Inbound Marketing Forecast 2018

Inbound Marketing Forecast 2018

The inbound and digital marketing sphere has changed quite a bit in the past year. Where last year, we were just hearing about personal assistants like Google Home and Amazon Alexa, this year, they’ve been fully installed in thousands of homes. Fewer consumers are searching with desktops, and the great majority of all web searches are conducted via mobile device. In addition to all the technology improvements and changes, there’s been a noticeable shift in consumer habits to the hyperlocal. More and more people are searching businesses, restaurants, and services within their own area, which provides a lot of opportunities for digital marketers but does require a bit of a change in tactics.

As inbound marketers ourselves, we’ve been reviewing our progress this past year and looking forward to new trends likely to arise in 2018. If you’re working on optimizing your inbound and digital marketing strategies in the new year, here’s our inbound marketing forecast for 2018: a few of the biggest changes we expect to see that will directly affect how we do our jobs and help our clients.

Greater Focus on Mobile

Mobile devices continue to function as the number one way consumers search the web, meaning mobile search is going to change the game in 2018. No matter whether they’re looking for a nearby restaurant or searching for a video on how to change their own oil, most people Google their questions first via a mobile device. The idea that searches are primarily done on mobile devices first isn’t a huge surprise; Google has been optimizing their indexing system to prioritize mobile users for a few years now. Just because it’s old news, though, doesn’t mean digital marketers shouldn’t pay attention. All SEO initiatives should be implemented with mobile users first in mind, and anyone without a mobile responsive website should really consider an update within the year.

It’s good to remember that Google launched their Mobile-First Indexing system in 2017, and we’re just beginning to see the full effects. That system prioritizes mobile versions of sites first and foremost, and indexes websites based on the content hosted on the mobile version, rather than the desktop version. So, if you’re still running an “m.” mobile site with abbreviated content, you’ll want to make some changes to ensure your site continues to rank well for competitive keywords.

New SEO Trends to Watch For

When it comes to SEO, digital marketers are always aiming at a moving target. 2018 is no different, and new technology like personal assistants, as well as the rise of video marketing, shift our target yet again. Google also holds a heavy influence on SEO best practices, so we’ll start there:

Nix Mobile Pop-Ups

As part of Google’s revamped mobile-first indexing, they’re frowning upon mobile pop-ups that interfere with user experience. Where in the past, pop-ups were a great way to get the user’s attention and convince them to give you an email address, Google has determined that they frustrate mobile users. Now, mobile sites using pop-ups that cover a certain percentage of the screen could receive slight penalties that will affect search rankings. Check Hubspot’s article on pop-up mobile marketing for the nitty-gritty.

SEO for Voice Search and Personal Assistants

Probably one of the biggest trends we see coming down the pipeline this year are voice searches and searches via personal assistants like Amazon Alexa, Siri, and Google Home. They’ll be a big game changer for SEO experts, but if you get ahead of the game, you’re likely to rank highly for relevant long-tail keywords with low competition.

When it comes to voice search, the name of the game is intent, and it’s actually a great boon to digital marketers. Basically, instead of typing in keywords like “blueberry pancakes” or “snow shovel”, a consumer is going to ask Alexa, “Where can I find the best blueberry pancakes near me?” or “Where can I purchase a snow shovel?”. The difference is that in the voice search, you know exactly where a consumer is in the buyer’s journey, and you can bid on long-tail keywords that you know point to qualified leads who are ready to buy.

It’s all well and good to bid on paid ads you know will get you leads, but you’ll have to do a little bit more work than that if you’d like to rank for some of those key voice searches. Digital marketers and inbound marketers alike will be focused on creating more natural content that’s centered around questions and phrases a human would actually use, rather than Google’s search bots.

