The Era of Platform Marketing

By John Eberhard

This may end up being one of the most important article I have ever written on marketing.

There has been a major shift in marketing over the past 10-15 years. This applies completely with small businesses and to a lesser degree with larger businesses.

We have entered the era of platform marketing.

First let me define the terms. A “platform” in this case is defined as a system, method, company, or website that a business will use to market its products or services.

Some examples of platforms are: Google Ads, Google My Business, Google organic search, Bings Ads, Facebook, Yelp, email marketing, direct mail, display advertising, YellowPages.com, HomeAdvisor.com, Thumbtack.com, Upwork.com, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.

The reason I believe we have entered a new era in small business marketing is:

In today’s small business marketing, the marketing platform that you use has become more important than what your message is, in terms of your success or failure.

It is possible today, to have a mediocre message, but to be advertising on the right marketing platform, and be extremely successful.

On the other hand, it is also possible to have a well crafted message, but to be marketing on the wrong marketing platform, and be a total failure.

This does not mean that the message or the positioning are not important, but it means that the platforms one uses today have more impact than the positioning.

This is true in part because of the way Internet platforms in particular have evolved, and in the way they have a life cycle that can sometimes run incredibly fast. In some cases, marketing platforms that would have gone through their life cycle over decades, are now doing so in a few years or less.

Evolution of Marketing Platforms

First of all, marketing platforms have evolved on the Internet in such a way that they value certain advertisers and devalue others. In other words, certain advertisers are given great value or prominence, and others are given no value or prominence.

What this means is that certain advertisers get great value from a given platform while others get none. And in many cases the number of advertisers that can have any benefit from a given platform are much less than the total advertisers or potential advertisers that there are.

An example is Google My Business, the listings that appear on Google near the top of the page when one searches, that are associated with a map, and are nearly always local oriented businesses.

If you search for “dentist Palmdale CA,” where I live, you will see 4 Google My Business listings for dentists. Yet in Palmdale, and in any other city or suburb, there are probably 50 or more dentists. So the other 46 dentists can get zero benefit from Google My Business, because practically no one will click on the “more places” link. And whether or not it is clear what you need to do to be in one of those top 4 positions, which often it isn’t, you still will be competing with 50 other guys for 4 positions. Kind of like trying to make it big in the music business.

Another example is Google organic search. The vast majority of people searching for something will not go past page one. So they will see a maximum of 10 organic listings. And competition is fierce for those top 10 positions, especially in crowded markets.

There are other examples, but basically you get the idea. Many of the top marketing platforms on the web have evolved in such a way that only a limited number of advertisers can benefit from them. Even when there is plenty of business to go around, it mainly goes to a small number of guys who got there early or meet some other, often secret, criteria.

I think this has something to do with what Al Reis and Laura Reis called the “Law of Singularity” in their book Immutable Laws of Internet Branding. They talked about how the Internet tends to operate to eliminate all but one competitor in a given niche. Whereas before the advent of the Internet, there were always at least 3-4 competitors in a national niche. Now with the Internet, Reis and Reis say, it tends to evolve towards just one giant company getting all the business, like Google, Amazon, eBay, etc.

Whether the “Law of Singularity” is related here or not, most advertising platforms on the Internet have evolved in such a way that only a limited number of advertisers can benefit from them, and the rest are basically out of luck.

While I do understand Google’s desire to “present the most relevant search results” to searchers (and each platform has their own system or mandate), it doesn’t necessarily work well for all the advertisers. And the platforms don’t seem to care about that.

And I am not just trying to whine about “competing is hard” or anything like that. With most of these platforms, one can figure out what criteria you have to meet to be more competitive, and work towards that. But what I am saying is that these systems tend to severely limit how many advertisers can be successful, in terms of actually being seen and getting leads.

