There’s not many search conferences where you will find yourself being greeted by a chipper gent in a bowler hat on entry or that welcomes a spot of Scalectrix at lunch; must be LinkLove! Yet, whilst Will Critchlow went on to confirm in his presentation that this would be the last LinkLove, here at Distilled we were set to make this the best one yet. That’s not to say we are bowing out of the live sphere though, oh no! SearchLove is still alive and kicking and in fact, you can still pick up your tickets to come and join us in Boston as well as registering your interest in pastures new as we are heading West this summer too....
With a swank new venue, we were also super excited to welcome a few new faces to the stage and, of course, welcome back a few of our firm favourites. We also unveiled the new DistilledLive app to play with which gave you an opportunity to submit your questions throughout the speaker’s talks and well as giving you the chance to win a copy of Paddy Moogan’s ‘Link Building Book’, kindly printed up by the guys at Printexpress. Cheers guys!
So without further ado, here’s a few snapshot of what happened and key takeaways from the day’s talks if you couldn’t join us or just want to relive the whole experience all over again!
What if there is no finish line to your work?‘What if this is just the starting line? What if getting the link wasn’t the finish line? What would you do differently? Wil talks us through how getting the link is actually the start of doing something a bit bigger.
Momentum is the spinning rims on people’s car and they keep spinning and spinning, as Chris Rock would say. What does this have to do with SEO? You’ll get it.
Just think about content marketing From a search on ‘content marketing’ between ‘Jan 2005-Dec 2008’, there were only 843 results in four years but does this mean that people weren't writing content back in those days? Similarly, by running the same search over the past month, you’ll get over 80,100k results. What does this mean? Real companies were doing content marketing before we started calling it content marketing. Real companies have inertia. You shouldn’t have to convince your customer that creating content is a good idea.
There is no finish line. It’s like getting married. You’ve got years to go and by the same thinking, you shouldn’t look at jobs that way. It’s not right to be thinking ‘OK I scored the link, where next?’ Wil talks through how he has recently been reading ‘Nudge’ by Richard Thaler which works to improve your decision making and also, led to a new approach to his out of office notice. When taking some time off from work, Wil added in a little nudge within the message on what he was doing and why he was unavailable. In this case, helping towards his wife's charity. This led to lead to a pretty generous donation and all through just adding that little nudge in the message.
What if you looked at getting links like a stair trainer. Wil would be your personal trainer; you can’t get off, you’ve got to keep stepping. What if it was a stair stepper rather than that finish line? When you work with a business that loses money on the first purchase they have to become obsessed with the next step, the conversion.
What Wil is saying is that it’s more than that. It’s the next step. Small nudges that lead to links and a lot of other great things.
Wil talks through his approach to this through Twitter and how he likes to share pictures on the SEER stream with their office books. His followers would then respond to these tweets telling him that it was very similar to what Zappos do which, in turn, links Zappos into the thread. They follow SEER and then go on to mention the company themselves in another tweet. That’s all through a nudge.
A new newsletter subscriber is a nudge. What are the things you are already doing that with minor changes you can change into real link value. Go to copyblogger, sign up for the newsletter and they’ll be an option to follow them on Twitter. This is a nudge. It’s a trust signal.
Now you’ve got this subscriber through the email sign up, there’s the incremental next step in the stair stepper; a little link in the newsletter for you to follow. Rather than the traditional response to a lead of ‘we’ll get back to you within two hours’, Wil goes on to talk through how SEER will work to produce a video and say how excited they are about working for the company. Testimonials and trust signals with case studies means taking this concept a lot further than linklove. That’s called revenuelove or something. All these things are around us but we’re not paying attention.
Link building has changed a little bit in case you didn’t realise. Wil talks through another example of how he tweeted Rackspace about a post he liked from their site. This is through tweeting about a five year old post talking about their brand values but led to Rackspace asking Wil to guest post on their blog. Why not blog about your vendors new features? Basecamp want to know what did you think about the new Basecamp? Boom. Link.
This is how you get a link from Google.
Wil is a big believer in sharing the shit that you do to your community. ‘Give it away, give it away, give it away now’, as Red Hot Chilli Peppers once said. That’s how you get a link from Google. Booths are salesy; buy our shit. This isn’t value. Let’s talk about a way to change this. Wil references Gary Vee as an example of this. This was a Q&A booth to actually help people. Ultimately, the more people you’ve helped, the more people are going to help you. It’s simple. you don’t need to do an A/B test to try that one out.
If only 3D Photoarm 2000 had taken this approach. Wil pushes the importance of just telling people about the value, the conversions and how much of a boost this is going to give your business rather than any of the sales talk surrounding a new product. Ask yourselves ‘what can you do today to build trust and momentum to build link later on?Say you have a newsletter with 1.000 or more subscribers, how do you know how many of these people are editors or journalists? Wil recommends Full Contact to enhance those contacts. You don’t need to build new ones, just use the contacts that you already have well. Build links with your subscribers. The Full Contact API finds all their social accounts and you then you can work to segment them through your own analytics.
Climbing Frames UK is another great example of this. They provide proper social proof - people buy their shit, put it together and hope they’re kids love it but they also offer the chance to get those things for free with a 100% refund. Social proving gets this brand conversions.
Ask yourself, who do your link targets link out to? Wil recommends searching links through domain searches in Bing. Who are your targets? Who do they link out to? Use SEOquake to run them through Screaming Frog and you will learn about the sites people you want links from are typically linking out to.
Wil is also a big fan of using Regex within Followerwonk. So if you are looking to find wine bloggers in Philadelphia, this can help to show all the people in your area. Why not go and talk to them? Follow them.
