In June, Google launched a core algorithmic update. It led to CCN, a cryptocurrency news website, losing 71 percent of their mobile traffic. Their daily revenue also dipped by 90 percent. Soon, the company shut down.
While organic traffic is a terrific free source of brand awareness, it also puts your business in danger. Solely depending on it is a recipe for failure.
Is there a way to diversify building your business besides relying on Google?
Yes, you can chart a holistic marketing strategy, and here are a few ways to do it.
Build relationships through this classic strategy
Conventional content marketing wisdom calls for creating and publishing excellent content for your own site. Then, promoting the article and trying to get it on the first page of Google. Once the article ranks, you hope to get thousands of visitors every month and generate spanking hot leads for your business.
It’s all rainbows and sunshine.
The only problem…?
The behemoth, Google, is leveraging its monopoly on the web and delivering content the way it wants.
You may not rank at all after putting your best foot forward. If you start ranking for your targeted keywords, your content can appear in featured snippets and lead to a loss of your site’s traffic. Alternatively, as you saw in the case of CCN, your organic traffic can vanish overnight!
Here’s a more inclusive strategy…
What if you help your competitors rank in Google search results? You treat every site as your own site. It might sound counterintuitive, but here’s why it makes sense.
The competition for snatching the top spots in Google is at an all-time high. Every business that understands an iota about SEO is publishing blog posts. An eMarketer report claims that 84.5% of US companies that have 100 employees will use content marketing in 2019.
It’s becoming extremely challenging to rank your website for high-competition keywords. Indeed, it might take up to six months for a new startup website to see results from SEO.
However, you can cut short the number of months to get on the first page of Google. You can get yourself a spot on the websites where your buyers are already hanging out.
I’m talking about guest posting on authority websites in your industry. It lets you add value to your prospects by writing helpful content and make a great first impression.
Further, these websites might have existing syndication partnerships and reputation in the eyes of Google. Hence, if you choose keywords for your guest articles strategically, then you can quickly rank. Sure your website won’t appear in the search results. However, your brand earns goodwill through the exposure.
Also, by writing a high-quality article, you start a relationship with another business on a high note. From there, you can convert into a more lucrative partnership. You can collaborate on webinars, mention each other in your articles, conduct industry research pieces, and much more.
So how do you begin your guest blogging campaign?
First, you need to find prospects that have a decent authority. Begin with checking the places where your competitors are already getting mentioned. You can use an SEO tool like Nightwatch backlinks for the same.
Further, you can use the following queries and their variations for finding more guest posting opportunities:
- “your industry keyword” + “write for us”,
- “your industry keyword” + “become a contributor”,
- “your niche” + “guest post.”
Once you guest post at a few places, it becomes easier to get published at authoritative websites. Are you short of time? Then there are a couple of strategies you can use:
a. Hire an SEO company to handle the guest posting. Here’s a useful list vetted by Get Credo that you can use.
b. Handle the outreach yourself, and outsource the writing by hiring a contractor through Problogger.
Takeaway: Instead of trying to compete with other websites, how about you join them? If your brand is associated with LOTS of reputable companies, then you are seen in a good light. Also, you divide the risk of solely relying on own website’s search visibility.
Invest resources in building a brand
Want to fend off your competitors (including those giant companies with huge budgets)? Then, go and build a brand. It’s an invaluable intangible asset that can persuade a prospect to decide in your favor. It’s a moat against a competitor with similar offerings.
There are various ways to build a strong brand, and one of them is by defining a term and popularizing it. A great example is Hubspot and their usage of “inbound marketing.”
The company began in 2006, and the interest in the phrase “permission marketing” coined by Seth Godin was waning.
The founders probably saw the opportunity to introduce a new form of marketing that would be the opposite of “outbound marketing.” Moreover, they called this approach as “inbound marketing.” Look at the sharp rise of interest in “inbound marketing”:
Indeed, the correlation in search interest of their brand name and the keyword is high. Here are a few more brands that have used proprietary terms and built a moat against competitors through it.
You can also build a strong moat by creating original content that’s difficult to replicate. For instance, MailChimp has recently launched Mailchimp Presents. You’ll be surprised to find that they don’t push out tutorials on the subject of marketing, the core offering of the company, on the site.
