SEO and Link-Building Tactics for Content Marketing in 2016

Recently, I’ve been sharing some SEO and link-building training webinars for digital marketers that contain great content marketing tactics.

James Norquay @connections8 from @SEMRush, for one, shared a very informative video (albeit the dry voice over). This covered some classic SEO and link-building strategies that work for content marketing that we can still use for 2016.

 

Nicolette Beard @nicolettebeard who worked for @RavenTools and is now working with @IndMktr (www.industrialmarketer.com) also shared a fantastic online training seminar for link-building.

 

Today we’ll cover some key points on SEO and link-building shared by these videos and go into a little more depth on how you can execute these strategies.

I’ve collated these SEO and link-building strategies below as a complete but non-exhaustive list for your ease of use. So, you don’t have to watch multiple points being covered by different marketers.

Enjoy the below marketing tips and feel free to share any more digital marketing webinars that may be available.

Measure and plan everything for SEO campaigns

As James said in his webinar, remember with any SEO campaign, you must have pre-results including legal, planning, research, content creation, sign off and Q&A.

But what James didn’t quite cover was how to measure and plan your SEO campaigns, so we’ll go into a little more depth here.

Backlink and competitor research

This is a great way to start for analysing competitors and to ensure you stay ahead of the market for your business. There are a number of tools that are available that provide methods for backlink investigation to see what your competitors are doing to build links and improve SEO.

For example, if your company is like the Pepsi of link-building competing with Coke, your SEO or distribution strategy may be to be everywhere that Coke is to increase opportunities for lead generation and sales conversions.

These tools are great for researching SEO and backlink reports, both for your site and competitors’ sites.

– Open Site Explorer is a free tool that limits you to running 3 reports per day and accessing 1000 backlinks per site. Here, you can get summary information about Page Authority, Domain Authority, social metrics and details on inbound links and linking domains.

– Majestic SEO Site Explorer is also another great resource to use that doesn’t require you to have a paid account. Here, you can access general information about your site or a competitor’s site such as the number of referring domains, number of external backlinks and number of referring IP addresses etcetera.

– Ahrefs Site Explorer also allows you to perform 15 backlink checking requests per day. Here, the backlink overview includes information such as the total number of backlinks, the number of referring domains (and a corresponding TLD breakdown), and a breakdown of backlink types (e.g. text, image, no-follow, etcetera.)

– WhoLinksToMe also produces various detailed backlink reports with views by link, anchor text, country, IP, and more. Here, many charts and graphs are available to aid in your analysis. This makes competitor keyword research easy as you can tell fairly well from an anchor text analysis what key words your competitors are using to target audiences.

As James mentions, some other SEO backlink investigation platforms that require paid subscriptions are for example:

– SEMRush

– Monitor Backlinks

 Screaming Frog

– True Social Metrics

– Social Media Optimizer Tool 

These make for a clearer understanding of how your website compares to competitors so you can use an imitation or differentiation strategy to improve your SEO score.

Measuring your SEO campaign

Proving the ROI on SEO campaigns is the task businesses find most difficult in project planning.

We know that measuring items such as keyword rankings, search engine rankings, search traffic rise, and conversions are the key performance indicators in determining whether your SEO strategy is working or not.

But how do we go about measuring our SEO campaigns?

Google Analytics is for starters a must use SEO metric tool that tracks the performance of your website by analysing specific visitors, segments and creating reports. This allows you to measure your traffic quality like the number of pages per visit, visit duration, and bounce rate, which are all factors that get included as a KPI for measuring your SEO campaign.

Here, it’s a must to segment your visitors based on specific traffic sources (referrals, social, search engines and so forth). The data provided by Google Analytics can help measure the success of your SEO campaigns.

For example, you can use the Goal Flows report to set goals such as how many times your content is being shared via social networks, the duration of the visit, pages/screens per session and destination of the visit.

This helps you understand where it’s best to insert landing pages for higher CTR and lead generation.

