If you’re reading this, you probably know that SEO can help businesses bring in new clients, increase cash flow, and encourage existing clients to spend more money. But have you ever thought about how, as a marketer or a consultant, SEO can help you market yourself, boosting your own career, connecting you to people, and speeding up your business’ growth?
If you want to get quality leads from Google, be more visible to potential new consulting clients, or even appear on the radar of a head-hunter for a large corporation who can secure your dream job, SEO can be of help.
Remember this key concept. People don’t always act on facts — only what they believe to be facts! I’m not suggesting any kind of deception, just ensuring that the right things can be found, examined and believed.
In a search-engine dominated digital universe, perception can be guided and molded through intelligent, strategic SEO. Being ranked at the top of Google for important keywords is like winning the gold medal — and it requires a hybrid of content marketing and psychology.
Introducing The QTI Framework
In the end it comes down to more than just SEO — it’s reputation management, or personal brand building, and it involves elements of SEO, Content Marketing and Social Media. I’ve often wished there was a way to integrate these three practices in a cohesive manner that’s effective and long-lasting. So I took a stab at it by coming up with the QTI framework, which weaves together 3 key elements that are applied to all three:
- Quality — to achieve a high ranking in search and high visibility in social media, it’s imperative that information by you and about you be of the highest quality
- Trust — this content, whether it’s a LinkedIn profile, a guest post, or a personal blog, must bear all the marks of a trustworthy source.
- Intelligence — This is about working smarter, not harder, and using available technology in the most effective way.
All three matter equally. How to put them together in a way that will transform your image and brand in the marketplace? When do you apply QTI to your marketing strategy? How do you execute a QTI strategy? We’ll answer these questions in the rest of this article.
First, as in any journey — or marketing campaign — you need to perform some situation analysis, goal setting and identification of key performance indicators (KPIs). Imagine you’re taking on a new client. You start by performing an audit and establishing some goals — both short and long-term — so this also involves a little introspection into where you see yourself going in the future.
- Where are you right now, career- or business-wise?
- Where do you want to be in the future?
- Why do you do what you’re currently doing? Are there things you’re doing that are wasting time? Might adopting other practices carry you forward faster?
- How do you know you’re making progress? Are there objective measures?
Once you’ve done this, list your action steps.
- Set Your Goals, clearly defining objectives and laying down a time frame to get things done.
- Create Your Vision Statement, in alignment with your ambitious (but always practical) dreams.
- Define Concrete Targets. Be disciplined and meticulous about them. You’ll find yourself getting better with practice.
- Review Your Goals & Performance Regularly. Once you know what you want, it is easy to focus on actions that make them happen. Of course, eventually, you’ll have to do the work!
Be prepared to work with persistence, taking a long-term perspective. You won’t become a trusted advisor or superstar search marketer overnight. I’ve worked hard for the past three years as an SEO consultant, writing columns for Search Engine Land in my spare time. The effort has paid off, building my reputation for quality and expertise, which led to steady advances in my career.
I’m now Head of SEO at MediaCom Norway, the biggest media agency in my country, and I’ve gained many new friends along the way and grown my network extensively. That’s the reward and pay-off for consistently delivering high quality and value.
Anyone who has read the philosophical fiction book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” knows the main character struggles the entire book with the notion of “quality” and what it means. It’s like obscenity — hard to define but you know it when you see it.
Quality is the foundational notion of any marketing campaign or career. You must be doing excellent work and providing value to your clients or employer, or you have nothing to market. To perform quality work, you have to keep up with the industry, work very hard and achieve measurable results. This establishes your product — what you’re marketing to potential future employers or clients.
2. Establishing Trust & Authority
Trust is king! Once you know your stuff and have that essential foundation of quality, you must convince others that they can trust you. But who should you focus on convincing?
If your audience won’t take you closer to your goals, it is of no value to you. Posting cute kitten photos on Facebook may win you likes and shares, but is practically worthless in building your brand as an SEO expert. It’s much better to move people emotionally, add value and offer assistance in your business field of choice. Be a valued resource that they will treasure, respect and eventually do business with.
A few tips, once you’ve correctly identified your ideal prospects:
- Connect with your audience
- Quality trumps quantity (page views alone don’t matter, quality traffic does)
- Be yourself, be authentic — and add value
- Be generous and help without expecting anything in exchange; it will come back over time
- Think like a brand, act as a person; the human touch is very important
- Dive deep into your areas of expertise
View every contact with others in the industry as an opportunity to build trust. If you’re writing a guest post, a social media update, updating your blog or speaking at a conference, show people that you’re an expert. Don’t pitch — that’s a turn off. Make them want to come back for more. Nurture relationships with your readers and social media followers.
