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How to safeguard your privacy while building your digital business

April 22, 2022 No Comments

How to safeguard your privacy while building your digital business

30-second summary:

  • The need to become a public persona in order to be a successful business owner is overrated
  • Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to create an anonymous digital entity while using a majority of efficient marketing strategies
  • The problem arises when you already have your personal data published and want to delete it – it is neither easy nor possible (given all the variety of archiving tools that are publicly accessible these days)
  • So how do you keep your life private while owning a successful online business?
  • How do you navigate this conundrum as your private content may still become public at any moment?

The internet is both, a boon and a bane, depending on – how you use it, and how others use it to interact with you. A lot of new businesses and side hustles emerged post the pandemic, while brick and mortar businesses started digitizing themselves. This has raised well-being challenges around how business owners and senior executives can separate work from their personal pockets over the internet. How can they ensure their privacy and online safety are strong while building a digital business footprint?

Here are a few things you should know about safeguarding your online identity from the internet:

1. Making your site anonymous

Digitizing your business while remaining anonymous is difficult but doable. Here are all the steps you need to take to create an anonymous blog. In essence:

  • You need to come up with an online pseudonym (a moniker as we used to call it back in the days when we were using forums and never used our real names around the web)
  • Set up a new email address and create your new public social media profiles representing your business
  • In addition, you will need to pay for domain privacy protection to prevent your phone, email, and address from being tied to your domain. Domain privacy protection replaces personal information with proxy info in the public WHOIS directory.
  • Make sure you are using an SSL certificate (which you can do for free)

I know we have been talking about transparency and authenticity and building your personal brand too much, so creating a successful anonymous site without exposing yourself seems almost like an unpopular choice.

Well, I believe there’s still a place for anonymity in social media, and you can still succeed without the cost of compromising your personal details to the public. You just need to take careful steps when using all kinds of marketing tactics – like blogging and social media marketing – in order to keep your private life – well – private.

Of course, that means, not posting family pictures on Instagram, and not telling personal stories, but there is still a wealth of opportunities, from SEO to PPC ads. With more personal tactics, like blogger outreach, you will likely have to come up with an alternative identity as no one likes anonymous emails or emails coming from a business.

There’s one thing to note here: For both ecommerce and SaaS businesses creating an anonymous business entity is doable. Of course, some of your customers may be curious who is behind your brand but if you have working contact information, it is not a huge issue. It is, of course, more challenging for a freelancing business, as most freelance marketplaces require your real name in order to join.

Some may argue about the possibility of anonymity in the context of E-A-T but in reality, it isn’t common knowledge how exactly Google translates its E-A-T requirements into a ranking algorithm. So far, I’ve seen plenty of websites with no humanized ‘About’ pages ranking, and ranking high. Besides, you can tell the story of your business without telling the personal story of its founder. 

The need to become a public persona in order to be a successful business owner is overrated. It is still a matter of choice. Technical SEO and high-quality backlinks, as well as the quality of content and properly performed keyword research – remain the three pillars of solid organic visibility. A well-done ‘About’ page can exist without personal branding as long as it conveys your business’ proposition, origin story, and conveys values that will resonate with your target consumers/audience.

2. Delete your public content from third-party platforms

Chances are, you have been contributing to several third-party platforms using your real name. It is only natural because there are a few powerful social media players (like Facebook and Quora) that have real-name policies in place preventing users from maintaining anonymity.

If at some point you decide that you don’t want that content to come up in search when anyone is searching for your name, what are your choices?

The hard truth is that removing your own content that you added to a third-party site is a challenge. Some platforms don’t even have tools for mass-deleting content from the platform. In the case of Quora, you will probably need to delete your own account in order to get rid of your content.

In some cases, like Reddit and Tumblr, even deleting your own account won’t help as your content will remain there assigned to a removed entity.

In case you are curious, here’s a break-through of major third-party content-based networks and how you can wipe your content off them in an easier way:

Third-party content- driven platform Any Way to Mass-Delete Content? Will the content be gone once you delete your entire account?
Reddit No No
Quora No Yes
(except for questions which are mostly anonymous)
Instagram Yes
(You can also make your profile private)
Twitter No
(However, you can make them all private/protected)
Yes
Facebook No (But you can make them all private/hidden) Yes
Pinterest No Yes
(but NOT re-pins other people make from your pins)
Tumblr Yes
(Using the mass post editor)
Not all
(Your group blog contributions will be kept)
Yelp No Yes
(But not instantly)
YouTube Yes
(You can mass-delete your comments and mass-hide your videos)
Yes

In summary, deleting your content from the web will take some work, and in some cases, it will not happen instantly. But it is better than saving future hours trying to block and delete spam communications targeted toward you and your business.

You can, of course, change your username on most of these networks to hide your real name but mind that your previous name will be still visible through the Wayback Machine and similar archiving tools, should anyone take the time to research.