Corporations are people too, not only that but don’t forget corporations HAVE people. Wil talks through the benefits of G+ Data and how you can drop the people in here to see who is in the company and who’s followed by that company. Build links with those people you give cheques too. CircleCount is another great tool to do just this.
Wil advocates G+ Ripples as a great way to see the bigger influences who you need to connect with and this in turn, to a push about what you are producing. Similarly with Twtrland, here you can see how many retweets your tweets are getting. Who are the people that reply to your tweets the most and possible people to interact with. Another tool Wil goes on to recommend that is still in beta is Littlebird. Too often we try and get links from people when they are popular to miss that opportunity. Littlebird can show you the influencers on a topic and all those people who are starting to follow this person. You can find the listeners and the reporters that write real shit. Drop in your topics into Little bird and it can show you all the reporters talking about this that you need to engage with.This is head smackingly easy shit.
In 100 years, about 30,000 people will be living on mars.
Lyndon has been link baiting for about six years, you could say before it even had a name. He also coaches people one on one and works to help SEO agencies form Linkbait strategies. He may be a new face to this year’s line up but he certainly knows his stuff.
Attitude vs Knowledge
There are a lot of problems when it comes to Linkbait and often this is more about attitude not knowledge. You can easily find knowledge on a subject in a blog post over a few days but the attitude and mindset, now that’s a different thing. That is to say the psychology and theory behind linkbait; you need disciplined practise when it comes to this.
Lyndon goes on to say how he believes it’s important to practise those things you find really hard. The more you practise, the more your attitude is going to change towards it. Link bait is subversive and has a bad name surrounding it. So, along comes content marketing - same thing as link bait but you can sell it to the suits. The problems with a lot of these terms; inbound marketing, content marketing, it’s all about the mechanical process and not the real thing. The people and the human mind, that’s where the link is given. It’s nothing to do with Twitter or social media. The real battle is in the human mind. We don't create content for the googlebot, we make it for the people.
Lyndon is a big believer that link building is more the idea of publishing content and believe it’s got the right mindset about it. Could cave painting have been the very first infographic? Not bad going if they’re still around today. For a 100,000 years we’ve been thinking in pictures like this. We’ve not yet developed to reading. So, if you’re writing an article, have a nice image there because the brain gets tickled and excited about that picture, that’s how the brain has evolved. The way we call things, that is what defines our attitude. We will still call it link bait but in Lyndon’s mind, it’s publishing. The term naturally contains the marketing aspect. Charles Dickens, Aristotle, they were all great publishers. It was an ancient craft before the internet came along. It’s ultimately just a mechanism to transfer these thoughts.
Websites don’t link to websites.
People do the linking, its not the websites. Lyndon goes to talk through how he believes we often miss the fact that it’s a person behind the links. He started in 1998 when you could get away with a programmer approach but the reality is, it’s the people that do the linking and that’s important because people do the natural links. People see content, people link to content and that’s what Google is going towards. We all saw it with Panda and Penguin last year so what’s going to happen next?
Lyndon’s Acronym of the day - P.O.M.P
Pyscographic, Online, Mass Publishing
Psychographic in light of the mind of the potential viewer. Content should be constructed based on how people will react to and we need to think about what attracts, engages and causing attention. Lyndon believes that’s the crux of linkbait; mental triggers that cause a positive reaction. One thing Lyndon recommends in fact, is to build a psychographic profile on the linker. That way it’s then easier to get a link from that one targeted person rather than a ton of folks. You want one link from a leader of a tribe, an influencer. For example if you were targeting Stephen Fry, we know he likes Apple and so we could decide to target him on Twitter. Turns out through this method, this resulted in a retweet and link on Stephen Fry’s blog. It’s easier to figure out this person’s responses and interests as social media opens up a person's likes and dislikes
We want to attract as many people as possible, we want mass appeal. It becomes a numbers game. Social signals help propel the content further to as many of the linkerarti as possible. To get mass publishing appeal, you do need to have a tabloid mind set. It’s easy to scale a mechanical part of the publishing; a low level link juice. The problem with natural link building is that it’s difficult to scale. There’s an acute distraction syndrome and it’s hard to reach people these days. We need to push through that with this tabloid mindset. Noone is going to see your content if you don’t get the attention and ultimately, if it doesn't get seen, it’s pointless. Why would you complain about infographics when they work? Or lists when they work? Yes, we get tired of them because we keep using them but it’s important to have that mindset of what works and what doesn’t.
Lyndon goes on to discuss the human mind in the following three sections.
Primal brain - Responds to fear, danger, sex greed [all the good stuff]
Content can call to the primal brain. The primal brain loves a good headline because its about something that’s fundamental to us.
The subconscious - The bad boy of the brain. This compartment can perform 11 million processes at once. It handles your emotions and memory as well as the act of linking impulse buying. All purchases are made on an irrational basis and linking is kind of like a buy in process as well and so it has that element of irrationality.
Conscious brain - This is more subverted and in fact, most of our decisions are not conscious.
So how can you apply this to your content? The headline is for the primal brain. Body content is for the subconscious so litter this section with mental triggers to engage people. You want the body content to deliver on what the headline offers. Lyndon coins the phrase ‘think like the Economist but make content like the Sun or the Daily Mail’ when it comes to your link building approach.
Another efficient way to scale linkbait is to link out to the news. It taps into what people are thinking of. People are already talking and linking out to this content so why not benefit from this? There is a content source of new news and news can fit into any niche.