Each time a visitor arrives at your website or reads your posts, comments or articles, ask yourself these questions:
- Are they interested in what they found?
- Did they do what you intended them to?
- Will they convert into clients or offer you a job? If not, why not?
- How can you improve things?
To do this really well, you must know who your ideal audience is, understand them as individuals, appreciate their challenges and problems, acknowledge the way they think (know their psychology) and know how to influence them to do what you want them to, thereby attaining your ultimate objectives.
When you do this correctly, you will be regarded by your audience members as their trusted advisor. And this isn’t a one-time interaction.
My clients are great at running businesses, but not so great at planning their digital marketing activities and online strategy. This holds them back from achieving their full potential. To win their trust and establish a relationship with them (Editor’s note: Marketing Land contributor Rachel Balik calls this “getting into the friend zone.”), I guide them through my blog posts and guest columns, through personal meetings and consulting sessions, showing them that:
- With better research, they can reach, engage, connect and influence more people.
- By understanding user intent, they can serve audiences better.
- By knowing their people better, they can press the right emotional hot buttons.
This helps develop trust — even before a formal client-consultant relationship has been established.
The last element of the QTI framework involves working smarter to achieve more with the same time, effort or money.
Now that you’ve decided to focus on delivering high quality content, and know how you’re going to build trust and authority, you must be able to accomplish this within a reasonable time with a modest investment. How to do that?
A. Use The Right Bait
What’s the best bait? Whatever the fish want! Give your readers what they want. Solve their problems. Meet their needs.
B. Forget “Word Count” And Tell Your Story
Many content marketers obsess over the right word count for a blog post. Forget that. Just tell your story. Use as many words as you need to do it well. My best posts on SEL are longer than 2,000 words, and they tell stories. Those are the ones that convert into leads and paid SEO work. The “secret” lies in using the stories to position yourself as a trusted advisor.
C. Capture All Your Good Ideas
Don’t let an idea escape. Trap it. Grab quotes, screenshots, URLs or business development ideas for later reference. Evernote is a helpful app for jotting down notes or bookmarking sites, and it syncs between devices so you can expand on them later on a different platform, if you prefer.
D. Be Smart About Creating Content
- Prioritize your writing. Work to a schedule
- Set aside limited time for research; when it’s over, start writing
- Ignore distractions; don’t check email; mute your phone; then, write
- Keep your blog post or article focused
- Decide what’s the important message of your post — and stick with it
- Write long first drafts; I often use only 25% of my first draft
- Stop worrying about keywords and SEO. Write for your human readers
E. Resist The Temptation To Try To “Go Viral”
Beware “Top 10” lists. They often gain traction on social media and are easy to skim through. But they rarely influence reader behavior, or make you a trusted advisor in their eyes. Additionally, that bigger audience you’re reaching often isn’t the right audience.
It’s okay to do these posts from time to time, to attract new readers and get a burst of traffic. But make sure to use other content to stand out from the crowd. Create helpful in-depth content that digs deep into your areas of expertise, offers original or unique perspectives, and shares viewpoints that will impact and influence your readers.
So, Which Comes First – The Cart Or The Horse?
Just like powerful medical drugs come with warning labels, the QTI framework should come with a few words of caution. Particularly this:
It will be much harder than you expect!
There is no easy formula or roadmap to success. I wish I could say, “First, do this. Next, this and then that.”
But the fact of the matter is, all 3 elements – quality, trust and intelligence – are intimately bonded together. You will have to simultaneously work on each of them as you plan and execute your winning strategy to capture your audience’s mindshare.
When you integrate these 3 elements into a QTI (“cutie”) framework, you’ll be able to transform yourself into:
- A Trusted Advisor – gaining “top of mind” recognition as the authority or expert in your niche.
- A Rainmaker – a growth hacker who can magically attract new client accounts, deals and opportunities.
- A Linchpin – with the best, most extraordinary results, respected as an expert in any field or market.
That’s what makes it all worthwhile.
But in the beginning, you will face challenges when you implement this system. You must motivate yourself to fight and overcome them. Training and motivation will ensure you don’t run out of energy before you reach your goals.
At times, you’ll feel miserable, lack motivation and want to give up. Be strong. Grit your teeth and stick with it. Keep going.
Many people won’t. They’ll quit. You shouldn’t. Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint. You’ll have to sustain that energy for at least 24 months. Success isn’t easy. It’s hard work.
But hang on like a pit bull, don’t let go, stay focused… and you will succeed.
I’d love to hear about how you used SEO and content to reach your goals in your career. Please share your story in a comment.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.
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