Branding Costs and Fees are Based on Your Scope, Time & Budget

Branding costs & fees depend upon the process selected (creative brief, positioning brief or full brand), timeline and your marketing budget.

For all of the aforementioned approaches (highlighted in the prior 3 blog posts), we utilize various tools to draw out the essential truths. Which ones we use and in what quantity is a matter of which initiative we’re working on, and, of course, time and budget. What you ultimately pay in branding costs and fees should always be in proportion to your annual marketing spend, your marketing objectives and your expected return on investment. For a brand strategist, positioning consultant or brand messaging specialist to work with you on sharpening your creative brief, expect to pay anywhere between $2500 – $5000. To evaluate and improve your company’s or product’s position, you could be looking at anywhere from $3750 for a small business, but considerably more for a larger business due to the complexities involved. To thoroughly define the brand opportunity and create a brand blueprint, your strategic branding fees at a smaller, independent firm could be $12,000 – $36,000, while the larger firms regularly charge hundreds of thousands of dollars (a worthwhile expenditure when you consider their work is often a major determinant of marketplace success.)

Branding process (brand discovery & brand strategy) elements:

Elements included in the recommended brand discovery process and your proposed scope of work obviously impact branding costs and fees. While thorough brand discovery may utilize all of these inputs, a positioning consult requires less meetings and less intense investigations, while a creative brief tightening is usually limited to the first four.

  1. One-on-one interview(s)
  2. A questionnaire typically forms the foundation of the interviews
  3. Immersion via communications audit – a study of your historical marketing examples
  4. Competitive analysis – via web or other collateral you may have on file
  5. Review of recent SWOT analysis
  6. Group meetings
  7. Kick-off Meeting
  8. Discussions
  9. Creative Exercises
  10. Conversation with existing clients
  11. Survey and digestion of any available data or research

Strategic branding costs and fees

Though the time and fees required to engage in thorough branding may seem substantial at first, this is a bit of a misnomer. You’ve got to amortize costs like this, just like it was real estate or capital equipment. In my opinion, for any business that will spend $500 – 750k on marketing over the next 3 years, a 6-8% spend on increasing understanding of the company’s approach to the market is more than a proactive performance marketing move; it’s an insurance policy, a hedge against more wasted marketing dollars moving forward. When you think about all of your other business expenses, how many can even hope to deliver the same customer creation you’ll realize (if done expertly) from your branding costs and fees?

If you regularly spend more than that or many multiples of that benchmark number, calculating the marketing ROI becomes even more of a slam dunk. Under that, and we’re going to want to create a tight plan for making brand progress while we’re tending to more immediate needs. The other thing I try to do for clients on a tight budget is scale back the items and time I devote to each one. But, at the end of the day, there should be a proportion between company revenues, marketing budget and what you’re putting into your brand strategy. What I try to do for startup brands and small business brands is position them with personality. It’s not exactitude or a permanent solution. It’s a bridge that puts them on a path to a better tomorrow, while helping them defray out-of-reach branding costs and fees.

 

The Articulated Brands® Brand Discovery & Brand Strategy Process

Brand Strategist & Brand Consultant, Scott Silverman, Articulated Brands, Los AngelesAn inside look at Articulated Brands® brand discovery and brand strategy process

The operative phrase I’m going to use when describing a higher standard of brand discovery and brand strategy is simultaneous inquiry. Whereas the creative briefing process or even the positioning process can be productive and successful with just smart, experienced answers to the briefing questions, branding requires more. We never want to answer any one of the questions with finality until we’ve had a chance to see how we might answer the other questions in relation. Solving for x is easy. Solving for a-z simultaneously is a variable juggle of massive proportions. But we’re on the road to authentic differentiation and sustainable competitive advantage here. Let’s not pretend for a minute this is kid’s stuff. Big business and marketing problems are solved, and big opportunities are seized, via big think. No shortcuts, no excuses, no whining. Okay, maybe some whining. But also some jokes and some excited laughs. It’s time to dig in. It’s time to dig deep.

Genuine brand discovery & brand strategy are the most intensive approaches to increasing marketing results and marketing ROI, yet the most rewarding of all.

Why? Because we are creating a new system of order. We are defining the company in a newly organized and prioritized way. We do this so that it will better connect to its targets and so that the business itself, operating on-brand, becomes its own engine of customer creation. To do so properly, we must be certain we have uncovered all salient facts and thoughts and that, upon delivery of the brand blueprint or upon brand roll-out, we can be positive that the brand as defined achieves the stated objectives.