Lyndon brings his presentation to a close by relating back to his opening statement of the the presentation where he stated that ‘within 100 years, 30k people will live on Mars’. This Mars landing is a big thing and possibly the biggest thing in a non SEO content. When it comes to link building, don’t be a junkie, be a dealer. Everyone's talking about Mars so why not tap into that high powered content and get some high end links. This is the really interesting stuff that influential blogs are talking about so why not get involved with that.
Lyndon explains that this in how he gained a link from Wired, through this news story by simply scaling link bait. He does go on to add that, of course, the link was costly and did involve a lot of invest with both time and money but that it’s this kind of link building that will go on to produce the best kind of ROI.
Luring us in with the premise of 23, 787 links, Hannah jokes how she doesn’t even need the thirty minutes to do this and leads us over to Fiverr where you can search for links and pick up 23, 787 potentials just from the offers and posts over there.
But in all seriousness, if you have seen sites decimated by Penguin, then they’re really not cute and this kind of crappy link building is just not sustainable. Hannah has been doing SEO for 6 years now and believes that we have always known the kind of links that Google considered manipulative. What’s changed is that it just got real. There is stuff that you can get away with though; sustainable link building. Some of the tips that Hannah goes on to give out are easy whilst others might be hard but almost certainly worth doing.
Hannah kicks off with an example close to home and/or conference, Rand Fishkin. Rand Fishkin can build links in his sleep. He writes a post, publishes it, goes to bed and in the morning, he will have a ton of links from the social streams and online but it doesn’t work like that for my clients. But there is a way to feel like Rand. You need a blog, good content and Zemanta.
Put your content in front of bloggers who are writing related posts. As you type in your post, Zemanta works out what you are writing about and suggests posts you might like to link to. Hannah explains that she picked up 257 links just using Zemanta with a client and although this isn't enough by itself, it is easy. It keeps some links coming in for $14. So we’re not quite at fiverr. Five dollars a link but it’s still really cheap. You’re buying impressions on your content. This is safe and this is clean.
If you’ve got photos on your site, make them embeddable. Paddy built a tool which means that you can right click on an image, link to it and you will get an image credit. Also, Hannah recommends uploading these images and license them under Creative Commons. Where do people look for images for their post? Flickr. So, if people want to use these images, why not ask them for a credit? If you do have good photos, people will link out to this.
Hannah stresses how important it is to make sure you are getting these links through a reverse image search. You can do it like that or you can do it with Image Raider; a new tool from Alex Bertram to find out who’s using your image. You just simply add your image URL and Google can then search for you to see who is embedding your content. It will show you where you’ve got links, it will tell you if they have linked back or not. You can then head over to the site and see if that’s a site you want a link from.
So what about other images? Hannah references data centre, Interxion as a great example of PR through their sleeping pods scheme over the Olympics so co workers wouldn’t necessarily have to commute.The PR company did really well and this idea gained a lot of coverage. Then it’s just a case of tidying up to make sure you get all of these back links i.e anybody who has used the image, you can then ask for an image credit rather than a link. With this in mind...
Stop talking like an SEO
You don’t want an attribution link, you want an image credit. Are you creating video and inadvertently building links for your hosting platform? You want those links, you deserve those links. Phil Nottingham has built a tool that will give you that little blue video credit and that all important link. Equally, if you’re putting your videos on Youtube and people are embedding them, these are still YouTube’s links but you deserve them. People are using your content so they should be linking to you.
Hannah goes on to discuss her experiences with forum communities having tried to interact with potential customers through this medium for a former client. Seems pretty easy right? You try and interact but are ultimately met with STFU and GTFO. But there are potential customers here and you somehow need to get into this community. Hannah shares how she tackled this.
Buy some advertising. Not for the links though and make sure the links are nofollow. So there’s no SEO benefit but that’s because you want to interact with these people. The result? Hannah’s clients gets the traffic and those people converted. Plus, if you've paid for advertising, the community is then far more welcoming and you can then start to interact with them more easily and regularly.
What if you’re gaining PR coverage but no links?
People don’t have a problem linking to Interxion but there are, of course, some sectors who have very commercial homepages. Hannah talks through some of the great successes she has had with online PR sources; The Guardian, the BBC, when she has gone back to clear up but people often don’t want to link to commercial homepages. A recommended way to get round this would be to create people pages. There’s no commercial intent and this is also nice if people are being quoted. With these people pages in place, sites can then link to the person page rather than the homepage.
What if there are no visible contacts?
You can work with or alongside a PR agency. You can get contact profiles right inside your Gmail account through the rapportive plug in. Simple to use, install the plug in and then you can start guessing your possible email addresses within a composed message. When you have it, a smiley face emoticon will appear rather than the question mark beside the ‘To’ field.
In a similar email vein, be sure to follow up on things. Sometimes you need to give people a little nudge. Boomerang is another gmail plugin which allows you to send emails later. This is ideal for Outreach and scheduling personal reminders and Distilled’s John Doherty has written a great blog post on the tool over here if you want to read up more.
Real great content can get you top tiered guest posts.
Simply Business’ Productivity Series is a great example of this from Hannah who having sent out one cold email to Life Hacker got a feature on the DA 93. Of course, it’s rarely that easy. You’re going to have to work hard to add value and you’ll need really great content. So what if you’ve built something? Contact the companies whose tools you have used and offer to write for them. Hannah goes on to explain how through using Camtasia screen casts within the Simply Business Wordpress Guide to Small Businesses led to a guest post over at Techsmith, the producers of the video editing software.
Stop talking like an SEO.
You don’t want a guest post you want a byline; yes, this does require more commitment.
Stop behaving like an SEO.
Don’t write once and move on, become a regular contributor.
