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Small Business Marketing 101: Getting Started



Small Business Marketing 101: Getting Started

Earning new customers is vital to the growth of any small business, and leveraging marketing strategies is the most effective way to accomplish that goal.

However, small business owners often have to wear multiple hats to keep their business running.

This can result in their marketing strategy falling to the wayside as they focus on the daily operations of running their business.

Thankfully, developing a small business marketing strategy doesn’t require a background or career in marketing.

Plus, it can be both straightforward and affordable.

This guide to small business marketing will break down how to create a sustainable, scalable marketing strategy that helps your small business earn new customers and grow revenue for years to come.

What Is Small Business Marketing?

Small business marketing is the process of getting your products or services in front of the eyes of more potential customers.

It consists of various online and offline strategies, but the end goal is to grow your small business revenue and expand market share.

Challenges Of Marketing Small Businesses

Small businesses face unique challenges with marketing that larger or enterprise brands just don’t have to deal with.

This is particularly true if there is no dedicated marketing expert on your small business’s team.

Lack Of Resources

Small businesses can’t always hire an in-house marketer or devote the time necessary to strategic marketing.

Marketing effectively and on budget requires time, technology, iteration, and close attention to campaign performance.

Smaller Budgets

Most likely, your small business has a strict budget that you allocate for your marketing.

Because digital marketing can be costly, it’s not uncommon for small business owners to blow their budgets.

Or, they may not allocate their digital marketing budget to the most profitable channels.

Competition From Larger Brands

Not only is your small business competing against other local or small businesses, but you’re also likely competing against larger brands that have stronger name recognition and an authoritative digital presence.

Larger brands can easily steal clicks on advertisements because of their brand recognition.

And with organic SEO, Google often prefers to rank websites with more authority and a trusted reputation.

Adapting To Trends and Technologies

The digital marketing landscape is competitive!

It can be challenging for a small business to adapt to the changing landscape of search algorithms, rising cost-per-clicks, and more.

Despite these challenges, it is possible for small businesses to successfully market their products or services with a significant return on investment.

Getting Started With Small Business Marketing

Before you start spending money to market your small business, you need to set yourself up for success.

The following steps are must-dos before you launch your first marketing campaign.

1. Know Your Audience

It’s important to understand your target audience before you start paying money to reach them.

Crafting audience personas can help you determine who your small business is trying to reach.

Also, where you can best reach them and how your product or service meets their needs or solves their problems.

Audience personas can include:

  • Demographics.
  • Geographic location.
  • Interests.
  • Budget.
  • Pain points.
  • Motivations.
  • And more!

Taking the time to create multiple audience personas sets the foundation for your marketing strategy.

It will help you choose the right messaging and channels to reach your ideal customers or clients.

2. Refine Your Messaging

Once you know who your audience is, what they need, and how your products or services solve their problem, you can do the work of crafting refined, impactful messaging.

Your messaging may involve educating customers, showing value, displaying authority or expertise, differentiating from competitors, and more.

Depending on the number or scope of your products and service offerings, you may have to craft several messages to reach your various audience personas more effectively.

3. Determine Your Budget

The reality is that marketing can get expensive if you don’t take the time to prioritize and strategize.

Some marketing channels are pricier than others.

So it’s important to determine what you are willing and not willing to spend before launching any campaigns.

Image created by author, March 2022

4. Setup Your Analytics

Before you get started on any digital marketing channel, you need to be able to measure its impact and effectiveness.

You can utilize all sorts of analytics tools, but if you’re just getting started, begin with these two analytics platforms.

As your small business marketing strategy grows, you may want to invest in an email marketing platform or a customer relationship management platform.

But for now, the two free platforms above can get you started.

Best Marketing Channels For Small Business

The biggest part of your marketing strategy will be determining which channels make the most sense for your small business and the customers you’re trying to reach.

Some channels will be more expensive than others.

Some will produce results more quickly.

Overall, there are pros and cons to every marketing channel, and no channel is guaranteed to produce revenue for your small business.

However, the below channels are often ideal for small businesses because of their effectiveness, longevity, and affordability.