You may also, for instance, want to measure the performance of your keywords. Together with tools such as Google Trends for keywords research, this can come in as handy to segment, filter and compare your traffic based on high performing keywords and target audiences.

For instance, a search term for “Marketing” shows that ‘facebook marketing’, ‘social media marketing’, ‘digital marketing’ and ‘affiliate marketing’ are hot topics and key words that are on the rise for 2016. Whereas, popularity of this query has been shown to receive the most interest from Singapore, Philippines, India and the likes.

google trends for SEO research

Another method is to use Google Webmaster Search Queries Reports. This contains important information on impressions, clicks, CTRs and rankings. You can have this data displayed against your keywords, and even filter by location to show how effective your keywords are.

google webmaster search queries reports for SEO research

 

For example, this site shows one of the highest performing keywords in Google search engine are “link building tactics”.

Make sure you have fresh content for better SEO

We know great content is the key for high quality leads and is better for SEO. Research indicates that the optimal word length for a content marketing piece is 1300 words with about a 1.5% keyword density.

For example, this piece would have the keyword “SEO” which shows, according to Yoast SEO, a 1.5% density rate.

There has been some debate with @edwindearborn though, who does mention in reference to @neilpatel that best practices for SEO are say 2300 words in the video below.

 

But personally, I would suggest lengthier pieces generally have difficulties sustaining readers attention. So for lengthier posts like this one I would always recommend having all your most important points at the beginning and to have lots of H1/H2 headlines to keep your audiences engaged and for better SEO. For an alternate view, you can refer to Neil’s latest research on content length in his post Why 3000+ Word Blog Posts Get More Traffic. (Thanks to Edwin for sharing this with me.)

I won’t go into too much detail for fresh content here as it’s quite self-explanatory, but if you haven’t come across my blog “SEO Link-building Tactics On A Bootstrap Budget”, this post shares some great tips for optimising your content outreach for better SEO and link-building.

Just remember to always use Fetch as Google to recrawl your site and submit it to the index after you create a new post.

Check your website for negative SEO

James mentioned negative SEO, which actually reduces your search engine rankings when you over-optimise a site.

Spammy inbound links that refer to your site for instance may generate negative SEO. There’s also SEO malpractices such as white keyword text all over a white background or too many ads on your site that may also reduce your SEO ranking.

Further, since external links are more or less often beyond the control of site owners, competitors can easily improve their search rankings by using tactics to negatively impact competitors.

We must be weary of negative SEO tactics such as paid linking (where thousands of links get pointed to your site) and stealing of content before it can get indexed by search engines (where others may attempt to copy your site’s content to make it look like the original site is actually duplicating content).

The latter can be prevented by consistently updating your sitemap and using an absolute rel=”canonical” tag on pages which helps establish your site as the authority when content gets scraped by a third party.

For example, you may place a rel=”canonical” tags that would look like this:

<link rel=”canonical” href=http://www.inkth.com/seo-link-building-tactics-for-content-marketing-in-2016/>

You would place the canonical tag as part of your HTML header on your site – the same place where your meta tag, title tag and robots tag would go.

Reduce your website load speed

The rule of thumb for site page load speeds for SEO is that your page should optimally load in under 3 seconds.

For example, a recent site loading time for a website I checked on SEO Site Checkup was around 9.047 seconds, which is said to be over the average loading speed of around 5 seconds.

How can you go about improving your site speed?

Minimise HTTP requests

Moving your site to HTTPS is a general method for reducing your site load speed. The post-Penguin/Panda Google algorithm actually considers HTTPS sites (sites which have a Secure Sockets Layer encryption) higher in search rankings than say HTTP sites.

The trick for SSL is that you don’t actually need SSL for the whole site. You only need SSL for pages where there is login and password information input to prevent man-in-the-middle attacks.

But, if you do prefer to use SSL for your whole site you may want to look into getting a Wildcard certificate which allows you to easily secure an unlimited number of subdomains of the same domain name (e.g. www.yourdomain.com, www.mail.youdomain.com).

