What I can do for you as a Digital Marketer

Ideally, the answer to this question would be simple. Everything. But in reality, no one can be a master on all things, and be everything to everyone; but that would be cool. Throughout the quarter, I have explored numerous digital marketing topics in this blog, and have taken my digital marketing knowledge from novice to expert; ideally I have helped the audience do the same. That being said, throughout the quarter there have been some topics that I am particularly passionate about and I feel as though I could use my skills in those areas to bring about great improvement to your organization. Apology in advance for the excessive use of “I can…”

Web Analytics
What can I say about this topic? You have to be using it. For those that do not remember or are unfamiliar with the concept of web analytics, it is essentially comprehensive data on all aspects of an organizations digital touch points; you can get analytics on everything from apps, to new website launches. But why is it important for an organization to track their digital touch points? The answer is simple, that’s where the data lies. Web analytics will provide an organization with overarching data about all aspects of their digital marketing efforts from macro and micro conversions, to audience reports. Your organization will essentially learn how your consumers are interacting and maneuvering  amongst your webpages.

But what can I do for your organization in the world of analytics? That’s quite simple, I can read the data. As a marketer, I am certified in Google Analytics and have in depth understanding on how to read the data, generate reports, read reports, understand bounce rates, understand the paths that different people are taking when maneuvering thorugh your website, understand how that path can lead to bounces, and more. Essentially, I can take the data that web analytics provides and pull meaning from the numbers, which is valuable because data is useless if you cannot understand and take action from it.

For example, I could take my knowledge of web analytics, and assist your organization in the A/B testing process. Let’s say, for examples sake, that your organization wants to test the size and color of a button on your landing page that is prompting people to download a pdf of information about your organization. In order to assist with this process, I would prompt the web developer to make a few different options of the PDF button, and then also prompt the developer to alter the html/java script code to track downloads of the PDF. At this point, my web analytics knowledge comes into play and I use analytics to track the different conversion rates of the various buttons and analyze which button was leading to greater conversion rates, and with what path was the user getting to the button. Web analytics is an invaluable source in that it allows organizations to assign weight to various marketing channels, and in this case an organization would be assigning greater weight to the button that generated more micro conversions. As a certified master of web analytics, I know how to guide the developers in what code they need to paste into the HTML/Java script (in a perfect world I could do this myself, however I am only a beginner in coding) and then I am able to interpret the data that is generated and turn it into marketing knowledge, such as which button should be selected to reach the greatest amount of conversions. It is valuable to have someone on your marketing team that can read and understand web analytics, because it is the hard data that gives insight into the successes of your various digital touch points; marketing dollars are precious and we want to spend them in marketing channels that are leading to conversions. I can help with that.

Content Marketing
One of my favorite topics of the quarter, and undoubtedly something I am passionate about, is Content Marketing. As a marketer, I am inspired by the kind of marketing that doesn’t appear to be marketing at all; content marketing is a great example of this. For those that are unfamiliar with content marketing, don’t worry I was that person a few weeks back, it is “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience, and ultimately to drive profitable customer action.” Content marketing is a standout digital marketing technique in my mind, because the sole purpose of the content is to educate and inform consumers, not to blatantly promote a product. What draws me to content marketing In particular is the relevant nature of the content, and the value that it provides to consumers; I feel content marketing is a type of marketing that consumers are more receptive too, often times because they don’t realize they are being marketed too. As a marketer I want to create marketing that consumers are interested in and appreciative of, not something that proves to be more of an annoyance. One of my favorite moments in this class was Microsoft’s One Note campaign. I am may be alone in picking this as my favorite digital marketing moment, however I felt it demonstrated a strong example of content marketing. Microsoft focused on Albert and his bionic arms, and Neha and her passion for helping children in orphanages; they highlighted the great aspects of these movements and only mentioned their product in terms of how One Note aided those products. Congrats Mark Staton, loved that example.

But the real question is, how can I help your organization when it comes to content marketing? The answer is through my knowledge of the subject. As we progressed through content and inbound marketing, I came to understand the aspects that must be present in a content marketing campaign in order for it to be successful. A content marketing campaign must relevant and the content must be tailored towards the buyer persona that your organization is trying to reach. In addition, the content needs to be non-promotional for the most part and focus on educating the consumer and providing information that they will find useful, not focused on advertising. Because I am knowledgeable on what it takes to implement a content marketing campaign, I am able to help an organization develop content that is all of the things listed above. I can wave the red flag when content is becoming too promotional in nature, and I can help fellow employees develop content that is tailored to who we want to reach.

Social Media
Social media is kind of a cool thing to use in the business world. I can help you with that. Long story short, your organization needs to be using social media, but I’m sure you probably know that. MOZ puts it best when they state, “Your customers are online. They are interacting in social channels with their friends, colleagues, and other brains in search of information, recommendations, and entertainment. If your company is not around to answer, a competitor will be.” Basically what MOZ is trying to say here is that your customers are online, and you need to be there too. Like I said, I can help you with that. I recently became certified in Hootsuite which is a platform that helps organizations manage all of their social media platforms, from twitter to Instagram. Using the Hootesuit social media managing platform, I can increase your organizations social listening via the creation of multiple streams that follow specific keywords; in addition I can use analytics (separate from Hootsuite) to analyze which keywords are relevant to your brand and which keywords you should be paying attention to on your feeds. I can help your organization create drafts of acceptable social media posts and allow everyone to access them in Hootsuite once they are approved; this will avoid the hassle of the same message having to be created every single time the same issue comes up. I can help you organization tailor responses to customer input, and make appropriate postings based on the social media platform that is being used; some social media platforms are more fun loving then others, and it is important to know what is appropriate and where. I can help you handle customer complaints on platforms such as Facebook, I can even give you some advice on this issue right now. If you are dealing with a difficult customer complaint on Facebook, it is important to not delete the comment unless it contains a remark that is severely inappropriate. Respond to the comment accordingly, and then continue the message in a direct message if the issue is not resolved; you want to have transparency with your social media accounts, and deleting negative feedback is no way to do that.

Overall I have taken a great deal of knowledge from digital marketing, way beyond what I could ever share in one post. I always knew digital marketing was a must have for any organization, but now I know the specifics as to why that is; and even better I know how to apply this knowledge, some of which I have shared with you in this post. In addition to the topics I have touched on, I can also help your organization with A/B testing, link building, inbound marketing, and more.). Check out the rest of my blog posts to see my expertise in those areas, who knows you might learn something. I know I sure did. And If you are willing to wait a week for my help, I will also be able to assist with Google AdWords, as I will be adding that to my list of certifications (hopefully).

That’s me in a digital marketing nutshell. Let’s chat, maybe we can drive some traffic to your website.