Content Marketing

It’s best to look at content marketing as the foundation of your marketing efforts.

Without great content, any additional channels listed here cease to be effective.

Content includes your homepage, landing pages, product pages, blogs, social media posts, advertisements, or anything else your potential customers might engage with before purchasing.

It’s important that your content is high-quality, relevant, and meets the needs of your target audience.

Investing in good content will give you permanent assets that you can utilize across marketing channels and will help build your brand recognition, expertise, and authority.


Search engine optimization is the process of optimizing your small business website to appear in organic search results.

Most internet users turn to a search engine first to find new products and services.

If your small business website shows up for the keywords that those users rely on, it can mean more potential customers clicking through to your website.

That means more people browsing your products, scheduling a consultation, or making appointments.

SEO, however, is multidisciplinary.

Here are the aspects of SEO that are most important for small businesses to prioritize.

On-Page SEO

On-page SEO is the process of optimizing individual web pages to rank higher for relevant keywords.

Each web page on your small business website has the opportunity to rank in search engine results.

The primary steps involve:

  • Keyword research: Finding relevant keywords you want your web pages to rank for.
  • SEO copywriting: Writing in-depth, high-quality content that explores the topic in depth. You can use content optimization software to help improve the quality signals on your pages and improve their ranking potential.
  • Meta tag optimization: Including the target keyword in your page title, meta description, image alt text, and ensuring other key meta tags are optimized for search engine crawlers.
  • Internal and external linking: Including internal links to other relevant pages on your website and linking out to relevant, authoritative sources.

On-page SEO can be implemented easily in your CMS.

Or you can outsource the work to an SEO provider or digital marketing agency.

Although time-intensive, on-page SEO is one of the easiest ways to start earning impressions and clicks from organic search.

Local SEO

If your small business has a brick-and-mortar location or serves a specific geographic region, local SEO strategies can help your website appear in the Google Map Pack and location-based searches.

Example of Google Map Pack results Screenshot from search for [clothing stores near me] March 2022

To get started with local SEO, do the following:

  • Set up your Google Business Profile: This will provide Google and users key information about your small business, including location, phone number, store hours, and more.
  • Name, Address, Phone Number (NAP): These key details about your small business should be clear, accurate, and consistent throughout your website’s content. If your small business has multiple locations, it’s important to create different landing pages for each location featuring their unique NAP information.
  • Get listed in online directories: Google wants to see consistent information about your small business wherever it’s listed on the internet. Using a local citation builder service can help you start building off-site signals. It is an affordable way (under $100) to help Google crawlers better understand your location and the markets you serve.
  • Add the local business schema: Local Business structured data tells Google about your business hours, departments, reviews, and more. Adding schema markup will require the assistance of a web developer, but it can be very impactful.

Site Speed Optimization

The performance of your small business website matters to your ability to rank in search engine results.

screenshot of PageSpeed Insights reportScreenshot taken by author, March 2022

Google doesn’t want to show slow or underperforming pages to users.

So your website needs to meet the following standards:

  • Core Web Vitals: These metrics are the primary way that Google measures the performance of websites. They include Largest Contentful Paint, First Input Delay, and Cumulative Layout Shift.
  • Mobile useability: The mobile version of your small business website needs to be responsive, fast-loading, and high performing.
  • Security: Your website needs to be safe and secure for users. Security is primarily measured through HTTPS protocols.

Pros And Cons Of SEO

The benefit of SEO is that it is arguably the most affordable way to increase your small business’s online presence.

Also, earning top spots in search engine results can send site traffic to your website for years.

That is, as long as you do the work of updating the content and maintaining its quality and technical performance.

However, SEO does take time.

It may be a few months before you see results and start earning traffic to your website.

But that traffic is essentially free and has a wonderful way of improving marketing KPIs, like customer-acquisition costs, in the long term.

Online Reputation Management

Like SEO, online reputation management (ORM) should be an essential part of any small business’s digital marketing toolkit for its affordability and impact.

ORM is the process of building and monitoring your reputation on popular review sites, and it is, essentially, free.

Online reviews are actually a key marketing tool for your small business.

