10 Ways SEO Works for B2B Companies

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by Jayson DeMers

When marketers think of SEO, they often misunderstand its relationship with B2B companies. Typically, SEO is associated with B2C organizations, since customer acquisition is focused on a positive brand user experience. It’s easy to forget, though, that marketing to other businesses still involves marketing to people and building relationships. The reality is that 67 percent of the B2B buyer’s journey is completed online. B2B companies serious about establishing an authoritative web presence, unlocking the revenue potential of their website, and creating a positive user experience must invest in SEO today.

SEO works for B2B companies by:
1. Demanding better content. The biggest mistake marketers make is producing more content instead of better content. Since Google’s Panda and Penguin algorithm updates focus on the quality of content, B2B brands that focus on SEO will generate better content than their competitors, which creates a better user experience. 
When it comes to producing useful content, B2B companies must focus on what their peers value the most. B2B executives prefer professional association research reports/whitepapers, product reviews, customer case studies, and analyst reports over self-serving and promotional content.
2. Engaging social users. Creating a Google+ Business page, if you don’t have one already, is an excellent way to broadcast details such as your business hours, location, and reviews. Google+ Business pages allow B2B companies to add other pages and users to their “circles.” Optimized pages should include a logo, descriptive tagline, and links to other social platforms.
3. Building authority. Google authorship is an excellent tool that not only assists SEO, but is proven to get more click-throughs to your website. Google authorship displays the author’s photo next to the search result, which draws the attention of web users.
Furthermore, the longer a business invests in SEO, the stronger its web presence becomes. By focusing on valuable content in each SEO campaign, you’ll begin to build a massive online presence that establishes your brand’s thought-leadership in its industry.
4. Generating fresh content. Regularly posting new content is key to keeping your business blog and website in favor with search algorithms. Fresh content shows that your site is regularly producing value for its readers while creating more opportunities for your content to appear in search results. Because economic challenges have elongated today’s sales cycle, consistent content is paramount to converting leads. If you need help coming up with ideas for your blog, see “Little-Known Ways to Find Content Ideas for Your Blog.”
5. Building and maintaining relationships. When B2B companies focus less on promotional content and more on creating engaging content, then it’s easier to build professional relationships. By using content to answer frequently asked questions, discuss consumer pain points, or provide industry news, you’re able to harness the power of blogging to cultivate business relationships that matter.
6. Prioritizing the budget. Now that Google results in 90 percent of search traffic to B2B websites, brands have no excuse to frivolously spend their marketing budgets. Spending must focus on SEO, PPC campaigns, content marketing, and social and mobile users to create the most effective digital impact possible.
7. Differentiating your business from competitors. When it comes to B2C ecommerce sites, content is a luxury, but it’s price that ultimately matters. No matter how beautiful the website or seamless the checkout processes, the cost largely determines whether or not the consumer makes a purchase.
With B2B sites, however, investing in content is critical to stand out from today’s competitive market. Content allows a brand to differentiate itself on its own terms after being connected to a prospective client.
8. Creating a positive brand image. Even though B2B marketing content shouldn’t be self-promotional in nature, the fact that you publish quality content becomes a marketing tool on its own. You immediately distinguish yourself as a brand focused on the client experience no matter what.
9. Unifying digital platforms. The largest challenge for 64 percent of marketers is to produce enough content. By focusing on SEO, you discover that regular business blogging gives you content to promote through social media outlets. Using existing digital platforms to cross promote your brand’s content means you’ll never run out of things to post!
10. Focusing on future trends. By 2020, experts predict that 85 percent of customers will complete a transaction without a single human-to-human interaction. Investing in SEO and content marketing now lays the groundwork for the future.

Be sure and visit our small business news site.

April 16th 2014 B2B, Search Engine Optimization, SEO

SEOs Discuss the Role of Brands as Publishers

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SEOs Discuss the Role of Brands as Publishers was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

The SEO benefits of publishing and content marketing are huge. Google’s head of webspam, Matt Cutts, has long preached that unique, compelling, user-focused content is the hallmark of a quality, well-ranking site. As brands become publishers, they also stand to earn top-of-mind recall and establish brand recognition.

Yesterday, Bruce Clay, Inc. hosted #SEOchat on Twitter. On the agenda? Brands as Publishers.

When SEOs take on a content publisher orientation, it helps think in terms of how to tell stories and how to manage assets as publisher organizations do. The best brands tell stories that resonate with their consumers — think of Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty” or Dos Equis’ “The Most Interesting Man in the World.” These brands aren’t just advertising — they’re telling stories. This kind of strategic content marketing means brands and businesses have to be capable in the role of a publisher, i.e. creating and curating content, images and video that targets and engages specific audiences.

seo chat brands as publishers During the Brands as Publishers #SEOchat, SEOs discussed:

  1. Does Brand=Publisher?
  2. Lessons from Traditional Publications
  3. Media Mission Statements
  4. Communication and Coordination
  5. Content Types
  6. Publisher Goals vs. SEO Goals
  7. Writers and Editors
  8. Writers’ Authority
  9. Planning Content
  10. Images
  11. Competitor Content
  12. Format Sweet Spots
  13. Content ROI
  14. Editorial Guidelines

Feel free to jump to you the topic that you’re most interested in by clicking the heading above … or read them all!

Does Brand=Publisher?

1. Do you consider your business a publisher? Do you believe the paradigm of brand=publisher applies to you?

@PaulaAllen: Today’s marketing requires content … have to distribute quality, but have to make yourself heard.

@KevinWaugh: Not yet, but I am pushing my work to embrace that, it takes some political wrangling.

@KristiKellogg: Absolutely!!! Successful brands are 100% publishers. Re: Dove. Red Bull. Coca Cola. etc. They TELL STORIES :)

@TannerPetroff: It’s more important than ever to be a publisher, and great at content marketing. We’re not perfect, but working on it.

@LisaBuyer: If you have a website or blog = you have a publication so… YES! brand=publisher.

@chrisjeverett: Being a publisher is essential for getting your message (your value, credibility, etc.) across to your prospective buyers.

@MichelleDLowry: I think it depends on the vertical. Forcing a publication to jump on the bandwagon may not work well for all brands.

@ClairWyant: In this day in age, if you have a robust marketing program, should be 50/50 your business and publishing.

@LandMoore22: I can’t separate the two. Publishers have to money. Businesses have to make money.

Lessons from Traditional Publications

2. As you transition into a publisher, what have you learned from traditional publications or other businesses?

@maryi: I’ve learned a lot from journalists – importance of a good headline and what to cover in content. Do good research.

@KristiKellogg: Upworthy has really taken the reins on renovating the traditional headline — and that model is working.

@KevinWaugh: From having hired journalists in the past, enforcing content style with multiple contributors was the main thing they taught me.

@JoshMcCormack: Publishing is your way of letting people find your businesses value.

@ClairWyant: Regarding headline, different headline works for different audiences and industries.

@sonray: Google Drive for internal and external teams to stay on point is really helpful. Personally love @trello as well!

 @bloomreachinc: We learned from a journalist by hiring one! @mikecassidy joined as our storyteller and has made a huge impact. The style of writing that a journalist brings is so much more consumable. Clear takeaways in a very narrative form.

@LisaBuyer:  Ethics, copyright laws, attribution, fact checking, editorial calendars, quality writing, deadlines.

@BruceClayInc: Brands can learn a lot from journalism model in “A Brand News Approach to Content Marketing.”

