At the beginning of this blog series I mentioned that most businesses have a strategy or are diligently working on one to reduce their dependence on Google, both from pay-per-click and organic search traffic.

In part 2 of this series I illustrated engagement and it’s power over people who encounter your brand. Engagement is foundational to online content if its purpose has anything to do with building a business: lead gen, product sales, branding, etc.

Knowing your target audience is huge, especially when you know them as a customer. It’s even better when you know your customer personally with bonus points for knowing what motivates them to buy from you.

When you know your target audience and customer well like this, your entire marketing team can create engaging content that aligns with the internal desires of your target audience.

In effect, your aligned content enters into a conversation that is already going on in the prospect’s mind. When a prospect gets caught up in your content because it’s what she’s searching for, it engages her and we all know what comes after engagement…

  • Engaged prospects don’t need to be sold too – she’s already there
  • Engaged prospects often want to give back for the value they received (social sharing, referrals, reviews, blogs, etc.)
  • Engaged prospects want to talk to you or they want more because you “get her”
  • Mental triggers start going off making the prospect feel comfortable about you, even to the point that she trusts you

When you have a piece of content like this that aligns well and engages your ideal prospect, it’s called an asset because it has the ability to bring future benefits.

You’ll want to create a number of these assets so you can engage your prospect over and over, locking her into a relationship with you until she is ready to buy. Obviously, if you are selling a big ticket item or service, you’ll probably need more assets.

Now that you have a fist full of assets, it’s time to identify the strategic places to promote those assets – where there’s a high concentration of your target audience:

  • Industry magazines, blogs and websites
  • Local blogs that cover your industry
  • Industry forums
  • Relevant social communities and groups
  • Review sites

Within each of these sites and communities, you’ll want to identify the influencers:

  • Editors, writers, authors
  • Subject matter authorities
  • Forum and community moderators
  • Group influencers
  • Social butterflies
  • Connectors and linchpins

For most of these industry sites and communities it’s best to make contact with the influencer about your asset before just plunging in with it. They can often craft your message so it resonates with the audience there much better than you can, or they’ll just take it and promote it for you.

When you don’t have an influencer who will float your message into their realm, you’ll need to prepare your message so it rings true with your target audience. This is the time to utilize your unique value proposition and apply it to your target people in that group.

As your followers grow, it’s smart to prepare a series of content or follow up communication to keep the relationship going from its beginning. Otherwise, you risk being forgotten and losing a follower.

When implementing this strategy I get cozy with the influencers at the top first. Just a couple weeks ago, I called up the editor of the leading industry magazine for a client and let him know about another asset. He said, “I’ll get right on it.” I usually don’t contact editors unless I have something I know they will want. The next week, we saw the asset referenced and linked to on their blog.

This strategy has lots of moving parts and can require a team to fully implement it – people skilled in direct response copywriting, content marketing, SEO, branding, user experience, visual design, social media, public relations, PPC, community building, email, customer service, sales and conversion.

I’ve been using variations of this strategy with clients for a few years and it works well for businesses who have industry influencers and/or lots of target audience in social media.

I’ve done presentations on this strategy, touched on it in whitepapers and it’s always received well, but this is the first time I’ve outlined it here on my blog. So I’d like to get your reaction to it in the comments.

How does this impact SEO?
Assuming that your site’s link profile has been cleaned up or you’ve launched a new website, this strategy works very well to boost your rankings.

When Google sees respected authority sites and people in your industry saying good things about your brand it tells G and other search engines that your brand and site has some level of credibility. As G continues to receive positive signals from industry people and sites they already trust, your credibility goes up and so does your ranking.

The cool thing is that even if G doesn’t up your ranking, you still win because you are engaging with quality prospects and potentially lots of them. The combination of influencers and social media puts your brand up on the front stage of your industry – giving your brand the possibility of reaching the majority of your target audience.

When you engage your target audience and build up a following who want more, it gives your brand something that can’t be duplicated by any competitor. And it puts you in a position to not care what Google does – independence from Google (which often comes with rewards).

Audience building trumps link building all day, every day!

The next part in this series, Gain independence from Google by focusing on searcher intent.

Tom Shivers
Tom Shivers

I'm a ecommerce SEO consultant and President of Capture Commerce. I've managed digital marketing campaigns for scores of clients since 2000 and found that every business is unique with its own challenges and opportunities. When I see that I have contributed to the success of a business by helping them grow, it makes me feel awesome! That’s the coolest thing and I’m so thankful for the opportunity to do this.

    2 replies to "How To Replace Fired Link Building With Content Marketing"

    • Reginald

      Hi Tom,

      This is crazy write up! I read this twice and even shared on Triberr. Extremely useful indeed. I like your idea of targeted audience and where to find it.

      Great write buddy and keep it up.

    • Tom Shivers

      Thanks Reginald. You’ve got some great stuff on your blog as well.

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