3. Make your remaining accounts private

If you think going off the grid is an extreme sport and want to maintain some sort of social media presence to stay in touch with friends and family, simply make your accounts private. But remember that your name and profile picture may still be public and findable through Google, even when a profile is set to private.

Here’s an example of a private account on Instagram which still makes your name, username, description, profile picture, and website public, even for a non-logged-in viewer:

Safeguard your personal identity over the social media while growing a digital business- making your account private still keeps some parts of your profile visible

Generally, when a social media account is set to private, neither logged-in nor unregistered people cannot access your content or your friend list.

The culture of spontaneous sharing is going too strong: People publish and share private information without much consideration or without meaning any harm.

And let’s not forget about an always possible data breach risk that can land your personal information in the possession of hackers. From the past incidents, it is quite clear a social media platform is unlikely to even let their users know about the breach (they may do that but months after it happened, months after your private data may have ended up in the wrong hands).

That being said, deleting your accounts is probably a better – still not a perfect – option.

Conclusion

The truth is, once we start opening up our lives to the digital world, that private content gets wings of its own. It becomes very difficult to bring it under control and can easily spread without you even being aware.

If this is something of a concern to you, take at least some steps now: When starting a new business or digitizing your current one, keep your anonymity options in mind and make an informed decision as to what you want your customers to know about your personal life.


Ann Smarty is the Founder of Viral Content Bee, Brand and Community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas. She can be found on Twitter @seosmarty.

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The post How to safeguard your privacy while building your digital business appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Top 5 B2B Link Building Strategies That Actually Work

April 14, 2022 No Comments

B2B link-building directs traffic to your website and helps it rank high in Google searches. Read more about tried-and-tested B2B link-building strategies here.

Read more at PPCHero.com
PPC Hero


Want a Better PC? Try Building Your Own

April 11, 2022 No Comments

Assembling a computer yourself is a good way to learn how they work.
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Best Creative Practices when building LinkedIn Ads

August 7, 2021 No Comments

Utilizing the correct creative techniques when building LinkedIn Ads, gives you an advantage when it comes to generating high-quality, high-intent leads.

Read more at PPCHero.com
PPC Hero


Nothing founder Carl Pei on Ear (1) and building a hardware startup from scratch

July 7, 2021 No Comments

On July 27, hardware maker Nothing will debut its first product, wireless earbuds dubbed Ear (1). Despite releasing almost no tangible information about the product, the company has managed to generate substantial buzz around the launch — especially for an entry into the already-crowded wireless earbud market.

The hype, however, is real — and somewhat understandable. Nothing founder Carl Pei has a good track record in the industry — he was just 24 when he co-founded OnePlus in 2013. The company has done a canny job capitalizing on heightened expectations, meting out information about the product like pieces in a puzzle.

We spoke to Pei ahead of the upcoming launch to get some insight into Ear (1) and the story behind Nothing.

TC: I know there was a timing delay with the launch. Was that related to COVID-19 and supply chain issues?

CP: Actually, it was due to our design. Maybe you’ve seen the concept image of this transparent design. It turns out there’s a reason why there aren’t many transparent consumer tech products out there. It’s really, really hard to make it high quality. You need to ensure that everything inside looks just as good as the outside. So that’s where the team has been iterating, [but] you probably wouldn’t notice the differences between each iteration.

It could be getting the right magnets — as magnets are usually designed to go inside of a product and not be seen by the consumer — to figuring out the best type of gluing. You never have to solve that problem if you have a non-transparent product, but what kind of glue will keep the industrial design intact? I think the main issue has been getting the design ready. And we’re super, super close. Hopefully, it will be a product that people are really excited about when we launch.

So, there were no major supply chain issues?

Not for this product category. With true wireless earbuds, I think we’re pretty fine. No major issues. I mean, we had the issue that we started from zero — so no team and no partners. But step by step, we finally got here.

That seems to imply that you’re at least thinking ahead toward the other products. Have you already started developing them?

We have a lot of products in the pipeline. Earlier this year, we did a community crowdfunding round where we allocated $ 1.5 million to our community. That got bought up really quickly. But as part of that funding round, we had a deck with some of the products in development. Our products are code-named as Pokémon, so there are a lot of Pokémon on that slide [Ed note: The Ear (1) was “Aipom.”]. We have multiple categories that we’re looking at, but we haven’t really announced what those are.

Why were earbuds the right first step?

I think this market is really screaming for differentiation. If you look at true wireless today, I think after Apple came out with the AirPods, the entire market kind of followed. Everybody wears different clothes. This is something we wear for a large part of the day. Why wouldn’t people want different designs?

We’re working with Teenage Engineering — they’re super, super strong designers. I think true wireless is a place where we can really leverage that strength. Also, from a more rational business perspective, wireless earbuds is a super-fast-growing product category. I think we’re going to reach 300 million units shipped worldwide this year for this category. And your first product category should be one with good business potential.

“Screaming for differentiation” is an interesting way to put it. When you look at AirPods and the rest of the industry, are aesthetics what the market primarily lacks? Is it features or is it purely stylistic?