Although you cannot fully control what others choose to say about your small business, you should do what you can to influence reviews and leverage them.

screenshot of yelp profilesScreenshot from Yelp, March 2022

It’s estimated that 94% of consumers have read an online review in the last year.

If your small business does not have profiles on the popular review sites in your industry, or you don’t have reviews of your products, users may choose another service provider or retailer.

Thankfully, getting a proactive online reputation management strategy together is pretty simple.

Get Your Profiles Set Up

Look for the review sites that your potential customers are actively using and are popular in your industry.

Examples include Yelp, Angie’s List, TripAdvisor, Foursquare, and BBB (Better Business Bureau).

Then make sure your profiles are set up and adequately describe your offering.

These profile pages are also likely to rank for your branded search results, so do your best to add high-value keywords in your profile sections.

Add A Product Review App Or Plugin

If your small business is ecommerce, add a product review plugin or app to your CMS so you can start earning and showcasing reviews on your website.

Here is a list of WordPress product review plugins, and a popular Shopify product review app.

Ask Your Customers To Leave A Review

To start getting online reviews, simply ask!

If you know a customer had a positive experience or really liked your product, sometimes all it takes is asking them to leave a review.

Incentivize Reviews

If you’re struggling to acquire customer reviews, incentivizing reviews with discounts or promotions on repeat visits or purchases can help you get reviews faster.

It also encourages your customers to return to your products or services for a second time.

Always Respond To Negative Reviews

The biggest part of ORM is managing negative reviews that you are bound to receive.

By responding to your negative reviews, you have the opportunity to repair any negative impact.

Also, you show other potential customers browsing reviews that your small business does what it can to make things right.

Pros And Cons Of ORM

ORM is a free marketing strategy and can have a huge impact on driving customers further down the conversion funnel.

However, online reputation management can work against you if your products or services are low-quality.

It’s important to ensure that your small business provides the absolute best to potential customers before you pursue any online reputation management strategy.


Pay-per-click advertising is the process of advertising on another publisher’s website and paying a fee whenever a user clicks on your ad.

Unlike other advertising, you only pay if the user actually clicks over to your website, guaranteeing site traffic for your ad spend.

PPC – Search Engines and Display Networks

PPC is most commonly associated with top search engines like Google and Bing.

When a user enters a search term, Google and Bing serve ads at the top of their search engine results pages.

Small businesses can bid on relevant keywords to get their advertisement to show up at the top of the SERPs.

Screenshot of search engine adsScreenshot from search for [carpet cleaning services], March 2022

Google and Microsoft also have their own display networks.

In terms of widening the reach of your small business, the Google Display Network sites reach over 90% of internet users worldwide.

Example of a display network ad on a publisher siteScreenshot from The New York Times, March 2022

Successful PPC campaigns, though, are all about execution.

If you have no experience managing or optimizing PPC campaigns, it’s best to work with a paid media manager or agency with expertise in your industry.

PPC – Social Media Advertising

Social Media platforms like Facebook and Instagram empower your small business to do what other platforms like Google Ads can’t – allow you to target your audience by demographics and interests – because these platforms have so much information about their users.

These ads will appear alongside organic posts on social platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.

As a career digital marketer myself, I often get served ads related to digital marketing.

Example of ad in the Facebook NewsfeedScreenshot taken by author, March 2022

Because social media ads also require a creative (rather than simply text-based search engine ads), it allows your small business to showcase your creativity and brand image even more.

Other features of social media advertising include:

  • Tracking pixels: Adding the Facebook pixel to your small business website allows you to find previous visitors to your website on the Facebook and Instagram platforms.
  • Interest targeting: Because social media users often self-select their interests through likes and engagements, interest-based targeting can be effective for reaching new visitors.
  • Lookalike audiences: Once you earn some business and have an even better idea of who your audience is, you can create lookalike audiences based on those data points. This can help you widen your reach to other users similar to your previous customers.

Pros And Cons Of PPC

The most positive benefit of PPC is that it can start driving traffic to your small business website immediately.

But CPCs are rising every year and platforms like Google Ads and Facebook are more saturated.

