Posts tagged Beyond

Official: Google Expands Local Inventory And Store-Only PLAs Beyond The U.S.

Last fall, Google introduced local product listing ads, which it is now calling “local inventory ads”, in the U.S. This week Google officially announced support for local inventory ads in the UK, France, Germany, Japan and Australia. These are product listing ads (PLAs) from nearby…



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Apple’s Ambition Extends Well Beyond The iPhone—As In, To Your Entire Life

On the surface, Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference last week was all about new developer tools—well, that and some upcoming features in Mac OS X and iOS, its computer and handheld operating systems. Step back, though, and you can see the outlines of something much bigger: a hint of how Apple sees its future beyond smartphones and tablets.

Brace yourself, because it looks momentous. Think of it as Apple’s plan for your new iLifestyle.

Gathering The Clues At WWDC

Some folks already live deep in the Apple ecosystem. But those iPhones, iPads and Macs were just the first step. Apple now looks to be laying a foundation for a much bigger and more pervasive platform that will bridge iOS and Mac OS X, and move outward from there to encompass practically every aspect of its users’ lives.

It all starts with developers. After years of restrictions, Apple offered numerous software changes that will start opening up its tightly controlled operating software in still-limited yet significant ways. It showered iOS developers with 4,000 new APIs (see our API explainer) and new access to long-desired functions. For instance, apps will be able to communicate with each other, reaching outside those limited and isolating “sandboxes”; they’ll also be able to tap the identity-verification functions of the TouchID fingerprint scanner introduced in the iPhone 5S last year.

The changes will make apps more useful and open up possibilities for new app-based innovations. And that process could get a boost from Swift, Apple’s new programming language, which is designed to make building iOS apps fast and easy work.

Meanwhile, Apple also took initial steps toward some entirely new fields—preliminary moves that are easy to discount because Apple didn’t draw that much attention to them.

In a “blink and you’ll miss it” portion of the presentation, Apple offered a (very) brief glimpse of HomeKit, its iPhone-driven foray into smart homes. The company didn’t offer many details at the time, and its developer document on the HomeKit framework is also fairly sketchy. But the idea is to cut through the clutter of scattershot connected-home approaches by providing a common protocol for automated lighting, climate and security systems so that “third-party apps”—i.e., on the iPhone—can direct them.

In a similar way, HealthKit aims to create a central repository for the jumble of data collected by health trackers and fitness apps, one that can be of use to both you and your doctor. 

The big notion in both introductions is “unification.” That word is key to Apple’s plans. 

What Apple Aims To Fix

There’s tremendous opportunity in smart homes, mostly because no one has managed to make them work well for the average consumer. In that sense, the connected-home industry is essentially broken.

Right now, wiring up your home involves wading through way too many complex decisions. Should you do it yourself or let Comcast manage it for you? You have to sort through standards (Zigbee? Z-wave? Insteon?) and weigh other options (hub or no hub? Wi-Fi or Ethernet? Throw in your lot with a single manufacturer or mix and match products?). Further complicating things is the fact that most of these approaches are incompatible, so heading down one path essentially means you have to start all over if you change your mind.

Apple has a knack for stepping into nascent, chaotic markets and imposing order with a streamlined offering that, often enough, turns into a blockbuster hit. It’s clearly betting it can do exactly that for smart homes. As the company put it in its developer documentation:

Home Kit makes possible a marketplace where the app a user controls their home with doesn’t have to be created by the vendor who made their home automation accessories, and where home automation accessories from multiple vendors can all be integrated into a single coherent whole without those vendors having to coordinate directly with each other.

Likewise, Apple wants to bring together the piecemeal information gathered by health and fitness apps and make sense of it all. There’s a lot of data from step trackers, heart rate monitors, smart clothes and such, and not all of it lines up.

In Apple’s vision, the iPhone will match up the metrics and fill in gaps where it can. Actually deriving meaning from all that data in ways that are useful to healthcare providers is a trickier proposition. So the company partnered with the Mayo Clinic and other healthcare centers for their expertise.

It’s not a stretch to think Apple will pull together its health and smart home initiatives. You can easily imagine HealthKit collecting data from connected health gadgets around the home, like digital scales and blood pressure monitors. That makes it a short hop from automating our lights to managing our health and wellness.

