product or service. You have a few seconds, and no more, to get your prospect’s attention. Use an eye-catching image and content that heavily focuses on benefits rather than features.
  5. Social Share Buttons – Encourage your visitors to share your landing page with their friends.

If you want your landing pages to be successful, include these 5 essential elements on every one. From the headline to the call to action, you’ve got to keep your prospects interested if you’re going to convert them.

Every now and then an idea comes along that seems hokie on the surface but actually turns into a big deal. Twitter comes to mind.

Flipagram promises to be to video as Twitter is to blogging. Call it microvideo production, but it could catch on.

The name makes you think instantly of Instagram. That’s understandable. It is integrated with Instagram. But it’s also integrated with Facebook and Twitter, which means that it could see a lot of users checking it out.

It’s actually a smartphone app – with downloads for iOS and Android.

The essence is Flipagram allows users to create short videos (15 to 30 seconds) using their own photos and music dubbed over them. One question that comes to mind is this, Can users use their own music? If so, then it could catch on with independent music artists, and the marketing value for small businesses will go up immediately, as well.

That’s not to say that you can’t use Flipagram for marketing if you are forced to use music from a pre-established library, but my guess is there will be commercial restrictions on copyrighted material.

I can’t wait to see how users put Flipagram to use and begin to share their videos across their social networks.

All Facebook says it won’t have the same marketing usability as Vine, but I do wonder. What do you think? Will Flipagram become useful to social media marketers?