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What I Can Do for You as Your Digital Marketer

Three months from now, I’ll be graduating from college with a BA in Marketing. What differentiates me from many of my peers searching for jobs in the marketing field? During my time in school, I’ve tried my best to take a proactive approach to learning digital marketing tactics and skills. Ever heard of a full stack marketer? Well, my goal is to become one. And I’d like to think I’m getting there, especially when it comes to digital.

I started out my digital marketing class at the beginning of this quarter with several goals for myself: get a better grasp of data analytics, learn basic coding skills, and get some hands-on experience with some of the stuff I’ll be interacting with out in the “real world”. Guess what? I fulfilled those goals.

Two days ago I passed the Google Analytics IQ exam. If you handed me data from Google Analytics, I’d be able to turn it into information relevant to your business objectives. Thanks to Moz, I truly understand SEO and link building, and now know why it’s so important to combine an effective SEO strategy with PPC- SEM is a personal favorite of mine, and I hope to turn it into a career. I’m studying how to attract more visitors with Google AdWords, and soon will be certified for that as well (hopefully by next week!). I can show you how to combine a great AdWords ad with the right landing page, and can A/B test both those things. But my skillset isn’t just limited to Google-y-ness.

Thanks to Hubspot, I know how to use inbound marketing tactics to convert visitors into customers (with low acquisition costs), and am actually certified on the subject. I’m also Hootsuite certified, and can combine that certification with awesome relationship-building and content-posting skills for various social media sites. And boy, do I get content. I’ve discovered it’s one of the underlying themes of marketing: regardless of the medium, you always should strive to deliver the right content to the right audience. Whether you want to get into the controversial world of native advertising (of which I’m a fan), or just post on Twitter, I can help you figure out what kind of content you should deliver to your audience. And I know for a fact this is the year of mobile marketing. Aside from all this, I reached my big goal of learning some coding fundamentals via Codecademy – I’ve made my way through HTML and CSS, and am currently working for Javascript. If anyone has recommendations for where to learn SQL, please share!

Three months ago my understanding of digital marketing was minimal, and now I feel confident to join other marketers in the professional world with a skill set many of my peers don’t possess. I’ve become very passionate about digital marketing, and my curiosity for it seems never ending. I’m excited to live in this digital age, and love learning about things that could potentially change the way our world works – things from wetware computing to the latest Apple launch (someone please give me a job so I can buy one of the new MacBooks). I’ve learned a lot this quarter, and will continue to keep working to become a full stack marketer. I believe I have the communicative and digital skills for it; next quarter I’ll be taking the final steps in learning the fundamentals before entering the professional world.

I should point out that these aren’t my only skills and interests: outside of digital, I love writing copy and creative projects, and also love exploring various creative outlets in my free time. Here’s my LinkedIn for more information: http://www.linkedin.com/in/elizabethyanak93

Over the past ten weeks, I’ve written a little over 13,000 words for this blog and gotten over 300 views. Both these numbers are higher than I was expecting, and I plan on still posting here every once and awhile to babble about new trends in the world of digital marketing. Thanks for reading, folks.

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Developing a Story with Google Analytics

Next Tuesday I’ll be taking the Google Analytics IQ test, and I’m currently experiencing a mix of anxiety and excitement.

The anxiety is originating from my perception that the GAIQ is really, really hard – 90 minutes for 70 questions about somewhat daunting topics like the difference between first and third party cookies, aggregating data, and more. That gives me about one minute and sixteen seconds to overanalyze each and every question. But more importantly, I’m actually very excited to take the test. Mastering the GAIQ means I get to differentiate myself from many other applicants during my post-graduation job hunt, and work my way towards having a well-rounded marketing resume. It also means I’ll know how to not only analyze data, but telling a story relevant to business and marketing objectives with it. Google Analytics is the most widely used website analytics software, and I’ve been blown away learning just much it can do. Knowing all the tools provided by Google Analytics is especially useful for marketers (marketing is storytelling, after all), and hopefully will help me land a job after graduation (fingers crossed).