For small to medium businesses I would recommend Namecheap SSL, which offers cheap SSL certificates from very competitive prices for as little as $12.63 per year.

In full disclosure, I’m not even a reseller for SSL, but after much research for personal and work purposes, I’ve come to the informed decision that Comodo SSL does the job just as much as more popular GeoTrust or Thawte SSL solutions. So you can have a peace of mind that this blog is genuinely just an informative piece and there is no ulterior selling involved.

JavaScript and CSS Minification

Minification is the process of removing all unnecessary characters from the source code without changing its functionality. For example, this may be removing unnecessary white spaces so your script loads faster, shortening variable names, combining multiple scripts into one so when people access your site there are fewer HTTP requests. Generally, a HTTP request is made for every individual script and file when someone accesses your site, which increases site load speeds.

Basically, the less scripts and CSS files you have the better.

For example, you may be already using Gzip for HTML compression, but there are a number of tools you can use to minify your JS and CSS files as well. Brenda Barron who blogs for Elegant Themes lists some minification tools that you can use here, which I won’t do you the injustice of repeating.

Alternatively, I’ve found for WordPress the W3 Total Cache plugin generally does the trick to some extent. Just enable the minify option in the third box.

Optimising Images for Better SEO

Optimising images is basically reducing the byte size the browser has to download so there is less competition for the client’s bandwidth.

Firstly, you should consider whether the image is really necessary for your site. A good design should be kept simple for better SEO performance.

You should also consider whether there are better alternatives for images such as CSS animations or Web Fonts.

Some tips and techniques to keep in mind when you’re working on optimising your images are that:

– There is a general preference for vector formats. Vector images are resolution and scale independent (such as illustrator files), which makes them a perfect fit for the multi-device and high-resolution audiences.

– Minify and compress Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG). This is an XML-based image format for two-dimensional graphics where you can embed the SVG markup directly on the page. For example, in SEO Link-building Tactics On A Bootstrap Budget, we’ve mentioned using schema markups through Micro-data generator for image markups to optimise images for SEO.

– Remove unnecessary image metadata. Many images contain unnecessary metdata about the asset when you immediately upload it from a device. For example, geo information, camera information etcetera. To remove your metadata from your images, it’s as simple as saving your JPEG file into a PNG format then resaving it once again into a JPEG file. Use Command I (on Mac) to view your post-wipe image file metadata and alas, your image is metadata free.

For example, Matt Cutts discusses some SEO Ranking Factors in 2016 in the video below, with a prime indicator for SEO still being website load speeds!

 

Mark Up your Content

We’ve already covered the basics of marking up content in the previous marketing post, but there are also social media markups that you need to consider for the purpose of sharing content. For example, Facebook markup, Google Plus markup, Twitter markup.

WordPress plugins such as Yoast SEO are all-inclusive when it comes to social media markups and are extremely handy for optimising content for social media sharing.

Also, as James mentions in his webinar, don’t forget to use Bing Webmaster Tools to markup your content for SEO and analytics. Bing, a largely forgotten search engine, actually still has about a 15-20% market share!

Ensure your Social Media API is embedded on-page

Designers, for example, may instead use images and external links to Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr etcetera.

As James has said, don’t let your social links take users off-site. When they are off-site they immediately become game to competitor marketing.

Make sure your social media API is embedded on-page through a one-touch method. For example, there are a number of developer integrations through social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter that allow you to embed Like or Follow buttons on-site.

Run competitions to build links

A creative marketing strategy is to use freebies to reward social influencers. As James has said, his company identified the top 15 digital influencers on social media to drive links through this campaign.

How this works is to use platforms such as Buzz Sumo and Follower Wonk to identify top influencers. Reach out to digital influencers to get them to participate in the competition through something as simple asking them to link back or mention your site on social media, and then reward the influencers who display the highest social proof of shared or liked content.

Basically, it may be as simple as spending a few hundred dollars on freebies to generate a significant number of leads for your campaign.

