Tools and Tricks to Help with Your Link Building Campaign

SEO continues to be a driving force in the marketing world, and as it becomes more integrated in other marketing functions, new roles seem to be popping up everywhere–SEO Analyst, SEO Content Strategist, and SEO Outreach Coordinator are just a few of the new titles we’ve seen lately.

Let’s narrow in on the SEO Content Strategist and the SEO Outreach Coordinator positions. These positions aren’t too surprising to see considering the fact that content and backlinks continue to be on the list of top SEO ranking factors year after year after year.

To oversimplify things, using content to boost rankings is something we can control. It comes down to doing the keyword research, optimizing your content, and tweaking things to get to the position you want–easy peasy, right?

Obtaining links on the other hand, is not as easy to control. You can reach out to as many publishers as you want, but you can’t force them to link to your site–hence the need for someone who specializes in outreach. While one position may seem easier than the other, they’re actually both just as complex, and both necessary for each other’s success.

The Content Strategist must not only focus on creating content that can rank, but also creating content that is engaging and valuable enough to merit links–making it easier for the Outreach Coordinator to earn links. Now, the Outreach Coordinator has to get links back to the content created by the Content Strategist in order to give the site and blog content the boost it needs to rise in the rankings.

Now that we understand how these two positions work together to boost each other up, we’ll go into some specific tools and tricks to help with link building.

Create wow-worthy content

We simplified it in the beginning, but creating great content that is optimized for search engines, but also engaging for people is not an easy task. That being said, you can control the value of the content that you put out.

Use keyword research to figure out what people are searching for–what do they want to know? Take that research and create amazing content that will fill the questions and needs of potential customers.

Finally, make sure that your content is not only optimized for search engines, but also visually pleasing and engaging. Canva is a commonly used tool that marketers use to easily create visual engaging content that increases shares and engagements. Users love it because it’s easy to import your own images and use the templates to make great images for social media posts and ads. Outgrow is another tool that users love for creating quizzes, calculators, and polls that will increase engagement and gather leads.

Increase efficiency with outreach tools

Backlink outreach campaigns can be painful. You can send 1,000 emails and get no response. You could put hours into building relationships with publishers on Twitter, but have zero backlinks to show for it.

While there’s no way to promise backlinks, you can increase the number of pitches you put out with outreach tools. Increasing efficiency is a crucial element of a successful outreach campaign, and below are a couple of suggested tools to try out.

Infusionsoft is a popular tool for sales outreach, but can easily be used for link outreach too. Users love the ability to prioritize contacts based on responsiveness. Buzzsumo is another popular influencer outreach tool. Users like the ability to create lists of influencers in a specific category using the platform itself.

A/B test different outreach emails and content types

Different types of content may have different success rates for earning backlinks. A/B test the different types of content you’re producing to determine which types are best for using in outreach emails. You should also A/B test the language you use in outreach emails to increase your ROI.

Earning links will not be an easy task, but with the right SEO team members working together, you can be sure that your content development and link building efforts are supporting and raising each other up.

Kelsey Reaves is a content-focused Marketing Manager at TrustRadius, a trusted site for B2B software reviews. When she’s not sharing her knowledge on the latest trends in software and B2B news, she nurtures her passion for travel by exploring new cities and binge watching Anthony Bourdain

How to Use Digital PR to Influence Organic Rankings

Public relations has always played an integral role in helping businesses and nonprofits to achieve their goals. But in today’s search-engine-reliant world, digital PR know-how has the potential to explode organizations’ visibility before the eyes of prospective customers. Unfortunately, too few PR pros understand how backlinking and search-engine optimization (SEO) work, and their importance in achieving their clients’ aims. By way of providing an introduction to this complex and rapidly evolving aspect of PR, I’m going to offer some insight into how we’ve helped enhance the visibility (and improved the bottom lines) of our clients.

Why Should PR Experts also be SEO Experts?

At Circa, our clients are institutions of higher learning, and much of our work involves elevating our clients’ professors and teachers as thought leaders. We do this, in part, by using traditional PR skills and tools to reach out to publications to arrange interviews with these professors and publish their content. Not only does this achieve the goal of increasing brand awareness, but it also accomplishes an increasingly critical goal for any successful business in the digital age: improved search engine visibility and rankings.

Our clients share a straightforward goal: to enroll more students into their university programs. In order to achieve this goal, they need to increase their brand awareness, and increasing awareness requires accomplishing two very specific tasks: showcasing the university’s value and also boosting its digital presence. By following our specific link-building strategy, we not only establish more credibility among our target audience, but we also rank higher in relevant keyword searches conducted by prospective students. Our strategy is one that could apply to any business that relies on PR to increase its overall brand awareness.