If you’re not careful or don’t take the time to optimize your PPC campaigns, you can max out your budget very quickly.

Email Marketing

Once you build up your list of leads, contacts, subscribers, or past customers, email marketing is a great way to connect with your audience and keep your small business at the top of their minds.

Email marketing has the potential for a major return on investment.

It allows you to drive sales of new products and services, create customer loyalty programs, and consistently promote your many content assets.

Some of the most popular email marketing platforms include:

Here are a few email marketing tips for small businesses:

Keep It Balanced

Make sure your emails are balanced between promotional and resource-driven.

Email marketing provides a great outlet for promoting thought leadership, ebooks, or other free resources related to your industry or products.

Segment Your Audiences

Blasting the same email to your entire customer database will be less effective than segmenting your audiences to one-time customers, frequent customers, or leads and crafting personalized, targeted messaging.

Optimize For Mobile

Many of your customers likely read their emails on their mobile devices.

A marketing email that is not responsive or has layout issues is more likely to be ignored or worse, lead to an unsubscribe.

Offline Channels

There are a variety of offline channels available to small businesses as well.

Although they have a much narrower reach than digital marketing channels, they can effectively gain new customers and improve brand recognition for your small business.

Some effective offline channels include:

  • Direct Mail.
  • Events and Conferences.
  • Print Advertising.
  • Community Engagement.
  • Press releases.
  • Networking.
  • And more!

4 Strategic Tips For Effective Small Business Marketing

Each of the marketing strategies listed in this guide is its own unique discipline.

The more informed and strategic your approach, the more effective it will be.

However, your small business likely can’t become an expert overnight.

So, in general, here are some of the most important strategic choices to keep in mind.

1. Balance Your Paid Channels With Organic SEO

The reality is that paid media only drives traffic to your website during your campaigns.

Once your credit card or budget dries up, so does all the site traffic.

Balancing paid channels with organic SEO is one of the most strategic decisions your small business can make.

SEO drives clicks for free and, when done well, to perpetuity.

2. Leverage Retargeting On PPC Platforms

Platforms like Google Ads and Facebook give small business advertisers the option to retarget audiences that have already visited their website but left without making a purchase.

If your small business does the work of driving traffic from organic SEO, you can leverage retargeting even further to improve your total return-on-ad-spend,

3. Target Long-Tail Keywords Through Blog Content

Adding a blog to your small business website can be a game-changer in improving the total number of keywords that your website ranks for.

It’s one of the more affordable ways to expand the reach of your small business. If you don’t have a writer in-house, plenty of freelance content marketers can help get your blog started.

Long-tail keywords are often less competitive.

So make sure your craft blogs target those long-tail questions users ask about your small business products or offerings.

4. Iterate, Iterate, Iterate

The reality is that your initial marketing campaigns may not be profitable.

But as long as your analytics are set up, you can iterate on your campaigns and improve results.

Don’t take the “set it and let it” approach.

Pay attention. Make data-driven changes.

And invest in the channels with the best conversion rates that drive revenue at a cost-per-acquisition that is sustainable for your small business.


Developing a small business marketing strategy can have a huge return on investment for your business.

These include growing your revenue, earning loyal customers, being able to hire new employees, opening second locations, and more.

Make marketing a priority for your small business, and you will not be disappointed.

More resources:

Featured Image: lartestudio/Shutterstock

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4 Tactics for High-Quality Backlinks That Move the Needle [+ Examples]



Many popular link building tactics produce low-quality links that don’t improve SEO performance.

Even if these techniques make an impact, it’s often for a short time, and Google can easily devalue them down the line. 

Here are four tactics for building high-quality links that help you stay ahead of your competition, expose your brand to new audiences, and are less likely to be devalued in future algorithm updates. 

Digital PR is the process of creating content that appeals to journalists and promoting it to them. 

If they like the content, they’ll write a feature about it or include it in a piece they’re writing. This can land you many high-quality backlinks from big sites and news publications for free.


In the months following ChatGPT’s release, Fery Kaszoni and his team at Search Intelligence compiled statistics about Open AI’s popularity since launching ChatGPT and compared it to other popular platforms like Instagram and TikTok. 