If position can be equated to a sketch – the space you want to own in the marketplace, going to full brand would be the equivalent of the three-dimensional rendering. Here, in addition to assessing the current state of both your position and your brand, we are processing through many aspects of the company to identify all the things we need to create a winning recipe for maximum connection, scalable and sustainable growth, and deeper differentiation via beliefs, culture, functional & experiential benefits and personality.

Some of the brand discovery process elements you may wish for us to explore:

Who we (the company and its personnel) are:

  1. Our core values – what do we do, what do we not do
  2. What are we uniquely good at?
  3. Our history & prior successes
  4. Products & services
  5. Our vision
  6. Blue sky scenario
  7. Adjectives
  8. Benefits – what’s in it for them – functional, emotional, experiential
  9. Logical support for those benefits

Conversations and examinations of “who we are” need to be guided by a brand strategist who, while tracking of hundreds of independent variables, still manages to keep the participants excited and engaged and the process moving.

Who they are:

1. Past, current & future clients & customers

2. Current beliefs & behaviors – re: us and the industry

3. The buying process & customer empathy mapping

4.  Desired perceptions & experiences (widget exercise)

5.  Which media do they consume?

Discussions, exercises and examinations of “who they are” need to be guided by a brand strategist who facilitates your own breakthroughs and challenges you to think more like a prospect than an owner or an employee.

Who & what are the competition

1.  Direct competition – what space do they own or make claims to

2.  What are we willing to cede or not cede?

  1. What existing beliefs and behaviors also exert a competitive force?

Examinations of the competition require a brand strategist who can even at arm’s length assess competitive positioning and messaging so that you can better leverage the holes within and the holes created by them.

Other factors

  1. What might happen on our growth path that ought to be factored into our brand right now?
  2. Tracing trajectories – how might the marketplace and competitive offerings impact our brand’s position
  3. Often, a company has very specific questions, challenges and concerns about their branding and go-forward business strategy – these, too, should be factored and examined in the discovery process.

For me, the most important part of brand discovery is knowledge transfer. Nobody knows the business or its market better than the people who work there. By turning them onto both the company’s unique greatness and onto more of a brand mindset, I feel as though it will always be their future innovations and accomplishments that will far exceed my own up-front contributions.

PRIMARY BRAND STRATEGY DELIVERABLES:

  • A summary of the discovery process that highlights key findings and identifies primary issues and opportunities to be addressed.
  • A distilled and organized vision for the new brand that represents the best weighted approach to leveraging strengths, circumventing the competition and carving out a differentiated space.
  • A brand personality matrix to inform your corporate identity and your marketing collateral that includes: a core attitude and 3-5 pillars that support that point of view.
  • Updated, refined versions of the company’s Unique Selling Propositions and UVP’s for its divisions, products or services.
  • Answers to many of the organization’s most profound challenges with regard to forging stronger connections with various brand audiences.
  • Ideas, when appropriate, for how to capitalize on various business development or brand development opportunities uncovered via my discovery
  • A new “uber” creative brief that provides guidance and direction for future brand development executions such as company naming, tagline, logo, new website, new capabilities brochure, new digital marketing campaign, new trade print campaign, etc.

All of these strategic communications initiatives outlines in the preceding blog posts really depend upon what you fundamentally believe.

If you believe the source of marketing inefficiency and under-performance is that your creative partners or agencies aren’t doing their jobs, keep chasing vendors until you find the “right” one.

If you believe the source of marketing genius is in identifying the flavor-of-the-month tool of target reach, keep chasing tactics and incremental performance.

But if you believe, as I do, that genuine marketing breakthroughs come from genuine marketing think-throughs, consider having me sharpen your creative briefs, revisit your positioning or refresh your brand by defining it in a more target-resonant way via thorough brand discovery and a new brand strategy (brand messaging architecture).

Your Positioning Brief Sets The Course for Clarity & Marketing Impact

Copywriter, Positioning & Branding Consultant & Company Naming Agency Articulated Brands, Los Angeles

Your positioning brief positions you for maximum leverage, communications clarity and marketing impact.

Your positioning brief or strategy brief is many times more powerful than any of your day-to-day assignment-focused creative briefs. This is because instead of just informing or guiding a single marketing initiative, we are working at the company level to forge greater pathways of connection. Every downstream piece of communications now has a platform to run on, if you will.

