Content Marketing Training and a dog called Fenton

One of the biggest problems I come across in helping people build links to their websites is how to build magnetic content which attracts links. It seems that selling plumbers supplies online does not naturally lead to expertise on online publishing.

Who would have thought?

The reality is, creating effective web content is a highly specialised skill and in some ways is counter intuitive to running a business online. So, someone who may be expert in sourcing plumbing supplies and negotiating favourable terms may not be able to produce digital information which excites the cockles of the linkerati.

Website marketing is a nuclear arms race. If one website in the niche gets a 30 megaton bomb, then everyone has to, just to keep up. If someone goes out and gets a 35 megaton bomb everyone again has to run out and get the latest nuke. And thus it is with getting websites to rank.

Your plumbing supplies website can compete in the rankings without having over 300 back links, just as long as no one else does. Once you get your links from the usual places, the industry body, local chamber of commerce and a link from your web designers (web designers have a cheeky habit of sneaking in an advertising link on the website you just paid for) etc. it becomes a bit more of an effort to go and get the links.

And so a natural backlink ceiling is imposed on your niche. But along comes Frank the plumber and he uploads a picture of a dead squirrel that he pulled out of the waste pipe of a Bosch Dishwasher. The picture goes viral, his local plumbing supplies website starts to rise in the search engine results page and the cash starts flowing in.

Frank the plumber has not offered cheaper prices, or become a better plumber, arrives at his jobs in a quicker fashion or has improved his business in any way. Except, his revenues have increased because a dead squirrel has caused his website to collect more links, thus rising in the rankings and becoming more visible in the search engines.

Frank starts thinking. If the linkerati like pictures of dead squirrels found in the waste pipe of a Bosch Dishwasher, I wonder if they will like a picture of a dead mouse stuck in a hose retaining ring? Frank goes on to find that people online find pleasure in emailing pictures of dead animals found in plumbing, thus creating an online gallery of user generated content and also creating a community of rabid fans who can be nudged to do things with help the marketing of the website.

Now, I’ve outlined a scenario which has happened many, many times. People fall into becoming skilled at using content to market their websites. These people have no obvious training in online publishing or any kind of publishing and yet they just seem to get it, whilst others find coming up with ideas for effective content incredibly hard.

My theory as to why this is so hard for the average business person to grasp is that they simply don’t have the time to understand the basic concepts of what works and why it works. It’s important to know why a piece of content works.

You laugh and share Fenton, but do you know why?

Content like this is sometimes called Linkbait, which is misleading, but that’s for another blog post. This skill of creating magnetic web content and using it to juice up the linkerati can be taught and is something I am going to be teaching with the launch of Linkbait Coaching 3.0. Which takes a focussed look at analysing what works, why and how to replicate it. It’s not ready for launch yet, but soon.

You could of course hire someone specifically for this task, or you could train someone in-house. Training in the art of content marketing will pay you back in sack fulls over time. Investing in creating better content is something that can be used over a variety of mediums and is not just for improving your Google rank.

Should going Whitehat be an ethical decision or a Business decision

To Go White Hat or Black Hat SEO is not an ethical decision it’s a business decision

The aim of the white hat seo is to unnaturally manipulate the Google results page in their favour. The aim of the black hat seo is exactly the same.

Where it differs is the white hat keeps within the Google guidelines and the black hat does not.

Therefore it is inaccurate to call the black hat unethical as it is absurd to allow an American Corporation whose legal obligation is to its share holders to define what is ethical and what is not ethical behaviour.

It is not an ethical decision to employ black hat techniques, or white hat. It is a business decision.

Sometimes I use what is erroneously called black hat techniques, sometimes I use white hat. I use what works.

What works is defined by how Google works.

I would have no problem being 100% whitehat if blackhat made little business sense.

When I realised that many seo agencies who publicly said they were whitehat but were ranking by employing blackhat techniques I realised it wasn’t about slavishly following what Matt Cutts told us to do, in fact in some niches if you follow the Google guidelines you will lose.

When well known newspapers sell links for thousands of pounds with impunity you have to ask, what exactly is going on here?

I don’t do paid links as I have other skills which I can use. But I have to compete against sites which do buy links. I have no problem with that per se, but why doesn’t Google level the playing field.

Unload the dice and make the buying of links in line with the Terms of Service. Because right now it’s the big boys which can get away with buying links whilst the small guy is terrified of getting caught.

Now that is what I call unethical.

AT&T get not talked about in Huffington Post blog that zzzzzzzzz

I used to like the Huffington Post a lot, run by…. you know the story. Look, I even gave Arianna – or is it AOL – a link. But come on on guys, simple pumping out the Reuters news feed is a bif naff.

Here is the headline.

AT&T Sues Users Who Want To Block T-Mobile Buy

Hypnotists are thinking of using the headline to put users into a deeper trance, it made me take a one way trip to snoozeville.

And here is the story.

AT&T Inc is turning to the federal courts to thwart an effort led by law firm Bursor & Fisher to derail AT&T’s $39 billion takeover bid for Deutsche Telekom AG’s T-Mobile.

Real page turner right. But come on, any good SEO worth his weight in PR knows what’s going on here. Get a blog Google loves and then start pumping out the soporific dross which will cause a mind numbing freeze to take place. Only released by repeated visits to the Onion.

From a business POV it makes sense, because this is how Google does the Internet. Should you do it, of course, it’s a proven model. Should I do it, I think I may have to if I want that Aston Martin.

SEO Linkbuilding Video of the Day

Very interesting debate with Wil Reynolds and Brett Snyder from Seer Interactive, an (if you want the points you have to give the right anchor text as well as the link ;)

I have this conversation with clients all the time. Both sides have merits and I think it comes down to the business model of the client and the amount of knowledge they have. The best client will just give you the cash and say, “you do that voodoo that you do so well,” but very few actually say and even less sing it in key.

There is something I call, Positive Domain Name Context. If you have a blog and call it Death Star Pizza and stick a blog post about space ships, it makes it more likely that you will get links. You tap into a niche where you clients and the clients competitors will not normally be able to get links. The site then only links to the sites the client wants to link to.

Also, there are a few other things that you can do with a Microsite like this which gets good quality links. But, I’m going to leave that for another time.

Linkbait has definitely evolved and there are quite a few creative ways we can use content that gets links. A client I was chatting too last week was amazed how his site for Ironing Board covers jumped in the SERPS from a link from a an authority site on cat snacks. (Niches have been changed to protect the innocent) You hear a lot about you gotta get links from sites from in your niche to rank for your keyword. No you don’t.

Time and time again I see sites ranked with links from all sorts of niches, as long as those sites are linked to and are seasoned over time it doesn’t matter.

Now, back to creating content about space ships.