The result? 60+ free link placements, including mentions on Yahoo News (DR 92), The Wrap (DR 84), and Time magazine (DR 92). 

A few examples of backlinks earned by a piece of content about Open AI’s popularity since launching ChatGPT

In another campaign, Fery and his team calculated how much money beloved video characters would earn in real life. This campaign earned 20+ free links including a DR89 link from British newspaper, The Daily Express. 

Example of a high-DR like from Daily ExpressExample of a high-DR like from Daily Express

How to do it 

Successful Digital PR requires some creativity, but this is the process in a nutshell: 

  1. Find a trending topic 
  2. Create relevant newsworthy content around that topic 
  3. Tell journalists about it 

For example, AI has been a major topic of conversation in all industries since it launched. Any new data or insights about it would go well in news cycles while it remains a topic of interest. 

Once you have a topic, you need to come up with interesting content ideas that are relevant to your business.

The best topics for digital PRThe best topics for digital PR

This is the hard part. It’s really a case of brainstorming ideas until you land on something you think could be interesting. 

For example, here are a few random content ideas for a company that sells furniture online: 

  • Have AI refurnish rooms from popular TV shows in new styles. 
  • Have AI design a new item of furniture, create it, and sell it. 
  • Ask 100 interior designers if they’re worried about AI taking their jobs, share the data. 

After you find your winning idea, create the content, give it an attention-grabbing headline, and write a press release about the most interesting insights. 

Then, promote your content to journalists. You can try services like Roxhill or Muck Rack to find journalists who might be interested in your content. 

You can also use a tool like Ahrefs’ Content Explorer to find sites that have recently published content about your topic and reach out to them. 

Here’s how to do that: 

  1. Enter your topic into Content Explorer 
  2. Filter for pages published in the last 90 days 
  3. Filter for pages on DR70+ websites (big sites that you probably want links from) 

For example, if we do this for the topic of “chatgpt,” we see thousands of well-known websites that have recently published about ChatGPT including Business Insider, Tech Republic, and Wired. 

Finding websites that recently published about a topic with Content ExplorerFinding websites that recently published about a topic with Content Explorer

Data journalism is a way of enhancing or creating newsworthy content by analyzing unique data sets. It can fall under digital PR, though it typically requires more detailed research. 

This technique works because reporters love a good statistic they can either quote or write an opinion piece about. Be the source of such data, and you can earn many high-quality links anytime your data becomes relevant to trending news topics. 


Data journalism can be quite simple. For example, in another case study from Search Intelligence, Fery’s team used Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer as a data source for a cybersecurity PR campaign. 

The study reveals the top UK banks where customers seek help with fraud, allowing journalists to report on which banks are more secure than others. 

The data fuelling these insights is keyword search volume. That’s it. 

Ahrefs' data that fuelled a cybersecurity PR campaignAhrefs' data that fuelled a cybersecurity PR campaign

This method doesn’t take very long, doesn’t need a data scientist and can very easily be replicated in other industries where search popularity can unearth interesting insights. 

In another example (and perhaps one of our all time favorites), marketing firm Yard created a data study comparing the CO2 emissions of various celebrities and ranking the worst offenders. 

Data study on the C02 emissions of celebritiesData study on the C02 emissions of celebrities

If you follow celebrity news, there’s no way you missed reports of Taylor Swift’s private jet emissions being among the highest compared to other celebrities. 

Just a few of the thousands of posts about Taylor Swift's jet emissions following a successful data journalism campaignJust a few of the thousands of posts about Taylor Swift's jet emissions following a successful data journalism campaign

Every single one of these news stories originated from the data study. 

When the study was first released, it went viral and earned links from almost 2,000 referring domains within the first month. 

But that’s not all. 

This topic trended in news cycles again when rumours spread that Taylor Swift attended a Jets game to bury the original negative publicity about her private jet usage, earning Yard a well-deserved second round of links. 

Google Trends data for "taylor swift jet" Google Trends data for "taylor swift jet"

Today, this post has 1,861 links from 1,155 referring domains, 77% of them are dofollow, and 38.4% are higher than DR 60. 