First, be something. Then, say something. (Then, add difference, dimension and depth to your position with complete 360° brand discovery by a brand strategist.)

Brand ultimately sits atop position, but too many skip this critical step. It is far more important to know your strategic position and only then, perhaps, to assess whether there are previously unconsidered opportunities to build a stronger brand on top of it. Whatever the specific message, who that message is coming from matters greatly. The vast problem we see these days are companies running on promotion or brand alone. Neither will endure for the long haul. Knowing your position, making sure it’s the right one and reinforcing that differentiated position consistently and at every turn are the muscles behind your marketing budget. Keep healthy. Stay fit.

Some of the questions a marketing consultant, positioning consultant or content strategist asks to ensure you are building your marketing house on a solid foundation:

  1. Does your Unique Selling Proposition accurately and precisely capture why targets should care? In this way, greater focus for your marketing actually serves to create greater focus for the company as a whole.
  1. What three things render your market unique? If you are concerned that your business isn’t niche-oriented, this is an opportunity to carve out a niche based upon unique target needs or other demographic or psycho-graphic elements.
  1. Of course, we are going to examine the competitor positioning and messaging. But I am often able to bring new energy to the proceedings, and to the company as a whole, by asking the question in terms of competitive forces. What is preventing us from achieving our sales objectives and what is preventing us from connecting with our targets are two much more profound questions that help me steer my brand marketing and brand messaging clients in the right direction.
  1. Have you demonstrated the pure courage it takes to have your SWOT exercise or your list of First’s, Best’s, Most’s & Only’s by a fresh, objective, high-energy perspective?
  1. When we assess “who the company is” for the purposes of tightening up your positioning, we focus primarily on the target’s end-game, with the company being defined as the sole deliverer of these specific benefits. What are they thinking, feeling and doing post-consumption of the marketing message and post-transaction? (We judiciously save the bigger picture investigations into beliefs, culture and brand personality for brand work, wherein they can be more precisely reverse-engineered for greater enduring value.)
  1. If you are dissatisfied with either a) the creative work coming your way or b) the performance of your marketing in general, odds are very good that the disconnects and inefficiencies aren’t happening at a superficial level. Chances are also quite good that some solid positioning and brand messaging diagnostics will put you on a path to greater impact, greater resonance and a more effective, enduring target connection strategy.

What separates a great marketing consultant or positioning consultant from the also-rans?

It’s not that the questions that one marketing consultant asks or that one book invites you to ask are all that fundamentally different. What matters is that you’re working with someone who can very quickly get up to speed on the various elements of juice running through your business model, rapidly identify those areas where you are already strong and clear, and focus his/her attention around those cornerstone positioning and messaging issues wherein you are most likely to receive the biggest value.

As mentioned in the blog post on creative briefs, but it is yet more critical at the company’s strategic positioning level, you need to be working with someone who possesses enough experience to be able to trace the creative trajectory of any given point, notion or stipulation in the brief, sufficient tact and diplomacy to know where and when to probe more deeply and challenge the assumptions, but also enough instinct and confidence to know that an ounce of prevention in your company’s fundamental positioning is worth a pound of post-marketing cure. Time and money spent chasing incremental performance, paid to outside media outlets and agencies, is time and money you should be investing right into your own company. An increased internal understanding of how to better connect with more customers so that they will part with more of their money is invaluable. Follow the money.

 

 

 

 

The Sharper The Creative Brief, The Mightier The Marketing

The sharper your creative brief, the more explosive the copy writing, the more ingenious the design

The creative brief is assignment-based. If your brief is accepted by your copywriter, graphic designer or other creative partner or vendor, it means there is general agreement that the creative challenge isolated is the right one, that it has been stated precisely, that it is likely solvable and that you should expect to see a solution or solutions that answer to it.

Though there are currently 18 questions on Articulated Brands’ creative brief, some key points to consider are:

  1. Are we throwing the kitchen sink at them, laundry-listing our way into marketing oblivion, or have we used the creative briefing process as a way to whittle down and hone in on the single most powerful and important thing to be saying at this point in time?
  1. Have we been anticipatory about the creative process? Have we made clear choices (often 51/49 decisions) with respect to those factors that would detract from problem-solving focus?
  1. Are we selling company, product and service features over benefits? An even more exacting art/science: have we chosen the right benefit upon which to hang our marketing performance hat?
  1. Do we have any NEW unique insights about ourselves, this segment or the marketplace in general? NEW means if we want this communication to score better than our last, most recent initiative, what are we willing to let go of and what new brand marketing or brand messaging principle or company sales idea are we willing to embrace?
  1. If there are multiple audiences or objectives, has a proper hierarchy been established to avoid a muddled message?
  1. Is this the right medium for this message?

