3 Ideas to Connect with your Audience and Attract Links #RCS style

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:

RCS - SEER Interactive Results

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.

So how we avoid failure and start doing #RCS developing a successful campaign?

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):

1. Create Useful and Easy to Consume Resources for your Audience

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:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtcizpKBFAU?rel=0&w=480&h=360]

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“:

Bere Casillas Windsor Knot Video

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.

What can we learn from Bere’s videos?

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. 

2. Align with your Company’s already existing Processes

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.):

Job Offer Page: No te Vayas a Alemania by Wattio

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:

No Te vayas a Alemania Links

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.

What can we learn from Wattio’s Job page?

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.

3. Make the most out of Seasonality Events

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):

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QIqrB3bDy0M&version=3&hl=es_ES&rel=0]

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:

Shackleton iJam

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:

iJam Shackleton

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:

Backlinks to the iJam

The iHam site and video became so popular that they even received responses from other people who decided to create iHam related videos.

What can we learn from Shackleton’s Christmas Campaign?

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.

The Wrap-Up

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:

  • If we’re working for small and medium-sized companies we will likely have the opportunity to have the flexibility to create them and we should take this chance to make our SEO processes a consistent part of all the company’s activities.
  • If we’re working for large companies that already have creativity agencies along with established marketing departments to develop these campaigns it will be more about aligning our activities and start coordinating with them to make sure that all of the actions are very well optimized and they make the most out of each opportunity to attract organic visibility, mentions and links.

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.

About Aleyda Solis

Experienced International SEO Consultant -service that she provides through her company Orainti. She’s a frequent SEO speaker at international conferences & blogger.

11 thoughts on “3 Ideas to Connect with your Audience and Attract Links #RCS style

  1. Fantastic post Aleyda!

    The example you’ve given are truly inspirational & one should definitely try it. That iJam example is definitely worth trying but I think that could have cost them too much. I can only say this all requires a definite plan, strategy, co-ordination & timing.

    1. Hello Hyderali, Thanks for the comment! Yes, the iJam was pricey but if you see the success wasn’t due to the amount of hams they sent, I think they could have sent just 10 instead of 700 and still be successful just because of they way they did it (with the site, the video, the package). Nonetheless, as you comment, it all definitely requires a plan and coordination with other areas of the company… it’s definitely not an automated work! This is what #RCS is all about I think 🙂

      1. I understand, but do you think a small medium business can do all something like iJam. I worked with SMBs who were into domain hosting & booking with little bit of SEO & you know what they’ve sent to their client – “Cadbury Chocolate Packages” during one of the big festival here in India i.e. Diwali. I’d definitely like to read if you have something for SMBs to attract links.


        1. Hi Hyderali, maybe to “give away” for SMBs is not necessarily the most cost-effective approach. The thing is, that the approach of this type of actions and the SEO process in general is different for SMBs than for big companies. SMBs don’t have resources but are much more flexible to do changes on their site. Big companies are not flexible (since they usually have huge sites that need to connect with internal systems that are not easy to modify) but have resources. Then again, what we should do in these situations is to make the most out of the characteristics of the company we are working with. They don’t have resources to give away? Then we need their commitment to be flexible and create making the most of what they have! The first and second examples can be great for SMBs in this sense: to create guides or even a video like in the example they don’t really need to invest much! To do something “creative” with a process they already have (such as a hiring one) neither 🙂 I think here is a thing about identifying the best opportunities out of your companies situation (resources, flexibility, industry, etc.) and leverage them to connect with the audience and attract links! I will definitely need to post something about this in the future since it’s a whole topic in its own 😉

  2. Congratt Ale¡ we are walking more and more into a real integral marketing process; what you do?; do you know your audience?; all the information that we can obtain from our clients is fundamental. Love your examples¡¡

  3. Fantastic article! As a traditional designer/marketer getting to grips with the world of SEO this is very much the kind of thing I’m interested in. It’s wonderful to see what happens when lateral thinking and creativity is shared so widely.

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