Tag Archive | "Principles"

10 principles of digital accessibility for modern marketers

Developers and designers can help differently abled users navigate websites by using CSS to control visual page elements. Here are other ways accessible websites are built.



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How to use psychological principles to improve ad copy

Columnist Jason Puckett explains how you can apply knowledge about human behavior to improve ad copy and increase click-through rate.

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On-Page SEO in 2016: The 8 Principles for Success – Whiteboard Friday

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On-page SEO is no longer a simple matter of checking things off a list. There’s more complexity to this process in 2016 than ever before, and the idea of “optimization” both includes and builds upon traditional page elements. In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand explores the eight principles you’ll need for on-page SEO success going forward.

On-Page SEO in 2016: The 8 Principles for Success

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Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to chat about on-page SEO, keyword targeting but beyond keyword targeting into all the realms of the things that we need to optimize on an individual URL in order to have the best chance of success in the search engines in 2016.

So what does that involve? Well look, we could spend a tremendous amount of time on any one of these, but I’m going to share eight principles that are behind all of the tactical work that you would put into optimizing that page for that keyword term, phrase, or set of phrases. Most likely, in 2016, it is a set of phrases that you’re targeting rather than just a single keyword term.

Piece of the whiteboard: illustration of a SERPs page

1. Fulfill the searcher’s goal and satisfy their intent

What we are trying to do is fulfill the searcher’s goal and satisfy their intent. So there’s an intent behind every search query. I’m seeking some information. I’m seeking to accomplish a task. Oftentimes, that initial intent is different from the final goal that someone might have.

I’ll give you an example. When someone searches for types of wedding formal wear, we might infer from that query that, right now, their specific intent behind this search is they want to see different kinds of potential formalwear that they could wear to a wedding, maybe as a guest or as a bride or a groom. But their ultimate goal is probably going to be to decide on one of those specific things and then potentially purchase that item or take something from their wardrobe and add it in there.

But this means that we need to try and serve both intents. It’s actually going to be really tough if we’re an ecommerce player to say, “Hey, you know what, I want a rank for types of wedding formal wear, and I want to rank for it with a page that tells people to buy this particular tuxedo.”

That’s tough for a bunch of reasons. You don’t know whether that formalwear is going to be necessarily black tie in the United States, which is tuxedo. You don’t know whether that person is a male or a female when they’re performing the search. A woman, well, they might buy a tuxedo but probably not, at least statistically speaking, they’re probably not going to. They’re probably going to buy a dress. You might have much more success with a piece of content like 20 suits and tuxes men look great in at a wedding. Especially if I’m targeting men or if this is types of men’s wedding formalwear, that’s probably going to be the piece of content that has a great chance of serving the searcher’s intent and fulfilling their goals, especially if we then take that content and link off to the places where you can buy or accessorize all those different pieces. So we’re trying to do both of these items in number one.

Piece of the whiteboard: A negatively-trending graph with User Satisfaction on the Y axis and Page Load Time on the X axis.

2. Speed, speed, & more speed

This is very simplistic, but the idea is really easy here. We know that user satisfaction is a signal that Google interprets in some ways directly and in many, many ways indirectly. We also know that abandonment rates are very high, even higher on mobile for longer-loading pages. We know that pages that have fast load times earn more links and amplification. We know that pages that earn more links earn more engagement on them. We know that all of these things including speed itself is positively correlated with rankings, and we know that Google has made page load speed a small, albeit small, but a ranking signal inside their algorithm directly. So critically important.

Piece of the whiteboard: an illustration of a SERP with questions about why it's ranking or not.

3. Create trust & engagement through UI, UX, and branding

Related to number two is number three, which is creating trust and engagement through UI, UX, and branding. Speed is certainly a big part of the user experience. This is also critical because these two both touch on being mobile friendly, having that multi-device friendliness so that it’s capable on any device. UI, UX, and branding though go into some different areas. So if I have my website, I’m really looking for a few different aspects of it from the SEO point of view.

This is frustrating because it touches on a lot of things that historically have been outside the control of search engine optimization professionals. Thankfully, as SEO becomes more multidisciplinary inside a marketing team, hopefully we have more ability to influence these things, stuff like:

  • Have people actually heard of your domain?
  • Do they know you, like you, and trust you?
  • Do you have UI and visual elements that make them perceive you as being trustworthy, even if this is the first time they’ve ever heard of you? That can be things like the images on the page. It can be the navigation. It can be the color scheme. It can be the UI library that you might be using or how you’ve done the visual layout of things. All of those pieces go into that “Do you look trustworthy?” That’s certainly a consideration that a lot of folks have when they’re looking at searches.
  • Are you intuitive to access? I mean intuitive both from a navigation standpoint and from the consumption of the content on the page as well.
  • Hopefully, you have some external validation signals to indicate that the content you have and the brand that you are is trustworthy. Those can be things like testimonials. They can also mean things like references or citations for the data or information that you’re providing or links out, all that kind of stuff.

Piece of the whiteboard: an illustration of a SERPs page with a sentence describing pogo sticking.

4. Avoid elements that dissuade visitors

You want to avoid elements that distract searchers or dissuade them from visiting you either at this time or in the future. The most common ones of these that we like to talk about a lot are ones that interfere with the content consumption experience. That’s things like overlays. “Do you want to stay married? If so, download our guide.” Then you have to say, “Yes, of course I want to stay married,” or “No, I’m a terrible person and I will not click on your popup,” and then another popup will come up.

Those types of overlays obviously have negative impacts, and you can see them in your user and usage data, your engagement data. You can determine how much of a sacrifice you’re willing to make in exchange for, “Well, we did get some email addresses out of this, or we got some conversion rate and so we’re willing to make that sacrifice,” versus “No, we’re not willing to make these sacrifices.” You have to choose what types of engagement-dissuading apparatuses you’re willing to put on your site.

But be aware, pogo sticking is a ranking signal. It’s something that they judge indirectly for sure and directly potentially as well. Pogo sticking meaning a searcher clicked on your listing in the results, they went to your site, and then they clicked the “Back” button and chose someone else from the results. Google interprets that and Bing interprets that very poorly for you.

A list of on-page elements described in detail in section 5.

5. Keyword targeting

Keyword targeting, classic on-page ranking signal, still true today. I know that many of us still see or are starting to see a lot more entrants into the search results that don’t do very particular keyword targeting, at least don’t do it the way we’ve historically perceived it, where it’s very keyword-driven. But it’s still incredibly smart to do this if and when you can. You just need to balance it out with all these other aspects.