Not all brand strategists, creative directors or copywriters bring a pragmatic business development mindset to the creative briefing process.

It’s not that the questions from one agency’s creative brief to another’s are all that fundamentally different. What matters is that you’re working with someone with enough experience to be able to trace the creative trajectory of any given point, notion or stipulation in the brief, sufficient tact and diplomacy to know where and when to probe more deeply and challenge the assumptions, but also enough instinct and confidence to know that an ounce of prevention in a creative brief is worth tons of post-execution doubt, debate and delay.

You can be a growth hacker without being a creative hack.

When working at the creative brief level, it is assumed you already have a tight Unique Selling Proposition or USP (company level) and tight Unique Value Propositions or UVP’s (products & services) in place. It is assumed you aren’t looking to re-position or re-brand the entire company with one small creative assignment. The gains we seek are increased impact, increased attention and increased action, all because we took the time to more precisely set our target sights. But what too many on both the business side and the creative side of marketing fail to acknowledge is that a tighter, smarter brief doesn’t interfere with creative marketing magic. It precedes it. Or, as John Dewey stated it:

“A problem well put is half solved.”

 

The 7 Things Keeping You From Increasing Sales Revenue and Marketing ROI

7 Factors Robbing You of Greater Sales, Marketing Impact and Marketing ROI

The 7 Things Keeping You From Accelerated Sales Revenue Growth, Strategic Marketing Impact and Increased Marketing ROI

If you’ve been feeling anxious or frustrated because you know you’re sitting on untapped business potential, you’re certainly not alone. It’s not that most businesses wouldn’t relish greater leads, greater sales and greater market share. It’s not that most don’t want the whole world to know about the unique value in store for them. It’s that most would prefer a quick fix to what are often deep-seated, core communications issues that have often been left unaddressed for years. But you don’t want to be that guy or girl. You want to be the fearless company superhero who grabs the marketing bull by the, what else, the bullhorn!

When people genuinely want greater sales and greater success, then they are also ready to really dig in and get their hands dirty. Only then do they begin removing the roadblocks to increasing sales revenues, measurable marketing impact and sustainable marketing ROI.

So, What 7 Obstacles to Business Growth Do Companies Need to Overcome to Achieve Breakthrough Marketing Performance?

  1. Loss of focus & clarity: in order to get more out of your marketing, you need greater clarity and focus around 1) the definition and priority of the marketing function in the organization itself and 2) your points of target intersect and whether they are expressed in your core position and messages.
  1. Resource allocations & priorities: too often businesses, especially small businesses, claim they don’t have money left over for marketing. So long as every expenditure that came before was invested in customer creation, that may, in fact, be true. But what I see with astounding frequency is a long list of unrelated or purely tactical marketing expenses, with no investment into the core of the company – its fundamental ability to connect with the people who feed it.
  1. Increasing awareness and increasing interest: creating interest may not be easy, perhaps especially so in B2B marketing communications, but to connect better with your target audiences, you need to have something worth saying. To be more resonant, you need to be more relevant. Rarely does this happen without greater focus and clarity around your core messages. Genuine creativity can be an enormously valuable asset to the business, but you’ve got to become more familiar with the process, which includes its stewards. Know exactly how you’ve got to talk to it. Become friendly with it. It will love you back and fetch you sticks and stuff.
  1. Increasing understanding: surprisingly, many companies want their targets to have an understanding of their business value that actually exceeds their own. No. To increase others’ understanding, we must first take the time out to organize, clarify and distill so we can simplify both for ourselves and for those we need to persuade. Only by simplifying can we begin to make all those little marketplace light bulbs turn on.
  1. Increasing excitement: yes, creating excitement is about garnering attention, but did you know it’s more than a “retail” device for creating urgency? The style and creativity of your communications also help you cultivate a positive predisposition to working with and purchasing from you. Humor works exceptionally well at getting prospects to lose some of the armor and understandable marketing cynicism.
  1. Marketing and sales systems: tactics in isolation, short term thinking and ad hoc planning will never get you to enduring sales performance or long term, sustainable marketing ROI. Engineering the company to be a customer creator isn’t easy. Resist the urge for instant marketing and sales gratification. Think systems and structure. Be that wise third little pig who built in brick, critics, naysayers and peanut gallery, be damned. First, marketing strategy, messaging strategy and infrastructure. Then, marketing budgeting and planning. Then, briefing. Then, creative. Then, marketing.
  1. Recognize where there’s parity and, for gosh sakes, do something about it: businesses are reluctant to embrace creativity because it is, in fact, so difficult to manage. But strategy and creativity together are how you differentiate, often imbuing the entire company with elevated perceptions of value. The tighter your strategy, the more you can hold your creative deliverables, and the precious dollars behind them, accountable. From your company name to the design of your corporate identity, and from the tone and style of your website to the look and feel of your trade show display and marketing collateral, opportunities for greater differentiation are everywhere. Use them. The sea of sameness will pull you under, leaving you vulnerable to price concessions, wimpy marketing, market share drift or worse.

