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Link Building For Beginners: A Digital Marketing Agency’s Guide

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Despite a lot of discourse throughout SEO communities and digital marketing agencies alike, link building, earning, or acquisition (whatever term you are more comfortable with) is still incredibly important in SEO. In this article, we will cover some of the best link building strategies and techniques that you can employ to get ahead in your niche and climb the rankings to organic success.

Link building is considered by some to fall into the darker realms of SEO but this blog will guide you through the darkness with an illuminating white hat. Not only will you find that many of these methods are accepted by all and work extremely well, many of them can be accomplished with little or no money — but instead with your time, effort and resources.

White Hat Link Building Techniques

Link building has a long and storied past in SEO but we’ll start just before April 2012 and just before the release of Google Penguin. Prior to Penguin, businesses and digital marketing agencies could essentially buy their position on Google (and I don’t mead with Adwords) with cheap and plentiful low-quality links!

Before Penguin, Google’s ability to evaluate the quality of links was very limited and relied on more basic metrics, in comparison to the more modern link analysis methods. Without going into too much detail, quantity used to matter a lot more than it does now. Since the rollout of Penguin, website owners and digital marketing agencies have had to innovate their link building tactics to create value that earns links.

Below are some examples of link building strategies that SEOs can use to increase rankings and stay in Google’s good book:

Create Meaningful Relationships

Links are the online equivalent of an offline referral from somebody who knows a thing or two about the thing you are asking about. Just like in the offline world, relationships and communities are incredibly valuable in SEO. If you can strike up relationships with people within your given niche, the reach of your website will greatly increase, as will the likelihood of people linking to your site.

A good idea is to start a forum or group on a social media platform. If you can demonstrate value within the community you have created or joined, people will begin listening to you, and (hopefully) linking to resources or blogs on your website.

Something to keep in mind here, is that backlinks and references rarely often happen. No matter how great the content is you create, one must really put in the necessary time and effort to establish relationships, ask for links/references, and continually provide value in the process.

Nathan Elly is the branch manager of digital marketing agencies and had the following to say on the importance of creating meaningful relationships.

Everyday we work with a wide range of companies and brands that are looking to establish new relationships online, and also gain powerful backlinks in the process. Not only is this something we’ve been able to help out with, it’s something we’ve mastered and taught to many brands and companies over the years as well. Even with the enviornment changing, it’s always come down to the simple practice of direct relationships and not just expecting backlinks to come in. Start a relationship, provide value, and ask how you can help other site owners succeed. This is one of the best ways to find longterm relationships and gain high quality backlinks and references in the process.

Create Meaningful Content

Following on from point 1, you need to demonstrate value – enough value that other people and websites want to reference your work. You need to ask yourself questions like:

  • What is my audience interested in?
  • What is currently a hot topic within my niche?
  • Can I produce content that is evergreen?
  • Are there resources already being linked to that I can improve upon?

If you can answer these questions and produce content that other people value and promote it through the platforms you participate in, then you will get links! Evergreen content, or content that has a very long shelf life, can have a fantastic ROI in the long term. Content that effectively answers age-old questions can bring in a steady flow of links.

At the same time, we can always look back at some of the most obvious basics to great content writing, as provided by Yoast. Yes, these are basic, but so many websites, brands, and bloggers still neglect to follow many of these rules.

  1. Think before you write.
  2. Write down the structure of your blog post.
  3. Use paragraphs, headings, and signal words.

There are a few more recommendations from Yoast, but most of these are covered within their Yoast SEO plugin when you scroll down to the bottom of any content you are writing within WordPress.

These are basic, but spending a few extra minutes to implement these into your writing can result in a much higher-quality end result. I personally have started using the “structure” tip with my writing, and thrown in ‘audio to text’, then will clean my content up afterward. With all of this in place, it definitely makes writing 2,000+ word articles much easier and faster.

Resource Page Links

Some websites have a page dedicated to linking out to valuable resources within their niche. Instead of sharing your content within your communities and hoping these webmasters see your engagement, you can actively seek them out! Google’s search engine allows for specific inputs to retrieve certain results. Using the below search strings, you can discover resources pages in your niche!:

  • “Keyword” + inurl:links
  • “Keyword” + “helpful resources”
  • “Keyword” + “useful resources”
  • “Keyword” + “useful links”

Once you have shortlisted the websites you feel you could add value to and vice versa – reach out to them with an email or phone pitch promoting your content. Hopefully, you and your content are persuasive and valuable enough that they create a new link to your content, or replace an old link with your new improved resource.

