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Today was interesting. I’m in beautiful visiting Mexico on vacation, and while shopping at a local flea market, I was approached – practically all at once after distinctly hearing one merchant yell out “Americans” – by over 30 different people selling random products. They were aggressive in a “buy my shit or I’ll make sure you don’t leave here alive” kind of way, but some were pretty good at targeting my interests. My first feeling was that of being overwhelmed, but slowly I got my balance back.
One merchant said, “I have best price on Harley Davidson shirt. Almost free!” Interesting. I wasn’t wearing any Harley stuff, but I do ride a Harley. I am fond of them. Maybe it was my 2 week old scruff?
“We have 50 different kinds of tequila here,” said another. Again, brilliant relevance. I have a soft spot for hard liquor.
“Buy your lady a hat!” Shit, that guy tried to chump me right in front of my girlfriend, so of course that would make me bite.
But then the last one said, “Blow? Weed? Viagra?”
I’m not a drug guy, and don’t need… umm… Viagra (yet). So maybe since I looked like a drunk hippie biker, I looked like a good prospect? Either way, it was off target, and I got the hell out of that part of the market.
The digital world can be like a flea market. We’ve gotten better at yelling more relevant things at prospects thanks to remarking cookies, analytics, and so on. But with all the growing noise, it’s still really hard to tune into any one voice – especially if you’re not in a buying mood. We know the majority of people in a buying mood are using search. So, the inbound marketers try to create more relevant landing pages, but even we can miss our target if we assume we’re being heard correctly. In this case, a landing page about Harley Davidson products, tequila, and Mexican hats for my girlfriend would have probably held my attention perfectly, and pushed me towards a conversion. But one awry signal too many and a red flag goes up. We wind up punching out, going back to Google, and hitting the second listing… if not refining our search.
What Can You Do To Convert In Your Marketplace The First Time?
Only hit people with exactly what they want, and don’t hit too hard. It’s my belief that people really don’t want to search. They use Google because they have to, but if they have to search your site (or even your landing page) once they click off Google, you’re risking a bounced visit. Make the items worth highlighting big, bright, and bold. Assume you have 3 seconds to lock them in before they retreat back to the SERPs.
Make they’re life easier. Just give them the offers or content, with as little fluff or obvious funneling as possible. For most of us who aren’t major brand stores or news outlets, less is more. You have a better chance at being a “convenient store” than trying to go up against an Amazon, but if you’re landing pages are also uber-niche to boot, you’ll be more successful.
Finding out exactly what to write about isn’t too difficult. I look at Ubersuggest, a great keyword research tool run off Google Suggest. Run some queries relevant to your topic idea, and jot down a few that seem like potentials. Do they inspire buckets? Or do they inspire a single paragraph, or maybe a whole stand-alone page?
Also look at the new attribution feature in Google Analytics. Do you see any back to back searches that suggest what a user is really looking for? Did they search Girl’s Harley Hat, then Gifts For Women? If I saw that I’d sure be wishing I had a page titled “Harley Davidson Gifts For Women – Harley Hats” (or something like that). What I wouldn’t want to do is add men’s hats, or other motorcycle hats on this page (except maybe in the navigation). Too much noise and irrelevance doesn’t make your landing page convenient. I’d even try to find a way to write something interesting about women bikers who are passionate about the Harley brand and collect hats (yes, these women do exist). Do this, and you’d have just created a small, relevant, clean, clear, niche page that may not get a huge amount of traffic, but can get a few interested shoppers who intend to stick around. Better yet, you won’t have to chase them down and yell at them. Great success!
Oh, and some proof that this is a true story, here’s my girlfriend walking out with the hat I got suckered into buying:
Update: 1/22/2013 – This post was written about the time Panda and Penguin were starting to make huge waves. We didn’t really have our hands around their targets. Although this is an old tactic that probably doesn’t have legs anymore, and could get you a date with a Google hand editor if you abuse it, it’s still somewhat valid at least as a general marketing play. If you are a full time content marketer, you’re probably still talking about comment marketing in your circles. Many marketers I know still claim huge value in comment marketing as a source of generating new relationships. So I still use this tactic – more so to find areas where a good conversation may exist (and I can leave a link that can help my SEO). That’s not to say I won’t / don’t comment on nofollow blogs. I go where the conversation is (with an eye to where my editorial comment could add some trust to Google’s algorithm). Google would be asinine to remove comment value all together. For those that play by the rules, that’s about as editorial as you get. Killing comments would be cutting off their nose to spite their face.
I submitted this tip for a chance to win an 8 minute presentation at the Search Church through SEOmoz. I didn’t win. Am I bitter? Hell yeah I’m bitter, but instead I’ll probably be sitting in the audience with a basket of tomatoes ready to peg anyone with a worse tip than this.
