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Epiphany Search

Having spent 3 years (okay 4 – I repeated a year) at University studying marketing and business, I felt ready to step into the big wide world of a real life digital marketing agency and begin implementing all that theory I had been force fed over the previous years. Or so I thought. Apparently I had been lied to…… all these cutting edge marketing models and theories, which had been so enthusiastically taught to us, proved to be a little redundant and dated when it came to digital marketing, and when I say a little, I mean totally. (In hindsight I should probably have thought it was a little suspicious that our most recent text book was published in 1986 and definitely raised my concerns when we watched a BBC video entitled “The Future of Online Marketing”, filmed in 2000!)

Having spent 3 years (okay 4 – I repeated a year) at University studying marketing and business, I felt ready to step into the big wide world of a real life digital marketing agency and begin implementing all that theory I had been force fed over the previous years. Or so I thought. Apparently I had been lied to…… all these cutting edge marketing models and theories, which had been so enthusiastically taught to us, proved to be a little redundant and dated when it came to digital marketing, and when I say a little, I mean totally. (In hindsight I should probably have thought it was a little suspicious that our most recent text book was published in 1986 and definitely raised my concerns when we watched a BBC video entitled “The Future of Online Marketing”, filmed in 2000!)

Not once in my role as an SEO Analyst, have I been asked to carry out a SWOT analysis for a new client’s site or a PESTLE analysis of the external environment of a client’s marketplace. Surely my intimate knowledge of Porters 5 force model would come in handy?! Apparently not. All that time memorizing the 7P’s of the Marketing Mix – wasted – I could have been down the pub or watching Come Dine With Me.... or could I? Because the thing is, although these traditional marketing models are rarely mentioned by name in the world of SEO and search marketing, we inherently carry them out, or at least aspects of them, almost constantly, without even realizing it. And they are in fact, as relevant today as they were when they were first thought up, 20, 30 or even 40 years ago. Don’t believe me? Well take a look at the following couple of examples. Just because you don’t call it a SWOT analysis, doesn’t mean it isn’t one! SWOT Analysis or New Client Site Review So, as an SEO Analyst one of the first tasks with a new client, or perhaps even earlier during the sales phase, is to carry out an initial review of the site with the aim of highlighting potential strengths and weakness, reviewing the competiveness of the niche and ultimately finding potential opportunities for improvement – be it quick wins or a long term strategy. This, believe it or not, is a classic SWOT analysis and would look something like this: S: Strengths W: Weaknesses O: Opportunities T: Threats Still have your doubts? Well how about this……………… 7 P’s of the Marketing Mix for Link Building Love it or hate it, link building is an integral component of search marketing. Backlinks remain the most influential factor used by the major search engines when ranking your webpages and as such, developing a powerful backlink profile is of the upmost importance. However, doing this is not an easy task. Link building is time consuming, resource heavy and often monotonous. To be a truly good link builder takes time and experience and to achieve that powerful backlink profile, you need to ensure you have the perfect backlink mix. And that brings me on to my next old school marketing model: The 7 P’s of the Marketing Mix. A term first coined in 1953 to describe the fundamental elements necessary for a successful marketing campaign. The then Four P’s has grown over the years to become seven; Product, Price, Place, Promotion, People, Process and Physical Evidence. So can this 57 year old methodology really still be relevant in today’s digital marketing world, and even more so in the often difficult and murky world of link building? Well let’s see. The 7 P’s of Successful Link Building Product: Understand your product. So for link building, your product is going to be the site you are link building for. Ask yourself ‘why would somebody want to link to this site? What features, services, information or benefits does my product offer? What value would linking to my product add to somebody’s website or customers?’ If you can’t answer these questions, then neither will the people you are approaching to build links so why would they link to you? When you can answer these, questions use this information in your sales pitch. Price: Buying Links. So everybody knows that search engines don’t like people to buy links, (unless you’re buying them off Google of course!) and recently Google seems to be clamping down extra hard on webmasters who do. However, everybody also knows that buying links can still work, as was highlighted in a recent experiment over at SEOMOZ. So the question is do you or don’t you? If you decide to be whiter than white then you’re going to have to work extra hard on your organic and creative link building strategies, and if you do, then you’re going to have to be extremely careful about the paid link footprint you create. Place: Where are you going to place your link? The placement of your link on a page is an extremely important factor used by search engines to determine the importance and thus power of the link. This is becoming increasingly important with Google’s recent development from Random to Reasonable Surfer (if you have no idea what I’m talking about this post by our Director of Search, Andy Heaps, should explain it). Also, don’t just think about the on-page position but the website as a whole. Ask yourself ‘is this website really relevant to my site and my visitors?’ If not, the link is probably of little value. With search engines becoming more and more capable at semantic search, relevancy and placement are ever important factors. Promotion: Link Bait. What incentives are you offering people to link back to you? Is it funny? Is it newsworthy? Is it groundbreaking? Is it an exclusive? Is it controversial? Are you offering free products for a competition or gift vouchers? Are you going to pay them? These are all things you need to consider when you are promoting your site for links. If your site is none of the above, maybe you need to think about creating some new content? Also when promoting your site you need to consider how you are contacting people. Are you sending bland, generic, non-personal emails? Well maybe you shouldn’t. Promotion is all about adding value - work out what value you can add to someone else’s site and tell them about it! People: We are currently in the midst of the Social Media revolution, so get out there and be sociable! Join forums and communities, comment on blogs, use Twitter and Facebook. These are all ways of reaching out and forming real relationships with people which you can use not only to gain direct links, but to spread the word about your link worthy product. Process: Managing Your Link Building. Managing and monitoring a link building campaign can be a fairly complex process, especially for agencies that have many campaigns running in parallel. However, it remains an essential element of achieving a successful link building campaign. Although I could write a whole other post on this topic here are a few things to consider.

  • Monitoring links: Are they still live?
  • Tools and Methods: Sourcing Links
  • Backlink Analysis: Tools and Records
  • Finance
  • Metrics: Valuing Links
  • Making Contact
  • Contacts/ Link Database
  • Testing and Feedback

So whether you use a bespoke in-house tool like we do at Epiphany or an off –the-shelf tool such as Buzz Stream, successfully managing the link building process is vital! Physical Evidence: Okay.... so 6 out of 7 wasn’t bad! So there you have it; two old school, traditional marketing techniques that work perfectly for two common search marketing processes. And it doesn’t stop there. Next time you are carrying out an analysis of the competitor landscape, perhaps you should take a moment to consider Porters 5 Force Model or a PESTLE Analysis? I know as search marketers we like to think we are at the cutting edge of innovation and technology, but perhaps we should take a step back and show a little respect to our marketing forefathers. After all, there is little point in reinventing the wheel.