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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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How to Improve Local SEO Results When Using a Digital Marketing Agency

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Running a business can be very rewarding and exciting, but there are also many challenges that you have to try to overcome. One of these barriers is the stiff level of competition you face, no matter what industry you are in. If you want to be able to compete effectively with rivals, you have to ensure you have a solid marketing strategy in place and that the solutions you use actually work.

Unfortunately, just ‘creating content’ is never going to get you there. To rank in Google, your site will need powerful backlinks to improve the Domain Authority and Page Authority rankings of your site. Without these in place, your site will likely be found in Google for a wide range of long tail keywords, but likely somewhere between pages 10 to 100 — which is pretty much useless.

In order to effectively rank online and compete against already established sites, you will need to come up with a very creative and highly effective content creation and marketing plan. If you are a single person (or small) business, you will likely find that this task in itself could be a full time business, which is why many organizations outsource the process to a trustworthy digital marketing agency.

To help with the process of winning the war of online marketing and SEO, let’s cover some of the most important factors when trying to find a trustworthy digital marketing agency, and where/how you might want to focus your efforts and advertising dollars.

Local is Extremely Effective for Targeted Ads and SEO

When looking at the internet as a whole, there are more than a billion active sites online — which means they are all creating new content all the time, getting new social shares/backlinks, and ranking in Google. If you want to compete on this global scale, be ready for some massive competition.

At the same time, many smaller and local businesses don’t have the funds or resources to compete at these levels. For this reason, they should focus heavily on their local SEO rankings, paid advertising and demographic audience.

Neon Ambition, an SEO in Austin, has been working with companies for years now on how to improve their local reach and targeting, while also explaining the importance of how to find a positive ROI with SEO marketing, which can have a pretty much limitless ad spend cap.

They recommended the following take place:

“Having worked with hundreds of clients on a local specific ad campaign, we understand not only how hard it can be for a local business to rank, but also for them to spend a limited budget and see results at the same time. We have found great success with building localized content then targeting and remarketing location audiences to come back to the site once again. By additional social media and occasionally backlinking to such articles and resources, we continue to see progressive SEO growth month after month, while not requiring small mom and pops to spend thousands of dollars per month in the process.”

When it comes to local SEO and handing your business off to a digital marketing agency, it’s also important to have some basic understanding of how SEO works for your own personal and business expertise. You will also want to look for the following badges and certifications, as they will give you a better indication on how efficient and trusted an ad agency might be.

A great article on this topic can be found on Forbes, which ranks the following three factors as key elements that should be used when trying to rank in Google, target audiences, and find a positive ROI with local online advertising.

A company’s rank in Google My Business (GMB) results can be boiled down to three distinct areas of focus:

  1. Relevance
  2. Distance
  3. Prominence

How to Use Content and Social Networks to Improve Rankings

As previously mentioned, if you want to rank in Google, you need to have a powerful website and/or blog with established backlinks. If you don’t have this in place, it’s something you can build up over time. However, at the moment, not all is lost.

Thanks to the power of social media, you can rank Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and other social profile or local directories pretty fast and easy in Google. Since most of these sites are already trusted in the eyes of Google, it doesn’t take much to rank such inner profiles and pages on their site.

In that same Forbes article mentioned above, they highlight the following methods for relying on social media and local directories to improve site rankings and being found by your target audience.

  • Select a high-volume keyword phrase that has location intent. Typically, for an attorney, this will be “practice area” plus “city name.” For example, “personal injury lawyer Philadelphia.”
  • Create a page on your site targeting this phrase.
  • Include the phrase in your page title, headings, page copy, meta description and image file names.
  • Include your name, address and phone number on the page.
  • Include the phrase in your page permalink as such: example.com/city-name/target-keyword-phrase/

By following these simple tips, there is no reason why your brand shouldn’t be able to rank for all ten listings on the main page of Google for your personal brand or business name. It’s something I’ve been able to do for my “Zac Johnson” name for quite a while now.

Social media is out there and it’s free to use. So take advantage of it!

Quick Ideas and Tips to Improve Local SEO on Your Own

There are many advantages to using a digital marketing agency when trying to rank and promote your local business, especially if you have no idea where to start. But there are also many things you can do on your own time to help promote your site and grow it’s site rankings and power over time.

Here are some quick ideas and tips to get started.

  • Have a blog. This one is a no-brainer, as it will allow you to create content for your site and will also start ranking your site in Google for long tail keywords. Also remember to effectively promote each blog post, and don’t expect people to find them on their own.
  • Create visuals and infographics for social media. This is a great idea, as everyone is already on social media and if you have a new recipe or service coming out, if you can make a quick infographic or animated video, it’s much more likely to be seen and shared.
  • Contribute to expert round ups. Depending on your niche market and business, this one might work or it might not. Check out these expert roundup examples and you can learn more about this.
  • Guest blogging on other industry/local blogs. Again, this comes down to the process of creating content for your sited within your industry, and then gaining exposure and getting backlinks as a way of compensation for your time, expertise and articles.