The GAIQ was recently updated to include both the Digital Analytics Fundamentals and Google Analytics Platform Principles. I’ve spent the last several days learning all the content from Platform Principles, and there’s quite a bit of information covered. There’s four main components of the Google Analytics platform:

  1. Data collection
  2. Processing
  3. Configuration
  4. Reporting

Google Analytics uses either a Javascript tracking code (for websites) or a software development kit (SDK, for mobile apps) to collect data from each page a visitor sees. The tracking code in a webpage uses first-party cookies to create unique identifiers for each user, and finds information about the user such as OS, browser, and language. SDKs work similarly in mobile apps, and are different depending on the OS. SDKs actually batch data they collect (called dispatching) and send these dispatches to Google Analytics after a set period of time, not right away like tracking codes. The reason for this is that mobile devices often lose network connectivity (which is annoying for both the user and Google), as well as to conserve battery life of the device. As I mentioned earlier this week, 2015 is the year of mobile, so it’s absolutely necessary for marketers to track and analyze mobile engagement along with website visits. Google Analytics also has a tool called measurement protocol, which allows for tracking of other web-connected devices as well by manually building data collection hits.

Platform Principles combines processing and configuration into their own lesson unit, as the two steps in Google Analytics go hand-in-hand. There’s four major transformations that occur during processing and configuration:

  • Google Analytics organizes the hits it’s collected into users and sessions
  • Data from other sources (like AdWords or non-Google systems) can be combined with Analytics data via the tracking code
  • Data processing will modify the data according to configurations (filters, goals, and groups) you’ve set
  • Analytics will then aggregate the data by organizing it in meaningful ways and storing it in tables for quick report generation

I think a major thing to note here is how Google Analytics will actually combine the data it collects with data from other sources like AdWords. This is done through dimension widening (using either a file or APIs to import data) or cost data import, which imports data to show the amount of money you spent on non-Google advertising. Combining all your data means you can analyze the success of things like marketing campaigns all in one place, and lets you see what’s driving engagement with users versus what isn’t. With this tool, you can see what platforms and content your audience prefers, where they’re coming from, and more.

The final step in the Google Analytics platform is the reporting process. All reports are based on combinations of dimensions and metrics – characteristics of your data like page name or traffic source, and quantitative data measurements, respectively. Dimensions and metrics are typically reported in a table, but note that you can only combine the two based upon the scope (which level in the analytics hierarchy they fall). The hierarchy is simply users, sessions, and hits. Analytics uses application programming interfaces (APIs) to automate reporting tasks to integrate its own data with other data you specify. After all this, report sampling may or may not occur: it depends on how much data you want Google Analytics to use. Sampling occurs when you’ve given Analytics a large subset of sessions to analyze, and have gone over the maximum number of sessions that can be used in a report. This isn’t a bad thing, but you can stay below the limit by simply shortening your date range if possible.

Google Analytics, although formidable, is useful in more ways than I can count. I’m planning on spending my entire weekend locked in my apartment taking practice tests and going over study guides, and I seriously recommend taking the time to watch all the Analytics Academy lessons and then taking the GAIQ. Digital media provides us with so much data, and being able to transform that data into a story relevant to your business objectives and audience needs is what Google Analytics (and digital marketing) is all about.

Next step: getting AdWords certified.

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Mobile Marketing Matters (Like, a Lot)

Think about your phone. It’s probably a smartphone, right? What do you use it for? Chances are, probably not just talking on the phone (unless you’re my mom). We use our phones for everything: paying for things, reading the news and our email, social media, search, and more. Mobile has overtaken the digital world, and it doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon.