DR distribution of backlinks to the celebrity C02 emissions content pieceDR distribution of backlinks to the celebrity C02 emissions content piece

Talk about drool-worthy results! That’s high-quality link building done right. 

How to do it 

Successful data journalism is similar to digital PR but relies on the intriguing, data-backed insights you can unearth. 

In a nutshell, the process looks like this: 

  1. Find a data-driven content angle that gets links and media attention 
  2. Gather data to provide new or updated insights on the topic 
  3. Tell journalists about your findings 

Start by considering “your money or your life” content angles that everyday folk care about. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking too narrow or pitching ideas only a small demographic may understand. 

For instance, cybersecurity is not a sexy topic journalists or their readers will likely care about. There’s also not a high degree of literacy about the topic among the general population. 

But everyone cares about whether their bank is secure and how safe their money is. 

This concept needs no explanation and that’s exactly why data that helps answer the question “how safe is your bank?” worked exceptionally well as a link building tactic in the example above. 

You can also use Content Explorer to gather more ideas like: 

  • Evergreen yet stale topics that you can update with more recent data 
  • Data you can visualize better or repurpose into a different content format 
  • Trending angles in other industries you can apply to your industry 

For example, on the topic of ChatGPT, we found Rand Fishkin’s post claiming usage has declined 29% between May and August 2023 and that 30% of its usage is by programmers. 

Finding content ideas in Content ExplorerFinding content ideas in Content Explorer

You don’t need original ideas to succeed. If you’ve got the data to back it up, you can easily take the angles of a “useage patterns” or “most popular audience segments” and apply them to popular tools in your industry. 

Some decent data sources you can start with include: 

  • Search data: Like Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer for uncovering interesting search patterns. 
  • Historical data: Like Google Trends for highlighting growth or decline patterns over time. 
  • Scientific research: Like on Google Scholar or in specific research journals. 
  • Public niche data: For instance, Yard’s study used the CelebrityJets Twitter page. 
  • Proprietary data: From within your (or your client’s) organization. 

When you find an interesting insight or pattern worth sharing, write a press release about it and share it with journalists who frequently report on the topic. 

Statistics pages are curated lists of facts and figures in a particular industry. These pages attract evergreen links for as long as the statistics remain relevant. 

It’s one of our favorite link building tactics. Here’s how we’ve used it quite successfully over the years. 


We first launched a detailed list of SEO statistics in 2020 and it has been naturally earning high-quality links ever since. 

Backlinks over time to our SEO statistics pageBacklinks over time to our SEO statistics page

Currently, the page has: 

  • 5,787 backlinks
  • 2,282 referring domains 
  • 82% “dofollow” links 
  • 37.7% from DR 60+ websites

While we used some outreach techniques in the early days, most of the success has come from the page’s ability to maintain top position rankings for competitive keywords.

Rankings for our SEO statistics pageRankings for our SEO statistics page

Do it right, and this tactic remains wildly effective for earning links naturally for many years. 

How to do it 

Start by entering a few broad topics related to your website into Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer. For example, we might enter the following for Ahrefs: 

  • SEO
  • Content marketing
  • Link building

Then navigate to the Matching Terms report and apply the inclusion filter for things like stats, statistics, facts, or figures. Make sure your filter is set to include any of these phrases. 

Then it’s just a matter of checking out the results to find a relevant topic you want to write about. 

We went for “SEO statistics”: 

Finding statistics keywords in Ahrefs' Keywords ExplorerFinding statistics keywords in Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

Once you pick your topic, it’s a just matter of curating linkworthy stats and publishing them on a page. 

While you can earn some seed links with early outreach efforts, long term success comes down to keeping your content updated with the latest data. That’s the best way to compound performance year on year, earning many high-quality links with no ongoing outreach needed. 

Relationship-based link building prioritizes long-term relationships with journalists, writers, and editors. 

It is an effective addition to digital PR campaigns as you can shortcut the time it takes to find the right people to distribute your content. 

Better yet, you can be a journalist’s first point of call when they write a story on topics you or your clients are experts in. 


