Craig Kilgore | @ckilgs

  1. Inbound Marketing: what it is, what you need to do it, and why you should care

    Updated on 2/26/2014 at 7:01 PM.

    Have you heard and/or wondered about inbound marketing? Thinking about applying it to your business? I’m going to say yes if you’re reading this post.There’s a reason businesses are continuing to implement inbound, and the technology supporting and advancing it is impressive to say the least. Inbound marketing is smart marketing. I’m going to attempt to explain what it is and why you should care about it as straightforward of a post as possible.

    Quick background: I’m an inbound marketing manager at Mainstreethost in Amherst, NY (just outside of Buffalo). I’ve been doing digital marketing for roughly 7 and a half years. I’ve witnesses firsthand what inbound marketing can do.

    So, what is inbound marketing and what do you need to do it effectively?

    Inbound marketing is typically made up of the following: persona development, content strategy, marketing, calls-to-action, landing pages, lead generation, lead nurturing, and sales (various other marketing efforts can enhance your inbound marketing efforts). If you’re not sure what any of this stuff is, HubSpot created The Ultimate Inbound Marketing Glossary to get you started.

    Read More

  2. What is a landing page and what should be on one?

    Whether you’re a digital marketer, inbound marketer, SEO guru, content marketer, web designer, PPC warrior, or anything else related to the web, websites, and business, landing pages are your best friend. Think of a landing page as one of your employees that works for you 24/7, 365 days a year.

    A landing page is typically associated with some sort of offer (ebook download, webinar, free evaluations, etc.), and typically serves the purpose of generating leads (though this is not the only purpose for landing pages). In addition to a great offer, landing pages will include “to the point” information on that offer, and a form to capture visitor information. If you want to learn more about what landing pages are and what they should have on them, along with some stats to back it up, read the original post by Courtney Christman on the Mainstreethost blog. Or better yet, watch the following video, starring yours truly:

    #MSHUnderReview: What is a landing page? from Mainstreethost on Vimeo.

  3. Interview with Jon Cooper, the Link Building Expert That’s Way Younger than You

    I had the pleasure of conducting an email interview with one of the younger but certainly successful link building experts in the industry, Jon Cooper. Jon is the man behind Point Blank SEO. Some of the work that has made him a go to name in the SEO community includes his link building technique post and The Content Marketer’s Guide to Visualizations.

    If you are in the digital marketing industry with a passion for link building, Jon Cooper is a must follow.

    Craig: Jon, for those that do not follow you or your work, explain how you became interested in SEO and more specifically, link building? What do you enjoy most about what most SEOs can’t stand or grasp (link building)?

    Jon: I first started doing SEO for one of my friend’s parents, just because I needed a job & could type fast. I had no idea what I was doing or what SEO was even about for the first week or two. Luckily, I really started to like the idea behind it, and I managed to get myself a copy of SEO for Dummies. I read it in about 2 days. The one thing that caught my eye in the book was links, because links are really what makes or breaks an SEO campaign.

    After I took the Web and tried hunting down every link building strategy out there, I noticed a huge gap between what SEOs were searching for and what blogs actually provided. We all wanted link building content, but there were very few, if any, blogs or websites dedicated solely to that.

    Because it was something I really had a knack for, and because there was a very big need for it, I started Point Blank SEO. The rest is history :) 

    But the thing about link building that has made me enjoy it so much is the opportunity for creativity. When you hear guys like Wil Reynolds talking about creating a national holiday to build links for one of his clients, it’s hard not to get excited about links. 

    Craig: When did you start building links and at any point in your career, has your age been a factor in landing a client?

    Jon: I started a little over 2 years ago, but I’ve focused solely on link building over that time period. Luckily my age hasn’t been a factor, because the only clients I have are ones that sought me out & contacted me on their own terms. They knew ahead of time of my age; if they didn’t, they were more impressed than discouraged (at least to my knowledge!).