I get these emails all the time from random people and they are quite annoying — almost as much as the 50+ guest blogging requests I get daily as well. However, on the internet, it’s all a numbers game and if only 10% of the sites respond and end up linking back to your site, it’s a working strategy. If you are looking for more link building options like this one and want to put in the manual outreach, investing some time into 404 broken link building as well.

Business Directories

Business directories can be an extremely valuable link building resource for businesses, particularly for those competing in a local market. In a lot of cases, business directories are quite authoritative which is then passed back to your website. They also have the added benefit of allowing local businesses to list their business details like Name, Address and Phone Number.

In the SEO world, we call these NAP details. Having consistent NAP details across all of your online web assets (website, directories, Google My Business, etc…) is a strong ranking signal for Google in local markets. When you are creating listings on these directories, be diligent with your inputs and make sure everything is consistent.

To identify useful directories for your business, we can use some more search strings (yay) and Google. Below are some you can take advantage of:

  • “industry” inurl:directory
  • “industry” inurl:links
  • “industry” intitle:directory
  • intitle:industry inurl:directory
  • related:industry inurl:directory

If you are a local business or have a physical location, you should definitely spend some time on your Google My Business listing. With nearly all searches being made through Google, it’s important to make sure your site or business information is showing up correctly in Google — especially if it’s for a local address, operating hours, or getting in touch with your brand.

Conclusion

So, there you have it; our beginners guide to white hat link building for digital marketing agencies! These four tips will certainly be a good start for your burgeoning business and put you on the right track for sustainable rankings. This is by no means an exhaustive list but it does highlight some of the more accessible ways a business can begin expanding its organic reach through the means of link building.

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9 Questions You Must Ask When Hiring an SEO Expert in 2019

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Now is a great time to bring in an SEO consultant. In the past, you could maybe get away with DIY SEO, but that time is over. The field has now gotten so complex that SEO is a whole career path in itself.

Are you considering hiring a local SEO consultant? Here are some of the key questions you should ask.

1. Do They Have Years of Experience?

Ideally, when you employ a search engine marketing consultant, they should have years of experience in the industry. Some so-called SEO experts rely on outdated or inappropriate techniques that could actually harm your website’s ranking rather than help it.

A good SEO specialist can implement different kinds of strategies depending on the situation. SEO is not a “one-size-fits-all” line of work. You need to use pick appropriate strategies for certain kinds of businesses.

A good SEO specialist will have experience doing SEO for multiple industries. And they’ll be able to implement a strategy that’s tailor fit to your business. Read more about such expertise from a Harrisburg SEO marketing agency that has been working with local clients for years now.

2. Do They Have a Passion for Learning More?

The world of SEO is constantly in flux. This means a good SEO consultant should have a genuine interest and passion about learning more about the industry.

When you have a good knowledge of SEO trends, you can predict what’s going to happen. Then, you can use that knowledge to give your clients an edge over the competition.

A good SEO specialist should have so much knowledge about their field that they can come up with multiple methods to accomplish any one goal. Of course, this takes experience, but to truly have an edge, you need to have passion as well.

3. Do They Have Good Communication Skills?

It’s no use being the most passionate and experienced SEO consultant in the world if you don’t have the right communication skills. When you hire an SEO worker, don’t underestimate the importance of communication skills.

Many companies make the mistake of hiring the best “on paper” candidates, only to find they’re very poor at communicating. This can result in an SEO strategy that doesn’t really suit your needs.

4. Are They a Good Fit for Your Company?

Sometimes, being a good communicator isn’t enough. Your SEO specialist also needs to be a good fit for your company culture.

It’s sometimes better to work with the slightly less qualified candidate if it seems like their personality will mesh well with your company. If you hire someone who doesn’t fit in well with your company culture, it could result in a lot of problems in the future.

For example, they could end up leaving the company within a short frame of time. This is undesirable because you’ve wasted time, energy, and money training this person. Hiring someone who doesn’t fit into your company culture could also result in workplace arguments, leading to huge losses of productivity and motivation.

When you interview a candidate, you should always make sure they have the skills they’ll need to do the job. But you should also make sure they get on well with the people they’ll be working with during their time at the company.

5. What Tools Will They Use?

Do you have any specific pieces of tools in mind for your SEO specialist to use? In this case, then you should ensure they have experience using those specific tools. Or you should be prepared to give them the necessary time to learn how to use them.

If you aren’t sure what the top SEO experts and bloggers are using, all you need to do is take a few minutes and read through any of the top SEO blogs in the market today. Names like Neil Patel, Brian Dean, and others are always discussing the latest methods and tools they are using to achieve their results.

Examples of good SEO tools include programs like Ahrefs, Long Tail Pro, or Moz.