Social Media Shift

As you’d imagine, the social media world has continued to shift into 2018. Facebook has long been the primary platform for marketers, but other social media sites are beefing up their advertising platforms to remain competitive. What’s more, because consumer needs and desires have changed, the way we’re using social media is set to shift this year. Here’s a look at a few of the bigger changes we expect to see in 2018:

Instagram for B2Cs

Since no one’s really figured out how to monetize Twitter, and possibly never will, many B2C companies have turned to Instagram, and the numbers are looking pretty good. Though Facebook will continue to be the social media ad-king through 2018, thanks to its exceptional targeting tools, many B2Cs have been seeing increasing success with Instagram. In less than a year, its new Instagram Stories have become more popular than Snapchat, and companies are seeing a great deal of engagement from brand influencers on the platform. What’s more, you’ll see Instagram continue to bulk up its advertising controls to ensure that digital marketer’s messages get through to the target consumers.

LinkedIn for B2Bs

No surprise here: LinkedIn continues to be a key social media platform for B2Bs. What’s new, though, is LinkedIn’s improvements to the platform. They refreshed their interface, for starters, but they’ve also made significant, positive changes to their advertising platform, which is looking pretty slick. Marketers can choose the shape, size, and style of their ads, target the ads to certain industries and even specific companies, and LinkedIn also offers an expansion feature, where they choose audiences similar to the ones you’re targeting, so you can expand your ad’s reach in an educated way. This improves LinkedIn’s worth to B2B advertisers and makes it easier to speak to those target buyers where they live.

Increased Engagement Across Social Media Platforms

Social media marketing has long been an integral part of any marketer’s toolbox, but in 2018, it’s looking like increased engagement is what sells. Today’s consumer wants their experience with any company to feel genuine, rather than pushed on them. That’s why companies like Starbucks are seeing tons of positive engagement from campaigns like the “White Cup Contest” where consumers were invited to draw on Starbucks cups and submit their designs to social media platforms via the #whitecupcontest hashtag. The winning design was then printed on a reusable Starbucks cup and sold across the country.

Today’s consumer wants to feel like they’re a part of the process, and have a say in what their favorite companies do and produce. Customer reviews have long held a great deal of sway in Google rankings, but in 2018, we’ll start to see consumer engagement surpass just reviews. If you’re looking to get the word out about your company, we suggest you invite increased engagement across social media platforms in whatever way you can, whether that’s asking for consumer opinions, or starting a contest like Starbucks’ White Cup Contest, that gets consumers invested in your brand.

New Marketing Platforms to Explore

New technology invites new marketing opportunities. In 2018, we expect to see a great deal of changes as to where, and how we market digitally thanks to video media’s rise in popularity, and the ease of use that home assistants provide. Again, technology isn’t the only thing that’s causing a shift in how marketers get their jobs done. Changing consumer habits will affect how we market as well this year. Here are three big changes we expect to see in 2018:

Voice Marketing

We’ve already talked about voice marketing a bit, but it really is a burgeoning aspect of digital marketing that we can’t ignore. If you’re looking for new ways to expand your digital marketing efforts, keep voice search and personal assistants in mind. Consumers are searching with those long-tail keywords, which means content that’s targeted to more natural, native phrases will start to see better rankings and more engagement.

Video Marketing

In addition to the fact that mobile internet use will increase, mobile video consumption is predicted to grow by more than 25% in 2018. Live video was one of the biggest new trends to hit social media this past year, and as attention spans grow shorter, many marketers are finding that video marketing is a key way to grab and hold onto new leads. Video marketing also speaks to the transparency that younger consumers appreciate and search for.

When you show consumers how your product works, what your employees look like, and exactly what you do every day at your company, you’re providing a genuine experience for new potential leads, and that’s what younger consumers appreciate, and are latching onto more often. Break into video marketing easily with a simple tour of your company’s store, factory, or facility. People love to see “how things are made” and an up-close look at what you do makes it easier for consumers to associate you as more than just a brand—a marketing strategy that’s proven to sell.

