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design & marketing blog

Straightforward design, marketing, and technical advice for making your marketing communications more effective.

Should you trade links?

May 2nd, 2013

I received a great question from an ambitious company. They asked about trading links with other sites to increase their visibility in search engines. It’s a question that’s not too uncommon so I thought it worthwhile to share my response here.

While I don’t know all the details of the link sharing that you have in mind, generally speaking, I strongly recommend not posting links to external sites unless it unambiguously provides value for your prospects and clients. The ultimate long-term determination of your site’s success, and coincidentally search engine prominence, will be the consistent quality of the content and resources you serve up on your site—not how many links you have traded.

In theory, trading links with another site does little, nothing, or is actually detrimental to your search engine rankings. You usually gain search engine prominence (called PageRank by Google) from getting links to your site and can lose it when linking to another site. So if you trade links your PageRank may cancel itself out and not much is accomplished.

Regarding incoming links, you want to be as selective as you can because back-links from some sites it can be actually be harmful:

“Google is known to actively penalize link farms and other schemes designed to artificially inflate PageRank. How Google identifies link farms and other PageRank manipulation tools are among Google’s trade secrets.”
(from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Search_ranking)

When sites advertise that they want to trade links a red flag immediately goes up in my mind that these sites might not be good company to keep from Google’s perspective. But even if they are, by trading links there’s not much to gain.

As a rule of thumb, the more links you can get pointing to your site from other reputable related sites the better, the fewer you can get leaving your site the better for maintaining your PageRank.

The basic principle to remember is, make your site for users, not for search engines. (This is a quote from Google)

Here are some good sites from Google with their guidelines.

Also, I’ve written a number of other articles on this topic you might find helpful:

Annie’s Homegrown – An Example of a Great Blog

April 2nd, 2013

As I continue to peruse the Internet for great blogs, I came across one today which in my opinion epitomizes a successful blogging strategy. Annie’s Homegrown Blog, a clean blog frequently updated with concise posts that focus on the the shared values that unite Annie’s Homegrown and its customer base.

One of my pet peeves is a blog or social media outlet that just pushes the company and its products. The quickest way to alienate a reader is to write about things that don’t interest them … things like how great your company is, how great your products are, your corporate picnic or your strategic initiative for the year. People are not interested in being exposed to more 20th century advertising tactics. What they are interested in are participating within a community that holds their same values. If your blog or social media outlet is not connecting emotionally with your customer base then it’s failing.

This doesn’t mean that your blog is just charity work. Going back to Annie’s Homegrown Blog, pay attention to the content and it’s easy to see how the writer(s) has masterfully leveraged connecting the product to the emotional sensitivities of their target audience. I would venture to say that in 8 of 10 cases, the typical Annie’s shopper relates to this content and most likely visits the site on a regular basis and buy their products.

Emotion and Advertising – Ram Trucks Super Bowl Commercial

February 4th, 2013

Out of the thousands of ads we’re exposed to each day, what is it that makes only a few stand out?  It’s emotional connection. Those ads that don’t have it, no matter how technically precise, are noise and filtered out by our brain.

Here’s great example from The Richards Group of how it’s done right.

Another Example of Great Branding

January 1st, 2013

As a follow-up to the great Google Chrome ad I posted a few days ago, here’s another great TV ad from Volkswagen. As mentioned about the Google Chrome Ad . . . there are two keys to  branding that both these ads excel in: authenticity and emotion. If you don’t connect with your customers in these areas they really won’t get the true value you’re offering with your product.

The emotion of this ad is obvious, but notice too how authentic the laughter is. If the laughing in this commercial came across even with a suspicion of being staged the ad would lose a lot of its effectiveness.  Another important key to this ads success is the very personal nature of the content . . . for a moment we feel like we’re sharing a intimate moment with someone we know.

This ad exemplifies the sales  axiom . . . people buy from those they know and trust. In a matter of 30 seconds Volkswagen takes us from being a stranger to making us feel like we know and trust them. Every bit of your branding and marketing communication needs to be created with this same axiom in mind.

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