Link Building For Beginners: A Digital Marketing Agency’s Guide

Link Building For Beginners: A Digital Marketing Agency’s Guide

Despite a lot of discourse throughout SEO communities and digital marketing agencies alike, link building, earning, or acquisition (whatever term you are more comfortable with) is still incredibly important in SEO. In this article, we will cover some of the best link building strategies and techniques that you can employ to get ahead in your niche and climb the rankings to organic success.

Link building is considered by some to fall into the darker realms of SEO but this blog will guide you through the darkness with an illuminating white hat. Not only will you find that many of these methods are accepted by all and work extremely well, many of them can be accomplished with little or no money — but instead with your time, effort and resources.

White Hat Link Building Techniques

Link building has a long and storied past in SEO but we’ll start just before April 2012 and just before the release of Google Penguin. Prior to Penguin, businesses and digital marketing agencies could essentially buy their position on Google (and I don’t mead with Adwords) with cheap and plentiful low-quality links!

Before Penguin, Google’s ability to evaluate the quality of links was very limited and relied on more basic metrics, in comparison to the more modern link analysis methods. Without going into too much detail, quantity used to matter a lot more than it does now. Since the rollout of Penguin, website owners and digital marketing agencies have had to innovate their link building tactics to create value that earns links.

Below are some examples of link building strategies that SEOs can use to increase rankings and stay in Google’s good book:

Create Meaningful Relationships

Links are the online equivalent of an offline referral from somebody who knows a thing or two about the thing you are asking about. Just like in the offline world, relationships and communities are incredibly valuable in SEO. If you can strike up relationships with people within your given niche, the reach of your website will greatly increase, as will the likelihood of people linking to your site.

A good idea is to start a forum or group on a social media platform. If you can demonstrate value within the community you have created or joined, people will begin listening to you, and (hopefully) linking to resources or blogs on your website.

Something to keep in mind here, is that backlinks and references rarely often happen. No matter how great the content is you create, one must really put in the necessary time and effort to establish relationships, ask for links/references, and continually provide value in the process.

Nathan Elly is the branch manager of digital marketing agencies and had the following to say on the importance of creating meaningful relationships.

Everyday we work with a wide range of companies and brands that are looking to establish new relationships online, and also gain powerful backlinks in the process. Not only is this something we’ve been able to help out with, it’s something we’ve mastered and taught to many brands and companies over the years as well. Even with the enviornment changing, it’s always come down to the simple practice of direct relationships and not just expecting backlinks to come in. Start a relationship, provide value, and ask how you can help other site owners succeed. This is one of the best ways to find longterm relationships and gain high quality backlinks and references in the process.

Create Meaningful Content

Following on from point 1, you need to demonstrate value – enough value that other people and websites want to reference your work. You need to ask yourself questions like:

  • What is my audience interested in?
  • What is currently a hot topic within my niche?
  • Can I produce content that is evergreen?
  • Are there resources already being linked to that I can improve upon?

If you can answer these questions and produce content that other people value and promote it through the platforms you participate in, then you will get links! Evergreen content, or content that has a very long shelf life, can have a fantastic ROI in the long term. Content that effectively answers age-old questions can bring in a steady flow of links.

At the same time, we can always look back at some of the most obvious basics to great content writing, as provided by Yoast. Yes, these are basic, but so many websites, brands, and bloggers still neglect to follow many of these rules.

  1. Think before you write.
  2. Write down the structure of your blog post.
  3. Use paragraphs, headings, and signal words.

There are a few more recommendations from Yoast, but most of these are covered within their Yoast SEO plugin when you scroll down to the bottom of any content you are writing within WordPress.

These are basic, but spending a few extra minutes to implement these into your writing can result in a much higher-quality end result. I personally have started using the “structure” tip with my writing, and thrown in ‘audio to text’, then will clean my content up afterward. With all of this in place, it definitely makes writing 2,000+ word articles much easier and faster.