How to Leverage Digital PR to Gain More Digital Visibility

In the digital world, links are critical. Links help to boost a webpage’s rankings and ensure that search engines like Google recognize the page as genuine and credible. In the past, it was possible to buy or acquire links of little relevance from low quality websites in order to achieve a high search-engine ranking. That’s no longer possible. These days, web pages need to feature a select amount of natural keywords and links from other viable and relevant sites from high quality sources. The focus is quality of links. Acquiring these types of links can be challenging, especially since it requires establishing relationships between various content sources. However, this is a task that PR professionals are naturally equipped to tackle.

Using traditional tactics, PR professionals can actually generate significant digital results for their clients. For instance, a PR pro can pitch a reputable publication or website—one that’s relevant to the client’s specific interests—with the hopes of landing interviews or media placements. Once the PR professional is able to successfully land an interview or place a client-written byline in a publication, then it’s up to the PR professional to also achieve the crucial end-goal of acquiring the link to the desired webpage within the media placement.

Obtaining a link back to a desired page can be challenging depending on the publication, but it is certainly possible in many instances. Oftentimes, the best way to gain a link is through commonsense approaches. For example, a PR professional can ask a publication to link back to a specific site as a means of attribution. Additionally, the link shouldn’t be overtly self-serving—it shouldn’t take a viewer to a landing page, for instance, that pushes them to purchase something. Instead, the link should feature valuable, useful and relevant content.

If the client is a college, for example, and a PR professional is able to arrange an interview with one of the college’s professors to appear in a publication, then the link placed on the interview page should take the viewer back to the program’s homepage, giving the viewer a chance to learn more about the institution and potentially sign up for more information. This type of link placement strategy is fairly effective: the client receives a form of attribution and a natural link, but the publication won’t feel that it’s promoting the institution in an obvious or attention-grabbing way. When it comes to placing links, it’s all about common sense: PR professionals should use their networking and communication skills to ensure that their clients are properly attributed within the specific content.

The Data

In our experience, using expert commentary and byline opportunities coupled with keyword-based search campaigns and SEO-optimized webpage content efforts has helped to generate impressive results for our clients. For instance, our expert commentary efforts in publications like the Huffington Post resulted in over 2,000 social shares and 10 backlinks for one client, and the University of Wisconsin saw program inquiries jump by 33 percent because of our use of SEO-optimized content efforts .

In short, PR professionals can use their tried-and-true PR tools to not only boost their clients’ brand, but also influence search engine rankings. As long as PR professionals are willing to remain flexible and adapt to the demands of the digital world, they will be able to leverage their valuable communication skills to generate their desired results.

joeJoseph Lapin M.F.A. is an author, creative director, and journalist, and his writing has been published in the Los Angeles Times, Narratively, Salon, Slate, and more. He is a former adjunct professor at Florida International University, and he has worked on PR campaigns for Ernst & Young, Brentwood Associates, and more.

SEO Top Trends of 2018

With 2017 coming to a close, we look to the Holiday Season and New Year for resolutions, ambitious goals and change, but what changes more than the world of SEO? Now is the time to look to 2018 for trends and techniques that may take us in new directions or simply reinforce best practices. That said, let’s take a peek into what the New Year and Google hold for SEO.

Voice Search and Digital Assistants

Welcome Siri, Alexa and Cortana. The market for AI-driven personal assistants and bots will almost double in 2018, reaching more than $12 billion by 2020. The rise of voice search calls for a whole new keyword research routine: the difference being that voice search keywords take the form of natural, conversational sentences instead of the odd-sounding query lingo that often comes with a learning curve.

Visual Search

Visual search is another growing area of SEO that combines technological innovation and UX. As the internet becoming more visually focused, so does the development of powerful correlating search engines. This new trend is driving companies like Google, Bing, and Pinterest to invest in new ways to better understand the way we visually consume content which means your 2018 SEO strategy should act likewise and optimize your visual content.

Why is Video Content Important?

I find video content to be the most exciting trend because not only is it where our future is heading, but it also provides a whole other approach to creating content. In fact, 82 percent of all consumer IP traffic will be video by the year 2021. Video is no longer limited to social platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram and commonly shows up in page one search results. In addition to making your content stand out from your competitors, why not take advantage of having multiple players in the search world fight over you.  