Local Marketing

With the rise of voice search and local-first movements encouraging consumers to support their community by purchasing from local, small businesses, local marketing has begun to see a significant increase in the past few years. Expect to see considerably more local marketing in 2018, as Google has now rolled out Google Posts for small businesses, Facebook’s introduced Facebook Local, and Google has rebranded their home services advertising platform to Google Local Services.

There’s a huge push to stand out in the local area, and these advertising options are making it much easier for local businesses to be seen, and discovered by local searchers. Continue to optimize your local marketing strategy by pushing keywords focused on location, ensuring NAP is consistent across platforms, and regularly updating your business’ Google Business Page, as well as your Facebook Page and website.

Inbound Marketing Strategies to Implement in 2018

At HA Digital Marketing, we’re firm believers in the power and success of inbound marketing, which is why we apply the inbound philosophy to everything we do for our clients. Inbound is proven to draw in qualified leads, and turn them into long-term customers, which is why we’ll be implementing the following inbound marketing strategies as we move into 2018:

Better Understanding of Buyer’s Journey

Today’s consumer values transparency, trust, and information. They don’t want to be marketed to, but they do appreciate information that’s relevant to their specific pain points. That’s why in 2018, digital marketers should strive to use data to identify pain points for each and every step of their company’s buyer’s journey. Learn what sort of content they appreciate, and when, and use that data to better inform your overall marketing strategy. Potential clients will thank you for the attention, and your optimized marketing strategy will shorten the sales cycle.

Personalized Content

In the same vein, 2018 is the year to forget mass email blasts and generalized ads. Consumers can spot them from a mile away, and they don’t get anyone’s attention anymore. Instead, focus on hyper-segmenting your content and emails, and ensuring you’re generating a personalized experience for each potential client. It doesn’t have to be difficult either. There are a number of tools out there that can help you automatically incorporate each lead’s name to different landing pages, emails, and advertisements. From there, it’s a matter of segmenting your content by industry and job title so that each lead is receiving content that speaks specifically to their job, and their unique pain points.

Topic Cluster Content Strategy

Another inbound marketing strategy that’s on the rise in 2018 is called topic clusters, or content clusters. A topic cluster content strategy offers an organized way to create content that hits every major long-tail keyword related to each major focus area of your company and boosts your search engine rankings by linking those different pages of related content together. It sounds confusing and difficult to implement, but it’s probably not all that different from what you’ve been doing, if you’ve got a comprehensive content strategy already. Here’s a visual of what a topic cluster for content strategy looks like:

Not so scary after all, right?

Start with a pillar page. This is a page that offers a general overview of one topic in the broadest terms. Think of it like a topic 101 page: the basics that everyone should know about your topic. Let’s say you’re the owner of a coffee roasting company looking to generate some online traffic. Your first pillar page might be “Roasting Coffee 101: The Basics.” You’ll give your readers the most general information about roasting coffee. Then, your subsequent topic pages will be related to that pillar page, but will offer more depth on one specific subject, allowing you to target a long-tail keyword like “The Best Way to Roast Arabica Beans.” Each cluster content page like that one will link to the pillar page, offering your readers more information on the subject they’re already interested in.

But helping your readers dive further into your site, and understand your product more fully aren’t the only benefits of topic clusters. Topic clusters also function to link content for one target audience or buyer persona together, and they link all of those similar-themed keywords together as well. This helps you boost your search engine rankings, as if one page does really well, the others linked to it will also see a positive boost in rankings, thanks to your strategic hyperlinks. So, if your company’s New Years resolution was to boost your Google rankings, know that topic clusters are an ideal place to start.

Conclusion

We’re going to see a ton of changes to the digital marketing sphere this year, some we can predict, and others that we can’t. What we know is that mobile traffic will only continue to rise, as will local marketing and targeted advertising via social media platforms. Savvy digital marketers will recognize these trends early in the year, and work to optimize their marketing strategies to accommodate them, as well as newer technology like personal assistants and live video. As we mentioned before, digital marketing is always a bit like trying to hit a moving target, and 2018 will be no different.

