In an industry such as ours (online marketing, in case you’re new around here), the rules are constantly changing and it is vital that we stay on top of these changes. As the industry evolves, so too will your workforce. That is where Employee Development comes in. A lot of people seem to think that Employee Development means “getting this guy ready to steal my job one day.” Not true. What it means to me is enhancing your employee’s work experience so that he feels valued and appreciated, and is given opportunities for growth.
Some companies undervalue the importance of an employee development plan. Two huge mistakes I see companies make:
- “We don’t have time for it.”
- Leaving it entirely to the employee
To the first point: If you don’t have time to develop your employees, how can you expect your company to develop further? You need to allow room for innovation and creativity. You need fresh ideas and improvement. Imagine if Google had never moved beyond a search engine. No Gmail? No thanks. You know who is pretty good at employee development? Professional sports teams. Let’s look at football. When Andrew Luck was drafted into the NFL, what are the odds that they expected him to stay exactly as he was with no additional training or development? I would say slim to none. Your employees should be your best resource and you should invest in that resource with more than a paycheck and benefits.
To the second point: There is some responsibility on the employees’ shoulders to develop their careers. However, they cannot do it alone. Supervisors/managers should take notice of when an employee seems in a “rut.” They should listen when an employee has new ideas. They should talk with employees about where they want their careers to go within the company. Make goals and timelines and follow up with them.
Over my next few posts, I’ll explore three different areas of Employee Development:
- Self development
- Department development
- Company development
Stay tuned as we explore the differences in these three and how each can contribute to a more productive workforce.
Feel free to share in the comments below what you do (or would like to do) to increase employee development in your company.
Keyword Research, check, on-page optimization, check, link building fundamentals, check. Now it’s time to research our competition. We’re looking to find what we can gain and learn from our competitors. Are there things that they’re doing that we need to be doing? And are there things that they’re doing that we want to avoid doing? These are the concepts to consider as you research your competition. Of course, you must first establish who you’re up against.
Identifying the Competition
If you’re in the SEO agency business, it is a common tendency to simply ask a new client who they’re competitors are and perform research based on the client’s answers. However, experience has shown me that clients sometimes do not know who their competitors are or are not efficient in identifying the competition. They may be too broad in listing their competitors are researching the wrong competition. I’m going to walk you through an ideal process for indentifying your competitors.
We can quickly see that drfostersmith.com, petco.com, amazon.com, overstock.com, and petsmart.com are the top results for this query. (It should be noted that the Amazon.com and Overstock.com domains are not the competitors, just the category page aimed at pet supplies and dog beds – This is a frequent mistake I see in rookie link builders). These are the sites that we want to shift our focus to. Take any of the popular backlink tools and run a report on the sites linking to these pages specifically. Repeat this process for your other target keywords, and you can easily amass 10+ competitors to study.
Researching the Competition
We have the competition and their backlinks, so now what? It is indeed common advice to simply “look at the backlinks of your competitors.” “If they’re linking to your competitors, then they’ll likely link to you too!” This is a case of extremely wishful thinking. Let me use an analogy that will illustrate how difficult it actually is.
Jay Z is having a party and invites Lebron James. Let’s say Kobe Bryant wants to go. I’m sure he has the mindset that “Hey I’m a great and famous NBA player with a brand like Lebron James. Jay Z should have no problem with me going to the party too.” Kobe’s manager reaches out Jay Z to seek an invite, and his invitation request is denied. Why?
Well we don’t know why Jay Z specifically invited Lebron and not Kobe. It could be that Lebron and Jay Z have a very professional business relationship and are looking to strengthen that partnership. It could be that Jay Z has specific requests that he wants to discuss with Lebron. Or it could simply be that Jay Z’s friendship with Lebron is closer than his with Kobe. Jay Z’s invitation to Lebron does instantly mean that Kobe will be qualified for one as well. This is exactly what happens in the link building world.
Just because one site is linking to your competitor does not automatically mean that they’ll link to your site as well. This is where common link building advice fails to address. It is not only your task to find the backlinks of your competitors, but to uncover the reasons why they’re linking to your competitor. Do they have a partnership? Is there a specific product that a blogger used which belongs to your competitor? Are they a vendor? Are they actually bashing your competitor? Such questions should come to mind when evaluating your competitor’s backlinks.
Let’s analyze some of the backlinks “Doctors Foster and Smith” from the “dog beds” example. Using Open Site Explorer, one of the first backlinks we see is an article from Pet Education that shows ads for various dog beds on the right sidebar. Initial thoughts could be to consider advertising on this site.
However, deeper research shows that this site actually belongs to Doctors Foster and Smith. Scrolling to the bottom, we can see that the site states “Visit our other websites: Doctors Foster and Smith.”
We can assume that our competitor will more than likely not link out or accept advertising to our site and can safely exclude this backlink as a possible prospect for our own link outreach prospects.
Another link we come across is Thessc.org and see that they have a link to Doctors Foster and Smith on their “Links” page. (Tip: When researching your competitors’ backlinks, when you see a “links” page as a backlink, those are typically good sites to target.) We see that there is a banner linking to Doctors Foster and Smith’s “Gift Certificate” donation page.
This is could be a paid advertisement, a partnership with Doctors Foster and Smith, or simply a genuine link they provide as a resource. The important thing is that these are possible options that we can offer as a competitor of Doctors Foster and Smith. We can form a partnership to supply a store gift certificate, approach about advertising, or simply offer to be a resource for their “Links” page. We can assume that there’s a strong possibility that they’ll welcome one of those opportunities to link out to our site as well. We now have a potential site to target for our own backlink outreach purposes.
There’s no doubt that researching the backlinks of your competitors is a powerful method to unearthing opportunities to acquire your own. Yet, it is important to evaluate the relationships and reasons those sites are linking to your competitor and isolate the opportunities you can achieve for your own site. I’ve briefly demonstrated the process for looking for such opportunities. Stay tuned to my next post, and I’ll show you how to approach and contact such opportunities!
I loathe the word “engagement” as it is used in the social media world. As I said at both SMX and PubCon earlier this year, “engagement is the new ‘synergy’.” It’s obnoxious. It’s a buzzword. It’s annoying to hear. It’s even more annoying to say. The other thing about engagement? It’s likely affecting your social media strategy and you don’t even know it.
The last two times I’ve been a part of the SMX conferences, I’ve spoken about this very thing and the response has been incredible. The point I am trying to make is that getting your audience to interact with your brand is a wonderful thing – if you do it right. But many brands are getting it very, very, wrong and in doing so, are tainting the valuable (free) data they receive about their audience from Facebook.
Facebook marketing is a relevant tactic in social media marketing campaigns when it provides value to the consumer as well as the brand. Take a second, re-read that sentence, and then proceed. The brands that play in the Facebook space well are the ones who understand this core concept. They realize that by creating content that elicits interaction from one of the most qualified samples of their audience available (and free!), they can make powerful decisions with regard to whether or not a product should go to market, A/B testing on marketing said product, crowdsource ideas for future products or promotions, et al.
So many brands, however, throw anything up on the wall to get comments or feedback without even thinking about how they are tainting their own data pool. Some of my favorite and most beloved brands as a consumer have fallen into this trap and it breaks my social media-loving heart. I’ve recently discovered the most awesome Facebook page known to man. Sift through some of the examples below and see if you’re making any of the same mistakes.