This being an “SEO Basics” course, you may be wondering – “What does viral marketing have to do with SEO?” Well, we could argue around that point all day, but the reality is that viral marketing can in fact act as a fantastic SEO tool in the following way:

  • You create and provide something free (be it an article, eBook, or piece of software) that gets the online community talking about it (be it on their blogs, forums, Facebook, Twitter, etc)
  • Most people that talk about it link back to your website
  • More backlinks = increased search engine rankings = more traffic (isn’t that the purpose of SEO after all?)

The above example is an ideal-case scenario, but not everyone has the ability (or time) to create something so unique, outrageous or buzz-worthy that it can get the whole world talking about it. There are however many methods for creating small-scale viral “buzz” using the internet, that can ultimately drive traffic to your website. Remember, viral marketing is generally either low or no-cost, so any results are generally worth the effort. Here are some powerful viral marketing tools that you can incorporate into your arsenal:

Viral Tool #1 – Email Newsletters

Build up an opt-in email list and send a weekly, biweekly or monthly newsletter with useful content. The keyword here is “useful content” – no-one is interested in reading about which employees had their birthday this month, or that you’ve just bought new office stationery.

Typical Industry Email Newsletters

Above: Typical Industry Email Newsletters

Use your newsletter to provide informative and useful information, such as “How to XYZ” or “What to do when XYZ happens”. If the reader finds this information useful, there’s a good chance they will forward it on to other prospects, which will then also visit your site and join your mailing list. Your email list of prospects then grows virally with little effort on your part. These sorts of info nuggets also establish you as an expert in your field.

Freebies, competitions and giveaways are always popular newsletter tactics. Always design your newsletters with the reader in mind – think along the lines of “why should they bother reading my email when they have a million other things to do today”. This will get you into the mind-set of the email marketer…

Please note that, by law, every email sent to your list needs to have an “unsubscribe” link or method by which the user can unsubscribe from the list. It is illegal to send any sort of bulk email without this feature.

There are two ways two create and manage an effective email list or database:

  1. Offline – This means using your email program (Outlook, etc) to email your list. This is however very inefficient and unreliable. You will also use a lot of internet bandwidth in the process and end up getting blacklisted as a spammer in most cases (due to the difficulty of unsubscribing). You will also end up annoying your database (which is most likely your customer base – not good!).
  2. Online – This entails using an online bulk emailing service (such as AWeber, see below). These companies will host your database, manage the unsubscribes (as required by law), and send your email newsletters on time, every time. I highly recommend going this route as it is the only viable option in the long run and portrays a much more professional image.

Free AWeber Test Drive - The kind folks at AWeber have provided a free test drive of their system for anyone who’s interested. I highly recommend giving it a go – its 100% free and there’s no risk. For more info, click here…

Viral Tool #2 – Articles

We discussed the power of article marketing in Lesson #4 – Off-site Optimization, but this was mainly for the purpose of creating backlinks. Another way that articles can be used is as viral tools. Articles that provide useful information are bound to be syndicated (spread across the internet). In the same way you write content for your newsletters, write articles that people will find useful, talk about and share with each other. “How-To’s” and “101’s” are always winners in article marketing. You can of course use the same articles you have used in your newsletters.

Remember to always include a captivating bio at the end of your article (often called a “resource box”) which leads people to your website. You may wish to include a comment along the lines of:

“Feel free to publish or share this article wherever you wish, but please keep the bio/resource link included.”

This will encourage people to spread the article via email, or webmasters and bloggers to post it on their site/s (without fear of copyright infringement. In my experience, the two fastest ways to get your article syndicated across the internet are:

  • SubmitYourArticle – If there is only one tool that I recommend for link building, SubmitYourArticle would be it. SYA automatically submits your article to all the major article directories (including EzineArticles, GoArticles, IdeaMarketers, etc) as well as a powerful blog network of publishers. For every directory that accepts your article, as well as every blog, you gain two powerful backlinks. For more information, click here.
  • SEOLinkVine – SLV submits your article to a huge network of blogs (I mean HUGE!) and ensures that they are released in a natural fashion, so as to grow backlinks gradually over time. The system works incredibly well. For more information, click here.
Quality Articles Spread Virally

Quality Articles Spread Virally

Viral Tool #3 – Podcasts

Podcasts are recorded audio interviews or one-man recordings that offer valuable advice and information on a particular topic (usually in MP3 format). The idea of recording a podcast may sound both expensive and daunting, but it really isn’t.

Most podcasts are recorded using a built-in laptop microphone and Windows sound recorder, or a Skype headset. The whole idea behind a podcast is that it is a basic, down-to-earth recording with great information. It is not a flashy infomercial with cool effects and sounds.

The idea is that people will listen to the podcast, enjoy the content and then forward it on to a friend. Every person that listens to the podcast comes to view you as an expert in your field and will most likely visit your website or contact you directly.

You might be wondering, “But what am I going to speak about?” – That’s the best part – if you’ve already written articles, you can just do a podcast based on that topic. If not, “How-To’s” and “101’s” are once again first prize topics to do a podcast about. Here are some tips to remember when recording a podcast:

  • Keep it as casual and informal as possible. A formal podcast will sound like a sales pitch. You want people to feel like they’ve come to know you personally by the time they’re finished with the podcast, so don’t be afraid to crack a joke or be naturally humorous in the podcast.
  • Try to provide as much useful and actionable information as possible in the podcast. Providing resources and links to handy sites and service providers is always nice.
  • Don’t try selling yourself during the podcast. This ruins the entire podcast and eliminates your “unbiased and independent” portrait as a “guru”. Refer to your website at the end of the podcast for more information on the topic. This is enough to get traffic coming through.
  • Ensure that your podcast is at least 15 minutes long. People don’t want to go through the hassle of downloading the file, only to find that its 2 minutes long. Podcasts can be anywhere between 15 – 90 minutes long. Don’t be shy!
  • Keep your actual file size small – your podcast doesn’t need to be 320kbps Studio quality – try compress it to the lowest possible MP3 or WMA quality to make the download fast.

For more information on how to make a podcast, visit http://www.digitaltrends.com/how-to/how-to-make-a-podcast/.

Typical Podcasting Equipment

Typical Podcasting Equipment

And that wraps up your free 8-part SEO Basics Course from me, Derek Jansen. I truly hope you’ve had an enjoyable and educational experience along the way. Please feel free to contact me with any questions, requests or suggestions you may have, or simply post them below in the comments section.

Remember – keep your SEO efforts consistent and quality content based and you’re sure to enjoy the fruits of your labor…

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PS – If you know of anyone that would be interested in this free course, please direct them to the site, or share on a social media platform of your choice below…