Done something that’s worked? Then leverage it again. Hannah shares a quick fix if you want to do dataviz but you don't have great data. The Guardian posted this list of Michelin starred restaurants. So why not take this data and build something with it? Hannah explains how she went on to do this with a client and then followed up with an email to The Guardian to share the infographics which led to a link for the client themselves.
Of course, most of this is tactical. Go and build links on Monday but do think bigger picture too. Start doing stuff that gets links rather than doing stuff for links.
Another great example that Hannah goes on to share is Innocent’s charity campaign. Every year the smoothie makers do something called the Big Knit which is ultimately, little woolen hats for their smoothies bottles dotingly made by their consumers. For every woolen hat that is made, Innocent donate 25p to Age UK. They don’t do this for the links. That’s not what this is about. They do this for two reasons. 1. Innocent are giving something back and 2. Smoothies with little hats on in refrigerators in supermarkets are cute. They sell double the smoothies. They don’t do it for links but they do get links.
What about answering your customers needs?
Revoo offer product reviews and recognise the two distinct types of people in their customer base; those who revel in reading reviews and thoroughly researching stuff before they buy and those who just want someone to tell me what to buy. These Revoo recommendations are based on their reviews so it’s really good data but you just don’t have to wade through it and they go on to tell you the best product for you. Genuinely useful content but it gets links anyway.
Or maybe you could try reaching your customers before they know they need you? Salesforce created the Social Customer Service to reach business owners who don’t know they need a CRM yet. This content got links because it massively useful to their customer base. Or create some opensource software? Test Plant created Vine and got a link from Apple. Bonus.
Key takeaways from Hannah’s talk:
Leverage your existing assets and create new assets to leverage.
Claim those links you earned.
Stop talking like an SEO.
Stop behaving like an SEO.
Get links not just for links.
Ian begins his presentation very humbly with the comment - “If you don’t know machine learning and want to make yourself feel like a complete moron, try machine learning”.
After all, machine learning how hard can it be? All of the tools mentioned within Ian’s talk today can be found over here. OK, so how does Ian deal with reinclusion requests? You crawl up the arse end of your websites link profile. You build a really big spreadsheet .Get all your links from Google WMT, Open Site Explorer and Majestic SEO. You’ll need to go through all of those, dump them into Richard Baxter’s Link API extension for Excel. Pray that Excel won’t just vomit all over your computer. Grab the data URL, title and you can evaluate all the URLS.
Look at the title tags with bad grammar; the ones that are just stupid and make you feel uncomfortable. Now, here’s the fun part as you need to go through the domains and page authority and you can’t outsource this. When you’re all done, you can go to Google and tell them you’re all harmless.
Ian goes on to explain how why he began machine learning as he wanted to try to understand the Google algorithm by finding patterns. How hard could it be, right? Ian tries to sum up the thought processes in 60 seconds beginning with a question thank you hope to answer; for example, is a link from this page spam? Is it going to cause a problem? People call the answer a classification.
i.e Training set + algorithm = classification
OK, so what is this training set? This is the most important part as it represents a set of data that you already know the answer to. Scrape the content to build a list of all the spammy content. Ian also adds in a bunch of good sites in there and then asks the machine whether this is spam or not? Your machine will take all that information and say OK, pages with these words are a problem.
You can then pick an algo - supervised, unsupervised or text based? Unsupervised learns on its own without you having to adjust it. For the first time that Ian tried this, he solely used words, dumped them in the system which then looks at this text with a bayesian filter, the kind of thing thats used on spam emails.
Training set + bayesian = fail. All of these pages are spam.
So instead of working with words, Ian turns to numbers and applied a different algorithm logistic regression .
Training set + logic regression = success.
Computers work much better with numbers than words and with this success, Ian made this into a tool so you can find out if a linking page might get you penalized.
Lessons learned thus far from Ian’s machine learning:
Even if you never build a tool like this - there are good lessons to be learnt. This sort of testing can give you an insight into how Google is dealing with pages. It’s about links not pages and in this case, it’s all about context. The question you want machine learning to handle is how likely it is that this link in the context of all other links to this site might seem spam like?
Declining spam tolerance
Google’s spam tolerance is declining over time. Those people who were penalized when Penguin came out were clearly pretty blatant. So whilst others might not have been hit yet but they will get hit eventually. Google is getting much grumpier. At some point in the next couple of years, you're going to get your ass kicked so get rid of that spam.
Further lessons from Machine Learning:
Use a big training set - Within Ian’s test, CNN was showing up as spam because of all of their homepage links. The tool views this as spam, he;s not passing judgement more than a link from this site might be spam.
Use words too, not so the system depends on it but so its a factor.
Specialise by vertical - we’ll build a database and do our analysis that way. Everyone in the industry follows everyone else but specialise for vertical and it gets a bit easier.
Why do I have to know this ? This is way too hard?
It’s growing pretty fast and is becoming much more common in marketing. It is also becoming easier too as you can now use these tools without knowing much about them, tools like; Google Prediction API, Big ML, etc. Essentially, it’s easy to understand the concept. In the next couple of years, you’re going to get more and more tools and you're going to need some of this machine learning know how to be able to use them.
It’s hard to build a tool but its easy to understand. It gives you far better link profiles and in the long run, you'll build far better links.
Richard Baxter, SEOgadget | How to Build Agile and Actionable Link Data Reports. With APIs
Richard wanted to show how easy it is for any of us to interact with APIs without getting developers involved. By showing us what you get when you connect to a simple API, he demonstrated how easy it is to start building basic tools directly in Excel.