The 3 Paths You Can Follow To Increase Marketing Impact and Sharpen Your Marketing Strategy

When you are looking to increase the impact and efficiency of your marketing communications, and wish to do so strategically, you have three great options. While all three revolve around the same central questions – they each take a different route, with obviously increasing degrees of intensity, business-mindfulness, thoroughness and their capacity for increasing resonance, differentiation and long-term marketing performance.

The same central questions are always about honing in on your points of target intersect. Who we are, who they are and what is the available messaging space may seem like easy questions on the surface. But how deep you, your agency, your copywriter or your brand messaging specialist dive into these has everything to do with the results you get. The three different angles of attack include a small, medium and large option, depending upon the size of the difference you want to make in your marketing strategy and the rate of company growth you seek are:

SMALL            >>>     THE CREATIVE BRIEF

MEDIUM        >>>     THE POSITIONING BRIEF OR STRATEGY BRIEF

LARGE             >>>     BRAND BLUEPRINT OR BRANDING BRIEF

Up the ante on your business’ marketing

Here are more details on your 3 golden opportunities to increase marketing performance by clarifying and simplifying your marketing messages:

The creative brief

The creative brief sets the strike zone for “how to say it best,” by making sure the “it” of your assignment is precise, salient and executable. Who targets for this piece of communication are, where they are in their own minds or in the buying process (real communications, branding and marketing insight is psychological not just geographical), and what nobody else is saying are all ripe for review, reinvention and reorganization by a fresh brand development perspective. Naturally, all of this needs to be vexed and vetted prior to “rushing to execute,” a notoriously bad habit that bypasses marketing’s most virtuous and valuable service to you: how to better connect you with your audience.

The positioning brief

The positioning brief digs even deeper into the “what” of what to say, but it takes a company-wide approach. Here, we aren’t thinking about only one product or service and only one communications medium, but the platform for the entire company. In addition to a tightened and newly calibrated Unique Selling Proposition, your strategic positioning brief should make clear for all future creative assignments (company, service or product naming, tagline, logo, etc.) how who we exist for and the benefits we deliver are unique to us.

A brand blueprint or brand strategy document

Your brand strategy documentation or brand blueprint identifies a more robust brand position by spelling out the company’s core competitive differences, converting what you need to be saying into a “who” (who must the company be in order to better connect) and a “why” (what drives this one-of-a-kind marketplace personality.) At Articulated Brands, we deliver a personality matrix that defines a core attitude for the company and its 3-5 supporting pillars. We then contrast the proscribed brand with key competitors, seeking to ensure a differentiated brand and highlighting opportunities to widen the moat whenever possible. Your brand blueprint can also go a long way into informing the “how” of your communications in the form of an uber-brief that will govern all other forthcoming assignment-specific briefs.

The good news is you can begin to sharpen your marketing sword starting tomorrow.

In all of these initiatives, whether quick & breezy or studied & methodical, it is the ability to open up simultaneous areas of inquiry and to juggle a vast amount of variables (precious little is binary in the worlds of ideas and perceptions) in order to arrive at a set of more precise marching orders for your marketing dollars. After all, strategy is not a choice of outreach tactics, nor is it a simple statement of business purpose or marketing objectives. It is a carefully measured recipe – which ingredients at what quantities will yield the preferred mix of near and long-range gains? Tough choices, nuance, imagination and pragmatic business thoughtfulness: these are the hallmarks of legendary brand strategy.