Title element

Places that I would start. In fact, this is basically in order of importance. Title element, I would place the keyword term or phrase, the most important term or phrase that you’re targeting in the title element in the headline of the page. That can be the H1 tag, but it doesn’t need to be it. It could be just the bold, big headline at the top. That should match the page title generally speaking or be very close, because what you don’t want is you don’t want a searcher who clicked on one title element and then landed on a page that had a different headline and they perceived that mismatch, and so they clicked the “Back” button. That’s dangerous.

Page content, external anchor links, alt attributes, and URL

You want it obviously in the page content. If you can, when you can control it, you want it in external anchor links to the page. So if, for example, I have my home page about weddings and I am interviewed for something, I might put in my bio something about the wedding styles website that I own and control, and I would link back to that in that external anchor text. I want it potentially in the alt attribute of any images or photos or visuals that I’ve got on the page. I want it in the URL. Again, if I can control it and the URL is less important, so we’re going in decreasing order of importance here.

Image file name

I want it in the image name. Especially if I’m trying to rank in Google image search, image name, the file name of the actual image does matter and is important.

Internal links

Finally, I want it in internal links to the degree that it’s intelligent and balanced and doesn’t look spammy.

Do all these items, you’ve got your keyword targeting down. But this is not like the past, where just nailing keyword targeting is going to take my rankings to where they need to be. I’ve got to do all these other seven things too, including number six, related topics targeting.

An illustration of related topics targeting on a SERP.

6. Related topics targeting

So related topics is basically this concept that Google has a huge graph of lexical combinations and semantic analysis. They can essentially say, “Hey, when we see wedding formalwear, we often also see these terms and phrases, terms like tuxedo, tux, wedding dress, bowtie, vest.” In the United Kingdom, almost certainly we would see waistcoat, which is what we call a vest here in the United States, or a wedding suit, which is what is traditionally worn in weddings in the U.K. versus a tuxedo here in the United States.

Now, given that Google sees these terms and phrases very commonly associated with this one, they’ve essentially started to build up this graph between these, and so these topics they would say are very important to this search term. If someone’s looking for wedding formalwear, it’s unusual for them to find a page that has high relevance for users that doesn’t also include these types of words and phrases.

Therefore, as a search marketer, as a content creator, we need to think about: What are those terms and phrases that are related here, and how do I make sure to include them in my content? If I don’t, my ranking opportunity may decrease compared to my competitors who’ve intelligently used those terms and phrases.

A piece of the whiteboard: check boxes next to all the on-page elements necessary.

7. Snippet optimization

With a page, we’re not just trying to drive the ranking. We’re also trying to drive the click. So ranking number four and earning a 6% click-through rate, that might not be great, especially if the average is more like 11%. Then we’re earning half the average for our ranking position. That seems a little funny. Those percentages are not precise, but you get the idea.

We want to have the best-optimized snippet that we possibly can in the SERP. So you can see here I’ve got this, “what to wear to a formal wedding,” “a guide from randsfashion.com” and it’s mobile-friendly. It’s published on May 10, 2016. Then it has this nice meta description, the snippet there. This is essentially my advertisement to searchers saying, “Please click on my link. I want your click.”

On-page elements

Bunch of elements that go into this: the title, obviously, the meta description. The URL format, this randsfashion.com, very simple on home pages, gets much more complex when we have pages that are internal because Google starts to assign categories if you have messy URL parameters or inconsistent categories, tagging systems that can get nasty.

Publication date

Publication date matters quite a bit, especially for searches that have a fresh component. So if people are searching for types of wedding formalwear, well, you might not need to worry too much. But what if lots of people who search for this search for types of wedding formalwear 2016? Well, now you really need that fresh publication date. In fact, if Google sees lots of people search for that, they might actually take it as an intent signal that types of wedding formalwear alone deserves that date in there and that they should be ranking fresher content higher up because lots of people are looking for more recent, modern stuff.

Use of schema

Whenever there’s an opportunity, for example, if you’re in the recipe space, there are schema markups specifically for recipes. If you’re in the news space, there are opportunities for news. If you do video, Google doesn’t really obey it very much, except with YouTube, but there are video opportunities for schema markup. There are all sorts of other kinds depending on what you’re in, certainly local and maps and a bunch of other ones.

Domain name

That is something to consider. In fact, when you’re registering a domain name and building out a site, you should be thinking about how people want to click on it, the brandability, the snippet optimization, all that.

Content format

Content format is particularly important because Google, especially when there’s a more question-based search query, they’ve started showing those longer meta descriptions. So if you can encapsulate what you know is essentially the critical piece of content that answers the user’s question, chances are you might be able to get that larger space, vertical space in the SERP, and that might mean that you can draw more clicks in as well.

This works really well with lists. It works nicely with forums and discussions, threads. It works nicely with elements where you have a bunch of specific how-to, step-by-step process, those types of things. Same story with instant answer possibilities that you want to appear at the top of that Google SERP with an instant answer if you can. We know that that actually doesn’t take away click-through rate. It actually drives more of it. In fact, the real estate there means that you often get more clicks than organic position one, which is pretty great. Of course, all the different kinds of SERP feature opportunities like we talked about — images, maps, local, news, what have you.

Piece of the whiteboard: A positively trending graph with quality of content on the Y axis and difficulty of ranking on the X axis.

8. Unique value + amplification

This is the final piece of things that we’re thinking about as we do on-page optimization in 2016. That is I need to be thinking about: What bar do I need to reach in order to have a chance to rank, rank well, and rank consistently?

This is tough. So if the difficulty of ranking is very easy, the bar that I need to cross is probably somewhere between classic, good, unique content, like this content is good, it’s unique, and it exists. That’s all it needs. That’s a very, very low bar. Even for easy rankings, I would not suggest making that your bar.

I’d put it somewhere between there and twice as good as anyone else in the competition, but essentially targeting the same types of things. You’re doing the same kind of content. You just feel like you’re better than anything else in the top 10. That might be a reasonable enough bar for an easy ranking.

If it gets moderate, if it gets tough, I need to go up to uniquely valuable. Uniquely valuable, by that, we’ve had a whole Whiteboard Friday on it, which we can refer to, but uniquely valuable being this idea that I provide a value that no one else in the search results provides. So it’s not simply that I’m doing a better job. I’m also doing a unique job of providing information or data or visuals, whatever it is that is more and different value than anybody else.

Then finally, what we’ve called 10x content. If you have an insane difficulty of ranking, that might be the minimum bar that you need to hit, and we’ll link over the 10x video as well.

