Your digital footprint is huge. Okay, well, truthfully, I don't know what size it is. But here's what I do know: your digital footprint has a huge effect on your online marketing.
When it comes to factors you can control to improve your website traffic, it's Mr. Big. You do want to improve your website traffic, correct? Let's have a look at how it's done.
Take charge, woman. Get large, man.
Why do I feel like I'm hawking Viagra?
But seriously ladies and gentlemen, we have one humdinger of a topic, which in my biased opinion, has yet to inspire a truly helpful online article. So, here and now, I set out to offer you the ultimate list of easy and effective ways to enlarge your digital footprint, increase your findability factor (otherwise known as search results), and drive traffic to your website.
We begin with the easy ones.
The following four ideas-and the ideas within the ideas-are absolute musts.
1. Comment on relevant blogs-It doesn't get any easier. You're reading them, right? Now write something. In the process, you'll be asked to input your URL. Repeat after me now: world's easiest backlink. Make a habit out of this practice. And, of course, offer a useful idea or web page. Can you say "double backlink?"
2. Get an about.me account-At about.me, you'll find the world's easiest web page generator. And with a large collection of graphically pleasing templates, they've made it so the page you produce has to be elegant. It's a fill-in-the blank exercise. You create a pile of links that point to your site, blog and social networks. If you don't have an about.me account by this time tomorrow, you'll have a hard time convincing me you sincerely want to grow your digital footprint. Here's my about.me page.
3. Microblog like a maniac-There are probably 1,000 and 1 reasons to be active on social media, but even if deep down inside you're anti-social, get your hands on additional social media accounts and your footprint grows. No social media list can be all-inclusive, but you most definitely need the fab four:
- Twitter-No brainer. It's as now as now gets.
- LinkedIn-The world's greatest business center. (Have you and I connected on LinkedIn?)
- Google+-The online space for everything.
- Facebook-I predict this thing catches on.
4. Be a picture publisher-You have a smartphone and you use it to take pictures. Now publish them. Of course, you'll want to use discretion. Only the photos you shoot that are relevant to your business or personal brand are the ones you'll use as footprint fodder. Consider any or all of the below:
- Pinterest-A true game changer. You'll find some useful stuff at my Pinterest page.
- Instagram-Soon to outrank television.
- Google+/ Picassa-The authority for authority.
- Tumblr-Any dummy can produce a smart site here.
- Flickr-Where Yahoo! Still matters.
These strategies assume you're a content marketer, or soon will be, and are meant to point out places where your content can reside to help expand your digital footprint.
5. Make video-Don't like having your mug online? Get over it. Don't feel comfortable competing with the world's best documentary makers or TV producers? Get over it. Get some video together and get it on:
- YouTube-The #3 website in the world. Here's Feldman Creative TV, a work in progress.
- Vimeo-Another powerhouse. ("Absence of Light," a short film I wrote and acted in.)
- Social media sites that host video-Which is pretty much all of them now.
6. Do picture shows-It's stunning how many people I talk to that aren't using SlideShare (or have never heard of it). It's the quiet giant of content marketing generating 60-million visits per month. With an immense digital library (over 100 million files), sharing features, lead capture options for professional use, and serious search prowess, SlideShare should be home to your slide decks, infographics, videos, and documents. Take it seriously and you'll see some serious growth in exposure and inbound traffic.
7. Squidoo-Master marketer Seth Godin created a place in cyberspace where your content takes a website-like form in what Squidoo dubs a lens. They are easy to create, look great, and serve you well. I created a lens with my free ebook, "21 Pointers to Sharpen Your Website." Looks sharp.
8. List.ly-As the name suggests, List.ly is a home for lists, a wild card in nearly every content marketer's deck. Your List.ly posts are interactive, optimized, and easy to embed wherever you choose. Here's a perfectly good example.
9. Curate like a real publisher-You are a real publisher now. It's time to toss other experts works into the mix. Try these fun and powerful publishing tools:
- RebelMouse-This newcomer will blow your mind with its social/sharing approach to curation and give you tools to take your publication where you please. My website features a RebelMouse page.