Take things just a step further, and Apple’s systems could learn our behaviors and anticipate what we need before we know it ourselves. Lights might change to a soothing color when the system knows I’m tense. My devices could power off automatically because bedtime is near. Diet notifications might land on my wrist as soon as I open the fridge between meals.

Now extrapolate just a bit farther—after all, Apple probably has. A few months ago, it got behind the wheel with CarPlay, its first attempt at pushing iOS into the automobile dashboard. A few months from now, CEO Tim Cook is expected to introduce a new wearable device. So instead of relying on other companies’ electronics, there may soon be a sweep of Apple products all plugging seamlessly into the iLifestyle.

What Apple Gets In Return: The New iLifestyle

Supposing Apple does unify the car, the wrist, the pocket and your desk to manage your home and your health, there’s no way around the fact that it’s going to know a lot about you. An awful lot. And if that’s Apple’s end game, there’s no doubt it will set privacy advocates on edge.

That’s where TouchID—currently, the iPhone’s somewhat gimmicky fingerprint scanner—might alleviate some privacy fears. So far, most talk about this biometric authentication has focused on whether it could be used for mobile security or payments. (PayPal is reportedly exploring that very notion.) 

But TouchID could also easily emerge as the guardian of your digital lifestyle by requiring biometric proof of your identity before unlocking your health data or home controls—even your car. (That might be an especially compelling proposition should Apple mount the scanner on an iWatch.) The likely consumer message: You can trust the system because your literal hearts and homes are safeguarded by your own fingerprint.

None of this will happen overnight, of course. But Apple has laid down a serious iLifestyle foundation. Now all it has to do is deliver on it—and convince people that an Apple-branded way of life is what they wanted all along.

Images courtesy of Flickr users Jon Rawlinson (Apple store logo), Mackenzie Kosut (Apple home with view), Fauzan Alfi (Apple gadgets), Philipp Zumtobel (iWatch concept), Blake Patterson (Tim Cook in motion). Carplay image courtesy of Apple.

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How to Grow Your Google+ Fan Base to 1,000 Followers & Beyond

You’re going to have to use every bit of your community management savvy to crank up your Google+ following to 1,000 and beyond. If you don’t yet have 1,000 followers on Google+, here’s how to go back to basics and grow that fan base.

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Microsoft’s New CEO Wants To Look Beyond Its Past To Find Its Future

“Suppose Microsoft disappeared.”

It’s quite a hypothetical, given the software giant’s piles of cash and 130,000 employees. Yet Satya Nadella lobbed it in one of his highest-profile appearances as Microsoft’s new CEO, an on-stage interview Tuesday evening at the Code Conference with veteran tech journalists Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher.

Minus Microsoft

“What is that sensibility that gets lost?” Nadella asked. “What is it that’s not going to be expressed?”

Asking what the world would be like without Microsoft is Nadella’s way of forcing his colleagues to define what Microsoft stands for—and to erase the stench of failure from the company’s name.

Mossberg and Swisher pressed Nadella to explain why the company had missed the massive shift to mobile computing.

“We all walk into the future with our backs to it,” said Microsoft’s poet-CEO.

Instead of dwelling on Microsoft’s mistakes, Nadella said that it was the “hunt for … that inflection point that matters more,” and said we were entering a “post-post-PC era.”

In other words, Microsoft would do better trying to discover what comes after smartphones than trying to play catch-up in that market. 

He suggested that tablet computing had untapped potential—an argument which dovetails nicely with the company’s recent launch of the Surface Pro 3.

What Microsoft was good at, Nadella said, was “building platforms, and building software for productivity.” Tellingly, he didn’t say “Windows,” and he didn’t say “Office”—Microsoft’s multibillion-dollar franchises which have defined its past two decades.

Tying Microsoft’s products together and forcing groups to work in lockstep was a thing of the past. The “One Microsoft” strategy is about having a coherent offering for consumers and developers, not tying all of its products together in ways that don’t make sense. That’s why Microsoft rolled out Office for Apple’s iPad before it had a touch-interface version ready for its own Surface tablet.

“That’s no longer going to be a tactic,” Nadella said.

Translating The Future

Nadella gave a concrete glimmer of his new vision for Microsoft with the unveiling of Skype Translator, a tool for real-time translation of voice conversations. A live English-to-German demonstration ran smoothly, though Steffi Czerny, the managing director of DLD Media, panned the quality of the translation.