Media Mission Statements

3. Mission statements can help drive content with a purpose. Does your brand have a mission for its publishing?

@bloomreachinc: Not a mission so much as themes we focus on for a quarter. That content mixed in with ad hoc, timely pieces.

@PaulaSpeak: Having a mission statement is a big differentiator between media companies and brands. Per @JoePulizzi: http://goo.gl/7HK4tO

@LisaBuyer: They help the brands to keep on track. Similarly, people may have an idea about the businesses by their missions.

@ScottACroom: The hard part is following them and making sure they are BS-free.

@JennineMiller: We follow best practices, but I’m not sure if we have anything in writing. It’s one of those work smart not hard scenarios.

@ScottACroom: Putting on paper can help make the ideas more concrete and more likely to be followed. Not too crazy formal, though.

@JennineMiller: Yeah it’s something I should probably do soon! Our content calendar is on paper so that’s good for something.

@ScottACroom: Calendar is critical for everything, especially social media. Too easy to get overwhelmed otherwise. EFFICIENCY.

@8Keith: So your editorial calendar is a living, breathing thing?

@JennineMiller: And cries and needs consoling! … Consider your editorial calendar as tentative and always stay on top of ideas that will be relevant at the time.

Communication and Coordination

4. Does functioning like a media organization require more coordination between departments? How do you facilitate communication?

@BloomReachInc: Yes and the only way to do that consistently is to have some dedicated to it who can ask the right questions.

@scottacroom: Cross department communication is critical in any business, not just media. Use HootSuite for monitor/listen for the most part. Lifesaver. Can’t rave enough about Basecamp from @37signals.

@jenninemiller: Working in a small agency now but if it was larger I’d say yes! Communication is a must. Tools like Asana help everyone KIT

@michelledlowery: First, have clearly defined roles for each dept. Then encourage open communication. Important for leaders to set example.

@Feviyu: We use @mavenlink for collaboration both internal for our team and externally with clients #Loveit.

Content Types

5. What content types do you publish most (ex: web pages, blog, curation posts, videos, social posts, infographics)? Why?

@chrisjeverett: A mixture of everything. Diversification is key in publishing/content marketing for max customer reach.

@scottacroom: Totally industry and client dependent.

@sonray: Desired outcome is key. What is the best outcome? Then work backwards from there with a strategy/content type.

@clairwyant: Infographics help tell the story … but a summary is needed, mainly for SEO purposes … Big fan of blogging… plain simple text with a few images to help tell the story.

Socially… love images & infographics. If you have the resources for video, use it. It’s more cost effective not to, but if you can, all the better..

@JennineMiller: Working in a small agency now but if it was larger I’d say yes! Communication is a must. Tools like Asana help everyone.

@uprighttire: Social, blogging & webpage – in that order.

@BruceClayInc: We’ve invested the most focus in our blog and newsletter for years. Now increasing publishing activity in Google+ & others, too.

@lisabuyer: Seems like web pages get lost in the shuffle, if you have an online newsroom, each piece of news content=web page

@kmullett: yup, people became way too enamored w/the idea of “blogs” when “frequently updated quality content” was the goal.

@paulaspeak: True! Website revision takes a backseat to the latest blog post ideas, and blog has big payoff for SEO, too.

@kmullett: ANY quality content that solves problems or answers questions will help SEO, not just those in the blog.

@michelledlowery: social, blog, web page, in that order. Video’s a bit out of budget right now. Infographics are overused, IMO.

@rvaghanani: Infographics. Since they are more eye catching then printed words.

@JennineMiller: Technically social posts because we’re trying to keep engagement up and it helps with content promotion for blog posts, etc.

Publisher Goals vs. SEO Goals

6. For titles, do you find publisher goals (optimize for virality/social sharing) & SEO (rank for relevant keywords) are at odds?

@scottacroom: At odds? Not if you are doing them right.

@chrisjeverett: Sometimes Yes, Particularly when the SEO Focus doesn’t match the “Brand Message” (ie terminology used)

@kristikellogg: Sometimes — like when you want to write a ridiculously clever (or alliterative) headline but it fails to wield keywords. #sad

@jenninemiller: They can be at odds but the trick (no easy task) is to nail the keywords & create an awesome/sharable title. If applicable use a # or @ in the title. When someone shares it w/o edits it can lead to more real conversation/interaction.

 @feviyu: Sometimes @BruceClayInc hard to draw the line b/w creativity and practicality with titles

@lisabuyer: For titles, needs to be optimized is the key, so sad how much I see NOT optimized at all

@michelledlowery: Excellent tip I heard from @seanthinks at PubCon Austin: If headline isn’t working, change it. 3

@8Keith: It’s a dance … there is no perfect title. That’s the FUN.

@clairwyant: I tend to look at the SEO factor. One of the few areas I actually research. You can still make appealing headlines. The keyword research I do is very basic & not very in-depth. Noticed a difference between doing it & not.

@bloomreachinc: Write for human consumption.

@emcgillivray: As search engines get smarter, it’s better to optimize for humans than keywords.

@feviyu: I agree with @emcgillivray. When I’m faced with a decision will choose humans over bots.

@lisabuyer: Or balance of both is possible! @emcgillivray

@sonray: Yes, yes, yes, all day long. You can take visitors to the bank, rankings not so much.

@paulaspeak: It’s not either/or … rankings bring visitors, don’t they? Or is your site a destination in itself?

Writers and Editors

7. Who writes for your brand? Who edits? Is content primarily generated in-house?

@JennineMiller: Currently it’s all in-house, but if we were to expand for clients’ sake, I’m sure contracting wouldn’t be out of the question.

@bloomreachinc: Mostly in-house and we have a storyteller (@mikecassidy) doing most of the writing. Content marketing team edits & propagates. While our storyteller does the writing, his journalism background means he uses experts at the company & elsewhere as sources.

@mumar_khan: Everyone has the right to write but the editing should done by specialists and yes it has to be produced in-house.

@Lisabuyer: Traditional PR peeps write 4 press release a month, journalists write 4 stories a day! Who is better?

@Feviyu: All content is in-house because we are a small biz we take ownership of all grammatical mistakes too.

@8Keith: (sigh) one man band … for now!

@BruceClayInc: We have a team of four full-time in-house writers.

@8Keith: Is envy really a sin?

Writers’ Authority

8. Do you encourage your writers to build their own brand and authority? How?

@michelledlowery: Absolutely. Through authorship, guest posting, and social network visibility. Also keeping brand comms separate.

@bruceclayinc: Empowering employees to be brand advocates helps “humanize” your brand & extend reach. goo.gl/3PpqqV #authenticity

@kristikellogg: #Writers can build authority socially and through quality writing :) also — “Twitter for Journalists: http://selnd.com/1lL7L7i

@paulaspeak: Definitely! Hire someone who represents your brand values & brings powerful following http://goo.gl/3PpqqV . BTW, heard a super interview this week w/ @alexcote on making employees #brand advocates: http://goo.gl/gXBFiE

Planning and Scheduling Content

9. How far ahead do you plan and schedule content? What guidelines do you follow when developing your content calendar?

@mmlukens: Never far enough!

@kmullett: We start w/a content opportunity report, then rank by value/effort, then decide calendar. As far in advance as possible. A Content Opportunity Report tool:  http://www.marketsnare.com/content-opportunity-report

@ConstantContent: We plan a rough outline approx. 2-3 weeks in advance, but constantly add in breaking news as it happens.

@Feviyu: No content calendar, I write when it moves me. But I have one objective at all times.