If you’ve got any questions on the trends and strategies mentioned in this article, or if you’d like more information about digital marketing in the new year, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’ll be optimizing our digital marketing strategy to fit with new 2018 trends, and would love to help you out too! If you’re interested in making use of our years of experience and digital marketing savvy, it all starts with a conversation.

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B2B Inbound Tips: Using Email Marketing Effectively

B2B Inbound Tips: Using Email Marketing Effectively

Everyone is using email, so it’s a great way to reach out to customers and potential customers. But if you’re doing it wrong—and a lot of companies are—your email marketing efforts can be at best ineffective and at worst harmful. Here are a few tips to help you avoid email marketing pitfalls and ensure your email campaigns aren’t in vain:

Don’t Overwhelm your Customers

Everyone with an email address has gotten annoyed with a company that sends them too much email. If you’re bombarding your clients and leads with email everyday, chances are they’ll notice you, and not in a good way. Send too many, and your recipients will be looking for the unsubscribe button.

Also, don’t spam people. We shouldn’t have to say this, but don’t. You don’t like it, and your leads won’t like it either.

Send the Right Content at the Right Time

Your content must not only be relevant, it should also be timely. If there is seasonality in your industry, ensure that the content you’re sending right now aligns with those trends. Additionally, your content must be timely in terms of the lead’s point in the buyer’s journey. Leads who are further along in the journey and are nearly ready to purchase won’t respond as well to content explaining what your product does—they already know—as would a lead who is just discovering their need for a solution your product provides.

Intuitively Segment your Leads

Another way to turn off potential clients is to send them an irrelevant email. To make sure you’re sending the right content to the right leads, double-check that you’re segmenting your leads properly. Separate your marketing qualified leads (MQLs)—leads with demonstrated interest in your product or service, but who aren’t ready to make a purchase—from your sales qualified leads (SQLs)—leads who are further along in the buyer’s journey and are closer to purchasing.

You’ll probably also want to segment your leads based upon their company size, job title/responsibilities/authority, and pain points; if you’ve created buyer personas, you can use those to segment your leads. Luckily, in email marketing programs like MailChimp and others, it’s easy to segment your leads—so there’s really no excuse not to!

Not convinced? Read more on why segmentation is so important in email marketing here.

Clean Up your Lists

Dumping all of your contacts into your mailing list is not going to be effective. If they aren’t leads or customers, you don’t need to send them email—it’s not going to generate sales, and like we mentioned earlier, it’s just going to annoy people. Plus, it’s going to throw off your numbers: it will be harder to get an accurate picture of your open and click-through rates and the overall effectiveness of your email campaigns.

If you’re interested in implementing techniques for effective email marketing or adding email marketing to your marketing strategy, let’s start that conversation.

For more information on how Evenbound has helped B2B manufacturers draw in qualified leads and massively increase sales, check out the case study below:

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Write Engaging Service Pages Your Clients Care About

Write Engaging Service Pages Your Clients Care About

If you’re a home services provider, your services are what’s important, and visitors to your site will want to know exactly what you do and how you do it. What’s more, service pages dedicated to relevant keywords help you rank well on organic Google search results. That’s why it’s so important to write engaging service pages for your website. But how do you write service pages that will get customers’ attention?

The Basics:

An effective service page does four things: defines the service, demonstrates the value of the service, explains your process, and explains how your company is unique in how that service is provided. In order to do those four things, you need to know who you’re writing to and how the service will benefit this person. If you own a landscaping company and one of your services is lawn mowing, one of your audiences may be working homeowners. Your service can benefit them by ensuring that their lawn is cut every week and looks great, but another benefit is that it saves them time.

How Do You Stand Out From the Crowd?

When it comes to how your service differs from that of the competition, thinking about your audience is crucial. If we continue with the mowing example, maybe you differ from the competition because you allow clients to choose the date and time their lawn is mowed, which provides them with the benefit of scheduling for a time when they’re at work, so that you’re not in each others’ way, and they’re not being awoken early by mowers on a weekend (it’s the worst).

