Getting better blog links

Blogs provide the perfect channel for generating quality links that will help you with your SEO performance.  There’s no easy, hard and fast rules for increasing your chances of gaining quality, organic links, however here are a few tips that may increase your success and help harness blogs as an important contributor for your 2017 link building strategy.

Strike a chord – ensure your blogs provide value and meet your audience’s desire for authoritative information.  It’s far better to publish one or two well researched, information packed blogs than churn to loads for the sake of it.  People will only link to blogs that they feel are of interest to them and their peers.  If you’re piece doesn’t add value, provide a good read or even make someone laugh then your links will be low.

Add links to build links – if you are hoping to get others to link to your blog then don’t forget to include links to other sites in your own blog.  I’m definitely not talking spamming here – which you should avoid at all costs if you want your link building strategy to serve its purpose – but if you can link to useful information featured on another site or provide direct links to products you’ve discussed then this will increase the chances of you receiving back links from other sites, especially if you keep those you’re linking to informed.

Get active elsewhere – keep an eye on other blogs and industry related forums and jump on any opportunities where your content could help others and link to it.  ShoutMeLoud has a great article piece on ‘dofollow’ forums and blogs where this technique can be applied, as well as listing the forums that have Google page rank: http://www.shoutmeloud.com/the-list-of-dofollow-forums-for-bloggers-to-increase-backlinks.html

Get creative – No one wants to hear the same information over and over.  Brainstorm some topics that haven’t been covered and tap into those all important keywords that your competitors aren’t using. Alternatively you could take a popular topic and do something new with it, for example using graphics or video to make you stand out from the crowd. The internet is overloaded with the same old information so if you want others to link to you then you need to be different.

Get your blog blogged – a great way of gaining links is by developing relationships with other like-minded bloggers and get involved in ‘reciprocal linking’.  Any easy way to find potential bloggers is to check who’s already following your social media accounts and start with them.  There are a few things to consider when selecting bloggers to work with as links from low quality websites will have a negative impact on your SEO ranking:

Does it make sense to link?  It might sound obvious but make sure there is a logical connection between the two sites and that you have something in common.  The more relevant backlinks you have the easier it is for search engines to build a strong profile for your SEO ranking

Does the blog have an established following with good reach and visibility?  There’s little point linking to a blog with a limited audience

Does the other blog reflect your own brand values? Remember, you’re trying to build trust and an ongoing relationship with your audience.

Beware of blogs that contain a ridiculous amount of links already or one that is covered in advertising.

When you have determined which bloggers you want to work with consider creating bespoke blogs with a particular blogger and their followers in mind.  This will increase your chances of receiving a reciprocal link and also ensure you create a quality link. It’s a win win situation for both of you blogs as you can provide them with a quality link and receive one in return.

Finally, make sure you actually link to your own blogs across your other websites and social media accounts.  Let your contacts know about your blog and actively promote new content as and when it comes out. People can’t link to your blog if they don’t know its there.

Happy blogging

 

 

 

 

How to Write Shareable Content

There has been a very noticeable shift in the approach to content production in recent years. Whilst in the past the emphasis has been on quality, now the measure of success is the likelihood of a post going viral. The more people that share your content on their own social media channels, the more likely that the article or blog is read by other people and the greater degree of exposure it gains. Writing shareable content requires a whole different set of rules- many of which we will take a look at now.

Lists

Creating content which is simplistic and easy to read is always going to attract more visitors. It is for this reason why many websites are now producing lists instead of straightforward articles. In fact, Buzzfeed have built an entire empire on this approach.

Even if you don’t go down the list route, try to create content with small chunks of information, rather than blocks of text. These types of blogs are much more palatable and readers are more likely to share them on their own social media.

Title

We know that titles are incredibly important and when posting online they can often make or break your content. In order for your work to be shared, it has to be read and an evocative title is paramount.

When considering titles, think about whether there is a different or more exciting way of describing your content. It’s worth noting that numbers in titles and titles which come in the form of a question are particularly successful. Also, it goes without saying that dramatic titles will of course attract more clicks.