Mobile and User Experience

Google has set to make 2018 a focus on user experience. Now more than ever, it will be important for a site to deliver a seamless experience for its visitors and shouldn’t simply be confined to one’s experience on the home page. Instead, it should adapt the UX process to consider multiple website entry points. Doing so helps make a site better suited to organic search success. As we know, a good UX generally increases the chances of an individual interacting with the site and visiting various different pages. This, in turn, helps search engines discover which pages are favored and most useful.

If you weren’t on the mobile-friendly train a year ago, it’s time you start playing catch up. With over 6.1 billion smartphone users globally by 2020, it would be an understatement to say mobile-friendly sites are important. This will play a huge role in UX as phones and tablets are largely starting to replace computers and are projected to drive even more traffic to sites than they already do.

Be on the lookout for the new mobile-first index. This will play a new and vital role in ranking websites. While Google has not announced the date it rolls out, we know it is lurking on the horizon. Mobile user experience will play a key role in the way sites are ranked, so not having a mobile-friendly version could greatly hinder your SEO efforts.

How Fast is Your Site?

Three Seconds…That is the time frame in which Google is expecting pages to load. A high loading speed is fantastic all around, and not just for mobile-friendly sites. For example, if your site is fast, users are less likely to “bounce” and more eager to stick around and lurk deeper instead. In fact, a study by the Aberdeen Group found that “A 1-second delay in page load time equals 11% fewer page views, a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction, and 7% loss in conversions.”

Rise of SERP Features

SERP features are increasingly stealing searchers attention and, with that, clicks from organic listings. We all know that the struggle to gain a #1 organic ranking is real, so much so that it’s often smart to consider additional initiatives. This in mind, there’s no better time than 2018 to analyze opportunities that SERP features pose. If you’re looking to take advantage and boost traffic, consider utilizing these popular SERP features:

  • Knowledge Panels
  • Featured Snippets
  • Related Questions
  • Local Packs

Making necessary adjustments with these features may even increase your click-through rate by 30 percent. As search results continue to get more diverse, it’s important to take advantage of SERP features as an opportunity to stand out. In fact, you’d better get at it right now, before a competitor does.

Guest Blogging and Link Building

Inbound links have been and will continue to be the most powerful ranking factors as we move into 2018. However, greater caution should be taken in the way they are obtained. Earlier in the year, Google warned publishers who solely rely on guest posting as a method of building links. This is Google’s attempt to decrease the amount of spammy and questionable links and it would be wise to anticipate they will keep a watchful eye on guest contributions that provide little to no value moving forward.

No need to panic. This doesn’t mean guest blogging is coming to an end. As is best practice, you’ll just have to keep it within the limits of what’s allowed taking caution to not hurt your brand’s reputation. There is no need to obtain links if they don’t align or prove to be relevant within your target niche. Google appreciates the varied strategy of link building as opposed to picking a single method of gaining links and milking it.

2018 seems to hold a lot in store for the world of digital marketing. With change consistently on the SEO horizon, it’s important to consider these best practices and what we can do to not only evolve but stay at the forefront of the industry. While traditional SEO techniques aren’t going away anytime soon, it will be important to diversify your strategy for an optimized search.

 

Keilah headshot Keilah is a graduate of the University of Idaho. Working as a Jr. Digital Marketing Specialist with Circa Interactive, she has gained experience in SEO and higher education content marketing while cultivating her creative skills. Keilah strives to become a future influencer in the digital marketing world.

How to Build Backlinks to Infographics

In the online SEO world, there are a plethora of ways to build links and drive visitors to your resources. As many professionals already know, the two main ways to drive traffic to a site is through paid and organic search. Paid search involves using a marketing budget to boost online campaigns such as Facebook advertising and Google AdWord, whereas organic traffic is traffic that comes to your website as a result of unpaid search and is often achievable when appearing on the first page of Googles search results. As most of us already know, the number of links pointed to a particular domain has a direct correlation with search engine ranking results. So overtime, as resources and infographics gain more links, they will slowly rise to the top of the search engine results page for target keywords and drive the organic traffic you’re looking for.

 

Why are Infographics Used?

Many higher education institutions create infographics around breaking news stories or trending studies. They are then able to take a complex subject and turn it into an easy to understand visualization. When infographics are used as a link building strategy, especially in higher education, they can be leveraged to build links since they are educational, informative resources from high authority universities. As I mentioned in my last Higher Education Marketing Journal post, the reason infographics are preferred over other resources is because humans respond better to visual content and statistic show they are more likely to be shared.

