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Relationship Building: How to Earn Trust & High-Quality Links



Building trust with your audience is an essential component of any content marketing strategy.

When you build trust, you build authority simultaneously. And, when you check off those two elements, you forge connections that lead to long-term, mutually beneficial relationships.

“Mutually beneficial” includes peers, followers, customers, and fans linking to your content. If you provide real value, they will repay you in turn – it’s that simple.

The question is, how do you start building trust and connections in the first place? What should you do off the bat?

Read on.

1. Refocus on Creating Link-Worthy Content

If you want to build links to your site, first concentrate on creating pieces that are link-worthy. This is content people turn to as a known resource for their questions and problems.

It sounds simple, but it’s harder to pull off in practice.

That’s because few people understand what you need to create high-quality, backlink-worthy content.

Consider these questions and you’ll get what I mean:

  • What are you going to write about? Have you vetted the topic with research into your audience’s interests, questions, and problems?
  • Will you target keywords in the content? Which ones? Have you done keyword research?
  • What goals do you want the content to accomplish for your brand?
  • Who’s going to write it? Who’s going to edit it? Will you include branded images or infographics?
  • Most high-quality content needs research and references to relevant stats. Who’s going to pull those?
  • When will you publish?
  • How will you promote the post?

Now take these questions and multiply them by the number of posts you want to publish monthly.

That’s a ton of work, planning, scheduling, and strategizing.

However! The sooner you get comfortable with the fact that link-worthy content takes hard work, the sooner you can lay down workflows, processes, and practices to make it easier.

Relationship Building: How to Earn Trust & High-Quality Links

Remember, high-quality content covers all of these areas:

  • Audience-relevant
  • Well-written and well-researched, with references to trusted sources
  • Organized with clear, informative headers
  • Showcases originality of thought
  • Entertains, educates, informs, or delights the audience

For an example of link-worthy content, look at Oli Gardner of Unbounce. He has written masses of great content to grow their brand.

The best example is a mega-infographic, The Noob Guide to Online Marketing, which clocks in at over 13,000 words and 15 million pixels. This single, massive piece has earned thousands of links and over 150,000 downloads to date.

Relationship Building: How to Earn Trust & High-Quality Links

The sheer mountains of work that go into content pieces like this pay off in spades.

2. Respond, Engage, Interact

Posting incredible content isn’t enough to earn readers’ trust.

If you’re a silent presence that emerges to post blogs, only to retreat into your Fortress of Solitude, you’ll never get anywhere.

Instead, you need to be responsive, present, and engaged online.

  • When readers post comments and questions, reply. Be conversational.
  • Maintain active social media profiles. (You don’t have to be on every platform – just one or two that make sense for you/your brand.)
  • Post comments to others’ content and blogs. Engage in authentic discussions!
  • Share/like/retweet posts, and @ people in your network when relevant.

3. Show You’re a Real Person

This point ties into point #2. Showing you’re a real, living-and-breathing human being is essential to trust-building and relationship-forging.

People want to know there’s a heartbeat behind the brands they turn to – not a cluster of greedy, boardroom robots trying to wring every last cent out of their pockets.

Engaging with people online can help you do this, but there are some other ways to showcase your humanness, too:

  • On your website, include an about page and a picture of you. People love putting a face to a name.
  • In that vein, include a clear picture of yourself on all personal social media profile pages associated with your name. That means a portrait/headshot that’s close enough to show your face. (If you’re using a picture where you’re a minuscule ant against a landscape background, zoom in!)
  • Again, maintain your social presence and post regularly. Ghost accounts are a red flag for most people.

Have you noticed a theme, here? Showing you’re human is about staying open, honest, and transparent. If you want to build relationships, online or off, you have to share bits of yourself and remain present.

Rand Fishkin talked about this back in 2011, but what he said then is still relevant today:

“SEO at its core is about great content combined with earning great references. Sharing openly, honestly and adding value with that content is far more likely to produce returns in the form of links, reputation, references and customers than staying closed and secretive.”

Bonus tip: Remember to build relationships offline, too! The more people who know and like you only increases the chances that you’ll earn links naturally. Go to relevant conferences, events, meetups, or anywhere you can start building relationships.

