Last year’s Get Optimized series tackled many of the hottest questions in the industry, from Panda, to Penguin and link disavowal. Today we are all blessed again to have eight of the best industry experts, answer the most sizzling topics of the industry today in Get Optimized, the 2nd Series.
These professionals have established themselves as authorities in the field of online marketing. The dynamic changes in online marketing have beckoned us to develop new ways to adapt to its transformation. We turn to these gurus for their expert opinion on matters that affect the processes of online marketing.
Here at SEOteky, we invited these aces and united them to achieve a common goal:
- to have a round-table discussion and share their knowledge by answering a list of questions relevant to the current trends and innovations in Search Engine Optimization, Social Media Marketing, Branding, Digital Marketing, and Influencing;
- to debunk myths about Search Engine Optimization, Link Building, Social, Influencing and Digital Marketing;
- and to expand the knowledge of every reader by sharing their experiences and takes about certain topics that concern online marketing through this series.
Let us all meet the experts joining us:
(From top to left, bottom to left)
Benj Arriola is the VP for SEO at Internet Marketing Inc., one of the fastest growing companies today according to Inc500, San Diego Business Journal & The Agency Post. He has been in SEO since 2004, and is a winner of multiple international SEO contest. Benj Arriola also speaks at several conferences in the US, Philippines and other countries. His personal blog is on SEO Religion. You can follow him on twitter @BenjArriola
Sheila Dela Peña is an experience Online Marketing professional, with more than 5 years focused on the hospitality industry. She is also a consultant Web Analyst to an ecommerce retailer of home décor and other consumer products based in Silicon Valley. Her experience also includes optimizing operations processes for Online Marketing and identifying key business insights for Business Intelligence. You can connect with her at Linkedin and follow her on twitter @kutitap
Jon Edward Santillan is currently working as an SEO Manager at Etihad Airways and founder of startup searchfuse.com – An SEO Software that manages and organizes SEO campaign under single platform. Jon Santillan is also an active startup advisor and angel investor. You can follow him on Twitter @jonsantillan
Francis Gary Viray is the Co-Founder of Search Opt Media, an Inbound Marketing Company. He writes about Technical Marketing, SEO, User Experience (UX), Content Marketing and Link Acquisition Strategies on garyviray.com. He is a self-confessed data cruncher day in day out and a Google Analytics Certified Individual. You can follow him on Twitter @garyshack and Google+.
Janette Toral has been promoting the growth of e-commerce in the Philippines since 1997. She uses her blogs to support her advocacies and teach e-commerce and digital marketing for free online. Touch base with her at Digital Influencers Marketing Summit Manila this September 21.
Gary Andrew Lacanilao is working as an Online Marketing and Lead Acquisition Consultant in different SEO/PR/Marketing Agencies in USA, UK, and Canada. You can connect with him at Linkedin and follow him on Twitter @seoblacksmith
Let’s start shall we
We asked them (Question #1):
That is a very interesting question since most of my link baits revolve around content marketing. Putting together creative, crazy, unexpected sometimes are all in different categories for me and I think I have not experienced these all together as one. And with my crazy link baits, I am not 100% sure I want to publicly divulge them, since the crazier it gets, the closer it goes into the blackhat world.
But since this is somewhat of a historical type of question, these were things that I was involved with in the past, and I know many of these techniques really do not wok these days in a post-Panda and post-Penguin world.
Creative & Crazy – WordPress Themes
Anyone can make a WordPress theme, but how many people will actually install it? Just like a blog post, anyone can write a blog post, but how many people will actually link to it? So this is where I try to be as creative as possible. I was thinking of a feature that no other theme would have so others would install it. So I made one that has a color changer. You simply click on the spectrum of colors on the upper right corner and it updates the colors and cookies the visitor so it remembers the last setting. Why was it crazy? Well it had cloaked links by user-agent. Where the links were only visible by Googlebot. This attracted several people to install it and gained about 3,000+ backlinks within 2 months.
