Content marketing is one of the growing trends at the moment, that although not new is gaining much more force as part of the SEO process as a consequence of Google’s Penguin and Panda updates and the understanding that to obtain consistent beneficial results in SEO we need to focus on developing a strategy to make our sites valuable and attractive so our audience reference and link them spontaneously instead of looking for shortcuts to gain links and a non-deserved popularity to rank faster.
Wil Reynolds’ Real Company Stuff (#RCS) and Rand Fishkin’s Strategic Side of Content Marketing presentations along with Tom Critchlow speech at MozCon covered this topic, called and inspired SEOs for a change. Wil even created an example showing how #RCS works developing “how your favorite startups make money” that has earned in a month and a half more than 1,400 links, some of them from highly authoritative sources such as Inc., Mashable and even MIT:
To do this well is fundamental to stop just thinking about building links and instead start focusing on creating (or optimizing) your content strategy and campaigns to connect with your sites audience, what they’re interested on and what you can create to fulfill those needs that also allows you advance on achieving your sites conversions.
Let’s see some simple ideas that can be used to connect with your site audience to achieve its goals and attract links with very successful examples (Spanish ones for a change):
Is your audience looking for “How to guides” of your activities, business or industry that can be more easily explained in video? If so, a video tutorial might be the answer!
Take a look at Bere Casillas and his “elegance 2.0“ concept. He has a men’s suit store in Granada (South of Spain) and became famous (when I say famous is really famous as he has been invited to one of the main national Spanish TV channels night talk shows) and turned his business from almost failure to success thanks to his online tutorial videos, as he tells in this interview in one of the main Spanish newspapers, El Mundo.
Now he has a Youtube channel with 55 videos, 7.863 subscribers and 7.184.567 views but it all started 3 years ago with very simple videos of him, such as this one that went viral, showing how to tie the ‘Windsor’ knot:
Just this video has more than 4 million views, 6.923 likes and 2.521 comments, and although it was uploaded in April 2009 its latest comment was published 3 hours before of writing this post saying “this video gets me out of trouble“:
With this first success Bere continue to produce a series of well explained videos teaching the fundamentals of his activity, answering some of the most common questions around it: when to use suspenders or belts, how to combine red ties, how to dress for a wedding, etc. positioning himself as an authority in his field, building trust and a loyal online community.
Create useful resources that fulfill the questions of your audience about potentially complex areas of your activities, industry or business in an easy to consume (and share) format, such as videos. This will not only let you build a community or increase your brand awareness, but also earn links.
To start you just need to do a keyword research to identify the most researched topics in your industry. Check which are the most popular pieces of content on your site with Google Analytics and think how you can create attractive and useful content that is easy to consume and share (videos, ebooks, Q+A’s, etc.) to answer these needs.
Wattio is a domotics systems company based in San Sebastián (Basque Country, Spain) that was looking to hire developers, designers and engineers, among other different positions. As probably you already know Spain is one of the European countries going thru a very delicate economic crisis, so given this situation Wattio shouldn’t have had a problem to hire them.
Nonetheless they were also looking to take this opportunity to launch a campaign against the brain drain that Spain is suffering due to the crisis and give a positive message to young, highly qualified people in the country. To do this instead of just creating the typical “We’re hiring” section in their site they also launched notevayasaalemania.com (that translated is dontgotogermany.com, you read it right: Don’t go to Germany).
The site starts with the following message: “Do you believe it’s impossible to find a good job near home and you think that you only have the option to go far away? We have good news for you: There’s future in Euskadi” (Euskadi is the name of the Basque Country in Basque language).
After this message the site shows a series of job offers and reasons to stay (some of them basic, funny but true: you will suffer from a lot of cold, you won’t be able to eat your favorite food, go to the football stadium or the beach with your friends, you won’t be able to learn German in a few months, etc.):
The site became viral in social networks in a few hours (receiving 30.000 visits the first week) and was featured in one of the main Spanish TV channels and many newspapers, even from abroad, with almost 3.000 Facebook shares and likes, 1.238 tweets, 17 linking root domains and 44 links to the home page:
Do you think this is not much? Think twice: When was the last time you actually shared, linked or referred enthusiastically in open, to all your contacts a company’s “We’re hiring” page because it was really awesome?
Besides, the fact is that the main goal was to hire people to cover the open positions and all the awareness, mentions and links were “additional” benefits.
Earning links is not only about creating attractive or useful content from scratch but also about aligning your link building strategy with the company already existing processes (even those that you might think as “boring” processes, such as hiring) to maximize your results in all the possible ways.
Start by getting to know your company’s areas of actions, processes and activities to identify any type of opportunities.
Let me introduce you to a classic in Spain…
Back in Christmas 2007 Shackleton (one of the main local publicity agencies) wanted to give the perfect christmas greeting to their clients, prospects and friends and identified that the most attractive gifts in Spain for christmas were either an iberian ham (which is typical to give as a present in companies to employees) or an iphone, so they decided to match these two and created The iJam (iHam in English):
This is just a typical iberian ham that they sent to 700 company clients and friends which was admittedly their highest cost but they took the opportunity and packaged it as the latest Apple product:
They also built a microsite to present it replicating the look and feel of Apple site where they included the video and instructions for the ham, describing it as a piece of delicious tech product:
Thanks to this the iJam was the most talked about topic during christmas that year and Shackleton became a reference as a creativity agency for more people.
Besides winning many awards the results from a link perspective are impressive: only the home page has received 10.604 facebook shares, 5.436 likes, 1.815 tweets and 172 Google +1, the domain has more than 1.400 external links and despite the fact that the site hasn’t been updated since it was launched it still earns links over time:
The iHam site and video became so popular that they even received responses from other people who decided to create iHam related videos.
Seasonality events (whether specific for your industry or not) or holidays, such as Christmas (or Valentine’s day, Halloween, etc.) greetings or promotions can be the perfect opportunity to connect with your audience by being creative while fulfilling their expectations.
The iHam example show us that sometimes is not only about what you give to your audience -that can be something very traditional, expected and typical, since is what your audience wants- but also about how you present it to them -to make it different, especial and attractive- and how you promote it to make it visible to everyone (they not only sent the iHam to their clients but built and shared the video so everybody could enjoyed it).
It also teaches us that even a seasonal campaign that usually only attracts visibility, mentions and links when it goes viral, if done well it can still earns it over time.
Start by thinking which are the most important seasonal events, activities or holidays for your audience or in your industry, what your audience expect from them, what they search during this time and how you can fulfill this need.
Do you think you could have optimized and achieved even more organic visibility and make more from an SEO perspective with these campaigns? You have surely noticed that the iJam site is all in Flash (as is also the Bere Casillas site) and doesn’t even include a title.
It’s clear that they did not take SEO into consideration when they were developed nor were created as part of SEO processes … and this is our challenge today:
As you can see it’s in our hands to start attracting links #RCS Style… I hope that these three ideas get you inspired!
Photo taken from Flickr.