Stats from my blog:

  • 16 posts total
  • 82 visitors
  • Over 30,000 words
  • 167 views
  • Most Popular Day: Monday
  • Most Popular Hour: 4:00 PM
  • Most Popular Post: A Note On Inbound Marketing-Use it
  • My Favorite Posts: Content Marketing-Think About The Consumer

All of the quotes and statistics used in this post came from the following sources:
MOZ: Beginners Guide to Social Media
Content Marketing Institute
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Mobile Mobile Mobile

When referring to the digital world, many people like to say that we are “shifting” towards a world comprised of mostly digital. However, I think it is safe to say that that “shift” has been complete and that we operate in a world that is completely dominated by the digital scene; the scary part being that our world is continuing to grow further in that direction. In a whitepaper put out by comScore, they discuss the demographics that have been leading this shift as the younger generation and Millennials. ComScore states, “Young people and Millennials play a critical role in leading shifts in consumer technology adoption and usage habits, in areas such as social media, mobile, and video.” So where are we at digitally? Take a look at some of the drastic changes that have occurred sense 2010:

  • Smartphone engagement has tripled in the last year, moving from 131 billion total minutes, to 442 billion minutes
  • Tablets have the smallest usage percentage in minutes, but have still increased x10 sense 2010
  • Desktops still have some presence, but have not been growing at the drastic rate the other platforms have been. Desktop usage has only seen an increase of 7% total from 2010.

While it is technologically awesome that our world has hit such an advanced digital era, in terms of marketing this created some chaos; comScore states that “the most disruptive shift in the digital media marketplace has been the shift from desktop to mobile platforms” because it “drastically” changed consumer behavior and how customers interact with organizations. In addition to this, another key issue facing the digital marketing world is the “Multi-Platform Majority” which refers to all the people/consumers in this world that interact with more than one device; TV, desktop, mobile, and tablet. ComScore defined this shift towards the use of multiple platforms as the “marketing challenge of this era” and that is because each platform is used differently. Consumers interact with a desktop differently than they do with their mobile phones, they use them for different purposes. In terms of marketing, this means we must be aware of how each platform is being used, and then tailor our digital marketing efforts to that use. Sound simple? Yeah it’s not. Below you will find an analysis of just one aspect of this issue; Mobile vs. Desktop.

Mobile vs. Desktop
As the expansion of mobile begins to take over, more and more search is being done on mobile devices and tablets; as opposed to desktop or laptops. That being said, it is crucial for organizations to understand some key differences between mobile searches and desktop searchers:

  • One of the first and most important differences to understand, in my opinion, is that people may be using mobile search for a different purpose then desktop searchers. MOZ joins in on this conversation when they state, “the key here is to figure out if visitor’s goals on the main site should be the same on the mobile version of the site…you should determine your business goals internally, but use your web analytics to see what mobile visitors ate doing on your current site.” Once, as an organization, you have figured out what consumers are doing on your mobile site, you can begin to tailor the content of your mobile site too that need. For example, a lot of times, with the exception of Starbucks, consumers are not looking to make a purchase on their mobile phone. Keeping that in mind, if an organization wants to optimize their mobile SEO, they may want to focus more on information content, rather than landing pages that are meant for purchases. It is important for organizations to understand how users are using their mobile site, because this will determine the content of the site; as we have learned previously, having relevant content is a key aspect of SEO. By understanding the differences in search purposes between mobile and desktop, organizations will reap the benefits in the form of increased traffic to their webpages.
  • Another key issue that MOZ brings up in an article titled Mobile Optimization, is the differences in site design for mobile vs. desktop. For example, you should not use Flash on mobile whereas for desktops, you should be using flash. It is important for organizations not to use Flash because “the plugin may not be available on your user’s phone.” Another example of site design involves the use of pop-ups. While pop-ups are annoying on desktops, they are easy to manage in that a user can close them with a click of the mouse. However, when it comes to mobile devices, pop ups can be hard to close. MOZ states, “It can be difficult and frustrating to try and close these on a mobile device. This might lead to a high bounce rate.” It is important for organizations to understand the differences in site design between mobile and desktops, because in order for a mobile site to be optimized, it must be user friendly. As the MOZ article states when referring to pop-ups, if a user gets frustrated it may lead to high bounce rates; a high bounce rate will not lead to a higher ranking on mobile searches. Overall, organizations can benefit from understanding the key site design differences because it will lead to a better user experience, thus ideally increasing traffic to their website and optimizing their mobile search results.

Starbucks: A leader in the Mobile App Universe
When you think of organizations that are truly “killin” it so to speak in the app world, who might you think of? You may have guessed from the heading of this section that Starbucks should come to mind. Starbucks, maker of the addictive coffee that we all know and love, has had extreme success with their mobile app and mobile purchasing; an accomplishment that is unrivaled for the most part. According to an article put out by the Washington Post, on average “customers pay for a purchase using a smartphone 7 million times per week, with mobile payments now accounting for roughly 16 percent of total transactions.” It is clear that Starbucks customers have become acquainted to “engaging” with Starbucks on their mobile app, and even more so have become accustomed to paying for their order via the mobile app. But why has Starbucks been so successful with their mobile App? What are they doing differently? The answer is quite simple and probably one that most of us could guess; My Starbucks Rewards. The My Starbucks Rewards program offers free drinks for every x amount of purchases, but the catch is you have to pay with your mobile device or with your Starbucks gold card. Essentially, in order to get a free drink and reap the benefits of Starbucks rewards, you have to engage with the app and pay for your drink on the mobile device; thus explaining the 7 million smartphone payments that they receive per week.

The question then becomes, how could other organizations who are looking to have a presence in the mobile app world learn from Starbucks? My answer is, follow their lead and intertwine a reward/incentive program to customers that are engaging with your app. It is clear that Starbucks large presence in the app world, and in mobile payment, is due to the fact that customers are rewarded for doing so; in other words, Starbucks is making it worth their while to download the app. The same strategy should be employed by other organizations, add a feature to your app that makes it worth the customers while to download and use the app. This concept could take many forms, for example:

  • An organization could offer discounts that are only available via the app. This will spark more downloads of the app, and ideally entice customers to explore the other features available in the app
  • Create a system similar to Starbucks and allow customers to pay via their mobile app in exchange for some sort of reward
  • Offer sales promotions that are only available when downloading the app

The next question may then become, why is it worth an organizations time to enhance their mobile app presence? In other words, why should organizations want to have a popular app? As discussed previously, mobile app’s are where the majority of the time on mobile devices is being spent by consumers; we are coming into the day and age where your organization needs to have an app in order to get website traffic. In addition to this though, having consumers use your app acts as another tool for gathering demographics, psychographics, Geographic’s, etc. The Washington Post describes Starbucks use of their app beyond just loyal customers when they say, “Starbucks also gathers a rich trove of data about its most loyal customers, something it can eventually leverage to shape its marketing tactics, promotions and even store locations.” Clearly it is important for organizations to optimize their mobile app because that is where consumer time is being spent, but beyond that, apps can help gather crucial information about organizations customers.