If we take a take a step back and think about it from a consumer perspective, we feel like, as a whole, consumer tech is quite, quite boring. Kids used to want to become engineers and astronauts and all that. But if you look at what kids want to become today, they want to be TikTokers or YouTubers. Maybe it’s because technology isn’t as inspiring as before. We talked to consumers, and they don’t care as much as a couple of years ago either. If you look at what what brands are doing in their communication, it’s all about features and specs.

Gadgets – TechCrunch


How to cut through the promotional haze and select a digital building platform

July 5, 2021 No Comments

Everyone from investors to casual LinkedIn observers has more reasons than ever to look at buildings and wonder what’s going on inside. The property industry is known for moving slowly when it comes to adopting new technologies, but novel concepts and products are now entering this market at a dizzying pace.

However, this ever-growing array of smart-building products has made it confusing for professionals who seek to implement digital building platform (DBP) technologies in their spaces, let alone across their entire enterprise. The waters get even murkier when it comes to cloud platforms and their impact on ROI with regard to energy usage and day-to-day operations.

Breaking down technology decisions into bite-sized pieces, starting with fundamental functions, is the most straightforward way to cut through the promotional haze.

Facility managers, energy professionals and building operators are increasingly hit with daily requests to review the latest platform for managing and operating their buildings. Here are a few tips to help decision-makers clear through the marketing fluff and put DBP platforms to the test.

The why, how and what

Breaking down technology decisions into bite-sized pieces, starting with fundamental functions, is the most straightforward way to cut through the promotional haze. Ask two simple questions: Who on your team will use this technology and what problem will it solve for them? Answers to these questions will help you maintain your key objectives, making it easier to narrow down the hundreds of options to a handful.

Another way to prioritize problems and solutions when sourcing smart-building technology is to identify your use cases. If you don’t know why you need a technology platform for your smart building, you’ll find it difficult to tell which option is better. Further, once you have chosen one, you’ll be hard put to determine if it has been successful. We find use cases draw the most direct line from why to how and what.

For example, let’s examine the why, how and what questions for a real estate developer planning to construct or modernize a commercial office building:

  • Why will people come? — Our building will be full of amenities and technological touches that will make discerning tenants feel comfortable, safe and part of a warm community of like-minded individuals.
  • How will we do it? — Implement the latest tenant-facing technology offering services and capabilities that are not readily available at home. We will create indoor and outdoor environments that make people feel comfortable and happy.
  • What tools, products and technology will we use?

This last question is often the hardest to answer and is usually left until the last possible moment. For building systems integrators, this is where the real work begins.

Focus on desired outcomes

When various stakeholder groups begin their investigations of the technology, it is crucial to define the outcomes everyone hopes to achieve for each use case. When evaluating specific products, it helps to categorize them at high levels.

Several high-level outcomes, such as digital twin enablement, data normalization and data storage are expected across multiple categories of systems. However, only an enterprise building management system includes the most expected outcomes. Integration platform as a service, bespoke reports and dashboarding, analytics as a service and energy-optimization platforms have various enabled and optional outcomes.

The following table breaks down a list of high-level outcomes and aligns them to a category of smart-building platforms available in the market. Expanded definitions of each item are included at the end of this article.


Enterprise – TechCrunch


Clubhouse: popular kids’ hangout or a true asset for brands’ community building?

April 10, 2021 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Find out how Clubhouse differentiates itself within the sea of social media apps
  • Clubhouse has turned its voice-only design from a potential constraint into its key strength
  • Users are able to multi-task while staying on the platform as background chatter (like in a coffee shop!)
  • Because the app is so new and fresh it took some time, but many brands are now using Clubhouse
  • Wherever there are influencers, advertisers aren’t far behind
  • Just this week Clubhouse announced a new monetization feature, Clubhouse Payments, as “the first of many features that allow creators to get paid directly on Clubhouse”
  • Now might be a good time to consider building an online community to add value and deepen the connection with your audience, here’s how

Clubhouse is the latest entrant into the ring of popular social media apps. The pandemic fast-tracked broader usage and many A-list celebrities have adopted the platform pivoting it into a more mainstream space and conversation. Clubhouse is an audio-only network that has become a disruptor to more mainstream social media channels and has provided a breath of fresh air and a much-needed distraction for those of us suffering from video and zoom fatigue.

It’s a welcome change for many of us as the app is built on a voice-led, live, concept and hosts conversations around very impromptu and diverse topics. The topics vary and the app is still limited however as more people continue to get invited a broader array of lifestyle and societal conversations will continue to blend into the feeds.

Clubhouse exclusivity: pro or con?

The MAJOR problem with the app is that the allure still is around its exclusivity.  You can’t join unless you’re invited (and using an iPhone) and for many who have heard of Clubhouse but haven’t joined or been invited it’s a big problem for major expansion.

The “voice only” advantage

One notable differentiator for Clubhouse is that it’s managed to turn its voice-only design from a potential constraint into its key strength. Users are able to use the app as passive background chatter while doing other work and listening in which is a breath of fresh air for many multi-tasking marketers such as me.