Our country is addicted to mobile – in 2013, Americans spent 442 billion minutes on our smartphones. Yes, billion. With a B. That’s three times as much as we did in 2010, and those numbers are still increasing. 57% of our total internet usage is with mobile, and that statistic is pretty significant – it means we’ve become a multi-screen majority. 4G technology has allowed for improved internet speeds and usability of mobile devices, which in turn has caused our consumption on mobile to grow rapidly. Because of this, digital media consumption occurs across a variety of platforms, and mobile is increasingly becoming a large chunk of our screen time. Much of this time is spent in combination of multiple devices (or simultaneous device usage), such as watching TV while live-tweeting a show, or texting while working on homework like I’m currently doing. What’s important to note about multi-screen use is something called sequential device usage: when we start a task on one device, and then move to another to complete it. And more often than not, this process begins on a mobile screen, meaning that delivering the best content possible for mobile is key for user engagement throughout the buying process.

Whether visitors are viewing a site on an Android device (about 83.3 million Americans) or through iOS (66.9 million), you’d better believe they want that site (or app) optimized for the device they’re on. Therefore, content should be optimized for mobile and be able to integrate with other devices. This can be done a variety of ways, the most convenient (according to Moz) being responsive web design. RWD allows a website to fit to any device, which means beautiful content delivery and great SEO regardless of the platform. Using text and HTML5 instead of flash makes for better mobile SEO, which can be different than its desktop counterpart. Although RWD can be expensive, it’s less time consuming and very user-friendly. Figuring out what visitors’ goals are through analytics helps businesses tweak their mobile sites for SEO as needed, and lets them know what parts of the site should deliver different content than the desktop version. Dynamic serving should be used in situations where separate sites are needed, as it uses the same URL but sends users to the right site for their device. Another option for engagement that’s growing in popularity is mobile apps.

According to comScore, the majority of our digital media time is actually spent on mobile apps (about 52% in 2013), and 7 out of 8 minutes on a smartphone is spent on apps. Although apps certainly don’t work for every business model, giving users a positive experience on mobile actually increases offline sales. Starbucks has obviously changed how we interact with our smartphones in store with their app, which means they get to engage daily with their audience via mobile. Coupon apps such as Target’s Cartwheel are also widely popular for mobile commerce. Apps are convenient for the consumer, but are really, really important for marketers because they provide prime data about the consumer and they content they’re looking for. Using all this data lets websites and apps serve users the right content at the right time in both the buying process and sequential device usage.

The future of digital has arrived, and it’s mobile. If you haven’t hopped on the bandwagon and optimized your site and search for mobile, I suggest you do so ASAP. I’ll be here questioning your life choices and why you still think it’s okay that I can’t view your site on my iPhone.

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Delivering Quality Content, via Programmatic Ad Buying and Native Advertising

Native advertising has quite the rap. It involves brands integrating their messages directly into content (oftentimes it’s in print or online format, but it takes other forms such as podcasts too), which means it looks and seems like an editorial piece. The problem with this, of course, is that it often feels like the readers and consumers are being tricked to read a piece of content marketing as opposed to an editorial piece. Many people view native advertising negatively because of this, which is entirely understandable. Native advertising seems to often blur the lines between editorial content and advertising (or “church and state”, as it’s referred to). I love myself some John Oliver, and I think he explains the conflict quite well:

Besides this, native advertising has other drawbacks in comparison to traditional advertising. The analytics for it are mediocre, and targeting isn’t refined enough for it to be more appealing than digital usually is. And even with analytics, it’s hard to tell if brand awareness is created by the native ad itself or all the PR surrounding it.  The folks from the StartUp podcast discovered this, and spent a whole podcast discussing it.

But here’s the thing – native advertising has the potential to be really innovative, and often is. When done properly, it meshes beautifully with the editorial content it appears alongside, and delivers its own creative and relevant content to boot. All while being aesthetically appealing! And, as Ad Age points out, it should be transparent. In the video above, John Oliver is totally right: sticking a tiny logo somewhere on a piece of content isn’t being very transparent. As marketers, it’s important to be honest with the audience you’re providing content to, regardless if the content is presented through native advertising or some other format. Emphasizing the clear line between advertising and editorial content upholds journalistic integrity and creates trust between the brand and its audience. While some publishers aren’t being very upfront about the sponsored content they post (I’m looking at you, Buzzfeed), others are looking to improve native for the better.