All of the quotes and statistics used in this post came from the following sources:
US Digital Future in Focus: ComScore White Paper
MOZ Mobile Optimization
Mobile SEO
Starbucks Washington Post
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Coding

Coding. An intimidating word, I’ll give you that. But no matter how intimidating marketers find coding to be, it is an essential skill that all of us must have knowledge on. I want to make an important distinction here; having knowledge on coding is not to say that digital marketers, or marketers in general, need to have the extreme expertise that web developers possess. However, it is important to understand the basics behind coding. Why you might ask, is it a good idea for a beginning digital marketer to be knowledgeable in coding? Let’s take a closer look.

Language of our Digital World
One of the first and most prominent reasons that it is important for a beginning digital marketer to understand coding and be familiar with the HTML language is because “every webpage you look at is written in a language called HTML” and “you can think of HTML as the skeleton that gives every webpage structure,” Codecademy states. Your next thought might be, well marketing is about more than websites and webpages, so if I am not involved in that why do I need to understand coding? The fact of the matter is that almost all marketing campaigns have some form of digital component that are going to require coding whether that be a website, app, email etc. HubSpot joins in on the conversation when they say, “Code is what lies behind so many of our great marketing campaigns. Our websites, our emails, our apps and tools that are made to give your customers a better experience—these all run because there are smart coders making them work.” From that quote by HubSpot, it is clear that coding is involved in many aspects of the digital marketing world and makes much of what we do digitally, possible. Because coding and the HTML language provides the “backbone” of sorts for so many of the digital marketing mediums, it is important that as an entry level digital marketer you are able to speak that language and be grounded in the basis of those concepts; if not there will be a very large disconnect between you and the developers who create your marketing campaigns.

Helps you Develop a Deeper Understanding
The next reason to understand coding and the HTML language is because it will help you, as a marketer, develop a deeper understanding of digital marketing concepts. Just as with math or any other topic, if you can understand the root/backbone of how and why something works, your overall knowledge of the concept increases and allows understanding to come more naturally. A/B testing is a great example of this in digital marketing. By understanding technically how two pages are different, it will allow marketers to understand why one landing page, for example, flows better then another. Seeing the back end will help marketers to better understand the surface. In addition, having a deeper understanding of what is going on in the back end of things, will also help marketers develop a better understanding of what is and isn’t possible on various webpages or marketing campaigns. HubSpot says, “Getting to grips with code and understanding the structures that bring your sites, apps, and tools to life will give you a better understanding of what is possible in the first place…It is key here not just to understand code, but to get a grip on what tools your designer is using.” Like stated previously, it is not expected that as a marketer you will be as well versed in coding as the developer, but it will prove helpful in narrowing that disconnect.

You Won’t be Just the “Idea Guy”
Having some knowledge on coding and being able to speak the HTML language will allow an entry level digital marketer to actually be able to execute some of their ideas, rather than just come up with then. For example, if there are some minor changes that you feel would enhance a landing page, such as the call to action needs to be put in a larger font, the marketer will be able to do this without the help of the developer. Being independent and able to execute tasks such as coding, in my opinion, would make a beginning digital marketer stand out in a crowd because it takes some of the weight off the developers and makes the overall marketing department more efficient. In addition to being able to execute ideas, having knowledge of code will also help with troubleshooting issues. If a webpage is not loading properly, a digital marketer with code experience could go in and attempt to fix the problem, instead of relying so heavily on the developers. Checkout the HubSpot blog for more reasons on why, as a marketer, you should learn coding.

So How might I Learn About Coding?
For those of you out there who have not yet had any experience with coding, myself included, I would recommend beginning with Codecademy; specifically the HTML & CSS section of their language skills. Codecademy is a website that takes you through step by step instruction on how to code, the HTML language, and the styling of pages.

Overall I had a very positive experience with Codecademy, which I was not expecting because I am such a novice when it comes to backend technology and computers. If you are apprehensive about learning code, fear not. Codecademy does an excellent job of breaking down the basics and teaching one skill at a time. That being said, the reason my experience was so good was because Codecademy provides instructional and visual directions. In essence, they explain a skill with words and why it is important in the HTML language, and then they show a visual as to what the coding looks like for that particular skill. As with any program there were positives and negatives to Codeacademy, so let’s dive into some of those:

  • Visual and written instruction: As I said in my brief excerpt above about my experience, Codecademy offers both guided written instruction and then a visual of what the coding looks like. For example in the picture below, code academy is offering an explanation of what “Font Families” are and then shows a snippet of the code that one would type to utilize a certain font family. The written and visual instructions were a plus for me because they helped to understand why I would use a certain code, such as the font family code, and then then the visual showed me how to actually type out the code (which proved to be the most confusing part).Font family Snippet
  • Practice Problems: The second positive about Codecademy was the practice code sheet that they provided after the instruction. At the bottom of each lesson there are 2-3 instructions that ask the user to practice what the lesson just taught. These practice problems were great hands on experience for myself, and definitely are what contributed to most of my learning. While the instruction of each code/HTML language was very helpful, the practice was what really engrained the basics in my mind. Another thing I enjoyed about the practice problems is they built off of each other and reinforced previous lessons with the new material. For example, we learned about paragraph tags <p>,</p>, in one of the first lessons and throughout other lessons we would practice the new material in paragraphs. That being said, this could sometimes prove to be a negative when the material went back to far without reminders.
  • Error Messages: When doing the practice problems, after you click “save and submit code” Codecademy will tell you if anything in the code is wrong, and specifically which parts of the code are wrong. This proved to be very helpful, especially on the longer codes, because it allows the user to pinpoint the error exactly and draws your attention to the problem; as opposed to spending a fair amount of time reviewing the code for the mistake. The error messages helped with troubleshooting and helped bring my attention to small mistakes that I was making, such as forgetting to close a tag. While these error messages could be frustrating, overall they greatly aided in my learning of basic code
  • My one frustration with Codecademy, from what I have experienced thus far, was that occasionally the practice problems would have material in it from the very beginning lessons and no reminder of how to do the skill. In the practice problems, the instructions would assume that you remembered some previous knowledge (which I probably should have, oops!) and this could prove very difficult if I couldn’t remember the exact format for that coding. For example, I got very confused on links/images and had a hard time remembering the HTML format to link an image without the instructions on how to do so. Whenever this skill would get brought up in a practice problem in a later lesson, I would have to refer to the image/linking lesson and refresh my memory on the proper format for the code. It would be helpful if they had snippets of these previous skills, granted sometimes they did in the hints section.