Resource Page Links

Some websites have a page dedicated to linking out to valuable resources within their niche. Instead of sharing your content within your communities and hoping these webmasters see your engagement, you can actively seek them out! Google’s search engine allows for specific inputs to retrieve certain results. Using the below search strings, you can discover resources pages in your niche!:

  • “Keyword” + inurl:links
  • “Keyword” + “helpful resources”
  • “Keyword” + “useful resources”
  • “Keyword” + “useful links”

Once you have shortlisted the websites you feel you could add value to and vice versa – reach out to them with an email or phone pitch promoting your content. Hopefully, you and your content are persuasive and valuable enough that they create a new link to your content, or replace an old link with your new improved resource.

I get these emails all the time from random people and they are quite annoying — almost as much as the 50+ guest blogging requests I get daily as well. However, on the internet, it’s all a numbers game and if only 10% of the sites respond and end up linking back to your site, it’s a working strategy. If you are looking for more link building options like this one and want to put in the manual outreach, investing some time into 404 broken link building as well.

Business Directories

Business directories can be an extremely valuable link building resource for businesses, particularly for those competing in a local market. In a lot of cases, business directories are quite authoritative which is then passed back to your website. They also have the added benefit of allowing local businesses to list their business details like Name, Address and Phone Number.

In the SEO world, we call these NAP details. Having consistent NAP details across all of your online web assets (website, directories, Google My Business, etc…) is a strong ranking signal for Google in local markets. When you are creating listings on these directories, be diligent with your inputs and make sure everything is consistent.

To identify useful directories for your business, we can use some more search strings (yay) and Google. Below are some you can take advantage of:

  • “industry” inurl:directory
  • “industry” inurl:links
  • “industry” intitle:directory
  • intitle:industry inurl:directory
  • related:industry inurl:directory

If you are a local business or have a physical location, you should definitely spend some time on your Google My Business listing. With nearly all searches being made through Google, it’s important to make sure your site or business information is showing up correctly in Google — especially if it’s for a local address, operating hours, or getting in touch with your brand.

Conclusion

So, there you have it; our beginners guide to white hat link building for digital marketing agencies! These four tips will certainly be a good start for your burgeoning business and put you on the right track for sustainable rankings. This is by no means an exhaustive list but it does highlight some of the more accessible ways a business can begin expanding its organic reach through the means of link building.

3 Simple, Yet Effective Paid Facebook Ads Strategies for Beginners

3 Simple, Yet Effective Paid Facebook Ads Strategies for Beginners

Social media is everywhere. Whether it’s Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or any of the smaller platforms in between, it’s become one of the most effective ways to build a following, reach new audiences and also putting marketing dollars to good use.

That is… if you know what methods to use, and which others to stay away from.

While the concept of social media marketing is nothing new, don’t forget that millions of new people are going online for the first time, and thousands of entrepreneurs are launching businesses online for the first time — both of which are going to want to get active with social media.

If you want to reach new audiences and generate leads, paid social is the channel you need to be using. But without the right training, paid social can be a tough medium to crack. If you’re new to paid advertising, there are some important things you are going to need to know.

One such example is the clear difference between Facebook Ads and Google Adsense, which might not be so clear to newbie marketers or anyone going live with their first online ad campaign. Neil Patel does an excellent job in explaining the differences between the two in the video below.

Facebook Ads vs. Google Ads is just one example of something that should be obvious to marketers and site owners before spending money online and playing around with social media. Here are a few other tips, tricks, and marketing methods to consider as well.

Boost Posts

If you already have a Facebook page set up for your business, then the easiest place to get started with paid advertising is by posting your top performing posts. This tactic requires minimal effort and training, and will help expand your reach beyond your existing fan base on Facebook.

There has been some debate for many years now on which advertising method is best; Boosts vs. Promoted Posts. However, for most brands and site owners that spent money on ‘boost’ campaigns, they usually didn’t see the ROI they were looking for.

When it comes to boosting, this is often a FB strategy that many people wish they understood early on. Since it’s so easy to boost posts, it’s also a quick and easy money maker for Facebook–but not so much for the brands doing the boosting.

