It seems barely a few weeks can go by without yet another panic rippling through the SEO sector, usually over some anticipated crackdown by Google on a tried and trusted link-building strategy. And the chief instigator of these waves of paranoia? The one and only, Matt Cutts.
Oh, it’s no good. I love you really Matt. I can’t be mad at you when I know none of this is really your fault.Yes, that’s right, I’m pointing the finger at you, Matthew. With your chirpy, cheerful videos, pretending to be indifferent to the millions of SEO amateurs hanging on your every word. Yes, you might have helpful advice, and insider Google knowledge, and calm, rational, easy-to-understand explanations of complex subjects, and… and…
I know the real problem. It’s the desperate masses of website owners who are agonising over their inability to move up the search engine rankings and, as a result, magnifying every comment Matt makes into some kind of holy commandment. They hear his words, but they don’t get the sense behind them.
The most common example, that I see ALL the time, is when Matt reveals that Google are attempting to “crackdown” on some particular SEO technique that they don’t like. People hear these statements and immediately start to worry that he might be referring to the work they’ve put into optimising their site, and that all their efforts are about to be undone.
It’s mountains out of molehills. Where the molehills are Matt’s informative videos, and mountains are the viewers screaming “Armageddon.” I sometimes wonder if Google has figured out that if they want to crackdown on a spammy SEO method, they don’t need to waste time and money on tweaking their algorithm; they just tell Matt to mention it in a video, knowing that everyone will panic and stop doing it.“Everything that ever worked is about to be nuked,” they cry. And then shady SEO gurus roll out new training courses that offer brand new, shiny SEO techniques that Google will never catch onto. At least not until the next Matt Cutts video.
That might explain why people claim, for example, that article marketing and guest posting have been killed off by Google, despite the fact that they seem to work just as well as they ever have. In fact, if anything, they work better now that so many people have given up on them and left an empty playing field.
You see here’s the thing you REALLY need to understand about Google’s crackdowns on SEO strategies…
They’re NOT trying to make life hard for hard-working online business owners who want to improve their search engine rankings through responsible SEO methods. They’re trying to make life hard for short-sighted SEO manipulators who love nothing better than to take an effective link-building technique and turn it into a highly scalable, spam-producing, juggernaut that fills Google results with low-quality dross.
Of course Google want to stop this. All they really care about – all they’ve every cared about – is delivering good quality search results to their users. Responsible SEO practitioners don’t get in the way of this. SEO spammers looking for manipulative short-cuts get in the way of this, and it’s THESE guys that Google wants to scuttle.
Think about it. If CNN asked you to write an original guest post for their blog, are you going to turn it down because you heard from a friend of a friend that Google are kicking guest bloggers out of their search results? Of course not. Google aren’t going to get upset over original, useful content, hosted on a high-quality site that links back to another high-quality site. In fact I’m pretty sure that’s their definition of Internet utopia.
Keep that in mind the next time you’re tempted to listen to the paranoid ramblings of an SEO mystic (no, I’m talking about Matt now). If your link-building techniques create original, high-quality content that is shared responsibly, then you have little or no reason to be concerned. And yet, despite my insistence that “dead” link-building techniques are still effective, I’m not above getting excited over new, cutting-edge techniques that really deliver. So, without any further fuss, here are my Top Three “New” SEO Strategies for 2014.
And if you’re wondering why “New” is in quotation marks, it’s because although the methodologies are new, they’re still based on effective techniques that have worked for years, and will probably work for years to come.
1) Video Testimonial Tempters
Every product or service provider loves to receive testimonials and endorsements from happy customers. But when that testimonial is provided in video form… It’s absolutely irresistible. Even a popular service that is used to receiving regular testimonials is going to struggle to resist the urge to share your testimonial video on their blog or, better still, on their permanent testimonial page.
Take a look at all the products and services that you use to keep your business running smoothly and record a short 2-3 minute video for each one, explaining why you find it useful and why you recommend it to others. Start with the products that are most closely aligned with your business or that share a similar target market.
