Tag Archives: Search Engine Marketing

After content marketing, definitely focus on networking

I was just reading this blog post on how Facebook threatened to shut down a business due to a simple misunderstanding. I don’t have complete information on the issue and I don’t even know whether the threat from Facebook was justified or not. Basing one’s business on a particular entity is like walking on a shaky ground that can give in any day, any time.

Depending on search engines is like depending on rains

Just think how many businesses were destroyed when Google suddenly decided to change its ranking algorithm. Websites, blogs and webpages that used to come on the first page for certain search terms were suddenly, within a few minutes, were relegated to as far away as 35th page. The problem is not with Google (to an extent it is, but that’s another subject), the problem is with businesses that solely depend on Google.

Search engines are important, no denying that, but they are not the only means of getting traffic to your website or blog. There are many instances when Google blocked particular websites but they still attracted lots of traffic simply because of the goodwill and networking they had established prior to being blocked.

I’m not saying that you totally ignore the search engines because millions of people use search engines to find what they are looking for and it can be highly profitable if they can find you easily. So do invest a considerable amount of time improving your search engine rankings not just for Google, but for every contemporary search engines. But don’t just stop there.

Things you can do to reduce your dependence on search engines

Please keep in mind that the steps listed below are not something that you can achieve in a few days or even in a few weeks. Formulate a strategy for at least a year. The key is not how much you do, it is how persistently you do. You can assign different tasks to different days of the week and then stick to that routine. Once you have formulated a routine, don’t think much unless “thinking” is really crucial to what you intend to achieve. Excessive thinking leads to procrastination and indecision. Just keep on working.

  • Spread your presence evenly. Routinely write for other websites and blogs. This is not just good for your search engine rankings it will also boost your direct traffic and help you come in touch with more and more people.
  • Build your mailing list. This is something I have been planning to do for a very long time but haven’t gotten to it. This is VERY important. A major source of your business can come from your mailing list. A mailing list is not just useful for learning email marketing campaigns; it also helps you keep in touch with your prospective clients.
  • Interact on other online forums. Join related forums. Leave comments on blogs. Participate in discussions on places like Quora.
  • Be more active on social media. This doesn’t require much explanation. Be regular on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn – basically wherever your target audience spends its social media time.
  • Keep in touch with your clients. Whether you’re working with them right now or not, always keep the channel of communication flowing. If they have previously worked with you and if they were happy with your work, sooner or later they are going to require more work. There are many businesses who generate almost 40% of their revenue off their existing clients and customers.

Why you can’t ignore content marketing as an SEO expert

SEO and content marketing

The title of this blog post comes with a touch of irony. I address you as an SEO expert and then I try to explain why you cannot ignore content marketing. But it is not a complete irony – I still come across well-meaning SEO professionals who think that content is important, but it is optional and good search engine rankings don’t necessarily depend on good content. So this blog post is for them.

You may also like to read Why SEO companies are putting more stress on content writing?.

What exactly is SEO? Is it merely getting good search engine rankings? I remember once a client came to my office and requested me to set his website as my homepage so that every time I loaded my browser, it would increase his visitors count. I asked him what he was trying to achieve by that, and he said, it would instill confidence in his other visitors. When I asked him what effect a higher visitor count had made to his business, he flatly said, “None.” SEO hadn’t become a buzzword back then and nobody on this planet had heard of social media.

Why your SEO needs a healthy dose of content marketing?

I’m not an SEO expert but over the past 12 years that I have spent eking out a living on the Internet I have found out that there are 4 things that decide your search engine rankings

  • The quality of your content
  • General well-being of your website
  • The quality of your incoming links
  • The level of competition you face

The recent addition, the fifth thing that has an impact on your search engine rankings, is your author rank – how much social relevance your name enjoys on the Internet.

The relation between content marketing and SEO

What are people doing when they are using the search engines? They are looking for content in the form of information or entertainment. They seek information to keep them aware, to educate themselves, for researching, to find product or service they need, and to make good buying decisions.

Suppose you get good rankings for “garden sprinkling system” but when people come to your website they cannot make out what you are trying to do. The content is not convincing. Or it is full of errors. Maybe you haven’t highlighed the greatest benefits of the sprinkling system. Are you merely providing information or you want people to buy from you? And if they should buy from you then why? Just because you have got good search engine rankings or your sprinkling system is actually better than the others? People don’t do business because of your search engine rankings; they buy from you when your written content, your copywriting, is able to engage them and convince them.

This is just one aspect of content marketing. Once you have written credible and convincing content you also need to make it accessible to as many prospective visitors as possible.

The relationship between content marketing and quality incoming links

The days of paid links are gone, or going. Google heavily penalizes websites that aggregate incoming links by either paying for them or through link-exchange schemes. People should link to you for the value you provide, in terms of content or branding. Two legitimate ways of getting quality and reliable incoming links are:

  • Website owners, authors and bloggers voluntarily linking to you
  • You write for other websites and blogs and your link appears in the small bio or profile on the same link as credit

In both the cases you need high-quality content. If people voluntarily link to you then they must find something worth linking to. If you write for other blogs and websites then too, they won’t publish your blog posts and articles unless they are of a certain standard.