Images

10. When do you publish images? Do you ever take the photos yourself? Do you use captions or text overlay? 

@lisabuyer: I love when a brand owns a curated authentic image library!

@paulaspeak: We’ve found Haiku Deck a super tool for making fast, professional images w/ text overlays. (And it’s free.)

@bloomreachinc: We always use photos – either originals that we take or Creative Commons from @flickr.

@ConstantContent: We rarely include photos. Usually choose text-based graphics over stock photos.

@Kmullett: I almost exclusively take pictures myself, but I have several resources for finding free/cheap stock when needed.

@JennineMiller: It varies. If we have a good existing image then we use our own or buy something. Text overlay beats captions IMO. We always, always, always upload files with good names and use alternate text.

Competitor Content

11. At what point in the development cycle do you compare competitor content to your own? How do you evaluate competitor content?

@paulaspeak: Inevitably, ideas float around, so someone else publishes similar as yours is being created. At that point, need tunnel vision!

@lisabuyer: Competitors can make you look good.

@kmullett: Before, during, and ongoing.

@feviyu: For clients 10 minutes before it gets published. For personal, never. Life is too short.

Format Sweet Spots

12. In your industry, have you found there are sweet spots for word count? Tense? Style? Format?

@paulaspeak: Word count limits not as important as quality #content – We’ve had high engagement with some 1.5K posts on @BruceClayInc

@JennineMiller: Never do something you would criticize competitors for doing. Keep it professional but in your own voice.

@8keith: 300-500 but with LOTS of white space – headings and paragraphs. My view on content is like a movie – if you need 4 hours, then its two movies – 1000 words = two posts.

@constantcontent: It’s a great idea to watch competitors, but we like to focus on evaluating the quality of our own content.

@ClairWyant: Found approximately 500 words is a sweet spot. Google like the length and not too long/not too short for readers.

Content ROI

13. How do you gauge your content investment – is it worth it? How do you measure your ROI on #content?

@8keith: It’s not a science for me yet – but more content = more conversations = more business.

@constantcontent: A great way to determine ROI of content is to measure traffic, conversions from the page, bounce rate & time spent on site.

@ClairWyant: Pageviews & amount shared on social first 24-48 hours. Page views via search thereafter.

@JennineMiller: Views, shares, quality interactions and conversions depending on your goals.

@LandMoore22: Google analytics metrics!

Editorial Guidelines

14. As a brand publisher, what standards, guidelines, rules do you have in place (or wish you did)? AP style? Certain words/slang not accepted such as OMG, WTF or “epic?” 

@paulaspeak: As a start to creating a brand voice/style guide, this article by @ChelseaBeaAdams inspires: http://t.co/DlhmXci3qk

@LisaBuyer: I think the words “great” and “excited” should not be allowed #seochat #Boring #meaningless.

@Sonray: “Awesome,” too.

@ClairWyant: I try my best to stick to AP style. Doesn’t always happen.

@JennineMiller: Never do something you would criticize competitors for doing. Keep it professional, but in your own voice.

Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app

Thank you to everyone who participated in this week’s #SEOchat! #SEOchat is held every Thursday at 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET on Twitter. Learn more about participating here.

April 12th 2014 SEO

How Schema Helps Your SEO Campaign

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by Jayson DeMers

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the internet marketing discipline that aims to increase your website or other online presence (such as a blog or social media page) and visibility within search engine results pages, such as Google and Bing. For example, if you’re a florist in Houston, your customers and potential customers are probably googling “Houston florist” or “flower delivery Houston” which means your site needs to display preferably in the first three Google search results. Studies show that people almost never go beyond the first page of search results and rarely look beyond the first few. So, it’s important to do whatever you can to get ranked not only on the first page, but within the top three results when possible. 

SEO is your ticket for targeted search traffic that’s made up of buyers who are looking for products, events or services you’re offering. Every business, regardless of where you stand, is interested in growing and upping customer leads; your website is the perfect conductor for this. Schema data can optimize your SEO, which in turn can cause an increase in targeted search traffic, which results in more customer leads. But what is Schema data anyway? 
Know your tech speak 
Simply put, Schema is a type of data markup structure that all the big search engines have been trying to weave into their algorithms ever sine 2011. If you include Schema markup within your site’s coding, you’re automatically improving your SEO. This happens by generating “rich snippets” which help search engines index your content and get found in search results pages. It also improves your visibility in niche search results (such as Video, Image, etc.) and improves your click through rate (CTR) within search results by adding visual elements to the result. 
The end result is an increase in your organic traffic/leads. While the benefits of Schema markup are many, the best thing is that it essentially helps to grow your business online. It’s a system that defines common microdata used by all major search engines, reducing redundant work and maximizing exposure. Microdata consists of tag sets, compliments of HTML 5, which lets you mark up your page with the vocabulary major search engines understand and translate; mostly Microformats and RDFA is used. 
“Dummying up” your website 
You might think your website is gorgeous and intuitive, but don’t forget that algorithms (and not just people) are trying to figure out what’s on your website, and how it looks and feels. This is, however, a major factor in modern ranking algorithms. Gather feedback from your users, and collaborate with your colleagues to get a solid answer to the questions; is my site really user-friendly? Does my site provide a positive user experience? 
You might have put a lot of effort into your “Snippets” maximizing the use of the title, description and URL, and a “rich snippet” can make things even better by including images within the search engine results pages next to your listing. However, including Schema means search engines don’t have to “guess” what the information is on your site or where it belongs. Search engines like things structured and simple; Schema helps you do this by giving you the tools to label content pieces and categorize them. 
When that’s done, search engines “know” what to do with every piece of content. You can assign properties including “sameAs,” “additionalType,” image, URL, and name. These are instructions telling search engines how to categorize them. Search engines play well with hard facts, bypassing their intelligence, and this is what’s displayed to users like your customers. Schema gives you more accuracy, more precision, and puts more control in your hands. However, this wasn’t developed to make business easier for you, but simply to ensure the most relevant information reaches users. 
Schema and SEO 
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. If you’re looking for the best video conferencing technology and consider the first two choices that pop up, there are reasons why you’ll choose one over the other. You’re almost guaranteed to be attracted to the link with a face, more information and an attractive layout, right? Schema makes sure you have any relevant listings, ratings, breadcrumbs or images because this is all relevant data users want. 
Using Schema will get you more clicks even if your website isn’t necessarily at the top of search results. For example, a competitor might have Google’s top spot but if you’re number three, that Schema-enhanced layout is going to attract the eye even better and potentially lead to a higher CTR. Studies have been conducted using an eye tracking heat map, and links with photos and a more dynamic presentation simply get more clicks than non-rich snippets. The sooner you incorporate Schema into your SEO campaign, using mobile technology as an aid, the sooner you can enjoy better traffic.

Be sure and visit our small business news site.

Trusted Resources for Learning Usability, Marketing and User Experience

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Are you bitten by the website user experience bug?  Do you wonder where to get trusted advice that won’t conflict with SEO strategies?

Student LearningThere are some great deals for online courses and affordable conferences available. In addition, many long-time leaders in linking, copywriting and conversions marketing remain dedicated and provide continued support, while adapting to the ever-changing Internet environment.

Here are a few of my top favorite people and websites for continued education or beginners seeking trusted resources in web site design and search marketing.

Nobody makes content writing for marketing easier to understand and learn than Karon Thackston at Marketing Words .  She provides a constant source of material such as Conversion Techniques for Copywriters, for your Kindle, plus cheat sheets, ebooks and more.

