Tag Archives: Digital Marketing

Guess Who: Connecting with Audiences Through Word Choice and Tone

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Guess Who Connecting With Audiences - Eminent SEO

For a long time I’ve thought about writing as a friendly competition between myself and my readers. In this model, I am playing chess against their tastes, aesthetics and expectations. Checkmate is evoking a feeling, persuading a point or encouraging a reader to take an action.

This approach is especially apt when it comes to professional blogging and copywriting – scenarios where my web copy is expected not only to produce a reaction in the reader but also encourage a response that is beneficial for my clients.

My secret weapon? Knowing when to use the right words in the right place for the right audience.

Granted, the process isn’t as straightforward as it sounds. That’s why I’m breaking it down for you into manageable chunks. These tips can provide you with a crash course in connecting with your audience through thoughtful selections of word choice and tone.

Word Choice Shapes Your Audience

It’s difficult to express just how important word choice is in determining the size and makeup of your audience. As important as your choice of content and use of proper grammar is, the words you use in your copy will ultimately decide who reads your content and who moves on to the next webpage.

That being said, a thoughtful and intentional attitude toward word choice is necessary if your goal is to develop copy that is both effective and influential.

Consider the following factors when drafting or editing your content to make sure your vocabulary usage is in line with the potential customers your client is trying to reach.

Audience

In order to make word choice decisions that will delight a particular audience, it helps to understand what your target audience finds appealing. The type of verbosity that might engender trust with an academic might not fly with a more down-to-earth, slang-friendly crowd, ya dig? That’s just one of the many reasons why strong communication between copywriters and their clients is so essential.

Accessibility

The famous journalism rule of thumb advises writers to produce work at the level an eighth-grader would understand. This approach ensures that the content is as widely accessible as possible.

On the flipside, needlessly using big vocabulary words or constructing complex sentences is a surefire way to make an audience feel unwelcome. When readers run into a paragraph filled with words they don’t understand, they are likely to assume the content wasn’t written with them in mind.

Credibility

While avoiding language that alienates your audience is important, so too is correctly using vocabulary that establishes your client as a credible authority. Writing for medical professionals, for instance, requires you to use medical terms accurately and appropriately. Failure to do so will make it harder to convince this particular audience that your content is a reliable source of helpful information.

Tone Controls Your Messaging

Tackling Tone For Content Who Is Audience - Eminent SEOIn copywriting, much like in life, how you say something is as important as what you’re saying.

In terms of composition, “tone” is defined as the writer’s perspective on their topic, as expressed by their word choice and rhetorical strategies.

When an audience feels like content is written from a perspective they can relate to, they are more likely to receive what that content has to say.

Think about how some of your favorite advertisements use language to connect with their target audience. Marketing copy directed at millennials, for example, is often humorous or flippant. This approach plays well with an audience that often identifies with not taking themselves too seriously.

Understanding tone is a critical part of drafting persuasive copy. Here are a few helpful ways to think about finding the right tone for your own copy:

Word Choice

As you might have guessed, word choice will have a very large impact on how your copy’s tone is interpreted by your audience. Language that is inspiring, affirming and motivating is an ideal way to shape the tone of copy that aims to draw a specific action. On the other hand, discouraging and negative language is effective for convincing an audience to avoid a decision they may have made otherwise.

The proper use of descriptive language – think adjectives – will also have a large influence on your copy’s tone. During your editing process, take special care to analyze descriptive language used throughout. Make sure that language inspiring the right tone is used consistently throughout.

Formatting and Punctuation

Word choice will play a large role in deciding how an audience will receive your copy, but it’s not the only factor to consider when editing for tone. Punctuation, grammar use and text formatting will leave an impression on your audience too.

A great example of how formatting impacts tone is the use of bold. When used sparsely and strategically, this type of formatting can add emphasis to certain statements and make copy more persuasive. When used throughout an article or a blog, however, the audience may get the impression that writer is intending to take an informal tone toward their subject.

Depending on your desired tone, the use of bold and italics can be as distracting as it is helpful.

Language Drives Your Brand

Fear The Fluff Ovoid These Overused Words In Your Copy - Eminent SEOIt is clear that managing a client’s messaging is a test of control. Your word choice controls your tone. Your tone controls the effectiveness of your messaging.

Now that you understand why word choice and tone are so important, the next question to consider is how you will reliably decide which approach is right for each audience.

As I alluded to earlier, getting access to as much information as possible about your client’s preferred leads is very important in shaping your tone and word choice for a certain content piece.

I also like to use the following maxims when it comes to making tone and word choice decisions. When faced with a choice, I do my best to remember the basic goals of marketing copy.

Regardless of the scenario, most effective word choice and tone strategies are those that:

  • Drive marketing goals – This one is pretty straightforward. What narrative is your client trying to communicate to its audience? Which products or pain points are they prioritizing, and does the copy’s language reflect this? If a copy’s tone and word choice are effective in driving the client’s marketing goals, then it is the right copy for the job.
  • Affirm company values – An important part of building a brand is to communicate values and a vision to potential customers. Every piece of language used to represent your client will either support or conflict with those stated values. As such, it is very important that your copy’s tone and word choice are in line with these values.
  • Support SEO Strategies – Don’t forget about search engine rankings. Though high-quality content is far more important in today’s digital marketing game than it was in the past, following a well-researched SEO and keyword strategy when drafting copy is necessary to get your client the best results possible.

Final Thoughts on Word Choice and Tone

Remember that this resource is meant to be less of a list of hard rules and more of a collection of go-to strategies. Making the right choice when it comes to word choice and tone can still be very tough, even with a million helpful tips.

That’s why I rely on as much help from my peers as I can. When you collaborate with others, whether they be internal experts or consulting professionals like myself, you have a better chance of making sure the language of your copy is going to be received by your audience as you intended.

Want some additional insight on copywriting, crafting your message and getting into the heads of your audience? Read a previous blog article of mine that discusses what happens when you make the wrong assumptions about your readers.

Remy Albillar

As a content writer at Eminent SEO, I specialize in producing high-quality copy for a long list of digital mediums, including websites, emails, blogs and social media. I got my career started right out of college producing SEO-driven content for a marketing agency based in Tucson, AZ. I’ve since worked as a copywriter within numerous industries. I’ve written the first half of a personal memoir and earned my master’s in Creative Writing from Emerson College in Boston, MA.

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Vol 69: Complacency Kills in the Ever-Changing Digital Marketing Industry

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What’s New at Eminent SEO?

Getting Ready To Launch Max Rocket - Eminent SEOIt’s a time of growth here at Eminent SEO. We’re close to launching our website makeover, and that’s just the start of what we’re cooking up for the rest of 2017.

We’re also expanding our marketing capabilities by bringing on talented new creators, aiming to do even bigger and better things for our clients.

Speaking to our growth, our CEO Jenny Stradling pointed out that:

“Our ability to test, track and make real-time adjustments to our marketing strategies and websites has been the key to our success.