Fast Fact: 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text.

 

Where do I Find Link Building Opportunities?

Now that you understand the underlying reasons as to why infographic resources are used, one of the first questions that may come to mind is “Where do I find a prospective audience who will link to this resource?”

Before you can start finding potential candidates for your infographic resource, you need to breakdown the infographic into topic specific sections. This will enable you to get a full understanding of what the infographic will discuss, and you’ll be able to identify specific niches and buzzwords which can be used to segment prospective bloggers.

After you’ve completed an in-depth analysis of the visual resource, you can start applying the three following tactics to begin your link building process.

  1. Backlink Analyses on Similar Graphics
  2. Capitalize on News Trends
  3. Identify Niche Experts

1) Backlink Analysis on Similar Graphics

Before you can build links, your first step should always be to find relevant contacts in your niche. The best way to do this is by running a backlink analysis to help you discover the sites that are linking to a specific domain.

In order to run backlink analysis, the first step is to find a list of infographics with similar titles or topics to the infographic you’re trying to link build to. For instance, the following infographic describes the leadership hierarchy in hospitals and healthcare.


leadership in hospitals
Using this as an example, you should run a Google search using the keyword phrase “healthcare leadership infographic” and then start browsing the top search results and images for similar infographic that have similar topics.

healthcare leadership

When you have found an infographic that is similar to yours, the next step is to take the specific infographic URL and put it into a backlink analysis tool such as Moz or Ahrefs. Once you place the URL in the backlink analyzer tool, you will be able find the sites that have linked to other health infographics.

backlinks
You now have a collection of sites that link to infographics within your niche. Next, you need to select the contacts and sites you want to get a link from. If a site has an extremely high domain authority (over 85), the publication will probably not post your infographic because it will not match their editorial guidelines. However, if the resource explains a trending subject in their industry it could still be worth attempting to gain a link from some highly authoritative sites. After you narrow down the most relevant link building candidates, you need to add them to your outreach list and send an email asking if they would be interested in your resource.

 

2) Capitalize on News Trends

The second link building tactic relies on finding publications that are discussing breaking news or trending stories within your specific niche. Since the news is always timely and constantly changing, you’ll be able find a number of news pegs that relate to your infographic. The main objective of this strategy is to tie in your infographic as an additional resource to what is happening in the news. This is a way to give reporters and bloggers a way to back up their initial stories. As an example, let’s say that you have an infographic that discusses the impact of climate change. You simply search for climate change in Google News and filter through the search results to find publications that are speaking about the latest developments on this subject. Check out this screenshot to get a better understanding of what you will be looking at.

climate change search

As you can see, climate change is being discussed on a consistent basis. These are only the first three results and they could all be added to your outreach list. Now let’s take this a step further. In order to improve the chances of gaining a link, you would want to click-through each article and find the exact author who wrote on the subject. Once the author is identified, you’ll be able to angle a pitch that speaks directly to the writer’s interest, giving you higher chance of landing a link. Always remember that the news will change, but with enough creativity you can get your resources tie in with the trending stories.

 

3) Identify Niche Experts

With over 2 million blog post being written each day, there are limitless link building opportunities available. Think about that for a second. This means over 1,389 articles are being published each minute. Now all you have to do is find the right people to reach out to, and luckily enough, the Internet has made it possible to contact numerous experts in fields ranging from artificial intelligence, labor outlook, health trends, and everything in between. The best way to find these experts is by searching keywords through social media platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. For this example, let’s use the climate change topic again. A great tool to use to assist you with finding these experts is the Twitter Advanced Search Feature. Once you reach advanced search page, always add your collection of keywords in the first line of the search bar and change the date parameters to only focus on the past year.

twitter advanced search
Once you run this search, you’ll be able to filter through the top post, accounts, photos, videos and more, but in order to narrow down to the field experts you’ll want to segment by accounts. Here are the results that were produced from the above search.

climate change twitter
Each of these accounts are either niche publications or experts focused on developments happening in climate change and global warming. Now that you have a collection of climate change individuals at the tip of your finger, the next step is to scrape the entire Twitter search results and add them to your outreach list.

After using these three link building strategies, you will have compiled a list of highly targeted individuals that have built links to infographics before. To finish this process, the final step is to divide up the publications and experts into niche subsegments so you are able to create a personalized outreach pitch that will intrigue each expert.