The Life Cycle of a Platform

I have observed that each marketing platform goes through a life cycle, which goes like this.

a. A new advertising medium or platform starts up
b. A decent number of public start using it to find products or services
c. At first a small number of advertisers use the medium
d. Later on, as word gets around that the medium works for advertisers, the number of advertisers grows massively
e. The massive number or advertisers causes either: a) the number of leads to diminish for individual advertisers, or b) the cost per lead increases, or both

If a business starts to use the advertising medium at “c” above, their results will likely be huge. I remember using Google AdWords back in 2005, when leads were coming in hand over fist. But if an advertiser starts using the medium at “e” above, it’s possible they will never get good results and will probably discontinue using that medium.

Some examples:

  • Google AdWords is definitely at point “e” above. This has driven bid prices up to the point where only businesses selling a high ticket item can afford to advertise on AdWords. For those businesses the medium still can work great. But more competition pushes bid prices up more and more, and makes getting consistent results more difficult.
  • Yelp is at point “e” above. A few years ago you could have a free listing on Yelp and you would get a decent number of leads from that. Now you pretty much have to have one of their paid ad accounts. If so, you can still get a decent number of leads from Yelp.
  • Right now, Facebook advertising is somewhere between “c” and “d” above, depending on the type of company advertising and the public being promoted to. So you can still in some cases get lower costs per lead. But Facebook isn’t appropriate for all types of companies. It’s better for B2C (business to consumer) than B2B (business to business) companies.
  • Email promo went through a slightly different lifecycle. Basically back in 2000-2001, email promo was working like gangbusters. I worked for a software company and we were making millions with it. Then a few years later, guys selling Viagra and toner cartridges abused the medium by overusing it, which for all intents and purposes killed it, except for emailing to your in-house list of clients and prospects.

This doesn’t mean that you should stop using Google AdWords, Yelp, email marketing or any other advertising medium, if it is working for you. It doesn’t mean those media don’t work anymore. But it does mean that there are cracks in the armor, that those media don’t always work for everyone today.

Commoditization

One other factor, which contributes to the lack of effectiveness for some marketing platforms, is that many of the platforms today tend to commoditize the advertisers.

In this case the word “commodity” means something that one buys, where all the providers of that product or service are basically perceived as the same.

So to commoditize a product or service means to reduce its features or values to the point where all the providers of that product or service are perceived as the same, so that the buyer is left with just judging it on price alone. And when that happens, none of the advertisers win because this phenomenon will deflate prices.

You could say that buyers benefit, but if prices in an industry are significantly reduced, particularly in a service industry, can quality be far behind?

For example there are a number of sites like Houzz.com, HomeAdvisor.com, Thumbtack.com, Bark.com, or Gigmasters.com, where a consumer can come and fill out a form seeking a service provider for something they need. Then that information is forwarded to a number of service providers. But the service provider has to provide a bid, usually without all the information they would normally need to price something. Then the consumer gets all these bids, usually without being able to truly differentiate between the providers. So it often just comes down to price.

Basically I’m saying that I don’t think that the commoditization of a whole industry is good for either the advertisers or the buyers.

The Platform is the Thing

So one of the most important actions in marketing today, is to find a marketing platform that will work for your business. And you have to be prepared to study them, and be prepared to test using several before you find one or several that work for you.

The keys to having a successful marketing platform today are:

  • The platform has to have adequate numbers of your potential clients or customers using it to find companies to do business with. You have to have enough eyeballs.
  • Where your listing can actually be seen, rather than lost in the shuffle on page 27.
  • What this usually means is, advertising on a medium where there are not a ton of competitors for your type of business. In other words, you could be on a platform where there are tons of advertisers, but as long as there aren’t tons in your particular type of business, you’ll be OK. If there are tons of competitors in your type of business, it’s probably best to find another platform.

I have often thought that platforms should have a system for rotating the advertisers being shown, rather than having a select few that they judge to be “better” according to whatever criteria they have selected. But unfortunately I don’t see any currently that operate that way.