Links master, Debra Mastaler, well known for Link Spiel, has recharged her site to now include tools and more marketing resources.  Look to her for credible, proven advice on any topic she covers.

The Search Engine College  offers a wide variety of tutor-led certification or self-study courses in SEO, PPC, Usability and more.  The fees are extremely reasonable with many perks, bonuses and continued support.

UserFocus provides one of the few newsletters I look forward to because it is always packed with good resources.  Their site has a section of articles and publications loaded with a library of resources.

For a nice list of events, seminars and book covering web design, marketing, user experience, mobile and more, Rosenfeld Media, publishes several books that I have in my library, as well as they are constant source of up to date information on new educational opportunities.

The UXPA Boston one day conference is a one day affordable conference featuring over 30 talks, with 4 tracks, for under $250 per person.

If you have time for self-study and are on a tight budget, Udemy is your paradise.  Courses are offered on a wide range of topics by well-regarded thought leaders and experience professionals.

Search Engine Journal has grown into a vibrant news source.  Their recently updated website is a signal they are committed to continued excellence in providing well written material by credible authors on marketing and web design topics. .

TrustAccessible web sites are still at the bottom of the list when it comes to be site building.  Maybe it is due to the mystery surrounding the guidelines, reasons why they are helpful or fears that the extra time to create accessible sites is costly.  The best website for understanding how to create accessible websites is also an excellent source for WordPress plug-ins.  You will find Joe Dolson to be easy to understand, informative and passionate.

And finally, Internet Marketing Ninjas provides free ebooks such as Advanced SEOs’ 7 Curiously Obvious Rules  and The Secret to Natural Web Site Conversions.  You can also view the talks I have given that were posted to SlideShare by reviewing the list provided under “Presentations by Kim”.

Where are your trusted resources?  Who do you trust to keep you informed and up to date?  Do you have favorite affordable recommendations for events, books, and websites?  Who do you most recommend when someone asks for advice in your field?

The post Trusted Resources for Learning Usability, Marketing and User Experience appeared first on Internet Marketing Ninjas Blog.

April 9th 2014 Design, Marketing, SEO, Usability

How to Be Your Best SEO: Bruce Clay’s Advice for Gaining Influence

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How to Be Your Best SEO: Bruce Clay’s Advice for Gaining Influence was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

Since 1996, Bruce Clay has been commited to ethical SEO and a passion for all things concerning search. Armed with a “be a leader, not a follower” mentality, he has helped to shape the landscape of Internet marketing with his books, presentations and training — and earned his company a spot in the Inc. 500 | 5000 list for seven consecutive years.

Clay’s SEO insights are laced throughout every chapter of his latest book, “Content Marketing Strategies for Professionals,” coauthored by Murray Newlands. Clay uses his vast knowledge and experience to provide readers with SEO tips concerning:
Bruce Clay

In a special interview, Clay shared some of his insights on being a CEO. It turns out a lot of the principles behind successful SEO, such as transparency and commitment to quality, are the same principles that have led to his success as a CEO.

In your latest book, you share your insights as a leading SEO. You’re also a formidable CEO. Can you share some insights on successfully running a company?

The first problem of running a company in a high tech space is that things change so much. You spend the majority of your life trying to keep current and manage change. As a speaker, I have to maintain a degree of expert status, which means I have to read two to three hours a day and I’m generally up around the clock. The fact is that business takes the majority of my time. The fact that we have brand is a result of 18 years of work.

Personal life, of course, is secondary to work life — that’s the plague CEOs have. If you want to succeed, it’s your responsibility to lead, and that takes time.

What was your first job? 

My first job out of college was at the Central National Bank in Chicago as a programmer in 1972. I made $800/month — the equivalent of $2,367 in today’s world.

What advice would you give recent college grads or anyone wanting to start their own Internet marketing business?

I would suggest that a recent college grad not start their own business. A college grad has to come in, have a job, hold it for two years and be prepared to be knocked around. You have a whole lot of real world learning to do and you cannot feel entitled, which is a problem people have.

As for starting your own business, keep it small, keep it simple, service first, be an expert, satisfy the client, understand you work for them — they don’t work for you. Don’t lie. Be honest.

You’ve been a CEO for more than 18 years. What’s the best executive decision you’ve made in that time? What’s the best decision in the last two years?

Overall, it was the firm decision to unconditionally not violate any of Google’s terms from the inception of Bruce Clay, Inc. A lot of people took short cuts and they’ve been hit with penalties. We’ve never had anyone hit with a penalty.

In the last couple of years, I’ve been focusing on hiring good people. It’s really easy for a CEO to hire cheap to save money, but you have to understand that cheap is not cheapest.

They say the more you fail, the more you can learn. Tell us about a time you learned a valuable lesson as CEO of Bruce Clay, Inc.

When we started we were pretty heavy into engineering and programming. And we found that technical people have a tendency to provide terrible service and we had to morph our approach to be more service-centric. That was a significant lesson.

You are a believer in continuing SEO education. Why is it important to stay current on top of SEO trends?

When technical change is so rapid, you either are really behind or you’re really on top. There’s no middle ground. Plus, if you fall behind, it’s really hard to catch up.

What advice would you give to CEOs about what they need to know about SEO in today’s marketing world?

Do it, and do it right. Quality rules.

Can you walk us through a day in the life of Bruce Clay?

A typical weekday entails monitoring projects and key accounts, planning for conferences, supporting our international offices, launching new products, and, above all, being a leader. Another major part of day-to-day work is coping with the chaos that results from constant changes in the Google landscape. On the weekend, I’m still working, but I don’t have meetings, phone calls or commitments to clients. I use the weekends to think outside of the box and plan future projects. My staff knows to expect a full inbox on Monday morning.

What’s your favorite thing about Google?

They built the industry and maintain SEO importance via frequent changes.

What is your least favorite thing about Google?

They still allow spammers to dominate and do not enforce their own terms of service.

What’s your favorite city?

Sydney, Australia. Sydney is very much like San Francisco — there are friendly audiences, pleasant climate and easygoing people. You can go to Sydney and feel more at home than in any other city.

What social network is the best for our readers to connect and follow you?

Google+. Circle Bruce Clay, Inc. for important SEO news and updates, plus exclusive content and conversations.

Got a question for Bruce Clay about his extensive history as an SEO and CEO? Share it in the comments!

April 2nd 2014 SEO

Your Web Site Spring Cleaning Chore List

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Spring is here or winter is coming, depending on where you live, and what better time to dust the cobwebs from your website?

I bet you think your site is perfect, right?

Or, you are never satisfied.  You know you need to do “something else” but what might that be?


Finding Opportunities for Fresh Conversions

My teenage years were spent living in a 200 year old farmhouse in the country that was once heated only with potbellied stoves and was close to the massive barn that consisted of horses, hay, straw, and various pet rabbits, chicken who laid giant eggs and a constant army of cats.  Springtime was when my mother said those dreaded words – “It’s time to spring clean the house!”  Which meant the barn too.

Do you have any idea how many cobwebs there can be in a barn?

Pruning branchesThis event was when the refrigerator was moved so that behind it, all sorts of mysterious, long forgotten items were found.  In the end, after all the whining and hating my parents for liking a clean house (my sister and I never once complained about mucking stalls), the result always led to finding lost stuff, getting ideas for trying different solutions to issues and the satisfaction of knowing that while nobody else can see behind the kitchen appliances or underneath the bathroom sink, you know it is cleaned up and not choked up with gunk.