- Scoop.It-Magazine making made easy.
- Twylah-As the name suggests, Twylah is a Twitter tool, a twitty damn good one.
- Paper.li-Niche publishing, content marketing and web monitoring collides in a platform purpose built to make your online marketing easy.
10. Get graphic-You might hire a pro to put your content in the raging hot infographic format, but you might opt for the DIY approach. Try these:
- Piktochart-I experimented with several infographics generators and favor this one. (I Pikto'd for Valentine's Day.)
11. Do eNews-For years, email marketing (managed professionally) has been the best way to build a community and your business. It's permission-based. Interested prospects are telling you, "Yes, send me your stuff." Do it. Here's an archive of my eNewsletters, "Get Magnetic."
For high achievers.
In this second-to-last section I'll cover some strategies expert online marketers use to expand their digital footprint in a big way. Don't dismiss these tactics simply because your time or skills are limited. Consider hiring a pro (me) to help propel you to higher heights.
These techniques call for having some talent on your team. So they are not free. However, they are immensely meaningful.
12. Guest blog-Like baseball, in the guest blog profession, you have major and minor leagues and levels within. It's unrealistic to think you can't publish a thing or two online and then get published by the New York Times.
However, if you're paying close attention to your industry (please tell me you are) and know which publishers have the most powerful voices, you should think big. I recommend you think of the path to the top as a ladder and climb it like so:
- Blog brilliantly-First rung: your blog. Establish super high standards and meet them. Publish a minimum of 10 articles before you begin submitting work to high traffic sites.
- Go where there are no gates-Today, every smart website host recognizes the need to publish regularly, so many accept contributions from outsiders with no or low standards. Of course, you shouldn't have no or low standards, but you should take advantage of the opportunity to publish your pieces at ungated blogs/online magazines. (Scribd.com is always happy to have you.)
- Apply yourself-The next rung on your ascent will be to apply to the sites you really want to be on. Often, an application system is in place for you to submit samples of your work and answer basic questions about your qualifications. Pursue these opportunities and you'll surprise yourself.
- Beat down doors-This step's not as violent as it may sound, but you may need to prepare yourself for the rejection writers learn to live with. ID sites at the top of the ladder, send email or tweets to the curators/editors/owners and offer them your best, original work, which of course must be perfectly aligned with their editorial charter. If you're ready for the gig, you'll get it. I can't say I'm batting 1.000, but this strategy has served me well. I contribute regularly to several of the best publishers in online marketing. You'll find a list in the sidebar on my home page.
- Publish and pray-Really now, divine intervention is not an online marketing strategy. However, setting yourself up for success is. I wouldn't include this rung if I hadn't climbed it. So, I'll share this from personal experience. If you create great content and manage to get it published on classy Triple-A websites, major leaguers will find it, read it, and give you the call when a spot opens up.
13. Webcast-I'm using the word as a verb and I'm telling you to get into the infotainment business. You need not be Oprah. But you need to use the Internet as your platform for:
- Webinars-Any size business can do this and there are all kinds of tools to get it done. Decide you're going to teach a valuable lesson, line up the talent and assets you'll need, and do it. Here's one of my webinars: "Magnetic Content-Transform Your Website Into a Customer Attraction Force Field."
- Podcasts-Welcome to radio, online radio. It's easy. The demand is enormous. Try creating an interview show or giving audio-based lessons. There are a ton of tools for producing podcasts and publishing them too. I use Spreaker. And of course, in addition to making my website a broadcast channel, I use iTunes, as should you. (My podcast program: Content Marketing Minds.)
- Video programs-We hit on YouTube and Vimeo earlier. There's no reason to not charge forth with video and there's no realistic barrier. Roll 'em.
14. Get interviewed-Has this lesson got increasingly scary? You're good? Cool. I get interviewed fairly often now and obviously this helps shine the spotlight on my website, my services and myself. But I want you to know this... Sometimes requests for interviews just happen, but sometimes I make them happen.
You're an expert in your field. People will want to hear what you have to say. So, get interviewed.
- Speak-Call yourself a speaker and publish information about subjects you speak on.