Richard’s talk was based on a live demonstration where he connected directly to a variety of APIs of different complexity and showed the kind of things you can do with the results. Here are just some of the things he covered and talked through on the day:
- The majority of Rich’s presentation centred around demonstrating the SEO gadget API query tool
Richard advises you that when you are doing link spam analysis reverse sort your list and start from the worst and work upwards.
He also explains that the most basic of API tools is Wipmania for IP targeting; if you give it an IP address it will tell you where it’s from and is a good place to start if you want to try and build something.
Richard recommends Sharedcount as a way to track URL shares, tweets and likes from various IPs.
You can also find anything about API’s at Programmable Web
Rich goes on to show you how through using these APIs you can go on to build some pretty impressive stuff and has curated this LinkLove dashboard to demonstrate just that which he will be sharing with us.
He also talks through the recent giveaway of Open Site Explorer in Excel over on SEOGadget.
Within this tool, you are also able to accept this list in Data Validation which now gives you the option of a drop down menu and means that you can sort these results by domain authority.
The real joy is how you start to learn to manipulate these queries to analyse the data yourself then you can go on to build your own apps.
As it was a live demo, it’s hard to convey the practical lessons in text - watch out for us sharing the video in coming months.
Your company's executive team has a unique, rare kind of power to help messages spread and reach the right people. But often, they're disconnected from the day to day challenges of marketing, despite having a huge stake and interest in its success. Never fear - Rand's tackling this issue head-on with a presentation that shows how to turn a few minutes of your CEO's time into a wealth of links, shares, introductions, and even content you can use to upgrade your inbound marketing efforts. From earning buy-in with the right kinds of metrics, to the psychologies that will earn the actions you need, these 30 minutes can make even the pointiest-haired bosses into marketing machines.
If the company you are building has a large majority of the traits and attributes your CEO has does this mean the company isn’t scaling beyond the founder? Rand believe this is, in fact, true of all companies and most tend to share a lot of the passions and eccentricities of their founders. It’s what companies do. The CEO has the ability to move the needle massively in your company.
What is it the CEO does? Let’s talk about the CEO’s job.
They set the mission, vision and strategy. No one else can or should be doing this. People should be contributing but no one else should have the final say. The CEO needs to live, breathe and spread the core values of the company. You do have core values you just might not realise and recognise what they are. Things that are rewarded or why people are hired or let go. This goes beyond the mission statement and to the things that you believe in together. We build companies, as entrepreneurs, we want to contribute to something greater than ourselves that we could never do on our own.
There are four main teams at SEOmoz as Rand goes on to explain; engineering, product, operations and marketing. These people set and determine how the rest of the company operates. They set the culture internally on their individual teams.The CEO has an obligation to make sure the business is properly capitalized and work to allocate the company’s resources at a strategical level. For instance, the SEOmoz Happiness to cupcake ratio. He is just kidding....
Be the brand’s Chief Evangelist.
You don’t see this one reflected in these lists. You find a lot of companies that don’t have good marketing. It’s sad and tragic but it’s an industry fault. The final responsibilities rest with those people in charge. Why should the CEO do marketing themselves? Why would we travel, arrive jet lagged to connect personally with these people when it’s just as easy to post a blog post and yet the results seem to speak for themselves.
There’s nobody else who will know the business as well as your self. There’s also no one else who has the CEO’s reach of coverage. It’s the same as the way things go in the press. There might be a particular minister that gets some coverage but when the Prime Minister says something it really means something. This is true in the corporate world too.
No one else has the CEO’s authority. Where are you going to put time and energy in dollars? What makes a good CEO is also the attributes you need to be a good marketer, to strategize and make the right moves That’s almost certainly why they were elected because they excel at these skills. The CEO's job has to include evangelism in marketing.
Rand goes on to talk through the three kinds of Great CEO Marketing:
The Richard Branson
This kind of CEO leverages the status of his celebrity and his position to market his company. An example of a Richard Branson type CEO in action would be Ben Huh - he is fantastic at getting press and brand awareness particularly for a company of their size.
The Danielle Morrill
A participatory CEO, Rand admits this is the archetype that best fits him. This CEO will blog, they are well followed on Twitter and FB. An example of this is Ray Gengo Metrics who can often be seen linking over to his page on forums and comment marketing. He is powerful by the nature of his position.
The Jeremy Stoppelman
Rand goes on to explain that he actually met Jeremy at an event and did some SEO work for Yelp early on in their rise. In fact, this is often misattributed to the work that SEOmoz did but, in fact, any of you doing the work would’ve made the same suggestions. The only difference is Jeremy himself with his empowerment and belief in SEO. Chris Lynland from BetaBrand rocks ecommerce marketing and is another great example of this type of CEO.
OK so what if I can’t be that CEO?
1. You can delegate to an internal marketing leader.
2. You can rely on your product and your paid marketing to make you go viral. Priceline have done that.
3. You can decide that Inbound Marketing [SEO, social, content] won't be a competitive advantage. Acknowledge this though or you let your brand down. Be conscious of what you’re good at and what you’re not.
1. Understand and evangelize how your funnel works. If you don’t understand your funnel, stop marketing and get to know it.
2 . Be proactive in your community. An industry contributor, occasional guest posts , these are all opportunities that are open to the CEO.
3. Leverage the press wisely.
Full Contact’s Paid PAID holiday is an awesome example of this and the day after this launches , there are calls from every press outfit as you can imagine. Pretty slick. There’s no prominent media outlet in the world that didn’t cover this. Link building through policy. Be creative.
4. Empower Your Marketing team with developers
5. Get good at one or more forms of content - screencasts, audio, video, games, data, research. Find just one, that will be enough to move that needle.
