PostHeaderIcon But I Have to Buy Links, Ads, and Exposure, Because My Customers Won’t Amplify My Content – Whiteboard Friday



Posted by randfish

We hear frequently from marketers who are frustrated that their audiences aren’t sharing their content, making them think the only way to promote their brands is to pay for exposure. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand shows you a new way to think about your marketing that may be just the solution.

For reference, here’s a still of this week’s whiteboard!

Video Transcription

Howdy Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. So last week I was in Minneapolis for the MnSearch Summit, and it was a very impressive event. But I had a number of conversations with folks there. I talked about some content marketing and SEO stuff in one of my keynotes, and what I heard was something that I’ve heard many, many times over the years. That was nearly this exact phrase: “But I have to have to buy links or ads or exposure because my customers won’t amplify or share my content.”

You’ve probably heard this too if you work in marketing, or maybe you’re in this world. Maybe you watch Whiteboard Friday sometimes, and you think to yourself, yeah, that’s great when you talk about how your customers are going to go out and share this content you created, but my customers don’t do that. So how am I supposed to get all the social shares that lead to links, all the mentions from blogs, all the press? I’m shouting into a graveyard. Nobody’s listening.

Okay, I hear you. This is you, and you’re trying to amplify your own content, and you’re saying, “Hey, we have this great stuff. I made this great content for you guys. I’ve produced whatever this great product.”
Your customers, your current or potential customers are essentially doing nothing. They’re shutting it down. They’re keeping quiet.

This can happen for a number of reasons. The two most common that I hear are, number one, they’re in a demographic group that doesn’t use social media or the Web to share things, and that can often be older, more traditional folks in B2B types of companies. It can sometimes also be because they don’t want their peers or their friends finding out that they use you.

So in one of the examples where I had this conversation in Minneapolis, the person I was talking to was working at a B2B supplier, and he said, “All of the companies that you said that use us,” I think in this case it was print shops, none of them wanted to tell anyone else in the print world that they used this supplier because the prices were so good and the product was so good. They wanted to keep it as a competitive advantage for their own shop, which makes total sense. It happens a lot in B2B types of supplying worlds.

If there’s no one to amplify from your customer base, you run into this problem over and over. People say to me, “Well then, how am I going to solve this issue of no one amplifying the work that I’m putting out?” My answer, time and time again — and that’s why I figured we should codify it into a Whiteboard Friday — is that these people might not be influenced and might not be influencing their peers or their cohorts or potential new customers for you. But they are influenced by something. That something is how they discovered you and everything else that they use, and that something often falls under press and classic media, which is a completely different channel than your customer set.

It might be that they’re finding content on blogs, but they’re just not sharing it. Or they’re finding stuff in trade publications and magazines, at events and conferences, on social accounts that they follow but don’t amplify or re-share. They might be in listen only mode, which many users of social networks like Twitter and Google+ and LinkedIn are. They might listen to industry experts and get their viewpoint from those few influencers in the industry. Or, and this is the most pernicious one because it happens a lot in the SEO world, they get all their recommendations by using search engines. Since they use search engines, and in order to rank in search engines you have to be amplified, people say,

“It’s a Catch-22, man. I’m screwed forever. There’s nothing I can do. SEO is just not going to work for me. Or white hat SEO is not for me. I’m going to have to buy my links if I want to rank or buy ads because I can’t rank in the organic section.”

Here’s the trick. If it’s the case that search engines are how people are influenced, then what you have to do is think a little differently. You have to think of these people, these other ones — press, classic media, blogs, trade publications, events and conferences, social accounts, industry experts, whatever it is. The list may go on and on. You probably know what those few are.

Those are what you need to use to nudge the search engines into ranking you. By influencing these folks, you also influence the search engines and ranking, because when they talk about you and link to you and mention your brand and cite your work, you rank higher in search engines, and that reaches your customers.

This is the trick. The challenge here is what influences these people is not the same thing that you’re broadcasting and amplifying to your customers. So you need to think of yourself as a whole different kind of marketer, marketing an entirely different product. The product you are marketing to these people is most of the time not your product. It is a kind of content, an expertise, an informational value, a piece of research, work that these people care about, that will make them look good, that they know their audience will care about, that’s going to be interesting and useful and unique to them. This becomes your new customer set, and your new product becomes whatever they will care about and amplify and cite from you.