Explain What your Service Is, and How You Do It

Defining the service and your process is also crucial. While lawn mowing might seem self-explanatory, there are still some things people will need to know about how you do it. Do you use riding mowers or push mowers? Are they zero-turn mowers? Is weed-whacking included? How often will you mow? If it storms during a regular mow time, how will the mow be rescheduled? All of these questions are things your service page can address. If your clients can get the answers to their questions on your site, that’s less fielding questions and answering the phone for you, and the more confidence your clients will have in your services.

Once you’ve considered all of these things, you’ll have compelling content for your service pages, content that will answer your potential customers’ questions and inspire them to pick up the phone and give you a call. Not only that, well-written service pages will help your site’s SEO, which will help you get found by other potential clients.

Interested in rewriting your service pages or optimizing your website? We do that. Get in touch to get the conversation started.

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Why Contractors Should Know Their Target Market (and How to Find it)

Why Contractors Should Know Their Target Market (and How to Find it)

As a contractor, you don’t have a ton of time. Between juggling different subcontractors, lining up your next projects, and putting out fires that come up unexpectedly, you’ve got a lot on your plate. Your schedule doesn’t leave a lot of time for marketing, which can mean you’re often forced to take on jobs that aren’t exactly what you’re looking to do, just to keep your schedule full. If you’re looking for a way to start breaking into another market, whether that’s commercial residences like apartment complexes or a higher class of electrical contracting, the absolute first thing you need to do is define your target market.

If you’ve been bouncing around from job to job, and none of them really seem all that similar, you’re working too hard to get jobs you don’t actually want. It’s time to sit down and define your target market, so you can work smarter, not harder, to get higher-paying jobs that you legitimately would like to work on.

Why Know Your Target Market?

Knowing your target market is the first step to marketing your company in a way that’s smart, cost-effective, and that will provide massive ROI in the long run. If you’d like to have the power to pick and choose jobs that are best for you, rather than just best for your schedule, you need to define your target market. It’ll take a little bit of research on your part, but it’s actually a pretty easy thing to do, and one that will set you apart from other contractors to get you the jobs you legitimately want.

Defining Your Target Market:

The first thing you need to figure out is who you’re catering to now. What jobs do you take on the most often, and what commonalities do those jobs have? Then, figure out what market you’d like to work in. Sometimes, they’re similar. For example, if you typically take on smaller projects like commercial apartment renovations, but you want to start building apartment complexes from scratch, that’s not a huge leap to make. It’s just a matter of defining where it is in the market you’d like to work.

Research Primary Points of Contact

Once you’ve figured out where you want to take your business, it’s time to research your primary points of contact. Start with the market you’re already working in. Who do you most often talk with? This isn’t always a decision-maker, but the person put in charge of finding a contractor for a project. Whether this is a project manager or one of the decision-makers’ assistants, these are the people who first reach out to you for a job. It’s important that you figure out as much as you possibly can about these people, from how old they are to the salary they make to how many kids they have.

This way, you can develop what we call a buyer persona, to help better understand who these people are and what their pain points are when it comes to their professional lives. The idea is to develop three or four buyer personas that give you a window into the lives of the people you most often deal with. Check out this blog about buyer personas for a lengthier description on how to develop your own. Then, you can address their pain points and create content and emails that solve those issues for them. Once you’ve collected a great deal of information for those contacts in your current market, and you’ve got a few solid buyer personas going, start to do the same for primary points of contact in your goal target market.

Research Decision-Makers

While it’s important to develop personas for the people you most often contact, you’ll also need to understand the decision-makers. Though you won’t deal with these people directly as often, they’re the ones giving your primary points of contact the go-ahead to sign with you, and they’re the ones you ultimately need to convince. After you’ve established buyer personas for your primary points of contact, do the same sort of research on those decision-makers. Understand what they’re looking for in a contractor, and what problems they most often run into, so you can develop your company to solve those issues. The better you understand the decision-makers in your industry, the better you’ll be able to cater your services to them and their unique needs, goals, and pain points.