Basically, the questions that I’m asking when I’m talking about providing unique value and being worthy of amplification, which is something that our content needs to consider too, is: What makes this better than what already ranks? Do you have a great answer to that question? If you don’t, you should probably get one before you try targeting those keywords and producing that content.

Why will this be difficult or impossible for others to replicate? What’s the barrier to entry that your content provides, that all the other content providers can’t just look and go, “Oh, well I see that Rand’s done a very nice job ranking there. I’ll just take that and do it. That should be easy.” You need a barrier to entry. What value does this page provide that no other page in the SERPs provides? That goes to our unique value question.

The last one, who. Who will help amplify this piece of content and why? If you don’t have a great answer to who and why, it’s going to be incredibly difficult to get that amplification. If you can’t get the amplification, it’s going to be really, really hard to rank, because as much as on-page optimization does matte — and all of these eight principles matter for rankings — SEO in 2016 is not merely about on-page but about off-page as well, just as it’s been the last decade, 15 years. So, as we’re creating content, we need to think about that amplification process too.

All right everyone, look forward to your thoughts, and we’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

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Want to Hook Your Readers? Apply These 10 Principles to Create Captivating News Stories

group of reporters with cameras and microphones eager to interview a source

Writing well-structured articles that inform, educate, and entertain is not as easy as it looks.

There are billions of webpages out there that contain poorly written, unimaginative, boring content.

But those aren’t the descriptions you want associated with the media you produce, right?

As all content marketers who want to grow their digital media platforms know, audiences reward websites that offer special resources, whether they’re up-to-date blogs, in-depth ebooks, smart podcasts, or evergreen whitepapers.

There is, of course, a definite knack to writing well, especially about a newsy topic. And the print industry is particularly adept at understanding how to tell this kind of story.

Journalists are trained to write content that will hook readers from the first sentence and make them want to read on.

These journalistic principles can be adopted by content marketers to help engage their audiences.

Below are ten rules for writing a captivating story on a hot topic, whether in print or online:

  1. Begin with the most important facts first. The intro to every article needs to grab the reader’s attention instantly and summarize the story with around 25 to 30 words.
  2. Make your text thorough but succinct. The first few sentences need to include “who, what, where, when, why, and how.” Remember most people will not read more than 250 words before they start to skim. You should try to give them all the information they need as quickly as possible.
  3. Use the active tense. It is faster and uses fewer words. For example, “Argentina was beaten by Germany in last night’s World Cup final …” takes longer to read than “Germany beat Argentina …”
  4. Communicate what’s new or different. Why would the reader care about what you have to say? Why is it relevant to them? Is there a trend happening in pop culture or the world that you can incorporate? What are people talking about right now, and how does this tie in with what you do?
  5. Focus on human interest. While people may be interested in the latest political polls, a new cancer treatment, a food or product recall, or what the weather will be like tomorrow, if you can put a human face to the story, you will create an emotional connection that will draw readers in and keep them engaged.
  6. Avoid jargon. Every industry has its own language, including journalism. For example, do you know what a byline is? (The name of the author included in a box at the beginning or end of a story.) How about a NIB? (News in brief: short snippets of news, which run down the outer edge of a newspaper page.) Or a splash? (The lead story.) Think about the language you use — keep it clear, concise, and to the point.
  7. Write acronyms out in full in the first reference. Consider the following acronyms: ROI, ASBO, PCT, SATs, and FTSE. What do they stand for? Answers, respectively: Return on investment, Anti-social behavior order, Primary care trust, Standard Assessment Tests, and Financial Times Stock Exchange.
  8. Use quotes. It’s powerful to convey important thoughts with someone else’s words. However, when you quote others, make sure to get it right. Double check the spelling of your interviewee’s name, and make sure you don’t take quotes out of context in a way that distorts the person’s intentions.
  9. Keep it real. Although journalists often joke about never letting the truth get in the way of a good story, you should never, ever write something you know is untrue. We all make mistakes, but a mistake is very different from a lie.
  10. Have someone else proofread your work. Very few people can spot their own mistakes, so it’s wise to have a colleague double-check your work before you publish. Remember that the human brain reads words rather than letters, so if the first and last letter of a word are correct, we will often read it correctly, even if the others are jumbled up.

So, how can digital marketers apply these rules when they write a piece of content or break an industry-related news story?

Let’s take the subject of self-publishing as an example.

Lead into the story with 25 intriguing words

Can you hear the death knell echo over the world of traditional publishing? It’s making way for a new dawn — the rise of self-publishing.

Answer pressing questions immediately

Online businesses, such as Amazon, Google, and Apple, have made a huge impact on the traditional publishing market by increasing competition among self-published authors.

These changes may have flung open the door of opportunity — allowing more writers to share their stories and giving readers access to more books than ever before — but they also signify that the traditional publishing industry is in turmoil.

The 2013 merger of two of the world’s largest publishing houses — Penguin and Random House — is additional proof.

In the past, the path to a book deal for an aspiring author entailed writing a book proposal and sample chapters. With or without the help of an agent, these materials would then be sent to a publisher.

If the publisher was not interested, the author would either get no response or, after a long wait, the transcript would be sent back unopened or accompanied by a letter of rejection.

Now, various tools for self-publishing have taken down these barriers for authors. Bestselling self-published authors have also helped remove the negative stigma associated with self-publishing.

Since writers have become millionaires by publishing their own ebooks, traditional publishers now fight for popular writers, instead of the other way around.

Quote a source to establish authority and support claims

One such author is Holly Ward, who publishes under the name H.M. Ward. She self-published her first book, Damaged, as an ebook on Amazon and became a number one bestseller in the new adult genre.

Speaking about her success and why she chose to go down the self-publishing route, Holly said:

“The literary market is in a state of flux, and [self-publishing] allows me to try new things that aren’t really conducive to publishing traditionally. It also gave me freedom from a system that’s in the ‘adapt or die’ phase of life. With ebooks on the rise and brick-and-mortar stores such as Borders closing, self-publishing is a good place for me to be.”

Add details

So what does the future hold for traditional publishing?

According to Nielsen BookScan, most publishers report an average of 2,100 submissions per year, totaling 132 million submissions, but they accept less than one percent of them for publication.

Out of the 1.2 million titles tracked by BookScan in 2006, almost 80 percent sold fewer than 100 copies, 16 percent sold fewer than 1,000 copies, and only two percent sold over 5,000 copies. Due to this trend, the mega-publishers now select fewer debut authors and less fiction.