Pictures

As we have already established, people are more likely to engage with content when it’s immediately effective. One of the ways in which you can make an instant impact is through visuals. Just in the same way that a title can attract readers, a compelling image can do the exact same thing.

The visual appearance of content is becoming just as important as the work itself. This has probably got a lot to do with the changing face of social media. Sites such as Instagram and Pinterest rely heavily on images and this is affecting how posts are constructed.

Platform

You should always take into account the platform on which you post your blogs. For example as we have established, when posting on Instagram and Pinterest, the visual is everything. Positing on Facebook should take into account multiple factors such as images, titles and the way in which people interact with the site. When sharing content on Twitter, the emphasis is on hashtags as these are what drive traffic to your tweets.

You have to remember, when people share your work it will most likely be on one of these networks. Therefore, content which has been created with social media in mind has a greater chance of success.

Emotion

Whether you like it or not, emotional content attracts more attention than informational. You only have to look at the typical types of posts which go viral in order to understand what they have in common. The reason behind this idea is that emotional pieces have a greater impact upon us and we are much more likely to share them with other people.

Just take a look at Facebook, we don’t react to posts with an “I agree” button, we react with emoticons.

Controversy

Following on from the idea of emotion is creating content which is outright controversial. We know this is a successful technique because we see it all the time. Sites will share posts with a shocking title or picture in order to entice people into clicking. Whether the content lives up to the title is beyond the point, they have already gained a new visitor. We call this clickbait.

Creators should be cautious with this tactic. Being associated with clickbait can be damaging to your reputation and may actually deter visitors from interacting with your content. Even if you don’t post clickbait, engaging with controversial topics can still be somewhat risky. You are much more likely to offend a large proportion of readers. This is something which should factor in to your overall approach.

Content – an easy route to success?

Content is a business’ best friend – that’s what we’re told and to some extent this is true. However, publishing copious amounts of content is not a sure-fire way of improving your search engine rank. This misconception is one that many business owners and marketeers have, resulting in missed targets and the belief that content doesn’t work for them.

Let’s set the record straight – content does work, but making it work takes a lot of skill and effort.  Here are some tips on how to take your content to the next level.

Get a strategy 

Before you start writing any content you need to have a clear idea of who you’re writing for. Depending on your business this audience may well be different for each piece of content you produce.  The more specific you can be in who your audience is the more successful your content is likely to be. Now you know who your audience is you need to start creating content topics that will address their specific information requirements. Conduct some basic research to find out what questions your target audience have and what their needs are and then tailor your topics accordingly.

Don’t just create content

You’ve identified what your audience wants to know so now you need to create content that compels them to do something positive – that ‘something’ could be to purchase, to continue to other pages of your site and investigate your offering further, to react to your content, to share your content each of these is a metric that can be measured and used to determine your content’s success.  The more your audience interacts with your site once they’re there, the higher regard the search engines will have for it.

In order for that positive action to take place your content needs to be relevant to your audience and engaging.

Optimise for success

Without properly optimising your content you may as well not bother producing content at all.  SEO and content go together like gin and tonic – don’t judge, it’s been a long day. The problem is many people writing content aren’t copywriters and either don’t think about optimising their content for search engines, or try and cram in so many keywords that it loses its meaning and purpose. Both of these approaches will have a negative effect. Keywords should be considered before writing commences and remain front of mind so they can be inserted strategically and coherently.

Also, it’s all too easy to regurgitate old content to save time, but in order to really make your content favourable with the search engines you should be looking at creating original content. Repurposing content should be saved for new channels.
The next two pointers are where the magic can really happen.  A bit more time and dedication is needed but focusing on internal and external link building can take you from the realms of ‘nice results’ to ‘fantastic results’…

Internal link building

By using internal linking within your website, you can strengthen it in the eyes of the search engines. So, every time you create content and publish it on your website, link it to and from other relevant areas of the site.  Put some real thought into your links and make them as user friendly as possibly, avoiding the common ‘homepage’ and ‘contact us’ links.  Maybe it’s a link to another article that addresses a related topic, maybe it’s a link to a product mentioned in the copy; the key is to link to lesser viewed content deep in your site. You want to keep visitors engaged with your site for as long as possible, visiting as many unique pages as possible and internal linking can help you achieve this.

