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Sunday, February 03, 2008

SEO Sundays: WORK IT! with Viral Marketing

For over a year I advertised on search engines using Google Adwords and Yahoo! Search Marketing. Admittedly, I didn’t spend much on each campaign—maybe around $5-$8 a day for a keyword campaign—which is way below what either of them recommend. Still, it adds up. Pretty soon I was tallying what I spent in the past year, and it was well over $6,000. Yikes! That’s a lot of dough, without a lot of return.

Fortunately, there’s a smarter way to get the word out about your website or blog. We’ve already talked about optimizing your website, using keywords, and Alexa in past SEO Sundays, so today we’re going to talk about taking it one step further. That’s where viral marketing comes in. It may take a little extra work, but the good part is you won’t have to shell out a bunch of money on advertising to get a decent return.

What is viral marketing?

It’s when your existing website visitors, customers, or subscribers refer you to others.

It’s also when other webmasters, or sister sites send traffic your way.

So, let’s Work it!

Here are some examples:

** Submitting Articles: (easy)

Let’s say you’re starting an editing or freelance writing business. What’s the quickest and easiest way to get FREE publicity and links back to your website? Write several keyword articles related to what your website offers.

If you’re starting an editing business, write about some tips you use for editing—include examples or testimonials from satisfied clients. But try not to make it sound too “salesy”—give the readers solid information and content, but also remember to market your product, or yourself. This is a win-win situation. In other words, don’t give away the farm. Instead, give away enough information to peak the readers interest and leave them wanting more, which means visiting your website and buying your product.

The thing to remember is that you’re syndicating your article by doing this, which means you’re relinquishing your rights. And as writers, we all know how important rights are. So, make sure you give them only enough to send them to your site.

Websites that syndicate your articles: (There are lots of them!)

Important Note: Be sure to read all their terms & conditions. Remember you’re giving away your articles for free. In doing this you’ve just quashed your ability to sell that article.

** Offer a Free E-Mail Service: (advanced)

If you have a large server, you can offer free email to your customers/subscribers. Why? How do you think Yahoo! and Hotmail got so big? I’ll tell you why: they run an ad at the bottom of every email that you send. That’s why the service is “free.”

Think about it: your subscriber sends an email with your ad at the bottom of it. That person refers ten people. Those ten people refer another ten, and so on. Pretty soon you have a viral marketing campaign of advertising that you didn’t have to pay for.

If you have a VPS (virtual private server), or a dedicated server, you have the ability to set up unlimited email accounts. Same thing if you have a social networking site etc. It does take a lot of bandwidth and server-juice, but if you really want to conquer the Internet universe, it’s an excellent option.

** E-books: (moderate)

It’s not that hard to create an e-book, or e-document these days. The beauty is that you fill your book with links to your website, your affiliates’ websites, and products.

You can offer your e-book or e-document for free to garner traffic and sell products, or you can sell an e-book with resale rights. The people that purchase your e-book can in turn re-brand and sell the original e-book, thus creating a viral marketing machine.

Tip: Want to know a down-and-dirty way of creating an e-book or e-document in seconds?

All you need is MS Word and something you’ve written:

  • Open up the .doc
  • Go to “File” then “Print”
  • When you get the pop-up box, choose the option, “Save as PDF”

You’re done.

Important Note: I don’t recommend this for e-books that you’re considering selling. It’s better to create a professional encrypted e-book by using Adobe Acrobat. That way you have control of setting rights and permissions. So, if you’re serious about making money off of e-books, then do it the right way, and keep your rights.

Are you going to work it?

There are many ways to create a viral marketing effect. It’s all about getting creative, getting the word out, and creating a chain-like reaction. Yeah, the word, “virus” sounds negative, but that’s what it spreads. You can use this to promote your book, your website, your products, or practically anything.


Think of the possibilities...


  1. Anonymous2:42 AM

    This is incredibly useful advice to those of us who write to make a living at it. Excellent tips.

  2. I agree -- good stuff here! Thank you!



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