6. Do They Have an Understanding of Marketing?

Some SEO specialists are great when it comes to doing SEO, but have a poor grasp of marketing. Ideally, you want your SEO specialist to have a good knowledge of marketing theory and techniques. Understanding the psychological aspect of marketing is just as important as making sure your website contains all of the keywords you need.

SEO content not only needs to make your page show up on Google, but it also needs to keep readers’ attentions once they enter the page. A good SEO specialist can create a page that’s not only a hit on Google, but is also great from a marketing perspective.

7. Do They Have a Proven Track Record?

When hiring a search engine optimization specialist, you need to look for someone who has a proven track record for getting the job done.

What results have they gotten for their clients on previous jobs? Do they have a proven record for increasing sales? Or getting the page ranked higher on Google?

Whenever you do an interview, make sure you focus on previous results. SEO knowledge is easy to come by these days, but actually getting results is not easy to fake. Make sure you ask for references and also follow up on them.

8. Can They Work Well With Your Web Developers?

A good SEO specialist will have full knowledge of all things SEO. They should be able to work very closely with your web developers to implement things like HTML tags.

Since your web developers will need to work with your chosen SEO specialist on a daily basis, you should be prepared to ask your web developers what they think of your chosen candidate. You might even want to include them in the interview process.

9. Do They Appreciate What You’re Trying to Achieve?

The ideal candidates need to understand exactly what it is your company is trying to achieve. SEO should be a central part of your digital marketing strategy and there should be very clear set goals.

For example, maybe the intention is to turn people who click on your website into paying customers. In this situation, it’s no good getting thousands of clicks if nobody is actually buying anything.

Take Your Time Hiring a Local SEO Consultant

Getting the right local SEO consultant can take time. It’s important you don’t rush into things too quickly.

Take the time to find the right candidate. You’re looking for someone who is not only skilled and knowledgeable about SEO, but also someone who’s a great fit for you and your company.

Need more tips on marketing? Then check out our marketing blog!

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Is There An App for That? The Top 5 SEO Tips for Mobile App Ranking

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In the world of Google and website traffic, you want to make sure all your work is as optimized as possible. Did you know that also pertains to your mobile app ranking?

Companies that sell and distribute retail benefit immensely from taking advantage of an app by creating a quick and easy way to browse their products and make purchases. The roadblock, however, is getting visitors to their website to download their mobile app.

You can actually boost the popularity of your app through search engine optimization (SEO). By combining the worlds of desktop and mobile, you can optimize your mobile app and increase your app download volume and quality ranking.

To learn how SEO affects mobile app ranking, get started with these top tips.

1. Make Sure the App Name is Branded

The name of your app can prove to earn you search engine rankings if it is named in line with your brand or named according to a keyword you are wanting to rank for. Getting the most popular mobile app marketplaces like the Android Market and the Google Play store will help drive more traffic to your mobile app site. Take advantage of these linking opportunities by using the anchor text wisely.

For example, if your company name is “We Heart Cats” and that is the branded keyword you’d like to rank for, then you should try and have the name of your app be the same.

2. Link Your App to Your Website and Profile Pages

Taking advantage of linking in the websites and pages that get the most traffic to your app is a great way to direct visitors to your mobile app. Consider taking advantage of some of your most important pages, such as your homepage or a services page, to make a link to your app download page as easily visible as possible.

You may even want to consider creating a landing page and an email campaign that is dedicated to highlighting your app. These pages may include a description of the app and its features, screenshots of your app in action, and reviews of your app. An out-of-the-box idea could include a tutorial on how to create an app that directs to your app at the end of the tutorial.

3. Use Anchor Text Strategically

Make sure you include the name of your brand in the anchor text that links to your mobile app. Many make the mistake of simply saying “Download iPhone App” without including the name of the app. You may notice that larger companies don’t use their branded names in the anchor text to the app, but do not follow this path!

While it may be visually pleasing to see a clean button that directs to the “App Store” to a varying degree, you are losing valuable link equity in not having any anchor text.

Instead, include your app name. For example, if you want to link your “We Heart Cats App” then you want to have “We Heart Cats App” in your anchor text. Try “Download the We Heart Cats App Today”.

4. Offer a QR Link on Your Desktop Landing Page

You want to make it as easy as possible to download your app. That’s where QR codes come in. A QR code can allow desktop visitors to easily access the app by simply scanning the QR code from there phone. This will trigger the download of the app automatically.

Make sure you compress the link before you put it on your page. If your URL exceeds 50 characters then it will fail to scan and upload your app. Use a link compression or QR platform that can also show you bot QR crawl requests.