Squarespace
Speaking honestly, I am a newbie to Squarespace and did struggle in learning how to navigate the site. Squarespace is a website that, essentially, helps you as a business owner or individual, create a website. Squarespace allows you to make an ecommerce page, personal website, etc. Though Squarespace is a cool site for creating a website, as I said above I had some difficulty figuring everything out and there are some positives and negatives about the site.

  • Squarespace offers several templates, for ecommerce specifically, that give you a solid jumping off point for your site. It can be very difficult, for our developers especially, to build a website from complete scratch with no basis. Squarespace allows users to pick a template and edit the information in a way that is tailored to yourself or your organization. Having templates is also a positive because it allows someone who is not an expert on coding/HTML to build a webpage; this is a great resource for organizations that have an IT/web developing department that is spread very thin.
  • On the opposite side of what was just said, another positive of squarespace is that you can edit the HTML coding if you wish to do so. In my mind, this was a positive because it allows the webpages to be more customized if you desire to do so and have the coding skill to do so. Offering templates that allow the code to be altered makes squarespace a great resource for organizations because it allows for all types of employees to work on the webpages, whether it be a developer who can enhance the code or another employee who can just fill in the template.
  • A big negative of the squarespace sight for myself, was that it proved very hard to navigate in terms of editing. It took me a long time to figure out how to edit templates and remove their information to replace it with my own. I still have been unable to replace the images that they provided, granted this could be user error, and delete some of the sections on the template that are not relevant to myself. It should be noted that I am a beginner to Squarespace and am still in the process of familiarizing myself with the site, however these are the difficulties I have encountered thus far. Checkout my Squarespace website

Check out my progress on Codecademy:

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Paid Advertising: Programmatic Ad Buying vs. Native Advertising

After reading the title of this blog, the first question I want to pose to the audience is, are you confused? If the answer is yes, that is okay and we are very similar in that regard. When I first heard the words programmatic ad buying and native advertising I was also a novice and didn’t have a very good inclination as to what those two topics were. That being said, the next point that I want to pose is that programmatic ad buying and native advertising are not similar in concept, not even close actually. They are two completely different paid advertising styles that both claim they are going to have a big presence in paid advertising’s future; but the question then becomes, how is that possible when they are two gravely different techniques? Before we jump into that topic of discussion, let’s start by introducing each of these paid advertising strategies and what they are all about.

Programmatic Ad Buying
Like stated previously, this is a topic that I find very confusing and the primary reason being that even experts cannot agree on a definition for the concept. It would seem that programmatic ad buying means something a little bit different to everyone. Adweek says themselves that when it comes to programmatic ad buying, “there are lots of definitions, and no real consensus.” So to simplify, I want to share the definition given in Adweek that I found the most understandable and straight forward when trying to make sense of this concept. Allie Kline, who is a CMO of AOL, states, “For me, it about using an automated system to make media buying decisions instead of doing it manually. A brand could take its goals, inventory data, consumer data, ad formats and potential media and put it all into a washing machine. Programmatic takes multiple data points and makes decisions about what screen an ad should be on, what is the most effective strategy at a given moment, and lets you do all the nonmanual decisions. Another concise definition that Adweek offers is that programmatic ad buying is “the idea that machines will simply handle all of the process involved in buying media- the insertion orders, the paperwork, the trafficking, the spreadsheets.”

Essentially what I have gathered from these two definitions is that programmatic ad buying combines multiple sets of data and metrics about an organization, and then takes that information to purchase advertising space/placement in an automated fashion and does so in real time, rather than doing it manually. That being said, an important distinction needs to be made between programmatic ad buying and Real-time-bidding. While they may seem the same in principle, programmatic ad buying adds an element that RTB does not and that is all of the consumer data that it takes into account when purchasing sites, impressions, or whatever it might be. Kline once again offers some insight on this point of differentiation when she says, “The way we think about programmatic is very different than just a selling media in a bidded environment…if you think about programmatic as using data, tech, and software for getting more for every dollar spent, that really elevates our clients thinking.” From this statement, it is clear that there is a line separating RTB and programmatic bidding, and this should be a caution to all organizations looking to employ a programmatic ad buying strategy; it is a complex process that involves data and technical elements, and cannot be viewed as simple minded as RTB.

Native Advertising
Native advertising is somewhat on the flip side of programmatic ad buying, in that it does not involve any sort of automation; it actually involves steps that are quite the opposite. As defined by sharethrough, native advertising is, “a form of paid media where the ad experience follows the natural form and function of the user experience in which it is placed.” In other words, native advertising “matches” the visual look of “natural content” and “functions” just as natural content might, yet it is an ad. It is clear from this definition as to why native advertising is very much different from programmatic ad buying; native advertising is not at all automated. People have to produce very carefully made and refined ads that match the editorial content that they will be integrated into. Ad space cannot be purchased via automation because it has to be carefully selected so that ads can be integrated successfully.

If you are like me, your next thought might be that this process is somewhat deceiving. Marketers are trying to produce content that looks, feels, and “functions” as natural content in order to make advertising more subtle, genius idea that is met with some pushback. As marketers, we are all aware of the difficulty that is “breaking through the clutter” and getting consumers to pay attention to an advertisement that is undoubtedly one of multiple they have seen that day. This is where the idea of native advertising comes in. Native advertising is seeking to “seamlessly integrate branded relevant experiences into publications,” but at face value many readers/viewers feel they are being tricked; they think they are reading an editorial content piece, however it is really advertising in disguise.

An article by Advertising Age poses a publishers dilemma perfectly when it comes to native advertising. The article, “states, having a clear dividing line between editorial and advertising content intuitively helps people trust the journalist integrity of content they are presented. If people trust the source, they read more, and this attracts advertiser dollars.” From a publisher’s standpoint, it is a difficult decision on whether or not to allow native advertising. On one hand you have a large following and marketers will pay large sums of money to have access to that audience. But on the other hand, the reason you have that following is because people trust you as a source, and offering native advertising could jeopardize that trust.

Organizations can benefit from native advertising because it can offer access to large audiences and be a form of advertising that people are more receptive to, primarily because the brand is “integrated” into the editorial content. That being said, and in my personal opinion, I am skeptical about the use of native advertising as a paid marketing strategy because of the negative connotations that surround the topic. Like stated previously, native advertising can be seen as trickery and deceiving because it takes on the feel and function of normal content, and thus can be hard to distinguish from actual content. While this may seem appealing to organizations and marketers, I offer a word of caution. Consumers do not take kindly to being tricked or deceived, and it could ultimately end up hurting the brand more than it would help.