4. Make Sure Markers of Trust Are All Over Your Website

Think about what you look for when you want to find a trusted source online. Those markers are exactly what should be gracing your site if you want that trust for your own brand.

Most of us notice these factors unconsciously during our internet browsing sprees, but they are key to supporting a trustworthy presence online (in addition to great content and an active social presence).

According to Jakob Nielsen, websites communicate trustworthiness in four main areas:

Relationship Building: How to Earn Trust & High-Quality Links

  • Design quality – Professional appearance, clear navigation
  • Up-front disclosure – Being honest and transparent about anything that affects the customer relationship
  • Comprehensive, correct, and current content – Webpages, blog posts, and product pages all fall under this category
  • Connection to the rest of the web – Links go out to, and come in from, other websites

For a drilled-down look at the trust elements that can make or break your site, look at this chart from Fishkin’s article mentioned earlier:

Relationship Building: How to Earn Trust & High-Quality Links

5. Link to Other Trusted Sources in Your Content

The final puzzle piece for earning trust?

High-quality links.

It’s the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

That means if you want to build a stellar link profile, link out to other trusted sources in your content.

Aurora Harley, writing for the Nielsen Norman Group blog, has some great insights about why your content and online presence need to be linked to the greater web (both linking out and in):

“An isolated website that does not link to and cannot be found on third-party review sites, social media, or news outlets appears to either have something to hide or not be a fully established, stable company.”

An unconnected, lone website is suspect, in other words. It vouches for no one and no one vouches for it.

Since the internet is all about interconnectivity, it’s no wonder people and Google give sites with no link profile the side-eye.

In particular, linking out to high-quality sources does two things for you:

  • It associates you with those sites. If the person who clicks the links in your posts finds those links lead to great information, it speaks well for the value you’re providing.
  • It builds your authority. Anyone who reads your posts will be able to see that you know industry sources and have done your research (read: you’re an expert).

The best part about linking out is that it’s easy to do. If nothing else, integrate it with creating link-worthy content.

Trust Online is Earned, Not Grabbed

Perhaps the most important takeaway for successful trust-earning, relationship-building, and link-winning is you can’t rush any of it.

No relationship is built overnight, and you can’t win trust through one interaction. Instead, a user or customer needs to see that you’re true to your word over and over. It’s something that can only happen with time.

When you treat link-building as a long-term game tied to building true connections with your audience, you’ll have a better chance of going further.

Don’t grab for people’s trust – earn it, and the links will follow.


Timeframe: Ongoing, on a daily/weekly basis

Results detected: 3-month minimum time frame

Average links sent per month: 30-40, depending on the effort put in

Tools needed:

  • Skilled content creators (copywriters)
  • Your social media profiles (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.)
  • Ahrefs for link-tracking

Benefits of relationship building:

  • High-quality sites finding your content and linking to your site acts as a trust factor and a ‘vote’ for your credibility, which ties into higher Google rankings. Ongoing link-building will build DA (domain authority), which builds overall website value.
  • Link-building through relationship-building is a long-term, evergreen, “worth-it” process to earn solid, lasting growth and higher rankings for your website. Earning trust and links through relationships is a much more lasting process than overnight, quick link-building tricks.


This unused Star Wars poster could have ruined everything



This unused Star Wars poster could have ruined everything

A recent unused poster design for 1977’s Star Wars has surfaced and reveals just when you think you’ve seen it all around this iconic movie, there’s always something new to talk about. Particularly as this rare and unused Star War movie poster art was so bad it could have ruined the franchise before it even launched.

The unused Star Wars poster from 1977 was posted on Twitter by film nerd’ account The Spaceshipper and many fans of the franchise were thankful it was never used. While some recent film posters, like new Ant-Man 3 posters that are a Photoshop nightmare, this rare Star Wars poster is bad on so many levels – it’s a graphic design fail, the slogan makes no sense and there’s little to engage with.