5. Cross-Promote Your App for Mobile

Make sure there is a link to your mobile app wherever your audience is! You already have an audience that regularly visits your desktop and mobile website. Now that you have an app, take advantage of the audience already there as well.

The tried and true cross-promotion trifecta means to make sure you are promoting your website to mobile users, searchers, and bots. These three cross-promote methods will allow browsers to come to your site and notice the link to your mobile app on your pages and will both drive users to your app or allow bots to crawl the link to boost your organic search results.

Make sure you have a link to your app on top of all your pages, whether they visit your site on mobile or desktop. You can also take advantage of crawling apps and link your app using optimized anchor text.

Next Steps: How Will You Optimize Your App for SEO?

When search engines index, display and rank mobile apps, they are simultaneously creating hundreds of backlinks for all those app downloads to boost mobile app ranking. This will give you a huge leg up in organic search both for your mobile app, as well as your mobile and desktop websites.

With that, higher mobile app and website traffic creates more downloads, which creates more backlinks, and so on. This phenomenon can create massive profitability in those that take advantage of mobile app optimization.

When you’re ready to take these tips and implement them in your SEO strategy, be sure to take advantage of all the tips and tricks on ZacJohnson.com. We offer professional digital marketing guidance for any level.

Contact us today for more information or to use our services.

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Ditching DIY SEO: 5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Be Your Own SEO Expert

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Since the digital revolution kicked off, three little letters have influenced every web-based marketing campaign: SEO. Indeed, search engine optimization is still the crux of any good campaign.

In fact, SEO is so significant that spending is fast-approaching $80 billion with no signs of slowing down!

So SEO is important. That much we understand. But you should also understand that you’re better off outsourcing your SEO services.

Here are five reasons why acting as your own SEO expert isn’t as good of an idea as you think.

1. A Barebones SEO Strategy Isn’t Enough

Perhaps you already have a basic understanding of all things SEO. You know how to research keywords, your site uses original content, and you’re already on Google.

Except you’re only the second page of Google. And as a result, you’re not seeing any traffic.

Knowing what SEO is and how to put in place a barebones strategy won’t get you anywhere.

Unless you’re one of the first three results on a search engine, you’re about as good as invisible. Together, the first three results make up 61.5% of all search traffic.

You have to be better than basic to generate the traffic you’re after.

2. Penalties Come With a Hefty Cost

Poor SEO implementation doesn’t only mean you’re missing out on search traffic. It could mean that your site gets removed from Google altogether.

Avoid common mistakes like:

  • Content scraping
  • Keyword spamming
  • Poor site optimization
  • Domain cloaking

An SEO misstep — whether intentional or not — can mean spending weeks trying to get your site visible to a search engine once again. Instead, consider contacting an SEO expert and crafting a proposal for SEO services. Even if you don’t end up going with the SEO company that writes up a proposal and plan of attack, you can still use it as a reference guide on the work required to hit their SEO and growth goals for your site.

3. Hiring an SEO Expert Can Save Time and Money

Even if you know the ins-and-outs of the SEO world, crafting a viable SEO strategy takes dozens of hours. That means spending precious time away from growing your business.

And each moment you take your eye off the prize is another moment where your competition can pull ahead.

SEO consulting is a wonderful investment because it lets you focus on doing what you do best. Let an SEO pro handle the research and details.

4. SEO Principles Change… A Lot

The scary thing about SEO is that what works today isn’t guaranteed to work tomorrow. In fact, what works today may still result in the de-indexing of your website!

Since 2003, there have been over 70 algorithmic changes.

What’s more, these changes aren’t going to slow down anytime soon. As the web begins to migrate toward a decidedly mobile market, you can expect changes to occur as often as consumers’ tastes.

5. SEO Requires a Multi-Platform, Multi-Faceted Strategy

Think you’re ready for the big leagues? Here are just a few of the things you’ll need to succeed:

  • On-site optimization
  • Off-site optimization
  • Social media marketing
  • Rich snippets
  • Knowledge of keyword bidding
  • Fresh, constant content
  • Optimized images
  • A mobile-friendly approach
  • Local and global approaches

Yikes. That’s quite an intimidating list. It’s far too much for most people to keep up with.

SEO is so much more than a few keywords here and there or a great click-through rate. Great SEO requires constant care and attention on a variety of platforms, with more coming all the time.

Leave It to the Pros: If You’re Not an Expert, Hire an SEO Expert

If you’re a small or medium-sized business, it’s understandable that you may want to save money by serving as your own SEO expert. But outsourcing your SEO consulting will benefit you in so many ways.

Have any SEO or marketing related questions? Maybe you want to see the benefits for yourself.

I’d love to hear from you! Get in touch today.

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Hi, I’m Zac Johnson

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