Craft a satisfying conclusion

Substantial discounting by online stores and supermarket chains has had a significant affect on traditional publishing too, forcing many specialist book chains and independent booksellers to close up shop. Consequently, traditional publishers have less outlets to sell their wares.

It would, therefore, appear it won’t be long before the final nail will be firmly hammered into the traditional-publishing coffin — making self-publishing the future for aspiring writers.

Put on your press hat

The print industry may be dying, but journalism certainly is not.

Journalistic principles can be applied to digital marketing to help you stand out as an authority.

I truly believe the art of storytelling is as relevant today as it has ever been; the platforms may have changed, but the delivery is the same.

What tactics do you follow to create compelling stories with your content?

Let’s continue to sharpen our journalistic skills by discussing additional tips over on Google+

Editor’s note: To see additional examples of journalistic skills applied to content marketing, read Demian Farnworth’s series on native advertising, starting with this post: 5 Ways to Rankle an Old School Journalist.

Flickr Creative Commons Image via Philippe Moreau Chevrolet.

About the Author: Julia Ogden is Head of Content at Zazzle Media, a data-informed, content-led digital marketing agency, based in the UK. A former newspaper journalist, with more than 20 years experience in the regional press, Julia understands the value of creating quality content to help build a business’s online presence and ultimately increase revenue.

The post Want to Hook Your Readers? Apply These 10 Principles to Create Captivating News Stories appeared first on Copyblogger.


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Marketing Careers: 3 steps for using testing principles to improve office productivity

At MECLABS, we talk a lot about the testing process. However, the testing process isn’t just a way to improve website performance. The general principles are transferable to so much more. Read on to learn how testing principles can be used to improve office productivity.
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10 Principles for Turning into a Killer (Copywriter)

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In spite of being a literary snob, when I was first introduced to the world of direct-response copywriting … I fell in love.

I fell in love with the thought of using my writing to influence and persuade people.

I also fell in love with the idea of getting rich. (I wanted to be a wealthy snob).

But the road between loving it and actually writing with great skill (and making obscene amounts of money) is a long one. And I had one particular road block: I was the poet, but certainly not the killer

That would’ve been beneath me.

See, as a new copywriter I wanted what I wrote to sound so good that people would cock their heads, grin, and say, “Boy, you are so clever!” In other words, I wanted my ego to get stroked because of my creativity.

Unfortunately that desire held me back.

I didn’t write effective copy until I humbled myself and became that killer. And I didn’t become that killer until I understood the following ten principles behind effective sales copy …

1. The only purpose of advertising

Advertising is nothing more than a planned and purposeful neglect of everything except making the sale.

This means you need to include things in sales copy that support that plan — exalting benefits, building trust, overcoming objections.

Discard anything that doesn’t achieve those purposes. If you walk away from this post with only one lesson, let it be this: Good advertising is defined by actual revenue.

2. Treat sales copy like a salesman

Since your single goal is to make the sale, treat your copy like a salesperson and evaluate it on performance.

Does it sell or doesn’t it? If it sells, keep it and attempt to squeeze even more out of it. If it isn’t selling, fire it.

Here’s the thing. A salesman can only sell to one person at a time. Sales copy can sell to thousands at a time. The corollary to that truth is that a bad salesman can only harm your company a little. But bad advertising can harm your company a lot.

3. Sell in person first

When I was 14, I was offered a job as a canvasser for a home-improvement company. The guy who offered me the job was very friendly. I was going to work with a close friend, too. But I never showed up for my first day.

When I was 18, I took a job selling newspaper subscriptions. It was a trial run. I was supposed to call 100 people. I called two people. I was supposed to work eight hours. I took the offer to leave — without pay — after four.

It wasn’t until I was in my third or fourth year as a professional that I sold anything. Over the phone. And I spent two weeks as the customer service manager. It was difficult — but very rewarding. It’s being in the hot seat … thinking on your feet … that cuts a potent copywriter.

Before you try to sell your product online with sales copy … try to sell it in person first.

4. Use copy that would help a salesman

Now that you have had experience at selling … use what you learned to help you sell in print.

Would telling a joke help a salesman? Possibly. Would sharing the benefits of a product help? Absolutely. Would identifying with the customer’s pain point help a salesman? Yes. Would showing empathy help? Definitely. Would an example of social proof help? Yup. What about trotting out an authority? Indeed.

5. Clear, concise, and compelling conversation

Good salesman are not verbose. They do not use fancy words. They speak like an aged rural sheriff. Calm, confident, and kind.

They are patient, good listeners, and fantastic storytellers. Each word is pronounced properly. Each story is trimmed of excess. It’s a spell-binding time spent with a good salesman. In fact, you don’t even know you are being sold.

6. Literary writers are rarely good copywriters

William S. Burroughs. Lew Welch. Joseph Heller.

All writers who were once copywriters. They came from the educational ranks, did the responsible thing, and got a job. That job taught them the most important thing about writing: be clear, concise, and compelling.

It’s not the other way around. Literature doesn’t have much to teach copywriting. Tell a good story. Give your reader what she wants. Literary writers (like me) have to be broken to become good copywriters.

Interestingly, though, what you’ll  learn is that copywriting will make you a better literary writer, too.

7. Ignore the “Brief Copy” thumpers

There’s a pervasive thought (typically from non-writers) that sales copy should be brief … a paragraph or two … and the images should sell. This comes from the same person who has no problem reading a 3,000-word article in Sports Illustrated or a 70,000-word novel.

It’s not the length that matters. People will read forever if you make it about them.

If it’s interesting and solves a meaningful problem, it wil get read.

8. Avoid the strange and unusual

Imagine you walked into an auto dealership. You’re in the mood to buy a new car. It’s snowing outside, so the salesmen are idle, chatting behind the Volvo SUV in the showroom.

One walks toward you. He’s wearing a black vest, massive, billowing white scarf, white baseball pants, and a pair of pink Adidas running shoes. He doesn’t introduce himself, but asks you a riddle instead. It has something to do with caterpillars and pillows. You ask if he’s the mascot. No, he’s a salesman. Did he miss his morning medication? No, it’s who he is. You ask to see someone else.

Listen, I love me some dysfunctional. Some unusual. But when it comes to selling — be plain and simple. Black and white.

9. Don’t think of your audience — think of her

When it comes to selling online you are not in a conference room (with a chandelier) working a crowd of one hundred … or a crowd of ten thousand. When you sit down to write, picture yourself selling to one person.

You need to woo her and her alone.