6. Recognize Marketing accomplishments the way you do product engineering and financial milestones. That’s effective. Sometimes it’s more rewarding than a raise and promotion. There’s one thing that’s even more successful than that - recognising in a bigger forum than themselves and calling your employees out in public.
7. Optimise your Online Bio [and update it, too]
8. CEO’s Amass Favours, Ask for Links and Shares
Rand shows us a snapshot into this email inbox and how often the phrase ‘ever be helpful’ appears - these emails represent a lot of favours that people have offered that can be cashed in. CEO’s should be a leveraging tool for your marketing team.
9. You can use your contacts to amplify messages.
A CEO will have unique contacts. Do this inside your email and within your contact list. Full Contact is a great tool for this and will layer email data as well as using Followerwonk to outreach to those influencers already following you.
10. Embrace authenticity.
Recognise the world we are living in today to have authentic experiences with brand. Rand discusses the theory of economics for the future and how in the past, wealth was often associated through big brands like Gucci and Louis Vuitton and now people want to be hipster.
People care more about why a company exists than what it produces.
This video comes from one of the most well regarded and revered US comedians who has also recently put up his show to download for free and just goes to show that nowadays, authenticity winning over commercialism.
This is the huge power that CEO’s can leverage. Take this back to your CEO and if they’re not listening, send Rand an email!
Before Ade starts, he clarifies that despite a lot of session centring around what Teapot Creative do, this isn't a sales pitch. Some people aren't going to do small business SEO. Small business SEO relies on face to face relationships where you are based so that this can be passed on in your area.
In fact, when he mentioned to everyone that he was speaking at this year’s LinkLove conference, he got a tweet from Patrick Hathaway joking about the fact that his tactic of hanging around at the events had finally paid off! Ade stresses that he doesn't work with an SEO agency with lots of other people to bounce ideas off and so for that reason, events like this are ideal and sometimes he feels he learns the most by speaking with people on his lunch break.
This is the same approach that Ade takes with Small Business SEO; optimise as much as you can and cover as many bases as possible and be sure to say yes to the opportunities that come up.
The definition of a small business is “a company that employees up to 249 people”. By that definition of course, SEOmoz is a small business. We all know them.
Ade’s definition however is slightly different stating that there should be less than 10 employees which makes up over a million of the businesses in the UK, and only half of these have websites. With that in mind, the vast majority of Small Business owners do know what SEO is but they have a really low business budget to optimise it.
Know your client and your clients business.
When it comes to Small Business SEO, you need to get to know you client and what's important to their business. Set goals for the company but more than simply increasing ranking or site traffic, instead look towards a good structure for link building campaigns and give direction. You need to educate your client about what you’re going to do and that it will take a while to pay off. This way they will feel a lot more involved and will want to stay on longer as part of the process
Be realistic with your client about what you can achieve.
Make sure they have a great website- if you want to rank in top ten, your client will need to have a website that deserves that spot. Ultimately, business is easier with a good website. Link building gets easier with a better website. Ade talks through an example with the C/I/D in Somerset who came to Teapot Creative for SEO direction for their site. The C/I/D received zero inquiries through their site and only ten linking root domains in ten years. If you want to be successful online you need to be credible online.
If you don’t have a brand, create one. For Outreach the person will check your website and people don't like linking to crappy websites.
Be really good at on page SEO. If this is the case and you have better on page SEO, you will need to build less links overall. Identify site issues and fix them. Run your landing pages and keyword through the onpage optimization tool from SEOmoz.
Local search also has a massive role to play in Small Business SEO and will only go on to get more and more competitive in the SERPs. Ade references the Koozai guides to optimize your pages and building citations. It is important for the business to have a blog. A lot of brands will feel as though they don’t know what to write about and that they don’t have any content but it’s really just a case of blogging about things that are interesting and useful to your customer not you. The same can be said for social media posts. If you're aiming locally, blog about things in your local area and link out to these sites and other companies. You can also add the local area into your blog category name.
Find and fix orphaned links
An orphaned link is an inbound link where the page it is pointing to doesn’t exist. This happens when websites get chopped and change or from a site redesign. Teapot Creative have created a Step by Step Guide. You can also work to pull out backlink data, chuck this into an XL spreadsheet, then through Screaming Frog to find the 404s and redirect them back to the relevant pages.
A bigger website is not necessarily better. Look at their inbound links and combine pages that add value. Concentrate your inbound links onto those pages so they are more likely to link.
Ask your client for a list of personal and business contacts that you know could provide links to their sites. It’s not free but you can give them some advice, write them a blog post or run an orphaned link check on their website. Tell them why links are important, i.e you’ll get links for your clients and new business.
Outreach can be pretty time consuming so streamline that outreach down and find prospects, send them an email and get a link. Ada and Matt Beswick have created this Prospector Tool for finding links. The tool scrapes Google for a search query and will give you all your results ordered by domain authority in a csv file. You can also carry out multiple keyword searches in the tool. There is also an advanced search query mode and guest post blitz mode for blogger outreach prospects.
Ade then goes on to talk through the functionality of the tool and how to best use it. Point out all those inbound linking domains pointing to your site. Within the tool ,create a project and put as many scrapes as you want, based on your clients. You can then create a scrape. You’ll just need to choose the mode and the version of Google you want to run. You’ll also need to add in whether it’s a web or blog search and enter in your keywords as well as how many pages of Google you want to search. Then you can just give it a name, confirm and go. If you head back to the tool home screen, it will show you the status of any scrapes running. Only tick the check the inbound link data if you need it as it takes a lot of time.
Cherry pick your prospects from this list; the longer you take with this the more successful you will be with your outreach. You can also read through the outsourcing guide from Matt Beswick which acts as a good case study example of such practises plus a few more actionable tips and insights.