Some other platforms for social listening to identify influencers include:

– Social Mention. This is a free social media listening tool that aggregates user generated content from 100+ social media sources. It allows you to listen in on recent social conversations about any topic or brand and will also provide descriptive statistics for these results.

– Twazzup. This is an intuitive Twitter monitoring tool. You just enter the name, brand or company name you can to track and it immediately allows you to get real-time updates on the most active top influencers tweeting about your search query.

– IceRocket. This tool offers blog, Twitter and Facebook monitoring in 20 languages. As well as results graphs that you can play with, it allows you to choose the periods of time you are interested in monitoring.

– PeerReach. This analyses your connections and interactions to determine your interests, expertise and the influencers that are most relevant to you. Compare and assess your PeerGroups, their levels of influence, and join conversations with like-minded people. They also use an algorithm to rank influencers based on the interactions they receive in a specific location.

– Wefollow. This allows you to search for prominent Twitter users related to y our area of interest. It is completely free and provides its own influence ratings (from 0 to 100).

Another method following a similar creative strategy is to use quizzes to then find the best answers and reward clients and audiences.

Interview someone really interesting

For creative outreach and content marketing strategy, you may also want to consider interviewing a public authority for your next blog.

If you are a fairly reputable company, you would be surprised how well received interviews can be for content marketing purposes. It also generates mutual benefits such as publicity through collaborating with a social influencer or public authority whilst generating viewers for your site.

This works particularly well for niche marketing where the public authority may specialise in a particular area of expertise. Thus, you can target your content to that particular niche.

Repurpose content into webinars, infographics and slides

You can repurpose content into infographics, videos and slides to improve your SEO score.

What is an infographic?

The other day a friend of mine from a non-digital marketing background asked what an infographic is, which came as a surprise.

Basically, an infographic is similar to a poster with optimally about 60% images and 40% text. It’s a simple way of communicating information with key statistics or points but by making it aesthetically pleasing.

For example, Social Proof: The Art of Influence Marketing is a great infographic that was recently done.

social proof infographic for better SEO

Source: Nerd Graph 

You can repurpose blogs of simple lists into infographics based on survey data. As James says, always think about how you can crowd source assets. So if you have 10,000 people who worked together to create a post, that post would have a high level of social influence through shares that will also help with link-building back to your site.

Videos are also a great way to link-build and improve SEO for your site. Just remember to always create a description for your content that links back to your product page. This is easy traffic.

The same creative strategy applies for slides. Active Presenter is the best, free content marketing software to repurpose your blogs into screen recording and voice over presentations. It’s definitely an easy way to get started today for your content marketing.

Build a brand profile on Old School Forums

As we mentioned in the last marketing post, commenting on forums is a great way for building brand profiles and link-building back to your site for better SEO. Create a member profile on old school platforms such as Quora and Whirlpool (which historically ranks fairly well on search engines). While this showcases your expertise in your niche area, it can also help with your SEO through brand placement. Buzzfeed is another platform that you can use that even the Big 4 banks are on board with.

Submit yourself as a Guest Blogger

As Nicolette mentioned, how valuable would a .gov backlink be to your business for SEO?

There’s generally some controversy over how well guest blogs fair for 2016 though, due to the number of spammy links. But if you maintain standards of high quality guest posts on sites that align with your target audience or buyer persona then I would still give guest blogging a green light. You can once again build inbound links to your original site via high quality anchor text for SEO.

For example, on this site you can now submit yourself as a guest blogger.

Apply for a member profile easily and submit your content for review by registering here. I accept a range of topics on marketing, web and technology, Australian politics and opinion pieces. Submit yourself as a guest blogger today!

Hope you found this post informative and feel free to comment if you have any more webinars or SEO and link-building tactics to share.

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Hoi Sze Lam

Hoi Sze Lam is an autodidact of all things digital marketing, and is a privacy advocate with a keen interest in cyber affairs. Given the time she reads, breathes and follows good food, wood fires, travel and technology from down under.

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