Is that a challenge, to find the a platform that will work for your business? Sure! Some businesses never find one, and fail. For some, they have used a platform for many years and all of a sudden, or gradually find it doesn’t work anymore.

But hopefully these guidelines will help you in finding the platform or platforms that will work for you.

Cost Per Conversion

By John Eberhard

When doing pay per click advertising on Google AdWords, Facebook or Bing Ads, getting conversions is the most important result you are going for. A conversion is defined as someone responding to your offer. With a lead generation campaign, that means someone calling you on the phone or filling out a form on the website giving you their contact info. With e-commerce, a conversion is someone buying something online.

So the cost per conversion is an important metric to use in managing a pay per click ad campaign.

First of all, the way a pay per click campaign works is that every time someone clicks on your ad and comes to your landing page, you get charged money. Hence the name – pay per click.

So over a period of time, let’s say a month, you are charged a certain amount of money. And you can set how much money that will be.

The cost per conversion is figured out by taking the total amount of money you spent in a given period of time, and dividing that by the number of conversions you got. So if you spent $1,000 over a month’s time, and then got 20 conversions, your average cost per conversion was $50.

So first of all you have to set up the campaign so that it is tracking conversions. I often will start managing a campaign for someone and find out that it was never set up to track the number of conversions. That’s very important.

In managing a campaign, you will find that certain campaigns, certain ads, and certain keywords will be getting more conversions than others. You can sit there and try to figure out why some are doing better than others. Sometimes you can see a reason but sometimes you can’t.

You want your campaigns, your ads and your keywords to have the lowest possible cost per conversion.

For individual ads, for instance, you can and should be testing multiple ads against each other, running at the same time. This is called A-B testing. When you find out that the average cost per conversion for one ad is significantly lower than another, then you should keep the ad running that is getting the lower cost per conversion and pause the other ad with the higher cost per conversion.

With keywords it’s a little different because you generally want to keep all the keywords running that ARE getting conversions, because not all keywords will. One thing that I will do is select a date range that is very broad, like 6 months or a year. Then I will look for keywords that are getting lots of clicks (spending lots of money) but getting no conversions. I will pause those. That in itself will improve your overall average cost per conversion, because you are eliminating keywords where you are spending money but not getting conversions.

You might wonder what is an acceptable or good cost per conversion. Unfortunately there is no easy answer for this, because it varies wildly from industry to industry. When there is a lot of competition in a given industry, that drives the cost of clicks up, and thus the cost per conversion will also go up.

The most important thing is to get a cost per conversion that is viable for a business. In other words, a business can afford to pay a certain of money for a lead. So for a campaign to be sustainable, the cost per conversion has to be in a certain range.

Good luck with your pay per click ad campaigns.

SEO Case Studies

By John Eberhard

The methods used in SEO change over time and we work hard to keep up on the changes and use the most effective methods possible. And we check a variety of statistics monthly to measure how each SEO campaign is doing. The most important statistic that we rely on to measure progress is monthly website visits.

CLIENT: Tree Nursery, Seattle, WA

Real Web Marketing Inc. re-designed this client’s large website and began doing search engine optimization (SEO) for them in mid 2011. Their business, as with all landscaping related businesses, is very seasonal, with business hitting a low in December-January and then ramping up to a peak in May-June each year. So we measure our success on a year-to-year basis.

34% Increase


CLIENT: Dental Practice, Minneapolis, MN

Real Web Marketing Inc. re-designed this client’s website and began doing search engine optimization (SEO) for them in 2015. The graph shows the increase they have received in monthly web traffic over a two year period.

63% Increase


CLIENT: Manuscript Editor, Dallas, TX

Real Web Marketing Inc. did search engine optimization for this client from 2010 to 2014. The graph shows the increase they received in monthly web traffic over a four year period.

253% Increase


CLIENT: Foundation Contractor, Los Angeles, CA

Real Web Marketing Inc. has done search engine optimization for this client starting in 2009. The graph shows the increase they have received in monthly web traffic over a nine year period.