Synthesize Information

Once you’ve made up your buyer personas, it’s time to take a good, hard look at the information you’ve collected. What are the pain points that all personas share? What are some ways that your contracting company speaks to those pain points? You provide a unique service that functions to make their lives easier, but how can you translate those services into a language that’s easy for those contacts and decision-makers to understand? Take a minute to look over the research you’ve done, and the personas you’ve created to figure out how best to use this information to your benefit.

Develop content for each target buyer persona

Finally, after you’ve done the research, analyzed the information, and know where to go, it’s time to develop content that speaks to each of those target buyer personas you’ve developed. From your research, you likely know that each persona has different needs and goals when they’re looking for a contractor, and you can write and share content that speaks to each one of them individually.

Take care to start small. When you’re first working on defining your target market, start with just three of the most relevant buyer personas. Develop content that is rich and useful to those three personas, and watch to see how that content affects your business. This gives you a solid platform to build from, and once you’ve perfected the content for those three personas, you can branch out into some of the other target personas you’ve identified in your research.

Define Target Market, Boost ROI

When it comes to marketing your contracting services, it’s a lot easier to market to a specific group of people than it is to market to the vast population on the internet. By defining your target market, and the buyer personas within that target market, you’ll be able to generate qualified leads much more efficiently, and at a lower cost to you. Once you’ve implemented the basic buyer personas, and have started to develop content around each of them, you’ll find it’s much easier, and less time consuming to market in a way that truly generates the leads you want.

That said, we know defining a target market and building out buyer personas isn’t always easy. If you’re looking for a bit of help on your digital marketing strategy, or aren’t sure where to start when it comes to defining your target market, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Evenbound. We’re experts at developing buyer personas, and we have a knack for unearthing valuable target markets that can place your contracting company exactly where you’d like to be. Feel free to set up a no-obligation consultation with our President, John Heritage, to see how we can help.

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SEO vs. Social Media Marketing

SEO vs. Social Media Marketing

When it comes to digital marketing, you’ve got a lot of options to choose from to drive sales. There’s paid advertising on engines like Google, there’s paid advertising on social media sites, there are ways to drive organic traffic through your website, and there are equally as many ways to drive engagement through social media. With all the options, it’s tough to figure out which methods might be right for your company, and how much time and money to invest in each.

For this blog post, we’re going to focus primarily on SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SMM (Social Media Marketing), the two free ways to drive traffic and boost sales. We get the most questions about these two digital marketing methods, likely because they’re the cheapest ways to get eyes on your site, and they’re the two methods that are the most proven.

The Breakdown

Most often, people want to know which method is right for them: SEO or SMM. And it makes sense. You don’t want to spend time or money on a digital marketing method that won’t produce the best ROI for your company. But unfortunately, a solution isn’t as easy as picking one or the other. No matter what it is you’re selling, a quality digital marketing strategy makes use of both SEO and SMM strategies. Think of it like this:

SEO is the bones of your operation. First and foremost, you’re catering to the robots that run the Google algorithm, because without their favor, your site will never see the light of day.

SMM is the skin, hair, and makeup. It’s what gives your company a personality, and it’s ultimately what attracts actual people to your website when they trust you as an authority in your industry.

Unfortunately, one can’t exist without the other. If you think about it, when you offer deck repairs and someone types in “deck repair near me” into Google, it’s quality SEO that’s going to make sure your website pops up on the first page of search results. But if you’re looking to get the word out about your deck repair company, social media marketing is what is going to build your following, and let people know that you exist in the first place, before they even head to Google.

So, it’s important to remember that the question isn’t “which one should I use”, but “how should I combine my SEO and SMM efforts to produce the greatest results for me?”