“You have to be flexible. You must have the ability to grow. This may seem simple enough, but plenty of companies miss it. With SEO and PPC, it’s evolve or die.”

With that in mind, this month’s newsletter will touch on business growth topics and how digital marketing can help your company stay relevant in a rapidly changing digital world.

Your Industry News Roundup

The idea of “growth” is a broad concept that can mean very different things to different organizations. For some, growth may mean bringing on more qualified specialists to the team. For others, growth may merely be measured by a change in revenue.

Regardless of your definition of growth, digital marketing is bound to play a major role in the following ways:

  • Expanding your customer base (the right way) is an integral part of business growth. (Search Engine Journal)
  • Aligning SEO data with social media is necessary for brands seeking relevance in the digital age. (Marketing Land)
  • The best way to think about SEO is as a business investment, not a luxury. (Forbes)

Business and Marketing Tips

This may seem like a no-brainer, but the ways that marketers are spending their budgets have changed drastically over the past four decades. The changes reflect considerable shifts in consumer behaviors, particularly the shrinking relevance of television, radio and direct mail.

Want access to more marketing tips and shareable assets? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter by entering your email address directly below.

Related Blog Articles

You’ll find more useful tidbits in these recent blog articles from Eminent SEO. We hope our latest discussions about SEO and digital marketing inspire you to shake up your strategy for business growth:

See You Next Month!

We really appreciate your taking the time to read our newsletter each month. It’s our sincerest hope that these tips and strategies are a big help to you and your organization.

Please reach out to us if you have more questions about optimizing your web presence. You can also keep an eye out for our September newsletter for even more helpful input from Eminent SEO.

Team Eminent SEO

Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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How Website Pop-Ups Are Starting to Chip Away at Your SEO Progress

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Website Pop-Ups Hurt SEO Progress - Eminent SEO

Advertising, especially pop-up based advertising, can have a significant impact on a website’s SEO. Understanding the relationship between pop-ups and SEO requires examining a website’s user experience (UX) and how Google assesses it.

Google concerns itself with leading its faithful masses to helpful, UX-rich websites. If a webpage signals to Google that the user experience is poor, often in the form of a quickly clicked back button, the search engine responds by demoting the page’s ranking – or penalizing it.

Understanding Pop-Ups, UX and SEO

Pop-ups can be a mighty motivator for those immediate departures. Understanding how pop-ups directly impact the UX – and thus the SEO – requires a dose of technical jargon.

Continue reading to explore the four different types of pop-ups and how they may be slowly chipping away at your website’s SEO progress.

The Classic: New Window Pop-Up

Get To Know Pop-Ups Overlays Modals Interstitials - Eminent SEONew window pop-ups are the garden variety that most end-users associate with the term. These pop-ups appear in a new window without user input, and they are ineffective advertisements for two reasons.

  • First, new window pop-ups detract from the website’s overall UX by inspiring more ire than engagement.
  • Second, most browsers automatically suppress this kind of interaction and block pop-ups. If the browser doesn’t silence the pop-up, users will actively seek out ways to prevent this interaction from occurring again. AdBlock is a popular plug-in available for web browsers, as it boasts more than 40 million users and 200 million downloads. That’s 40 million people saying, “We don’t want this kind of interaction when visiting a website.”

Users don’t like them. Google doesn’t like them. It’s possible to work around Google’s guidelines and suppress the result for users arriving from the search engine results page (SERP), but the damage it does to the overall UX makes this type of pop-up a poor choice.

Overlays: Visual Elements

Overlay pop-ups incur far fewer penalties from search engines. This type of pop-up usually takes the form of a subscription request (such as “join our mailing list”) and appears as a new box within the same window.

Whether Google penalizes the page’s ranking depends largely on the intrusiveness of the overlay. If the overlay prevents the user from viewing the content, particularly on mobile pages, Google may reduce the ranking or remove mobile tags. Losing mobile tags in Google SERPs can greatly diminish the level of organic traffic a webpage receives and render its SEO ineffective.

Modals: Interactive Pop-Ups

Modals are pop-ups that often resemble sign-in forms and directly impact the user experience of a website. Modals form a new box outside of the page’s core content, but prevent interaction with the content until the modal has been dismissed or completed, similar to overlays.

Whether a modal is penalized by Google depends on the type of interaction it provides. Generally, any legal requirements (such as accepting a site’s cookie use or asking if the visitor is at least 21 years old) won’t incur penalties from Google.

Advertisement modals face a trickier battle against Google’s algorithms. Modals that provide an element of UX (such as opening a larger version of an image) and allow the user to interact with the page in a desirable or legal way are unlikely to be penalized. Pages that are penalized for having an advertising pop-up modal become problems the website owner must evaluate.

Does the website gain enough email addresses or subscriptions through the modal to justify the SEO penalty? If so, then it may be beneficial to continue using it, but keep a close eye on Google’s policy updates. If past algorithm trends are any indication of future changes, the SEO penalty may very well increase and incrementally cancel out any current benefits.

Interstitials: Interludes Before Content

The final kind of pop-up happens prior to the user reaching the page. Forbes and other websites that require users to disable their ad-blocking functions are classic examples of interstitial use.

Google’s response to interstitials follows the same logic applied to overlays and modals: If it’s intrusive and detracts from the UX, the SEO on the page will likely face penalties. Google updated its stance on these pop-ups in January 2017 to include harsher penalties for intrusive interstitials that appear fresh from a SERP click-through.

That decision is a direct reflection of Google’s UX principles, as intrusive interstitials often prompt an immediate back button click by users. If enough users arrive and then immediately flee from a webpage, Google knows to push the entry down. If people don’t want to see it, search engines don’t want to show it.

It’s worth noting that these penalties are limited to the first page users reach from a SERP. Interstitials that occur after a click path or when transitioning to another page do not suffer SEO penalties, although they may still detract from the overall UX.

See the image below for a visual representation of an overlay pop-up and interstitials:

Overlay Pop-Up Intrusive Interstitials - Eminent SEO

Making Website Pop-Ups Count

If a website relies on its pop-ups to generate income or subscribers, there are some crafty methods to enrich the user experience with pop-ups rather than detract from it.

Consider these guidelines for meaningful pop-up use without damaging SEO:

  • Make the pop-up as nonintrusive as possible.
  • Time the pop-ups so that they do not prevent immediate content access.
  • If the pop-up interferes with mobile viewing, consider suppressing it for mobile visitors.
  • Provide an easy-to-identify and useful dismissal function for the pop-up.
  • The more original the pop-up element, the more engaging it is. (Be sure that the novelty doesn’t translate into frustration for users.)
  • If possible, make the pop-up meaningful and directly related to the content of the page.
  • Design the website with UX as one of the top priorities. Conversions will naturally follow.

Preparing for the Future of SEO

Google continues to tighten its SEO guidelines, so publishers may find themselves overwhelmed with keeping up. But when you work with Eminent SEO, you don’t have to be one of them. Our team stays on top of search engine policies and best practices in order to update the content and user experience for our clients’ visitors accordingly.