203% Increase


To find out more about how SEO services can increase your website traffic, click here.

A Facebook “Likes” Ad Campaign

By John Eberhard

Companies create a Facebook fan page in order to get their business message out to customers or prospects. Then you can post items of interest on your fan page, creating interest and engagement. The people who will see those posts are people who have “liked” your fan page.

So one of the things a business needs to do is to get a lot of people to like their fan page.

It used to be that every person who liked your page would then see your posts. Then several years ago Facebook changed their system so that only 15-20% of the people who liked a fan page would see the posts. Many people didn’t like that change, but the point is still that you need lots of people liking your fan page.

So how do you get lots of people to like your page? Well, within your personal profile, you can ask your Facebook friends to like a business fan page. And some will. But one of the most effective and simple ways to get people to like your fan page is to run a Facebook ad campaign geared specifically to getting people to like the page.

I have recently these campaigns for clients and gotten new likes in volume for roughly $1.00-1.35 each. So a monthly campaign with a modest budget of just $100-135 can get you 100 new likes per month.

And of course, you can target people in one geographical area, or by a variety of other factors:

Demographics: You can target people by their education level, by their income or net worth, whether they are homeowners or by their home type, by life events like a birthday or anniversary or their being away from home, if they have a new job or are in a new relationship, newly married, or recently moved. You can target people who are parents. You can also target people by their politics. You can target people in a certain industry or with a specific job title.

Interests: You can target people who have specific interests, like interest in a specific industry, or things like entertainment, family and relationships, fitness and wellness, food and drink, hobbies, shopping and fashion, sports and outdoors, or technology.

Behaviors: You can target users of specific mobile phone brands, people who recently bought a car, owners of specific car brands, people who made charitable donations and in what categories, people who have a specific operating system or use a specific browser, people who are expats from various countries, people who are investors of various types, you can select African Americans, Asians, or Hispanics, you can select people who have made recent purchases and in specific categories such as sports or household or technology, and you can select people who are recent home buyers or recent mortgage borrowers.  

This targeting allows you get people to like your page who are your target public for your products or services. And for a modest budget, if you keep it going each month, you’ll build up your page likes to a high level.

Reasons to Get a New Website

By John Eberhard

Here are a number of reasons why getting a newly designed website would be a good idea right now:

  1. Mobile Friendly: If your site was designed years ago, before it became a hard requirement for sites to be mobile friendly, it would be a really good idea to get this handled now. Statistics show that over half of web visitors today are coming to websites from a mobile phone. If your site was designed back when this wasn’t a thing, then it will show up tiny on the screen and the text won’t be readable. Which means most visitors on a mobile will just leave.

    Most new sites are made in a format called “responsive,” which means that the items on the page are moved around depending on the size of the screen (desktop, laptop, tablet, mobile), but are still readable.

  2. Changing Styles: Web design styles have changed a lot over the last 3-4 years. And although that by itself doesn’t mean you have to go chasing after every new styles that comes out, if your site is more than 5-6 years old, chances are it is starting to look old. A new design will make it look modern and up to date, and will give your visitors the idea that you care about your image and online presence. This is especially important if a lot of your competitors have newer looking websites but yours looks older.
  3. SSL Certificate: If you’re going to get a new website, it makes sense to get an SSL certificate at the same time. This changes your web address from http to https and makes the site more secure for visitors. Google has been pushing for all sites to have an SSL so browsing is made more safe for everyone. For sites that don’t have an SSL, Chrome and Firefox now have a message in the upper left saying that your site is “Not secure.” Having an SSL gives your visitors more confidence in using the site and especially filling out a form or using a shopping cart.
  4. No Response: If you have a site that looks nice, but isn’t getting response, something can be done about that. There are two possible reasons: 1) the site is not designed well to get responses from the people that are visiting, or 2) no one is visiting, i.e. your monthly number of visitors is very small. Design problems that would negatively affect people responding could include: a) no prominent phone number, b) no contact form on the site or it is hard to find, c) you have a shopping cart but it is hard to find or not prominent, d) no clear call to action, i.e. you’re not telling people to respond or not giving them a good enough reason to respond.