Real-time conversations: the heart of what makes Clubhouse tick

The reason Clubhouse is different and exciting is because it’s synchronous. It’s happening live and never again. If you’re not there, you will miss the conversation forever. Traditional social media channels are asynchronous.  You can access and revisit content and review or engage at any time that works for you and catch up at your own pace.  Rooms can be recorded if permission is granted, but that is seemingly rare as the value is in the authenticity of real-time communication and conversation.

As an excited and relatively new Clubhouse user, I’m trying to figure out the value of the platform for my clients as well as myself.  This got me thinking about how brands can use Clubhouse to build an online community to add value.  Clubhouse is a platform centered firmly on creators, not brands, at least for now. A creator can certainly be a brand leader working to expand thought leadership and build community or interest for a brand but within the Club the conversation is around authenticity and the person and NOT the bigger brand.

How brands can use Clubhouse to add to build an online community that adds value

I asked several of my friends and industry colleagues for their opinions on the platform and I found their answers to be useful and inspiring and noteworthy. Below are several responses relevant to the conversation of how brands can use Clubhouse to add to build an online community to add value.

  • Amberly Hilinski, Director of marketing at SodaStream International said “Clubhouse is weighing the reward of facilitating and respecting relevant content you don’t own.  Long lead earned media for brand owners who have the privilege (or budget) to think in terms of years and not quarters.   As the inevitable stampede of influencer dollars roll in, I worry how the conversations shift and how many truly “tune-in” worthy guests are booked.”
  • Margaret Molloy, CMO of Siegel + Gale said, “Time is the primary challenge for many thought leaders, a major consideration is whether we want to dedicate the effort to build a following on another platform. This is especially true for B2B leaders with an active social graph on LinkedIn and/or Twitter already. Clubhouse is centered firmly on creators, not brands, at least for now. A creator could be a brand employee hosting a community as a thought leader/community builder, however, it’s about the person, not the corporate brand.”
  • Ashley Stevens, Brand, Content & Experiential Marketing Expert said, “Brands can use Clubhouse as an extension of another online community or event. It’s a great place to “continue the conversation” and develop more personal relationships with current and potential clients.
  • Rob Durant, Founder of Flywheel Results said, “Brands cannot use Clubhouse the way they have used other platforms. There’s no automating it, There’s no outsourcing it, There’s no editing it, There’s no photoshopping it. People only get to know you when you show up and are fully present. That being said, Brands, even B2B Brands, CAN use Clubhouse. They just need to facilitate conversations instead of dominating them.”
  • Danielle Guzman, Global Head of Social Media at Mercer added, “Clubhouse is an opportunity for brands to rethink how they engage with their audiences. Most brand social channels are broadcast channels, very few have conversations with their audiences, because of resource constraints, lack of know-how, compliance reasons, and other concerns. Platforms like Clubhouse and the audio tools that Twitter, LinkedIn, and other platforms are working on will challenge corporates to review & redesign how they social up on social media.

It’s taken some time, but brands are now joining the Clubhouse conversations. Many of my colleagues remained dubious of the long-standing return and the overall future of the platform and insisted that brands should concentrate efforts in places providing maximum return. Clubhouse lacks analytics and tangible metrics to measure the investment of time and energy for brands.

Closing thoughts

I remain interested and active on the platform for now I’m cautious that it’s the “popular kids” hangout and the allure and interest is largely based around buzz. Certainly, brands can and should listen into ongoing conversations and get ideas on the audience tuning in and having conversations.  Brands who listen to ideas and have a pulse on the culture and content their market is exposed to will have a long-standing advantage and edge.

Wherever there are influencers, the advertisers aren’t far behind. As it stands today, Clubhouse still is limited with around two million active weekly users on the app. It offers what every advertiser wants – a highly targeted, used in one contained place, but the question remains of how and when to get advertisers involved.

Just this week within Clubhouse’s blog post, the startup announced a new monetization feature, Clubhouse Payments, as “the first of many features that allow creators to get paid directly on Clubhouse.”

This is the first step towards monetizing Clubhouse and the first of what many assume will come towards steps to monetize the platform.

As Twitter, LinkedIn, and other audio apps emerge Clubhouse will quickly have to adapt and make some changes if it wants to become a mainstream platform for brand marketers. It will be interesting to see how it all unfolds over time!

Marissa Pick is a social & digital strategist and Senior Marketing Director at Marissa Pick Consulting LLC. Marissa can be found on Twitter @marissapick.

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Crowd marketing: A link building method that only 2% use to rank higher on Google

December 15, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Link building still plays a prominent role in SERP ranking, even in 2020.
  • Crowd marketing is a technique that is based on building backlinks on forums and communities.
  • Most people don’t use it, and you can take advantage of that.

Crowd marketing: What’s that?

Crowd marketing is one of those often neglected link building methods, that can give you a competitive edge in Google ranking. It is often called forum or community marketing because that’s where those backlinks come from.