Put each video on your YouTube channel and on your website, and then send an unbranded version of the video (i.e. – no identifications or links to your website) to the supplier you’re promoting. Have the sense not to try and coerce the link back. Don’t make linking back to your site a condition of using your testimonial. Simply send over the video with a link to your site and let them decide.
Some suppliers will link back, some won’t. Don’t fret over the failures, it’s simply the nature of the beast that is link-building.
Example 1: managewp.com/happy-users
Note that there are lots of testimonials on this page but that the video testimonials are given pride of place at the top of the page. That’s not a coincidence.
This supplier loved the video so much they created a whole blog post just to feature my video.
Example 3: sucuri.tv/
At the time of writing, my testimonial video is front and centre of the homepage. And, because of the particular blog design, you’ll also see a link to my site further down the homepage.
2) Red Hot Roundups
You’re probably already familiar with the concept of “link bait”. The idea of creating content so interesting, entertaining or controversial, that people can’t resist linking to it. This strategy works on the same principle but actually encourages link backs from high profile sites and blogs.
Step One: Find a hot topic that is relevant to your industry.
Step Two: Reach out to industry experts, tell them that you’re writing a report on the subject, and invite them to contribute a paragraph or two.
Step Three: Compile the submissions you get and publish an interesting and informative blog post.
Step Four: Send a “thank you” email to each of your contributors along with a link to the article.
Step Five: Watch with satisfaction as a substantial proportion of your contributors, link to your article from their sites and social media accounts.
Step Six: Watch with even greater satisfaction as the sizeable audiences of your contributors also share and link back to your article, creating a mini viral effect.
Again not everyone will share your article, and you don’t want to make it a condition, but as far as link bait goes this is about as good as it gets and, even better, the quality of the links are going to be very high.
This is a great example of this technique and, although I didn’t produce this one, I did contribute to it. And, yes, I was more than happy to link back to it and share it with others.
3) Pro Content Syndication
I’ve taught versions of this strategy for years and it’s still one of the most effective techniques I know for creating vast amounts of original content and obtaining links from multiple sources.
It begins with hosting and recording some kind of live event. If you already do events of this type, then you MUST start using this strategy. If you don’t currently put on live events, it’s actually worth doing so, simply so you can implement this methodology.
You don’t have to invest tens of thousands into the project. Simply hire some space in a local hotel and put on a one-day workshop with two 90-minute talks in the morning, two in the afternoon and then a networking session in the evening. You can invite local business owners for free or charge just enough to cover your costs. The point is to finish the day with several hours of instructive and useful video.
The next step is to repurpose that content into lots of different formats over the coming weeks and months. We begin by chopping the video up into 10-20 minute segments and uploading them to YouTube (you can see examples of this here: youtube.com/theSEOmethod). It helps if you’re able to make each video focus, more or less, on one particular subject or question that can form the title of your video.
Share the links to these videos through social media and embed them on your website. Your existing audience will create your first wave of backlinks. Next, strip the audio from the video, turn them into podcasts and upload them to iTunes. Then get the audio transcribed, turn the transcripts into PDFs, and send them to PDF-sharing sites.
Last, but not least, hire a writer to turn those transcripts into good quality, original articles, based around the subject matter. Use these articles on article-sharing sites, for guest posts, on your own blog, on social media sites, and anywhere else you can think of.
That’s how you turn one piece of content into dozens and dozens of different bite-sized pieces that can be distributed far and wide. Most people that try their hand at creating content for their online business write a couple of articles, produce a few videos, and then run out of ideas. But with this method you have enough content to keep you going for months. Run as little as 1-2 workshops a year and you’ll have never run out of content to syndicate.
So there you have it. Three SEO strategies that are guaranteed to make 2014 a highly productive year for your SEO and marketing efforts. The underlying strategy of these methods might not be “new” per se, but the implementation really takes advantage of the way people are currently consuming content, and I know of no better way of building high quality links that will also keep you off Google’s spam-slapping radar.
Like what you’re reading and keen to find out more? Watch a presentation I recently did for the WordPress Community here in Melbourne, Australia – click here.