A salesman does the same thing. He works on one customer at a time. Sure, he may be juggling a handful of prospects. But he never addresses these prospects as a group. He focuses on each prospect individually.

10. Study your customer

The best salesman and the best copywriter are both unapologetic students of the customer and product. Another way to put it: it’s not about you.

A good copywriter digs into the customer’s history, her likes, and dislikes. He studies her friends, her habits. He drills her with questions, bounces ideas off of her. He spends a great deal of time listening and good deal time of shutting his mouth. He never objects to what she says, but finds everything fascinating.

And then he studies the product. He looks for the angle — the hook — that will attract the attention of his customer, stir her desire, and build her interest in the product as if she feels that the product was made for her — and her alone, so not purchasing seems rather silly.

Your turn …

Great sales copy isn’t going to impress your writing professor. It probably isn’t going to win any awards.

What it will do, however, is persuade people to buy your product. And make you a good deal of money. That’s the “killer” way.

Become a killer today.

About the Author: Demian Farnworth is Chief Copywriter for Copyblogger Media. Follow him on Twitter or Google+. Then visit his blog to read his Education of a Writer series.

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Data Visualization Principles: Lessons from Tufte

Posted by MikeCP

When I began to practice SEO 8 years ago, I never would have guessed that I'd be writing a post about data visualization. Perhaps I might have foreseen myself writing about web analytics or information architecture, but data visualization seemed like something for the statistics fans. But today in web marketing, the emphasis on content has never been stronger, and it just so happens that one eminently shareable form of content is the data visualization. And I've come to love the crap out of data viz.

Edward Tufte giving a class

Another person that loves the crap out of data viz is Edward Tufte. 'ET', as he's sometimes referred, has been preaching the merits of quality data visualization since before the world wide web existed, let alone SEO. He has authored 4 books on the topic, is a professor of political science, statistics, and computer science at Yale University, and actually serves on Barack Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act panel in order to provide transparency in the use of recovery funds. I was fortunate enough to catch him when he was in Seattle during his traveling seminar tour. I learned a lot that day, and have since learned quite a bit more through reading his and others' writing on the topic.

David McCandless's Information Is Beautiful Blog is a must-bookmark, and his TED talk below is a great data viz primer.

What's This Gotta Do With SEO?

Alright, enough with the intro. Let me quickly lay out what I hope this post will accomplish for the SEOmoz reader.

  • Understanding of what makes great data viz great.
  • Inspiration to think up and create (great) data viz for your company or your clients.
  • (Maybe slightly self-serving, but…) Influence readers to cast a more discerning eye on data visualizations.

So far I've yet to say it, but there's an elephant in the room. Infographics. The buzz around the word has reached a fever pitch. Yes, infographics are a form of data visualization, but there are so many ways that infographics are being abused that the backlash seems to be rightfully mounting. Are all infographics bad? Of course not. Just the bad ones.

So, Wait. Am I Gonna Get Links or What?

As I stated earlier, and as you've probably seen, data visualization is a super-effective and shareable form of content creation. Now stay with me here: In this post I'm going to detail some of the principles of great data visualization as per Tufte's teachings, with examples that fit the bill. As of the writing of this sentence, I've yet to pull link metrics for any of the examples I've got planned. By the end of this post, I'm hoping to prove to you (and myself, really) that Tufte's principles aren't just highfalutin, hoity-toity, stats nerd stuff, but a checklist for highly effective data visualization link building.

These principles to which I'm referring are discussed in the first chapter of Tufte's Visual Display of Qualitative Information

1. Show The Data

Well, yeah. There have certainly been successful "infographics" that don't actually display any real data, but that's not really a piece of data visualization, is it? The Trustworthiness of Beards by Matt McInerney comes to mind. Regardless, it's funny as hell and was viewed by everyone and their mom.

The Trustworthiness of Beards

No matter what the rest of this post says about data visualizations for attracting links, the bottom line is that if you've got a good idea that would be best be shared in graphic form, roll with it. Because this graphic was originally hosted on imgur.com, the link metrics behind it are a bit fragmented. The .jpg file itself has over 200 linking root domains in OSE, and according to the designer it was, "Viewed over 1,000,000 times and featured #1 on the reddit homepage, LaughingSquid, FHM, and the LATimes".

2. Provoke Thought about the Subject at Hand

Tufte's full thought on this:

Induce the viewer to think about the substance rather than about methodology, graphic design, the tech of graphic production, or something else.

Tufte wrote this originally in 1983, and while the spirit still holds, I think it should be revised for today's times, especially framed in the context of link building: Our data visualization should provoke thought AND influence the reader to share.

Data visualizations built around economic and social matters are surefire ways to get your audience thinking and also have an inherent shareability (a product of the times and the human condition, I suppose). David McCandless's The Billion Dollar Gram is a visualization that provides context to the incomprehensibly large monetary figures we hear in the media.

The Billion Dollar Gram

Despite not offering an embed code or dead-simple social sharing buttons, this visualization was a success: 2,801 tweets, 4,677 Facebook Shares and Likes, and 298 linking root domains.

Regarding the focus on substance rather than methodology, Tufte explains that the map makes a fantastic visualization medium because we've no reason to question methodology. A map is recognizable, allows us to put a lot of data in a small space, and displaying the data within allows us to easily understand and compare as needed. We'll see a map before this post is done.

3. Avoid Distorting the Data

It should go without saying that a great piece of data visualization should tell the story honestly. Pie graphs, and especially exploded 3D pie charts, are the favorite whipping boy of data viz geeks, often because of their distortion and lack of clarity ("chart-junk").

3D Exploded Pie Graph
Bad 3D Exploding Pie Chart

I can't believe I'm putting this in a blog post, but 'with great power, comes great responsibility'. Yikes, quick shower, hold on.

But, it is true. If you've got great data, do it justice by presenting it honestly.

NPR did a visualization about the makeup of the US military that took a ton of interesting data, and represented it in a variety of formats.

NPR military visualization

Did it work? Well, it didn't exactly kill it according to OSE (12 linking root domains, handful of tweets, and 700+ Facebook shares/likes), but I don't suspect a news organization like NPR makes much of a link building outreach effort.

4. Present Many Numbers in a Small Space

Charles Joseph Minard was a French civil engineer that created what Tufte calls, "The greatest statistical graphic ever drawn": A map of the Napoleon's Grande Armée's advance and retreat into Russia.

Minard Map of Napoleon's March

The graphic impressively manages to depict 6 different sets of data: latitude, longitude, direction of movement, time, temperature, and size of the army.