So you can see, whether you are focusing on onsite or off-site SEO, ultimately it’s the combination of the quality of your content and a well-coordinated content marketing strategy that decides what sort of search engine rankings you are going to experience.

How Not To Depend Much On Search Engines

Traffic without search engines

95% of my writing business depends on search engine traffic. This is a dangerous situation. What if something happens – some change in the ranking algorithms, something that is not liked at my website – and my listings vanish from the search engine result pages? Does this mean I should pack my bags? Although I can start all over again and try to get back into the search engine results but this is a very shaky situation and I am sure many of you too are faced with the same dilemma. What is the best way to deal with such a situation?

Let us accept that the search engines are very powerful promotional tools and they should never be excluded from your Internet marketing effort, but they should never be the sole suppliers of your traffic. With millions of websites scattered all over the Internet it is not too ambitious to try to get some traffic from these websites directly. I will again emphasize that you can get the best traffic from search engines because when people come from search engines they are already looking for a specific search term and this may not happen if they are coming directly from a website. But then the advantage of getting traffic from a website is that a person clicks on your link fully knowing where he or she is heading to. So how can you generate traffic outside of the search engines? Here are a few thoughts; you are welcome to add yours.

Publish a blog

Regularly publishing a blog is the best way of driving high-quality traffic to your website without having to depend on search engines. Although blogs get tons of traffic from search engines due to the way they are published, a lot of traffic also comes from other websites and blogs and this is an advantage not enjoyed by conventional websites. People are constantly linking to blog posts, commenting about them, commenting on them and recommending them to their readers and friends. There are even many social bookmarking websites just to promote blog content among various readers and blog publishers. In few instances some bloggers have been blocked by the search engines (that is, their links didn’t show up on the search result pages) for violating various rules but the blockage didn’t affect them much although they did notice it and wrote about it. The mere act of writing about the blockage got them hundreds of thousands of hits from other blogs and websites. They couldn’t have generated such massive traffic merely from search engines. Once your blog has crossed the popularity threshold you don’t have to worry much about search engine traffic.

Have quality content on your website or blog

Interesting content draws crowds to your blog or website. People not only read the content they also like to link to it whenever possible, and if they are really impressed they put a permanent link to your blog on their blog or website. Quality content also enhances your credibility and people begin to trust you for your opinion. You get tons of repeat traffic. Great content also encourages your visitors to subscribe to your RSS feeds and this also helps you increase and maintain your readership – this readership doesn’t have to depend on search engines to find your blog and consume your content and consequently, generate business for you.

Be active on social media websites, online forums and blogs

We live in a conversation economy; lots of business is generated by encouraging conversation between buyers and sellers. But this is just one small aspect of social media marketing. What you are actually doing is establishing long-lasting relationships with different individuals. You don’t necessarily have to do it for a selfish reason because being social means giving more than taking. Be useful to people and people will be useful to you. Be an interesting person, be a resourceful person and people won’t take you as a business bug. Try to interact with people through Twitter, FaceBook, Tumblr, Digg, StumbleUpon, etc. Often it is not possible to track conversations on all social media websites so just focus on a couple or even a single website but do it thoroughly and establish yourself there as an authority. Network with as many people as possible.

Similarly, constructively interact on various online forums because you can get lots of quality traffic from these forums. Don’t spam and don’t leave meaningless comments just to leave your links because this doesn’t work; people don’t click your link if they don’t like what you have written. You should also leave comments on other blogs to let people know about the existence of your blog or website. But make sure that you add value to the ongoing discussion and this means read the content present on the blog or website carefully, think about it, and only then add your opinion.

Distribute your content to blogs and websites

There are many blogs that would eagerly accept your guest posts provided you have written something really worth reading and captivating. When these bloggers publish your blog post, what is known as guest blog post, they often put a small profile of yours under the post or over it with the link connecting to your blog or website.

Similarly you can submit succinct, useful articles to various websites and article submission websites. These article submission websites draw lots of traffic from search engines; this way you can get indirect traffic from search engines in case your own website or blog vanishes from there.

Include your link in your e-mail signature

This might not look like much but you never know where your e-mail may end up and who might click on the link you have included in your signature. And anyway having a link is a lot better than not having it. This can be really effective if you send out lots of e-mails on a regular basis.

Publish a newsletter

In terms of the Internet this is one of the oldest surviving modes of communicating with your visitors. When they visit your website encourage investors to subscribe to your newsletter so that they can receive regular updates from you. Although this can be same as subscribing to your RSS feeds but your newsletter is a bit different – people don’t need an RSS reader first of all to read your updates, and second, it will be difficult for you to publish everything on your blog; sometimes you need to communicate only through e-mail. Publishing a newsletter is one of the greatest ways of getting tons of highly targeted traffic to your website without having to depend on search engines.

Do share on this blog if you are aware of more methods of generating targeted traffic to your website or blog without search engines.