The next 3 blog posts will be devoted to how you can get to greater focus, simplicity, impact and effectiveness in your brand messaging.

In the next 3 blog posts, we will sequentially discuss how to improve marketing results via: your creative brief, your positioning or strategy brief and the document that spells out your brand’s DNA – your brand blueprint or brand roadmap. The following 3 blog posts will go deeper into detail for each of the approaches and work scopes.

 

 

 

SEO Website Copywriter’s Checklist

An SEO Website Copywriter’s Checklist:

 Some questions to ask to make sure your website is search engine friendly.

  1. Did your SEO website copywriter create lots of great, unique content?
  2. Is it written in natural language or robot-ese?
  3. Are content and copy good enough so that it will be easy to gain lots of links?
  4. Site fundamentals: are you using a top level domain?
  5. Site fundamentals: are you using hyphens in your urls?
  6. Site fundamentals: are your urls too long?
  7. Site fundamentals: what is the site age and size; what is the current page rank?
  8. Page rank: is the site properly listed in DMOZ or Yahoo?
  9. Page rank: how long is the domain registered for, what is the page traffic, how long do visitors stay on the page?
  10. Freshness: how frequently are updates made, in what amount, are new links added?
  11. Keyword Research: have you combined the expected with unexpected and longtail keyword approaches?
  12. Keyword Selection: have you used Google’s keyword tools and checked search volume and competition for your keywords?
  13. Keyword Utilization: have you used your keyword in the url, the title tag, the description and keyword metatags?
  14. Keyword Placement: has your SEO website copywriter used the keyword in your H1, H2 and H3 and with appropriate density in the body text?
  15. Keyword Placement: has your SEO website copywriter paid attention to prominence, proximity, phrase order, use of the keyword in alt text, in links to site pages and in anchor text?
  16. Internal Links: are you linking internally using a hub and spoke strategy and making sure all links are valid?
  17. External Links: are you linking externally to no more than 100 sites, with keywords in your anchor text and maintaining consistent link stability?
  18. Backlinks: are you bearing in mind the overall quality and PR of the linkback sites? Are you increasing the amount of good backlinks gradually over time?
  19. Backlinks: are you guest blogging and posting on high PR sites to increase your own authority?
  20. Social Media: are you using social signals on your site to show the search engines that people find it timely and relevant, including the use of video?

Social Media for SEO

Social Media: a marketing approach in its own right, but also great for SEO

Social Media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and any new ones that might spring up later today) helps you accomplish several things for your website and your SEO efforts. Essentially, the social media serve the same purpose for which the search engines initially relied solely upon backlinks. How can you, if you’re a robot who can only think in the binary, determine the quality of a given website? You look to others. It’s almost Tom Sawyer-ian in its devilish genius. Make everybody else do the work!

Use the social media to affirm the quality of your website content

An active social media presence sends a powerful signal to the search engines. Firstly, the number of followers and likes is an overall indication of your site’s popularity. Secondly, when people share the content of your site via your link, obviously, all of those become backlinks, be they via Facebook, Twitter, etc. While we’re on the topic of social media for search optimization, also remember to utilize youtube and/or vimeo, and, if you can, include video on your site, as well. These days, the search engines love seeing video on your site, and it makes for excellent sharing on social media.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Backlinks Are Reason To Get Juiced

Backlinks are reason to get juiced

Backlinks, also called linkbacks, are perhaps the most important, most challenging, most misunderstood aspects of SEO. When other sites point back to your site, the search engines take that as a sign of endorsement. Depending upon how much the engine likes them, some of that trust is conferred upon you. This is called the passing of link juice.

Backflips for backlinks: it’s not easy but it’s worth it

The easiest, most surefire way to start collecting backlinks is to make sure your site is listed on any site with which you have a pre-existing relationship. Think in terms of the chamber of commerce, industry associations, alumni associations and the sites of strategic partners. Next, to gain even more backlinks you may want to list your site on various directories. The thing to keep in mind here is that directories, spreading their juice to so many sites, aren’t going to be the end-all, be-all when it comes to showing the engines how well-respected you are. Now, think of all the social sites where your site can be featured – those are good. Now, think about spreading some content around the web, with all of that content linking back to your site. Good, good, good! Now, what about doing some guest blogging on some high PR blogs or sites where they allow “dofollow: links. The holy grail in backlinking? Manual creation of linkbacks. You find a site where you want to be included and you sell them on the idea of why they should link back to you. People used to trade backlinks, but, uh, does Google look in any way dumb to you? People used to buy links? Again, why not direct your resources to where they can actually do you some good?