Obviously, because this is a graphic made in the 1800s, looking up link metrics would be a bit silly.

5. Make Large Datasets Coherent

Distilling down a big chunk of data is not easy, and the onus often falls on the designer. Tufte laments that the "lack of quantitative skills of professional artists" is what makes designing a great data visualization difficult. The best designed visualizations exist as a symbiosis between smart quantification and beautiful and elegant design.

David McCandless and Lee Byron made a graphic of Facebook post-break-up status messages by the time of year. Over 10,000 status updates in this pretty little graph:

Peak Break-Up Times

Some fun data, for sure, and people loved it. Open Site Explorer shows 92 linking root domains, 3,000+ Facebook shares/likes, and nearly 1,000 tweets.

6. Encourage Eyes to Compare Data

Though not necessary, interactivity makes comparing data in a visualization particularly fun and engaging. Sometimes the best use of a dataset is to present the viewer with the controls, letting them uncover things on their own.

Hotspots Superbowl Visualization

I had a lot of fun playing around with Hotspots' interactive display of Twitter buzz for this year's Superbowl ads. It's too new for link metrics, but I'm honestly surprised at the lack of social mentions: Only 29 shares/likes and 96 tweets?

7. Reveal Data at Several Levels of Detail

Many ambitious datasets call for a visualization that gracefully handles the large, 30,000 foot figures way down to the super granular, all while maintaining the proper spatial relations. This allows the viewer to explore the data; he or she understands the big figures quickly, but has the opportunity to pick out some of the more minute details.

This infographic by the Technology Review details the space launches by country. It's a two horse race between the US and the USSR/Russia, but it's pretty fun to see how other countries have done space launches as well.

Space Launches

Its links were split between the PDF infographic and the post announcing the infographic. All told, it's still one of the least linked-to (roughly 30 LRD) and socially mentioned visualizations (~300 likes/shares, 29 tweets) in this post, but as with the NPR visualization, there likely wasn't much link building outreach done.

8. Serve a Reasonably Clear Purpose

What's the hook? After brainstorming ideas for clients at Distilled, this is how we narrow down our options. If you're not telling a story to an audience that will care, you're destined for a piece of linkbait that'll fall flat. I could expend the effort to visualize, say, the number of fast food restaurants in Bergenfield, New Jersey (my home town – I cried when Roy Rogers was closed) over time, but who would really care?

We put together an interactive visualization for Food Service Warehouse that compared the average calories consumed per day with the percent of income spent on food broken down by country.

A visualization of the 20 highest and lowest calorie consuming countries compared with those same countries’ percent of income spent on food. Built by Food Service Warehouse.

The result was a successful infographic (still a bit new for link metrics, but 26 LRD including newyorker.com, one.org and heifer.org, to go with 2,000+ likes/shares, and 1,200+ tweets) that highlighted the food consumption and economic disparity throughout the world.

9. Be Closely Integrated with Statistical and Verbal Descriptions of the Dataset

While your data visualization should be able to speak for itself, every release should include a link off to the raw data, and some explanation of the how and why. Your writeup provides you with an opportunity to explain why your findings are important, as well as highlight other interesting findings. Sometimes your visualization warrants further explanation, but doesn't fit within the graphic itself.

Thomson Travel's How Music Travels – The History of Western Dance Music was a one-page interactive graphic, with further explanation and sources in the announcement blog post.

This data visualization was arguably the most successful of the ones in this post, with almost 250 LRD, 24,000+ shares/likes, and 5,000+ tweets.

In Conclusion

So if you follow each of these principles will you definitely succeed in getting links for your data visualization? Of course not.

It's important to remember that the data visualization is still just a medium for presenting (hopefully) interesting content, in the same way that the a blog might be home for a link bait blog post. Sure it helps to have a beautiful visualization or a crazy-awesome design for your blog, but it's still just a frame around what matters most.

Still, in the same way that your blog should follow some best practices for allowing maximum exposure like proper keyword research, social buttons, comments, etc., I'm hoping some of Edward Tufte's principles help improve the quality of your next great data visualization.

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Throw Away Your Form Letters (or Five Principles to Better Outreach Link Building)

Posted by iPullRank

Throwaway Your Form Letters (or 5 Principles to Better Outreach Link Building)

I’m sitting on an air mattress in my new unfurnished Brooklyn apartment listening to the sounds of the city out of the window after a long day of client meetings. At one point I was thinking "Man I wish I bought that ugly sofa from Ikea so I’d have something to sit on" and next thing I knew I was considering the Tao of Outreach Link Building.

I know, I know. Outreach link building is hard. It takes time. You send 1000 emails and end up with seven links but I believe that’s largely because most search marketers approach link building the wrong way. In fact I’m going to declare right now that link building should be the easiest and most fun part of SEO.

Yep, I said it but wait, let me finish before you head to the comments to tell me why I’m wrong.

First, let me say that I love where we are moving with link building as a community especially with the stuff the King of Link Building, Justin Briggs, has been giving us lately. In fact what I have to offer for your consideration is very much an expansion on Dan Deceuster’s new perspective on link building.

There is often a lot of talk about who to target and how to find them but there isn’t much about how you get their attention, sustain it, close the deal and maintain the relationship. With the exception of what Justin spoke about in his Link building webinar, most recommendations revolve around building form letters and tailoring them a little more depending on the target.

The following are 5 principles that I have identified and streamlined to improve my link building success rate from about 20% to around 80%

In my experience, this is the least effective method to engage in outreach link building. The following are five principles that I have identified and streamlined to improve my link building success rate from about 20% to around 80%.

Talk to People Like People

Talk to People Like People (Throw Out Your Form Letters)

Search Marketers tend to think of link building as obtaining a link from a website. Truly link building is speaking to a person and convincing them to take a real world action that is beneficial to you. Link building is cast as a very impersonal process where we use the various methods to identify link targets, write a form letter and fire away expecting that the return on these outreach emails will be so low that it doesn’t make sense to spend time on them.

Honestly, even just reading that back makes me think of how counterintuitive the process is.

Everyone reading this post has been subject to some sort of Email, Twitter, Myspace, Facebook spam. Hell, even Barack Obama and his friends have been spamming me for five years now (ok I opted-in but wasn’t my vote enough – stop spamming me!). Think for a second, how do you react to spam? You erase it or ignore it of course. Even as an owner of various sites people often contact me asking me for links or offering me SEO services and such – with form letters that never get opened. Here’s one I received since I started writing this post:

A spam email example

Certainly not a link building request but I imagine it’s not far off from how many Search Marketers are writing their link request form letters.