To implement this strategy, take a look at your Facebook post timeline and identify organic top-performing posts – posts that got a lot of engagement (likes and clicks) naturally. Select the “Boost Post” option in the lower right hand corner. From there, you can select a goal for your boosting, like Engagement or Website Visits, and also do some audience targeting to reach new people. You can choose Location, Age and Gender to help Facebook find the right people to show your post to.  

“Boosting” a post is extremely easy and you can make it fit any budget. However, just because it’s easy, it doesn’t mean you should do it. A better example would be to still use Facebook, but to focus more on custom audiences, remarketing, and targeting your ads towards existing mailing list subscribers and site visitors — which are all possible through the Facebook Ads platform.

Try a Link Ad

Link Ads are one of the easiest Facebook ads to set up for beginners. These types of ads look like a regular Facebook post that you posted to your Facebook page’s timeline, and will help you reach people who aren’t your fans. This type of ad works best for driving traffic to a blog post or a landing page.

The benefit here isn’t just that they are easy to set up, it’s also that they blend in with the regular content on Facebook Ads, which allows marketers to see much better results and engagement if they are willing to put in the time and effort. You can see an example of one of these ads below, and also explore the many other types of ads on Facebook here.

To set up this ad you will need to create: ad copy (post copy, link title, link description), image, call to action and a link.

Experiment with Video

Facebook is becoming more and more of a video platform, so, especially if video is already a part of your marketing strategy, you should experiment with Video Ads on Facebook. Videos are a unique and memorable way to reach new audiences. Videos also autoplay in the Newsfeed, which increases the likelihood of users seeing and absorbing your content.

Video is so attractive right now because everyone is consuming it. For brands with a lot of money to spend, Facebook Video Ads are perfect for not just increased branding, but also real views, engagement, and ROI as well. Take a look at some of the most active brands using online video through Facebook Ads.

When you set up a Video Ad, make sure you set up a call to action (like Learn More, Buy Now, etc) at the end of your video through the Power Editor. In addition, make sure you include subtitles, as many Facebook videos are watched without sound.

Set up Retargeting

Once you start running Facebook ads, your site will start receiving more traffic. You want to make sure you’re taking advantage of this traffic and these new visits, and a great way to do this is by implementing retargeting. Retargeting captures the digital information of your site visitors, and then follows their “digital footprint” around the web so you can continue to serve them ads and stay top of mind. So if they don’t convert on their first visit to your site, you drastically increase their chances of converting down the road.

Retargeting is now being used by more businesses and brands today than ever below. This Facebook Advertising Agency in London had the following to say about Facebook Ads and the continued support for retargeting campaigns:

“If you’re looking for exposure, Facebook is hard to beat. On a daily basis, you’ve got access to over 1 billion users – with a lavish spread of demographics within. What’s more, the average Facebook user checks the service five times or more during their day – so it’s the perfect platform for building brand awareness. Facebook allows advertisers to create custom audiences for their paid campaigns. Often, this will mean people retarget users who have expressed a prior interest – or have signed up to email marketing. Your advertising can now follow your customer’s online footsteps. Traffic leaving your page or site no longer represents a missed opportunity either – with Facebook retargeting, it could be the first part of a person’s journey toward becoming a customer – and can be exceptionally powerful when tied to your broader SEO, PPC and social campaigns.”

While this might not make perfect sense to a new marketer or brand setting up their first ad campaign, it will after a few quick examples. You can also take a look at the retargeting graph below to see a visual on how this multi-step process works.

Retargeting can be a bit trickier to set up, so be sure to research a few resources online and walk through the steps to make sure your Facebook Ads account, pixel placements, and ad copies are all in place for optimal testing and ROI.

How to Grow Your Business and Brand through Paid Social Media Efforts

With more than a billion active sites on the internet today, and more than three billion users spread across social media, it’s important to know what you are doing before getting started. This is true with all online advertising and anything that requires a decent amount of investment.

Be sure to run through each of the Facebook Ads methods above, and also consider these expert social media tips.

Beginners Guide on How to Build a Brand Online

Beginners Guide on How to Build a Brand Online

Written by Zac Johnson

If you run a business, then you know that you can’t survive in the market without building a unique brand. The question is, how do you go about that?