As a link builder doing white hat work, you know it’s about PR, the pitch, and the R&D (researching prospects and developing relationships). It’s time consuming, and takes a lot of organization. ”Did I follow up with that prospect? Did I just email him twice? Damn!” Sometimes you just want an easy way to get a few links. There’s always blog link networks… wait, scratch that. Well, there’s also CommentLuv.
CommentLuv is a WordPress plugin. With 73 million WordPress blogs out there, there’s plenty of people who might be using this relatively popular plugin. To get the benefit of this tip, you need to be visiting a site with CommentLuv installed. You don’t need to have CommentLuv installed on your WordPress installation, but you do need a WordPress installation. Yup – it’s a WordPress thing. Edit: Apparently CommentLuv will pull in posts from other non-WordPress sites. I didn’t know that. More joy!
Check it out on YouTube.
A site that has CommentLuv installed looks something like this, typically after the standard WordPress comment box.
Now watch what happens when I enter a comment, and use my GreenlaneSEO site as the website (that’s right kids, I use WordPress. Now go ahead and hack me. I have nothing left to lose!)
Boom. CommentLuv reached out to my WordPress blog, saw the last post I had created, and created this link. I can’t wait to see what it looks like when the blogger approves this post. And since I’m a white hat SEO (for this post), I actually took the time to read this blog post and comment with something that added to the conversation. I used my real email address so I don’t look spammy to the blogger. I even used my real name because I’m, well, cocky.
Why are some of the CommentLuv links nofollowed, while others aren’t? No clue. It’s blogger preference, and a setting in their plugin. If the blogger opted for the paid / pro version of CommentLuv you’ll get even more option available to the commenter, notably the choice of a few other recent blog posts to link. You’ll see that from time to time. That’s right – some bloggers are actually OK giving you PageRank in your comment links (hint – I’m one!!!).
A side note on submitting comments on WordPress. Some installations will clear the comment once you submit, and some will show your comment in a moderation state. I’ve even seen the CommentLuv link get nofollowed while in the moderation state. Don’t panic. Drink a beer and relax. You have to be patient and wait for the blogger to approve your comment. If you leave a stupid comment, prepare to get canned.
Google, of course. Just ask the all-powerful, all-wise, all-knowing algorithm who seems to get everything right but how to make use of social signals. Enter this query into Google’s search box:
inurl:”2012“+intext:”CommentLuv badge”+”recently posted”+”keyword“
The items in bold are knobs, meaning you can change them. So what are we looking at here? The inurl operator tells Google to return back a page with 2012 in the URL string. Wordpress by default likes to post dates of your posts, and since you’d prefer more recent posts (so you know the blogger is still alive), you can enter 2012. Or, you can enter in a keyword that you think will be in the permalink. For example, if I just wrote a post about stratocaster guitars, I’d probably want my link to appear in a blog post about stratocasters. More relevant link juice could get passed. It’s possible I’d enter “stratocaster” in where “2012″ currently is, that way I could bring up posts like http://www.jag-stang.com/faq/general/will-a-mustang-neck-fit-on-a-stratocaster/.
The next knob is the “keyword” knob. You want to dig up some posts with some similar keywords not just in the URL, but in the body as well. Enter that here. In the case where my inurl is “stratocaster,” my keyword might be “guitar” or “Fender” or “Eric Clapton.”
But we’re not done. By doing this you’ll get lots of potential (and relevant) CommenLuv pages. But are they fresh? Sure Caffeine is supposed to make the results fresher, but not as fresh as humanly possibly. But don’t worry. We have a filter for that as well.
1. Install a nofollow checker into your browser.
2. Use the search query I provided – tweak as necessary to find relevant blogs.
3. Scan the page quickly to see if the CommentLuv links are followable. If not, go back to the SERPs and pick the next link.
4. Once you find a good page, read (scan) the post and leave a thoughtful contribution.
Will this get you the ban hammer? It shouldn’t if you play it right. If there’s one thing I know, it’s how to get banned from Google (hey, everyone needs a hobby). But going into this with the actual intent of adding editorial value is what Google’s vague Webmaster Guidelines want.
If you wanted to go a little gray / black on this, there are scripts that can overwrite your RSS feed (where this info is being pulled) and change your titles so that the anchor text that shows in the links is more of a keyword. But if an exact match anchor text is what you want you want in your link, I suppose you could also just name your post with that keyword. Done deal.
I actually find this to be a pretty fun tactic. Not only do I discover good content, but I get to engage in conversations that are relevant to my site and interests. I get to find content ideas, and I get to archive some new potential link prospects for guest posts. I’ve created a shared Google Doc with a few of my close SEO friends where we share a bunch of the good sites that we found using this technique.
Happy link building.