Moving away from SEO

How important is SEO to SEM today? Is SEO losing the edge? Are small businesses finally breaking free from the power of SEO and getting recognition still? Are we moving away from the obsession with SEO? Some intriguingly different questions indeed!

SEM rules still

The number of online customers making their purchases is continually on the rise. One click opens the virtual store and shows a range of products and services and all the information needed and another click clinches the deal most satisfying mutually. Today internet marketing is very much in; SEM rules the roost.

Importance of SEO

Until now, SEM blended the free SEO and the PPC to increase the exposure of any website. Search engine marketing campaigns all focussed on search engine optimization with keywords or increasing the pay per click – again on a key-word related ad. And SEO was the favourite all round. SERPs, Meta tags, keywords, keyword-rich contents, SEO keywords and keyword research – these words seem to be resonating in the web writing world. The first advice to any freelance writer is still ‘learn all about SEO.’

A Change is on the way?

Maybe it looks like things are changing, albeit slowly, but steadily. No, no, the SEM is here to stay and keywords and keyword-rich contents are all still the way to go. But maybe a day will come when search engine ranking or search engine optimization will not be the ruling factors to define the success of a website. Google has developed systems which are not SERP controlled and which are giving more attention to small businesses with far better analytics. Now the trend is moving beyond just the search engines and the search is on to find and nurture customers on social media – on networks like Facebook and Twitter.

Importance of Social Networks

Today, social media is gaining more importance and relevance in the search world. Search engines are incorporating media status updates into their search results – kind of a mixture of search and social media! So Digg, Delicious, Facebook and Twitter – where people like to belong to, are gaining importance and status updates on these sites influence the ratings. Already Google and Bing ratings are linked with social media site postings.

How to attract Social Users?

Quality content! Quality content is the only way to go. Make the content attractive enough and there will be enough flies to flock to the honey! Content that gives answers to their search, content that provides solutions, content that pen-pictures the product and content that will stir the consumer’s interest will make the visitor come away satisfied and eager to go back to and recommend to friends. Original and quality content will increase conversion.

Google’s definition of need for quality content is illuminating – “Delivering high quality, informative and well constructed content is what differentiates you from your competition and defines your web presence.”

Adding fresh content will keep the visitors come a visiting to the site. RSS feeds and even videos can be used to keep the content up-to-date. But unique and web-product relevant content should dominate the site. Quality and high-value content will be the major force to sell the products.

Will SEO be one day really obsolete?

Definitely not! Already the algorithms are changing. Blog-driven links and social-media tagging are taken due notice by the search engines. Google is also implementing personalization. Actually a highly efficient SEO never just is counting keywords or their placement. It recognizes the value of good and quality content. Compelling to read and easy-to-find content will truly be the king and SEO will revel in it.

SEO guidelines for content writers

SEO guidelines for content writers

You can find thousands of content writers on the Internet vying for your business and some of them are actually brilliant. But your business website, or even your blog, doesn’t just need a content writer, it needs a content writer that can take care of your SEO needs. What am I talking about?

The performance of your content writer can be gauged from the following two indicators:

  • How much search engine traffic your content attracts
  • How much of that traffic actually converts

Successful content writers know how to draw a balance between both the requirements. Your website needs targeted traffic from all over the web in general, and search engines in particular. After that, it isn’t just search engine traffic that does the job, you also need business, you need paying customers and clients. When I say content writers, I mean people who totally understand the need of a business to convert traffic into customers and clients.

Add SEO abilities and you have the killer combination. So here are a few SEO guidelines for content writers that may help you as a content writer, and as also as a business owner looking for an SEO-proficient content writer.

  1. Write for the target audience
  2. Use the language your target audience uses on day-to-day basis as well as on search engines
  3. Avoid using more than two keywords for a webpage, an article or a blog post
  4. Stick to the main topic and try to remain as vertical as possible
  5. Be original; search engines like Google dislike duplicate content
  6. Use the primary keyword in the title
  7. Write for your audience first, make sure your content is convincing and would convert well, and only then think about SEO
  8. Use your primary as well as longtail keyword in the description
  9. Write in a conversational style
  10. Use appropriate images whenever possible because this can get you extra traffic from image searches as well as social networking websites like Pinterest
  11. Solve a problem, or provide a solution
  12. Use primary keywords and longtail keywords within headline tags (for instance, <h1>, <h2>, etc.)

While preparing content for these SEO guidelines for content writers I discovered that lots of points that I have mentioned above already exist, or rather, appear in regurgitated form on other websites. Since the language is almost similar it shows that most of these writers don’t actually understand what it takes to create SEO-friendly content that also converts well, and they have simply taken the content off other websites and blogs. Some have even copied the bulleted lists straightaway. Well, this is the first sign that shows that where you stand.

Why SEO guidelines for content writers

Every good, experienced content writer by default is also a good SEO content writer. Amidst daily professional and personal grinds we forget these points so it is always better to keep revising them on a regular basis so that they get embedded into our subconscious. For instance, creating a title that contains the primary keyword should be done as a usability benefit even if you are not specifically writing for SEO. Similarly, highlighting important point with the help of the main keywords helps your readers quickly understand the gist of your webpage or the blog post.