And that question isn’t as easily answered.

Getting Started with SEO

If you’re just starting out, we always recommend you focus on basic SEO. Make sure your site is at least visible to Google, because if Google can’t see your site, no one can see your site. For more info on SEO basics, be sure to check out our Complete Guide to Inbound Marketing. Again, SEO is the bones of your operation, and you need to have quality SEO to have a foundation where you can drive your social media marketing finds. Make sure your website is functional and up-to-date. It should be responsive and user-friendly, so people who make it to your site don’t just bounce right off.

Then focus on creating content that will help you rank for a number of keywords important to you company. Again, you have to rank for people to see your site. Social media marketing is an awesome way to raise awareness about your company, but it’s important to remember that it doesn’t contribute to positive rankings in any way, and it doesn’t typically get more eyes on your site. SEO typically draws fewer people in, but it’s more effective at converting the people who do make it to your site to customers. So developing SEO content means developing content that solves pain points, and targets keywords. With a base of quality content like this, you can begin to start SMM.

Adding in Quality SMM

Remember that SMM doesn’t mean just creating a Facebook page. Facebook is a graveyard of well-intentioned business pages that no one ever posted to. Just because you have a Facebook page doesn’t mean you’re going to get followers. SMM means creating a Facebook page, and creating community around that. Focus on generating content that makes people want to interact with you, rather than buy something from you. If you build or remodel homes, post pictures of your projects and invite people to comment. If you’re a lawyer, consider posting fun infographics that breakdown complex legal concepts into easy bite-sized pieces of info, and ask for people to tell you if it makes the concept easier for them to understand. Remember that the primary goal of SMM is to create a community, rather than sell things.

SMM is quick and fleeting. Someone sees your social media post on Facebook or Twitter, and they share it or like it. Most often, SMM doesn’t actually send many people to your site. It functions more to create a community around your company, increasing your reach and alerting this online community that you exist. The goal of SMM is to build a presence that can later be harnessed for sales. Search engine optimization has a much more transactional approach of getting eyes on your page. SEO is focused on converting people who do eventually wind up on your site, while SMM works to make sure people know your site and your business exist, even if they don’t go to it.

SEO + SMM = The Ultimate Win

SMM functions as a sort of long game. You’re developing a community around your company’s social media presence, and once that community comes to trust you as an authority in your field, and someone they genuinely enjoy interacting with, they’ll convert to clients when they eventually need your services.

SEO ensures that when there are people who need your services right now, your site is discoverable. A combination of SMM and SEO ensure you’re playing on both fields: the immediate, right now leads, and the long-game: that social media community who will eventually become lifetime clients.

Any quality digital marketing strategy combines both search engine optimization and social media marketing, to ensure you’re catering to both the robots who shape the digital platform your site lives on, and the actual people you need to buy your product and service.

We get that digital marketing strategies are complex, often confusing concepts. If you have more questions on properly harnessing the powers of both SEO and SMM, don’t hesitate to reach out. Evenbound has been in the game for years now, and we’d be happy to help you figure out how to best combine your search engine optimization with your social media marketing strategies.

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Link Building – Should You Care?

Link Building – Should You Care?

There’s always a lot of swirling opinions on the internet about what Google still uses to rank websites, and what they don’t. While only Google’s algorithm knows exactly what it’s measuring to rank your website, there are a few things SEO experts have come to agree on as key factors in search engine results page rankings. And yes, one of those things is still the number of quality links that exist to your page. While it’s great to have links to external sites within your own pages, Google still uses the number of legitimate websites who are linking to you, to determine how worthy you are of a higher page rank.

In the past, SEO experts and webmasters alike have attempted to hack this factor of page ranking with various “link building” techniques, some of which worked, and some of which really didn’t. It’s good to know that while you’re researching link building, you should really only trust blogs and content about link building that have been published in the past year. Google always updates their algorithms regularly, but the past few years especially have seen massive, internet revolutionizing updates that also affect how you should go about link building.