Whether you need help designing a new website or would like a strategic refresh of your existing content, contact Eminent SEO today.

Otherwise, please answer the following question in the comment section below: Have you come across any pop-ups that you found valuable and enhanced your experience on the website you were visiting?

Team Eminent SEO

Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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Vol 68: Find Out How a Website Refresh Can Lead to New Views

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Find Out How Website Refresh Leads To New Views - Eminent SEO

What’s New at Eminent SEO?

We’re thrilled to announce that Eminent SEO be launching an updated version of our website in the fall! The update will further enhance the user experience for our visitors as they spend more time on our site.

Why the refresh? We know how important it is for companies to keep their digital presence looking modern. A revamped website goes a long way toward spicing things up online.

That’s why we’ve dedicated July’s newsletter to the benefits of a website refresh. Ever wondered what a new and improved website could do for your business? Keep reading for your answer!

SEO Industry News Roundup

As it turns out, we’re not the only people who think keeping your website up-to-date is a smart idea. These recent, quick reads from across the digital marketing industry detail the many perks that a fresh website can bring to the table.

  • A modern, fully functional website is critical to any multichannel marketing effort. (Business 2 Community)
  • A website refresh is a boon for preventing or mitigating reputation management scenarios. (Search Engine Land)
  • The perks of a website redesign translate to positive impacts on overall daily business operations. (Forbes)

Quick Wins for Marketers and Business Owners

Find Most Clicked-On Blog Posts Write Another - Eminent SEOStill on the fence about whether your website needs a refresh? Check out this helpful website checklist. Our free tool helps you figure out what your website is (and isn’t) doing well and where you have room for improvement.

We also recommend you check out these two recent Eminent SEO blog articles. They touch on relevant topics to consider while you plan out your new website:

  • As the digital marketing industry continues to evolve, so too can clients expect more from their agency.
  • Planning to go green? Have you already streamlined operations to reduce inefficiencies? Your new website can highlight these planet-friendly investments.

See You Next Month!

Thanks so much for taking the time to read our newsletter! We truly hope that you discovered some useful tidbits and will keep up with our forthcoming newsletter releases.

Remember that you can contact us directly when you’re ready to take your website to the next level. Otherwise, look for our August newsletter in your inbox! Head back here if you haven’t subscribed yet.

Team Eminent SEO

Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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Shootout at the IG Corral: How Black Hat Marketers Cheat at Instagram

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Bad Dotcombres Black Hat Marketers Cheat Instagram - Eminent SEO

If all those totally historically accurate movies about the Old West have taught us anything, it’s that job security was not a major issue for sheriffs and their deputies. A near endless supply of cattle rustlers, masked bandits and stagecoach robbers seemed to flow through every town across the American frontier.

Today, ethical, “white hat” digital marketers face a similar challenge in keeping up with their “black hat” counterparts, especially as black hat practitioners develop new ways to cheat at Instagram and on other popular social media platforms.

In my last post, I provided an overview of white hat vs. black hat SEO strategies in a discussion about ethical SEO practices. I explained how white hat techniques are used to organically boost engagement, and how black hat experts prefer using short-sighted workarounds that can cause considerable harm to a client’s web presence.

The very same “bad dotcombres” now have the barrel of their six-shooters aimed at Instagram. Black hat social media is a reality that must be accounted for if organizations wish to improve engagement on Instagram without getting penalized as a result.

How Bad Dotcombres Cheat at Instagram

Keyword stuffing, hidden text placement and spammy blog content are common examples of black hat strategies used to game search engines, but these techniques are less effective in making an impact on Instagram.

Black hat social media professionals have developed their own approaches to working around Instagram’s user guidelines to boost likes, views and followers.

Some of the most widely adopted black hat Instagram strategies include:

Buying Instagram Followers

In recent years, Instagram has updated its algorithms so that individuals with more followers enjoy wider visibility among Instagram’s user base. Sites that guarantee followers (via spam accounts) in exchange for cash have become extremely common. Black hat digital marketers can use these sites to rapidly ramp up a client’s number of followers.

Using Bots to Fake Engagement

Many black hat social media adherents recommend automated follow-unfollow programs to save their clients the legwork required to boost engagement on Instagram organically. Instagram has begun to crack down on these websites, however, so the future of this strategy appears limited.

Joining Instagram Pods

A “pod” refers to a group of Instagram users who agree to regularly like, share and comment on each other’s posts. Some digital marketers may use pods to guarantee that their clients receive (the appearance of) substantial weekly organic engagement.

Paying for Guest Posts

One popular way for Instagram users to expand their audience is to be featured on a popular blog as a guest poster. Unfortunately, many accounts with numerous followers now actively offer guest posts for a price, effectively charging fellow users for an exposure opportunity. Some black hat digital marketers encourage their clients to take advantage of these services in lieu of tailoring content to an existing audience.

To summarize the four major ways some marketers and individuals cheat Instagram, check out the following infographic and share it with your followers:

Instagram Black Hat Tactics Infographic - Eminent SEO

Instagram Marshals a Response

Google has already responded to several attempts by users to game their algorithms, and Instagram is now taking steps to limit the effectiveness of black hat tactics on the platform. As Instagram’s efforts to control black hat strategies become more aggressive and its algorithms grow more sophisticated, it is only a matter of time before these techniques actually hurt the users who deploy them.

For example, Instagram has recently taken action against the most popular services used to automate accounts and gain followers. Sites like Instagress, Archie.co and Robogram, once widely used to mimic organic user engagement, have been shut down upon request from Instagram. Organizations that took advantage of these sites, especially at the insistence of a black hat digital marketer, are now forced to develop new strategies for consistently attracting followers.

Furthermore, black hat social media professionals that are used to purchasing followers may soon be in for a rude awakening. As recently as 2014, Instagram preformed a network-wide purge of spam accounts, with special attention paid toward accounts used to boost follower numbers.

Celebrities like the singer Akon lost significant chunks of their Instagram followings after the spam purge, suggesting that any brand that relies on fake followers may see its perceived influence evaporate overnight the next time Instagram decides to cut down on spam accounts.

Cut Black Hat Social Media Off at The Pass

Wanted Black Hat Instagram Flyer - Eminent SEOWant to stop bad dotcombres from peddling their wares at your wagon wheel? Understanding black hat social media tactics, as well as how to spot unethical digital marketers, is still the best way to keep your brand’s Instagram presence on the straight and narrow.

Here are a few tips for finding a digital marketing expert that can enhance your social media presence organically. An ethical digital marketer will encourage potential clients to:

Beware Unrealistic Expectations

Social media success takes time. Hard work and intentional research is necessary to identify a brand’s audience, develop a strategy for engaging these users, and convert these interactions into followers and regular engagement. It is unlikely that digital marketers promising thousands of followers in a few days are gaining these followers in line with Instagram’s rules of service.

Understand Instagram’s Evolution

As a platform, Instagram has made changes again and again to its user experience. In the past, social feeds were populated by content that was posted most recently. Today, content that appears in a user’s feed is curated based on Instagram’s impressions of what each user finds most interesting.