    If your site traffic is very low (less than 200-300 visitors per month) there are number of ways to drive traffic to your site. Contact us to find out what options you could pursue.

  5. No Personalization: One mistake I see a LOT with some small businesses is to have a site with lots of information but no pictures of the business or personnel. This is a mistake, because one of the things you are trying to do with any promotion is to differentiate yourself from the competition. Otherwise, why should they select you?
  6. Poor Quality Design: The quality of the design is important, because that is the thing that the visitor first sees, and it is the quality of the design that will invite him in and get him to see more and read your message. This involves things like the color scheme (using colors that go well together and fit your topic), graphics, the fonts and size of the type, large photos, the placement of the various elements, etc. The competition in most industries today is fierce. A high end design will get your site noticed more, help you differentiate your business, and help you deliver your message.

If you have some of these problems, contact us and we’ll be happy to go over your options for a new web design.

Facebook Advertising

By John Eberhard

Facebook advertising has become an important part of any online ad presence, rivaling Google AdWords and being in some ways, even better. In this article I will explain some of the basics of Facebook advertising.

If you are familiar with Facebook, their ads now feature a large picture that is the full width of the news feed, a headline, sales text, and call to action button. That call to action button can say things like “learn more,” “download,” “shop now,” or a variety of other things, and when clicked, the button can take the visitor to a landing page off of Facebook. Or it can bring up a form on Facebook, with the viewer’s name, phone and email already pre-populated (making it easier for mobile users to respond).

The picture can be a single image, a carousel of images, or a video.

The ads pretty much look just like a post someone would make, except that it says “sponsored” in small letters near the top.

Objectives

Here are some of the things you can accomplish with a Facebook ad campaign:

  1. Lead generation
  2. Drive people to a shopping cart to buy products online
  3. Get people to like (become fans) of a Facebook fan page
  4. Drive traffic to a website
  5. Drive in-person visits to a brick and mortar store
  6. Get people to install an app

Targeting

One of the unique and most powerful aspects of Facebook advertising is the multitude of ways you can target individuals who are the right target public for your product or service.

Geography: First, of course you can target people who are in a certain geographical area, like your city, or a specific mile radius around a location.

Demographics: You can target people by their education level, by their income or net worth, whether they are homeowners or by their home type, by life events like a birthday or anniversary or their being away from home, if they have a new job or are in a new relationship, newly married, or recently moved. You can target people who are parents. You can also target people by their politics. You can target people in a certain industry or with a specific job title.

Interests: You can target people who have specific interests, like interest in a specific industry, or things like entertainment, family and relationships, fitness and wellness, food and drink, hobbies, shopping and fashion, sports and outdoors, or technology.

Behaviors: You can target users of specific mobile phone brands, people who recently bought a car, owners of specific car brands, people who made charitable donations and in what categories, people who have a specific operating system or use a specific browser, people who are expats from various countries, people who are investors of various types, you can select African Americans, Asians, or Hispanics, you can select people who have made recent purchases and in specific categories such as sports or household or technology, and you can select people who are recent home buyers or recent mortgage borrowers.  

This list will probably give you ideas of how you can target your specific type of client or customer.

Cost

You set a daily budget and can change that at any time. The clicks at this point tend to be cheaper than on Google AdWords, but that is driven by a number of factors including the number of advertisers competing in a specific niche.

Summary

Facebook ads offer some great opportunities to reach your target audience.

The Importance of a Color Scheme

By John Eberhard

I recently began working on a new custom web design for a veterinary ophthalmologist client. The first thing I usually do on such a project is to review 100-150 websites from others in the client’s industry. This gives me ideas, and allows both me and the client to see what is already being done in the industry. So in doing this with this veterinarian client, it forcefully brought home to me the importance of having a color scheme on a website. And how a lack of a color scheme makes the site look amateurish and gives it less impact. I was almost shocked at how bad most of them were.

