If you are looking for the next “brand new-shiny object” traffic strategy, no need to read further. This post is about an average small business owner, Peggy Mace, in a competitive market, going back to basics and turning the information in her head into over 100,000 organic search impressions in Google alone; without spending a dime.
Follow The Money! This seems to be the battle cry of every cop, FBI agent, and spy in every movie and tv show. Follow The Money!
When it comes to driving lots of high quality traffic online without a big budget (or any budget at all) It makes sense to look to the money industries. The industries which have historically been the most competitive in search. Of course I am referring to the insurance industry. If you want to know what really works. Follow the Money. Follow the Insurance Industry.
Several years ago I came across one of the easiest and most brilliantly simple strategies to make a few extra bucks. It was called Yahoo Answers, and if you could get chosen as the best answer, you would see your post rank in search engines. My friend would answer a handful of questions around getting rid of acne in Yahoo Answers, with well articulated answers, and a link to a parked domain with acne ads. He made about $50 a week for several years off about 20 minutes a day for one week. Not a bad Return on Investment.
Clarity.fm, a great service for getting paid for your time and expertise, built in a Q&A site so that users can demonstrate their subject matter expertise, and monetize that knowledge with the Clarity.fm platform.
Success online is all about community. All about authentic engagement. As counter-intuitive as it seems, deep, authentic engagement really does scale in an online environment. Especially within a community.
How could one on one conversations translate into scalable authority? Community is the answer. Every person on the internet is part of small overlapping social communities. Be it your friends from college, your coworkers, your neighbors, or people with similar interests. In fact, every blog discussion, every forum thread, and every Facebook post could be their own micro community of complete strangers coming together around a central theme, topic or interest.
All you need is one member of a community to authentically engage with, to create a ripple effect that spreads like wildfire.
Furthermore, once you commit an authentic, engaged contribution to a discussion, be it in a blog comment, on a forum, in a Linkedin group, or a Q&A site, you have a timeless contribution that countless people will be exposed to over the course of time. Your one time, seemingly un-scalable effort, leaves a lasting impression. In fact, this is one of the reasons I find the time to write for Shoemoney, my own blog, and other major publications. Content is Forever!
Every once is a while a brilliant website emerges that finds a way to make your content spread even further.
A way to reward contributing. InsuranceLibrary.com is one such website. They realized that Google is heavily promoting authorship to determine who is a subject matter expert on a topic, so they built into their Q&A site Google authorship markup for the licensed agents that answer questions. This basically means that when you contribute a meaningful answer to a consumers question, not only will that page potentially rank in search engines, but it will show your picture next to it, and hopefully help you grow your expertise in scale well beyond the capabilities within one single website. We don’t know how authorship will contribute to the future of search engine algorithms, but Google has made it clear that they want to surface content from subject matter experts. When agents contribute to insurance library and get attribution for it, they are not only building their reputation with their community but also with search engines.
As you can see in the screen shot above, Peggy Mace, who sells life insurance, discovered that this Google authorship idea is actually much more valuable than anyone realized. In her webmaster tools, it reported 99,954 impressions in search results, and 6,190 clicks in only one month. That is absolutely incredible. Simply taking the time to give high quality answers to insurance consumers questions, she has managed to reach a ridiculous amount of people.
I think we can all agree that establishing your expertise and authority on a topic is a sure fire way to the top.
Dan Kennedy always says, “It’s no coincidence that the word Author is in the word Authority.” Authoring content is the best way to become an authority. Robert Cialdini in his brilliant book about the psychology of persuasion explains that we are hard wired to trust authority figures to the point where we would do things we otherwise wouldn’t if someone we perceived to be an authority figure directed us to. In fact, he cites a Yale study where regular average people seemingly tortured innocent people just because a fellow in a lab coat told them to give them a massive jolt of electricity for getting a question wrong. ( the tortured folks were actually actors, but the regular people torturing them had no idea.)We would even blindly follow someone in a suit and tie across a busy intersection, against the light, just because we assume a fellow in a suit and tie probably wouldn’t cross the street if it was dangerous.
The simple truth is that there is so much information overload that we are forced to use shortcuts to help navigate our daily lives. Most of this happens subconsciously, but we make all sorts of leaps in our minds based on previous experiences and preconceived notions. 85% of the time this serves us really well. Some people however use this knowledge to manipulate folks like us. If you really want to master the psychology of marketing, you must check out Shoemoney’s Weapons of Marketing.
The internet is starting to mature. What was once the wild wild west is slowly turning into sustainable strategies.
Chasing the next great traffic strategy was necessary when the old strategies barely worked, or stopped working. However, some strategies are timeless and have proven sustainable for 20 years of commercial internet usage, and will likely stick around for another 100+ years. Amongst those is creating content. Especially content that solves an immediate informational pain point of the very prospect you are trying to reach. Content marketing is here to stay. The bar is starting to rise, but the sooner you commit to contributing to online discussions, Q&A sites, forums, blog comments, etc… and realize that what seems likely not to scale, can actually drive success beyond what you can possibly imagine.
Forget about SEO and building links. Focus on building these authentic micro engagements and you will see massive success.
This one insurance agent, turned her knowledge in her head into reaching 100,000 people, and all it took was a willingness to invest in sharing what she knew with others with a community committed to helping its users reach the broadest audience possible with their content.
You can continue to chase the next big “grass-is-greener” traffic strategy, or you can become old and lame like me and stick to what works time and time again.