Star Wars film posters have been some of the best ever designed, from legendary artists such as the Hidlebrandt Brothers who painted the original 1977 poster that was used. Iconic poster artists have also designed for the franchise; the Drew Struzan Star Wars poster for The Force Awakens impresses and Hugh Flemming revealed all in our feature ‘the secrets of a top Star Wars artist’.

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How to Manage Your Online Brand?



You might be asking yourself, “Why do I need to manage my online brand?” It’s a valid question, especially if you’re not sure what managing your online brand means precisely.

In short, managing your online brand is the process of taking control of how others see you and your business online. This can involve creating and maintaining a strong presence on social media, developing positive reviews and testimonials, and monitoring your web analytics to track progress.

By taking the time to manage your online brand, you can improve your chances of success in today’s digital age.

In this article, we’ll explore some key reasons why managing your online brand is essential.

What is an online brand, and why do you need one?

Your online brand is the way you are perceived by others online. This includes your website, social media profiles, online reviews, and all other digital real estate that represents you when someone searches for you or your business.

It’s important to have one because it helps your potential customers get to know, trust, and like you before they buy anything from you. A strong online brand can also help you attract new customers and grow your business.

It’s good to remember that your online brand is the first thing people will see when they search for you, so it’s important to make sure it represents you and your business well.

How to manage your online brand for success?

Your online brand is your reputation. It’s how people perceive you when they see your name, read your work, or interact with you online.

A strong online brand can help you attract new clients, collaborators, and opportunities. But how do you create and manage your brand for success?

1) Consider what you want your online brand to convey.

Are you an expert in a certain field? A thought leader? A creative visionary?

Once you know what you want your brand to communicate, be consistent in everything you do online.

Use the same name, photo, and bio across all of your social media platforms. Post regularly about topics related to your brand, and make sure the tone of your posts is consistent with the image you’re trying to convey.

2) Interact with other people online in a way that reinforces your brand.

When someone mentions you in a post, thank them publicly. If someone leaves a negative comment on one of your posts, don’t delete it – instead, respond politely and professionally.

By managing your online brand thoughtfully and proactively, you can set yourself up for success both online and offline.

3) Monitor your web analytics to track your progress.

Use Google Analytics or another web analytics tool to track how people are finding you online and what they’re doing on your website. This data can give you insights into what’s working well and what needs improvement.

For example, if you see that most of your website visitors are coming from Facebook, you might want to focus on creating more engaging content for that platform.

Or, if you notice that people are spending a lot of time on your blog but not your sales page, you might need to work on driving traffic to your products or services.

4) Make sure your website represents your brand well.

Your website is often the first thing people will see when they search for you online, so it’s important to make sure it’s up-to-date and represents your brand well.

Update your website regularly with new blog posts, photos, and products. Use attractive visuals, easy-to-navigate menus, and clear calls to action.

If you’re not sure how to create a website that represents your brand well, consider working with a web designer or developer.

5) Pay attention to your social media presence.

Social media is a powerful tool for managing your online brand. Use it to connect with your audience, share your work, and promote your products or services.

Be sure to post regularly, interact with others, and use hashtags and keywords that will help people find you. You can also use social media ads to reach a wider audience or promote specific products or services.

6) Monitor your online reputation.

Use Google Alerts or another tool to monitor your online reputation. This will help you stay on top of what people are saying about you online and take action if necessary.

For example, if you see a negative review of your business, you can reach out to the customer directly to try to resolve the issue. Or, if you see someone spreading misinformation about your work, you can correct it.

7) Manage your online brand proactively.

The best way to manage your online brand is to be proactive. Be thoughtful about everything you do online, from the content you post to the way you interact with others. By taking control of your online presence, you can set yourself up for success both professionally and personally.

By following these tips, you can create and manage an online brand that will help you achieve your goals.

The benefits of having a strong online brand

Let’s look at a few benefits of having a strong online brand:

1) Stand out from the competition.

With so much noise online, it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd. But if you create a well-defined brand, you’ll be better able to cut through the clutter and attract attention.

2) Build trust and credibility.

A strong online brand can help you build trust and credibility with your audience. If people know what to expect from you, they’re more likely to trust and respect you.

3) Connect with your audience.