Still, it was a showy act of technical prowess, combining the popular Skype chat tool with the years of research and development behind Microsoft Translator, and plenty of cloud-computing resources to make it all run.

And there was a bit of a hasty quality to it that itself spoke to Microsoft’s changing ways.

Asked whether Skype Translator, which Microsoft said would be out later this year, would be free or paid, Nadella punted. “I don’t know,” he said. “I’ll figure it out.”

Nadella’s Microsoft doesn’t have all the answers, nor does it pretend to. Instead, it’s asking the right questions.

Photo by Owen Thomas for ReadWrite

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Why You Need to Think Beyond Google When It Comes to SEO – Entrepreneur

Why You Need to Think Beyond Google When It Comes to SEO
Entrepreneur
When thinking about search engine optimization (SEO), sometimes individuals focus too much time on optimizing for Google. Major search engines simply aren't your only source for getting discovered online and driving traffic to your site. Hello
To SEO or not to SEO, that is the questionInman.com

all 2 news articles »

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Beyond A/B Testing: Strategic Conversion Optimization For B2B Websites

When it comes to conversion rate optimization (CRO) for B2B sites, A/B testing is a great place to start — but it’s only one tactic in what should be a site-wide strategy. B2C and e-commerce sites are largely focus on improving their product pages to boost transactions. However, as I…



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7 Search Engines That Take You Beyond Simple Site Search by @jboitnott

The Internet was born decades ago in computer science laboratories and only produced a trickle of information compared to what we see now. It has grown to the point where it flows with the pulse of our world. Users who limit queries to engines that search only webpages risk missing the most current waves of information as they flow out. Part of the challenge is recognizing the fragmented nature of information online. While Twitter, Instagramc and CNN serve different purposes, all form voices in the online conversation. When searching for particular information, it’s smart to hear all voices. A variety […]

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It’s Not All About Ranking: Benefits of Backlinks Beyond SEO – Search Engine Journal

It's Not All About Ranking: Benefits of Backlinks Beyond SEO
Search Engine Journal
I understand there's some hesitation when it comes to pursuing links in today's SEO environment. Even though links are unquestionably an important ranking signal, Google likes to engage in a large-scale FUD offensive every-so-often. They are currently
7 SEO Truths Every Business Leader Must UnderstandSearch Engine Land
Serious Factors For seo marketing india RevealedThe Jewish Week
How to Win at Your Business – Through SEOPR.com (press release)
Business 2 Community -Virtual-Strategy Magazine (press release)
all 18 news articles »

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It’s Not All About Ranking: Benefits of Backlinks Beyond SEO by @linkbuildingjon

Google’s search algorithm places such great emphasis on the accumulation of backlinks that link builders can forget the value of a link beyond search. Yes, quality backlinks can carry enormous weight and help bring your site to the top of a competitive SERP. That’s not the only purpose of a link, however. Even though the majority of clients at my company are interested primarily in search traffic, link building can certainly be used for other purposes. Here are a few off the top of my head: Referral Traffic Branding Building Authority Building Relationships Promotion I understand there’s some hesitation when […]

The post It’s Not All About Ranking: Benefits of Backlinks Beyond SEO by @linkbuildingjon appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

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The World of Link Opportunities Beyond Bloggers

Posted by JamesAgate

There is an awful lot of controversy going around for things like guest posts, with techniques being proclaimed dead and blogs being decreed toxic, but the fact remains that if you handle blogger outreach in the right way, you can get a tremendous amount of value from blogs.

Targeted audiences, run by passionate and receptive bloggers; these types of opportunities shouldn’t be discounted. If you take a step back from your link profile, it is very likely to be heavily weighted towards blogs, whether that be as a result of guest posts, editorial mentions, competitions, or just about anything else.


However
, while all of the above add value (broadly speaking), they point to a link profile that looks skewed toward just one type of website. Links from blogs can be overcooked, and the reality of being an SEO in 2014 is that it is always wise to diversify the ways in which you get links—irrespective of which color hat you think you wear. You need to be proactive about what your link profile looks like.