These same opportunities can be found when you spring clean your website.


Here is your Web Site Spring Clearning Chore List

  • Clean up your code – This is the part that reminds me of scrubbing the floors with toothbrushes but it pays off because when your html, PHP, CSS and JavaScript code is organized well, and cleaned up for a faster scan by browsers and search engines, your pages load faster and the content gems contained within shine brighter.
  • Alt attributes behind images – While you are in there, you may as well as make it worthwhile.  Every image should contain an alt attribute that describes the image.  Don’t forget to place your company or website name alt attribute behind your logo.   Avoid stuffing keywords into alt attributes.  That practice ended in 1997, or should have.
  • Update title and Meta description – While for SEO this is part of the regular routine, some of you may not have touched these two important sections in a long time.  Add a value proposition in your Meta description if you provide sales or services.  Insert a trigger word such as “Free”, “Award winning”, “Famous” into the title tag.  The aim is to stand out in the crowd in search engine results pages.
  • Check images sizes – Switch images to .png to make them load faster.  Add dimensions to the image code too.
  • Check color contrasts – Use this free color contrast tool.  Poor color contrasts in your text make it difficult to see and read your web pages.
  • Pretend you know nothing.  It is easy to overlook the obvious, so pretend you have never seen your website before and have no idea who you are. Can you figure out where you put stuff with ease?
  • Shine up your calls to action. Try changing colors for your buttons.  Avoid Red, unless for some reason you want to increase the heart rate of your site visitors.  (Studies show our heart rates increase at the color red.)  Play with green for “go” and blue for “take off your shoes and stay awhile”.  Color treatment is like choosing new curtains.  They communicate a look and feel and provide a sense of atmosphere on your site.
  • Spoof up your link labels.  Navigation links are the life line to your website.  Without links, people would have no idea where to go and SEO’s would have nothing to play with. (Sarcasm.) Add action words to top level navigation to tasks, such as “Explore Resources”, “Learn About Us”, and “Browse Services”.  For SEO, add keywords along with those verbs.  For example, “Learn about [my company name]”, “Browse Custom Furniture”, “Explore Marketing Resources”.
  • Pull out the tools from your closet and use them. Run your site through tools for mobile device emulation.  Check for broken links, keyword density, header checks and much more. There are many free tools provided here.
  • Place fresh flowers. Wait, huh?  Add new images here and there.  Place a demonstration video into a page. Review content to be sure it is not too long and rambling and if so, shorten it and chunk it up with smaller paragraphs for easier scanning. Move the furniture around to provide easier user tasks and increase conversions by removing distractions.

When you are finished mopping the floors of your web site, you will more than likely discover that traffic increases, bounce rates decrease and conversions lift. While it is all cleaned up and sparkling, why not implement a new internet marketing strategy and show it off?


Images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The post Your Web Site Spring Cleaning Chore List appeared first on Internet Marketing Ninjas Blog.

April 2nd 2014 SEO, Tools

30 Smart Online Marketing Tips From SMX West

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30 Smart Online Marketing Tips From SMX West was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

It’s hard to adequately describe the balance between awesomeness and intensity that happens at a multi-day search conference like SMX.

SMX lightbulb-3-CropWith 100-plus speakers presenting about SEO, SMM, and SEM in 60-plus sessions, keynotes and clinics, the amount of insight and tactical information you can take away from an event like SMX — that’s the awesome part. Now, imagine having to choose only 15 out of the 60 sessions to participate in. And imagine having to absorb all the goodness that 15-plus hours of training has to offer.

That’s where the intensity factor comes in.

There’s a lot going on at conferences and it’s simply not possible for one person to catch it all.

For that reason we’ve decided to share with you our 30 greatest takeaways from the 21 sessions we were able to attend at SMX West this year.

And, since there were 30-plus sessions we physically were not able to attend (life is all about decisions, right?), we’re asking for your help! We’d love to add what you learned from SMX West this year to our list of takeaways.

What Was Your Biggest SMX West Takeaway This Year?

We know you have a legal page (or more likely a Drive or Evernote account) full of session notes. What were your biggest SMX West takeaways this year? What’s on your post-conference to do list? What’s the once sentence you heard in a session that shifted your mindset and changed the way you think about online marketing?

SMX is truly a community event and we don’t think there’s any reason why the sharing that happens between sessions and in elevators has to stop just because the conference is over.

Below is our list of 30 actionable SMX West takeaways.

What can you add to the list? Share yours in the comments section below!

30 Online Marketing Tips from 21 SMX West Sessions

1) The key to mobile Big Data: Collect as much data as you can; get permission; monetize it; and then decide how to merge it, mine it, share it, or sell it. (http://bit.ly/1queSUs)

2) Stop griping about content marketing and how much you hate having to become a “media company.” Media first is not a chore! It’s an opportunity to do above and beyond what you ever thought you could accomplish. (http://bit.ly/1gj7WoS)

3) If you’re ever arguing about whether a link is a good link, the conversation is already over. It’s not a good link. If it’s a good link there shouldn’t be any questions. (http://bit.ly/1pgszTL)

Link Building-SMX-Eric-Enge

4) If your content matters your audience has to matter even more. If you’re building content, you have to also be building audience. Content marketing is inclusive of audience development. (http://bit.ly/1oKveot)

5) The problem is that our C-Suite stakeholders don’t think of audience as an asset. They still think of marketing as a cost center. We need to make our stakeholders understand that marketing is an asset hub. It’s all about the rise of audience development and a consistency of thought, purpose and action. (http://bit.ly/1oKveot)

6) Twitter is about human communication. Any brand that has an audience they want to connect with can excel on Twitter. It’s all about finding the community, using the tools they’re using, and engaging your community with content that adds value. (http://bit.ly/1lTWTWT)

7) Twitter community coordinators, sales people, and brand managers need to be asking themselves: Can I help five people out per day? Can I join three (or however many) TwitterChats per week? Can I host a meet-up? The trick is to always be thinking of opportunities to engage and participate, and to set goals that help you make that ambition reality. (http://bit.ly/1lTWTWT)

8) Presenting big data to a stakeholder? Make sure you practice your presentation on a nontechnical volunteer to make sure your presentation is easily understood and stakeholder-ready. Seriously. Another approach is to pretend that you’re giving your presentation to your mother, or your neighbor; will they understand what you’re saying? (http://bit.ly/1g6OxTu)

9) The difference between a good analyst and great analysts – getting buy-in to continue analysis! (In other words, communicating with clarity in a way that motivates and conveys impact to stakeholders.) (http://bit.ly/1g6OxTu)

10) Don’t get a case of Audience Assumption Disorder where you put 99% of your effort into creating amazing content and apps and then only 1% into nurturing an audience that will want to see your content. (http://bit.ly/1oKveot)

Get Buy In - SMX-Natalie Kortum-2

11) Spend time focusing on proprietary audience development. This means you are not only building an audience, but you are building a proprietary audience that you and you alone can reach. Remember your audience is an asset with predictable downstream value! Don’t forget to invest in that asset as needed. (http://bit.ly/1oKveot)

12) Consider your paid search person (in-house or contract) as a partner; a fellow brand strategist. They need to have a clear picture of the brand’s social, UX and big-picture businesses goals. If you are a paid search person remember you need this information; part a search optimizer’s job is to aggressively find out what success looks like for the business they’re optimizing for. (http://bit.ly/1pgh12B)