In this article, we’re going to discover why this link building strategy is still useful in 2020, the best practices to apply, and things to be aware of. Stay tuned!

Content created in partnership with Crowdo.

Why would crowd marketing benefit your SEO strategy?

There are tens of thousands of niche-relevant forums with a large number of visitors and great metrics. Crowd marketing does not only provide pure SEO gains, but also indirect benefits. Some of the advantages are as follows:

  • A stronger and diversified backlink profile: Links from niche-specific forums can strengthen and diversify your backlink profile. As an outcome, you’ll rank higher on Google Search.
  • More views and more brand awareness: You will get a lot of eyes on your website which is great for brand awareness.
  • Increase in website traffic and prospective customers: Since we’re interested in targeting very specific online communities, you can expect an inflow of traffic to your website, and possibly more leads and customers.

As mentioned above, this technique has been largely underestimated, and that’s actually great! That means you can take full advantage of it and possibly outrank your competitors.

Digital community marketing and its types

There are a dozen sources that could be relevant to perform crowd marketing campaigns. Those include but are not limited to:

  • Blog (comments section): Heavily overused and no longer effective way of building backlinks. Why? Because blog comments aren’t usually moderated well, meaning that it’s an open book for spammers, and that’s not what we are after.
  • Social media and Q&A Websites: Once again, probably effective for brand awareness, not so much for a boost in SEO. Why? Again, low moderation and the fact that all the links from those platforms don’t build up any authority of a backlink profile.
  • Forums/communities: Bingo, we’ve just reached our sweet spot! There is a multitude of forums for every niche, with real human visitors and a high emphasis on moderation and helpful content. That’s what we’re after, as links from those sources can give you a solid boost in SERP.

Forum link building: A checklist and best practices

1. Search for niche-relevant forums

Context is king, and this rule holds for link building as well. Make sure to do a thorough search and handpick only those communities that discuss subjects relevant to your niche.

Here are some tips that can help you along the way:

  • Avoid the so-called “hello threads” where people greet each other and discuss literally everything. Those are useless for SEO purposes.
  • Search for niche-relevant forums. Let’s say you have a car shipping business – you should only search for resources that discuss vehicles.
  • Keep in mind, that there is a limited number of websites relevant to your business. No need to be upset though, because you can also find relevant threads on common forums. For example, if you trade cryptocurrency – you can search for specific threads about crypto on IT forums.
  • If you find any local websites, that’s even better. If you offer a local service and you happen to find a digital community right in your area – that’s an additional bonus point for backlink building purposes.

2. Look at the amount of traffic

You should target popular websites with real human audiences. Websites that receive a high volume of traffic and user engagement look trustworthy in the eyes of Google, and can also put your business right in front of your target audience.

You can use tools like SimilarWeb to estimate the amount of traffic a website receives. There is no right and wrong here, but at Crowdo we would advise you to aim for forums with at least 30,000 visitors per month. Usually, it’s not a good sign if a forum does not receive a lot of traffic, this may indicate that it’s no longer active or it became a hub for spammers with no human audience whatsoever.

Traffic overview chart

3. Look at the metrics (here we go, SEO nerds)

When you decide whether a certain forum will be useful for your backlink campaign, make sure to take a good look at its website metrics. Let’s have a short overview of the important metrics to keep in mind:

  1. DA/DR: This figure indicates the overall strength of the domain. The higher, the better, try to look at websites with 50+ DA.
  2. TF: This metric is based on the trustworthiness of a website, based on the quality of its referring domains. For example, links from educational websites or Wikipedia would have a much higher ranking weight, than links from social profiles.
  3. CF: This figure is based on the number of referring domains. It is useful to see how trendy or viral the webpage is, but it does not say much about the quality of information.
  4. PA/UR: This metric is calculated the same way as DA, but limited to a specific webpage. It comes in handy when you’re looking at a particular forum thread, as it’s a separate page (hence a separate URL).

4. Check whether a forum is properly moderated

In our case moderation refers to the extent to which forum content is being reviewed/removed by admins, as well as their tolerance towards self-promotion or even spam.

Whilst you can use tools that assess the “spam score” of a certain website, it’s better to stick to your judgment. Just spend some time and skim around the forum, look at what people post and what they talk about.

If you see tons of lookalike comments that include the exact same promotion, poor wording, and links, this is a warning sign, that the forum is not being moderated, and thus probably contains a lot of spam – this clearly is a “no go”, because backlinks from those websites are toxic and will do more harm than good for your SEO in the long-run.

On the other hand, forums with aggressive moderation will never let you place any link, even if it fits the context and the discussion. To conclude, medium moderation is usually preferable, because it means that a link can be included ONLY if it’s relevant.

Action time: Writing solid forum replies

Now you know everything you need to pick decent websites for link building. Yet, you’re not a guru of crowd marketing if you don’t know how to use them properly.

Let’s take a look at some do’s and don’ts when it comes to posting replies with a backlink to your website.