It’s likely that your digital marketing agency will be handling a lot of this, but there is no reason why you couldn’t start working on some of this at the same time. If you end up securing some nice placements and start to get a good feeling for how local SEO and audience targeting works, it might be something that you want to bring in-house as well.

Finding the Best Local Ad Agency for Your Business

When going with any local ad agency or digital marketing firm, make sure you always do all of the necessary research. Also, try to stay out of a super long term contract. Most SEO campaigns and work can take anywhere from 3-9 months before you start seeing real results.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to shoot me an email and I can help out with any questions you might have.

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5 Things Most Site Owners Do Wrong with Their SEO

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For so many websites on the Internet, regardless of objective or industry, the biggest source of traffic is the search engine. Absolutely, you should invest resources into cultivating other traffic sources, but it is undeniable that ranking well for your target keywords and keyword phrases on those search engine result pages (SERPs) will always work in your benefit.

Before you can start working on all the things you should be doing right, you need to eliminate (or at least reduce) the things that you are doing wrong. The two really go hand-in-hand. And it is in that spirit that we present to you five critical mistakes that site owners do with respect to search engine optimization.

1. Writing for the Search Engine

To be perfectly fair, search engine optimization has gotten progressively more complex and nuanced over the years. In the past, the “rules” of engagement were much more straightforward with much more clearly defined lines in the sand. You must have your keyword appear in the title and in the first 50 words. The exact keyword phrase must appear X number of times in the text.

These days, Google sees right through that. And the old practices of keyword stuffing and almost mechanical content production have only led to robotic, unnatural content that actual people don’t want to read. If you’re focusing all your efforts on “writing for the search engine” rather than addressing what readers actually want, you’re missing the point entirely.

Done correctly, it is perfectly possible to write for both humans and search engines at the same time. At the end of the day, the best SEO strategy is to provide what actual humans want to get out of your content.

2. Skipping the Competitive Analysis

A critical component to starting and running a successful business is formulating a successful business plan. This involves analyzing the market, for instance, to determine the anticipated level of customer demand. You take the time to formulate your unique selling proposition (USP), the key feature or benefit that differentiates you from the competition. Search engine optimization works in much the same way.

When putting together an SEO strategy for how and where you want to build backlinks, you must start with a competitive analysis. This involves identifying the competition, and reviewing it with a backlinks checker to see what they have (and the ones that you don’t), and analyzing the most important keywords that you want to target, the ones that represent the biggest and best opportunities for growth.

By skipping the competitive analysis, you’re almost going into your SEO efforts blind. You’d be starting with what you think might work, rather than what is already working for the competition. This establishes expected benchmarks and reveals how and where you may be able to achieve those benchmarks. Why re-invent the wheel?

3. Overlooking Dead Links

In all your efforts to optimize new content moving forward, it’s easy to overlook old content that can still be a great source of traffic. When you have a lot of old content that isn’t very good, that can actually weigh down your entire domain. This means that, in effect, Google is docking points on your new content because your old content is just bad. And the only thing worse than bad content is content that isn’t even there.

A practice overlooked by so many site owners is that they forget to find dead links and work to recapture them. This is true in two different contexts. First, you should check to see the URLs that are generating 404 errors for visitors. Determine how you can best redirect those visitors to relevant content instead. Second, you should check your own content to ensure you are not linking out to 404 errors too.

There are tools and tutorials available for both of these concerns, and they can largely automate the process. It’s a routine you should be doing at least every month or two.

4. Focusing Only on High Volume Keywords

Keyword research is a critical aspect of search engine optimization. What many site owners do wrong with SEO, in this respect, is that they’re devoting far more time (and resources) on the big, high level keywords. That’s where you’ll find the highest and most cutthroat competition, even if it’s also where you’ll find the highest search volume. Compete with sharks and you can only expect to get bitten.

Instead of focusing too much energy on getting the tiniest of slivers out of the bigger pie, it can be much more fruitful to find several smaller pies where you can carve out a much larger slice. High volume keywords are great, but they’re remarkably difficult to crack. Low and moderate volume keywords, however, have much less competition and you can reap the rewards of highly targeted, highly motivated search from users.

It takes time to identify these opportunities, to be sure. It’s also true that the riches are indeed in the niches.

5. Including Irrelevant Internal Links

A common SEO practice is to integrate a number of internal links in your own content. The idea is that this “helps” the search engines crawl through the rest of your content, and it helps to keep users on your site longer because it introduces them to content they may not otherwise seek out on their own. That’s partly true, but it only holds water if the internal links are actually relevant.

