Web marketing is an ever evolving beast and while it’s difficult to be certain what form it’s going to take next with Google constantly changing the rule book and from time to time throwing it out altogether. Along with social platforms shifting focus and influencing the algorithm, there is one constant: Whether you call it organic marketing, ethical marketing or any use other term; natural marketing works. In this article we’ll look at why natural marketing techniques are so important to the success of your SEO campaign and why both old and new unethical tactics of “gaming the system” are quickly dying off or are dead already.
All-Natural Organic Home-grown SEO
With natural marketing being the raison d’être of this article we’re going to look into some best practice SEO techniques focussed on gaining good healthy natural gains. You might find yourself wondering why you would want natural results that take time to grow when you could just go for an artificial boost to your SEO campaign. Approaches that aim to game Google tend to yield only short term results, much like indulging in a Big Mac. At the time you’ll feel good and you’ll be full, but the sensation won’t last for long as you’re left hungry following a sugar comedown, and ultimately you’ll come to the realisation that you’ve just consumed a load of processes meat and chemicals that aren’t going to do you any good in the long term. This is why we’re focussing on generating natural long-lasting results from your SEO campaign by supping on a healthy all natural organic marketing broth.
Inbound External Links are (sort of) King
There once was a time that all that mattered to Google was the number of links pointing a given website. Put simply the more links the better, and Google would gladly sky rocket a listing up their Search Engine Results Page (SERP), meaning that many would simply invest in purchasing links from the lowest bidder to get their website listed in as many places as possible. This tactic used to work exceptionally well, but as time went on Google shunned this simple way of ranking sites in favour of a more sophisticated algorithm, but that’s not to say that links aren’t still an important ranking factor, because they are; the links just need to be natural. This means that listings on link-rings won’t work any more, and that email marketer offering you multiple listings and a guaranteed increase in SERP position may help you out initially, but the success won’t last for long.
Domain Authority is More Important than Ever
The real issue with spamming links everywhere and anywhere is that it’s cheap and Google knows this, cheapening the authority of your domain in the process, or in a worst case scenario dishing out a manual penalty that can be difficult or near impossible to recover from. What Google does favour is links from respected and high authority domains as these generally can’t be bought (although many can), indicating to Google that the link that you’re receiving from a high domain site has been obtained naturally, and this link subsequently equates to a more beneficial vote of confidence for your website. Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean that 100 cheap links equate to the same link juice as one really good link, in fact quite the opposite as multiple links from low authority or spammy domains can have a negative effect on the SERP position of your website.
How to Obtain Juicy Natural Links
Put the company credit card away, we’re not going to look at buying anyone today (although keep hold of the credit card just in case), we’re talking natural marketing today. Natural links can be obtained through three different means which we’ll give some silly terms for the purpose of this article:
- Passive Link Juicing
- Encouraged Passive Linking
- Non-Passive Networking Engagement
We’ll start with “Passive Link Juicing“; this method requires a lot of work on your part but gives you little control over the results. This method focuses on producing high quality engaging content on your site that is so good that people would sell their granny for the chance to share your work with everyone they know, whether through social media or as a link from their amazing high ranking website.
“Encouraged Passive Linking” is the next step up from here and requires encouraging those who view your content to share it in a very non-invasive passive way. This can include social media by including easy share buttons for Twitter, Facebook and any other social network that is relevant to you, and even adding to that by actively requesting people share your content as part of a sign off. This is a trick that’s become so common place in video sharing sites such as YouTube that the lack of a “like, comment, share and subscribe” sign off at the end of a video now seems odd. Again this method puts you at the mercy of those viewing your content and again requires you to be producing truly share worthy stuff, but the results will be natural which is good for Google.
“Non-Passive Networking Engagement” is the ridiculous superhero catch phrase of the kind of hero that we don’t want, but we all need. It’s also know as outreach, and entails approaching the websites that you would ideally want to see your link on and convincing them to post your link on their website. Please note that we used the term non-passive, but this doesn’t mean be aggressive, as what you want to achieve here is to build a healthy relationship that is beneficial to you. This can be achieved through a number of ways ranging from politely agreeing with someone and using a page from your website as a point of reference in the hopes that the owner of the site in question will put up a link through to your humble corner of the internet, right through to just straight up requesting a link. The latter method of course requires tact, much in the same way that if you happen to be the proprietor of Mrs Miggins Pie Shop then you would ask the owner of the local notice board very politely to place an advertisement, so don’t go in assuming that they’ll say yes.
Don’t Forget to Place External Links on Your Website
While it’s long been known that placing external links on your website act as both a good form of referencing for users, backing up your claims, and also as a way to show to Google that you’re not a raving madman just sharing your opinions isolated from the rest of the world. Research indicates that external links can naturally increase your position in the SERP, as show in a study on Reeboot that shows external links have a positive impact on the ranking of your website, particularly if you link to already high ranking websites, effectively siphoning off some of their link juice for yourself.
