One of the most creative search engine optimization (SEO) ideas I’ve ever heard of was for a link building campaign for an e-commerce website that sells luggage. The problem was this: product pages weren’t earning a lot of search traffic, because no one cared enough about that kind of content (product descriptions) to share it or link to it. How do you build links and traffic to a page that’s not link worthy? The SEO pitched the client the idea of writing a product guide, and this guide would in turn subtly point readers towards the site’s product pages. As it turns out, it was a great idea, because not only was the guide itself immensely popular, but it also helped the various individual product pages rank better and earn more search traffic.
These are the type of strategies that best represent today’s SEO, but they are strategies that you don’t see often enough in the small business world. Why? I think it’s because it’s oftentimes hard to communicate the value of creative standalone and multichannel strategies to clients with smaller budgets, who think that they don’t have the margins to afford experimental multi-platform marketing campaigns. This is the wrong mindset, though, because in order to stand out, in order to compete, you have to be different, innovative, and experimental, and you have to incorporate all the tools your customers are using to find businesses like yours — that’s the way to grow your margins.
SEO & Multichannel Marketing
Multichannel marketing means attracting customers by interacting with them along a range of platforms, such as your website, Facebook, Google, et cetera. I’ll explain why multichannel marketing is important, and how it relates to your SEO, by way of an example.
Suppose you are a dentist who wants to attract new business by offering a discount — say, 10 percent off any treatment or service. You could just slap an image of the coupon on the homepage of your website and leave it at that, but, unless your website is already earning tons of new traffic, that coupon isn’t going to get a lot of visibility. And even if you are already receiving a lot of traffic, that coupon is not going to be as effective as it could be, because other elements are going to distract from it.
Instead, what I’d do is create a landing page made specifically for the offer. I’ll get back to why I’d make a unique landing page in a second. After making the page, I’d run at least two online ad campaigns:
- A Facebook advertisement campaign that targets people in your city with a display (image-based) ad, built around your coupon and designed to attract new patients to the landing page. Facebook really is an underutilized advertisement platform, and for no good reason, because it’s relatively inexpensive and you have a large potential audience to market to.
- A unique retargeting campaign to bring those potential patients back. The reason why you want to do this is because not everyone who’s driven to that landing page is going to take the offer the first time. But, that doesn’t mean they’re a lost cause. They’re just not ready to make their purchasing decision yet, so you have to bring them back when they are ready to make that decision.
Both of these sets of ads will drive traffic to the landing page. Why a unique landing page? The reason you want a unique page is to better control the conversion process, to better turn potential patients into actual patients. If you bring traffic to your home page, what happens is that you confuse and distract the visitor. On the home page or on any other page where it’s sharing space with a competing call-to-action, the coupon is now clashing with other important elements highlighted on your website. Not only are you making the coupon less effective, you’re also making every other call-to-action on the page less effective. By drawing attention away from the offer, your drawing that visitor’s attention away from the decision you want them to make. A unique landing page, on the other hand, is entirely about the coupon and it funnels the visitor through a structured sales process — in a nutshell: what the offer is → why they should take it → how to redeem it.
Once the visitor converts — by, for example, filling out the contact form — she can then be taken to a ‘thank you’ page, which could be the same one you use for your other contact forms. On that page, you can now direct the patient to your blog and to the other services you offer, after the initial conversion was made.
On top of bringing in new business, this strategy draws attention to other pieces of content on your website, whether these are pages on the services you offer or it’s your blog. And this increased interaction with your site will indirectly boost your SEO. The more people who see and read your blogs, the more discussion and sharing you’ll get around each article, which in turn drives more traffic to your website. And the more people who are mentioning your content, and by extension your business, the better your branding will be — and branding is huge in today’s SEO.
Content & Multichannel Marketing
About a year ago, I wrote: “content is king, but the king needs a horse.” This is a key point and it speaks to the one I’m making here: modern SEO requires a multichannel approach. Let me provide an example that explains why.
A very effective form of lead generation is to write an e-book about what you’re an expert about. A bankruptcy attorney, for example, might have an e-book on how to approach a bankruptcy to get the best possible outcome. This is great content that, if well-written, informative, and unique, is of interest to a substantial audience. But, that audience isn’t going to come to you if they don’t know that content is out there. You need to attract that traffic.
Just like we would with a coupon, you want to create a landing page specific to the e-book. The reasons why are the same: it doesn’t distract from the main point and it allows you to write content optimized to make the conversion you want your visitors to make. (And that conversion is more than just a downloaded e-book. If you make each person fill out a simple form to access the book, you are now generating tangible leads that you can follow-up on, with an email campaign for example.) And you’d earn that traffic in similar ways as the coupon example — through a targeted display ad campaign.
The SEO value of this strategy is even clearer than in the coupon example. If the book provides value, readers will refer to their friends to it and you could encourage it by providing them with an easy way to do so. These types of resources are also the kind that attract backlinks, much like the product guide attracted backlinks in the luggage e-commerce example I mentioned in the introduction. These backlinks will, in turn, provide credibility to your website, and, if the technical SEO is correctly done, that credibility will be spread to other pages on the site — helping to improve your search presence on a wider scope.
It goes without saying that it will also bring more visibility to your business in general, just by exposing new people to your website and what it offers them. By using multichannel marketing to promote a specific offer or free resource, you’re not only bringing in new business now, you’re cultivating business over the long-run as well.
Stand Out From Your Competition
Originality implies being bold enough to go beyond accepted norms.
Your website, Facebook, Google, et cetera, are all tools. They can’t deliver success on their own. The real value is in the strategy, which is the way these tools are used together to create a sales funnel that will bring you new business. And any strategy that works is going to have to be creative, innovative, and to some degree experimental. But these are features, not bugs. We want to differentiate you from your competition, so we need to implement strategies that your competitors haven’t.
If you’re looking to take your marketing and bring in more business in 2016, don’t shut down all of those quirky ideas that your consultant throws at you. Take them seriously, because in order to market yourself successfully you’re going to need to be unconventional.
If you enjoyed this article, you may also like “Are Your Landing Pages Doing Your Ads Justice?” If you have any questions or would like to contact us, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 858-617-8964 or by filling out the contact form.
Formerly at [Tony] Robbins Research International and at Now Media Group as their Director of Marketing, Jonathan has a background in quantitative economics and analytics.