External link building

Your content will show higher up the SEO rankings if it is linked to from high quality external websites.  Therefore, it is highly advantageous if you can spend time distributing your content for other sites to pick up on.  Collate a list of contacts such as journalists and highly-regarded bloggers in the aim they will cover your news or product launches and link back to your site.  Distribute your content via social media sites and people will pick up on it too.  But, link building is only as good as your content.  If your content sucks then no one will link to it.

 

 

How important is Good Customer Service?

Restaurant bell vintage with bokeh

Customer service is an issue which affects each and every company. Yes, there are many important factors, whether it’s cost, profit, manufacture or promotion. However, customer service can have particularly influential effect on the overall reputation of a business and therefore its relationship with consumers. In fact, a survey conducted by American Express found that a staggering 78% of customers left a transaction due to bad service. Let’s take a look at how companies can combat this problem.

Respect

Respecting your customer should go without saying but unfortunately many companies still have a problem with the way in which their employees deal with clients. How many times have you read a negative review or heard first hand from a friend about how poorly they were treated by a service agent. This shouldn’t be happening but it’s a problem that is fairly easy to remedy. Training is key, of course, however companies should look into other issues. For example a hostile work place will lead to unhappy customer service agents. If you treat your staff well, this will be reflected in the way they treat customers. You could even provide incentives for agents who go above and beyond when helping clients.

Transparency

Some companies have taken the bold move of offering complete transparency of their customer service. They do this by showcasing their most recent reviews and ratings from consumers. This may seem like a risky move, as you leaving yourself open to negative critiques. However in our current climate of commercial mistrust, honesty is respected above all else. Even if you do receive a bad review, you can attach a reply which illustrates your attempt to resolve the issue. This signals that you are committed to solving any and every problem a customer may have.

Be Personal

The way in which companies and consumers interact has changed drastically in recent years. Thanks to social media, businesses have the opportunity to talk with their customers directly- creating a much more personal relationship. More and more people are choosing Twitter, over email and phone calls when they need to get in touch with an organisation.

Try to utilise different forms of social media, whether it be Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram. As well as using these feeds to stay in touch with your base, you can also promote blogs, videos or just post thoughts and feelings- which helps to humanise the company. Some businesses go as far as sending personalised notes, discounts or gifts to loyal customers. These are all things that clients remember when considering who to do business with.

Take Ownership

Complaints are just a way of life, the important thing is how you deal with them. Of course, there will be times when it isn’t your fault but this is just another opportunity to show your customers how much you care. Advise agents to take ownership of problems, this will signal to those complaining that you are hearing them and that you want to help.

There is also a lot to be said for customer service agents having the autonomy and clearance to deal with problems themselves. Many consumers are sick of being passed from pillar to post when they need help with a simple issue.

Survey

If you want to know how successful your own customer service is, just ask your customers. Surveying large amounts of people will allow you to see a broader spectrum and therefore any potential patterns. Many companies now ask for customer feedback, immediately after a conversation between an agent and consumer. This feedback can be invaluable in showcasing where you are doing well as well as where you could improve.

There are many ways in which you can survey your consumers. Of course you can call them directly but this can often come off as “cold calling”. Using other methods such as email, social media and text messages, may be a better way of garnering results.

Test Yourself

The only way to get a full understanding of how well your customer service is, is to test it. There a few different ways in which to do this but one of the most informative is the mystery shopper approach. You can choose to use either one of your own staff, or an independent person and ask them to contact your customer service team with a problem. The way in which they deal with this problem will showcase how they are dealing with every problem and therefore what may need working on.

Conversely, you can also use the mystery shopper approach in another way. You, or a member of your staff could pretend to be a consumer and interact with the customer service team of a competitor. This may give your some good ideas on where you could improve on your own system.

The truth is, customer service can make or break a business. This should inform every aspect of the way in which your organisation deals with clients. If you need a little more convincing, a study by Lee Resources found that 91% of customers who are unhappy with a company will choose to never do business with them again. You can’t argue with those numbers.