If this is up for debate I challenge you to go on a dating site like Match.com and copy and paste the same form letter to 50 women. I guarantee a low rate of response and the girls that do respond aren’t going to be the ones you wish responded.

People can usually sense a form letter immediately. Dare I say it? No, I’ll let my homey Link from Legend of Zelda tell you.

Context is King

I myself had failed many times using the same approach to link building (not with women, of course). Then one day I realized that the link building strategies I was taught are counterintuitive to everything I’ve learned as someone who has had to network across various fields whether it be my Search career, in music as a performer and booking agent or as a generally (somewhat) social person. Be warned, my approach requires a genuine interest in people. Here goes:

  • Opening– Linkbuilders are typically very heavy handed and send an email that basically says "hey I have this site will you link to me because of x,y,z?" The only thing that I attempt to accomplish with my first email is an engaged response. I never bring up the idea of wanting something from this person until later in the email or tweet thread; the same way I wouldn’t walk up to a girl and say "you’re hot, let’s have sex because I’m cute, I drive a luxury car and I have an apartment in a cool part of Brooklyn!" I keep my opening correspondence short, engaging and contextual to something that person has tweeted about or written on their site/blog.

Quite simply people love to know their work has been enjoyed, viewed, absorbed so actually take the time to read it and strike up a conversation about something you truly find interesting. As marketers we are taught to optimize one message that appeals to many people; there is simply no place for that in effective outreach link building.

In the following example I’m building links for the official Transformers 3 movie site (not that this would ever happen because those sites are always powered by Paid Media).

The Old Way of Link Building:

Link Fails at Outreach Link Building

Subject: Transformersmovie.com Link Request

Hello,

I am contacting you to request a link to Transformersmovie.com from your site. We have trailers, downloads, exclusive video and a gallery. Visitors can also find information on movie times and buy tickets online.

I see that your blog talks about Transformers and I think visitors of your site will find this content very useful.

Please link to http://www.transformersmovie.com using the anchor text "Transformers" or use the following code: <A href=”http://www.transformersmovie.com”>Transformers</a>.

Please contact me if you have any questions.

Thank you for your time and careful consideration.

Transformers Web Team
www.transformersmovie.com

While I don’t doubt that some Link Builders have some very spiffy form letters much better than this, most of the time they still come across just as sterile as the above.

The New Way of Relationship Building:

Link's Great Opener

Subject: Power Rangers, Are You Serious?!

Hey Zelda,

I just read your awesome post where you compared Voltron and Power Rangers to Optimus Prime and crew. Not sure if I agree that the Power Rangers could have taken out Megatron in the first film. I mean honestly, they had trouble with giant bears on their own show!

Truthfully, I think Voltron would make short work of all of them. Speaking of Voltron have you ever seen this hilarious live action spoof? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtwX0nuqPO0

Anyway I’m curious to know what you think of the new Transformers film. Give me a shout when you get a chance!

-Link

Link of Hyrule
Transformers Web Outreach Team
mike@transformersmovie.com
www.transformersmovie.com&

Option two is clearly stronger and was even more fun to write. Creating context allows me to hit more touch points to elicit a response. Also the engagement is all about opinion and sharing thus framing the conversation as just that – a conversation rather than a link request.

  • Sustaining – Sustaining is all about keeping the conversation going, building a rapport with this person and offering something of value. Most people will be tempted to jump the gun at this stage and just ask for the link right when the person responds. This is not the way to go because then your original correspondence appears to be a thinly-veiled link request, which it of course is but that is the mindset we are trying to eliminate.

In this stage it is good to have some content to share that this person may be interested in. It could be related to the site you’re trying to get a link for or it could not, the important point is that you demonstrate that you are worthwhile resource of some sort whether it be for entertainment or educational purposes. Not only does this build trust but establishes context. This phase can continue as long as it takes for you to actually develop a relationship. In fact let’s just rename link building "relationship building."

Continuing with our robot cartoon blogger example:

Link Sustains

Hey Link,

LOL Link, that video was hilarious and thanks for reading my post but there is noooo way that Voltron could take out the combined power of the MegaZord!! I’m not even sure Voltron could take out the GoBots!

I haven’t actually seen the film yet. Do you actually work on the Transformers site?

Best,

Princess Zelda

Zelda thinks Link is worth talking to

 

Princess Zelda,

The GoBots? Zelda, you’re killing me! The GoBots were a cheap rip off of the Transformers they should not be typed in the same email as Voltron! I bet you preferred Silverhawks over Thundercats too, didn’t you? HA!

Anyway, yep I sure do work with the Transformers web team. Do you have any interest in seeing the film?

-Link

Link of Hyrule
Transformers Web Outreach Team
mike@transformersmovie.com
www.transformersmovie.com

Link is about to Close!

Hey Link,

LOL, you just keep making me laugh. Silverhawks?! I didn’t think anyone remembered that cartoon. It was pure redux of Thundercats just as bird people!

I definitely do want to see the new Transformers film! Can you hook a princess up?

Best,

Princess Zelda

Notice how the suggestion of value causes the link target to become further engaged and it sets up the link request as a natural progression in this case in exchange for tickets.

 

  • Closing – The key thing in this phase is to only pull the trigger on asking for a link after context and value are established. The link request then becomes an aside to the correspondence rather than the entire correspondence.

At the end of our sustain phase Zelda, our Robot Cartoon Blogger, has taken the bait realizing that the link builder potentially has something of value to her and then puts the link builder in a position to close the link deal. The nature of the conversation puts Zelda in a position where she is comfortable enough to make the request so when the link builder requests the link it is natural for him to ask for something in return.

Link Makes a Friend and Closes a Link

Princess Zelda,

Hmmm…well I don’t make it a habit to do this, but since you have such good taste in cartoons….

Sure, I can get you two tickets to see the film in your local theater, but in return can you write a review or write another one of your great articles and link back to our site?

If that works just shoot me your closest theater and I will send you a Fandango confirmation code for your tickets.

Also are you on Twitter? I’d love to keep up with the stuff you are posting on your blog!

-Link

Link of Hyrule
Transformers Web Outreach Team
mike@transformersmovie.com
www.transformersmovie.com

Just like that, we’ve just built a link just from talking about your favorite cartoons. The challenge and the fun is in finding something that interests both of you and using that information to build a relationship. The less you have to offer in the form of incentives the more sustaining and rapport building you will need to do in order to build the link. Do not think that this method only works with incentives. Value can be established in many ways when building a relationship.