An ethical digital marketer will be familiar with these recent changes and can recommend social engagement strategies that reflect the next stage in Instagram’s development.

Recover Existing Opportunities

Just because a company’s Instagram engagement has mostly been driven by automation doesn’t mean that the results of this approach are worthless. There are times when artificial engagement gets a brand closer to his desired audience.

This strategy, however, is not built for the long term. An experienced, ethical digital marketer can help companies make the most of black hat results and convert those short-term gains into long-term successes.

Opt for White Hat Social Media Practices

Still have questions about black hat social media, problematic SEO practices or finding a digital marketing expert you can trust? At Eminent SEO, our mission is to make this type of information as accessible and easy to understand as possible. Revisit or bookmark our blog for the latest news and advice on properly enhancing your brand through social media and search engines.

Remy Albillar

As a content writer at Eminent SEO, I specialize in producing high-quality copy for a long list of digital mediums, including websites, emails, blogs and social media. I got my career started right out of college producing SEO-driven content for a marketing agency based in Tucson, AZ. I’ve since worked as a copywriter within numerous industries. I’ve written the first half of a personal memoir and earned my master’s in Creative Writing from Emerson College in Boston, MA.

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A/B Testing Cracks the Code of Online Intelligence

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A-B Testing Code Of Online Intelligence - Eminent SEO

Digital marketing is a wide-open, challenging space. For business owners, advertising and editorial campaigns are the fruit of sales initiatives meant to entice audiences and feed their hunger for products or services. Will they bite? It depends – on a lot of unknowns.

Marketing plans, in their infancy, are like seedlings: tiny, thought-provoking concepts that require warmth, love and attention to reach their full potential.

In the earliest stages of development, online presence is a collaborative process using the talents of web developers, content strategists, graphic designers, writers and more. There many human touchpoints along the way, though each embraces a common fear: the unknown.

Who is our audience?
What if our brand has no appeal?
What if the messaging is off target?
What do customers care about today, tomorrow or at 6:32 p.m. on Thursday night?

With the best marketing director, creative director and product managers that money can buy, no marketing campaign can bank on success before it happens. How do you know what creative strategy and market positioning is guaranteed to work? You don’t. But here’s where you’ll find the clues.

The Benefits Behind A/B Testing

A-B Testing Nutures Your Baby - Max Monster Egg - ESEOIf you’ve never considered adding A/B testing to your marketing plan execution, it will provide more clarity than you might think. A/B testing could also bring more questions to light, but there’s clarity in that too.

Time efficient? Cost effective? Boosts ROI? Definitively.

Perhaps you’ve tried A/B testing before but weren’t happy with the results. Isn’t that the point though?

Digital A/B testing measures more of what you need to know and streamlines marketing efforts. It forces you to delve deeper into the details of your product or service offering, audience, brand and goals. A/B testing allows creative ideation to meet with user reality – and that’s the sweet spot.

There are added benefits to ongoing A/B testing as it helps you keep a pulse on your audience and if or when your business garners relevance.

Online Marketing Without A/B Testing Is Like Target-Shooting Blind

Doing digital A/B testing measures more of the efficacies in new product or service launches and is highly recommended, even for a soft launch. Unless you’d rather bite your nails to the quick, suffer from a bad case of insomnia, take your chances on performance, and pray you still have a job when the campaign goes sideways.

Your vision for success is only as clear as the ability to target succinctly and deliver. Everything else is noise. A/B campaign rolling is the only fair and true test to measure creative messaging and audience engagement.

Know-It-Alls: Digital A/B Testing Measures More than Ego

There’s a sanctity in “being right.” Coming up with award-winning creative messaging might get you kudos from your industry peers but if it doesn’t convert your audience to act, it is so wrong.

Business-minded narcissists and braggarts can use the A/B online platform to measure just how right they are. But digital A/B testing measures more than ego. When ideas align with A/B measured results, you show a knack for marketing intuitiveness and then have just cause to say, “I told you so.”

A/B Test Everything, Often

As consumer wants and needs change with the tide of online influences, so too should your marketing outreach. What works in the summer of 2017 will most likely vary greatly from what works the winter of 2018. A/B testing allows you to stay current and top-of-mind.

To better understand the basic process of A/B testing, use the following steps as a mental illustration.

A/B Testing Mental Process:

  1. Pick a product or service
  2. Decide what you’re testing for
  3. Forecast the right answer/approach (ego ergo here)
  4. Predict the anticipated response
  5. Live with the truth and consequences
  6. Adjust where needed
  7. Test again

The knowledge you can acquire through A/B testing is astounding. You can even generate love, at first sight.

A/B Testing Gives You a Second Chance at First Impressions and More

A-B Tests Can Measure Audience Design CTAs - Eminent SEOIt’s been said that you can never get a second chance at making a good first impression. With A/B testing, you can in five seconds.

The right messaging entails many variables. Focus on who will receive the messaging, and that should dictate design and layout, colorization, verbiage and tone, and the call-to-actions applied.

With A/B testing, you can alter any single aspect of your messaging to discover what works best.

If you’re not sure of who your target audience is or if your business has multiple types of consumers and prospects, A/B testing is the perfect forum to segment your market reach through:

  • Demographics
    • Age
    • Gender
    • Education
    • Average household income
  • Psychographics
    • Personality
    • Values
    • Opinions
    • Attitudes
    • Interests
    • Lifestyles
  • Geotargeting

It’s a Matter of Time

Keep in mind that some user behavior is a direct result of predictable timing. You can use this to your advantage during A/B testing.

For example, industries that are entertainment-centric would probably fare better by marketing on Thursdays when consumers are thinking about the weekend. If your luxury product offering might appeal to middle America, A/B test its marketability within two days of the 15th or 30th of the month (paydays).

Finding Value in Pricing

Price points can dictate a do-or-die success rate for a product launch or rebrand campaign. To get a better idea of what monetary number consumers will accept or reject as a purchase point, explore your options with A/B testing.

Use the other elements of measurability:

  • Messaging
  • Audience
  • Timing
  • How they create a consumer’s perceived value

This type of value is then weighted against competitors’ offerings, product benefits, misgivings and price.

Choose focal points that promote your value and segment them within the A and B rollout. Note the psychology behind numbers and how they affect human behavior. For most people, $39.99 is more pleasing than a $40.00 price point.

SEO Makes It Easier on You and Your Audience

Why not give consumers what they’re searching for? If they don’t know you exist, how can they find you? Instill A/B varied keyword campaigns to find out what people are looking for. You’ll gain important insights as to what consumers want and how they look for it online.

A Good Approach Sets Up a Smooth Landing

Pay-per-click ads and social media posts aren’t the only places that A/B testing can prove to be constructive. As long as you’re evaluating the strength of the initial ad or post, complete the campaign assessment by A/B testing the corresponding landing pages.

Use the same seven-step mental process shown earlier in this article as a guide to formulate variances in landing pages. You may want to do two sets of the testing, A/B and A/B, to measure the performance of banner designs, headlines or call-to-actions.