DO’s:

  1. Use proper language, grammar, and jargon if applicable. The word “crowd” is here for a reason. If the community you’re targeting uses specific vocabulary, then use it as well. Proofread your comments and check for any grammar issues.
  2. Analyze the discussion before posting anything. Your comment should blend in with the rest of the thread. Make sure to read other user’s replies to get a better idea of the subject matter.
  3. Link back to your website in a natural way. Once you’ve written a solid comment, use this chance and include a backlink naturally. Use appropriate anchor text and don’t even try to do clickbait or push users to visit your website aggressively.

crowd marketing link building - dos - example

DON’Ts:

  1. Attempt to hide a backlink. This is black hat and will be punished by admins (or even by Google, if used excessively).
  2. Use software for mass posting. This doesn’t work anymore and will likely get you a Google penalty.
  3. Copy-paste the exact same answer template with your link. Context surrounding the link is important, so make sure it’s unique and sound.

Forum links: dofollow or nofollow?

“Nofollow links are useless” is probably one of the most common SEO misconceptions you will ever come across. In fact, having a natural mix of dofollow and nofollow links is very beneficial.

It is already confirmed that Google treats “nofollow” as a hint, that can potentially result in higher rankings, depending on the context, anchor text, and the referring domain. For example, everyone claims that Wikipedia backlinks are useful, although they’re always nofollow.

The main takeaway is

If you see that all the links posted in a particular forum have a nofollow tag, that’s not a reason to quit, as they might still be helpful for your ranking. Other than that, people click on the links regardless of their tag, so for traffic-generation that does not play a role at all. Just ensure that not all of the backlinks you build are nofollow, because this also doesn’t send Google the right signal.

Crowd marketing: So is it black hat or white hat?

The technique itself is entirely organic and white hat if you use it the right way. Basically, any SEO method can be turned into black hat if it’s abused.

For example, the same words can be said about outreach guest posting. If you genuinely reach out to website owners, propose interesting content, and use the opportunity to build a few links – that’s great and won’t ever get you penalized.

Now if you’re building a blog network solely for link-building purposes (for example, PBN), this is a black hat scheme that won’t go unnoticed.

The same logic can be applied here. If you’re writing genuine and helpful replies, that benefit the community and include relevant backlinks to your website, then you’re doing everything right. A well-carried crowd marketing campaign is not based on spam or volumes, quality is still key.

Don’t try to fool Google and use automated software and spam all night long, because that’s black hat and that’s punishable.

That’s great but looks like there are so many things to keep in mind…

Crowd marketing is definitely time-consuming! Let’s just summarize some of the things that you need to set up for a successful crowd marketing campaign:

  • You have to do a lot of research to find relevant forums and communities.
  • You have to check their metrics, traffic, and level of moderation.
  • You will have to create an account for each of them. In most cases, you’ll also have to build up some reputation before posting any links (or anything whatsoever).
  • In some cases, you will have to pay a membership fee to join an online community.
  • You have to search for niche-specific threads and write helpful replies for each of them.

As you can see, this does require a lot of time, resources, and dedication. That is why more often than not, SEO enthusiasts prefer to outsource this task to reputable link building services like Crowdo. There’s no one restricting you from doing this yourself, but soon you’ll find that it’s hard to do on a large scale.

In any case, don’t fall victim to shady backlink providers or freelancers, who are willing to do the job for cheap. You’ve just seen that doing it “the right way” is not easy, so if you see suspiciously low prices, that often means that either software was used or no research was carried along the way. Both of these will diminish your genuine SEO efforts.

Conclusion

We hope that you’ve learned everything there is to know about forum link building. If you would like to leave this job to professionals, you’re welcome to check what Crowdo has to offer with a 10% discount, exclusively for SEW readers!

If you want to find out more about forum link building, make sure you read their latest report here.

Andrei Cucleschin is a Marketing Lead at Crowdo. Besides writing content, he’s passionate about design, traveling, and coffee.

The post Crowd marketing: A link building method that only 2% use to rank higher on Google appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Top strategies behind link building success

November 18, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Link building starts from on-page SEO
  • Get your on-page SEO right by working on pillar and cluster pages
  • Blend your on-page success with off-page SEO strategies
  • Link building is not about the quantity 
  • Create a 12-month plan to maximize your off-page SEO success

SEO is more important than ever. As online usage is increasing and consumers’ heads are turning to online purchases, it’s vital to have a strong search presence for your business. Your ranking and authority will determine whether you’ll get more visits from prospective customers. Link building can help you build your ranking and authority by earning valuable links.

Quality is crucial that’s why you need to aim for relevant content that will make your earned link more important.

So how do you get started with off-page SEO?

NO-BS have earned more than 50,000 contextual links after working with 5,000 websites for link building so they launched a helpful guide on how to build a strong off-page SEO strategy.

Let’s look at the takeaways.

Content created in partnership with NO-BS.

Start with your on-page strategy

You can’t work on your off-page strategy without building your on-page SEO strategy first.