The Future of Paid Advertising
I briefly touched on this idea earlier; these two types of paid media strategy are very different, yet people claim that both of them are going to be greatly involved in the future of paid advertising. From the perspective of programmatic ad buying, this strategy is all about automation and using data, software, and technologies to purchase ad sites/impressions that will be the most optimal. Organizations can benefit from employing a strategy such as this one because it greatly increases efficiency and lets the data do the talking. Programmatic ad buying combines inventory data, consumer data etc. and this will ultimately combine to be a more objective technique in paid advertising. On the other hand, there is native advertising which is quite different in that it is not automated at all. People, not software and computers, are making deliberate and meticulous ads that integrate “seamlessly” into content. The location/space of ads cannot be chosen via automation and real time techniques because the ads have to be placed in the editorial content that they are being designed for; this is the concept that fuels native advertising. Like discussed above, native advertising is a great way to gain access to large audiences that publishers have acquired and advertise to audiences in a very “native” and “natural way.” Organizations could benefit from this strategy because it is incredibly more subtle than traditional advertising and does not immediately identify itself as marketing. That being said, this technique can be deceitful to the audience and could tarnish a brand reputation if the audience felt they were being tricked.

But all of this being said, what is the future of paid advertising; programmatic buying, or the meticulous and careful creation of ads that make up native advertising? In my personal opinion as of right now, I would say the future of paid advertising is headed more in the direction of programmatic ad buying because that strategy is already growing in money spent and has support, where- as native advertising is lacking in this area. Amount of support and positive metrics an advertising strategy has is huge in the adoption of strategies by organizations, because organizations don’t want to devote advertising dollars to techniques that are not successful or are not backed by hard evidence of potential. Forrester’s piece on programmatic ad buying states, “In reality, I think we are only starting now to truly see programmatic methods and techniques adopted by ad sellers and buyers. Finally in 2014 we have seen marketing leaders driving their digital media buying practices forward by combining rich customer data with algorithmically driven buying platforms to make digital advertising dollars more effective in reaching target audiences.” From this brief quote it is clear that organizations are starting to find the value of combining data with these software platforms and how efficient that strategy can be both in terms of money and reaching the target audience. Organizations are all about efficiency and this is a key reason I feel that paid advertising will move more in that direction. That being said, almost the opposite is true for native advertising; it is not yet backed by research and support so there are many skeptics of the method. In my personal opinion, I do not see native advertising being the future of paid advertising because of the negative connotations that are associated with it. As I learned in a podcast about native advertising, this concept can really get companies into trouble because people feel they are being deceived; just as the mother of a 9 year old boy did when she found out her son was being interviewed for an advertisement, rather than what she was told/understood. In addition, for the reasons I have mentioned about native advertising, I would not recommend that organizations more forward with native advertising, I would recommend programmatic ad buying. Native advertising as a marketing strategy clearly causes organizations issues with transparency, and I do not think it should be applied until there is way to do it in such a way that allows for “seamless integration” yet no deceit.

All of the quotes and statistics for this blog post came from the following sources:
Adweek
Forrester Blog
Advertising Age
Native Advertising Podcast
Native Advertising: Sharethrough 

Google AdWords in the Paid Search World

In my latest post on Paid Search and SEM, I covered all of the basics on paid online search engine advertising and what that looks like in terms of what it is, how it works, and some key reasons to utilize it in one’s search engine strategy. At the end of that post I very briefly touched on Google AdWords and gave an introduction as to what that topic is about. As promised, this post will be all about Google AdWords and how organizations could apply the “fundamentals” to create successful paid search efforts.

Google AdWords is Google’s paid search program and it works in the same ways as described in the previous post; by using keywords, relevancy, quality score etc. to decide if and where an organizations ad will land on the search engine result page, or somewhere on Google’s Display Network. That being said, this post will not spend a lot of time on how AdWords works because that information can be found by reading the previous post on paid search, what that is, and how it works. However, I do want to start with Google’s Definition of AdWords:

  • When asked the question “what is AdWords?” Google would describe it as, “Googles online advertising platform that can help you drive interested people to your website.” Put in visual terms, when you do a search query in Google and ad’s show up on the top and right side of the search engine results page, these ads are a result of the AdWords program.

Key Takeaways from AdWords Fundamentals:

