Conquering the digital marketing game can be tricky, from running it as a business to staying on top of the little details for generating traffic, creating content and earning income. Despite what blogging or SEO gurus might imply, no one can have a grip on how to achieve these objectives in a stable way, given many of the rules may change with each Google update. In addition, changes in the market may alter the best laid plans for monetizing your content or satisfying your visitors.
But you can, even in a dynamic environment, apply your passion to build your internet enterprise by employing a few tactics to stay ahead of the curve. Some of these methods involve tried and true content-based ideas covered elsewhere on this site, such as concentrating on viral content or list articles, while others like Quora marketing or promoting on the newer social media communities are more cutting edge. The below are some of the kinds of practices or tweaks that can elevate your productivity and effectiveness, in any year:
1- Improve Control of Your Direct Traffic
One of the most obvious areas of improvement in any business is optimizing your control of the market that interested in your product or service. While most look at the industry statistics showing 92% of people use Google to get to a site, your marketing plan can be an exception, and seek to not be nearly as dependent as everybody else is on search engine traffic. The path to this result lies in building an imposing array of backlinks to your site from numerous relevant sites, to dramatically increase the direct click-through or referral traffic from those related sources.
Writing guest posts on selected highly regarded sites or properties are an excellent and efficient means of getting these links, although you may have to build your skills in negotiating with webmasters for sites of various sizes. This means reaching for quality audiences, and writing for people, instead of for search engine spiders.
You could also check offline sources, like local community and college papers, who happen to have a website that also posts their content online. They may have a site, but they mainly still consider themselves a physical paper. There thus may be less competition doing outreach in this fashion. Offer to write a column or news article and see what happens.
The advantage of taking this route comes from knowing the baseline organic visitors derived from this direction will not be “feast or famine” depending on an algorithm change or Google dance. This traffic also may afford you more flexibility in monetizing a blog, and in making the user experience optimal as defined by you or your visitors, and not the search engine.
2- Stack Your Online Income Centers
Like most businesses, you may need to divide your efforts between deriving more immediate cash or “working capital,” and other activity that offers a return over the longer term. The best way to organize your business projects is to give dedicated time to the ones that provide steady upfront income, and the rest of the time to the ones that will have a bigger, but deferred payoff.
This will keep you motivated as you receive the little victories from the ‘trickle’ money coming in, so you can keep moving on the bigger ones that you will profit from later. Too many digital marketers may dwell on one or the other, and end up prematurely frustrated over the meager upfront cash they are seeing, or from the delay in realizing the longer term profits.
By far, the best overall monetization strategy for blogging is to pre-sell your own product/service, or affiliate programs. CPC or CPM programs like Adsense may be more efficient, but do not pay as much or as well. While the latter is at “the bottom of the value chain” (as argued by Brian Dean of Backlinko), it can suffice to help a blogger earn enough petty cash to stay invested in working your overall plan for making money online.
3- Time Budgeting Your Online Work
One other activity that may deliver short term working capital, while delivering more significant money is freelancing (doing internet marketing jobs for others), if you have the patience and endurance to pursue it. If your time budget is really tight, set aside 15-16 hours a week (the equivalent of a light part time job) and put half the time into freelancing, and the other half working one or two IM methods covered in your overall digital marketing plan.
Even if you are just using the time at first to learn or train yourself in a marketing method, that breakdown could be useful. E.g., you would try using free classified sites or freelancing forums to get jobs over gig sites, or Upwork et al, to make your first dime and to establish a portfolio. Again, most marketers do not budget their online work activity, so often burn out from doing too much activity (or do it in an unbalanced way).
4- Have a Full-Featured SEO or Ranking Plan
The biggest bad habit marketers have in optimizing their sites to rank on Google is focusing on only one element, such as backlinking, instead of all major legs of SEO. The full picture for achieving higher ranking involves sound keyword research, engaging content, good onpage SEO, and relevant backlinks.
Accordingly, design your ranking strategy around improving your backlinks off-site, the engagement of visitors on-site, including certain non-SEO methods for attracting more direct traffic (e.g., packing your article titles with more clickbait). This alone will put your results ahead of those who are winging it mainly on writing endlessly long articles, or buying “packages” of links from providers.
When it does come to external backlinks, variety is key. Build a set of quality contextual backlinks from a diverse set of domains. Try looking for non-traditional looking properties, not the same old set of Web 2.0s everybody else uses. And if you pursue riskier ranking approaches like private blog networks (PBNs) of a “non-white” hat kind, double check your PBN network, it may not be as private and footprint free as you think.
5- Increase the Appeal of Your Headlines
The importance of compelling titles for blog content has been explored elsewhere on the web. Make your article titles more clickable, even if that means serving up naked clickbait. If you are good with ranking to some extent but are getting stuck, it could be a difference maker. Instead of “About Crazy Mini-Widgets” (your keyword) you could go with a less bland “13 Deadly Uses For Crazy Mini-Widgets,” or even “Who Else Is Lying To Us About Crazy Mini-Widgets?” There are sites that will even auto-create such titles for you, like this one. This should improve the CTR of your headlines in a way that wins the “beauty contest” as to which article on a Google results page will get clicked on first.