13) When clients are seeking out a paid search person they don’t just expect to work with someone who knows keywords and quality score, they want to work with a brand advocate. Someone who can offer perspective, unbiased advice and the ability to explain why things are important. (http://bit.ly/1pgh12B)

14) Wondering how much content you should be creating? According to Rae Hoffman (CEO, PushFire; @sugarrae), there is no cut and dry answer. In 2014 it’s just not as simple as “create four posts a day.” So what do you do? Don’t publish crap just because the calendar says to, publish only when you actually have something to say, and don’t create any content that is mediocre. However much content you can create under those guidelines is enough content. (http://bit.ly/1pgk3nL)

15) Considering working with a new client, or negotiating a contract? Remember these two things: 1) In 2014, your job is more about audience development and business management than “SEO” as we once understood it, and 2) Don’t ever take money if you don’t think you can provide someone with the ROI they deserve. (http://bit.ly/1pgk3nL)

16) Don’t forget to always be looking for exposure opportunities off domain. For instance, Intel looks at the SERP and thinks After someone performs this search, where are they likely to land? If it’s the Best Buy website (because Best Buy is high up in the SERP for a specific keyword phrase), they consider whether it’s smart for them to put an Intel asset (like an ad) on that page to get in front of the consumer after the SERP click. Remember marketing is largely about exposure and the means you can utilize to gain it. (http://bit.ly/1pgk3nL)

17) Keep your URL structure clean. Start down the right mental path; sit down with engineering and make sure everyone who has hands on the site structure understands the whys behind site structure and URL requirements. (http://bit.ly/1pgoj6x)

18) Remember that rel=canonical is not your savior and that it should really only be used 5 or 10 times across your site. (http://bit.ly/1pgoj6x)

use canonical tag sparingly-smx

19) Duane Forrester’s priorities for search marketing in 2014: (http://bit.ly/1pgoj6x)
1. Content
2. Usability and user experience
3. Social media (driver of conversation and customer satisfaction)
4. Links (for traffic, not for rankings boost)
5. Basic SEO on-page best practices

20) For your brand and competitors you don’t need to know keyword referral data to succeed. What you really need to know is your unpersonalized rank; your competitors trending unpersonalized rank; how to calculate CTR potential based on rank; and how to calculate SEO competitive traffic share. (http://bit.ly/1pgrawh)

21) If consumers have a negative Google Maps experience they’ll connect that negative association with your brand. It’s important to make sure your brand’s local data is right on maps and mobile. (http://bit.ly/1pgrpr8)

22) Being small doesn’t mean you are unable to succeed with big business competition. If you are marketing a small business, you need to think of your small business as a smaller business that can 100% compete with bigger companies. (http://bit.ly/1pgrLOH)

smaller can compete-smx

23) It’s essential to break down the barriers between your QA, UX, HR, Engineering, PR, Customer Service and Marketing departments. When everyone works together with targets in mind the improvement can be staggering. (http://bit.ly/1pgszTL)

24) Once you’ve broken down your internal department barriers, make sure, as an SEO, you are over-communicating at every step. Offer guidance; instead of just saying “make the title this,” explain why the title should be that. Every SEO question should be followed with an explanation. (http://bit.ly/1pgszTL)

25) It’s important that your brand is building a genuine, earned reputation that is based on realized value proposition. If you are trying to build your reputation by any non-organic means, this is faux reputation and it will only end up hurting you. (http://bit.ly/1pgszTL)

26) Be sure to make calculated optimization changes and then always be prepared to talk about those changes (with stakeholders and CEOs) in the light of unforeseen traffic drops. Ranking fluctuation is natural but you never want to be caught without a proactive response when a CEO asks you about a sudden SERP plummet. (http://bit.ly/1pgszTL)

make calculated changes - smx

27) Don’t just focus on engagement with influencers! Make it a priority to give back to the larger community and to interact with the people in it based on the value they bring to the conversations, not the value they can bring to your résumé. Make yourself be seen as open and available (and actually be open and available). (http://bit.ly/1pgszTL)

28) If you are marketing an app make sure your app has a dedicated landing page on your website. Most apps don’t have dedicated landing pages and, according to research performed by Justin Briggs of Getty Images, this small change can result in a significant increase in app revenue year-over-year. (http://bit.ly/1jhXKfv)

29) According to Google SVP in charge of search ranking Amit Singhal, social signals from external networks like Facebook and Twitter are still not being used as ranking factors because they are considered “unreliable.” That said, signals from Google+ are different – and trust signals from G+ are considered – because the data available from Google+ is reliable. (Google owns it; of course it’s a reliable source of information from Google to Google.) As such, searchers won’t see Facebook or Twitter affecting SERP rank, but they may see a great impact based on Google+ social signals when they’re searching logged in. (http://bit.ly/1pgwGiw)

30) Pro tips for writing promoted tweets: Start organically; avoid optimizing direct response tweets with hashtags, mentions or images; include a call to action and a relevant, compelling offer. (http://bit.ly/1pgyEQ4)

 

Your Turn

What were your biggest SMX West takeaways this year? Add to our takeaways list below in the comments section below!

Your-SMX-West-takeaway

March 25th 2014 SEO

#Pubcon Liveblog: SEO Moshpit — Q&A with the SEO “Old School”

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#Pubcon Liveblog: SEO Moshpit — Q&A with the SEO “Old School” was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

What follows may be one of the most interesting conversations that took place on SEO in New Orleans this week.

This assembly of online marketers has 150 combined years of experience in SEO, Brett Tabke, head of Pubcon, estimates.

20140320-120959.jpg

Question 1 (Brett Tabke): Google has been taking proactive steps against SEO the last year; not provided means referrals are dead and we don’t know where traffic is coming from anymore. How are you coping with what are the most dramatic changes to SEO in the last 10 years.

Bill: What Google did by requiring a higher standard of content is on-shore a lot of jobs back to North America. You need to have someone writing, optimizing and promoting content that is part of the culture. This has dramatically increased the cost of content and SEO and made content marketing much more integrated into SEO.

Bruce: Everyone has had to figure out that we’re in the traffic business and not ranking or attribution. It’s not clear if Google is going to continue to provide keywords for PPC. There’s agreement we’re going to be doing more content work.

Tony: The biggest thing about this industry is most of us are mavericks and we work in this industry because we didn’t fit in other industries, and so we adapt. What we’re seeing in the industry is a shakeout and some are getting left behind. Tony says this has been good for him because he comes from a PR background. He hires writers; people who are good at making something someone wants to read. He says it’s more about the message than the method anymore.

Rob: Google can keep doing what they’re doing because it only gets the bad players out who can’t fake it and that helps the industry. SEO may come to live under different names like digital asset optimization. He’s going back to what you can control, like how you’re pages are laid out from a linguistic content perspective and if you lay out your structure so that you can see sales tied to traffic from the organic channel you know what topics and keywords are important to your business.

Stoney: Our job is getting attention and Google is an avenue but they don’t dictate how we get that attention. They can penalize guest blog sites but they can’t penalize guest blogging. Besides, quality of content and what we’re doing with content and how we promote ourselves is always what we should be focusing on.

Greg: If what happened with Google is about quality control, then those sites wouldn’t have any impact on the algo. But instead they had an infiltrated spy job. The lesson of the MyBlogGuest penalty is that you can’t pull together groups of people, you have to be out on your own. SEOs have always been the cockroaches of the Internet and we adapt and survive. Deep content strategy and content performance analysis has long been the most important thing for good SEOs.

Joe: I don’t like the terror marketing that this is causing. Marketing companies are spreading misinformation that’s able to gain traction because of the fear.

