Your ability to execute a winning digital marketing strategy relies on three necessities: (1) a thorough understanding of how Google’s algorithms crawl and rank web content, (2) the SEO / creative chops to execute the right content, and (3) the time to not only create and implement a winning strategy, but monitor its performance through various analytics platforms.
Unfortunately, most people stick straight to the basics: good site architecture, a buttoned up SEO strategy, content with the right keywords, technical SEO considerations in place, and a company blog. While these things clearly matter in terms of organic ranking and converting visitors to buyers, there are three time-consuming digital marketing tactics that many steer clear of because they either feel intimidated, lack the know-how, or simply don’t think the time requirement is worth the investment.
1. Not Sugar-Coating It, Backlinks Take Ages to Acquire (But Are So Worth It)
First of all, let’s differentiate between healthy backlinks, and archaic link-building methods that add a cancer to your link portfolio. Several years ago, webmasters were paying for backlinks on hundreds of directories and irrelevant websites that, after a massive Google Penguin update, was deemed spamming. People still continue this moronic practice. Healthy backlinks, on the other hand, look like this:
- They aren’t paid for
- They come from referring domains relative in content / subject matter
- The referring domains have a high authority
- Your backlinks create a well-balanced portfolio of “follow” and “nofollow”
- The anchor text is a longtail, or an organic voice style keyword directly related to the landing page’s content
The process for building up an arsenal of high-quality backlinks is time-consuming, requires a great degree of patience and communication skills, and asks people to get comfortable with an uncomfortable side of digital marketing that requires a huge time investment, peppered with a little ass-kissing. The steps look something like this:
- Locate potential domains with high authority, and content relevant to your site’s
- Start “liking”, sharing, and commenting on their social posts (they need to recognize you when you reach out to them)
- Write a thoughtful email to the site / blog administrator, praising them for their high-quality content. Site specific articles, the author, and how the information improved your life or business.
- After you get a response, write some original content in line with what their readers favor, and ask that it be considered as a guest post while indicating it adds value to their site.
- If your article gets published, wait for a week or two and send a second one (this time asking for non-promotional link placement). Thank them for publishing your first piece, and let them know that you can contribute more content if desired.
Warning: just make sure your backlink portfolio is diverse. If 80 percent of your links come from the same domain, it will lower the overall value. This means you will need to reach out to multiple websites through the same process. You have to constantly outreach, kiss many butts, and come up with original, well-written content to get them in bed. But once they are there, and you have built rapport, you’re in!
Backlink Diversity Examples from a Niche Industry: Law Firms
We read about the importance of a diverse backlink portfolio, so now lets take a closer look to define the “good”, the “better”, and the “bad”. Since examples like this require a known industry, we will use a law firm as an example. Whether the marketing director is working with a SEO agency for law firms, or their in-house operatives are in place, lots of diverse high-quality backlinks will boost their presence in the search results, if done correctly. Here are some examples of “Dos” and “Don’ts”, using a law firm that specializes in family law:
- Using .gov or .org sites that have a community page with links to local lawyers and law firms. GOOD
- General legal blogs. GOOD
- Law school blogs. GOOD
- City or county site with a directory specific to divorce and child custody lawyers. BETTER
- Blogs dedicated to pairing moms or dads with child custody lawyers. BETTER
- Non-profit sites that give tips on filing for a divorce. BETTER
- Angie’s List (directory is for contractors and home improvement pros). BAD
- Niche industry digital magazine dedicated to subjects like cooking, yachting or traveling (no relation to law). BAD
- Directory of lawyers in Russia. BAD
Here’s the winning formula for getting the best referring domains for your links: Specific subject relativity + high domain authority + geo-location = top-drawer links that will empower your own domain authority while delivering valuable SEO juice to your site. The clock will keep ticking away on this digital marketing task, but the reward will prove to be well worth those late nights in the office.
2. Native Advertising – More People (the Right People) See You
Native advertising comes in a variety of paid media forms in which the ad experience feeds into every natural component of the user experience. The space where native ads live must have content and a design that appears natural, and functions like the rest of the content. From widgets to in-feed ads, there are many types of integration, and depending on your industry, one may be more ideal than the other. Native advertising requires a great deal of invested time because you need to dive deep into analytics and understand your consumers before creating carefully-thought content that is target-specific, to particular reader bases. Understanding marketing psychology, while being a true creative, are musts.
