How long have you been in SEO? Long enough to have some stories, I imagine. Pushing berries, re-bills, blog networks, link everythings, cloaking and stuffing keywords. Remember when you cared about keyword density? How many times did you have to close that one webmaster forum as your boss walked by because of the pictures? How much did you pay for WSOs and expensive tools before you realized that it was all about the hustle?
Hustling, putting in way more than average to get where you need to go, has always been the name of the game.
Granted, the game has changed. Where we used to have to build our own analytics, now we can track calls, video, and new links. We even have a fairly full-featured analytics suite with all of the bells and whistles for FREE.
We have everything, but the changes in the environment are forcing us to be brave even in a world of plenty. The new hustle isn’t just about using the tools that were so kindly built by better men and women.
When I asked myself, how can I get on the grind in this new environment, what is brave and–I hate throwing this word around so don’t take it lightly–exciting, I came up with this list of SEO strategies.
I’ll show you some of mine if you show me some of yours.
I met a gentleman by the name of Dele Taylor from North Concepts who told me that he only produced evergreen content and other high quality and well-written information. Take a look at his blog content and link profile. He submits his content to 4-5 extremely relevant sites and that’s it for his link building. He’s in an extremely specific niche, but his authority within that group is big enough to bring him all of the business referrals he needs, and he’s curating an active community to help him grow his business.
Sure, he could pump out 600 words of content a day and build more links, but he’d be throwing away his community which has representatives in giant organizations that will help him out later. His hustle is finding gaps in the quality content of his niche and building, polishing and maintaining that content.
That’s the kind of content that gets props from SEOMoz and half of the industry. We might say that content is king, but I think we all mean that good content is king.
Our Marketing Manager, Alex Rascanu, has had a huge influence on me. He’s in charge of the Powered By Search brand and, among the many things that he does to make us more famous, he puts a lot of work and passion into building relationships.
I recently went to Alex’s inbound marketing meetup that pulled in some great talent like Paul Crowe of BNotions. Paul, Dev and Hamza ran about 40 marketers through their modern inbound marketing tactics.
I also got to tag along with Alex to the Toronto Board of Trade to meet Max Long, the President of Microsoft Canada, and have a chat with some great people like Gwen Yasinski of Cogeco Cable and Elinor Whitmore of SFH Group.
Alex and Dev’s hustle in regards to relationship building has gotten us recognition (and links) from the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star and the Financial Post, among other big names. On a more regular basis it gives us referrals for new business and links from our other friends in the industry whenever we share some of our evergreen content with them.
External Linking Strategy
I did a lot of digging before I joined Powered by Search, and my research on Dev Basu showed that he had a powerful offline reputation in Toronto and nationally. That’s what made me trust him and his company: strong referrals from real people and organizations.
I bet that Google’s ideal algorithm does the same kind of digging, and uses similar sources. Does this person or organization have a reputation outside of the internet? Are they respected by other influential persons or organizations? What kind of feedback are they getting from the less influential but more populous individuals with whom they interact?
Maybe the Google algorithm isn’t good enough to do this yet, but it’s moving gradually towards that end.
And so I judge the quality of a referral or link based on a couple rules of thumb.
- Is it from an influential person or organization?
- Even better, is it from someone I know personally and have impressed with my value proposition?
- Is it fairly exclusive?
- Does it bring targeted traffic?
- Does it drive new business?
- Does it build my brand and reputation?
When I saw Dev’s article in the Globe and Mail, I definitely became more trusting.
One of my mentors, Sarah Doughty, frequently told me that if something was easy, no one would pay you to do it. I think that the biggest difference between hustling today and hustling a couple of years–for some a couple of months–ago is that we used to be able to create tests and see results in minutes. Now, using the same fast-to-market, iterative approach to content, relationship and referral building isn’t nearly as effective. The hustle comes in pushing ourselves to reach a higher quality, and investing more in long-term SEO strategies.