Search Engine Optimization can be down right intimidating.
I feel your pain. Three years ago I knew nothing of SEO.
That was until a friend suggested I talk to him for an hour on SEO. At the time I was working for a golf holiday company and I felt that we could attract website visitors through search terms like “Scotland Golf Holiday”.
For a few reasons I wasn’t able to help my employer out. But it was still beneficial to learn SEO.
And now I’m helping you learn SEO in three components.
Click on the first two links for previous posts where I show you how to do proper keyword research and then properly optimize your website.
Today’s post will discuss how to get backlinks to your site.
How To Get High Quality Backlinks
Backlinks are simply links from other websites pointing towards yours. They help notify Google that your website exists. The more valuable backlinks you have, the better your Google PageRank. I explain why PageRank is important to your overall search engine rankings below.
Essentially backlinks are the HGH of SEO. In this case they improve your search rankings and not your bicep size!
Without all three components your rankings will not improve. As I said backlinks are the only way Google knows your website exists. You could nail the first two components to SEO but if you have no backlinks pointing to your website, your rankings won’t improve.
Continue reading this post for a list of ways to acquire high quality backlinks.
Before I list those ideas, lets start of talking about Google Pagerank. Page rank is a way Google notifies us on how trustworthy a website is.
Sites like Facebook, ESPN.com and Twitter have a high page rank. Most business websites like yours don’t have any Pagerank.
But as you build more high quality links to your site, your pagerank and trust with Google will increase.
Now onto getting more backlinks. With Google continuously cracking down on what type of links are valuable, here is a list of the best ways to get high quality backlinks.
Business Directories – Getting your business listed in directories with help with citations and most directories give a link back to your site.
Guest Blogging – finding relevant blogs and pitching a blog post idea
Social Media Profiles – Linking your personal and Business Google + pages to your website is important. Even if you don’t plan on using Pinterest, Twitter or other social media sites, create a profile with a link back to your website.
Be remarkable, unique or even controversial – if you’re remarkable or unique, people will talk about you online. The same with controversy, it generates attention and possibly plenty of conversation and links
Comment on relevant blogs
Participate on social networking sites like Facebook and Google+ where you can link to your latest blog posts
Participate in relevant forums
Monitor and participate in local forums like Reddit
Hold interviews with prominent people – they’re bound to garner enough attention
Submit your business to relevant local and industry specific directories
Submit a press release to press release sites
Link out to others and maybe they’ll notice and link back
One quote confirmed I needed to go ahead with this post.
“Every marketing piece someone comes in contact with leaves an impression on your brand. Even those who aren’t purchasing your product are forming an opinion of you.”
That really sums up this post quite nicely.
The natural tendency when marketing, branding or advertising is to slap your logo everywhere. More awareness means more sales right?
Those businesses that create value and an emotional connection through their branding and marketing are going to be the ones who stand out from the competition.
Not those whose logos are everywhere.
My case in point is our friends over at Star Toilet Paper whom I talked about in my last post.
I’ll repeat John’s quote.
“Even those who aren’t purchasing your product are forming an opinion of you.”
When those people are wiping their bottoms, their doing so with with someone’s brand. Obviously they’re forming a pretty crappy opinion of that brand.
I certainly hope those businesses wake up and start to value their own brand more. Would you really want your brand to be aligned with crap?
If you’re reading this post and my site, I doubt it. This is all about Meaningful Marketing after all.
But hey, some businesses are taking advantage of the low cost to advertise on toilet paper. They’re thinking short term not long term however. Customer loyalty is built on value and service. They may get a few people in the door redeeming (can you imagine yourself saving toilet paper to redeem at a store?) toilet paper coupons but are coupon redeemers what you’re after?
Coupon clippers do not turn into loyal customers.
Ok I’ve made my point loud and clear about advertising on toilet paper. I give props to the Brian and Jordan who started the business.
But we can do better.
Consistent Brand Image
When influencing people to come and do business with you, not only is it what your brand is displayed on but how it looks.
Here’s another story that ties into my last post and brand image.
There is a luxury condo development in my city. They’re currently advertising on all of the squash courts at one of the clubs in town. This club hosted a tournament a few months back.
Talking with a few players at this tournament revealed that the many thought the courts were not nice to play in. It was true. The walls were dirty, the floors were dark and the paint was chipping off the walls and the area where this brand’s logo was displayed.