By definition, a brand is a way of differentiating yourself from others. But it’s also a way of connecting with your audience on a deeper level. When done well, branding can create an emotional connection between you and your audience.

4) Drive traffic and sales.

A strong online brand can help you drive traffic and sales. If people are familiar with your brand, they’re more likely to buy from you. And if they trust and respect you, they’re more likely to tell others about you.

5) Increase your visibility.

A well-managed online brand will increase your visibility online. When people search for you or your business, you’ll be more likely to show up in the search results. And when people see you frequently in their feeds, you’ll be more likely to stay top of mind.

6) Attract media attention.

A strong online brand can help you attract media attention. If you’re known for something specific, journalists and bloggers will be more likely to write about you. This can help increase your visibility and reach even further.

7) Enhance your career prospects.

Your online brand can have a big impact on your career prospects. If you’re looking for a new job, employers will likely research you online. And if you’re an entrepreneur, investors will want to know more about your brand before they invest in your business.

8) Make a positive impact.

Finally, a strong online brand can help you make a positive impact in the world. If you’re passionate about something, you can use your platform to raise awareness and advocate for change.

The importance of staying consistent with your branding strategy

As you can see, there are many benefits to having a strong online brand. But it’s not enough to just create a brand—you also need to be consistent with your branding strategy.

When it comes to branding, consistency is essential. Your audience needs to know what to expect from you, and they need to see that you’re consistent in your messaging and your visuals.

Here are a few pointers if you’re not sure how to stay consistent with your branding:

1) Define your brand.

The first step to being consistent with your branding is to define your brand. What do you want people to think of when they see your name or your logo? What do you want your brand to represent?

2) Create guidelines.

Once you’ve defined your brand, it’s time to create guidelines. These guidelines should include everything from your mission statement to the colors and fonts you use in your branding. By having a set of guidelines, you’ll be able to ensure that all of your marketing materials are on-brand.

3) Train your team.

If you have a virtual assistant or team, it’s important to train them on your branding guidelines. Make sure everyone knows what your brand represents and how they can help you maintain a consistent brand identity.

4) Monitor your brand.

Once you’ve launched your brand, it’s important to monitor it. This means paying attention to how people are reacting to your brand and making sure that you’re still presenting yourself in the way you want to be seen.

5) Be prepared to adjust.

Finally, be prepared to adjust your branding strategy as needed. As your business grows and changes, your branding will need to change with it. By being flexible and willing to adjust, you’ll be able to ensure that your brand is always relevant.

Wrap Up

A strong online brand is essential for any business or individual. By definition, your online brand is the way you’re perceived by others online. And while that may seem like a superficial thing, the reality is that your online brand can have a big impact on your business or career.

If you’re not sure how to create a strong online brand, start by defining your brand and creating guidelines. Then, train your team on your branding strategy and monitor your brand over time. And finally, be prepared to adjust as needed.

Oscar is a passionate full-time blogger and a part-time author. In his personal blog, he writes about software, online influence, and different business models.

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How SEO Works in Digital Marketing




Search engine optimization (SEO) is an integral part of digital marketing.

SEO helps with brand discoverability. When done right, SEO can create the most consistent and by far the highest-quality traffic source which doesn’t require on-going maintenance.

Yet, SEO is usually the most isolated part of the marketing. Whether it is an in-house team or a third-party service that’s delivering your SEO campaigns, it usually exists on its own without really communicating goals, progress or results to the whole company.

This creates silos that can lead to poor results and even reputation crises.

How does SEO work in digital marketing and how can a business make it work better?

What is SEO?

SEO is a collection of tactics (content, technical, link building, even website security and usability) that ensures that your website is easy to understand for search engines.

Basically, it ensures a machine knows that your page will be easy to find to a human being who is looking to solve a related problem.

Search engine traffic is one of the highest-quality traffic for many reasons:

  • Unlike PPC (paid) traffic, it doesn’t require an ongoing investment to keep coming
  • Unlike social media traffic,  it doesn’t require an ongoing work to keep coming
  • Unlike social media traffic, you are not interrupting people’s browsing. Instead you give them what they were actually searching for.