    Craig: Who inspires you to continue going forward with your link building/SEO career and if you could only follow ONE person on Twitter, who would it be?

    Jon: The people who respond to me on Twitter & in the comments of my blog. If I ever even hint at questioning whether SEO is something I really enjoy doing, I quickly remember all the people I’ve met in this industry and how much they’ve taught me even beyond SEO. 

    I’m going to cheat here: the Inbound account, because all of the best tips & content from the guys I love talking with & following usually makes it on to :).

    Craig: Where do you see link building as a digital marketing strategy in 3 years? How about 10?

    Jon: The way link building had changed in the past is figuring out different ways to go from Point A to Point B. Point B was always higher rankings, and the different paths we took were different SEO link building strategies.

    The future is changing the way we change, because we’re no going from Point A to Point C. I think we’ll start to pursue an entirely different goal altogether; in the past it’s been higher SERP rankings, in the future it will be more direct KPIs like sales and targeted traffic.

    The reason I believe this is because the rewards of ranking higher are diminishing, and the difficulty is always increasing as new businesses enter search marketing, but the term “link building” still perfectly fits the future criteria even though we’re not pursuing links for SEO as it was originally defined. For example, we’ll be targeting links in other website’s newsletters; they’re still links, so we’re still building them, but they aren’t meant for search engines.

    Craig: What is one link building or SEO tool you absolutely can’t live without?

    Jon: Check My Links. For those who don’t know, it’s an on page broken link checker for Chrome that’s by far the fastest out there (here’s my post on how I use it).

    Some people regard broken link building as a strategy that’s one in a hundred, but I go so much further with it that it almost drives me insane. If 6% of the Web’s links were broken in 1998, then just imagine how many are broken today. If I remember correctly, Rand Fishkin even remarked at last year’s Mozcon that 20% of content disappears from the web each month. I doubt we’ll ever keep up with that pace, so I can guarantee you we will never run out of opportunity for this strategy.

    Craig: What do you plan on studying at the University of Florida this fall and how do you feel it’s going to benefit you as a link builder/SEO?

    Jon: I’m looking to dive straight into computer science so I can learn programming. This will allow me to create my own tools that I’ve been dying to see built.

    Craig: Outside of your time spent link building (if it exists), what do you do for fun and/or what are some of your hobbies?

    Jon:  An interesting hobby that might be brand new to some of you is a sport called disc golf. It’s like golf, but with frisbees, and instead of holes, they’re baskets with chains. Not many people play it, but there are 3-4 courses within an hour’s drive of where I live and I love going out there with anyone willing.

    I would like to thank Jon for taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer my questions. If you are serious about link building, I highly recommend following Jon on Twitter. You can also connect with Jon and Point Blank SEO on Facebook.

    About the Author: Craig Kilgore is a digital marketer with Mainstreethost and currently heads up their R&D department. Craig’s interests include SEO, paid search, content marketing, social media marketing and business development. You can find Craig on Twitter, Google+ and Linkedin.
  4. Infographic on How to Create an Infographic

    Browse more How To infographics.
  5. Penguin Update Blues: Recover from Being Over Optimized (Personally)

    Let me start this post by saying that it has nothing to do with your website being over optimized or how you can recover from Google’s newest Penguin (webspam / over optimization) algorithm update. If that’s what you are here for, and you most likely are, go check out Danny Sullivan’s post on Search Engine Land: Google Penguin Update Recovery Tips & Advice

    For everyone else still reading, do Google’s updates and the fast paced nature of digital marketing have you feeling over optimized? This happens to me from time to time and I’m sure it happens to all of you. It’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed.

    Funny Pictures - Penguin Gif

    Why does it happen?

    It happens because you care about your clients. It happens because you are always trying to stay one step ahead and it happens because you are probably good at what you do.