Just as you should avoid keyword stuffing for the sake of keyword stuffing itself, you should also avoid internal link stuffing purely for the sake of including internal links. Point your site visitors toward relevant, useful content that you have on your site, and even link to the same resource more than once if it’s something that’s really important; however, don’t just link to something just because you feel like you need to include an internal link there.

Just as linking to an irrelevant external site with little usefulness or authority hurts your site’s reputation, the same is true if Google detects that your internal links aren’t actually providing real value to users. Think first: will visitors actually benefit from this link?

SEO and Link Building in 2019 and Beyond

Search engine optimization will always be a moving target, because the cryptic complexities of the search engine algorithms are in a constant state of flux. At the end of the day, great content is still great content, and your number one priority should always be to deliver what the end user actually wants. And to do that better than anyone else.

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12 Essential Digital Marketing Tools Guaranteed to Grow Your Business

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A craftsperson is only as good as their tools. Companies deploying growth strategies using digital marketing tools need to make sure they are investing the right time and money.

But with the digital economy changing so fast it can be difficult to know where to invest your time and money. There are new companies and new tools springing up every day.

Each one promises huge returns and low cost. Make sure you have the right investment or the competition could leave you behind.

You need these 10 tools today:

1. Feedly

It isn’t enough to have great content. Your content strategy needs to be curated, scheduled, and tracked.

Feedly will help you curate your content calendar across platforms.

2. CRM Software

What is CRM Software? CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is a must for companies that need to make use of valuable data across all departments.

This means you! Without CRM you aren’t able to target the right people, turn insights into conversions, or avoid redundancies.

3. LeadPages

Your bounce rate could be killing your SEO. Even worse, all those bounces could be symbols of your business going elsewhere.

Leadpages is the answer. You can test new landing pages and deploy for success with Leadpages.

4. Splice

If you aren’t using video content, you should be. And if you aren’t optimizing your video content for social media you are missing a huge opportunity.

Splice, from the makers of GoPro, is the tool for your video content.

5. Google Analytics

There is no replacement. You need this.

From within your Google Webmaster Account, you can manage all aspects of your site when it comes to SEO and making sure you are good in the eyes of Google.

Not sure if your site was affected by one of the latest penalties, or if it’s indexed in Google? All of this and more is tracked from Webmaster Tools.

6. Yoast

If you are using WordPress and struggling with SEO, Yoast is the tool for you. Yoast comes in a free version and offers insight into your text.

Yoast will scan your content and rate all of it, traffic light style, for SEO.

Best of all, this tool is extremely easy to use, and free!

7. LiveChat

Customers want support in real time. Make sure you are on the cutting edge of user experience with LiveChat.

The next time you visit a website or ecommerce site and see a little chat popup window appear, this is exactly how LiveChat works.

There are plenty of alternatives out there, and many of them are powered with artificial intelligence.

Take a look at the different options available and how other brands are using these chatbots to grow their business — then think about how you could do the same.

8. WooCommerce of Shopify

If you want to start selling products online, you need to have a great ecommerce platform.

Two of the most popular and best solutions out there are WooCommerce and Shopify.

Discover how to boost ecommerce sales with either of these platforms, while also improving your SEO and revenue in the process.

9. Social Shark

With over 1 billion users worldwide, there’s never been a better time to make the most of Instagram. But for marketers new to the social media platform the results can be disappointing without the right tools.

Social Shark is the right tool to grow your Instagram presence.

10. Ahrefs and DA/PA Checkers

All those SEO hunters out there already know about Ahrefs. The tool will track your rankings as well as link-building campaigns.

The tool also helps you improve local SEO.

Another useful tool to add into this section, is TheHoth’s DA/PA checker.

It’s free to use and if you are looking up

11. MailChimp

Email marketing represents the highest return on investment in terms of digital marketing. But if your company is only dabbling in the email marketing field you are missing out.

Email marketing needs to be targeted, managed and tracked to be effective. MailChimp is a great tool for small businesses.

12. Famoid

Everyone is obsessed with social media and making sure they reach as many people as possible. This can clearly be seen by how much the top influencers are getting paid when posting content and showing brands and products within their updates.

While everyone starts at ZERO, there are ways to speed up this process.

Famoid is a social media marketing platform that allows people to grow their following fast — no matter if it’s on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube.

In addition to growing your follower, they also have options for increase shares, likes, and views as well.

Moving Beyond Digital Marketing Tools

Remember, digital marketing tools are only a means to an end. Many business owners and marketing professionals feel that once they have the right tools the rest will take care of itself.

Not so. You need to lead your company into growth.

Now that you have the 10 essential tools covered, make sure you are headed in the right direction.

Learn more now about the hacks that will make your company grow faster.

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