Viral Marketing is Still a Thing
You’ve likely come across the term viral marketing before and maybe you felt that it was a fad that came and went or just another buzzword, and while arguable “viral” clearly is an industry buzzword, the cause and effect are all too real. Moz recently shared a great article on what it takes to get a campaign to go viral that summed up the process really well; essentially you want to produce content that is clickable, playable and shareable. To break these three terms down you essentially want to produce enticing content that from a link or title alone will make people want to find out more, essentially employing clickbait tactics to draw people in. You need to make sure that your content is engaging and keeps your visitors interest and more importantly that you keep them excited about the link that they’ve clicked on because you want them to start sharing it. This is where the viral part comes in; the ideal model for this is that if the person who shares your video reaches x number of followers and from those followers say 3 of those share the link and that process continues for those 3 individuals, then you get to see the link to your content shared exponentially until it reaches a saturation point and that growth begins to slow. This is a very basic understanding of what it takes to go viral, but if you can achieve this kind of natural link sharing then you’ll reap the rewards that will make your SEO campaign really shine.
Great Content is still Paramount
If you’re a frequent visitor to the Judd blog then you’ll be aware that at Michael Bell One we’re big believers in the importance of great content, and while great content isn’t solely responsible for a successful SEO campaign it plays in important role in the process. For the purposes of a natural marketing campaign it’s important that your content reflect this and serve to act for the intended purpose of addressing your target audience, rather than as a means to game Google. This means that you don’t want to have rampant keyword stuffing that makes sentences sound like they were produced by a machine with little understanding of how people interact. Aim for a conversational style as if you were directly addressing the person visiting your website and try to stay focussed on the topics that your covering, making sure that every topic serves a purpose for your business rather than shoehorning in a pitch to a topic where it doesn’t really work.
Keep the Optimisation in SEO
While you want to aim for a more natural approach to your content, don’t go so far that you essentially de-optimise your content and stop it from working in your favour, just don’t abuse the system. Cover the basics and make sure that your titles and descriptions are relevant to the purpose of your page, making sure that relevant keywords have been covered in a natural way, also remember that keywords perform best if they’re in the h1 and opening paragraph of your copy. Make sure to continue to properly encode links with the right relative tags and of course ensure that there are more h1s than h2s than h3s and so on. These might seem like pretty standard steps, but we’re using them here to highlight the importance of not forgetting to remember that as part of Search Engine Optimisation you still need to optimise.
Natural marketing basically relies on having faith in your content to perform well and where necessary giving it a little push but not being that pushy sales person who’ll do anything to see success. People will be able to smell out content that is being too pushy or desperate to “go viral”, so don’t be that person, instead be smart, be creative and ultimately work hard. By putting the effort in from the start you can watch as your website does the hard work for you and visitors start to pour in and start converting not just into clients, but as people who actively refer new clients to you. Essentially through natural marketing you’ll grow your brand identity and that growth can only keep going if you treat your visitor’s right.
Why bother with Natural Marketing?
While we would like to think that we’ve made a reasonably compelling argument to embrace a more natural approach to web marketing, we know that there will always be detractors who disagree and feel that link spamming still works so why stop. Google is the short answer, the slightly longer answer is that you’ll upset Google, and if you upset Google then they won’t let you play in their tree house any more. Many unscrupulous agencies will make bold claims about providing you with overnight success on a campaign, and these agencies are likely gaming the system, utilising spammy tactics that are ultimately rather dangerous and can result in a manual action from Google. In the instances where you occur a penalty from Google the process of reversing this action isn’t always just a case of saying sorry and undoing what you’ve done, the process can take a long time; responses aren’t always quick from Google, getting links disavowed takes time and if you repeatedly request Google to disavow links eventually they may stop listening. It’s wiser to accept that natural SEO takes time and that while results may take months rather than days, they’ll be more reliable and longer lasting, and ultimately be more beneficial to your business.
There’s a lot of time and effort that goes into a successful natural web marketing campaign, and sometimes it can be hard to figure out the first step, let alone the next few. Maybe your website isn’t up to scratch or your branding isn’t on target, or maybe you just need someone with the expertise in natural online marketing to make sure that you have a winning campaign.
At Michael Bell One our team have the experience, skills and expertise to provide you with a successful online campaign, and we’d be more than happy to discuss your project with you.
If you have any thoughts on natural marketing and what we’ve covered in this article then please leave us a comment below, alternatively you can get in touch with us by completing the contact form at the bottom of this page, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call our Lewes office on 01273 478822