With so many options on the table for content creating, branding, and reaching new audiences, one can quickly find themselves overwhelmed with tasks and opportunities at every turn.

No matter if you are looking at social media, paid marketing, content creation, SEO or blogging… branding is all a big part of the process.

Starting an online business is easy, but turning it into a trusted brand is not.

If you want the simplest and best approach to creating a brand that people will trust and buy from, consider the following steps and case study examples to help you get there.

  1. Identify Your Audience

Here is the thing- there is no dearth of branding tools and resources online that can help you create everything i.e. from attractive logos to marketing campaigns for your business. However, none of these will work if you don’t target the right people. 

Before you start working on your brand, you need to identify your target audience. The following are some of the questions that you can ask yourself to get that information:

  • Where are my customers located?
  • What’s the age group of my customers?
  • What kind of lifestyle most of my customers have?

Once you have all of this information in place, it’s then time to build a site and platform around their needs.

CASE STUDY EXAMPLE:

When it comes to identifying your audience, few industries are more crucial than ecommerce for accomplishing this. Not only is the competition fierce, it’s also a ‘first impression’ type of business, and if those first few seconds on your site doesn’t seal the deal… you may likely lose that potential customer for life.

If you want to increase conversions and sales through your online store, you need to make sure it not only has a great site design and navigation, it also needs to have proper product search and category breakdowns as well.

A perfect example of this can be seen with WalkingOnACloud, an online retailer in Canada that focuses on a wide range of shoes and boots through their site. Take a look at the screenshot below to see the easy navigation and product listings on the site.

What you will notice is that each shoe image pops right off the page, and the title and brand is quite easy to read as well.

If the end user has any problems with searching the site and finding the right shoe or brand they are looking for, all they need to do is make a few adjustments on the left side menu to refine their search.

The site also features many other classic models and brands that allow it to rank in the search results for individual shoes and long tail keywords as well. If you visit any of the pages on the site, you will also notice it’s text and keyword heavy at the bottom of each page — thus providing more value to the end user, and improving their chances to rank in the search results by having real text on the site and not just individual products and image.

  1. Define Your Mission

A brand has to have a mission and a vision. There is no way around it. So, you need to find some free time and think of the things that define the purpose of your existence.

A good question that you can ask yourself is – what problems does my business solve? The answer to this question can be anything.

Another good way to look at this, is to ask where you audience is. For example, some brands focus their efforts more on Instagram, versus that of Facebook or Twitter. The more you know about your audience, the easier it will be for you to see an ROI with your content creation and marketing efforts.

For instance, your business might be providing affordable furniture to bachelors, clothing for students taking the leap to college, or maybe you want to treat everyone with the most delicious homely meals. Whatever the answer is, shall become the foundation of your mission and vision.

At the same time, user engagement is now a much larger focus than ever before. It’s not just about having a presence on social media, it’s about how brands are actually connecting and providing value to their end users.

Once you have a general idea about your brand’s mission and vision, you can read a guide or two online on how to write proper statements. This way you won’t have to revise the same over and over again.

CASE STUDY EXAMPLE:

Social media is great for many different things, but when it comes to the actual ROI and business that is generated from it, only a few brands and ecommerce sites are doing it correctly.

You can create content, build a following, and have as many accounts and followers as you like, but if they aren’t resulting in real sales and conversions — what good is it?

This is something Zappos knew right from the start, and as a result, they have one of the largest followings on social media in terms on ecommerce and shoe retailers go.

With over 2.5 million followers on Twitter, and millions of dollars being generated in sales weekly, customer support is still their strong point.

For Zappos, social media marketing is nothing new — as it’s how they got their start and found major success online. Instead of focusing just on sales and marketing, they wanted to make their brand all about customer support and user engagement.

This ultimately lead to the success the company is having today — which results in them becoming one of the largest shoe retailers in the world today.

The quick takeaway here is to not just be active on social media, but to also give your audience a reason why they should follow you — and actually be interested in the content and services you are offering through social.