The Wall Street Journal’s Custom Studios, their take on a native advertising platform, clearly defines what is sponsored but also catches the audience’s eye by delivering quality content. The New York Times, Forbes, and the New Yorker all do this as well. Maybe it just takes publishers known for good journalism to get the job done right? It comes down to having standards on both sides, and the best content (in either form) you can give to readers. Putting compelling advertising next to high-quality content, and delivering it to the right people at the right time is what good content marketing is all about, and excellent native advertising is a perfect example of this.

Another big trend in paid advertising is programmatic ad buying. It’s complicated (even when it’s explained to you like you’re eight), but seems a whole lot like eBay (or eTrade) for ad space. Instead of bidding for media space in the more traditional way, much of it is now done automatically similar to trading stocks online. It’s a billion-dollar industry, and (as I keep emphasizing) it should come down to making advertising better for the audience. ComScore recently announced its plan to provide better insight for media buyers in programmatic, that will create trust for both publishers and buyers while (hopefully) making for better paid advertising and content. Programmatic’s benefits are immense, and it factors in consumer data, marketing goals, and more to help deliver the best quality content through formats such as native advertising.

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Coding: Not Just for Nerds and MySpace Users

Remember Myspace? That social media site from the Web 1.0 dark ages that made you feel special by allowing you to add a song to your profile, change your background and layout? The one that also taught you the fundamentals of coding?

Wait, what?

That’s right people, MySpace taught us how to code (kind of). Hypertext markup language, or HTML, is what the entire internet is composed of, and allows us to navigate from place to place online. It’s easy, customizable, and you’ve probably used it if you ever desired to change the formatting of your MySpace profile way back in 2005. But coding and web design are far more relevant than just changing social media profiles. It’s a valuable tool for marketers to know and understand, and it’s ridiculously easy to learn. And you can do it for free.

Codecademy is a pretty well-renowned site at this point, and anyone can sign up with it to learn HTML, CSS, Javascript and more. I used it last night for two hours, and really enjoyed the experience. It was incredibly simple (far more than I was anticipating), and their lessons are user-friendly. I’ve been meaning to learn at least the fundamentals of code for awhile now, and was actually very excited the opportunity presented itself for my digital marketing class. In two hours, I got 25% of the way through the HTML and CSS lessons in Codecademy (up through HTML Basics II), and plan on finishing both as well as continuing on through Javascript, jQuery, PHP and more.

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(Two hours of Codecademy is probably more useful than two hours of Netflix)

As I’ve discussed many times previously, marketing (like the rest of the world) has become largely digitized. Everything from websites to email to social media run on some form of code. To fully understand how the web works and to make informed digital marketing decisions, knowing code is crucial. Knowing how things such as HTML work allows for better communication with web developers, graphic designers and IT people. You’ll actually know how to communicate what you’re looking for in your marketing campaign, understand what all those crazy tech words actually mean, and maybe be capable of fixing an error yourself. IT people will love you for that, and it’ll allow you to set yourself apart from the rest of the crowd as a valuable, multi-skilled marketer. You don’t need to be able to design a whole website, but basic knowledge makes for informed decisions and better allocation of time and resources. Knowledge of up-and-coming computing trends and their product applications isn’t a bad thing either, as computers are shrinking drastically while simultaneously becoming more powerful.

