The dynamics of search engine optimization can feel overwhelming to tech and marketing specialists alike. SEO is often referred to as a mix of science, art, math, and creativity. I don’t disagree.
In recent times, SEO has been described as the dying digital marketing medium, in part because of Google’s (Not Provided) keyword filtering. Here’s where I disagree.
One undeniable fact remains: Google still thrives on incoming and outgoing links at the core of their PageRank algorithm. Matt Cutts of Google just reminded us in a recent video how important links still are, and how “keywords inside of links” continue to be part of Google’s ranking formula. Bear with me here—let’s not forget about the Google Penguin update just yet.
Whether you can track keywords to leads and sales or not, you can still track your landing page traffic, keywords that drove visitors to those landing pages (through Webmaster Tools), and referral traffic from links that might be contributing to your search engine rankings.
Since “going after links” is frowned on by all search engines, you can attract links to your website with minimal effort in three very simple ways.
Create a Glossary
Consider for a moment all the “what is” and “what are” queries that are performed on any given day. Or better yet, use Zenya’s Question-Only filter to get some search query data on terms relevant to your industry.
What you’ll find out is that people absolutely need this content. These same people may also know a thing or two about bookmarking “useful content”, sharing a URL, or (if deemed worthy) maybe even linking to a page as a reference in their own piece of content about your topic.
Example of Question Queries
Wait! How is this easy? Doesn’t this require a ton of writing? As it turns out, many glossaries are written by third parties, experts in a given field. I’ve had a few great experiences inviting Wikipedia authors to give me free content by simply clicking Cite This Page within an article related to my industry (example page with authors).
Simply ask and you shall receive. Start with a simple approach, such as “I really appreciated the time and detail you put into that article. Would you be willing to put something similar together for us on a subtopic if I gave you attribution and no limit to the number of words you’d like to use?”
Here’s the catch: Your page must offer a better answer than anything else you might find on page one of Google. It’s usefulness score should be a 10/10, and user experience should be produce a “wow” in the eyes of any visitor. To accomplish this, you’ll need custom (creative) illustrations and graphics (think Fiverr) and it definitely couldn’t hurt to throw in a video, perhaps Animoto, GoAnimate, or Powtoon.
Keep in mind that selling your product on a glossary page is strictly prohibited if you expect others, perhaps even competitors, to share the content. Here are some tips:
- Keep your glossary organized.
- Cross-link related topics when those topics are mentioned in context.
- Make the pages easy to share.
- Remove all advertising; possibly remove the entire sidebar(s).
- Reference important people when possible—you never know who uses Google Alerts.
Get the Top Interview on a Soon-to-Be Trending Topic
If you know your industry the way I do, you know what the buzz is and soon, so will others who aren’t as passionate as you and I are about what we do. Let’s face it, you wouldn’t have made it this far down within this post if SEO weren’t important to you. Whatever your industry, there’s always news and there’s always someone who can shed some light or share some background or history others may not know about.
Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and ask for an interview. “Hi So-and-So. There’s a lot of uncertainty and rumors going around that my readers would like your perspective on. Would you be able to spare just a few minutes to answer a question or two?”
Keep drilling deeper and deeper until you get that one gold nugget of info the rest of the industry couldn’t possibly have figured out on their own. Pay close attention to words used, so when you get that phrase you’re looking for, you can make it your headline. For example: iPhone 6 Product Developer Says Biometrics May Be Included in Release.
If and when biometrics start getting talked about, users will search for more information. When they do, your awesome content will be ready for them, and for all the juicy links and sharing activity that come with awesome content.
Share Information Only You Would Know
Despite all the chatter about content curation and influencer marketing, being able to share statistics and insights about your own customers is something no competitor can replicate. It’s also link bait for public relations folks following a particular industry.
At ISOOSI, I wrote two posts where I shared data from my own client base (carefully, so as to not violate any non-disclosure agreements, of course). In the first post (Is Google’s Market Share Data Accurate?), I not only shared statistical data about clicks I tracked, but I also broke those clicks down by industry.
In the second post (What Percentage of People Click on the First Search Result?), I gave away click-through data of several top-ranked keywords I had been tracking. Both posts were shared more than 100 times as of today (5/7/14).
Let’s face it, if a tech guy like me can get people to share content that took me a couple hours to write, someone amazing like you could write something Earth-shattering in half the time.
Suggestions to Get You Started
- What product is purchased the most or least?
- What percentage of your customers are male versus female?
- What age group do most of your customers fit into?
- What attributes attracted your customers to your product/service?
Provided you’re able to collect enough data to impress someone in public relations, your article will likely be the first of its kind in your industry. Don’t worry about the competition. In most cases, they already know most of these stats from their own client base, but never had the courage to share (where you do).
As your content starts attracting links, don’t be afraid to share those linking pages with your social and email subscribers. This adds an extra edge to your strategy, since you’re essentially telling search engines that your linking pages also have linking pages, where the competition may stop at the one link once they’ve earned it.
How do you attract links? Do you use a glossary, interview experts or share information only you would know? Please share in the comments below.