To read more about A/B testing and other optimization tips for landing pages, click the button below:
Read 8 Tips for PPC Landing Pages

The Patience and Virtue of 90 Days

A-B Tests Take 90-Plus Days For Results - Eminent SEOIt might be asking a lot of anyone to exercise patience in the creation, execution and measurement of digital content. Consider this: Just because user behavior indicates impulsivity at a click or swipe doesn’t mean the artists behind the content should be just as reactionary, though the attraction to do so is understandable.

Let’s say you’ve worked hard on every aspect of a given product launch. You launch the online campaign. You’re not getting the anticipated results, even with A/B testing.

Give it time. Oh the difference 90 days can make to judge marketing effectiveness, engagement and conversion rates.

Consumers’ interests ebb and flow with pop culture trends, seasonal changes, employment adjustments and the best reason of all: just because. Your business representation online should be solid. If your digital presence shifted as quickly as consumer interest, you’ll find that it’s hard to tell what’s working and what isn’t. It might feel as though you’re spitting into the wind. Only you know where that spit’s been.

Give your current marketing campaigns three months to season. If they’re not bringing you the results you’d hoped for, there’s no reason to start from scratch. Make small changes to what you already have, then A/B test again and run those versions live for another 45 days.

A/B Testing Refines Virtual Imperfections

In the quest for perfection, we tend to home in on the details of marketing initiatives and adjust them, based on measured performance. No matter how diligent you are about using A/B testing, there is one truth that cannot be changed and must be accepted:

User behavior is measured; human behavior is not.

The intuitiveness about online use provides the data needed to structure marketing campaigns. The quirkiness of human behavior cannot be adequately measured as it comes from individual thoughts, emotions and dreams that flow with changes in personal life circumstances.

Is there an A/B test available to measure that? Technology moves mountains…

Great A/B Testing Is Born with Purpose

Marketing content at its finest should inform, entice and draw engagement to elicit brand awareness, customer loyalty and commerce (direct, deferred and referred).

A/B testing isn’t meant to replace original campaign strategy or ideology, but to measure or tweak it. Based on performance numbers, your strategy, positioning and content can be realigned.

Imagine how much more your business could thrive, faster, by partnering with a one-stop digital shop that knows how SEO and creative content work best, collectively, from day one.

A/B Test Us

Melanie Stern

Looking at the world through word-colored glasses, I am continuously in awe of how we evolve as people in business. We strive to communicate in a direct approach and, when we see fit, through subliminal channels. As a content strategist, I look forward to sharing all perspectives to help entertain, enlighten and engage more in others.

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The Good, the Bad and the Rankings: A Straight Shootin’ Discussion About Ethics in Digital Marketing

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Ethics in Digital Marketing - Eminent SEOThe modern internet is very much akin to the Wild West. For every honorable, upstanding SEO expert, there are at least twice as many “outlaws.” In other words, there are unscrupulous practitioners that will stop at nothing to claim high search engine rankings and rustle up as many user views as possible.

Reflecting this rise of desperado digital marketing in the early 2010s, Sheriff Google started deploying deputies to clean up the streets. Since then, enforcers like Penguin and Panda have become incredibly sophisticated at sniffing out unethical digital marketing techniques and penalizing the offenders.

But what about these bad “dotcombres” is so offensive that the Sheriff Google feels it necessary to ding their search rankings? Some of the most common penalties assigned to websites that have violated Google’s webmaster guidelines are in response to:

  • Sparse, poorly written content
  • Numerous deceptive backlinks
  • Heavily spammed queries
  • Multiple doorway or interstitial pages

Organizations risk more than the ire of Sheriff Google (and subsequently penalized search rankings) when they opt to use questionable techniques. Unethical SEO and digital marketing tactics can also cost an organization thousands of potential customers or leads.

Whether an organization is managing its own online presence or handing those duties off to an SEO professional, it’s vital that decision makers understand the signs and cost of unethical digital marketing.

Defining Ethical SEO

SEO Practices Not OK Corral - Eminent SEOEthics can be difficult to define, especially in an ever-evolving environment like the Wild Web. However, most webmasters and users can agree that an upstanding website is transparent, helpful and honest. Advertisements, if any, should be straightforward rather than duplicitous. Content should be accurate, helpful and relevant.

That’s why organizations performing their own digital marketing should develop a list of ethical SEO best practices. Likewise, discussing the topic with potential digital marketing professionals should provide insights into that company’s position when it comes to ethical SEO.

The following are a few rules of thumb that outline the general principles of ethical digital marketing:

  • SEO professionals must always honor the webmaster guidelines of each search engine.
  • SEO professionals must commit to creating a positive, functional user experience.
  • SEO professionals must present user content accurately and without embellishment.
  • SEO professionals must always properly cite content generated by a separate party.
  • SEO professionals must communicate realistic expectations to their clients about search engine rankings.

Questionable vs. Ethical SEO Strategies

Wanted Bad Dotcombre Crimes Against SEO - Eminent SEOWhen it comes to Western movies, deciding who is ethical is a breeze. Good guys wear white hats. Villains wear black hats. Nobody else wears hats. Simple, right?

Thankfully, distinguishing between ethical and unethical SEO techniques isn’t very complicated either. As a rule, ethical (or “white hat”) SEO strategies will prioritize user experience, follow search engine guidelines and produce consistent, long-term results.

On the other side of the spectrum, unethical (or “black hat”) SEO strategies are only concerned with short-term gains. They tend to focus on taking advantage of search engine algorithms rather than serving the needs of potential visitors.

Examples of ethical SEO techniques include:

  • SEO site optimization
  • High-quality content production
  • Guest blogging
  • Internal linking

Conversely, examples of unethical SEO techniques include:

  • Stuffing keywords
  • Spammy blog post creation
  • Hidden text placement
  • Paying for links

The Consequences of Unethical SEO Techniques

Organizations that implement spam-heavy or manipulative SEO strategies risk heavy penalties from Google and other search engines if their unethical strategies are discovered. The subsequent search rankings loss could considerably damage a company’s long-term success in attracting new customers.

That’s why it is so important for SEO practitioners to hold themselves to extremely high ethical standards. The wrong move could cripple an entire marketing strategy. That being said, organizations in need of digital marketing services must search for a partner that can deliver on their promises.

What to Expect from Ethical SEO

New SEO experts are constantly riding into town. How do you tell a straight shooter from a dang varmint? A public commitment to ethical digital marketing is certainly a good place to start. Thankfully, there are multiple angles that organizations can explore to evaluate the ethics of a particular SEO practitioner.

Here are just a few things to look for when trying to figure out if an SEO company is committed to ethical practices:

  • Communicates realistic expectations – SEO optimization is a long-term strategy. In some cases, it can take weeks or months for a website to reach its desired search ranking. An ethical SEO practitioner will communicate a realistic time frame for the results the client has asked for. Organizations should remain wary of SEO professionals who promise overnight results.
  • Uses solely sustainable techniques – Search engine algorithms, especially those developed by Google, are constant changing. As a result, some techniques that may have worked well in the past are no longer effective, and may even lead to penalties if used. Ethical SEO practitioners keep a close eye on the industry and never knowingly recommend an outdated SEO strategy to clients.
  • Prioritizes user experience – Keyword stuffing is, or should be, a thing of the past. These days, search engine algorithms are far more concerned with the presence of accurate, high-quality content rather than keyword density. An ethical SEO practitioner will take the same approach as they recommend solutions for a client’s website.