6- Embed Videos for Greater User Engagement
Keeping visitors on a blog is as important as getting them there in the first place. Embedded video (of a related or viral kind) is a quick and easy-peasy tool that actually improves SEO, from the point of view of putting value on the page that can increase its engagement and dwell time. YouTube already provides everybody with embed code to almost all its uploads, and Google will more readily track pages that have its code on them. It may also increase CTR if the content is compelling enough—e.g., making a blog comment like “see this video on how a man was saved from disaster by (product/keyword).”
7- Use “Noob-Friendly” Methods as a Ready Fallback
Whatever stage one is at in digital marketing, beginner to advanced, it’s helpful to have a contingency plan on hand to carry you through periodic downturns. Those “newbie” methods you do on your way up in the world of online earning may have to serve you if the bottom falls out of your major project. As in skiing, you might have to go back to “the bunny hill” or basics to get by at times, and rely more on the fast cash methods you started with, until you re-figure things out.
Web writing is the simplest of backup fallback plans. The only possible avenues for immediate money making online (if you have no specific knowledge) is freelance writing, article mill writing, and selling on eBay. So advertise or answer freelance offers on free classifieds sites or IM forums where you can do so at no cost. There are sites like iWriter, Textbroker, PeoplePerHour that will pay you for completing article assignments. If you have spare items at home you can resell for profit, eBay is still a thing. Whatever, always have a fallback in mind, or like many people in online marketing, you may become discouraged too quickly if your efforts hit a speed bump.
8- Simplify Your Reliance on Gurus
Another sign of under preparation is to consume too much of your time over-learning or re-learning SEO, from presumed “experts” who in some cases may be anything but that. Forget the books, forget the gurus. Basic SEO comes down to quality links, advanced SEO comes down to value. Google’s recent changes to its algo factors in how visitors receive the site they go to. If they bounce out of it as they found the page to be of low value, Google will lower the ranking regardless of what hyper power authority links you’re using. Linkbait has to lead to value bait, to optimize rankings. To a large extent, learn by doing it, and even failing at it at times, and you will be better off than most of the online herd.
9- Sort Out the Main Issue for Ranking Your Site
Good links, good onpage, good content and good keywords are the full monty for successful SEO, but depending on the site, one element can be more crucial than the others. For a site built on low competition keywords, onpage SEO may be central to what is needed to rank. For regular moderate comp keywords you should shoot for relevant and contextual backlinks, preferably from pages that have strong page and domain authority (DA) or other metrics (you can use resources like the MOZ toolbar, installable on Chrome compatible browsers, which will show the PA/DA numbers for all sites listed on each page of the Google or Bing results).
Other types of sites or blogs vying to rank for highly competitive niches may require an emphasis on an optimal keyword strategy. For really difficult high comp keywords, you’ll have to outreach to get (or buy) some super strong editorial or premium links from rock solid sites to optimize your ability to rank, on top of the onpage SEO and offpage contextual link building that may also be needed. Many marketers are oblivious as to what is the key problem with optimizing their domain. Apply a little analysis and some elbow grease, and you won’t be one of them.
10- Improve Your Evaluation of Link Sources
In stacking a lot of these tactics together, you might run into the practical question as to whether a no-follow backlink from a website with heavy traffic is more valuable than X high-metric do-follow backlinks, such as from no-traffic PBNs. The answer could be resolved by performing an A/B test. Has anybody created 2-3 sites in the same niche, perhaps by promoting the same product, similar quality content et al, where one site uses only relevant links from sites with high traffic, another uses only relevant (hi authority) links from PBN sites with no traffic, or another where the site is built on links from both? What site would come out on top, in terms of the net value of the backlinks? This thought process by itself will increase your skills as a marketer.
11- Master Earning from “Next Edge” Social Media Before Others Do
There are a plethora of new communities on the social media scene that comprise the next generation of opportunities to generate traffic, and to make money online. The future reach of the most successful newer sites has only begun to be mined. These communities do not carry the limitations and restrictions of the leading social media, which makes them more flexible as platforms to exploit.
An astute digital marketer might want to follow the best of the new breed and pull visitors and dollars from each. At the least, the new communities provide an alternative source for traffic few others are pursuing. Balance out the mostly do-follow, high quality links you are creating for your site for ranking purposes, with some no-follow links from new social media and other high traffic sites. It will make your link profile look more natural, and should give you some short term direct referral traffic.
12- Evaluate Your Link Ratios and Source Quality
You can get away with allegedly “shaky” link building methods like forum and blog comment posting, if you restrict doing so to high quality comments, on high quality domains (the type that have to get editorially approved, on high authority sites). This should eliminate the problem of these links appearing to be “spammy” because the moderator will have weaned out the junky posts. This one factor can thus vastly improve the value of these sources of backlinks in ranking your site, for just a modicum of extra work involved.
Keep in mind though that your ability to rank (with whatever kind of link) may also depend on the balance of your link sources, compared to your competitors. If the rival sites on page 1-2 of Google get 10% of their links from blog comments, but you get 25% of your links from there, Google may interpret those links as excessive (even if of good quality) and regard it as your site gaming the search engine.
13- Use Scheduled Drip Context to Optimize Content Preparation
If much of your site content is not time sensitive, and you are using a content management system such as WordPress, you could consider putting a plugin,or other feature within WP that will drip, or stagger postings to your site. You could write 20-30 articles, store them in the queue for delayed publishing at the interval you want (twice a week, or month, whatever). That will give you more time, in the meanwhile, to work on future well-researched articles, or on other sites. This partial automation should give you an advantage over other content creators who are publishing everything manually, and thereby allow you more time to produce more well-considered content.