    In one way or another, you have probably heard of a man named Cal Ripken Jr. (disclaimer: I am an Orioles fan). Cal Ripken Jr., now a hall of famer, is one of, if not the greatest shortstop to ever play the game of baseball. Ripken played 2,632 straight games spanning over 17 Major League Baseball seasons. Not one game missed. Would he have reached these milestones without constantly pushing himself? Probably not. 

    My point here is that dedication, drive and sacrifice pays off. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a professional athlete or a business professional, if you aren’t dedicated, constantly pushing yourself and willing to sacrifice, you better be willing to just blend in.

    With dedication comes stress, mental wear and that over optimization feeling.

    To be considered a great SEO (or anything for that matter), you have to produce. You have to show results. You have to walk the walk. I have been doing SEO for about 6 years now and have personally worked on a countless number of websites in almost any industry imaginable. I love doing what I do. I can also admit that given my love and passion for the industry, I have been one to wear down mentally. 

    To me, SEO isn’t a 9 – 5, it’s much more than that. Now before you tell me to get a life outside of work, understand that without this attitude (dedication, drive and sacrifice), I would be selling myself short. But why stay so dedicated if it wears you down and causes you stress? Simple answer – it’s life. My co-worker Peter Baio said it best – “we do this now so we don’t have to when we’re 50” (I don’t know who he’s fooling thinking about retiring at 50 though). It’s how you deal with and overcome this mental wear and stress that defines you as a person and a professional. If Cal Ripken Jr. were to cave in to his mental and physical wear and throw in the towel at any point during his career, you can bet that he would constantly look back and think about what he could have achieved. On a side note, I do find time to enjoy the finer things in life that do not involve SEO which brings me to my point – how can you recover from that over optimization feeling?

    For many, myself included, it’s not easy to just “put down” something you are passionate about. SEOs don’t have an offseason or spring training; we are in regular season mode 365 days a year. Similar to how you budget time and resources with SEO clients, try to do this with your personal life. When you are feeling mentally fatigued, turn to something positive that you know will relieve tension and get your mind off of things. For me, I stay active with team sports (bar leagues of course) throughout the year. During my SEO career, not once have I thought about an algorithm update, clients’ traffic, Google, keywords, conversions, reports, meetings, etc. (you get the point) while on the field or court.

    Find that something that completely takes your mind off of things and helps you relax. Find that balance.

    Hard work does pay off.

    Remember, in the end, you are doing everything for a reason. Take it from Cal Ripken Jr. and all of the successful SEOs, business professionals and entrepreneurs, hard work does pay off. When you are feeling like you can’t take another report or conduct any more research, sit back and think about why you are doing it and then look for that something that will help you, as my man Martin Lawrence says, woosah (sports, traveling, drinking a beer or 5, etc.).

    About the Author: Craig Kilgore is a digital marketer with Mainstreethost and currently heads up their R&D department. Craig’s interests include SEO, paid search, content marketing, social media marketing and business development. You can find Craig on Twitter, Google+ and Linkedin.

  6. Craig Kilgore Interviews Compendium CEO and President Frank Dale (@FrankCDale)

    Keeping on the interview kick I have been on over the past couple of months, I recently had the pleasure to conduct one with the CEO and President of Compendium, Frank Dale. Compendium is a content marketing platform for organizations and you can see exactly how it works here. I recently started following Frank and his work with Compendium and am very impressed thus far and look forward to learning more about Compendium and their platform.

    Frank was more than willing to take the time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions about content marketing, marketing tools and advice to fellow digital marketers. Enjoy!

    Craig: Frank, for those that do not follow you or are unfamiliar with your work, when and why did you get into content marketing?

    Frank: In some ways I’ve been in the content marketing business my whole career. Before receiving my MBA, I earned a masters degree in ethics. As a marketer, I was always looking for ways to impact my audience without using some of the gimmicks or tricks for which marketing is famous. I believe that marketing should be about understanding and solving customer needs and problems, and content marketing lives up to this promise.

    Craig: What is it about content marketing that intrigues you?