Imagine having journalists contact you asking to feature your clients in upcoming stories. That’s exactly what growth marketing firm, EngineRoom, has achieved.

A journalist from Mamamia (DR 78) made a call out on Sourcebottle, the Australian equivalent of HARO, seeking expert advice on immigration law. EngineRoom’s link building expert, Don Milne, responded and won the story along with a high-quality link. 

Example of a backlink built with relationship-based link buildingExample of a backlink built with relationship-based link building

Then, the real magic started. 

Instead of ending things there, Don also shared a client list with the journalist in case they ever wanted to collaborate on future stories again. 

Sure enough, a few weeks later, the journalist reached out, asking to connect with another client in the drug rehab space to develop a story on heroin addiction. The client is featured in about 30% of the completed article with detailed quotes from the founder and (of course) a link back to their website. 

Example of a backlink built with relationship-based link buildingExample of a backlink built with relationship-based link building

No pitching. No outreach. Just a genuine partnership and collaboration now earning multiple high-quality links for their clients. 

How to do it 

This technique is all about the follow-up after you collaborate on your first story with a journalist. 

If getting the first foot in the door is where you’re stuck, you can check out our detailed guide on relationship-based link building by Irina Maltseva, the former Head of Marketing at Hunter. 

Once you get that first story, make sure you keep the relationship going. 

If you have a list of websites or clients you represent, create a professional document with a mini bio about each client. Make sure it’s also easily searchable for writers in a hurry and makes your contact details clear and easy to access. 

Then, share it with journalists, writers, and editors you collaborate with so they can refer to it in the future if they need an expert on a specific topic for their content. 

Final thoughts

Earning high-quality backlinks can be much easier than many people realize and cheaper too! All the examples shared in this post earned free link placements on high-authority websites and with minimal outreach. 

These techniques have more staying power. They are also far less likely to be seen as “link manipulation” or devalued in future Google updates. 

And, if you get your content angle just right, they also have the potential to be earning links many months, if not years, down the track! 

Got questions? Ping me on LinkedIn.

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Google To Curb Microtargeting In Consumer Finance Ads




Google To Curb Microtargeting In Consumer Finance Ads

Google is updating its policy limiting personalized advertising to include more restrictions on ads related to consumer financial products and services.

Google’s personalized ads policy prohibits targeting users based on sensitive categories like race, religion, or sexual orientation.

Over the years, Google has continued updating the policy to introduce new limitations. The latest update to restrict consumer finance ads is part of Google’s ongoing efforts to refine its ad targeting practices.

What’s Changing?

Google will update its personalized ads policy in February 2024 to prevent advertisers from targeting audiences for credit and banking ads based on sensitive factors like gender, age, parental status, marital status, or zip code.

Google’s current policy prohibiting “Credit in personalized ads” will be renamed “Consumer finance in personalized ads” under the changes.

Google’s new policy will state:

“In the United States and Canada, the following sensitive interest categories cannot be targeted to audiences based on gender, age, parental status, marital status, or ZIP code.

Offers relating to credit or products or services related to credit lending, banking products and services, or certain financial planning and management services.”

Google provided examples, including “credit cards and loans including home loans, car loans, appliance loans, short-term loans,” as well as “banking and checking accounts” and “debt management products.”

When Does The New Policy Take Effect?

The updated limitations on personalized advertising will take effect on February 28, 2024, with full enforcement expected within six weeks.

Google said advertisers in violation will receive a warning at least seven days before any account suspension.

According to Google, the policy change aims to protect users’ privacy better and prevent discrimination in financial services advertising.

However, the company will still allow generalized ads for credit and banking products that do not use sensitive personal data for targeting.

What Do Advertisers Need To Do?

Google will begin enforcing the updated restrictions in late February 2024 but advises advertisers to review their campaigns for compliance issues sooner.

Advertisers should carefully check their ad targeting settings, remove improper personalization based on sensitive categories, and adhere to the revised policy requirements.

Failure to follow the rules could lead to account suspension after an initial warning. Google will work with advertisers to ensure a smooth transition during the ramp-up period over the next six months.