  • One of the first and most prominent things I learned about Google AdWords that will be very relevant for an organization seeking to utilize AdWords, is the different campaign options that Google offers. When choosing to use AdWords as part of an SEM strategy, one of the first decisions that an organization must make is the “type of campaign” they want to employ. “The campaign type determines things like where your ads can show to customers on Google advertising networks, and what format they can be in, like text or video.” Google offers several “types of campaigns” and the main aspect that differentiates them is where, as an organization, you want your ad to appear; just on search page results, or on the Google Display Network.
    • The first type of AdWords campaign is a “Search Network Only” campaign and when selecting this campaign an organization is choosing to only have their ads appear on various “Google search results.” Search Network only campaigns work by “linking your AdWords keywords to the words or phrases someone uses to search on Google, then showing relevant text ads on search results pages.” I would apply a search network only campaign for an organization that is attempting to increase brand awareness and wants to instantly be associated with a certain search topic. Organizations that are newer to an industry would benefit from search engine only, because an ad for their company would pop up on the search engine results page, instantly signaling to a user that this organization is associated/relevant to whatever their search inquiry was.
    • The second type of campaign is a “Display Network only” campaign and with this campaign an organizations ads will show up “throughout the Google Display Network” such as Google Finance, YouTube, blogger, or any other Google owned “proprietary” websites. I would apply a “Display Network only” campaign for an organization that is trying to increase awareness of a specific product that they offer. For example, say a soccer store is trying to bring increased attention to the soccer cleats that they offer. By utilizing a Display Network campaign, that organization could place ads on sites “related” to soccer such as YouTube videos related to soccer. In my opinion, the Display Network only campaign “type” could be beneficial to organizations that want to bring attention to a certain aspect of their business.
    • The third type of campaign is a “Search Network with Display Select” campaign and this campaign type allows an organization to utilize both search engine result page ads and Google Display Network Ads. I would apply this type of campaign for an organization who is really just looking to maximize their coverage and increase knowledge of their brand in all areas. Organizations can benefit from utilizing a combo type of campaign such as this one because it allows them to “reach people in more places.”Overall I feel the campaign type is a very key AdWords fundamental that organizations should be knowledgeable of because it will help them select the proper ad type for their personal goals. What does the organization hope to achieve with their AdWords campaign, and then match their goals to the proper type of campaign.
  • The next aspect of Google AdWords that I learned from AdWords fundamentals that is important for organizations to be aware of when employing a paid search campaign with Google, is the types of Ads that can be utilized on Google AdWords. Notice the key difference between what I am about to discuss and what we discussed in the previous bullet. The previous bullet discussed the different types of campaigns and when an organization should use each type of campaign. Here I am discussing the various types of ads that you can make with AdWords. Google offers several types of ads that an organization could use including (but not limited too):
    • Text Ad: contains “words only”
    • Image Ad: contains “static or interactive graphics”
    • Video Ad: contains a video clip
    • Product Listing Ads: contain “product features and pricing information” below an image of the product
    • Call Extensions: “click a button” to call the organization
    • Location Extensions: shows the address of the organization
      • I would apply this knowledge of the various ad type in the same way that I would apply the campaign type. The first step, from an organizational standpoint, is to identify the goals of the organization and why they are employing a paid search strategy. One that has been nailed down, I can turn to the various ad types and decide which one would be most fitting for their goals. For example, I would utilize an image ad for an organization that wanted to “showcase their product or service in a visual way.” Sometimes products/services are better conveyed through an image than they are with words, and if that is the case than an organization should use an image ad. Another example would be the product listing ad. From AdWords fundamentals we learned that product listing Ads contain product and pricing information. Keeping that in mind, I would employ a product listing ad for an organization that wanted certain features or the price of their product to be known right away; perhaps because it is a key part of their competitive advantage. From these two examples, it is clear that an organization can benefit from aligning their SEM marketing goals with the type of ad they choose to utilize. An organization who is wanting to target locals might benefit from utilizing a location extension ad, however it would not be beneficial for them to employ an ad type that did not speak to their location in any way. Google says it best when they discuss making use of ads that “highlight what makes you unique.”
  • Another key learning point from AdWords fundamentals is a tool that will help organizations identify which keywords they should be linking to their campaigns; the keyword planner. The keyword planner is a tool offered in Google AdWords that generates keyword ideas, analyzes costs and impressions of keywords, identifies “search volume” of keywords, “traffic estimates” of keywords, etc.
    • I would apply the keyword planner for a client in different ways, depending on where they are in their paid search strategy. For example, if an organization has a very established SEM strategy and has employed several paid search campaigns, I would have them use the keyword planner as a tracker for keyword metrics. The organizations could examine the “search volume” of certain keywords or use the analysis it offers to see the click through rate/impressions of a keyword. This would benefit an organization with an already established plan because it could help identify keywords in the campaign that are lacking and not driving search traffic. On the other hand, if an organization is just beginning to employ a paid search campaign, I would have them use “historical statistics,” “traffic estimates,” or the keyword idea generator that the keyword planner offers. AdWords fundamentals says, “Keyword Planner will show you statistics…to help you decide which keywords to use for your campaign. You can also get traffic estimates, like estimated clicks.” It is clear from this brief summary by Google that the keyword planner can help organizations that are just starting out by giving them keyword ideas and then supporting keywords with data. The data shows how strong a keyword is likely to perform and has performed in the past.
    • Overall the Keyword planner is a tool offered by Google AdWords that will greatly benefit organizations because SEM campaigns revolve around selecting/bidding on the right keywords. If an organization has not connected their ads to the proper keywords being searched by their target market, the campaign will not be a useful SEM tactic.
    • Though none of them are discussed in detail in this post, Google AdWords also offers several tools that can help track the success of the ads and how often they are leading to conversions. In addition organizations can run campaign experiments, utilize Google Analytics, and measure other aspects of the campaign such as impressions and click through rates. Organizations can benefit from running campaign metrics and conversion rate metrics because they will reveal the effectiveness of the campaign. If click through rates are low or conversions are lacking, organizations will want to take a deep dive into the campaign and examine if it’s the ad itself that is proving ineffective, or perhaps the landing page that the ad links to is ineffective. It is also important to highlight that this blog post just scratches the surface on Google AdWords and what it has to offer. Any organization looking to employ a paid search strategy should be exploring in depth the AdWords material and taking into account those fundamentals when pursuing SEM.

All the quotes and statistics presented in this post came from the following sources:
Google AdWords Fundamentals

SEM and Paid Search

SEM and Paid Search: What is it?
As defined by HubSpot, Search Engine Marketing is, “a term used to describe the various means of marketing a website via search engines, and entails both organic search engine optimization and paid search strategies.” In other words, SEM is a marketing strategy that seeks to enhance the visibility of websites, and drive traffic to an organizations website, via the combination of SEO and paid search. An important aspect of this definition is that SEM is the combination of both SEO and paid search, meaning that in order to have an effective search engine marketing strategy and drive traffic/conversions, organizations need to utilize both SEO and paid search tactics. Most of us are familiar with SEO, however if you aren’t you can check out my blog post on SEO and what the best practices are for increasing your “organic search” results.

Paid Search on the other hand is a new topic, and is opposite in nature of organic search being that it allows an organizations website/ad to show up on the search engines result page by paying a fee. HubSpot describes paid search as a marketing tool that, “allows you to pay a fee to have your website displayed on the search engine results page when someone types in specific keywords or phrases to the search engine.” The best way to think about the distinction between organic search and paid search is visually:

When looking at a Google page, the bulk of the results that show up on the search engine results page are organic search results, meaning the results that show up on that page are unpaid and the ranking is due in great part to SEO tactics. However, the paid search ads are displayed at the very top of the search engine results page and on the sides of the search engines results page. Thinking back to a Google page, normally the first few results have the word ad next to them and are separated by a line from the other results; these are the paid search ads that companies pay a fee to have come up when certain keywords or search terms match their ad.

Before moving on into how paid search works, there is a crucial aspect of SEM that organizations need to fully grasp. Again, search engine marketing combines both SEO and paid search, thus it is very important that organizations employ both of these strategies if they want to utilize SEM effectively. HubSpot offers a statistic that says, “most searchers click on the organic search results- in fact, over 70% of people click on the organic search results, while only 30% are likely to click on the paid links.” Here it is clear that there is a case for continuing to employ SEO tactics to increase organic search results, but that is not to say that organizations shouldn’t also utilize paid; they should. Organizations will benefit from using both SEM tactics because it will maximize their coverage on the search engine results page, ideally driving more traffic to their website.

