How to Run SEO Campaigns on a Shoestring Budget & Still Win Big

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I spoke at the Search London meetup today on how to convince SME clients to move-away from tired, old fashioned SEO techniques and take the plunge into Creative Content, even if they have a limited budgets.

I gave examples and the process behind Content Curation, News-Jacking & Buzzfeed-style list campaigns that cost less than £100 to make but still won links from sites like HuffPost, Lifehacker. & Inc.

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  • So by now, most people know this is how we should be doing Content Marketing
    Research > Pitch your Awesome Cat Themed Infographic > Launch it > Outreach It then something magical happens and you end up creating the most viral thing since Gangham Style
    Right?
  • But let’s face, this is is what really happens – at every step along the way you face a client roadblock
    Why are we doing this? What have cat pictures got to do with Insurance? I hate that design – make our logo bigger! How are you going to make this go viral?
    And if success happens! Hey you guys did ok on this so let’s try Zombies!
    The irony about this process is, the client though they hired you for your expertise, there’s just something about creative content that makes clients or your boss nervous
  • The problem I have, most of my clients are small businesses and I don’t have the budget or the time to tackle roadblocks.. So I’ve had to find clever, super quick ways to remove them so that I can focus on doing a awesome job.
  • And today I’m going to talk about I remove those roadblocks, enabling me to run creative content a small budget and still win big.
  • My name is Pete, director at Kaizen. We deliver Search & Content Marketing strategies for SMEs
  • So roadblock number one – why do we need to do creative content?
    One of my old insurance clients, asked me this and handled by showing how their competitor, SimplyBusiness of theirs is kicking their ass with awesome content!
    Using SEMRush’s Competitor Tool, I shown the massive gaps in organic traffic and rankings my client had versus SimplyBusiness
  • And to really rub their face it in, I put together a whole presentation with all of their awesome content and just clicked through each one slowly to let my point sink in.
  • And as the final nail in the coffin, I shown a list of my clients main target keywords compared against SimplyBusiness.
    As you can guess, it shut them up but then this happened..
  • WE DON’T HAVE THE BUDGET!
  • The truth is, you don’t need it! There is a ton you can do on a shoestring – like Content Curation. Content Curation is the process of curating the most relevant information about a topic into one single location. By giving it your own unique take, whether it’s the design, opinion or making it interactive – you can end up creating something of real added value to the end user.
    My favourite types are 1-to-4
  • Don’t believe me? Here’s some examples of things I made for less than £100 in the past few months
  • Here’s a ultimate guide to Bitcoin I made for a Personal Loans & Cash Advance company, a really tough niche. I got it on Lifehacker and earned some good links. For a build cost of £100 – 14 links is a pretty good number!!
  • Another example, a top 10 list of awesome books for entrepreneurs – a subject close to my heart
    1k social shares and 12 domains – we got it on Inc.com & Business Insider
  • Here’s the most recent bit of cheap content I did, we’re still running it – but this link came through last week
  • Unless you live under a rock, it’s a big deal to get covered on a site like the Metro.
    Hopefully this shows you can do an awful lot with very little
  • Right then, you’ve got your client on-board and ready to research your content strategy.
    But here lies another problem for me - I want to do content that reflects the interests of the clients target audience.
    But I can’t afford to do big expensive user groups, target audience surveys or anything close
  • So instead I just pick up the phone and ask them each of these questions to get a ton of real useful insights within minutes [Run though each box]

  • Once you’ve done that exercise – I use all those insights in Buzzsumo to find the most shared content on the web relating to my target audiences interests, the most popular content on the websites they love and build a list of trending topics around my clients core product.
  • So here’s what I ended up with the Credit Card client.
    Now of course, all this stuff on the left their cool with – but now your next question comes up.
    What on earth do we, a credit cad provider have to be saying about music, travel or tech?
  • “How is it relevant”
    This is one of the best ways I’ve shown how this wider interests link back to the clients product

