Branding at the individual, small or even medium level is a difficult endeavor. However, there are little excuses for inadequacies these days as Google makes it more difficult to rank with content marketing that isn’t “brand friendly” — that is, tactics that are one-off gray or black hat link building techniques.
Today, we must function as brands, and the reality is that although we imagine companies like Kellogg’s and SeaWorld as the behemoths of brand marketing — companies with lackluster websites but still the ability to generate links eight times quicker than us – we are very capable of reflecting a similar identity online due to benefits of miniature scale we can create for ourselves through the proper marketing channels that brands often experience and build on offline.
Link Building with Momentum in Mind
We’ve left behind the term “link building” and must instead focus on identities like “link development” through content marketing. If we build our businesses and link development competencies with the idea that we must build scale, we’ll be a lot more successful with our efforts because we will develop competencies.
What does this mean?
No more one off guest posting for links. Yes I am guest posting here, but I am doing so with the intention of building authority and referrals, and actually, the link matters little to me because I don’t do much SEO for my own blog. Hopefully some of you follow my blog or follow me on Twitter, which will create an audience that will multiply my future efforts online.
If I simply blog for a link, that effort is reduced. If you want to create scale (as you should), you’ll do similar. Yes, the link is valuable, and you should aim for a combinatory effect with your guest posting, but your sole intention should never be the link itself. In the new world of content marketing, it’s no longer a valid excuse.
Creating A Snowball Promotion Strategy
Many brands have the benefit of content that serves itself, and only need to release it into the wild to see the benefits it can create online. Us small peons don’t, right? Well, the reality is that we do. We can’t ever be Kellogg’s or SeaWorld, but we can have the “publish” button that sites like SEOmoz enjoy — when thousands of eyeballs view their content all at once.
This comes from deliberate, long practice of developing audience through mechanisms like guest posting in the target markets our audience operates in. Constantly releasing great content online and then creating introductory “sticky” promotion elements will create the brand mechanisms others enjoy. What are these introductory sticky elements?
- Twitter accounts — getting potential customers to follow us
- Facebook accounts – getting potential customers to like us
- YouTube accounts — getting potential customers to subscribe to us
- RSS feeds — getting potential customers to subscribe to us
- E-mail marketing — getting potential customers to subscribe to us
I say “introductory” because these allow you to remarket to your consumers for free — and are a few steps to the secondary, more powerful sticky element, SEO. If we guest post or do PPC advertising, if we never capture audience intent through one or more of these sticky elements, we lose the potential to scale, because our cost per acquisition continually rises.
This creates a negative brand efficiency if they do not, as customers, follow/like/subscribe to content they enjoy — as such an engagement is an introductory buy-in to your brand identity.
So this means your job, as a marketer, is not to initially think about how you might get thousands of sales, but how you will create the snowball promotion effect every time you release something online. Because if you do not generate that snowball, even if you create a viral sale effect, it will eventually become nothing.
Brands have that snowball effect — which is why every Apple event is covered and talked about once one word is leaked out — and why Six Flags can immediately touch thousands of eyeballs on their brand when a press release is opened up. They built it, but they had it bad compared us — they didn’t have the benefit of online, free promotion mechanisms to do it. They had to do it through high cost per acquisition activities like billboard, display and television advertising.
Build the brand snowball by:
- Leveraging the maximum amount calls to action to social accounts on your sidebar, after blog posts, and occasionally, within blog posts, without appearing spammy
- Most often releasing content to interested markets asymmetrical to your own, such that they might have interest in future relevant content of yours
- Promoting content through all social channels relevant to your own and not to channels where there isn’t much application (such as Pinterest for Daily Blog Tips)
- Creating memorable and brand-identifiable social accounts that are easy to type in, easy to find, and match the company sales mission across all available properties
Creating A Brand Effect in SERP Results
As you build those accounts, you will begin to effect a real change in the search results, depending on your vertical. For example, SEOmoz, a now established “brand” in SEO, has the benefit not just of ranking well that being a brand provides, but also getting a higher clickthrough rate because of it.
It is likely a higher clickthrough rate is a positive signal to Google to actually rank you higher, which then gets you even more clicks — and more links, and so it goes. But that’s not where it stops to create a “snowball effect”. Obviously, hopefully you’ve now established some search result rankings, and some sales. From here, build on that efficiency and “snowball effect” by multiplying effort.
Do this by:
- Signing up customers immediately for e-mail newsletters such that they can serve as content promoters even if they can no longer be upsold
- Immediately leverage a secondary call to action such as “follow us on Twitter/like us on Facebook!” after they’ve completed a conversion event
- Creating content that is good enough to be talked about through word of mouth, bringing new customers back to your website to then be pulled into future promotion efforts through social and email campaigns
- Using rel=author where applicable to create brand identity/quick identification when potential customers use your services online
Hopefully posts like this can help push you to start creating your own mini-brand online. SEO isn’t dead, but I believe winning a competitive vertical by sustaining a business on one-off linking strategies truly is.