    Frank: Content marketing is what marketing should be about: it informs without manipulating. Really, the only way to do content marketing well is to focus on what the customer needs. It has to be done from their perspective, not yours. We’ve all read the business books that demonstrate how people respond to stimulus and how to use this to influence people to buy products or services. But marketers don’t need to do that to succeed and I don’t think they feel good about those tactics. In a sense, content marketing is the purest form of marketing, because it allows companies and their customers to tell stories that are true and to educate prospects so they can make a choice. This approach works for all kinds of marketing, including brand marketing, because it focuses on knowing the customer, understanding the pain points and developing good information that answers questions. I am especially intrigued by all the different ways to share content–blogs, videos, white papers, slide decks. The opportunity is unlimited.

    Craig: It is my understanding that you implemented the “Pomodoro Technique” at Compendium. What exactly is the Pomodoro Technique and what made you want to implement it?

    Frank: The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method that takes the best processes in software development and marries them with how the brain works. There have been many studies that show most people cannot effectively multitask, and this technique allows me to focus on one thing at a time. It has a built-in feedback loop that helps me understand how I’m using my time and where I can improve. If I set out to accomplish six things in a day and only accomplish four of them, it’s important to understand why. Is it that I underestimated the time required to accomplish a task? Perhaps I am pulled into too many unnecessary meetings. Or maybe I didn’t get enough sleep. Knowing what’s preventing me from being as productive as possible helps me get better at planning my day, reduces unnecessary tasks and forces me to take good care of myself.

    Craig: Many would agree that coming up with creative ideas is one of the more difficult parts of the content marketing process. How do you overcome creativity barriers when they arise personally or within your company?

    Frank: Breaking it down into smaller steps can make it easier to tackle. The important thing is to get out of your comfort zone and get started. Once you do, you can see the next step or begin to identify options you didn’t know you had. Forward motion eliminates uncertainty. Another thing I believe is you have to talk to customers, spend time to get to know them. Learn about their challenges and observe how they work. Doing this provides a lot of content material.

    Craig: What are some of your favorite content marketing tools?

    Frank: Of course my favorite tool is Compendium, because it really makes it easy to create, capture and distribute stories online. I also like SlideShare, which allows marketers to turn just about any content into a slideshow presentation that can be shared with customers and prospects. Wistia is a great way to share video content. They have a tool that transcribes the video, so you can offer the content as a video or an article, which helps with SEO. 

    Craig: I have asked this question in one of my past interviews but would be interested in hearing your take — How do you think small businesses / small budgets can incorporate something like Coca Cola’s “Content 2020” into their marketing campaign?

    Frank: From a resource perspective, this isn’t a strategy that will translate well to small businesses. But what does translate is the importance of getting to know the customer. The lesson is that companies need to understand their customer well, communicate information through stories that are authentic and truthful, and use channels that the customer is receptive to. Small businesses often do talk to their customers, which gives them a chance to do this right.

    Craig: Lastly, what is Compendium and how can it help content marketers/businesses?

    Frank: Compendium is a content marketing platform that helps organizations capture and create original content in a branded hub for distribution to any marketing channel. Compendium’s software makes the process of content marketing easy–from inspiration through distribution–by helping marketers capture, create and organize stories to attract their audience. This is especially important today because buyers have changed the way they shop for products and services, looking for sources of information through social media and online peer sharing before ever searching on the brand’s website. Your organization’s content is a ticket to the conversation.

    There you have it, my interview with Compendium’s CEO and President, Frank Dale. I would like to take the time to thank Frank for his time and willingness to share his advice, experiences and some useful tools with my readers. If you would like to connect with Frank, you can do so on Twitter, Linkedin and Google+.

    About the Author: Craig Kilgore is a digital marketer with Mainstreethost and currently heads up their R&D department. Craig’s interests include SEO, paid search, content marketing, social media marketing and business development. You can find Craig on Twitter, Google+ and Linkedin.