    Well BECAUSE WE’re TALKING ABOUT RELATED TOPICS THAT YOUR CUSTOMERS LOVE
  • AND WE’re MUCH MORE LIKELY TO EARN BIG LINKS THIS WAY
  • How will this help our rankings?
    YOUR ANSWER: “Because BIG LINKS = DOMAIN AUTHORITY & IF COMBINED WITH AWESOME ON-Page/TECH SEO, WE WIN”
  • Let’s go back to our old friend SimplyBusiness for example
    Most of their anchor text relates to links containing brand terms
    This is a completely different picture from a few years ago – when most of this would be aggressive, anchor text specific to the keywords.. Because that’s what you had to done then to win!
  • So we’re looking good – After 20 meetings the clients finally on board, you’ve got an idea signed off, but now you have to make it. This is to process I follow when designing content
  • As I said, I don’t have a ton of money to design these things – but this site is absolute dream PeoplePerHour let’s you find great talent across articles, designers and much more letting you hire the a-team on a b-team budget.
    When it comes to designers, I give them a super-detailed brief as often what makes a piece of content linkable, is not the idea, it’s making sure you package it up really well
  • “Our Customers Do Not Use Capital Letters or Center Text”
  • There is 3 formats: - Content Advertising: where branded content is Advertised as ‘Related Link’ within articles on big publishers like The Daily Mail & MSN
    - Social Advertising: Advertising in users newsfeeds on Twitter, Facebook & LinkedIn - Advertorials: Which of course - nobody in this room, ever heard of or ever used, or especially if you work for Interflora. Good, moving on
  • This headline formula, first used in 1926 is the driving force behind most of today’s viral content.
    It works so well as it Strikes an Emotion – Makes You Curious, Puts The Reader in the Frame and Inspires Confidence

  • Upworthy.com A/B test 25 different headline variations before settling on which to run with.
    These are the formats that have worked best for me.
  • Upworthy.com A/B test 25 different headline variations before settling on which to run with.
    These are the formats that have worked best for me.
  • So good job! We’ve got our piece of Creative Content ready to go.
    The problem is, you can make the most magical piece of content ever, but it’s unlikely that it will earn links and shares on it’s own. I tend to have about a £200 promotion budget per campaign, not a lot of money – but I have a few tricks up my sleeve
  • And this is what it looks like – Here You can see a Travel Brand advertising a blog post about Gap Years via Taboola on The Huffington Post and a Promoted Tweet from a Users Newsfeed, who has been targeted based on their interests, in this case, charitable causes.
  • These are the platforms I recommend that have earnt the most links for my clients
    Now on most of these you actually pay for the clicks or engagement but as a result of the super-targeted traffic from native advertising, It causes a catalyst to earn links and shares
    I’ve done a number of tests on Native advertising and you can see them on the Kaizen site
  • Second, Media Databases
    Find Contact Details for Thousands of UK Journalist & Bloggers
    Send Personalised Mail Merge Emails
    About £170 a Month = But this is what I used to get that Metro Link + 10 other or so top tier publishers
  • Lastly, Buzzstream – using the Prospecting Tool within it
    Scrap Google for Relevant Blogs & News Sites
    Will Automatically fetch Name, Email Address & Social Data where possible
    Outreach in bulk using pre-defined personalised templates
  • Now, of course – it’s no good just having contact details – you need to convince Journalists to link you! This is the pitch email format I use to win links and I have a pretty good success rate
    Oh the Metro

    IT works like this – causal open, the sell, hook and then credibility

    BTW, I’ll say now that I tend to not outreach to bloggers, as unlike Journalists – who live and die on their content, Bloggers have no real incentive to post up creative content unless you want to pay them!
  • Now some of you may of faced this situation. I have countless times
  • I tackle this in 2 ways