Ade also goes on to recommend Buzzstream in order to pitch to bloggers by searching through the related topics to your content and seeing where they might repost your existing content.
There’s always the perception that you need a lot of links to rank, you don’t you just need a few good ones. when it comes to small businesses.
OK so what about when it comes to content creation?
Teapot Creative use Text Broker and recommends using the .co.uk for specifically UK as well as the four star quality writers. You can then work to add them to your favourites and build teams in content niches. Make sure within here, you always give good instructions and check through the submitted articles. You will also need to add some images into this but are then ready to send this over to your prospect. This is a particularly streamlined outreach process but it does work.
Key takeaways for being successful at Small Business SEO:
Know your clients business and be realistic
Define your marketing goals
Be an asset to your clients business and make sure they know that you are.
Educate your client
As Albert Einstein once said,
Information will get you from A to B but imagination will get you anywhere.
83% of all statistics are made up on the spot. In fact, Claire just made that one up too. People may hate infographics but hopefully at the end of her presentation, she can dispel this myth. As despite the fact people thinking infographics add no value, Claire is set to show you they really do.
Ok so the web infographic, it’s huge. So for that reason, you’ve got to get yours noticed and out there. In a sprawling searchscape, the nodes would be Amazon, eBay and Facebook. The tiny parts would be us trying to get our content out there and you have to create infographics to do that.
At the heart of the infographic is statistics; a visual representation of data but you need to go out and find the data for this. This means looking through blogs and researching for the content and in turn, sorting through the data from what’s good and what’s shit. Then it’s a case of arranging that data but not just in text format. You need to take that data and turn it into an image that people can read and understand. It’s a case of walking people through the data the same way you found it.
Infographics are not a paradigm shift.
The above is an infographic produced for Florence Nightingale in 1855 which was created to prove that all the young men coming back from the Crimean war were dying of preventable diseases. She needed this data to be presented in a way that the Queen would be able to easily relate to at the time. In this case, the blue is the young men dying of these diseases.
So what’s the process of an infographic?
You will need to plan this process towards your clients needs. Select your topic and research this based on the clients requirements. This then leads you to getting data and creating your own data. You’ll need to start planning a narrative that will take your client through the infographic - they need a path that tells them what the data should say.
Then you start thinking about visualising this and how do you want people to see this data. This also leads you to testing and seeing what others make of the content. It’s important to listen their feedback here too and of course, make any amendments. You’ll then need to host the infographic on a fantastic site and work to promote this over on the social channels and outreach. It then goes back to analysing the effectiveness of this particular graphic.
Info vs plain graphic
So what makes an infographic and how does it differ from a plain graphic? An infographic works to inform, it’s professional and ultimately, a bit more interesting.
What does the winning idea look like though? This infographic will be well researched, presented and placed for them to deliver anything back. You can head over to sites like Trendhunter, StumbleUpon, Reddit and Google News to see what types of topics and content are currently on trend or of interest.
Types of Infograpics
Statistical, fed by the initial data. Claire’s example here was the iPhone5 article which featured over on Mashable.
Geographical - The True size of Africa.
Training/timelines - Educational infographic that will keep delivering.
Opinion piece - no statistical data but someone’s come up with an idea and run with it.
As long as you get the data right, you can choose any of these styles - these statistics are the most important part of it.
Claire also advises that it’s good to always have three targets for your infographic. That way if it doesn’t fit the first, then you’ve got other targets to fall back on. In the case of the 007 infographic, she had:
1. Film fan
2. 007 fans
3. Fashion bloggers
4. Data junkie
Always seek out the highly shareable sites. If you go after the lower blogs before these ones, it’s unlikely you can get back up there. They will link to content already shared over on top sites like Mashable.
Outreach made easy
LinkedIn. Go out and have a look at what fellow bloggers are talking about. Join a group that they are in and sending a direct message through to a key individual in order to build up contacts through taking time out to talk to these people one to one. But don’t close yourself off; be involved in all of the social channels. They will react very differently in all the different communities.
Gorkana Group - This feels like approaching link building in a PR form and can lead to working with people to build infographics in a PR way.
So what can a REAL infographic can do?
Promotion Example - Arnold Schwarzenegger, The Last Stand.
Quite basic and lots of quotes. 232 reddit votes. 59 comments from twitter fans.
Always share the jpeg of your infographic through jpeg Imgur on Reddit, it’s more trustworthy. Wait for the links to come in and then redirect.
Holiday promotion - Halloween by the numbers.
300 likes, 314 RTs and 188 pins. Widespread but tons of competitions. Hosting on a PR7 site with Mashable through contacting the editor on LinkedIn.
Remember though, you don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies.
Do make a conscious effort to hosting your content on Reddit forums, this will build up your Reddit account for future linkbuilding rather than being laughed out of the forum.
Takeaways and final tool tips:
If you’re unsure of your colour palette when it comes to infographics, Claire recommends Colour Lovers. They are the experts here, trust them .
Put references onto people’s data so that you can get some links back from that and also have a legal standpoint.
Promotion - make sure you know where it’s going.
Will kicks off with the rather bold statement: ‘I hate link building’. Of course, it’s more that link building is just a terrible name for what we do today. No one hates great content. No one hates outreach. None of this stuff but all of these examples are valuable for more than the link.
That’s not to say Links are Dead. Link building is just a terrible name for what we do and we need to move on. In Will’s case, he’s been answering Moz Q&A for over five years and pretty much every question on why a site doesn’t rank was answered with ‘because you need some links’. We can see how well that worked because even these days, the question ‘Why doesn’t my site rank’ still remains but the answer is more like ‘Oh god, not those links’.