Because of those updates, it has become really tricky to link build in a way that doesn’t end up in a Google site penalization. Older tricks like posting links to your page in the comments section, guest blogging, and most definitely link-building schemes, will only result in the penalization of your site by Google. So, since link building still matters for page rank, how can you do it in a way that’s above-board, and will get you the links you want, without a Google penalization?

Have Something Worth Linking To

The absolute best way to get legitimate links is to first have something people want to link to. Whether you’ve got an e-commerce site with cool products, or your site has a number of interesting, informational content pages like blogs posts and how-to’s, the only way you’ll get people to link to those pages is if they like what you have to offer, and if it makes their lives easier in some way. So, if you’ve got a basic website with no blog, and nothing to make it interesting to others in your industry, it’s unlikely that anyone will organically link to you. On the other hand, if you’ve established yourself as an authority in your industry, and offer a great deal of helpful content on your website, you’re more likely to get some quality links.

Build a Community Around Your Content

The best, easiest way to build links is to have people organically link to your pages of their own free will. When you have quality content that speaks to your target audience, you’ll start to build a community of followers. Those followers will check in regularly to read any new content you’ve got, and the more they do, the greater the opportunity that someone will link or share your page.

When someone likes your website and your page content, they’re more likely to link to your page when they create their own content. That sort of linking is the best you can get: people who genuinely like what you have to offer, and want to tell their own followers about it. Unfortunately, it’s not that efficient, and it requires a great deal of relying on other people. While it’s possibly the best way to get links, there’s no guaranteeing when or if it will happen. So, if you’re not comfortable relying on just organic links, the following steps might help:

Ask Nicely

Once you’ve got content on your site that people might actually want to link to, go ahead and ask people nicely! Reach out to other website owners in your industry who hold a bit of authority to ask if they’d consider linking to a certain page or blog post on your website. The best way to go about this efficiently is to follow these three steps:

Set up Templates

It’s not wrong to have a general template that goes out to each person you ask to link to your website. There’s no point in reinventing the wheel twice, so draft a really great email that talks about your company and why the page you’re requesting they link to should mean something to them. What’s more, offer to link to their site in return. People are more likely to agree when there’s something in it for them. Be sure to include your contact information, along with a sincere thank you.

Personalize

While it’s great to have a standard template, it’s important that you’re still personalizing each email according to who you’re sending it to. At the very least, each email should be addressed to one specific person in the company, and ideally, your email’s intro paragraph should mention something specific about them that drew you to their website. The more general your address, the less likely you are to get a response. People get millions of emails a day, and if it doesn’t seem like your email was meant specifically for them, they’ll probably delete it.

Don’t Mass Email

Finally, once you’re ready to send out your request emails, be sure you don’t mass email. There’s nothing worse than getting an email asking you to do someone a personal favor, only to see that 25 other people also got the same exact email. It often comes across as rude, and most people won’t respond when they realize your email wasn’t meant just for them. What’s more, try to send your requests to just one person in the company, especially if you’re using a template. People in the same office do actually talk, and if multiple employees get the same exact email, they’re likely to think it’s some sort of scam.

Never Buy Links

As a final, cautionary note, we’d just like to remind you that it’s always, always bad practice to buy links. No matter how legitimate the company seems, if you buy links your site will face penalties. Google constantly updates their algorithm to sniff out link-buying activity and will flag your site almost immediately if you do buy links. The best way to build links is to do it organically, either by building a community around your site’s content or by asking others in your industry to link to your site.

We get it, link building is a tricky subject. It always has been, and it probably will continue to be, so long as Google uses it as a ranking factor. That said, there are good, white hat methods to go about link building, that can work to get you those links you’re looking for without danger of penalization. If you’re feeling wary of link building, or you’d like a little advice on how you could boost your site’s search engine rankings, get in touch. Search engine optimization is kind of our job, and we’d be happy to help you figure out how best to boost your rankings.

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