    1) Demonstrate Missed SEO Opportunities by the PR Team

    To be put it politely, most PR agencies I’ve came across absolutely suck at earning links for clients – their too afraid to ask for the link! Crazy. Not universally true I know.
    Also your best to demonstrate that you’ve put together a really well thought out outreach plan. If they recognise some of the contacts, then get them to commit to pitching to that person – there may be a good relationship you can leverage.
  • So we’ve reached the end of our journey and ready to launch your infographic on the history of toilets hurrah
    You nervously hit the lift-off button and the team spams the office and their facebook begging friends, colleagues and parents to share it.
    You throw the the kitchen sink at it and do a ton of outreach
  • And fingers crossed, something magical happens and you see the links rolling one
  • One’s hopefully this guy is cool with
  • Here’s a ultimate guide to Bitcoin I made for a Personal Loans & Cash Advance company, a really tough niche. I got it on Lifehacker and earned some good links. For a build cost of £100 – 14 links is a pretty good number!!
  • To wrap up, these are the key points I want to burn into your brain
  • How to Run SEO Campaigns on a Shoestring Budget & Still Win Big

    1. 1. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/ CONTENT MARKETING: WHAT WE’RE ALL SUPPOSE TO DO Audience & Competitor Research Decide Key Topics & Themes Pitch Cat-Themed Infographic Design & Build Signoff Launch Journalist Outreach Native Advertising ??? Profit / Most Viral Thing Ever
    2. 2. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/ WHAT REALLY HAPPENS - ROADBLOCKS Audience & Competitor Research Decide Key Topics & Themes Pitch Cat-Themed Infographic Design & Build Signoff Launch Journalist Outreach Social & Content Advertising ??? Profit / Most Viral Thing Ever “Why do we need creative content?” “How is this relevant to our brand?” “How will Cat pictures help our rankings” “We don’t have the budget for this” “Make the Logo bigger, needs to be brand colors” “How many links will this get us?” “That’s the PR teams Job” “Never heard of it” ??? Awesome Work! Can we try Zombies next time?
    3. 3. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/
    4. 4. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/ Running SEO Campaigns on a Shoestring Budget & Still Winning Big
    5. 5. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/ PETE CAMPBELL / KAIZEN • Founder / Director • Won “Rising Star of the Year 2013” (Travolution) • 5+ years SEO experience agency-side & in-house • Built first website at 11 • Ran several high-traffic video gaming sites
    6. 6. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/ MAIN COMPETITOR CLIENT http://www.semrush.com/ - Organic Competitor Report CLIENT: “WHY DO WE NEED CREATIVE CONTENT?” YOUR ANSWER: “BECAUSE YOUR MAIN COMPETITOR IS KICKING YOUR ASS WITH IT”
    7. 7. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/ https://ahrefs.com/site-explorer/ CLIENT: “WHY DO WE NEED CREATIVE CONTENT?” YOUR ANSWER: “BECAUSE YOUR MAIN COMPETITOR IS KICKING YOUR ASS WITH IT”
    8. 8. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/ CLIENT: “WHY DO WE NEED CREATIVE CONTENT?” http://www.semrush.com/ - Domain vs Domain Report YOUR ANSWER: “BECAUSE YOUR MAIN COMPETITOR IS KICKING YOUR ASS WITH IT” CLIENT
    9. 9. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/ CLIENT: “WE DON’T HAVE THE BUDGET”
    10. 10. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/ 4 TYPES OF CURATED CONTENT List-icles AKA “Buzzfeed” ‘The Ultimate Guide to’ Mindmaps Video Playlists Mini- Infographics http://ww.piktochart.co m 1. Curate the most relevant information about a topic into one single location. 2. Add your own unique spin e.g. design, opinion, interactivity 3. Do it right and you’ll end up creating something of real added value YOUR SOLUTION – CONTENT CURATION
    11. 11. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/ BUILD COST: £100 OR LESS