Long before MySpace, in the 1950s, Alan Turing created a model of a general purpose computer. Since then, processing speeds and power have doubled nearly every two years. Computers that couldn’t accurately predict the weather used to take up rooms, and now our smartphones are tiny and do almost as much as our laptops (and predict the weather pretty accurately in mere nanoseconds). The problem with this, however, is quantum physics – eventually transistors will just become too small to be composed of conventional materials. Scientists across the globe are working on new forms of computers so physics doesn’t stop us from innovating. Things like chemical and wetware computing use chemical reactions and cells (living cells!) to carry out elementary computing logic. Although both options are currently very slow (think minutes, not nanoseconds like we’re used to) and have run into their fair share of problems, they have tons of potential. For example, ChaoLogix chips are maximum security computer chips that are based on a wetware cellular design. They’re basically impossible to crack, and would probably help prevent all those hackings we’ve been hearing about lately.

Instead of just knowing how to fix your MySpace background, you can use your handy dandy coding skills to fix campaign errors or design mistakes, and think of new ways to apply those mind-blowing computing innovations. Coding is for everyone, and is especially useful for us marketers to understand.

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Satisfy the Searcher by Combining SEO and Paid Search

Earlier this week I discussed why SEO is such a valuable tool for marketers. We know that search drives much of our time online, and allows us as consumers to navigate the web far more quickly and easily than we would on our own. Yet it’s often hard for businesses to consistently rank highly in organic search, due to Google’s ever-changing algorithms and the constant monitoring it takes to have a successful SEO strategy. That’s why a successful search engine marketing (or SEM) strategy should not only contain SEO for organic search, but paid search too. And like SEO, it’s all about optimizing for the searcher.

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Paid search involves paying a fee to a search engine site (let’s assume Google) to have your ad displayed on the search engine results page when someone searches for certain keywords or phrases. According to Moz, paid search on its own is not a ridiculously successful inbound marketing strategy – paid listings shown by themselves have only about a 19% clickthrough rate. But using it to compliment other strategies, like SEO, increases the clickthrough rate of the entire search engine results page (or SERP) by a whopping 26%. Paid search (combined with great SEO) gives you double the visibility, which increases the probability of a conversion on your page – the whole point of putting an ad out there in the first place. Google AdWords, besides being Google’s main revenue point, allows businesses to advertise on certain parts of a search page based upon the keywords people search.

Keywords, as we know, are those important terms people input into a search query when looking for something online. You can obviously optimize your website and different pages to show up for certain keywords in organic search, but you can do it for ads as well. AdWords allows for three different keyword settings:

  1. Exact match, which will only display your ad if the keywords are exact and in the order you’ve specified
  2. Phrase match, which will display the ad if the search contains the words in the same order, but can also contain other words as well
  3. Broad match, which displays your ad when the search term contains any or some combination of your keywords (in any order)

These different settings allow for different types of audience targeting, which is highly useful for marketers. The right keywords are the foundation for a great paid search campaign: the next building block being ads matched to those keywords, with the final step being a landing page optimized for conversion. And guess what? You can actually optimize your landing page through paid-search ads. Cool huh?

But back to keywords: AdWords also has a handy-dandy tool called ad groups. In it, you can “bucket” keywords together based upon what searches you want your ad to be displayed for. It allows for excellent organization within your campaign as well as really, really good search targeting – and it all goes back to knowing your audience. You choose your keywords, create an ad that matches those keywords, and then optimize your landing page to that ad and the keywords that were its foundation. Google also includes a search term report that analyzes your ad campaign, so you can view when your ad came up when people searched certain keywords – it also includes words you may not have included in your ad groups, and ones that didn’t do so well. This allows you to further optimize your campaign for searchers so you can reach the right audience. For your ad to get displayed on the right search page with your specified keywords, Google ranks based upon two things: bid and quality score.