On a couple of courts you couldn’t even make out the name of the brand. Their logo had been hammered with squash balls that most of the paint was gone from the logo.
They’ve slapped their brand all over a product (poorly marinated squash courts) that doesn’t align at all with luxury.
This really makes no sense to me. The brand image is off. Nothing about the courts is luxurious at all. Most importantly, there’s no connection to the squash players playing on those courts.
Create Value or an Emotional Connection
So what does it take to succeed in your future branding, marketing and advertising efforts?
Create an emotional connection – Here’s a way the luxury condo company above could create an emotional connection with the squash player. John Morgan had another great quote in his book. “People are emotionally tied to brands and not products.”
Just because someone see’s your logo doesn’t mean they’ll automatically remember your service and call you up when they need it.
In branding, marketing and advertising you don’t have long to capture one’s attention. Do your best to make a great first impression!
What do you think?
Do you form opinions of brands like you do of people?
My news feed is usually littered with anything to do with cats, those formulaic “What most people think” meme’s, or “Sh** ____ says” videos.
But have you ever wondered why?
Read on as this post will explain how Facebook decides what updates are displayed in peoples news feeds.
Trust, Credibility and social proof
I speak highly on how to build trust and credibility for your business.
One way to do that is through social proof.
What exactly is social proof?
Wikipedia’s definition (I always trust Wikipedia!):
Social proof, also known as informational social influence, is a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others reflect correct behavior for a given situation.
How does this work in the online world? What does this have to do with Facebook news feeds?
If people see you have testimonials on your website along with lots of followers on Twitter and likes on Facebook, they’ll generally trust you more. Would you agree this is very important if they’re a first time visitor to your website?
Of course it is!
So if visitors to your website, Twitter and Facebook profiles see people like your product or service and speak highly of it, they’ll follow the crowd and trust you more.
Many small business owners know this. I’m sure you do as well.
Knowing this, how can you increase your social proof and get more likes on Facebook?
You can grow your Facebook page a few ways.
ask friends for likes
ask random strangers for a like
rely on organic growth
I’m not even going to talk about the last idea. It’s a bad one as this post will explain why.
Growing likes organically can take some time depending on your customer base.
What happens then is that we request that our friends or strangers like our page. In exchange we’ll probably like theirs. That’s the influence of reciprocity.
It’s all in an effort to improve our social proof. The more our fan base grows on Facebook, the more our social proof increases and the more trustworthy we appear.
Recently I’ve seen the influence of reciprocity on LinkedIn. In various groups people link to their Facebook pages in hopes of receiving more likes. They would then reciprocate by “liking” others pages.
I took part in this to build my Facebook page fan base last month.
A harmless gesture right? After all we’re just trying to help each other out!
This is a big mistake though.
Let me explain.
Facebook EdgeRank aka the Gatekeeper
We need a gatekeeper when on Facebook.
That or our feeds would be jammed with updates from our friends and pages we like. Most people spend only a few minutes on Facebook and they want to see the best of the best. That’s where our gatekeeper friend EdgeRank comes in.
So basically our news feeds aren’t really news feeds. EdgeRank determines what we see in our news feeds by using an algorithm. I’ll let Kelvin Newman explain EdgeRank at Econsultancy so read up on that.
If you don’t want to, I’ll quickly explain.
Three things are weighed into the EdgeRank algorithm:
Affinity – Calculates how friendly you are with someone or page. The more you interact with them, the more you see their updates.
Weight – Determines what type of content shows up more in a news feed. Videos, photos and links have a better chance to show up in a feed. Weight can improve over time as your content or status update receives more likes, comments and shares.
Time – The fresher the content the more seen it gets. Pretty straight forward.
Does it make sense now why anything to do with cats or those “What people think” memes and those “Sh** ____ says” videos are always seen?
People are engaging with those types of posts! This means their EdgeRank is higher than your thoughtful and useful status update.
Frustrating isn’t it?
How does EdgeRank effect your updates and who sees them?
The people who have engaged with your updates in the past will see more in the future. This is the affinity score of EdgeRank. Pretty easy and obviously what we all want!
However if someone has never engaged with your updates in the past, they’re not going to see others. They’ll see a few upon liking your page. But when they don’t engage, Facebook knows this and they cut your future updates from that person’s newsfeed.
Your updates will be replaced with popular updates from their friends or other pages they’ve liked. Facebook is simply trying to give people relevant and popular updates in their newsfeed.