I hope you are able to build awareness around your infographic resources, gain an abundance of backlinks, rise up in Google rankings and drive organic traffic! Now it is up to you to create your outreaches and email your list of prospective link builders. Happy link building!

 

andersonidea

Austin Anderson is a forward-thinking, motivated marketing specialist. Before Circa, Austin ran an e-commerce business and managed online marketing for startups in San Diego. Austin strives to be a future influencer in the world of digital marketing. Connect with Austin on LinkedIn and Twitter @andersonidea.

Why Guest Blogging is an Essential Part of the Online Higher Education Marketing Mix

Search engine optimization (SEO) and Internet marketing are rapidly growing as businesses continue to understand and strive for a profound online presence. Universities and colleges across the United States are developing their web presence in order to cater to those who wish to complete degrees online as opposed to on campus.

For these universities to efficiently market online, they must design their websites to fit the standards of leading search engines. Search engines, such as Google, have tremendous power in regards to the amount of traffic a webpage receives. This is due to the behavior of the public online, who almost exclusively type keywords in a search engine to find what they are looking for.

Because of the general reliance on search engines, Internet marketers must comply with a continually changing set of standards in order for a webpage to be easily visible in the search results. Search engines catch on to ‘black hat’ techniques and work to alter their set of standards, or algorithm, in order for search engine users to receive the most relevant and trustworthy search results.

Internet marketers work to design or tweak websites to represent the designated keywords their target audience types into a search engine. They also must build the strength of the targeted website in order for it to outrank competitors. One way to do so is through guest blogging.

 

What is Guest Blogging?

Guest blogging is simply the act of an individual creating and publishing a blog post on a website or blog that they do not own. People guest blog for a variety of reasons, one strong motivation being the one or more backlinks they generally receive from the posting.

While some guest bloggers just have a desire to write, reaping no tangible benefits, many guest bloggers generate articles/posts in order to increase traffic or build the strength of their personal websites. These guest bloggers are required to create original, high quality articles, which will benefit the readers of the blog they are writing for.

 

The Value of Guest Blogging for Link Building

Search engines consider a number of algorithmic factors when ranking websites. A strong factor in ranking is how ‘popular’ a website is, meaning how many other websites are linking to (talking about) the particular website.

Lets consider ‘website X.’ Websites cannot just claim that they are popular and should be ranked highly; they must prove this by having other websites link to theirs. One way to attain these desired links is through guest blogging, which search engines generally see as a genuine link (depending on the caliber of the website the link comes from).

The goal for the marketers of ‘website X’ is to have guest blogs published on relevant, high quality websites with backlinks pointed to ‘website X.’ By doing so, they demonstrate to search engines that they are being talked about (linked to) by other relevant, high-quality websites in their niche.  As a result, Google will increase the strength of ‘website X’’ and positively influence their SERP rankings, increase traffic, and increase lead flow.

 

Cracking Down on Guest Blogging

Search engines are well aware of Internet marketing trends, and as they have in the past, continue to crack down on unsavory marketing techniques. Some marketers are creating very low quality guest blogs or even copying previous content in order to link to a desired website in a large-scale, low cost way.

In order to combat this, search engines are penalizing duplicate content, as well as cracking down on low quality websites that are producing large numbers of poorly written guest posts. Search engines want the most credible and honest results for their users and continue to work to attain such results.

In regards to online degree programs, if Google cracks down on a specific degree program for questionable link building, the ranking of the website will be seriously tarnished. This could result in many lost leads, therefore losing the university a large sum of money.

Because of the importance of high quality guest blog websites, marketers need to be aware of and check a variety of factors before posting on a site. One tactic would be to simply check if the website ranks on Google, to make sure it hasn’t been penalized at some point. Another factor is the quality of previous postings and the amount of blatant marketing visible on the website.

 

Guest Blogging and Online Higher Education

As with all businesses looking to generate customers through online marketing, universities and colleges can attain a sharp increase in new leads through a strong online presence. For this to happen, they must rank highly in search engine results and design their websites to be information rich and user friendly. To increase rankings, these universities pushing online programs should strive to acquire backlinks through strong websites by offering well written and engaging guest posts.

Tips for Researching Guest Blog Targets

  • Use search engines to search for guest blogging opportunities in your niche
  • When using search engines you may want to take advantage of the advanced search features found here
  • Once a blog is located, review the site in detail and locate previous guest postings to analyze their quality
  • Only reach out to guest blogs that are relevant to your niche and already contain high quality guest blogs

 

Good luck with future guest blogging and link building endeavors!