Understanding Ethical SEO Will Help You Know Whom to Trust

Organizations that understand the importance of ethical SEO can make smarter decisions about whom to trust with their online presence. Doing so also protects their long-term digital marketing strategy from the hawk-like gaze of Sheriff Google.

As commerce becomes increasingly digitized, the importance of ethical SEO is only going to increase. Be sure to bookmark or subscribe to our blog for more helpful updates on SEO best practices and other relevant digital marketing topics.

Remy Albillar

As a content writer at Eminent SEO, I specialize in producing high-quality copy for a long list of digital mediums, including websites, emails, blogs and social media. I got my career started right out of college producing SEO-driven content for a marketing agency based in Tucson, AZ. I’ve since worked as a copywriter within numerous industries. I’ve written the first half of a personal memoir and earned my master’s in Creative Writing from Emerson College in Boston, MA.

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Web Copy Is Like ‘Show and Tell’ for Your Readers

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Web Copy Show And Tell For Readers - Eminent SEO

Content needs to shift almost as fast as lightning, almost. But lightning never strikes in the same place twice.

Web content does, daily. At least that’s what every business owner hopes – to have multiple hits on their web presence from the same user. Content trends indicate that the possibility is more than likely.

The Content Marketing Institute-Marketing Profs study in 2016 showed that most North American business-to-business marketers planned to increase their content generation. How they will develop content strategies going forward will be representative of a difference in today’s web copy mindset. It’s all about the storytelling – and then some.

Web Copy Plays Show and Tell with Your Business and Its Customers

Whereas content was once looked upon as food for thought to fill a blank web screen, content is now deemed more serious than ever. The disdain for “fake news” and Snopes-worthy stories (that are rumors at best) has borne a new kind of web consumer: the truth seeker.

The demand for solid, substantive web content is not only echoed from businesses and consumers alike, but from Google analytics as well. Why?

Effective and Efficient – Either It is or It Isn’t

Google has reset the way it values content. Content optimization is still important, but the quality of content versus quantity of SEO indicators has been brought back into balance.

Consumers aren’t just hungry for great content: They want to be able to bite their teeth into it, leaving them chomping at the bit for more. It’s a business’s dream come true.

Today’s content needs aren’t just about having accessibility to all things information. It’s about time: the value of our time – and not having it wasted.

We want the right information on the first click or swipe. Content needs to possess effectiveness and efficiency. No bait-and-switch copy. No guts-without-the-glory gab. It should be “just the facts, ma’am” with a little entertainment on the side.

Scroll, Stop and Share

According to an article last year in Adweek, more than 82 percent of video views come from mobile devices. More than 65 percent of consumers make purchases online through mobile as well.

When creating web content, most digital marketers struggle to have their desktop content translate well to mobile devices. It’s not an easy task.

Content strategists mull over this dilemma, looking to find alignment between effective messaging and efficient delivery. It’s now all about the scroll, how to get the user to stop and share your story. Results matter. Don’t they?

Content Breeds Opportunity

Web copy, on a company site, can effectively do two things: establish a brand presence and execute sales enablement. Sure, there are other sub-categories within each, but brand presence and sales enablement are the large-scale objectives.

Your web copy strategy should also involve:

  • Prospecting
  • Lead generation
  • Customer retention
  • Nurturing relationships (with customers and affiliate partners)

But before you can go there…

…Your web copy has to start here:

The Audience Says, ‘Are You Talking to Me?’

Ayn Rand Contradiction Quote - Eminent SEOWhether your online audience is a specific niche or broad-based, your web copy must speak their language – literally and figuratively. The story told should be compelling, yes, but it should be laden with texture and color.

With words? Absolutely. Here’s how.

Great copy should:

  • Create a picture
  • Create an experience
  • Evoke viewer emotion
  • Elicit viewer response

In sales, there’s an adage, “You don’t get if you don’t ask.” Use that analogy for web copy. If you don’t ask for a response, you most likely won’t get one.

Use actionable words that entice the user and drive engagement. Where warranted, use the talents of industry experts to help create pertinent content to generate authenticity, which speaks volumes to your business community.

Southern-Fried Chicken Ain’t for Yanks

In marketing and in life, it’s not what you say, but how you say it. Once you’ve got a good grasp on who the audience is, remember it with every breath of copy exhaled. It is the crux of web success.

This was evident in an online creative campaign I once worked on for an assisted-living company located in the Southeast. They wanted to appeal to three audiences: those who need in-home care, loved ones of those needing care, and potential health care partners.

In an effort to position this company as an industry resource with empathy for its audience, we created a vlog and blog strategy based on a character named Grace who spoke eloquently with a Southern drawl, of course. Going on about “fixin’ to eat bean pie” may not appeal to a viewer in New York or Arizona, but it didn’t have to. We were targeting the South.

Expectations Are Like Opinions, Everyone Has Them

Now that the importance of audience identification and language, tone and manner has been established, let’s delve into the realm of expectations.

Web copy directly and indirectly sets up the following expectations about your business:

  • Culture
  • Brand
  • Experience
  • Products or services
  • End result

Take a web walk through your site to ensure that the above-listed expectations mirror what your content speaks.

Words Can Over-Promise and Under-Deliver

Copy can be overzealous in approach, dialect and rhythm. But at the end of the consumer web experience, did the copy tell a good story for story’s sake, or did it pitch the truth?

Put a filter on self-serving creativity. It might get you an entry into The Webby Awards, but that doesn’t mean you’ve attracted your viewers, much less represented your product or service honestly.

The No. 1 Question in Web Copywriting

With every piece of content you put out there to support your business, ask yourself (from the reader’s perspective), “Do I care?” The answer should be an unequivocal, “Yes!”

The Best Web Copy Show and Tell Safeguard

To stay a head above your competitors’ web positioning, think hats. Your brand positioning is one hat, and your audience is another hat. With the right web copy, you can show and tell your company’s story in a manner that resonates with your audience and reflects your brand.

And then your two hats effectively become one. Isn’t that the point of your website?

Let Us Create a Better Brand Experience for You

Melanie Stern

Looking at the world through word-colored glasses, I am continuously in awe of how we evolve as people in business. We strive to communicate in a direct approach and, when we see fit, through subliminal channels. As a content strategist, I look forward to sharing all perspectives to help entertain, enlighten and engage more in others.

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Be Careful Not to Choke on Your Aspirations, Content Writers

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Are there any audiences less forgiving than readers on the web? Many content writers ask themselves this question on a regular basis, and their assumptions aren’t far off.