Featured Image: SurfsUp/Shutterstock

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Google Discusses Fixing 404 Errors From Inbound Links




Google Discusses Fixing 404 Errors From Inbound Links

Google’s John Mueller responded to a thread in Reddit about finding and fixing inbound broken links, offering a nuanced insight that some broken links are worth finding and fixing and others are not.

Reddit Question About Inbound Broken Links

Someone asked on Reddit if there’s a way to find broken links for free.

This is the question:

“Is it possible to locate broken links in a similar manner to identifying expired domain names?”

The person asking the question clarified if this was a question about an inbound broken link from an external site.

John Mueller Explains How To Find 404 Errors To Fix

John Mueller responded:

“If you want to see which links to your website are broken & “relevant”, you can look at the analytics of your 404 page and check the referrers there, filtering out your domain.

This brings up those which actually get traffic, which is probably a good proxy.

If you have access to your server logs, you could get it in a bit more detail + see which ones search engine bots crawl.

It’s a bit of technical work, but no external tools needed, and likely a better estimation of what’s useful to fix/redirect.”

In his response, John Mueller answers the question on how to find 404 responses caused by broken inbound links and identify what’s “useful to fix” or to “redirect.”

Mueller Advises On When Not To “Fix” 404 Pages

John Mueller next offered advice on when it doesn’t make sense to not fix a 404 page.

Mueller explained:

“Keep in mind that you don’t have to fix 404 pages, having things go away is normal & fine.

The SEO ‘value’ of bringing a 404 back is probably less than the work you put into it.”

Some 404s Should Be Fixed And Some Don’t Need Fixing

John Mueller said that there are situations where a 404 error generated from an inbound link is easy to fix and suggested ways to find those errors and fix them.

Mueller also said that there are some cases where it’s basically a waste of time.

What wasn’t mentioned was what the difference was between the two and this may have caused some confusion.

Inbound Broken Links To Existing Webpages

There are times when another sites links into your site but uses the wrong URL. Traffic from the broken link on the outside site will generate a 404 response code on your site.

These kinds of links are easy to find and useful to fix.

There are other situations when an outside site will link to the correct webpage but the webpage URL changed and the 301 redirect is missing.

Those kinds of inbound broken links are also easy to find and useful to fix. If in doubt, read our guide on when to redirect URLs.

In both of those cases the inbound broken links to the existing webpages will generate a 404 response and this will show up in server logs, Google Search Console and in plugins like the Redirection WordPress plugin.

If the site is on WordPress and it’s using the Redirection plugin, identifying the problem is easy because the Redirection plugin offers a report of all 404 responses with all the necessary information for diagnosing and fixing the problem.

In the case where the Redirection plugin isn’t used one can also hand code an .htaccess rule for handling the redirect.

Lastly, one can contact the other website that’s generating the broken link and ask them to fix it. There’s always a small chance that the other site might decide to remove the link altogether. So it might be easier and faster to just fix it on your side.

Whichever approach is taken to fix the external inbound broken link, finding and fixing these issues is relatively simple.

Inbound Broken Links To Removed Pages

There are other situations where an old webpage was removed for a legitimate reason, like an event passed or a service is no longer offered.

In that case it makes sense to just show a 404 response code because that’s one of the reasons why a 404 response should be shown. It’s not a bad thing to show a 404 response.

Some people might want to get some value from the inbound link and create a new webpage to stand in for the missing page.

But that might not be useful because the link is for something that is irrelevant and of no use because the reason for the page no longer exists.

Even if you create a new reason, it’s possible that some of that link equity might flow to the page but it’s useless because the topic of that inbound link is totally irrelevant to anyting but the expired reason.

Redirecting the missing page to the home page is a strategy that some people use to benefit from the link to a page that no longer exists. But Google treats those links as Soft 404s, which then passes no benefit.

These are the cases that John Mueller was probably referring to when he said:

“…you don’t have to fix 404 pages, having things go away is normal & fine.

The SEO ‘value’ of bringing a 404 back is probably less than the work you put into it.”

Mueller is right, there are some pages that should be gone and totally removed from a website and the proper server response for those pages should be a 404 error response.

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