We’ve probably all recently seen instances of overly harsh penalties, websites that looked
whiter than white (especially in relation to competitors) getting spanked. I’ve seen instances of sites getting hit that didn’t even look like they cared all that much about SEO, and yet someone at Google arbitrarily decided they had fallen afoul of guidelines.

Do I think Google is crazy? Sometimes, yes. But I’m not here to complain, because frankly it’s their playground, so I guess we all need to learn to live in it and determine ways to make the most of it—or face the consequences.

My point is we all have to think carefully about the things we do (even if they don’t at first appear to impact SEO) and what knock-on effect that is likely to have.

This especially applies when it comes to content generation and building links. It is easier to get bogged down in the day-to-day and think you are diversifying your link profile because you have a variety of blogs or because you are using different means to connect with bloggers, but from a bot’s point of view those links probably all look quite similar.

Here are just some of the wealth of link opportunities that are out there in almost every market:

  • Resource pages
  • Forums
  • Directories
  • Professional organizations
  • Events
  • Submission-based
  • Press

The sad thing is that at least one person reading this can probably find one instance of each of the above links being mentioned by someone at Google as “unnatural.” That being said, all of the above, if done right, are highly defensible and would pass the litmus test of “would I still want this if Google didn’t exist?”

Targeted acquisition

The problem (actually, the opportunity, because it means fewer people will bother) is that there isn’t usually a surefire step-by-step to finding these types of opportunities; the process can be quite serendipitous. I know that sounds like fluffy nonsense but there is no substitute for really getting to know a client and their market. This is why we often save this kind of activity for several months into an engagement: That is when some of the really golden opportunities seem to appear—after a few conversations with your contact, some research for a content piece, etc.

It is also likely that opportunities are limited in certain markets. There’s nearly always another link opportunity out there, but to be brutally truthful this process isn’t going to be easy, and it isn’t going to be one of those things where you can suddenly
make it rain links.

In most cases we have found markets to be a series of rabbit holes with niches, sub-niches, sub-sub-niches,etc.—the internet is HUGE, and if you are just focusing on “Keyword” + “Write for us” in your link prospecting, then you are leaving a world of opportunities on the table.

Resource pages

This type of opportunity is likely to form the foundation of any proactive “blogless” link building campaign because there are so many resource page opportunities out there.

You can really shoot for the stars with this technique, though and we’ve secured placements on government, academic, and top-tier websites like About.com. I must stress that this isn’t always an easy sell, because these types of websites don’t link to just anyone so you’ll need to adjust your expectations accordingly particularly if your business or client has only a small amount of value to offer outside of its usual commercial enterprise. It probably doesn’t surprise you that these types of websites care very little for link-baity stuff. :-)

A common mistake is to adopt the mindset of “I have made this guide on {keyword}, it is really {useful | interesting | identical to everything else on your resource list} and so should be included on your page because it will be good for {your audience | me}”. You either need something completely new that brings diversity to that resource page, or you need to sell the webmaster on the asset you are asking them to link to.

A common approach we adopt is to utilize an existing client asset and then look for multiple angles depending on the type of resource page you are targeting. If you think about, a governmental website, they want to help local citizens, so content about things like public safety is of interest to them. However, there is no incentive for them to link if they’ve already got three guides to the issue you are talking about. If you can find one governmental site that has a section on a specific public issue, though, you can use that in your pitch to another website, offering them a reason to link (because it rounds out their offering to their local citizens).

In terms of finding these kinds of opportunities, there are two main ways we do this:

  • Digging through an existing link profile (the client’s or a competitor’s) and extrapolating the tactic from there
  • Surfacing (often) hundreds of opportunities using a combination of prospecting phrases that include a variation of resource, help, further reading, and the keyword

Forums

Who would have thought a type of link usually reserved for the spammer could be valuable?

Well, a number of our clients enjoy mountains of traffic from targeted forums; in fact, in some cases they are the biggest referrers.

Naturally I am talking about the client adding value to the forum, or in most cases (this is easier if you don’t have the client industry expertise and the client doesn’t have the inclination) encouraging conversations about the client within the forum. Tread carefully, as most forums don’t take all that kindly to marketers poking their noses in, but with a modicum of client participation you may be able to join a conversation and highlight a piece of content on the client’s site. By doing so, you might just “turn on” the forum to the wealth of useful content you probably already have there.