Your site should be optimized for the best results so that you make the most of the links that you’ll learn.

Thus, you should prioritize working on quality content, target keywords, page speed, mobile optimization, and metadata among others.

User experience is very important. You can’t rank high on SERPs without providing the best experience to all users.

Here are a few ideas to get started with on-page SEO.

Create pillar and cluster pages

The pillar and cluster model was first introduced by HubSpot several years ago. It’s an extremely helpful way to organize your content based on the main themes and topics to make your SEO strategy more structured.

For example, if you’re working for a branding agency, a pillar page could be about ‘brand building’ and a cluster article could be ‘5 tips to be authentic when building your brand’

Think of the pillar pages that define your business and start organizing your current content based on clusters that fit in the pillar pages.

Working on the pillar and cluster pages can help you both with on-page and off-page SEO as you are building your authority through relevant content.

Build themed link funnels

Once you work on your pillars, it’s time to build your themed link funnels.

Link funnels can help you build topical authority starting from your pillars and moving it up to your conversion pages. It’s the best way to link your on-page and off-page strategy to get the best results out of them.

Now it’s time to build different tiers of your links that you can also use in your future content.

First of all, start by building your pillar pages. Think of the main themes that define your site’s content. Your pillar pages should be the pages that you ultimately want to lead everyone to.

It’s the page that will bring everyone closer to any sort of conversion. You can include testimonials, social proof, details of your services, etc.

The next step is to work on your content clusters.

Your content clusters should be pages that are somehow relevant to your pillar page. They are not as broad as your pillar page but they still have a connection to it.

All your content clusters should link to your pillar page.

Your links should be in two to three tiers to help you organize your content and they should be somehow linked back to your cluster page.

This is a useful strategy to blend on-page and off-page optimization.

Once you have your themed links ready, start exploring new ways to diversify your content and your links.

Work on the anchors, experiment with different types of content and always make sure you create unique content.

Now it’s time to improve your off-page SEO strategy.

Create a 12-month off-page strategy

The best way to build your off-page strategy is to work on a 12-month plan. You have more chances to be successful once you document your strategy.

NOBS have created a template with some examples of content and ideas on how to use the spreadsheet.

Here are a few of the ideas to consider.

Identify your top keywords

Start by identifying your most important keywords. You should sort them out in clusters as part of your on-page strategy.

Add each keyword to a pillar and explore the keyword difficulty for each one of them.

Come up with blog ideas for your pillar pages

Work on blog title ideas that could match your pillar pages. This way you are creating the URL for each page.

Add more topics to the relevant pillar to make it easier when creating new clusters.

Create a plan for your links

Set up a plan for the content you’ll create for the pillar pages. There’s no need to create all your posts at once! Expand your plan to the tier 1 and tier 2 links for each of your clusters.

Don’t make your strategy too complicated, you can focus on one cluster at a time and less competitive keywords.

Pay attention to the anchor text

Be careful with your anchor text. Make sure that the text you choose is relevant to the link you use on each cluster article.

You don’t need to aim for exact-match keywords, it’s better for the link to be naturally placed in the text.

Track the links you’ve earned

Keep track of the number of links that you’ve earned. It makes it easier for you and your team to keep track of your progress.

There’s no need to aim for large volume links at once. It’s better to start gradually with 1-2 links per month.

To find out more about the tactics to boost your off-page strategy, download the guide ‘How to design a strong off-page SEO strategy’ here.

The post Top strategies behind link building success appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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The agile marketer: Building agility with technology and talent

October 14, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Old point and shoot methods of SEO are unsustainable.
  • Agile marketers are paving the path forward combining technology and talent.
  • Machine learning is helping search marketers remove repetitive and mundane tasks.
  • COVID-19 has accelerated digital transformation that was underway well before.
  • Combining business intelligence and search intelligence is a must.
  • Jim Yu, Founder and CEO of BrightEdge discusses the essentials of being an agile marketer.

“Seeking marketing and search optimization expert with demonstrated abilities to understand search ranking process, lead strategically and collaborate with other teams and departments, bring forth new processes to streamline tasks and create efficiencies, drive brand storytelling strategy across channels…” – Being a digital marketer on the job market, you would see a mix of descriptions like this and the ones below which hint on the search for agile marketers.

“Must have experience in HTML, CSS, PHP, and web standards… own and execute digital strategy including content ideation and creation…”

“Perform A/B testing, own the marketing database, carry out full SEO audits… contribute to thought leadership by authoring blog posts and speaking at events…”

It’s not your imagination, clients and recruiters alike are in fact searching for digital hybrids—for equal parts technical expertise, strategic insight, and creativity all wrapped up in one neat package.

Once upon a time, these seemingly conflicting qualities existed inside of very different roles. Those days are long over. SEO is no longer a tactic and a siloed team, but an integral and foundational part of a holistic digital marketing strategy. Search insights reveal consumer behaviors and trends critical to marketing’s performance and thanks to recent developments in AI, we can monitor and make sense of more of this data than ever before.

