In order to boost your website’s ranking in search results it’s a good idea to create relevant, interesting, ‘sticky’ content that attracts visitors and supports your targeted search terms. But creating the content is only half the battle. You still need to get it noticed and shared by the right people, on the right websites for all the right reasons. The most direct way to achieve this is through outreach.
Even the biggest viral videos have needed a bit of a push to get the ball rolling. So if you’ve got the right content a successful outreach strategy will quickly start producing results. This is the process we followed to promote our new web game, which you can play here.
One of Absolute’s USPs is that we’re specialists in creating ecommerce websites using the Magento platform. As a result it’s key for us that we are found by people searching for Magento developers. Our onsite SEO is geared towards Magento key phrases and we have optimised pages around our services. So we purposely positioned the game within our Magento hub, the cluster of content that ‘surrounds’ our Magento landing page. This also helps search engines as our content and keywords confirm we do what we say we do.
The ideal is to have this content linked to from other websites. But not just any old website. Search engines will consider some links as spammy, which in turn can have a negative effect on your search rank. What you need is good quality inbound links from quality, Magento related users and opinion formers.
What we did was create the Magneto Ninja web game. This ticked a number of the boxes: It placed Magento front and centre, was simple to understand, engaging, informative and, most importantly, ‘sticky’. ‘Gameification’ encourages social sharing while a challenge element made up for not having a financial incentive to play. Not only would it attract visits but the challenging 15 question structure increased users’ dwell time. Their reward was a ranking of either gold, silver or bronze, which they could share through their own social media channels. Finally, to make sure it’s as ‘shareable’ as possible we didn’t put any overt Absolute branding on the game.
Our core audience for this was Magento developers of all abilities, web developers and potential customers with a degree of understanding of ecommerce platforms. In the case of web and Magento developers we ideally wanted to appeal to individuals that regularly posted on forums, blogged or used social media to discuss Magento, so therefore had their own following of likeminded people and a likelihood of sharing interesting content.
In order to target these individuals we joined relevant forums, researched Magento-specific blogs and tracked users discussing Magento on social media. From that research we created a list of names and contact details. Then by simply using their popularity (such as their number of Followers on Twitter) and search ranking as guides we created a list with ‘high value’ individuals marked to be contacted first.
Outreach can often involve a lot of hard slog with hundreds of contacts made and only a small fraction reaping successful links. By prioritising certain individuals we aimed to get the best return on the time we invested in the process.
There are several ways in which you can get your content out there. Which routes you choose could be down to the audience you’re trying to reach or the resources that you have available. However, you should try a mix of the following approaches to see what gives you the best results:
Many of the people on our database didn’t fall directly into our target audience so we chose not promote the Magento Ninja game via our newsletter. However, with more appropriate content we would have used this route. Not only does it put you in touch with an engaged, opted in audience but, using a service like Mailchimp, allows you to split test the subject line on your email. That’s where a sample group are sent your email with one of two possible subject lines. Mailchimp will then tell you which is getting the most opens, allowing you to send that version to the remainder of the list.
Paid outreach on Linkedin and Facebook
Simply by creating a post then paying to boost it means you can target people on those social platforms that have expressed an interest in similar subjects to the one you’re promoting. You’ll get the content in front of as many targeted individuals as possible in the hope they’ll play it, like it and share it. This also encourages engagement with our brand, generates new followers as well as the potential of some of these individuals deciding to link from their personal blogs. Both Facebook and Linkedin allow you to be flexible over who, where and when to target your outreach and let you control exactly what you spend. When we did this for the Magento Ninja game our engagement rate was increased by 400% across channels on average compared to none promoted posts.
We went for the usual suspects of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to post stories related to our content. Twitter is certainly the more immediate and allowed us to Tweet the details a number of times. Remember to change the wording and the time of day you’re posting about your content and make good use of hashtags. By using the hashtags #magento, #ecommerce and #webdevelopment our content was more likely to be picked up by people tracking those topics.
Twitter also proved fruitful to contact individuals directly as you can simply tweet them @ their Twitter name. Twitter is also a great way to research prospective targets as their profile will probably tell you whether they have a blog or who they work for. Blogs and company biography pages are a good source for people’s personal email addresses allowing you to email the person directly. Since this contact is unsolicited keep things friendly and lighthearted. Tell the person you thought they may be interested in the content you’re promoting. It’s best to leave things open and invite feedback or a reply rather than simply asking for a link. If they get back to you with a positive comment that’s the time to brazenly ask for a link. And be prepared to provide the same in return.
Gathering good data each time you do outreach will help you use your time more wisely on your next campaign. To get the best metrics from this exercise you’ll need a combination of methods to measure activity. Google Analytics will be critical as you’ll be able to use this to see what links you received and when you got them. It will also tell you how much activity your promoted page is getting.
We used Google tracking codes to monitor where traffic was coming from. Allowing us to see which platforms generated the most traffic and which audience type were most likely to complete the game and share with their peers.
These are just some of the results that we received from our Magento Ninja outreach:
- 400% more engagement than is standard (non-promoted posts)
- 10% of the traffic was driven from score-shares generated by players at the end of the game (Twitter generated the most)
Approximate Channel split:
- 45.3% - Social Media
- 35.4% - Referring websites
- 13.4% - Email
- 5.9% - Organic Search
The outreach and the game helped drive increased engagement and the length of time that people stayed on the website. A significant amount of traffic was also generated by the ability for users to share their scores on social media encouraging friends and followers to also give the game a go. Links from social media and other websites also delivered the majority of traffic to the game - activity that was essentially ‘kickstarted’ by the outreach campaign.