SEM and Paid Search: How does it work?
The overarching concept of how paid search works is fairly simple and primarily revolves around the keywords that an organization selects that prompt their ad to be shown in the paid search results. HubSpot explains it clearly when they say, “You start out by giving Google a list of keywords, which tells Google to display your ads on the results page when people search for those keywords. You then design your ads to be shown for these keywords, and your goal is to make them both relevant enough to search query and attractive enough to get the searcher to click on them.” Essentially what HubSpot is saying is that when an organization creates their ad, they select keywords that consumers search for and these keywords prompt Google to display the organizations add when a searcher types them in in their search query. That being said, the next question you might have is “Don’t a lot of organizations designate the same keywords for their ads? And if that is the case, how does Google decide which ads to display on the search engine results page?” The answer: Pay –Per-Click Bidding or PPC

Pay Per Click
Pay-Per- Click is something extremely beneficial for organizations in paid search, because it requires that organizations pay for the ad only when a user actually clicks on the ad; this is opposed to paying per impression, where the ad may be displayed but no one clicks on it. But how does pay-per-click come into play in the selection of what organizations ads will be displayed when certain keywords are searched? The answer is via pay-per-click bidding. In a nutshell, each organization puts down a bid on “how much they value a click on their ad for that keyword” and the highest bids are what determines the placement of the ads on the search engine results page. For example, if someone values a click on their ad at $6 and that is the highest per click bid, that organization will likely receive one of the top spots above the organic search results, not a spot on the side. The spots on the side will go to the organizations that bid lower amounts per click. However, the bid amount is often not the amount an organization will actually have to pay-per-click; what an organization will end up paying per click is determined by the lowest bid. HubSpot states, “the lowest of these bids is used as the price for the least valuable (least visible) spot on the result page, and then each spot going in value (more visible placement) is priced at an incremental dollar value higher.” In addition to an organizations bid amount, HubSpot also discusses a term called quality score that Google AdWords utilizes and this score is considered in “determining whether or not your ad is served for a given keyword.” Put simply, quality score asses the landing pages that an ad leads to and overall relevancy to the keywords. Google AdWords combines bid amount, landing page relevance, ad formats, etc. to form their Ad Rank and choose the location of ads, it is not solely based on bid amount.

It is important for organizations to understand pay-per-click and PPC bidding, because it plays a large role in deciding if an organizations ad will be selected for certain search queries. Organizations can benefit from the PPC bidding strategy by placing higher bids on words that are more relevant to their ads; the higher the bid, the better the chance you ad will show up when certain words are searched. Organizations should take the time to look at search reports and understand the keywords/search terms that consumers use when performing a search query relevant to them. There are three types of keyword strategies that organizations can employ (exact, phrase, and broad match) and you can read more about when to use each of those in HubSpots ebook.

SEM and Paid Search: Why should organizations use it and how can they benefit?
A wise man once said, the main goal of digital marketing is to drive traffic to one’s website. Paid search joins in on this journey by helping marketers and organizations with several aspects of SEM:

  • The first reason that organizations should be employing paid search as part of their SEM strategy is because it can help organizations identify “new keywords” thus increasing traffic to their website. Google AdWords offers what they call a “Search Terms” report that “displays all of the keywords for which your ad has been displayed.” By analyzing the report and search terms that people are using in their search queries, organizations can identify new keywords that might be “worth adding” to the campaign. Organizations will benefit from adding new keywords because their ads will show up in more relevant searches, ideally increasing their click through rate and traffic to their site. In addition, relevant keywords will also lead to more relevant traffic to the site and bring in people that may actually take action on the landing page, thus leading to increased conversions for organizations.
  • The second reason that organizations should be utilizing paid search as part of their SEM strategy is it can increase overall brand awareness and, again, maximize search engine coverage. By bidding on an extensive amount of keywords, organizations can increase their number of impressions amongst users. Utilizing a lot of keywords will ensure that an organizations ad is popping up on a lot of different search queries, thus increasing exposure of the brand for the organization. However, if impressions and brand awareness is the overarching goal, the leads generated might not be as relevant as they would be if a more narrow keyword strategy was being employed. In addition, paid search will help increase overall brand awareness because it can compensate for lower organic search rankings. If an organization does not have a strong SEO strategy, they can still make themselves noticeable to searchers by placing paid ads on certain keyword searches.
  • A final reason, but certainly not the last reason, that organizations should employ paid search as part of their SEM strategy is because it can help test out various landing pages. The idea behind this tactic is fairly straight forward; an organization can link two different landing pages to the same ad, and then analyze the conversion rates of each. Put simply, we are just using a paid search ad as another form of A/B testing, which is crucial aspect of all digital marketing campaigns. Organizations can benefit from this aspect of paid search because it will help to optimize the landing pages that these paid ads are linking too; the ad will not do any good if it is clicked on and the user has no interest in exploring the page/offer. Making sure the landing page is successful is just as important as making sure your company is visible on search engines because if the landing page does not convert, the SEM strategy goes to waste.

A Note on Google AdWords:
Many of the concepts that have been discussed in this blog have come from both HubSpot and Google AdWords, however I wanted to take a second to clarify what Google AdWords is. Google AdWords is “Google’s online advertising program” and it is the program that backs any ads that one might see when doing a google search. In addition to placing ads on their search engine result pages, Google also places ads on their “owned properties” such as YouTube. AdWords ads, as discussed in the post, are very different from organic search results in that they “appear” on the top and sides of pages. They are matched and ordered as discussed above. Next week we will take a deep dive into the ins and outs of AdWords.

All Quotes and statistics came from the following sources:
fundamentals_binder (1): Fundamentals of Google AdWords
the-beginners-guide-to-paid-search: HubSpot ebook
Google Image

SEO and Link Building: The Right “Ingredients”

SEO SEO SEO
Where to begin with a topic such as this one? SEO is such a crucial aspect of digital marketing that has so many components, it is difficult to decide where the focus should be. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and is defined as, “the process of getting traffic from ‘free,’ ‘organic,’ ‘editorial,’ or ‘natural’ search results on search engines.” Essentially, as marketers of a firm, you want your site to land higher on the search results page so that you can get more site views from visitors. However in order to do that, marketers/developers have to make sure an organizations website has the “proper ingredients” that search engine “algorithms” look for, or as Moz likes to call them “rank factors.” Moz describes the process of SEO as this: “When a person performs an online search, the search engine scours its corpus of billons of documents and does two things: first, it returns only those results that are relevant or useful to the searchers query; second, it ranks those results according to the popularity of the websites serving the information. It is both relevance and popularity that the process of SEO is meant to influence.”

For those that are unfamiliar with SEO, Moz offers a great beginners guide that explains the ins and outs of SEO. However, for this post I want to focus on 2 prominent principles of Search Engine Optimization: Why it’s important and some basic best practices that need to be followed in order to employ the technique successfully.

Why is SEO Important?
It goes without saying that when an organization creates a webpage, JPG, PNG, PDF, etc. they want it to be highly visible amongst their target market (or the population in general that might be searching something related to their organization). However, if organizations do not acknowledge SEO and the “ingredients” that go into the algorithm, they will not be able to achieve this high visibility amongst their various pages. Moz puts it best when they say, “An important aspect of SEO is making your website easy for both users and search engine robots to understand. Although search engines have become increasingly sophisticated, they still can’t see and understand a web page the same way a human can. SEO helps the engines figure out what each page is about, and how it may be useful to others.” This statement by Moz brings up a good point that captures a key importance for organizations to keep in mind when creating a webpage; search engines being able to understand the webpage. Most marketers and web developers keep users in the for-front of their mind when designing web pages. While this is a good practice, it is also important to keep “ranking factors” in mind and create the page in such a way that will allow these “search engine robots” to understand the page and what it offers to visitors. This is not to say that webpages should be designed primarily with the tactics of SEO, however the concepts should be kept in mind by organizations in order to ensure higher visibility. If organizations choose to forgo factors that search engine algorithms looks for such as titles, keywords, and links, the sites will not be perceived as relevant and thus will not rank as highly on the results page.