According to data collected by publishing intelligence firm Chartbeat, a majority of users (55%) spend less than 15 seconds on a web page before moving on to the next one. Dang! Talk about the importance of a first impression.

After reading this report and reflecting on how hard it can be to hook and engage online readers,  I was reminded of another audience with even less patience than readers on the web: the Dark Lord of the Sith himself, Darth Vader.

After all, who could forget how quickly the iconic Star Wars villain dismisses information he deems inconsequential or subordinates who have lost his confidence. If you equate “bounce rates” to “being strangled to death with the Force” then the parallels are actually pretty hard to ignore.

It’s important to note that much like Imperial officers, content writers are enthusiastic about providing their audience with valuable information. Unfortunately, our eagerness to please and grand designs for our copy sometimes can get in the way of providing the audience with the answers they are actually looking for.

So let’s take a closer look at how a handful of Star Wars characters meet their demise at the hands of Darth Vader and see what their deaths can teach us about the wrong ways to engage with a demanding audience.

Don’t Mislead Your Reader

Capt Raymus Antilles Darth Vader Dialog - Eminent SEOThough technically a member of the Rebel Alliance, Captain Raymus Antilles has the distinction of being that very first person we see being throttled by Lord Vader in the opening minutes of “A New Hope.” He is quite bold in telling Vader that his ship is merely on a harmless “diplomatic mission,” considering the last scene of “Rogue One” features the Sith Lord watching them jettison away from the docks of Vader’s personal flagship. And to be fair, he isn’t lying, from a certain point of view.

However, his word choice certainly isn’t intended to guide his audience to the truth. In this way, Captain Antilles provides a great example of what happens when you underestimate the intelligence of your audience.

As a content writer, you may sometimes feel tempted to quote data or a report that doesn’t entirely support your argument. You may be in a rush to meet a deadline or feeling frustrated with the research process, and settle on quoting evidence that, at best, has some tangential relevance to the point you are making in your copy. This is the way of the Dark Side.

Taking this approach assumes that your reader not only knows less than you about your subject, but also lacks the presence of mind to check your references. If you’re found out, your credibility with your audience is shot for good and your reputation as a writer is put into jeopardy.

While this outcome may be less dramatic than your trachea being crushed by Darth Vader’s prosthetic metal hand, the consequences of misleading your audience are very real.

Don’t Get Personal or Political

Admiral Conan Motti Darth Vader Dialog - Eminent SEOAdmiral Conan Motti gets choked about 30 minutes into “A New Hope” during a debate among Imperial officers aboard the Death Star about how to deal with those dastardly rebels. Ignore the fact that Admiral Motti’s extreme skepticism of the Force makes absolutely no sense given that the Jedi Council was the galaxy’s most influential nonprofit just 20 years prior. Instead, focus on his obvious misstep in anticipating the experience of his audience.

Death Star Other Planet - Eminent SEOAdmiral Motti might have been able to persuade Vader to his side if he had stuck to verifiable claims about the military and strategic value of the Death Star. Instead, he allowed his own personal distaste for Vader’s religious background to color his rhetoric.

As copywriters, we should always be aware of how our personal biases can influence how we write and what we write about.

First and foremost, we must remember that we are representatives of our clients. Part of our responsibility is to make sure the client’s voice and perspective trump our own when producing copy for their website or a digital asset.

We must also acknowledge the potential for our personal biases to color our writing, and that our readers are capable of seeing through our mistakes. After all, an easy way to lose your audience is to make them feel like your copy is antagonistic toward something they hold dear. If that audience includes an evil space wizard, you might lose your audience and get choked to death.

Don’t Expect a Fair Shake

Admiral Kendal Ozzel Darth Vader Dialog - Eminent SEOIf you’ve been writing for the web for any period of time, you’re well aware of the importance of the opening line. Hooking readers is key to keeping them on the page. At the same time, a carefully curated opening line can do wonders to disarm a personal bias that might prevent a reader from fully engaging with the rest of your page.

Admiral Kendal Ozzel demonstrates life-threatening ignorance of these principles in his abrupt conversation with Lord Vader in “The Empire Strikes Back.” Remember that shortly before Vader summons Admiral Ozzel onto video chat, the Sith Lord had been stewing in his personal chambers over the officer’s tactical blunders during the siege of Hoth.

It seems pretty clear that Vader is Facetiming the admiral specifically to choke him to death with the Force and promote his nearby subordinate. If Ozzel had any chance of avoiding his grisly fate, it would have to be with his opening line.

Unfortunately, Ozzel did not anticipate that his audience was entering the conversation under the influence of a powerful negative bias. He led with a bland, predictable opening that probably encouraged Vader to snuff him out that much faster. More importantly, he lacked sufficient familiarity with his audience to anticipate these negative feelings and subvert Vader’s expectations.

We as content writers must learn from Ozzel’s errors if we have any hope of improving bounce rates and user engagement on our pages. The opening line matters.

Don’t Fail to Deliver

Director Orson Krennic Darth Vader Dialog Rogue One - Eminent SEOOrganization and delivery are key to producing high-quality content. These qualities are equally critical when it comes to designing and manufacturing an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet. Director Orson Krennic learns this lesson the hard way during “Rogue One” after reoccurring spells of incompetence lead him to a potentially deadly encounter with the Sith Lord.

Leah Max Vader Spaceships - Eminent SEOAs content writers, we can draw out a few useful nuggets of information by examining Krennic’s near-death-by-Force experience with Vader.

First and foremost, it is clear from Vader’s tone that Krennic had under-delivered in the past with regard to the development of the Death Star. As a result, the trust of his audience (Darth Vader and, more importantly, Emperor Palpatine) had already began to erode.

Content writers can likewise compromise the goodwill of their audience by promising one thing in titles and headers then failing to follow through in the copy.

Second, Krennic’s first reaction when confronted with feedback from his audience was to deny wrongdoing and deflect blame. This course of action results in him being strangled by a mystical energy field that controls his destiny.

Similarly, content writers have a choice when they fail to live up to the standards of their audience. They can either run from blame or take responsibility and commit to improvement.

(Don’t remember Darth Vader’s affinity for choking insubordinate members of the Empire – both by hand and by Force? Watch a “highlight reel” here.)

Trust DARTH

We’ve discussed in detail all the wrong ways to approach your audience as a content writer. But what can we take away as far as positive examples? Unfortunately, the Galactic Empire is such a dysfunctional workplace that it’s extremely difficult to find positive examples within the organization of successful, consistent communication.

Instead, I’ve devised a simple mnemonic device to help fellow content writers remember the lessons we’ve learned from the Empire’s finest:

DARTH Standard For Web Copy - Eminent SEOBy following the DARTH Standard, content writers can feel confident that their copy will meet the needs and expectations of their audience. Writers will have to continue to adapt their tone and style to each client, but approaching this challenge with the right mindset will make it much easier to engage your audience before they make the jump back into hyperspace.

Got some of your own tips for managing your audience’s demanding expectations? Reach out with the Force and leave a comment below!