A caveat that I should offer here is that it is painfully obvious when this approach does not work because people will not reciprocate the engagement. It might result in a simple "thanks for reading" response in which case you can decide whether you want to do more research to identify a different touch point and try again or to just move on to someone else. As you begin to adopt this process I’d say plow through but soon you will be able to spot a lost cause.

Standout In the Inbox

Standout in the Inbox

How do you feel about spam? Probably the same way you feel about telemarketers. When people can tell by their caller ID that a telemarketer is calling they don’t pick up the phone. By that same token if they can tell an email is spam, they avoid it.

Never send an email with "Link Request" or something to that effect in the subject; they are doomed to never get opened. You want to take an indirect approach because you don’t want the link target to decide before ever seeing what you had to say; this is the Trojan Horse of link building. Trojan Horse in the classic sense not a virus.

Let’s go back to the email I mentioned earlier in this post. Here’s my inbox on that day:

My Inbox

 

Notice that this email was the only one out of all the other spam that was opened. It was clear exactly what every other email was however there is some mystery as to what the "let’s work together" email was about. It appeared natural and it stood out to me because it looked like someone requesting some sort of collaboration. It has a real name and the subject was in lower case. It resembles the emails I receive from people that want to send me beats or hire me to guest appear on their albums.

Obama tricks me into clicking his emails pretty often too. I don’t always look at who the emails are from when I get them but most of my friends use short email subjects (like the following) that cause me to click through:

Obama inbox

 

Even when I do look at the Sender name it might be a quick glimpse to make sure it’s a person and not a company or something.com. It was my assumption that other people reacted this way when I started to apply these principles and therefore the improvement in response rate is the only thing in the way of science I have to show for this.

However what I can show you is an example of a subject fail straight from the inbox of my fellow Philly to Brooklyn SEO transplant John Doherty:

1-800 Contacts Form Letter Fail

1-800 Contacts clearly runs some sort of CRM software for these types of emails and either someone was asleep at the wheel or they input the fields the wrong way. This could easily happen to you in a program like Link Assistant. Don’t be that person. However judging by the format of the sender and subject fields it is highly unlikely that these emails will have an open rate worth talking about.

I’m sure there are more comprehensive studies on email optimization but to summarize:

Tips for Standing Out in the Inbox:

  • Keep Subjects Short
  • Keep Subjects Natural
  • Do Not Use "Link Request"
  • Send Emails as a Person (Not as a company or a "web team")
  • Include a Natural Salutation (The first line will appear next to the subject)

Do Your Research

Do Your Research

I don’t want to encourage you to stalk your targets so…study your targets. Bloggers and webmasters are certainly not the most private people in the world and therefore have shared their thoughts, favorite music, films, travel plans and other endless minutia about themselves online for years – use it to develop your context for the initial email.

User data drives models of people for targeting our broad messaging, it only makes sense to use user data to create context for our specific messaging.

Don’t get caught up in the whole romantic comedy "OMG I manipulated you but it turns out I really love you and I wish I could take it all back" aspect of this. Think of it as a way to increase your odds of relating to someone the same way that a girl in WuTang shirt would make me ask if she was at the Raekwon concert in Prospect Park last weekend (Shout out to John Doherty, Tom Critchlow, Rob Oursey and his wife!). Again, Context is King.

Choose something that relates back to the content that the person had written about on their own site. The subject should be something that you can relate to, offer insight on and speak at length. So if I’m doing link building as illustrated in the example I might check Zelda’s Facebook, Twitter, and Last.Fm and I might weave a conversation about how Voltron was actually created after Power Rangers contrary to popular belief and the stance of her blog post. Then I might end the email with something to the effect of "wouldn’t Radiohead be a great choice for the Voltron soundtrack?" Now we have a conversation that is still in context if only tangentially to the topic at hand.

Researching your targets turns link building into a video game – with a strategy guide.Offer Value

Offer Value

We tend to think of link building in terms of "what can this site offer me?" rather than "what is it about my site that will be interesting or useful to this webmaster or blogger?" or "what of value can I introduce this person to?"

Depending on where you are contacting them from part of offering value can be just in the fact that you have reached out to this person. It’s important that if you are working for a client with some sort of reputation in the space that you are building links for that you obtain an email alias on their domain. For example if you are doing link building for SEOmoz then you should have an SEOmoz email address. So if you are following up with a blogger who has written a review about SEOmoz’s software offering then they feel as though their voice has been heard by the company. Make sure your signature is reflective of their company’s location so they recognize they are speaking with a real person and not something automated.

In a lot of cases you may not be link building for someone reputable so it’s important that you share something of value with this person. Perhaps you have a link to some content important to the niche that hasn’t been seen by too many people – share it with your link target. Maybe an awesome video has just floated around your office and you are actively going back and forth over email — toss it in there. Maybe you just have an interesting story that you can share with this person or anything. Failing all that it’s very important to have any client provided incentives.

The bottom line is approaching link building the same way as when you meet one of your friend’s friends and your efforts will be more effective.

Maintain the Rapport

Maintain the Rapport

No one likes to be used. Therefore it is important to maintain an active rapport with your new friends otherwise if you only contact them when you need a new link they will be less inclined to help you out. Twitter is the perfect place to maintain this rapport. Follow your newfound friends and encourage them to follow you and be sure to retweet their links and engage with them from time to time so you are in constant contact. What the both of you tweet continues to generate context so even if you faked your way this far (which you won’t if you have a genuine interest in people) you can easily start the process again based on their latest tweets.

Conclusion

Is this scalable? Well, it depends how much information you need to sift through to find a hook for the person you’re reaching out to. Once you go through this process enough times it takes little more than the time it takes to uncover a buried email address. However outreach link building isn’t the place you need to be looking for scalability to begin with.

The benefits of this approach are two-fold. 1. Your link building becomes more effective and while you may not reach out to as many people, you will convert a lot more of the people that you do. 2. You are building a rapport with many people that you can then activate in Social Media as it becomes more of a ranking factor.

Link building is viewed as an arduous task that no one really wants to engage in and it really shouldn’t be. Link building is really an opportunity to make friends throughout the web and Social Media. Perform your link building as a marksman rather than a drive by shooter and you will see better results.

Context is King. Link Building is dead. Long live Relationship Building.

Also you’ll be happy to know that I now have a bed, a desk, a chair and a dresser. Definitely give me a shout if you’re ever in Brooklyn!

Oh yes…almost forgot the infographic. Go easy on me, it’s my first one!

Link's Tools of the Trade Infographic by iPullRank

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