 The “Ingredients”

  • “Indexable Content”: The very first recommendation that Moz makes in “designing and developing a search engine friendly site” is to ensure that “the most important content is in HTML text format,” the reason for this being that other forms such as flash files and images are “often ignored or devalued by search engine crawlers.” This is an important practice for organizations and their developers/designers to keep in mind because it explains the basic formatting that content should be presented in, in order to ensure that the “crawlers” acknowledge the content. Frankly, it does not matter how relevant the content the organization produces is, if the crawlers ignore the content completely. While it is okay to utilize those other text formats, organizations will want to ensure that their most important content is in HTML text format.
  • Keywords: Including keywords that define the industry you operate in and what your organization does is a crucial aspect of search engine optimization. Moz states, “The entire science of information retrieval is based on keywords. As the engines crawl and index the contents of pages around the web, they keep track of those pages in keyword-based indexes rather than storing 25 billion web pages all in one database.” Moz then goes on to state, “obviously, if you want your page to have a chance of ranking in the search results for ‘dog,’ it is wise to make sure the word ‘dog’ is part of the crawlable content of your document.” Essentially, Moz is breaking down the idea of “crawling” and that pages are organized based on keywords; thus if your page is lacking a critical keyword it will not even be included in the indexed web pages that the “robots” draw from when putting together search results for a query. This is an absolutely fundamental aspect of SEO for organizations to be aware of because web pages will not even pop up in search results if they don’t contain the relevant keywords of the users search query. Taking the example that Moz gave, if you want your page to show up when dogs are being searched, your page better include the keyword dog somewhere inside of it. Taking this information into account, organizations can benefit by ensuring they have a comprehensive understanding of what their consumers are searching when they search for items related to their industry. They will then want to ensure those keywords are included in their webpages.
  • Avoid Duplicate Pages: Moz describes duplicate content as one of the most “vexing and troublesome problems any website can face” and search engines respond to duplicate versions of content by “assigning them lower rankings.” Basically, when there is multiple versions available of the same content, for whatever reason, the search engine does not know which version should be presented in search results and will only show one version of the content to searchers based on which version is “most likely to be the original.” The problem then becomes, maybe the page they select is not the one that organizations want to show up in search results. As Moz puts it “Which diamond is the right one?” In order to avoid this confusion and ensure the correct pages are showing up in search results, Moz suggests that every page have a unique URL, or the pages be combined. “When multiple pages with the potential to rank well are combined into a single page, they not only stop competing with each other, but also create a stronger relevancy and popularity signal overall.” Organizations can benefit from this information by keeping it in mind when creating multiple versions of the same page; assign different URL’s or combine the pages so that you are in charge of what the “right page” is and not the search engine.

Link Building
We cannot discuss SEO without discussing a very important “ingredient” that contributes greatly to the rank a web page receives: the amount and quality of links that point towards that particular web page/site. Link building is defined by Moz as, “the process of acquiring hyperlinks from other websites to your own.” In other words, the main question the search engine algorithm is asking itself is how many other sites/pages point to your site/page and what are the “quality” levels of those sites that are hyperlinking to your page. Keeping that in mind, link building is then the process through which you can get more sites/pages to hyperlink to your page, thus increasing the rankings of your page. As a general rule, Moz says that “the more high-quality websites that link to you, the more likely you are to rank well in search results.” That being said, a very important thing for organizations, and SEO’s that concentrate on link building, to keep in mind is the quality aspect. Yes the crawlers are looking for how many sites are pointing to a page, but they are also assessing the credibility of the source that is pointing to the page. If a collection of faulty sources are linking to an organizations page, chances are that page will not be seen as credible.

The next question you might be asking yourself is why is link building a prominent job of SEO’s and why does the amount and quality of hyperlinks to your page effect its ranking? Moz offers a very simple comparison when they say that a link is a “vote of confidence” for a page and when someone “links to another website, they are effectively saying it is a good resource.” For those that are still confused, this is how I think about it: The search engine robots are frequently trying to assess the quality and relevance of a webpage. In the minds of the algorithm, if another page is linking to your page they are giving your page credibility and proving that it is a good source. Taking that point into consideration, it is clear why building these hyperlinks to your site is a crucial “ingredient” to SEO; because it is vital to have those votes of credibility/acknowledgment from other pages. Moz says that building “high quality links” takes up a good portion of SEO’s time and that it can really create separation from competitors if it is done successfully.

Now the question becomes, how do you build/get these hyperlinks to your page? The Moz ebook on link building offers several principles/tactics for doing this, but also notes that an organizations strategy depends greatly on the industry that they are in. This is a crucial component of link building for organizations to keep in mind; just because a tactic is successful for one organization does not necessarily mean it will work for another. The following are a few strategies, of many, that an organization could employ to build links:

  • Guest Blogging: This tactic essentially involves asking bloggers/blogs to post an organizations content on their blog. While this strategy will benefit organizations by creating “high quality links,” Moz cautions about using this tactic too heavily.
  • “Ego Bait”: this strategy for building links presented by Moz, is an idea that I found quite entertaining simply because it works by appealing to the ego of others. The strategy essentially involves “playing on the ego of people” by “featuring” people in your content and they will then feel prompted to share said content. While this seems like an interesting and odd tactic, it is a link building strategy that organizations can benefit from because it could potentially generate these “high quality” hyperlinks that organizations are searching for, by simply appealing to the ego of important persons.

Overall, organizations will benefit from employing link building tactics because it will create “votes” of credibility and acknowledgment from other pages; these votes will then boost an organizations ranking on search results because the search engine robots will view the page as a good “resource” that would be relevant to searchers.

About Moz
While Moz used to be a company that focused specifically on the various aspects SEO, they have now moved away from that narrow industry and serve a broader purpose via their support of inbound marketing in general. MOZ offers two software products that support branding, social, analytics, link building, content marketing efforts etc. When Moz was founded, they were known as SEOMoz because they primarily focused on Search Engine Optimization and consulting in that area. However, Moz is no longer a consulting company; that being said, they still offer consulting recommendations.

All quotes and statistics came from the following sources:
SEO ebook
Link Building ebook
Moz
SEO definition
SEO video
.