    12. 12. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/ https://www.choice-loans.co.uk/bitcoin/
    13. 13. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/ http://www.traveloutthere.com/books/
    14. 14. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/ http://www.twolittlefleas.co.uk/soap-stars/
    15. 15. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/ http://bit.ly/1o93bBU DA 88 / PR6
    16. 16. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/ CONTENT RESEARCH ON THE CHEAP
    17. 17. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/ 5 SIMPLE QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR CLIENT Tell me about a typical customer? What’s their age/sex/location? (lol hai! a/s/l?) What’s their job? What are they interested in? What magazines & websites do they read? Fact Finding Tone of Voice Net Worth Define Initial Content Themes Audit the Websites for Topic Ideas
    18. 18. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/ USE THE DATA IN BUZZSUMO TO FIND MOST-SHARED / VIRAL TOPICS http://www.buzzsumo.com/
    19. 19. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/ DETERMINE KEY TOPICS & THEMES Product Focused New Technology Security Hackers Brand Building Money Saving Personal Finance Startups Travel Music Technology
    20. 20. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/ CLIENT “HOW IS THIS CONTENT RELEVANT?” YOUR ANSWER: “BECAUSE WE’RE TALKING ABOUT RELATED TOPICS THAT YOUR CUSTOMERS LOVE”
    21. 21. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/ Credit Cards Technology “25 Reasons Why the iPhone 6 will Fail” CLIENT “HOW IS THIS CONTENT RELEVANT?” YOUR ANSWER: “…AND WE’RE MUCH MORE LIKELY TO EARN BIG LINKS THIS WAY”
    22. 22. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/ HOW WILL THIS HELP OUR RANKINGS? YOUR ANSWER: “BECAUSE BIG LINKS = DOMAIN AUTHORITY & IF COMBINED WITH AWESOME ON-PAGE/TECH SEO, WE WIN”
    23. 23. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/ HOW WILL THIS HELP OUR RANKINGS? YOUR ANSWER: “BECAUSE BIG, BRANDED LINKS = DOMAIN AUTHORITY & IF COMBINED WITH ON-PAGE/TECH SEO, WE WIN” TONS OF NON-KEYWORD RICH ANCHOR TEXT
    24. 24. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/ CONTENT BUILD & DESIGN
    25. 25. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/ HIRE THE A-TEAM ON A B-TEAM BUDGET
    26. 26. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/ 6 DESIGN RULES TO FOLLOW 1. HTML5, Responsive Design or Go Home 2. Host the Content on a Seperate Micro-Site 3. Unique Look & Feel, No Corporate Brand Colours/Typography 4. Below The Fold Client Logo 5. Break Content into Digestible Chunks – Lists, Sub-Headings, Paragraph Breaks 6. Visualise Every Detail (GIFs, Photos, Data Viz)
    27. 27. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/ CLIENT: HOLD RIGHT THERE! • This needs to have our top & bottom navigation • Our logo needs to be added top-left • Needs our brand colors • Our customers don’t use capital letters – get rid
    28. 28. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/ YOUR ANSWERS: 1. Bloggers & Journalists don’t link to Advertising for free (unless it’s truly amazing e.g. John Lewis Xmas ads) 2. We’ll earn more coverage this way, and still make more people love your brand 3. If it’s about your product & services, we’ll house it in the main site
    29. 29. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/ USE OPEN GRAPH TAGS TO INCREASE CTR • Open Graph Tags let you pre-populate text & rich media on Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn – OG:Type – OG:Locale – OG:Title – OG:Publisher – OG:Description – OG:Image (1200px by 630px ideal for Facebook) • Twitter Card Tags – Twitter:card (summary_large_image) – Twitter:site – Twitter:domain – Twitter:creator – Twitter:title – Validator: https://dev.twitter.com/docs/cards/validation/validator/ http://ogp.me/
    30. 30. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/ ALWAYS HAVE AN EMBED CODE EVEN IF IT’S JUST AN IFRAME OR EMBEDDABLE THUMBNAIL http://builtvisible.com/embed-code-generator/