  1. Study Your Competition

Branding is all about differentiating your business from others in the market. So, it’s important that you pay close attention to your rivals and their brands.

You should study their mission and vision and USPs and pay attention to their logos as well. This is because you want all of these to be different from them. Only then you can stand out and attract customers easily.

At the same time, you also need to understand how and where to focus your efforts. For some brands, this might be on their social media marketing and branding efforts… while for others it might be in the form on content marketing and SEO.

CASE STUDY EXAMPLE:

We all know that SEO and Google search is on the decline, but the quality is still there. If someone is going to Google and typing in what they are looking for… then they are also very likely to take action.

However, for this to work, your site will need to have a nice DA and PA associated with it, while also having some nice backlinks and high-quality content of course.

This is often a problem for ecommerce sites because they are focusing too much on their individual product pages and not enough ‘service and content’. Through the use of a blog, brands should be creating top lists, reviews, and stories about the products they create.

These content pages can then rank in Google at a much higher and faster pace than regular product pages. At the same time, it would be very hard to rank for individual product names and brands, when so many other big name sites and stores are already out there.

A perfect example of this can be seen if you were to Google something like “best clothes to bring to college“.  It’s a long tail keyword and maybe not something a ton of people search, but it’s still a nice thing to rank for — and people that are searching for it are likely already in buying mode.

Check out the results from the search, then see what type of content each of these sites are creating. If you are an apparel retailer, this is a no brainer — and you should be doing this for every type of event, season, or whatever… that people might be searching for clothes ideas on.

  1. Define Brand Guidelines

Consistency is the key to successful branding and it can be easily accomplished if you are willing to make the effort. What you fundamentally need is brand guidelines.

By defining the guidelines, you can ensure that your branding is consistent across all channels- social media, website, emails, and even offline channels viz. banners at public events, customized merchandise, etc. The following are some of the things that you need to define for your brand:

  • Color palette
  • Typography
  • Writing style and tone (for blog, website content, etc.)
  • Mission statement and vision

Once you have a clear message that defines your brand, it will be that much easier for you to create an action plan and set of business goals to help you get there.

EXAMPLE CASE STUDY:

In order to create an effective and powerful vision for your brand, you need to not only understand your business, but also what it means to those whom you are serving.

FitBusiness has an excellent write up on 10 excellent vision statements to spark your imagination.

At the very least, these will serve extremely useful in providing you with some real life examples on what it means to have a powerful brand, business, and a purpose (vision) behind it.

One of the most important things to remember when creative a vision and statement for your business and brand, is to make sure it relates with your audience, how they perceive your company, and that you can actually act and deliver on the promise that you are making.

  1. Market Your Brand

Once your brand is ready, you can start to promote it wherever you can. You can find numerous examples of how to promote your brand with targeted blog content, emails, social media, etc. on the Internet. You just need to create a strategy and it’s also highly recommended you use at least a few tools to make your job easier which include a social media manager, analytics tool for SEO, advanced video editors, etc. 

Marketing and brand consistency go hand in hand. What it means that when you talk to your customers on social media or your blog, you need to make sure that you maintain the same tone and voice. 

EXAMPLE CASE STUDY:

Much like how we mentioned creating content for your site or brand to reach new audiences through search rankings with original blog content ideas, knowing how to market to your brand is key.

It’s not just about knowing who you are marketing to, but also how to create the best content that relates to them.

This is something social media, especially Facebook Ads and Instagram Marketing has become extremely effective in — as they both offer demographic, interest, and custom audience targeting.

With such options in place, it’s no longer a matter of creating content on your site and just hoping for it to be found… but instead a matter of how often and when.

Through the use of paid promotion, social media, and the power of remarketing — targeting your ideal customer and demographic audience is now easier than ever before.

In Conclusion….

The internet has made the process of starting a website and going live with a business or brand extremely cost effective and easy.

With more than a billion active websites and blogs on the internet today, we are all in an extremely competitive space. This means every small and large business needs top-notch branding in order to survive and also to increase revenue month over month.

If you want to prepare for that in the most straightforward manner, then the steps and case studies provided above can help you get there.

Good luck!