Will goes on to say how he’s happy if you guys want to carry on Link Building but its not just not something that he is going to do. He prefers building flywheels rather than things that potentially churn and burn. Just like James Collins’ ‘Good to Great’, progress is really slow at first but then you can’t stop it if you wanted to. Let’s work to take risks that have an upside.
This will be the last LinkLove. The focus of links is leading us astray. It’s just that this was increasingly more like contentlove and searchlove.
Will confesses to being pretty big on personal development; learning dominates training and this curiosity is self driven. So, you've got all these skill sets but where are you going? Smart online marketers can be the webs best marketers. You should be tomorrow’s CMOs.
But if we want to be tomorrow CMOs we need to talk about a few things. Everyone hates us. That’s because we break everything we touch. We broke directories. We broke comments. We broke forums; great communities with real value because they couldn’t survive with the onslaught of links being dropped inside them.
We took an ancient form of communication, like the above that represents the Slave Population in America from 1881, a form that’s been around for 100’s of years. It’s used by respected newspapers and we broke it. Sometimes we broke it through bad design, failing to do the primary job of the infographic. Check out Scott Cowley’s Ugly Infographics Pinterest Board for some great examples of what not to do.
Guest columns have existed forever. We broke it because guest posts are basically just spam now. And we can't even clean up after ourselves when we’re removing these links.
We want to grow to the next level of being great online marketers.
If we’re trying to become the webs best marketers, there are some guys that do the creative better than us. There are people that do fame better than us. Celebrities are better than us.
You just can’t copy that stuff, right?
The brands are better than us. There’s a new threat. Smart online publications are waking up to this and throwing money at it. Loss leaders are hard to compete with. The New York Times, Snow Fail is one of the most epic pieces of journalism for just one page on the New York Times website. How do you compete with that?
Start worrying about your CDNs
Start worrying about how many journalist you know.
Start worrying about being badly quoted.
Start worrying if people follow those links.
Start thinking link equity plays much better in the boardroom .
The Future of Link Builders
Smart technical savvy online marketers made up of some content strategists, content; technology and fame.
There are those who understand the content aspect of this make up, their customers needs but they perhaps don't know how to get it in front of the right people.
There are the PRs who are great with people but often screw up the technical stuff.
Or the CMO’s who are great at fame and technology but think content is someone elses job.
We want to be employing in the middle = the full stack marketer. You might not be exceptional at all these things but you have an understanding want to build strategy and manage this. If you don’t naturally fall within this technical side, Will recommends taking a look at Jamie Steven at SEOmoz’s slidedeck.
Ultimately, when it comes to building links though, Will believes it’s all about building attention rather than shares. Wil suggests measuring links based on engaged visitors and has made you a custom dashboard that can help define those segments. Interestingly enough, he goes on to explain that the links that send Distilled the largest number of engaged people are largely nofollow or behind a paywall. But these are real links, nonetheless.
Will likens good SEOs to having a sort of spidey sense. We know why no one is linking to you. We know how influential a person is. We understand how search works; it’s about finding real information about people, about products and that is a super power. You should use it.
Will goes on to share some stuff he believes you should do for yourselves. These things are inspired by Entrepreneurial Design from Gary Chou. You’ll find masses of reading material within this course along with some assignments. These goals set here are not designed to turn you into a photoshop god if you’re not creative but closer towards the full stacked marketer.
First up to test yourself if you’re not an extrovert; make yourself uncomfortable.
Get a journalist to run a story based on your tip. Bonus tip - stay in touch with that journalist.
Present to a crowd. Justin Briggs talks you through how to do this over on his post.
Similarly, present to a board.
Negotiate with a salesperson, now that will make you uncomfortable
Record a screencast or webinar.
Get in touch with a hero.
Debate a business case. You’ll find the ideal material for this over on the Harvard Business Review. Debate this with colleagues; it’s fun and you will learn something.
Sell something door to door - Will goes on to describe how before it was even called Distilled, in the days when he would show up to work and we didn’t have any clients, he would go out on the road and tried to sell some stuff. Don’t want to go outside? Make ten cold calls.
Run a live usability test - Get someone to do a search right there in front of you but resist the urge to coach them . For example. ‘find me a digital camera for sale’. Just see what they do. Some of them will fire up Internet Explorer...Some will fire up a real browser. When it takes them to Google, see how they will refine their searches.
Answer some customer calls.
Read to a child.
OK, so you’re not technical, here’s a few of Will’s homework tasks for you:
Install a web server. Start with Apache. Send enough information so it breaks it and then fix it.
Contribute to an open source project. Github makes some parts of this relatively easy. The hard part is working out Git.
Submit a call request.
Make something and sell a copy online.
Alright, you’re not creative, here’s some ideas for your homework list:
Film and edit some video - use iMovie if you have a mac.
Make a graphic end to end. Doing that process end to end is informative.
Build an interactive graphic in a day.
Remove someone from a photo. This one’s all about those hacky skills.
Write for a publication you’ve previously bought. This one will force you to go through an Editor. Seeing how a professional editor handles your post really makes you view content in a different light and how backwards publishing actually is. In fact, much of this stuff is still done in red pen on paper.
Try out these processes to fix these problems we face as traditional link builders and level up to be tomorrow’s CMOs by aiming to hit the middle.
And with that, LinkLove London 2013 comes to a close. Thanks to all of our fantastic speakers and of course, all of you that could join us for the last hurrah. You can check out all the slides from the day over on the Distilled Slideshare page and make sure to check out the photos from the after party too.
We'll see you for SearchLove, folks!