Our participation in forums is often content-led, and it is a very low-volume tactic, as there are often only a handful of worthwhile forums in the industry you are looking at.

Directories

A recent study found most
web directories are dead, and I wouldn’t disagree that most are simply live so they can charge for removal of links. Leaving this type of directory aside, there are a wealth of industry directories and localized business directories that real people actually use. These are the types of listings where you can get phone calls. Regardless of what you think of directories as a link type, that to me is a defensible link that is worthwhile irrespective of whether it is going to have an impact on your rankings.

The US is a gold mine of link opportunities like this, with directories for cities that are relatively easy to get listed on and can actually generate calls and new business. If you are in the travel industry, for example, where people who don’t know the area need to book a car service from the airport, they might use a site like
SantaMonica.com to find a provider. There is that perceived credibility of being listed in what is an authoritative site in the area.

How do we go about finding them? The
Link Prospector tool from Citation Labs is very useful in surfacing these types of opportunities if you use a combination of local and niche-specific phrases. If you don’t want to subscribe to the Link Prospector tool, then it is easy enough (albeit less automated) to do generic searches that include a combination of keywords or geographical locations and the directories themselves often show up. I actually prefer the manual method, as it allows for more serendipitous opportunities to present themselves.

Professional organizations

There won’t be all that many, but as with directories you want to be thinking in terms of niche and location as well as a combination of the two. Especially in the US, there are a wealth of opportunities with local chapters of organizations that you or your client could join.

There is often a cost involved with joining these professional organizations (at least the worthwhile ones), but the credibility associated with it and often the other business benefits for the client hugely outweigh the cost.

We’ve been frequently surprised at how often a client is already paying a subscription fee for a membership that entitles them to a listing but they’ve simply never claimed it! These are very quick and easy wins, granted the impact isn’t necessarily going to be life-changing.

To find these kinds of organizations, again the
Link Prospector tool is very useful if you need a quick and easy way to find these opportunities. You might find this list useful (albeit a little user unfriendly to navigate) as many trade publications have a corresponding association. Not always, but hey, it is still a useful resource if you want to find out about trade press.

Events

I strongly suggest you read this blog post on
Link Building with Local Events by Kane Jamison from 2012. There is very little I can add to this specific topic that Kane hasn’t already covered, but a few specific points are worth repeating:

First, why would we want these links? Well, you are likely to be getting links on domains that are otherwise hard to get even a citation from, let alone a link, websites like well-respected news outlets. Similarly the links are geographically specific, there is nothing more difficult than obtaining links from blogs within a certain geographical area, because the pool is often really small. So when it comes to “blogless” link building, it is nice to add that local element to your profile, and event-based link building can really help with that.

Secondly, think about the whole process when it comes to event-based link building, because there is more to it than just the “submission to the event section.” You need to consider how you structure the event pages on your website as well as selecting the right ticketing provider (e.g.
Eventbrite) for maximum SEO-related benefits (and frankly to ensure a seamless experience for any attendees).

Finally, consider all the angles for leveraging your event for link building goodness, from typical search queries that uncover submission opportunities to looking for footprints within event widgets.

Submission-based

This is an excellent way to maximize the reach of content either through finding or repurposing for a new audience.
This guide, whilst painfully cringe-worthy in its analogy to food, is a mostly useful guide to repurposing your content.

I am talking about worthwhile submission-based link opportunities here, though, whether that be making a presentation from a guide to go onto Slideshare or just submitting a podcast to the relevant directory. This is less about the resulting link (Google knows these aren’t exactly tightly editorially controlled), but you can effectively plug into an audience that you didn’t already have access to.

I still get milestone notifications of a guide I wrote for eHow nearly five years ago. I’m actually a little embarrassed about the content so really must get around to updating it but that has had over 10,000 pageviews since it launched. I accept that’s not viral traffic, but it was an extract of a longer piece on my site, and I linked my guide in the section beneath. My guide has subsequently had just over 4,000 visits since the eHow extract was published, which is almost certainly a lot more eyeballs than it would have gotten just sitting on one of my websites.

Eric Ward is a big proponent of submitting content to different places; many of the Link Opportunity Alerts that you find in his
LinkMoses newsletter service are submission-based, but often niche-specific and have a large audience or carry some real credibility.