Instead, they publish podcasts and documentaries related to entrepreneurship. They even went to the extent of creating fictional shows. As an example, look at the ‘Taking Stock’ five episode series. It takes you on the journey of a photographer in crisp episodes of under 10 minutes.
You need to understand that marketing is now about creating exquisite experiences for your buyers and prospects. It’s about building owned audiences through content.
Is that a legitimate hint of how Facebook and Netflix won’t remain alone in the creation of original content?
We also have the likes of Barkbox, a direct to consumer e-commerce organization. Its rise was fueled by memes, entertainment, and creating a welcoming space for people to hang out on their online properties.
Guess whom Barkbox turns towards to create a cozy and humorous vibe? It’s not your average content creator. Instead, it’s comedians obsessed with dogs. That’s how they managed to create funny and relatable songs like ‘dog mom rap.’
And hey, guess who likes brands besides consumers? It’s uncle Google. Hence, you take care of SEO as well when you invest resources in building a sticky brand. Did someone say two birds with one stone? Spot on!
Takeaway: Create a memorable brand and retain the attention of your audience. It might mean producing original web shows or creating a proprietary industry phrase. However, you can begin with something as simple as defining your tone of voice and taking stock of your visual appearance.
Build a community
If your brand keeps talking about itself, then it will quickly turn off the audience. It’s essential to get people authentically talking about you. A simple way to do the same is by hiring influencers. They can create conversations around your products and drive engagement through their followers. It’s a great strategy to create a community around your offerings.
Shreya Dalela led the community driving efforts for Marsplay, a social commerce platform. Her strategy was striking partnerships with fashion influencers across India and getting them to talk about the application. This proved instrumental in developing an on-the-ground network of fashion enthusiasts and drive app installs for Marsplay.
If you don’t fancy influencer marketing, then you can also create a Facebook group. Mark Zuckerberg is pushing their visibility in the News Feed as well. In the group, you can encourage conversations around the pain points of your audience. Of course, you will need to draft rules and actively moderate it so that spammers don’t hijack the community.
I’m a member of numerous Facebook groups that are invaluable additions to the digital products they sell. One such thriving community is the Create Awesome Online Courses (CAOC) Facebook group. They have a strict policy to keep the conversations strictly around their product and have banned self-promotion as well as negativity.
If you can put efforts to encourage and monitor the conversations, then it can serve as a great addition to your brand. You can get feedback for your products, blog posts, and even solicit stories of successful use cases of your products.
Another classic tactic for building a sticky community is creating an email list. It’s a great way to stay connected with your audience, drive repeat visitors to your site, and improve your brand loyalty. Although it’s a one-to-many relationship, the email exchanges are private between you and the audience. Hence, many members might share their thoughts more openly with you.
Also, if you don’t publish content regularly on your blog, you can still keep up with your subscribers by sharing updates about your life and business. Through segmentation, you can ensure that you send emails that are relevant to the stage of your customer. For instance, here’s how Pat Flynn ends his email.
When you click on one of those links, then Pat can personalize the content he sends to you. Occasionally, you might need to conduct a more detailed survey of your audience to find their interests. You can use a tool like Feedier for the same. It allows you to collect feedback from your audience through their email by using your own CRM.
Takeaway: Build a community around your products. It could mean forming a Facebook group, an email list, or getting influencers to talk about you on social media.
Note: You can not abandon Google altogether
A significant percentage of Inc. 5000 companies still rely on search traffic. Even though Google is stealing your content for its featured snippets, they are also a great source of exposure for you. An Ahrefs study found that they can get 8.6 per cent of the total traffic as they sit at the zeroth spot.
None of the above strategies are replacements for free search traffic. They are great additions to diversify your website traffic and brand exposure. Don’t try to replace SEO.
Whether Google is slowing innovation or not is debatable. However, solely relying on SEO to get your daily dose of brand awareness and scale your business is lethal. In a single algorithmic update, your site’s traffic can vanish.
You need to add more strategies to the mix. I have shared three ways to help you diversify your marketing and find new lead generation opportunities.
Do you have other strategies for stopping your dependency on Google? Tell me about them in the comments below.
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