First is cloaking is not good at all. It can be for the right reasons, but cloaked links are the wrong reasons. - Benj
Creative & Unexpected – LightboxJS photo gallery
Crazy & Unexpected – Blogger to WordPress Importer
WordPress is one of the best blogging platforms if not the best one that exists today. WordPress can also import content from almost any blogging platform. In some point of Google’s Blogger (blogspot.com) blogging platform, it did a major upgrade. And when this upgrade came out, it broke WordPress’ Blogger importing capabilities. For sure WordPress would come up with an update soon that will make it work again. But on the exact day Blogger did their upgrade, I was in the process of migrating a Blogger site to WordPress and I needed to find a way to import it. So I made my own script that does the import. And when I made it work, I was thinking there are probably other people with the exact same problem. So I shared my script to the world. Now what is the crazy part? For every blog post imported from Blogger, two links were inserted below each blog post in a random order from a list of about 20 sites and they were all cloaked by CSS only. The unexpected part is I never thought anyone would install it. I found out several people did, and I didn’t expect it because the links were so easy to find. Just disable CSS styles or simply look into the source code, the links will be there. I guess many people just didn’t double check it, or simply didn’t know any better.
I just want to make it clear also that most crazy link building I have done in the past do not even work today. I’ve been in SEO for 9 years now and probably in the first 3 years, you experiment a lot of crazy stuff that I never even used for any client and used them only for my own website properties, most of which no longer rank well or are banned in search engines. These days it is all content marketing for me.
When I was a part of a company which handles and manages “specialized Public Relations”, we were able to get people talking about our clients online by putting the clients in the news. A 10-second sound bite of our client is enough to get them trending and getting links to their websites.
I still use the traditional method like identifying keywords to target and once they are identified I try to go out there and acquire the links. - Jon
I still use the traditional method like identifying keywords to target and once they are identified I try to go out there and acquire the links. Profile creation is another effective way I am still using to acquire links and secure the brand name because it is easy and straightforward, like picking off low hanging fruit,
Another example that I can share on building links without the need of any digital assets is by forming partnership and sponsorship. I have achieved this successfully with getting links from both Manchester City Football Club and Harlequins Rugby Club website.
Get into conference speaking gigs. You will get to see updates from event organizers and attendees when you are able to connect to them accordingly. We advise our clients to build networks with their industry peers to be more exposed; more often than not, it generates lots of mentions.
Another strategy we did was actually “QA-ing” our client’s product in the office and recommending some changes on functionality and usability. When it was finished, we pushed the updates to publishers interested in reviewing the product and got good reviews. We also targeted previous reviewers who initially gave us not-so-good ratings although this time around; we got their thumbs-up. Admittedly, the product still needs a lot of tweaking but it is a work in progress. It is crazy because we became product QA testers but still we were able to build links. Capitalizing on improving user experience and offering good products that answer needs and what people are searching for are ways to generate buzz and mentions.
I think in my case, I have a lot of opportunities to create links if I want to without using content marketing. This can include:
- Accommodating student interviews who usually share their experience through social media.
- Students who are required to post their research findings online and link to resources posted.
- Write about primers, position on issues, industry situation on your site that naturally gets linked or shared by those interested in it.
- Guesting on television and radio program where your site gets mentioned in the process.
My favorite though is sharing the content of a blog post that a Certified Blog and Social media Entrepreneur module 1 student of mine about Anne Curtis. I tweeted it and tagged her. To my surprise, she replied and retweeted it.
@digitalfilipino thank you for this!
— Anne Curtis-Smith (@annecurtissmith) July 24, 2013
Actually, there are still many methods (for link acquisition) that don’t necessarily require content marketing, such as:
- Sponsoring events or non-profit organizations.
- Offering testimonials (to products or services your business utilize).
- Connecting with other people in your industry and building relationships.
Though in my case, I don’t think that I can really share something that’s really creative or crazy (I’m more about efficiency anyway).
In getting links without the help of content, I think I’ve been more successful in leveraging relationships to acquire links.
For instance, I’ve managed to get a brand mention from the landing page of Jon Cooper’s link building course, since he asked if I could review his product and offer a testimonial.
Another sample would be getting a link from our very own Juanito “Cell” Jacela (it’s a reciprocal link actually). Meeting people and exchanging ideas with them has proven to be an effective way to get solid links too.
But I think becoming an authority through content marketing has still played a role to indirectly impact these relationships.
This is a tough one. I got questionably crazy and unexpected ones before – coming from spam sites and porn sites. Someone was building negative links to SEO Hacker then albeit slowly so it really didn’t have any effect. That’s about it.