Custom Content (How Law Firms Might Use It)
Custom content is a powerful form of native advertising ideal for service industries and retail. In continuing with the example of our law firm, one ideal yet time-consuming form of custom content would be a white paper. A white paper is defined as:
- An authoritative, in-depth report on a specific topic that addresses a problem with a solution.
- It is not a product pitch
- Written at a higher level than standard on-site content (think back to your grad school papers)
- The length should be no fewer than 6 pages and can be as high as 100 pages
- There is a table of contents, executive summary, an introduction, and clearly defined sections that address main points with citations and studies. It should also have posed solutions with a summary and conclusion.
- Format should be PDF in portrait orientation 8.5” x 11”.
- Visual aids like charts, info-graphics, and illustrations can (and should) be implemented.
If a law firm was going to produce a white paper, the idea would be to give potential clients helpful and useful information that is non-promotional for the sake of creating value and gaining trust that, ideally, will result in a client. The title should be short, to the point, and offer reassurance, as anyone who would download a white paper on the legal workings of a divorce will not be “right with the world”, but instead seeking clarity while looking for information that could quench their fears of the unknown. Potential titles could be:
- How to Get Custody of a Child in Your Divorce
- How to Build a Winning Legal Strategy in Your Divorce
- How to Navigate a Divorce and Keep Your Assets
- Proven Winning Strategy for Dads Seeking Child Custody
- Building a Strong Case for Claiming Half the Assets in a Divorce
According to MarketingSherpa, 77% of downloaded white papers within the legal industry are performed by or directly given to individuals looking for representation or legal advice. With numbers like this, dedicating time to produce a high-quality white paper that resonates with the emotional state of potential clients is well worth giving up a few Sundays of golf.
3. Entertain and Educate with Interactive Content
Interactive content formats are successful because they create a two-way dialogue through a highly personalized, user-focused experience, while chalking up lots of value points. Interactive content opens doors for brands and businesses to have conversations with potential clients. Forms of interactive content include:
- Trivia – Just like quiz night in the pub, a series of questions are asked in which right or wrong answers are calculated to offer the user a score and assessment of their knowledge on a subject.
- Augmented Reality – 3-D environment that blends the artificial world with the real world while engaging a branded message through interactive modes.
- Calculators – From a mortgage calculator on a real estate broker’s site, to a BMI calculator on a plastic surgeon’s homepage, unique results are fed to users and can be customized with follow-up queries asking them to contact the business for more information.
- Surveys – Users answer questions with no right or wrong answers. For the business, this is especially useful because it gives them valuable insight into the consumer mind.
- Brackets – This is a round-by-round elimination process in which people are knocked out from a tournament. March Madness is a popular platform for brackets, though topics can include anything from “Best Way to Use a Drone” to “Most Obnoxious Facebook Behavior”.
Interactive content relies on human psychology to be successful. At the end of the day, human beings love to test themselves, flex their muscle and flaunt their knowledge, compete, complain, share opinions, and compare. The trick is to develop interactive content that is user friendly, easy, mobile friendly, aesthetically pleasing, in-depth (to generate greater content value), and have the right verbiage to capture and engage people. Most businesses turn to Google-partner web developers to create interactive content at a superior level. Even if you pay a digital marketing company to build your content, you will still invest time on your end by reading and sorting the data to extract valuable takeaways.
It’s 2017, Roll Up Your Sleeves and Don’t Fear the Clock
As mobile SEO, ranking factors, fierce competition, and an ever-growing consumer audience demanding high-quality material continues to raise the digital marketing bar, businesses can no longer afford to stick to the basics of Marketing 101. This is 2017, and with the demand for high-quality content, Google is going to need a reason to favor your website over your competitor’s. If you invest time into these time-consuming tactics, you will see a return, and if executed at a professional level, the rewards will play out in higher organic ranking, greater conversions, and more social followers. You know…Rome wasn’t built in a day…