As you’ve probably guessed, your bid is what you’re willing to spend to get your ad displayed on a results page. Google allows for multiple types of bidding, such as pay-per-click (or cost-per-click), pay-per-impression, and cost-per-acquisition. Different bid types are meant for different marketing campaign goals: for example, pay-per-impression is really only useful for brand awareness, as impressions are the number of people who are seeing your ad but not necessarily clicking on it. Google recommends a cost-per-acquisition (CPA) strategy, in which you only pay when a visitor who has found your landing page through your ad performs a certain action. In their paid search eBook, Hubspot recommends a pay-per-click method as it gives the advertiser more responsibility to follow-through on the offer. This means you’re more likely to create a great ad and landing page, with an obvious call to action that easily guides your visitor through the conversion process. Google allows you to set your daily budget and actually spread it out through the day, so you can target your audience at the optimal point in the day (something you can figure out through their AdWords analytics and metrics). Bids are in auction-style format, but Google doesn’t position ads solely on the amount of money an advertiser is willing to give them: an ad’s quality score is just as (if not more) important, and can essentially make or break your paid search campaign.

There’s two different types of ad positioning on a Google search page:

  • Top placement, where the three highest-quality ads are positioned, and
  • Other placement, where up to eight ads are placed that are typically lower-quality or have a lower bidding price.

The quality of your ad will dictate where on the page your ad gets placed. Google’s quality score system rates ads on a one to ten scale, one being the lowest. A good keyword has a quality score of at least five: that being said, you want your quality score to be higher than your competitor’s, because your positioning on the page will probably be better if it is. Much like how Google ranks organic search results based on the relevance and popularity of the page, it says that the quality of an ad is based on its expected clickthrough rate, its relevance to the search, and the landing page it’s linked to. User experience should be the number one goal when deciding what keywords to use and the ads you’ve matched to them. Google’s smart, and it knows that if an ad is popular, it’s serving searchers the information they’re looking for. Your ad can be in any format as long as it tells viewers how to respond, what you’re offering, and the key selling points. A great ad should have a no-BS call to action, and send visitors to a landing page that follows up on exactly what you promised. Google says “chasing the number” should never be the driving force of an AdWords campaign or ad group: rather, make it about satisfying the searcher (just like SEO!).

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Why “Googling It” Matters to Marketers

According to Google, people around the globe searched trillions of times in 2014 (Trillions! With a T!). Google is a verb in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, and we use it all the time when someone asks us a question or brings up a topic (“Google it”). Search is a fundamental part of our online experience, helping us navigate the web and providing us with useful information in less than a second. Marketers and businesses simply cannot take it lightly, and adding search engine optimization to their toolboxes means they can not only show up when people around the world are Googling, but also creates a more user-friendly site and helps them gain valuable leads very easily. Many companies specialize in SEO, and Moz is one of them.

Moz is a kick-ass company based in Seattle that provides software not only for search (what we’re talking about now), but also links (what I’ll be talking about soon), social and brand. Their focus and number one skill is inbound marketing, and they’re all about transparency, authenticity, generosity, being fun, empathetic, and exceptional (or TAGFEE). What makes them different from other inbound and SEO companies is focusing on the top part of the sales funnel. Moz sets themselves apart by thinking about where leads are before they get to your site. Their CEO holds the position as Wizard of Moz, and there’s other positions such as Code Wookie and Head of Team Happiness. Their uniqueness and transparency is obvious, and makes them even better at what they do. I’ve gathered the content I’m sharing with you today from two sources of theirs: their Beginner’s Guide to SEO, and their Guide to Link Building.

Search engine optimization (SEO), is the practice of improving and promoting a website to increase the number of visitors a site receives from search engines. The majority of a website’s traffic is driven by search, regardless of what type of site it may be. That means regardless of whatever services you may be offering online, it is absolutely necessary to make sure your site is optimized for search in order to survive. It’s also important to note that SEO isn’t only about search engines: it’s about people. Making users the priority will better optimize your site than creating one that is only friendly for search engines. According to Moz, the best kinds of pages and sites are:

  • Easy to use
  • Provide relevant and direct information in relation to the query
  • Deliver credible and legitimate content.

Notice how all these are directly related to the human user?

