Any online business should at least have an eye on search engine optimization (SEO). While some markets rely on search engine traffic more than others, there are very few that would not benefit at all from better search engine rankings. With recent algorithm changes at Google, the largest and most important search engine in the United States, online business owners and SEOs are finding a greater need to adjust their strategies.
Struggle Equals Opportunity
Panda and Penguin are two of the largest algorithm updates released by Google in its existence. Panda penalized low quality websites. Penguin penalized suspect link building and optimization practices. As such, business owners and SEOs have found that any shortcuts they could have taken before are gone.
With each update and refresh of these two algorithms, another shift in search engine optimization and online marketing takes place. Some have grown frustrated, while others have seen incredible potential for marketing practices that are effective, and safer in terms of search engine changes.
SEO Is Becoming A More Holistic Marketing Activity
SEO used to involve adjusting on-page elements, aiming for keyword density, and then getting as many links with targeted anchor text as possible. If a page rose through the search engines for its targeted terms, the campaign was a success.
Many looked at conversions and audience building as secondary to generating search traffic. With the recent shifts in SEO, relationship and audience building is becoming the primary concern, with search engine traffic as a secondary priority for many. This requires a strong focus on humans, rather than search engines.
Finding Sites for Relationships and Links
Online businesses still need links to earn traffic and higher search engine rankings. Finding sites that want to link to you covers both of these requirements.
The easiest way to find these sites is to use social media, as well as search engine operators. Both of these are easy, free, and effective.
Finding great relationship opportunities on social media sites is easy. The major sites allow keyword searches with additional targeting options based on age, geography and a number of other demographics.
In the search engines, operators that include a target keyword are ideal. Only a couple are needed. The most effective operators are: ‘Intitle:”your keyword”‘, and ‘inurl:”your keyword”‘, where “your keyword” is replaced with the actual keyword being targeted.
Each page or product should still have a keyword focus if possible. Knowing the keyword to be targeted on their own website will enable webmasters to better find other sites to build relationships with.
Once an SEO or webmaster finds good sites with high authority and popularity, the practice of relationship building and prospecting for leads can take place in an appropriate way. This will likely be different from market to market, but anything from social media engagement, to detailed blog commenting and email correspondence can all be effective.
For the record, sites with high authority or PageRank on their pages, as measured by the mozbar and SEOQuake may be difficult to get attention from, but if they mention and link to another site, that attention can be very powerful and beneficial.
More On Outreach Methods
Outreach can take place in a number of ways. The easiest is to follow the most important figure within a market on their social profiles. Slowly beginning to mention them and reply to comments and posts they make can get their attention and get them to start doing the same in return.
Eventually, more aggressive promotional outreach may be necessary. In this case, email or even phone contact is the only way to go. Even if any outreach efforts are rejected, the decision to move on is an easy one to make.
It is best to prepare a few generic openings to get past any possible “gatekeepers”. Requesting a link or other promotional mention right away is tacky and unlikely to be successful.
Relationship building starts slow and should probably include doing something for the person you need something from. Tailoring an outreach strategy to this reality is good business and more likely to be effective.
When You Get The Lead…
Previously, lengthy sales letters with a lot of hype were the norm. Today, a more subtle approach is taking hold. Most call it “content marketing”. The idea being that if an online business owner writes, or video blogs, or has a podcast with valuable information, they build authority and trust, with a greater opportunity to make a sale.
Aside from being highly effective and removing nearly any need for negotiation, content rich, helpful business websites are more likely to earn link and traffic.
Keeping a lead warm is as simple as providing value, whether they are current buyers, or “just” visitors.
SEO is an ever changing practice. The best practices are sure to change again and shake up the online business world.
Results often come quickly, but only once the relationship has been built. Prospecting for relationships is time consuming and a high effort endeavor, but after several months, the results can be incredible.
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@JulianaPayson writes for the InMotion Hosting blog a webhosting company’s webzine that is featured to more than 100k customer readership. If you are interested in collaborating, sharing tips, or simply looking for useful content for your blog, please reach out to her directly.