    31. 31. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/ THE ART OF THE HEADLINE
    32. 32. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/ THE ART OF THE HEADLINE John Caples, US School of Music (1926)
    33. 33. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/ 10 HEADLINE FORMATS YOU NEED TO TRY “How To” “Why” “Which” “Who Else” “Wanted” “This” “Because” “If” “Advice” 5/10/25/50/100 (Use Numbers)
    34. 34. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/ FIVESECONDTEST.COM – A/B TEST HEADLINES http://simitator.com/generator/twitter
    35. 35. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/ OUTREACH ON A BUDGET
    36. 36. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/ MY 3 SECRET WEAPONS NATIVE ADVERTISING MEDIA DATABASES PROSPECTING
    37. 37. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/ “Native Advertising let’s you promote your branded content to people who will instantly love it, as they are targeted based on their interests” WHAT IS NATIVE ADVERTISING?
    38. 38. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/ ADVERTISE ON RELEVANT NEWS SITES CONTENT ADVERTISING SOCIAL ADVERTISING TARGET USER INTERESTS
    39. 39. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/ CONTENT ADVERTISING PLATFORMS TO TRY • Average Cost Per Link = £8 • Minimum Cost = £1 to £300 • Self-Managed Online or Account Managed CASE STUDIES & TESTS: KAIZENSEARCH.CO.UK
    40. 40. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/ FIND THOUSANDS OF JOURNALISTS CONTACT DETAILS VIA MEDIA DATABASES http://www.featuresexec.com/ http://www.cision.com
    41. 41. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/ PROSPECT ADDITIONAL CONTACTS VIA BUZZSTREAM http://www.buzzstream.com
    42. 42. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/ THE PITCH EMAIL FORMAT I USE TO WIN LINKS SUBJECT: Soap Awards Story? Hey Caroline, Just wanted to run a idea by you, We’ve just launched a brilliant list of British Soap Stars When They Were Young featuring all the classics like Peggy Mitchell and new favorites like Rosie Webster Link: http://www.twolittlefleas.co.uk/soap-stars/ I think this would go down a storm on The Metro if you’d like to share it in some form, especially as it’s the ITV Soap Awards this Sunday. It’s had over 300 social media mentions to date! Two Little Fleas is an online bingo community with a passion for creating cute and quirky apps, lists and tools. Our stuff has been recently featured in the Radio Times, HuffPost Comedy & Lifehacker. Thanks Caroline let me know what you think, Pete CASUAL OPEN THE SELL THE HOOK CREDIBILITY
    43. 43. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/ CLIENT: “JOURNALISTS? OUTREACH?! THAT’S THE PR TEAMS JOB”
    44. 44. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/ YOUR SOLUTIONS: 1. Demonstrate Missed SEO Opportunities by the PR Team (Fresh Web Explorer/Buzzsumo) 2. Share the Outreach Plan with the PR Team/Agency
    45. 45. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/ LIFT-OFF
    46. 46. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/
    47. 47. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/
    48. 48. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/ https://www.choice-loans.co.uk/bitcoin/
    49. 49. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/ ZOMBIE TIME
    50. 50. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/ Thank You! Get in Touch: @petecampbell pete@kaizensearch.co.uk http://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/ PRESENTATION LINK: KAIZENSEARCH.CO.UK/SEARCHLONDON/
    51. 51. @petecampbell KAIZENhttp://www.kaizensearch.co.uk/ KEY TAKEAWAYS 1. Educate the client at each step to clear out any roadblocks 2. Use content curation to produce awesome content on a low budget 3. Be clever with formatting, make the content easily digestible 4. Use EMBED Codes & Open Graph Tags 5. A/B Test Multiple Headlines 6. Streamline outreach using Native Advertising & Media Databases

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