In other words, it is consistent and it converts well. No other digital marketing tactic beats that.

Apart from driving direct traffic, search engine optimization helps build brand awareness by increasing your brand’s organic findability.

Keep Your Whole Team Aware of Why SEO is Important

The great thing about today is that everyone understands the value of ranking high on Google! Sadly, however, many folks only know that they “need SEO” without having really understood what that means. 

SEO these days is too hard for a digital marketer to do alone. Many SEOs find themselves in situations where an executive will simply come down and go “Why are we not ranking well for ‘dingwobble’?” 

Keep working hard with teams for them to understand how they contribute to the SEO process:

  • Product Marketers who are responsible for the business, personas and messaging understand that SEO is critical to driving the bottom line revenue numbers they are looking at. Part of the persona developing process should be the development of the “digital persona” – what websites and search terms are these people looking for? This helps the product marketer when it comes time to develop messaging, as that is going to be critical for developing the content, so the right search terms better be there!
  • Field Marketers responsible for the campaigns need to know how SEO fits within their campaign, how it in fact is core to our demand generation, and how to make sure to keep the campaigns integrated.
  • Marketing Communications is creating the content, so SEO should very well be top of mind for them, as the content itself will be critical in impacting how successful SEO will be.
  • But that’s not all! Often, other groups are creating content (Press Releases, Blog Posts, Presentations, etc.) that also end up on the web and impact SEO. Whether it’s Corporate Communications, Investor Relations or even Legal teams, working with them is critical.
  • IT manages the infrastructure and can be very critical to the technical aspects of SEO.
  • Sales and customer support teams are at the forefront of marketing talking to your future and current customers, so they need to be involved in the SEO strategy. Creating relevant content goes beyond keywords. It needs to address real problems and answer actual people’s questions, and your client-facing teams will be your best source of inspiration here.  
  • Executives also care! While they can’t often influence the day-to-day of SEO, they will care a lot about the bottom line, to which SEO contributes.

Educating all of these people about SEO helps empower them, as well as position yourself, the SEO, as the subject matter expert who is not just someone back-office who gives very little visibility into the black box of SEO, but someone who is actively educating and contributing to the organization’s success.

Review and discuss common KPIs early and often to make sure everyone knows what victory looks like to the team.

Additionally, SEO should be a solid part of any project launch as it impacts every stage of product positioning. From choosing a business name to choosing a website builder, your initial efforts should be driven by SEO best practices.

What is the key to SEO success in a constantly changing environment?

As a practitioner of SEO, I believe that you need to look to ensure you are looking at both developing yourself in both depth and breadth of knowledge. A key danger in the name of being informed or being a part of the SEO community is spending all your time debating tactics and practices rather than testing them. 

Additionally, SEOs as with all employees need to look outside their field to stretch and learn how to be more well rounded. This could mean learning to code, or educating yourself in some other area of the business you work for.  This will expose you to ideas others may not have.

As a manager of people, success is really about diversity of expertise. Who you hire and the kind of people you hire will be far more valuable than much of what people invest in with regards to SEO programs. You have to have people who can roll with the punches and develop a skill for self-management and personal growth. 

Finally, I think knowing what your real goals are in having an SEO program are the key to long term success. The reality is you may get more traffic, but if that traffic is not from qualified leads and generates real revenue then the benefit may be very little. Having well defined goals and metrics will also help you avoid chasing algorithm changes and focus on the big picture.


SEO is the most essential long-term digital marketing strategy but to make it really effective, you need a knowledge team that is well-integrated into the company’s life. Good luck!

Ann Smarty

Ann Smarty is the brand NINJA at Internet Marketing Ninjas as well as the founder of numerous startups including MyBlogGuest, MyBlogU, ViralContentBee, TwChat and many more.

Ann Smarty has been an online marketing consultant for 10 years providing high-quality digital marketing consulting through her services and courses (both free and paid).

Ann Smarty’s content marketing ideas have been featured in NYtimes, Mashable, Entrepreneur, Search Engine Land and many more. She is known for her indepth tool reviews, innovative content marketing advice and actionable digital marketing ideas.

Source: Ann Smarty

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