So what is a color scheme exactly? A color scheme is a set of colors that are selected to use in a design, that work well together. Then those colors are used repetitively throughout the website in a way that makes the site cohesive.

Unfortunately, what I saw in a lot of those websites was basically no color scheme at all, i.e. colors were just used randomly. The themes looked professional in most cases, but the colors did not reflect a cohesive color scheme. And the sites did look amateurish.

So how does one put together a good color scheme?

Color Wheel

The first thing to know about color schemes is to know about the color wheel.

Here are some general rules about using the color wheel.

  1. In general you want to use 1-3 colors for your color scheme (not more), not including white.
  2. One of those colors will usually be your “main” color in your color scheme.
  3. A color can be used in conjunction with its “color opposite,” i.e. the color opposite it on the color wheel. That means blue-orange, purple-yellow, red-green.
  4. You can use a color plus the ones next to it on the color wheel.
  5. You can add white to one of your colors to make what is called a tint, or add black to it for what is called a shade.
  6. You should stay away from using all the primary colors together, i.e. red plus blue plus yellow. This tends to look garish.
  7. Repetitive use of any design element, including color, makes it stronger.
  8. You can always use a little splash of a color that is not in your color scheme, but not in a major way.
  9. The way you use the color scheme also includes the colors in the photos you select. If you can find (or edit) photos that fit well with your color scheme, that will enhance and strengthen the color scheme, particularly if the pictures are large. This does not mean you can’t use photos that don’t fit the color scheme, but the more you can use ones that fit it, the stronger the color scheme will be.

Good Examples

Here are some examples of sites that have a strong color scheme:

http://www.animalvisioncare.com/
This one is all earth tones, yellow, orange, brown. Notice they chose photos for the slide show that include those colors. And notice how the colors are repeated throughout the site, in the logo, the headlines, the background, the navigation buttons, the footer at the bottom.

http://veterinaryvision.com/
Main color is a dark green, paired with a reddish orange. Again those colors are repeated throughout. I would have used more of a regular red instead of reddish orange, but it works.

http://stvopets.com/
Simple color scheme of just red and black, but repetitive use of those colors gives the site a feeling of cohesiveness.

http://www.southernveterinaryeyecare.com/
Nice use of color opposites purple and yellow. I would have used a little lighter yellow, but it works.

http://www.arkahsd.com/
Brown-orange-tan color scheme.

https://lvvsc.com/
Purple and yellow again.

http://www.dallasvetspecialists.com/stephanie-beaumont/
This site is mainly white with gray and black, with small accents of blue and purple in the logo. But it comes off as elegant.

Bad Examples

https://vcahospitals.com/eye-clinic-for-animals
Cringe-worthy use of color. Logo and buttons at the top are dark blue, then in scrolling down the page we have large blocks of orange, teal green, bright red, lighter blue, magenta, purple, and dark green. This is a major chain too, so they didn’t have to go the DIY route.

http://urbanvetcare.com/
This site has super bright neon green, pink and orange. It almost works in making a statement just with the colors all being super bright. But I think it would have worked better without including orange, which just throws it all off.

https://www.animaleyeconsultantsd.com/
No color scheme. Just white with black headlines and text. Paired with an overall weak design.

http://www.animaleyevetmurrieta.com/
The logo has colors that just don’t look good together, and that dominates the site.

http://www.aecwilton.com/
This site uses a light yellowish-green, then a purplish red and gold. Might have worked without the gold.

http://www.animal-eye-doctor.com/index.html
This is a case of the gold and black color scheme clashing with the photos on the home page. Now note how the color scheme looks good with the photos at the top of this page:
http://www.animal-eye-doctor.com/cataract-surgery.html

http://www.ivghospitals.com/
This site has a logo that is dark blue, orange and lime green. Then they try to use all three of those colors on banners, boxes, and headlines. Yikes!

http://backmountainvet.com/glaucoma-screening/
This sites just has white a really boring pale green, until you get to the bottom where there is a dark reddish brown. You would think this combination would work, but the green is so pale it offers no contrast with the mostly white site.