 

Question 2 (from Brett): One of the themes of the conference has been, now that keyword referral data is gone, rankings are again in vogue. Have you found that?

Greg: I don’t think rankings ever went out of vogue. It’s not an either-or thing. You can’t say that because I care about rankings I don’t care about conversions. You have to have an idea of how your content is being displayed. You need an idea at the page-level analysis because then you can narrow it down based on phrase popularity and where they’re ranking what it is that is attracting viewers to that content.

Bill: I don’t think we can get away from rankings completely. Rankings are one of the few things we can provide when the client has analytics set up incorrectly. And rankings reflect how branding is affecting things. If you’re not visible on branding and visibility keywords, we’re not building a brand. We have to talk about concepts like brand, not just direct response and sales.

Tony: I care about control of voice. I want mentions on my SERP. There is a mini branding effect on a SERP. If a user is querying multiple keywords and they keep seeing your name, you create a perception of prominence in that field. You’ve just become the leader in their perception. There’s client perception and agency perception. A client thinks ranking is ego more than conversion — they have to be number one because they feel they’re the best. At an agency we recognize rankings more as an indicator because rankings are relative. And from a deliverables standpoint, rankings show that you actually did something.

Bruce: Ranking is important to anybody with a reputation management problem. When we look at ranking we back up to a paid API from Google — it’s raw data from the index without any personalization. What it allows me to do is make a change to the page and let me see if it makes a difference. This is the only way to make a difference in an apples-to-apples way.

Stoney: He tells his clients if your business grows without getting a single top ranking then we’ve done our job. A good example of where rankings don’t matter so much is a client that they got a top ranking for and the client was happy. After an architecture change they lost the pet keyword but they got a lot more pages on the site ranking and created a big lift in sales overall.

 

Question 3 (from audience): Do you see a trend or a social coups of websites blocking Google from crawling as a response to Google scraping and cutting sites out of the equation?

Greg: Google is cannibalizing industry after industry and Knowledge Graph is a click black hole and making it even worse. That’s why he focuses on audience building and creating direct connections to your clients. You need people to direct navigate to you, RSS subscribes, newsletter signups or capturing email so you can market to them later.

Rob: Will more sites start blocking their content? Most businesses have an economic dependency on organic traffic, from 5-50% of revenue. So while they won’t cut the cord, there’s huge pent up frustration.

Tony: He has no faith in the general public changing their behavior of not going to Google. The only thing that might work is government intervention a la Ma Bell split into Baby Bells. The DOJ is already looking at it.

Rob: When we start to regulate Google to not crawl the open Internet, that’s a huge problem as a matter of policy. He thinks net neutrality and open Internet is a big issue right now.

Greg: We held Google to the goal of connecting us to the world’s info. But Google baited and switched and now they want to own the world’s info. We have to hold Google to not delivering all their own products. The only third-party aggregate that Google wants in the world is Google.

Bruce: Are we in any position to legislate that Google will remain a hub and not an authority? Google doesn’t make money from organic, even though they have to have it, but the less they can get away with they will.

Bill: If Google becomes the trusted brand. Remember you’re not Google’s customer, you’re Google’s dairy cow. What’s the least we have to give you so you keep coming back, Google treats advertisers. If you don’t conform to their terms, that’s a long term danger for any content publisher out there. Google learned from Microsoft and they own more politicians than anyone but maybe Oracle.

Stoney: Google has done such a masterful job of making us dependent on them. He loves Gmail and Google Docs, and we don’t want Google to be the monopoly but it’s too convenient and we love it. When do we say that’s enough, I’m getting off the drug?

Brett: Almost 85% of the traffic to Microsoft is from Google. For the most part his business ignores Google and focuses on social.

Bill: Publishers are putting a lot of content behind paywalls and it may be working so maybe it’s time to say do not index our deep content and allow indexing of just our top pages.

 

Question 4 (from Brett): Where is SEO going in the near future, the next 12 months? Do we keep feeding into Google, with more products like Google+?

Bruce: For background, understand that Google has stated that KG is just another tool in the Swiss Army Knife that makes their experience more useful. So understand that as we at the same time, as marketers, feel it from a different perspective as a loss of traffic and visibility.

Bill: Google believes that. They can say, look what we do for you with 85% of the traffic. Imagine what we can do with 99%! Now for ecommerce, keep in mind that Google is cuddly next to Amazon.

Tony: Back to “where are we going?” he has faith that if he builds great content they will come. He hates digital sharecropping, which is essentially building on Google’s land. He works to build value on his own property or no one will visit.

Greg: The next step is leveraging what other people are doing, and apps are a great place. He finds more of the searching he does personally is on apps and vehicles pushed straight to his phone.

Joe: Why is Google penalizing guest blogging so aggressively? That’s a sign that social search is where they want to make progress over the next 12 months.

Bruce: There’s going to be a period of time that sites that answer the how question will be doing well, as it avoids dependence on the delivery of simple facts that Google has subverted with Knowledge Graph.

 

Brett changes the topic to MyBlogGuest.

Brett: Yesterday’s announcement that Google penalized the guest blog network run by well-known SEO writer Ann Smarty sent major waves through the community. It was first hinted at by Matt Cutts at SMX West last week.

Greg: If they had never mentioned the word “links” in the promotion of it, they would have been safe from Google. And it’s sad you can’t be honest about that benefit. He also points out that there are much lower quality guest blog networks and that for what it did, Ann’s network did it best.

Rob: Guest blogging and posting being an illicit tactic is ridiculous. Is Woody Allen’s guest editorial on the New York Times spam? Of course not. And there’s a lot of meaningful discourse that occurs from guest contributions. When you are public shaming to a small audience, most of the world doesn’t see this, it’s clear it’s a ridiculous tactic that’s trying to overcompensate for a weakness in the algortithm. He’s seen the quality of search results going down in the last year. Now that content marketing has become in vogue with marketers and as the web expands he thinks Google is finding it harder to sort through the quality. They’re needing to scale to the quantity of content that’s coming out.

Tony: Yesterday’s actions are more disturbing than any penalties he’s seen because there’s value in guest blogging. It comes back to economic value and businesses afraid of getting on Google’s bad side can be hesitant to participate in a very legitimate marketing practice.

Bill: They’ve slammed sites that are entirely guest sites so your site having mixed in a little bit of guests with a broader stew, you’re probably still okay.

Bruce: There’s a common theme. When Google started penalizing links it was looking for sites to commit to a theme. And he suspects that the guest blogging that’s penalized are examples of writers that are not focused in their content topics. We’re seeing networks penalized when there’s no topical focus.

Greg: You see this in the disappearance of Authorship photos as well. The topical focus of a site, of your body of work as an author, those are going to be considered in author authority and whether or not Authorship is displayed in a SERP.

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March 21st 2014 SEO

#Pubcon Liveblog: SEO Beyond the Filter Bubble

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#Pubcon Liveblog: SEO Beyond the Filter Bubble was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

Strategic Considerations for Getting Past Google’s Personalized Results

Chris Boggs @boggles, Internet Marketing Ninjas

What Is the Filter Bubble? The filter bubble is users getting less exposure to conflicting view points to where they become isolated intellectually in their own information bubble. Eli Pariser an Internet activist defined it this way. Some people feel the filter bubble is negative because of potential manipulation of the kind of info a user may see. We can’t know what we’re missing because of the filter bubble. But we’re agreeing to that when we use Google who is in their own mind returning the best set of results to us.

