SEO and Viral Tactics on a Shoestring Budget

November 11, 2009
By Lisa Barone in Internet Marketing Conferences

pubconHey, hey, it’s the last session of Day 2.  Hang with me people.   We’re going to talk about how to do cool stuff with a college kid’s budget. Remember those days? When you survived on Ramen, Pop Tarts and a healthy diet of self-rightousnes? Those were the days, my friends. Those. Were. The days.

Leading us through our mission of mayhem are Marty Weintraub and Brett Tabke. There was surprised to be a third but he couldn’t make it. I think that may be the 3rd or 4th canceled speaker today.  That’s sad.

Anyway, get out your paper and Number 2s. Marty is about to take the stage. Lord have mercy on us all. [love you, Marty.]

Dirt Cheap Tactic 1: How to Aggressively Exploit Personalized SERPs

We all know personalized search.  It sucks for SEO because everyone gets different results. The results are being customized for users searching and click behavior. It’s a lot harder to measure organic prominence.

Customized search boosts what you love. If you love Martha Stewart, it’ll reflect that content. It will also boost what you hate. It tends to polarize with a less personalized middle. SEO tactics need to be personalized too wherever you can touch and influence user behavior. Marty wants you on your knees buying something with the credit card in your mouth. Wow. Just…wow.

In 2006 they started linking clients to proposals and scope of service contracts. It helped them vet clients and solidify the brand. Or at least that’s what he THOUGHT it would do. Really, he was just giving away his brand. So they started a blog. There they could use tracking URLs to tell when clients were reading reports.

What does that have to do with SEO?

Now that blog indexes prominently in SERPs, they don’t send links to posts anymore. They send links to the SERPs.  Most users don’t disable personalized search. They don’t even know what it is. Pretty soon their browser puts a disproportionate weight on your blog. Say “search for THIS and click on it” and it will always be your blog that appears. It makes you God of your own world. You can give them the URL over the phone.  Always be ready to tell your customers to search and click for your content.

Not everyone has authority content, so just make up words or use a whole post title that’s really memorable. Use Google against Google’s self to contradict personalized search by impacting user behavior on a more fundamental level.

Dirt Cheap Tactic #2: Leverage the Viral Sweaty Masses to Traffic Offers

The best way to seed viral campaigns is to know what is indigenously viral. Coupons are viral. You can also use coupons for data mining. Drive users to the page, get their data and test it.

Coupons are special to people because they think they’re gonna get money. They download the coupon and then you can get information from them.  From there, Marty talks a lot about IP spoofing and how you should set up employees with four accounts on their computers, with each account having a different IP.  I, um, not even sure I want to know where this is going. :)

Marty says that these coupons with tracking codes provide much, much more traffic than PPC tracking variables.  They found number coupon cope ripping sites that are also stealing their coupons and sending them traffic.  He says to let others think they thought of it and are getting away with something. Participate in the forums, Think of as distribution channels. Promote the forums in SMO.

Dirt Cheap Tactic #3: Chamber of Commerce Link Exchange

Remember Marty’s Fools Gold Link Exchange technique [search for it on that page]? We’re back to that but it has a new name.  He talks about the Duluth Chamber of Commerce, which apparently does some recipricoal link exchange, only they’re not being upfront.  They’re getting their link but then they’re either nofollowing the other site’s link or just not giving the link at all. [I’m not sure which. If you’ve heard Marty speak, you probably understand my trouble keeping up.] It’s a good way to get YOU links without actually participating in a recipricol link scheme. It’s also, you know, kind of a jerk thing to do to someone.  Allegedly.

Dirt Cheap Tactic #4: This My Suck Sucks Wa.Do.I.Do

Okay, I totally didn’t get where this one was going.  Marty talks about what to do when something big happens and lots of major news outlets want to give you links — only you don’t want them to go to your site because your site sucks.   There was something about using PR Web.  That’s about all I took from that.

Next up is Brett Tabke.

Google generates 80 percent of the search engine referrals.  What happens if you suddenly lose all your Google traffic? Maybe there’s a server error, your site gets banned or just a fluke. Where can you get traffic from?

The traffic is going to have to come from Traditional means like:

Recip Link Exchange: Strategic alliances with sites that compliment each other. You sell spoons, they sell forms. WHAT ARE THE ODDS?

Story Targets – Link Bait: Do a nice story about Site X – they can’t help but reciprocate.

Things to stay away from:

  • Fake directories
  • Affiliate farms and FFAs
  • Top 100 sites
  • Awards managers

Press Releases: low cost alternative – local paper.

Contests: Can certainly be repeat traffic generators and good lost leaders. Do your homework first. Be aware of legal issues. Management issues.

Awards: They are old tired, but they work. You know the drill.  They wont a Search Engine Watch Award in 2002. They’ve gotten 20 referrals a day for 7 years.  That’s about $26,000 in ad costs. Use guestbooks, but use them properly. Use the site, say something nice, include your URL if offered.

Affiliate Programs

Email Newsletters: Huge commitment.

Mailing lists

Kids: Kids are awesome at viral marketing. They’re an unseen army of traffic.

Pete and RePete: How may times has a friend forwarded you the “joke of the day”?

Usenet and Forums

Building a Community: not advisable unless you have the manpower and legal team.  There’s also a HUGE learning curve.



Social Media: Guy Kawasaki called Twitter a Weapon.  Last year, Brett spent $75,000 to market PubCon. This year they didn’t spend a dime. Brent said that next year they’ll be taking that $75k and hiring a dedicated social media person.That’s flippin’ AWESOME!

Alternative Directories: Topic directories. Investigate the directory. Things to stay away from:

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