Summary

A well done color scheme really adds to the impact of a site. A poorly done or absent color scheme lessens the impact or aesthetics of the site or can even make it unpleasant to be on the site.

Today with the plethora of DIY (do it yourself) platforms like Squarespace, Wix, and Weebly, they have themes made for you, but you still have to input content into the site yourself. And not to insult anyone, but not everyone has a feel for color combinations.

Even if you are using a DIY platform or have bought a pre-designed WordPress theme, it still pays to bring in an experienced designer to make sure the color scheme and other aspects of the final presentation are coming out right.

What is Search Engine Optimization and How Does it Work – for 2018?

By John Eberhard

There are a couple elements to proper and effective Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and I think it is important to understand what they are and how they work.

First of all, the reason you do SEO is to increase the traffic you are getting to a site from organic search engine results. Organic search engine results are the regular result that you see when you search for something. It is not the paid results, and it is not the map results (on Google the map results are called “Google My Business” now).

So the goal is to increase traffic from organic search results. What type of results can you expect from doing SEO? If you follow an SEO program over a period of time, you can expect to as much as double, triple, or quadruple your site traffic. So what is an SEO program?

The Elements of SEO

Proper Search Engine Optimization consists of “on-page optimization” and “off-page optimization.”

On-page optimization consists of:

Doing keyword research to select keywords that have a good number of searches being done for them, and that have fewer number of sites competing for them

Writing titles and descriptions for each page of the site

Putting those titles and descriptions into a hidden area of each page which your site visitor doesn’t see, but which search engines see, called the meta-tags area.

On-page optimization should be redone every 2-3 years, as the traffic to various keywords and the competition for them can change dramatically in that amount of time.

Off-page optimization is the process of building up the number of links to your site. The number of links to your site from other sites is a primary factor in how well your site will rank on search engines for the various keywords you are targeting.

Over the years search engine optimization consultants have developed various methods of creating links to a web site. Then over the past 6 years or so, Google, the largest search engine with over 60% market share, has been actively attacking these various link building methods. They have made changes to their search algorithm to make various links building methods less effective. Why?

Google has insisted over and over that you should just write good content and put it on your site, and if it is really good, people will link to it. And that would create what they call a natural link pattern. But there are a few flaws in this logic:

First of all, realize that what Google tells people to do, is good for Google, not necessarily for you.

What Works Today

The list of link building activities that actually work, is constantly changing. Here are the things that I find most effective now in 2018.

  1. Press Releases: Write a press release about your company activities, then submit it to multiple free and paid press release sites. Make sure the release has a link to your website in it. I consider this the #1 method of link building today.
  2. “Stealing Links”: See who is ranking highest for your top keywords, then see what sites are linking to those competitors. Then take those links and analyze them for the ones with the highest page authority and domain authority. Then work to get links to your website from those sites. Of course it’s not really stealing anything. I consider this the #2 method of building links today.
  3. Blog Posts: Write articles that are 300 words minimum and post them to your company blog. Plus create several blogs for your company on free blogging sites, then post your blog posts there too. These same articles can be used as content for other uses such as a company email newsletter.
  4. Business Listing Sites: Each listing you create on these sites will count as a link to your site. But not all of these sites are worth a lot. Concentrate your efforts on ones that get a lot of traffic.

There are other methods but those are the main ones.

The most vital aspect of this is to develop a plan and then keep at it over a long period of time. Just doing it once or twice will not do anything effective.

And the way to measure if it is working, is by looking at web site visits, and the number of links to your site.

I have several clients that have been doing a link building program for several years, where we have doubled, tripled, or quadrupled their site traffic. And that’s worth doing.