When search engines evaluate backlinks, what are they analyzing?

Backlink assessments come in two categories. There’s your site and then there’s the referring page and site. Let’s tackle your site first. The search engines crawl your website frequently and try to gain an up-to-date view of it and its connectedness and respectability throughout the web. They are going to look at your total number of incoming links, the number of those links that are from high PR pages, any acceleration detected in your link popularity (not always a good thing), the anchor text used in the backlink, the age of the link and how frequently the anchor text is changed.

Now, let’s turn to all of your referring pages. They analyze those, too. Here, of course, it starts with the page rank of the incoming link, and higher is definitely better. But popularity of the page matters, too, and popularity and page rank don’t always mean the same thing. The number of outgoing links on the referrer page matters a great deal because to be listed as one of many potential sources of information is one thing but to be singled out has far greater value. Keyword density and the position of the link are also factored into the equation. The HTML title of the referring page and whether the theme is the same or different also matter. Ultimately, you want your backlinks to affirm the content authority you’ve already established in your SEO copywriting and web content development plan. Better content, more backlinks, higher page rank, higher search position, more traffic… greater opportunities to convert. But only if your quest for SEO and backlinks hasn’t interfered with your ability to produce engaging, benefit-rich website copy. Better website copy begets more backlinks.

 

 

 

External Links

External links honor the marketing principle of “What’s In It For Them?”

External links show how deeply connected you are to your subject matter, to resources , news and leaders in the field. They also show you are more concerned with getting your visitors to the information they seek, which renders you a helpful provider in their eyes and “not a bad Joe” to seek out should they wish to throw some money at you.

External links let you demonstrate how far you’re willing to take them to be of service

When the engines crawl and analyze your site’s external links, there are five key things you should bear in mind when developing your list or preparing for your SEO web copywriting. First and foremost, yes, you most certainly should be linking out. It may not be as important as it once was, but it is absolutely still a leading SEO priority. That said, the second thing you should bear in mind is that you really shouldn’t have more than 100 links out. If you’re sending them to that many other places, it kind of begs the question, is there anything valuable to be found at your site? Your outgoing link anchor text should be complete with relevant keywords, and your site should show link stability over time – if you thought it was valuable at one point to send them to the National Meteorological website, why are you suddenly changing your mind? Lastly, always make sure of the validity of your external links.

 

 

 

 

Internal Links

Wiki your website: internal links turn your website into a mini, hyper-focused internet

Internal links may seem counter-intuitive or even counterproductive at first. After you’ve gone to all the trouble to get them to your page, optimizing it for a keyword, developing great, unique content, etc., why would you send them elsewhere? By promoting the other content on your site, you show both visitors and the engines that your site is more than a one-trick pony. No, we say, when it comes to this subject or industry, welcome to a treasure trove! Of course, link juice is still passing, even internally, so hopefully one great page begets another. Suppose there are two very similar pages, both of them explaining how to calculate an element of tax law. One links to other pages that show how to calculate other required amounts, the other exists in isolation. Which page and site provide a more valuable experience? Which should come up first for the desperate tax filer? The additional upside is that lots of relevant content also yields longer dwell times, which will then also affirm your status in the eyes of the engines.

Internal links show you have lots to offer an information-seeker

By going broad while remaining well-ordered, you present yourself as more of a single source destination. No, you tell the engines, my users won’t have to build a never-ending trail from page to page across the world wide web. We’re going to give them more of what they may need, all in one place. The advice isn’t necessarily to develop more content (although that’s always good), it’s to take advantage of all of your other pages by directing people there. Hey, you were searching for apples. We’re going to wow you with apple information. Now, perhaps we can tell you a little about a) the nutritional properties of apples, b) our approach to apple farming, c) how to make a great apple pie or d) bananas?

Things to keep in mind when implementing internal linking

A center & spokes strategy tends to be a preferred method of organizing both your site and your internal links. This lets you create a “power page” wherein all tier or sub-category pages link back to a more definitive, umbrella page. Going back to our tax calculator example, the hub page could be a page devoted to easy and free online tax calculators. Each spoke page could then include an internal link back to that center. But whichever approach you use, just make sure you do, in fact, link to your internal pages and test to ensure all internal links are valid.