Now you have closed the gap between how to figure out how to reach these people by indirectly targeting another group. This is a challenging process. I’m not going to lie. It is hard. But you can do this. When you do, when you figure out the kind of content marketing and production and amplification, whether that’s through social or through blogs or through conferences or whatever it might be, when you figure out how that system works, you can get a flywheel going that gets you more and more exposure to these folks and higher and higher rankings in the search engines. As you build up your domain authority, as you start to produce content directly for your customers that will influence them, it ranks in the engines.

Now it’s convoluted. It’s challenging, but it’s possible. It is possible. You don’t have to buy links or only ads or only buy exposure. You can reach people organically through this system.

All right, everyone, hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of Whiteboard Friday. We’ll see you again next week. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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PostHeaderIcon AMD Will Celebrate 30 Years of Graphics and Gaming with Live Webcast




AMD logoHow time flies

AMD has been keeping itself busy these days. In addition to its Mantle API, the company is working on a line of Radeon-branded SSDs and there are rumors that it will cut the pricing on its FX processors in September. Despite all of this, AMD will be celebrating 30 years of graphics and gaming this Saturday, August 23, with a live broadcast. 

The live stream will start at 7:00 AM PST/10:00 AM EST with AMD chief gaming scientist Richard Huddy as the master of ceremonies. Huddy was a guest on the No BS Podcast #226 for an in-depth interview that we recommend you listen to.

The event will be broadcasted live from the company’s Lone Star Campus in Austin, Texas where game developers will be asked about their latest projects. Unfortunately, AMD did not reveal what developers would be interviewed. It will also provide stories that cover the history of the company and, supposedly, there will be some new product announcements.

Everyone will be able to watch it on AMD’s website and TwitchTV while a re-broadcast of the event will be available to watch four hours afterwards. 

Will you be watching the broadcast tomorrow and what do you hope to see?

Follow Sean on Google+, Twitter, and Facebook

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PostHeaderIcon Link Echoes (a.k.a. Link Ghosts): Why Rankings Remain Even After Links Disappear – Whiteboard Friday



Posted by randfish

One of the more interesting phenomena illustrated by Rand’s IMEC Lab project is that of “link echoes,” sometimes referred to as “link ghosts.” The idea is that if we move a page up in rankings by pointing links to it, and then remove those links, the bump in rankings often remains.

In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand explains what’s going on.

One quick note: Rand mentions a bit.ly link in this video that isn’t quite accurate; here’s the correct one. =)

For reference, here’s a still of this week’s whiteboard!

Video Transcription

Howdy Moz fans and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week I’m going to talk a little bit about link echoes. This is the reverberation of the effect of a link across Google’s link graph and across the rankings, that has an impact even after a link has been removed. In the past, we have also referred to these as link ghosts, but I think link echoes is actually a much better name. I appreciate some folks pointing that out for me.

Let me show you exactly what I’m talking about. So, as you might know, I’ve been running a number of tests, and those tests have been happening through a project I call IMEC Lab. If you go to http://bit.ly/imeclab, you will find this project ongoing.

We’ve been performing a number of tests over the last six months. I started with a smaller group. The group has gotten bigger. So we’ve been able to test some really fascinating things. A number of those have been around tests related to links. I’m going to share one of those tests, because it helps really highlight what’s going on with link echoes.

So we had a page point ranking number 31 for a key phrase, a not very competitive keyword search phrase, and the only reason I’m not transparently sharing these, at least not yet, is because we prefer that Google didn’t know all of the websites and pages that we’re pointing links from. Otherwise, they could potentially mess with the test. We like to keep the test results as clean as possible, and so we’re not disclosing these for right now.

Another page, page B ranking number 11 for the same query. So page ranking for query A, that’s page A ranking number 31, page B ranking number 11. Of course, our first step . . . well, this was one of the steps in our test was we pointed 22 links from 22 different websites, all the same pages of those sites to both A and B. We were actually trying to test anchor text. So we pointed anchor text exact match links at A, non-match at B. We wanted to see which one would boost it up. Some of the links we put first, some of the links we put second. We tried to control a bunch of variables.

We ran tests like these many times. I think this particular one we repeated four or five different times. In this case, we saw A, the one that was ranking number 31, it moved up to position one. Just 22 links were able to move it, bam. Anchor text links able to move it up to position one. Anchor text links obviously still pretty darn powerful. We could see that in each of our tests.