Remy Albillar

As a content writer at Eminent SEO, I specialize in producing high-quality copy for a long list of digital mediums, including websites, emails, blogs and social media. I got my career started right out of college producing SEO-driven content for a marketing agency based in Tucson, AZ. I’ve since worked as a copywriter within numerous industries. I’ve written the first half of a personal memoir and earned my master’s in Creative Writing from Emerson College in Boston, MA.

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Do the Fields of PR and SEO Overlap? A Closer Look at How One Can Strengthen the Other

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Do PR And SEO Link Building Overlap - Eminent SEO

Fresh out of college with a public relations degree, I found myself stumbling into the world of search engine optimization – specifically, link building. I wondered how the two realms would overlap, if at all.

A quick refresher: Link building is an SEO tactic that refers to the method of increasing a webpage’s number of inbound links from external sources with the intention of boosting the visibility of that page in search engine results.

There are a handful of different avenues a link builder can take, but the end goal is the same: to get a certain page or website to rank higher in the search results than those belonging to similar competitors. High search engine visibility increases the likelihood of more traffic to a client’s website, which in turns leads to better brand awareness.

Coming to Eminent SEO, this process was new to me. While I understood the general theory behind search engine optimization, I was undoubtedly a rookie, in terms of actually putting the theories into practice.

Fret not. Little did I know then just how much the strategies I picked up from my background in public relations would supplement my new career as a link builder. Before I elaborate on the advantages of how initially entering the workforce as a “PR coordinator” eventually bolstered my link-building approach, I want to relay several key differences.

PR vs. SEO Link Building

In a public relations agency, you are typically promoting a brand or a company. Exposure does not necessarily lead to a link to your brand’s website, but for the most part, any exposure or mention in the press is good.

If your client sells products or services, you’ll want to research and pinpoint journalists or media outlets who would be interested in covering or testing the product out. If you are like me and work in food public relations (yum), you’ll want to send out food samples or coupons to these media outlets in exchange for a product review. Additionally, bloggers are going to be your best friends. (Hint: because bloggers like free stuff.)

Link building, on the other hand, is a completely different ballpark. You are promoting a brand, yes, but more specifically: a brand’s website. As a link builder, you want more than just free press. You want the webmaster or influencer to link back to your site.

In many ways, link-building strategy is much harder than public relations because you need your contact to go that extra step: to link back to you, pretty please? You’re asking somebody for more using less, with no free samples or products to offer as incentive.

No Free Samples The Simpsons - ESEOThis why your creative team needs to produce great content that’s promotable and will make your life as a link builder easier – but you already know that. Bloggers are your friends… sometimes.

Getting the Right Backlinks

On the other hand, if you’re in the SEO industry, you’ll quickly realize that not all links are equal, and certain blogs have more domain authority than others. Getting “exposure” from certain websites can hurt your rankings, and thousands of spammy links is a death sentence for a growing site.

Luckily, the skills I garnered from contacting media outlets for exposure as a public relations coordinator ended up helping my transition into the daunting (but rewarding) field of search engine optimization.

Building Relationships with the Media and Webmasters

Public relations people often carry the stigma of having ulterior motives, and, unfortunately, it’s often accurate. We want to get our clients exposure! However, people hate feeling manipulated, and if you’re begging them for free press every other week, more than likely they’re going to get annoyed.

Black Sails Ulterior Motive Starz - ESEOInstead, what I used to do when I conducted my public relations outreach to various bloggers is begin with a friendly tweet or comment on past blog posts. I wanted to get their attention and have them recognize my name before asking for something outright.

Same goes with link building: In the end, you need something from someone (a link). Veer away from that mindset for a second and think long term. If we can befriend a webmaster, or at the very least give a good impression, they are much more likely to link to us in the future. Start up a conversation without asking for a link (yet).

This is counterintuitive because what I am essentially asking you is to not ask for a link – upfront, at least. It can be as simple as chatting them up about recent industry news, or letting them know you liked their latest blog post so much you passed it onto your coworkers. Once they’ve warmed up to you, you can start asking for shares, retweets and, best of all, links.

Use PR Tools to Your Link-Building Advantage

Max Monster On Computer - Eminent SEOSites like HARO give you direct access to media outlets and reporters looking for a source to quote. If you’re a journalist, you can sign up as a media contact and use the tool to get access to experts and quote them in your next article.

On the flip side, you can sign up as an industry expert and act as the highly knowledgeable source for these articles! This requires more out-of-the-box thinking because oftentimes reporters are covering topics that are only vaguely connected to your industry.

My advice? Don’t grasp for straws here. If it’s too much of a stretch and only kinda-sorta-maybe related to your client, leave it be. Every so often, however, you will strike gold and find a journalist who’s covering something extremely acutely specific to your client’s industry. The trick here is to be patient.

The biggest disadvantage is that you may have to mediate communication back and forth from the client to the media contact. So, after you’ve reached out to the reporter and confirmed their interest in your client, you’ll want to make sure the client is responsive and open to being cited as a resource or expert in their field. Once the client is included in the story, you can request that the journalist to link back to the client’s website upon publishing.

Of course, this strategy works optimally on media contacts who publish their articles or blog posts in reputable online publications.

Use Each Client’s Story or Mission to Enhance Your Outreach Efforts

Meg With Heart - Eminent SEOBecause you represent the client, you need to align yourself with their story. Keeping in mind the “soul” or “heart” of the client’s message will naturally give your outreach more of a voice – and therefore help you differentiate yourself from the rest of the leeches asking for favors.

In the world of public relations, we called them “pitches,” and it’s crucial for your pitch to be well-written and unique to the client. This can get tough when you’re in food PR and you have multiple gluten-free bread clients. How many different pitches can you really write about bread? If you study each client’s backstory and convey their enthusiasm effectively in your writing, the answer is very many.

Outreach as a link builder follows a similar concept. Many webmasters have their inboxes piled up with requests. To distinguish your outreach from others, abandon the boring, soulless email template and draw a clear distinction between your client and their competitors.

To Wrap It Up

While I am still quite new to search engine optimization, I was relieved to discover that what I learned in a public relations agency could be applied to link acquisition. A key variance was that I could no longer offer bloggers or journalists free stuff in exchange for a review (hello, high ROI) and easy exposure.

Instead, I had to rewire my thinking to view the website as the “free stuff.” What makes the website unique? How does it impact consumers? How can I create great resources for the website to draw organic traffic? What can my website offer that competitors cannot? Most importantly of all, what is the most effective way to promote this website and convince people to link to it?

Having to transition from promoting a tangible, material product (such as bread) to a website forced me to ask these questions before beginning any outreach.

Incorporating skills I’ve gained from both the search engine optimization and public relations fields has only strengthened my outreach methodology. A sound link-building strategy, when executed skillfully, will no doubt draw from many aspects of effective public relations.

Nicola Yap

Nicola grew up in San Ramon, CA and graduated from Boston University with a degree in public relations. As an Organic Marketing Strategist, Nicola focuses on developing and implementing outreach campaigns for Eminent SEO’s clients in order to generate organic traffic.

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