Press coverage

Is doing PR a challenge as an SEO? Absolutely. It isn’t always an option, because if your client has a PR department or existing agency you might just end up crunching toes. On the flipside, however, we as SEOs are often far better at actually getting the link than a PR exec might be. We’ve achieved coverage for clients on TV networks, offline magazines, radio interviews—lots of great things that any PR agency would be proud of, and that started as a way for us to build some links!

The thing we have found is that most press opportunities present themselves and you have to be a bit reactive (or real-time) rather than proactively seeking coverage. We have also found some success in looking at how and why clients (and their competitors) have been covered in the past. Go into this with an open mind—I couldn’t believe when we found one of our clients had received coverage for the release of a product brochure; my initial thought would have been “who actually cares besides the owner of the business that our client has released a new product brochure??!”… turns out the trade press cared, and would happily cover it. In situations like that you find an asset which even the best of us would have dismissed as little more than sales fodder that can actually be used effectively to garner links.

Incidentally, I would be interested to hear your experience gaining press coverage with services like
HARO. We’ve probably had 4 successful pieces of coverage from HARO pitches, and while you could argue our targeting was off, our pitch was poor, or the client wasn’t a good fit, we’ve got coverage for those exact same clients through all sorts of other means so it truly baffles me when I see other people cite HARO as though it’s a push-button way of getting publicity. Maybe we’re doing it wrong, or maybe it’s just inundated since all SEOs on planet Earth started using it. Who knows?

A walkthrough

It is often easy to illustrate a point with an example, so I wanted to do a quick runthrough of what we might do if we were to handle link building for
Ontraport, a small business CRM provider. These guys aren’t a client, and were selected at random after going through a list of a few of our providers (we use them for email auto-responders among many other things) I thoroughly recommend their software, but I digress.

Let’s look at the assets they already have that we might be able to work with…

  • http://ontraport.com/ The software itself is likely to appeal to small business owners, seeing as it has been designed with them in mind. From a link building point of view, we might struggle given that there isn’t a free version of the tool, but as a “suggested tool” on a small business website we might have an angle. The better angle here is that the company is itself a “small business” success story (or at least sort of small; they’ve featured on the INC500 list and Forbes Most Promising Companies).
  • http://ontraport.com/women/ This one is buried in their footer, I actually found it digging through their link profile, but it is a sign-up page to join an online community for women in business. Ontraport’s COO is a woman named Lena Requist and she wanted to create “The Professionistas” to be a community within the wider Ontraport community. It is such a great idea, and is likely to be a valuable asset for any link building campaign.
  • http://ontraport.com/community-meetups/ This provides details on all their forthcoming in-person meetups. Loads of potential link building angles here.
  • http://ontrapalooza.com Their annual event which seems to work a bit like MozCon. I saw details of the event last year but didn’t actually attend, and there are opportunities aplenty with a large-scale event like this.

Here are just some of the opportunities I came up with after little more than 10 minutes of research:

  • The founder of Ontraport did an interview on Mixergy a while back, how about reaching out to BusinessInterviews.com?
  • SBA.gov helped me find an office that supports female business owners that is local to Ontraport and that office has a resource page.
  • The National Association for Female Executives has setup a page to help guide female executives in their career here. Perhaps Ontraport’s Professionista community for women would be a good addition for any women looking to strike out on their own as a means of furthering their career?
  • Their forthcoming in-person meetup in Santa Monica is likely to be of interest to the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce in their business event listings: http://members.smchamber.com/events/
  • The Annual Ontrapalooza event I mentioned was held in Santa Barbara last year, so how about telling local residents about it and getting a link in the process? You can submit event details to the Santa Barbara Independent events section (granted most listings are aimed at general public but there are some specialist events in the calendar).

Conclusion

Ultimately you need diversity in the link building that you do. Many of the tactics described above are low-volume, high-value so are worth investing a bit more time in. Can you build a process around them? Yes, but it is likely to be more of a framework or alternatively very industry-specific because there are so many nuances hence why I haven’t provided a step-by-step.

I don’t think that you should consider blogger outreach or links from blogs to be dead, but as with anything in SEO, there is such a thing as too much of something good. Hammering away at one tactic because that’s what’s cheap or in your comfort zone is only going to get you so far.

I’d love to hear thoughts in the comments below, particularly success stories with “less common” types of links.

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