B we pointed those same 22 links at, that moved up 6 positions. Remember it didn’t have the exact match anchor text, so it moved up to position five, still quite impressive.

Then we did something else. We took those links away. We removed all the links, and this is pretty natural. We want to run more tests. We’re going to use some of these same sites and pages, so we removed all the links, no longer exist. The next week, they’d all been indexed. What happened?

Well, gosh, page A, that was ranking number 31 and moved up to 1, even after all those pages that were linking to it had been indexed with no link there anymore by Google, didn’t move. It stayed in position number one. That’s pretty weird. Almost the same thing happened with result B. It moved down one position. It’s ranking number six.

Even weirder, this happened over four and a half months ago. We’re now in the middle end of July. This was in mid-April, early April. That’s a very long time, right? Google’s indexed these pages that we’re linking many times, never seen the links to them. As far as we can tell, there are no new links pointing to either of those pages. At least we haven’t seen them, and none of the link tools out there have seen them. So it’s possible, maybe some new links.

Here’s where it gets weird. This effect of these link tests, remaining in place long after the link had been removed, happened in every single link test we ran, of which I counted eight where I feel highly confident that there were no confounding variables, feeling really good that we followed a process kind of just like this. The links pointed, the ranking rose. The links disappeared, the ranking stayed high. Eight different consecutive tests every single time. In fact, there wasn’t one test where, when we removed the links, the rankings fell back to their original position. Some of them like this one fell a position or two. Almost everything that we moved from page two or three stayed on page one after we linked to it, even after removing the links.

This argues strongly in favor of a phenomenon that some SEOs have speculated about for a good amount of time. I believe one of them is Martin Panayotov — I might not be pronouncing his name correctly — and, of course, Moz contributor Michael King, iPullRank. Both of them had commented on a post years ago saying link ghosts, aka link echoes, are real. You guys should look into them. Sorry it took us so long to look into this, but this is fascinating.

Now, there could be a number of explanations behind this link echo phenomenon, the continuing reverberation of a link’s effect on a ranking. It could be that maybe that page ends up performing well in Google’s analysis of its user and usage data. It ranks well for this relatively unpopular query. It’s ranking number one. And you know what? Google’s finding that the click-throughs are still pretty high. There’s not a lot of pogo sticking back to the results. Maybe they’re going, “Hey, this page looks legit. Let’s leave it here,” even after the links disappear.

It could be that the site or page was bolstered by other factors, other ranking factors that we may not know about. It could be that every one of these eight times when we moved it up, maybe by moving it up through links we inadvertently did something else to it. Maybe that helped it rank higher for other pages, and those other pages generated links each of these times. That’s fairly unlikely when you repeat the test this many times, but not impossible.

Or it could be that Google actually has something in their algorithm around link echoes, where they say, “Hey, you know what? After a link has disappeared, that doesn’t necessarily mean we should take away the value of that link as a vote forever and ever.” In fact, maybe we should, for a long time, perhaps depending on how many links the page has or how uncompetitive the search results are, or something that they say, “You know what? Let’s leave some remnant, some echo, a ghost of that link’s value in the ranking equation for the site or page.” These things are all possible.

What’s fascinating about practice to me is that it means that, for a lot of us who worry tremendously about link reclamation, about losing links on sites or pages that may produce things freshly, but then remove them on blogs that don’t always stay consistent across time, that we may be getting more value than we think from a link that disappears in the future. Of course, learning more about how Google works, about their operations is just fascinating to me. Google says their mission is to organize the world’s information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Well, I think part of Moz’s mission and my mission is to organize information about how Google works and make it universally accessible and useful. That’s what I hope we’re doing with some of these tests, particularly around link ghosts.

So I’m looking forward to some great comments. I’m sure many of you are going to have things that you’ve observed as well. If you’d like to follow along with this and other tests, I’d suggest checking out . . . you can go to bit.ly/mozmadscience and see the full presentation from my MozCon talk, in which I talk about link ghosts and a number of other tests we’ve been performing. I’ll be sharing a few of those individually here on Whiteboard Friday as well. But link echoes is such a fascinating one, I thought we should bring that out right away.

Thanks everyone. Take care. We’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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