Think of all the sites that pop up every time you Google something, and usually have the answer you’re looking for. Rand Fishkin, Wizard of Moz gave a quick list of sites with great SEO: Wikipedia, imdb, and Urbanspoon all are user-friendly and give searchers the information they want. Hubspot and Moz both have great SEO as well, which I think proves they’re really good at what they do.

A search engine’s primary responsibility is to serve relevant and useful information to a user very quickly, and to do this, they use crawlers (automated robots, sometimes referred to as spiders) to browse the web to find what a searcher may be looking for. Once search engines find these relevant pages, they index these in giant databases all over the globe for future searches for quick and easy recall. Links and link-building are key to helping crawlers navigate your site efficiently, but I’ll touch on this later.

But how do they find your site? Keywords are fundamental to search, and using them successfully is pretty easy: use them in titles, text, and metadata. They should be relevant to the content you’re delivering, and not overly-specific. Don’t abuse them either, or you can get banned from Google. Scary, huh? Popular search terms actually only make up about 30% of what’s actually searched on the web. The other 70% are less popular, but more important in terms of SEO: these “long-tail” keywords have higher conversion rates, and catch people later on in the buying process. Like the rest of inbound marketing strategies, SEO comes down to content.

We know content is probably the biggest part of inbound and digital marketing. Delivering the right content to the right user at the optimal time is what will set a business apart from its competitors. Well, SEO and content go hand in hand. When a search engine hunts online, it determines relevance to the user’s query (via complex algorithms), and ranks based off the site’s popularity. Google and other search engines assume that popularity equals validity, and the more popular a site is, the better its information must be. Which is why good content is such a necessity: providing great content and valuable information means users will like (and share) your site more, which in turn makes the site more popular and ups its ranking. Social media has increased massively in popularity over the past few years, and it is powerful for SEO too: while social shares aren’t considered as important as links, they do establish a lot of credibility, especially when the share is from someone influential. Google also serves personalized information to users who are logged in to their social sites, which makes for more convenient searching. Google+ may be the butt of many jokes, but it is a highly useful tool for SEO and helps businesses (especially B2B ones) rank higher in searches. Besides content, ranking in search engines is determined by the number of links pointing to a site.

As I mentioned earlier, crawlers navigate websites by means of links. Creating crawlable structures online makes it easy for crawlers to search your site and provide the right information to potential leads. The more people linking to your site, the more popular it is. Link building is the process of acquiring hyperlinks from other sites to your own. A hyperlink (or link) is how users navigate between pages online. Search engines use links to discover new web pages, and help determine how high a site should rank. If a business gets high-quality sites to link or “point to” theirs, they’ll rank higher. Building relationships with leaders in your industry is not only useful for establishing credibility with your audience – it means these people might link to your site and promote your content, and improve your SEO. Through link building, other relevant websites will send relevant leads your way, improving your reach and probably your sales. This is actually one of the three types of links, editorial links.

  • Editoral links are given by other website owners (such as bloggers), and are more efficient than asking someone to link you. They’re highly ranked on Google, and the best kind of links for SEO.
  • Manual or outreach links are the most common types of links, and involve manually contacting website owners to link to your content.
  • Self-created, non-editorial links are usually considered spammy and are often penalized by Google. They trick search engines into thinking you have valuable content, when in reality you actually don’t. Don’t use these, you’re better than this. If you’re lying to Google, you’re probably lying to your audience, and that is NOT okay.

It’s important to link to specialized resources, which aren’t always homepages: they could be landing pages, your blog, or more. Just make sure it’s providing the right content to the right people. Remember this, “all link building campaigns should start with something worth linking to“. In creating a link building campaign (actively trying to increase links to your site combined with an overarching marketing objective), set realistic and measurable goals that directly relate to those of your business. What are you using to attract and earn your links, and who’s your audience as well as linking audience? Building links will increase reach, and help optimize your site for search engines and increase your website’s traffic.

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