I think I understood the question wrong. For you readers, please pardon my comprehension skills.
So let me give a more sensible answer with regards to how the question should be answered.
One crazy way we built links before is through an inner circle created by one of my blogger peers. We had a system wherein we will randomly link out to one another’s relevant blog posts. You could say it’s a link network but there’s no real public evidence that we’re doing it. Besides, there were more than 20 of us circulating links from each other so it worked – for a time.
Eventually I quit the circle (politely) because I felt that it would be questionable for my website if I stayed further. The links to my site were piling up and we were using exact match anchor texts. It was an experience for me. Didn’t get penalized for it because of the diversified links I was getting due to content marketing. You could say it was a ‘booster’ for my exact match link profile while it lasted.
Think of a creative way on how you can attract people who doesn’t want to talk to you. Remember, in reality and in most cases, a perfect stranger will only respond or talk to you when they need something from you.
My original plan is to get few prospect clients for an online marketing and lead acquisition campaign that month. I knew from the start, that if I post something irrelevant in the discussion, I’ll be kicked out, fast! So, I give it a time and think of an idea that will give a buzz to the people who are very active in that group. After an hour, I decided to conduct a test and use bait and switch as a marketing strategy. It’s a bit risky on my end and I’m sure that it won’t last. As an explorer, I gave it a shot and the crazy thing starts with a simple post below.
I need a professional advice. (Sounds legit? Yes?)
I am Gary Andrew, a Lead Acquisition Specialist from the Philippines and I need an advice.
Last year, I was able to develop a system that is capable of extracting, filtering, and qualifying leads all over the net. I knew that it is going to be very profitable so I tried it out in to different industries. Please see the attached files to check the sample leads I was able to extract.
(I attached screenshots of leads that I gathered for a web hosting company, real estate agency, and IT service provider as a proof. All of them are warm leads, BTW.)
I was able to talk to two real estate brokers last week, I gave them leads on their target market, after that, they said that the leads are good and they already setup a meeting. The problem is, they cannot reward me even if they were able to close the deal. They said that I am not a real estate broker/agent. WTH! They just took my leads and left me with nothing.
So now, I decided to get a license and be a real estate agent/broker. Where should I start?
The first three replies gave me detailed instructions on what I have to do and I respond to them in a very appreciative way. However, I don’t really care about their answers, because I was waiting for something different. Leads! Yes, I was waiting for leads to come up! After few hours of waiting, I started receiving notifications that there are new comments on the thread and direct message coming from the people that belong in the same group. The test was successful, people are starting to give their numbers, e-mail addresses, website, and all of them are waiting to be contacted.
After a week, I knew that the admin might notice a switch in the thread, there’s a probability that he/she will delete the thread and will decline my membership. So what I did is I collected all the contact details of the people who are interested in the system. I also take a screenshot of the Linkedin notifications, for I knew this is going to be useful someday. I was right, taking a risk is good thing, capturing the notification is a good decision, and I was kicked out in the group.
Lesson: Bait and switch works for a limited time. Use it!
In my sample, I used ego to trigger my prospect leads. I asked for a professional advice to filter active/leading participants. I make it a point that my motive is unsuspicious by asking an advice, instead of directly offering my services.
Think of a creative way on how you can attract people who doesn’t want to talk to you. Remember, in reality and in most cases, a perfect stranger will only respond or talk to you when they need something from you. So, give free stuffs, show proofs, and use “tricks” when needed. Use it as an advantage to obtain your objectives in any possible way. SEO practitioners and Online Marketers should not focus on how to get/drop more links. SEO is just a medium for you to reach more audience. Creativity on the other hand, is more powerful than any built links or +1’d or liked and shared content. If you were able to do this, you don’t have to build links to obtain links/opportunity.
UP NEXT (Question #2):
Share a creative / crazy / unexpected / expected / baits / ways that you were able to use content marketing and deliver success to your client or to your website.
NO LINK? Enjoy first the answers for the question number one
I want to say thank you to the 8 collaborators of this work. Sir Benj Arriola, Ms. Janette Toral, Sheila Dela Pena, Jason Acidre, Sean Si, Gary Viray, Jon Edward Santillan and Gary Lacanilao.
For people who are reading this series, this is a month long work for these people so don’t forget to say thank you on the comment section if you feel that you have learned something new.
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