Today, if you want to succeed as a leader in the marketing space, you must be agile in its most literal sense: able to move quickly and easily. Across teams and departments, between campaigns and tools, through various channels and market segments—the Agile Marketer has the analytical know-how and emotional intelligence to navigate and lead others through the sprawling digital marketing landscape with ease.

Here are two specific areas in which modern marketers can focus to build agility and value:

A. The technology and insights at your disposal

Monitoring, evaluating, and activating search insights at any sort of scale has proven challenging for SEOs still trying to cobble a workflow together out of disparate tools. Last year, BrightEdge research showed that the average search marketer relies on four to six SEO tools and data sources to execute their strategy.

These tools are responsive by nature, as they tend not to “speak” to one another. Data must be manipulated, reformatted, and evaluated before any recommendations can be deployed. Using point solutions leaves SEOs scrambling to answer consumers’ needs as they were expressed days, weeks, or months ago. To measure the impact of a search update, formulate a new strategy, and only then be able to respond.

Both search technology and consumer behavior have outpaced this approach by far. Data silos and point solutions limit the reach and efficacy of your every digital marketing effort, hindering your ability to drive traffic, leads, and revenue. Companies that make their decisions based on data are 58% more likely to beat their revenue goals, but the quality of that data is imperative.

There’s just no point anymore in creating a massive data warehouse jammed with prospective use cases. The path to operationalizing that data is too long, cumbersome, and far away from its actual utility in marketing.

If you haven’t already, it’s time to graduate beyond this time-consuming and labor-intensive approach. Find a platform that gathers data from all relevant sources, automates repetitive tasks, employs AI and deep learning to make meaningful recommendations, automates to assist, and keeps pace with changes in search all within a single interface.

Intelligent automation and this level enable agile marketers to get in front of consumer demand—to meet site visitors in their moments of need with personalized content that is relevant, timely, and speaks directly to their unique behavioral characteristics. Your tools and technology need to empower your marketing team, not frustrate them, or create more work. They must free up time for more creative, impactful pursuits.

B. The way you put these insights and tools to work

Building agility into your marketing strategy isn’t a matter of picking up a few new skills or switching tools. It’s a mindset, a culture that transforms your marketing strategy from start to finish, from SEO to CMO.

According to a recent survey from Aprimo, 95% of marketers who have agile on their mind plan to adopt the approach within the next 12 months. The same respondents told us that 74% of Agile marketers are satisfied with their team’s performance and that Agile teams feel more capable of handling fast-paced work than their peers.

Top tips to help you and your team become Agile marketers

1. Take a page from our friends in software development

Familiarize yourself with the core tenets of Agile as it’s been used successfully by tech and development teams for years. The Agile Manifesto of Software Development, the Agile bible produced by 17 people in 2001, is a great starting point.

This mindset was founded on four key values:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

Agile began as a method of developing software but has evolved into an ideology applicable to all manner of digitally transformative projects such as the Agile Marketing Manifesto.

The four key values when applied specifically to marketing become seven, and they are:

  • Validated learning over opinions and conventions
  • Customer-focused collaboration over silos and hierarchy
  • Adaptive and iterative campaigns over Big-Bang campaigns
  • The process of customer discovery over static prediction
  • Flexible vs. rigid planning
  • Responding to change over following a plan
  • Many small experiments over a few large bets

2. Decide what you want to achieve with your Agile approach

Understand the benefits of Agile and decide how each will apply in your own organization.

Accelerating time to market, enhancing one’s ability to manage changing priorities, increasing productivity, and improving alignment between IT and business objectives are among the top reasons firms adopt Agile methods. But what do you expect it to do for yours—and how will you accurately measure outcomes?

3. Understand the characteristics that make agile team members

As I’ve said, agile is a mindset. As you’re putting your teams in place and making new hires, keep your eye on building that culture you want to achieve. Marketers who exhibit qualities of collaboration, openness, creative thinking, and resilience are good choices. Rigidity, total ownership of processes and ideas, unwillingness to change once a plan is in place, and protectionism are all red flags.

Being an agile marketer doesn’t mean you stop planning. It means you build the ability to change and pivot quickly into your plans. At the leadership level, agility requires that you have a big picture view of the tools, data, and people in play but more importantly that you possess the emotional intelligence to understand the motivations and needs of each stakeholder. An agile marketer can “read the room” quickly and on an ongoing basis to inform incremental decisions and make adjustments as the plan is implemented.

Constantly learning. Constantly testing. The Coronavirus was a stark reminder of just how quickly things can change. Consumer behaviors, service delivery models, market segments, and entire organizational models had to change overnight. Companies have been forced to rethink entire product and service lines, in some cases shifting into new verticals.

Agile Marketers are best positioned to succeed in whatever comes next, having built the solid foundation of skills, technology, and talent it takes to constantly process and activate new information.

Is that you?

Jim Yu is the founder and CEO of BrightEdge, the leading enterprise SEO and content performance platform.

The post The agile marketer: Building agility with technology and talent appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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