This is a story of quality over quantity. You shouldn’t be worried about your social proof and how many likes your Facebook page has. It’s great that you have 1000+ fans on Facebook. If you reciprocated likes to get large portion of your fans, it’s not helping you.
Obviously they’re not seeing your updates. Therefore they’re not sharing your updates and improving your pages awareness.
Another reason is those people who visited your page organically might wonder why you have 1000+ fans but no interaction. They’ll think you’re boring and thus not click the like button. After all, who likes boring brands?
Focus on finding raving fans. And engage with those current ones you have.
One of my favorite quotes on social media is from Gary Vaynerchuk.
“It’s not the number of followers you have or “likes” you get, it’s the strength of the bond with your followers.”
This quote applies to business in general not just social media. Its part of the out care your competition mentality I want business owners to adopt.
So how can you improve your EdgeRank score?
Turn up the foreplay on EdgeRank
Avoid asking friends who are not emotionally invested in your business. You want the friends that will actually comment, like and share your content.
Stay away from reciprocation likes from people you don’t know. My LinkedIn example from above is exactly what I am talking.
I showcased a real life example of Bluebird Taxi who wants to stand out from their competition and focus on customer acquisition and retention.
It’s truly a great example of what meaningful marketing in the mobile world looks like.
Since that post was long I wanted to carry it over. For this post I’m going to talk even further about ways they could really increase their customer retention and acquisition.
In this example I’ll be showcasing another car service company already doing these things.
Read on if you want to see how apps can increase your customer loyalty and sales.
A few months back I got tipped off on a very cool business idea.
Uber.com is a car service that utilizes the wonderful advancements in technology to improve their customer acquisition and retention.
How do they do this? It’s a two step process. The first step does three things very well.
Engagement, Transparency and Trust
After you log onto their app, you can request a pick up from your location. All you have to do it setup the location tracking services on your phone and you’re set.
This very step is where the personal engagement begins. Instead of the standard “Your cab will be 15 minutes” answer we normally get when calling for a pick up, Uber sends you a text.
It’s the content of the text that makes it personal and allows Uber to be transparent while increase their trust and engagement.
The text comes with an update that your pickup car is en route, how long it will be and who your driver is.
Why is this engaging? It’s a one way text but it offers you an update of how far way your car is. That’s helpful and it allows the company to be fully transparent and honest with how far your ride is really away. We’ve all been lied to by cab companies before on wait times.
In my last post I mentioned that how GPS tracking of cabs allows people to see where their cab might be. The text update is another way to achieve that. It is nice to get a personalized text however.
Now onto what builds trust. Being able to view the profile and ratings of your driver is a comforting way to see who will be taking you home.
We’ve all ridden in a cab with a driver who was not very friendly or a tad reckless. Instead of calling the company and complain, we often do nothing.
A few years back I was involved in an accident that was my cab drivers fault. I’ve not ridden with that company since. I’ve been in a few rides home with less than safe drivers but have done nothing to complain about the ride.
That’s the not the case with Uber though. You can rate your driver right after the ride is completed by loading the app.
This could also help the company evaluate how their drivers are truly perceived by its customers.
Being able to see what other users have said and how they’ve rated a driver builds trust. It’s also very transparent to see what others have said.
Review sites like Yelp, Yellow Pages and now Google’s Place pages allow us full transparency. Businesses no longer have much control because everyone has a voice that can be heard.
Being able to see reviews of the driver is this same idea but within the app itself.
This next step is where Uber really focuses on customer retention.
Most cab companies are still using interact machines for those paying by debit or credit. This can slow the checkout process down. If a cab is in a location where there isn’t a great connection, the processing time can take a few minutes.
Uber instead keeps your credit card on file. This makes payment super easy and helps those in a jam without a wallet. Talk about convenience.
I know that if a cab company has my credit card on file, I’ll be more likely to use their service since it’s easier. I can just get out of the cab and leave.
They could also think about offering a kick back to their frequent users. From there the users could check their points through their application.
Now’s not the time to talk about rewards programs. That’s for another day.
I’ve profiled Uber because they get it. They’re marketing with meaning by using technology to make it easier for those needing a ride.
In doing so they increase their engagement, transparency, trust and convenience.
In marketing you don’t have to some unique idea. Take a look around and see what other industries are doing and see if you can adopt those ideas to your own business.
In this example Bluebird Taxi could look at what Uber is doing and borrow their apps ideas.
What do you think?
If Uber was available in your city, would you use their service?