Disclaimer: Content is still king. Google isn’t always going to get it right or have the inventory to deliver a result the user wants.

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There are some areas we can reinvent how we’re looking at SEO that optimizes for the filter bubble.

1. Brand Search Implications

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Notice that there are phone numbers and sitelinks on the SERP when Chris is signed in because Google knows he’s been interacting with the brand lately.

Consideration 1: Sitelinks — Sitelinks are influenced slightly by past behavior, but for many brand searches tested, the 6-8 remain the same except for positioning
(I missed consideration 2)
Consideration 3: Longer tail brand search differences. For most longer tail brand searches, little to no difference was observed
Consideration 4: Visit history: He visits Yahoo Fantasy Sports daily and personalized return differs dramatically from non-filtered
Consideration 5 and beyond: Bing and Facebook and the rest

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Summary of considerations for brand searches:

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2. Non-Brand Searches

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He feels there’s more personalization happening for non-brand searches. We also see a shift in ads for a logged in user vs. non-logged in (perhaps a different Quality Score calculated for a logged-in user).

Consideration 1: Universal SERP layout can be dramatically different (position of Shopping results, inline Sitelinks, compressed Amazon listing).
Consideration 2: For many long-tail terms, what you see is what you get.
Consideration 2a: Conversely, for high volume head terms there is greater volatility in results
Consideration 3: Informational vs. Transactional search results tend to trend from informational to transactional as the searcher behavior/personalization comes into play, that is later in a search series

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3. Local

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On the left the search is done in San Francisco and on the right the search is done in New Orleans.

Consideration 1: how many blue link search result spots are available or is it filled with a local 7 pack or brand pack
Consideration 2: is there a dominant site for local terms?
Consideration 3: Sometimes a site will dominate for [brand + keyword] terms and may be better if not investing heavily
Consideration 4: Is your local listing accurate? This can be problematic for some
Consideration 5: Optimize for non-brand. Make sure your brand is associated with what you sell and Google will do the rest

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Takeaways for Avoiding the Personalization Filter:

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How to Get Past Google’s Personalization Layer … Into It’s Core Scoring Algorithms

Aaron Kronis @KRONis, SEO Engine

In the last year we’ve lost a lot of the keyword-driven data we used to get from Google. He quotes Pariser again and his points that you don’t know what you’re being filtered on. Google’s black box has been growing. Edward Snowden was praising Google for turning on SSL for all searches. But that same change took data away from us.

Spam filters: 1999-2004
Local filters: 2004-2011
Social Filters
Personalization: 2011-2013

How do we take back control? We need to take a closer look into what makes up the black box. Look at the inbound link flow coming off your home page.

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Instead of looking at the query layer, look at the scoring layer. As the query layer grows so doe noise and confusion.

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How do I get to the scoring layer? You need a functional modern search engine to open up its algos, i.e., you need a Google simulator (without all the personalization/query layer). Ask him about the Google simulator he’s built and using and seeing 50% higher ROI on SEO.

March 20th 2014 Google, SEO

#Pubcon Liveblog: Google+ and Authorship Hot Topics and Trends

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#Pubcon Liveblog: Google+ and Authorship Hot Topics and Trends was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

Common Characteristics of Full Authorship Results in SERPs

Mark Traphagen @marktraphagen, Stone Temple Consulting

In the second week of December there were an increasing number of reports that author photos weren’t showing up as often in SERPs. At Pubcon Las Vegas last year Matt Cutts said that when they reduced the number of authorship results shown in SERPs by 15% they saw better results. Take that to mean whatever Google speak you think it means. Here’s the initial drop followed by continued periods of volatility.

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The first time might have been that Google found they cut a little too deeply which is pretty typical.

Another major change you saw happen at that time is more second-class authorship results — just a byline and not the author photo.

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Mark attempted to identify commonalities of what happened when authors got more, fewer or the same amount of full authorship results.

The classifications of his findings:

  • No Change
  • Mixed by Site: for some sites the author sees full authorship and others see no byline or second-class authorship
  • Mixed by Content: Some content on a site shows a full authorship result and others only see a byline
  • Mixed by Authors: One site shows full authorship for some authors and reduced authorship for other authors
  • Author Loss Across All Sites: The author saw reduced authorship results across all the sites they contribute to
  • Reduction by Query: There was an algorithmic change that adjusted which queries deserve authorship results.

Messages from the Kidnappers
An anonymous Google source told Jenn Slegg who reported on Search Engine Watch: “estimating quality of an author’s documents,” “the documents an author typically writes”

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Authorship is a qualifier in the case of in-depth articles — a threshold you have to cross to get into a Google feature.

So now the patterns he identified in his analysis. Keep in mind there are exceptions to each.

Authors that kept their full authorship results had these qualities.

Factor 1: Author Reputation

  • Reputation for quality content
  • History of publishing such content
  • Consistent earning of social shares

Factor 2: Site Quality and Reputation

  • High domain authority
  • Long history
  • Never been penalized
  • Frequently publish quality content

If a site had authorship site-wide or was including authorship on content that isn’t considered “authored,” the authorship was dropped.

Recovering the Kidnap Victims

  • Publish on high-quality, trusted sites
  • Quality over quantity (but stay fresh)
  • Connect rel=author only to real content

Google Authorship: Search Snippets

Ann Smarty @seosmarty, Internet Marketing Ninjas
is doing an overview with some looking at the future.

The obvious advantage: Authorship photos attract more clicks.

The history: Authorship snippets started to appear in June 2011. That same month, Google+ was introduced and Google profiles redirected to Google+. Google+ became the center of the Authorship program. In October 2011 the author photo moved to the left and counts were added. In 2012 there was some simplification and “more by” the same author was added. In April 2013 “more by” is removed.

Today you don’t always see the number of circles an author is in. You’ll also see that if the same author has 2 results, the second result won’t have a photo.

Authorship + Rich Markup
Authorship is combined with other rich snippets as well. You may see a video thumbnail on a listing where the author’s name is included. You may not see an author photo if reviews rich snippets are on the result.

Authorship Outside Web Search
Google News is the first place Authorship results were displayed.
Google Images has also added Authorship but it associates it with the article that includes the image (not popular with photographers).

In the Future

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  • Help identify a spammer
  • In the future we might expect Author Rank too

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Authorship, Rank, Identity and What’s Next

Kristine Schachinger @schachin, SitesWithoutWalls.com

Where did Authorship come from? Do you think of it as an SEO tag? Or a way Google ranks things? She suggests it’s actually about establishing identity.

People usually talk about the Agent Rank patent when talking about Google Authorship. This simple patent speaks to credibility, potential ranking system and digital signature.

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Eric Schmidt has revealed that Google+ is not a social network but an identity network. It’s about identifying people, authors online. The White House announced a National ID System in 2011.

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ID providers remove the need for passwords. What does this have to do with SEO?

Authorship is one of the first identity tags implemented online. It’s about knowing who you are, who you’ve published with, who you write for, your actual identity. Schmidt said that verified profiles will be ranked and the cost of anonymity may be irrelevance.

Patent: Authentication of a Contributor of Online Content. You see “credibility factors” and “authentication score” detailed and this is a patent at play for Authorship that is less frequently referenced publicly.

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What’s next? Google is looking for topic experts, authors that are experts in a topic. The goals are to get rid of spam and provide more relevant info. They do this by knowing who you are, by having authenticated authors, by verifying who you are through identity factors, to authenticate your author profile online and by asserting your author/post credibility.

March 20th 2014 Google, SEO