- Ask-Seek out opportunities to speak and tell website owners why their audience will benefit from an interview featuring you.
- Promote-Tell everybody via every media outlet you have access to you've been interviewed. Good things happen. Trust me. Digital channels multiply. You get on coveted lists. People start believing you know your stuff.
Example of a podcast interview from our friends at Social Media Explorer: "Is Content Truly King?"
Example of video interview from our friends at Vertical Measures: "How to Get Started with Content Marketing."
15. Make books-Yourprospects love books. Make them, give them away, and/or sell them.
- Free eBooks-These are easy to make and you can pretty much create your own definition of what an eBook actually is. Create a serious collection of helpful information and package it as PDF. Offer it as free download and you're bound to see it shared all over the place.
- Purchasable eBooks-The next step is stepping up and onto Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the gamut of online eBook distributors. You have to play by the seller's rules, but it's easier than you might expect. You can experiment with prices, selling strategies and outlets and in the end, you may achieve new levels of authority and prestige, new markets and audiences, and possibly, new revenue streams.
Advertising may pay too.
Effective online advertisers are generally dialing down media spending, but they're also strategically investing in online media placements.
16. AdWords-Google's AdWords program changed advertising forever. As basic and unsexy as it may be, it's hard to deny it's the most cost-effective advertising media ever created.
- Double your search success-Publish content and buy pay-per-click smartly and your company may appear on a page one search result twice, side-by-side with a paid and organic listing. That's a powerful combo.
- Drift into everywhere-PPC offers the option to present your ads beyond Google. Your ads can go the many places their AdWords program is embedded, which can be an amazingly extensive networks of sites where your prospects are.
- Learn and improve-A seldom spoke of, but immensely large benefit of PPC advertising, is the deep and rich insights you get from the reports you're provided.
17. Retarget-I won't pretend to be an expert here, but I will tell you this new thing called retargeting makes a lot of sense. You visit a site, but don't buy and then in your online travels, ads from the host of these sites appear. Makes good sense.
And finally, you'll get a little lucky.
You know how they say you make your own luck? You put yourself in a position to be lucky? This applies to this lesson. If you're actively creating content and experimenting with strategies, sometimes your digital footprint just expands. Lucky you. I thought before I signed off of what has become the longest post I've ever written (but hopefully the most helpful), I'd scan my analytics to stumble upon some loose ends that help the cause. I did. Here are three of them that were actually in my top 25 traffic generators:
18. Bookmark sites-Yup. I don't know a lot about them or use them much, but they're far from dead. So StumbleUpon (which I do use), Reddit, Digg, Delicous and so forth expand your digital presence too. I don't believe you have much control over how or when, but I suspect these are reciprocal communities, as are all online communities, so put something into them and you'll get something out of them.
19. Feeds-RSS feeds represent this crazy corner of the web where geeks tune in and casual users tune out. But still, you can help your cause with a little bit of understanding of feeder tools that push your content to readers that want it or sprinkle it automatically across social networks. I've signed on with feedburner, dlvr.it and networkedblogs and found that these mostly free services help feed my content to hungry readers.
20. Groups-Where good old-fashioned networking meets good new-fashioned networking, your digital footprint can actually expand. I'm tight with my time and don't attend a ton of events, but I do attend some conferences and speak a bit. My involvement in the following ones generate traffic to my website.
- MeetUps-My tennis and guitar MeetUps don't help the cause, but my blogging and marketing MeetUps do. Surely, you can benefit offline and on from being involved.
- SVForum-I've made friends and landed business through my involvement in the Silicon Valley Forum and its cousin, Marketing Camp, which I discovered in the first place via a social media-based friendship. I recommend you connect the old-fashioned way, shake some hands, share some wisdom, and see how it might affect your digital footprint.
- Foreigners-Sorry. I'm no help here, but a site called "seojapan.com" brings a steady stream of traffic to my site. Their site's in Japanese and Google's handy translation feature didn't help, so all I know is by putting myself and my company out there with sensible strategies to enlarge my digital footprint, I've become a more effective online marketer.
You can too.