Bruce Clay, Inc. Sponsors Best SEO Campaign Category at US Search Awards at Pubcon

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Bruce Clay, Inc. Sponsors Best SEO Campaign Category at US Search Awards at Pubcon was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

“And the award for 2014 Best SEO Campaign in the nation goes to …”

Bruce Clay, Inc. will proudly sponsor the Best SEO Campaign category at the 2014 US Search Awards on Oct. 8, 2014 during Pubcon Las Vegas at the Treasure Island Hotel.

Noted as the biggest celebration of search, PPC and digital marketing in America, the second annual US Search Awards honors and celebrates the innovative accomplishments of the most talented agencies and professionals across North America in 20 award categories acknowledging the best in SEO, PPC and digital marketing.

bruce clay at us search awards 2013

Bruce Clay presented an award at the inaugural US Search Awards in 2013.

Bruce Clay Joins to Support SEO Standards of Excellence

After attending the inaugural US Search Awards last year, and presenting an award, Bruce wanted a larger role in the affair. “We believe it’s important to give credit where credit is due and to support forward thinking innovations in search marketing,” he told me. “We’re proud to align ourselves with other industry professionals who maintain as high of a standard of quality as we hold ourselves accountable to.”

Awards will be given for the best use of search in retail, finance, travel, and social enterprise as well as for the best campaigns in local and mobile search, integrated marketing, and paid search.

Pubcon Las Vegas Hosts Search Marketing Limelight

With so many of the industry’s leading experts in search and digital marketing gathered together in one place at the same time, Pubcon Las Vegas points the limelight to the many accomplishments and achievements of individuals and organizations. Pubcon Las Vegas and Marketing Signals are headline sponsors in addition to the award sponsors SEMPO, Distilled, Survey Monkey, Linkdex, and of course, Bruce Clay, Inc.

September 17th 2014 SEO

SMX East 2014 Speaker Series: What a Winning SEO Agency Looks Like According to Rhea Drysdale

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SMX East 2014 Speaker Series: What a Winning SEO Agency Looks Like According to Rhea Drysdale was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

When Rhea Drysdale, the CEO and co-founder of Outspoken Media, takes the SMX East stage on Oct. 2, I have a feeling it’s going to be a packed house. The award-winning New Yorker has a keen understanding of SEO, online reputation management and social media — all of which she’s going to share in “Long-Term SEO: How to Win for Years, Not Days,” alongside Internet marketing VIPs from Trulia, Intel and Ogilvy & Mather.

rhea-drysdale-headshotToday, the SMX East 2014 Speaker Series continues as Drysdale shares her insights on building an SEO team and agency that thrives, staying ahead of the ever-shifting SEO target, what the wins and risks of SEO look like and much more. DISCLAIMER: FURTHER READING MIGHT RESULT IN INCREASED MOTIVATION. CONTINUE AT YOUR OWN RISK.


BCI: Your baby turns one and your business turns six and you recently won top 40 under 40. You are a mom-preneur and SEO aficionado, and you have caught a wave or two in your life. What are some lessons you have learned?

RD: Starting a business and growing one are two very different beasts. Some entrepreneurs live for ideas and don’t stick around for growth. Others like the challenge of having to build complex systems and procedures to scale.

Since founding Outspoken Media, I’ve learned that I’m a strategist — I live to solve problems, but I don’t possess much patience for details. Owning and operating an agency gives me the best of both worlds because I get to problem solve SEO and reputation management solutions daily without having to personally manage a sometimes tedious in-house implementation process. I’m happy to build a process, but once it’s built, don’t ask me to live in it, I’m onto the next challenge.

Thankfully, we have a team of incredible marketers at Outspoken Media who do much better with process and they leave me to the mad scientist work.

SEO is also an industry that changes often enough that I’m constantly pushing the limits of my capabilities. I thrive in an environment where I’m forced to innovate daily, communicate constantly, and build creative solutions to challenging business problems. Accepting these truths and learning to work productively in them has been key to surviving a lonely CEO road.

I’ve also learned we do so much more than SEO. This was difficult to grasp after spending years performing tactical SEO services. I recently hired one of my mentors, Al Bellenchia, who joined the team with decades of reputation and crisis communications experience. While sitting in on client presentations he was floored by the value, strategy, and management we give to our clients. We weren’t just providing SEO services, we were strategically improving their business by shaping brands and growth strategies.

I’m proud that we’ve unlocked a new area in SEO that only a few other agencies and consultants have achieved — trusted business advisers. Now we have to communicate that message — fortunately, we’re marketers!

rheaOn the subject of babies… there is nothing to compare the experience to. Nothing. I wrote one post (what to put on your baby registry) if any readers are expecting. Maybe I’ll post again. Maybe.

On the subject of waves… to be fair, I’ve literally only caught two waves. For years my world was entrenched in the northeast Florida surf community though and I was the chairman of our local Surfrider Foundation chapter, an international non-profit whose mission is to protect and enjoy our oceans.

What is your secret to success as a woman business owner in a male-dominated industry?

Getting pissed off.

I’m Scots-Irish and a redhead, so I was born angry. I let that fuel a lot of my decisions and persistence. I’ve had a lot of really horrible situations as a woman, but if I was a man those might have happened anyways. Whatever the reason, when I feel like something is unfair, unjust, or just immoral, I push hard to make something better. I push to be louder than the noise. Louder than the sexist remarks. Louder than bigotry. Louder than someone’s preconceived notions or bias.

It helps that I was raised not to take crap from anyone. My brother was ten years older than me and I quickly learned how to get the better of him in a fight. My father put me in karate class with adults. He also taught me how to do dishes by the time I was three and said I’d always have a job if I knew how to scrub a pot. It didn’t matter that I was a woman or that my grandmother put me in etiquette classes or that I only wore pink for a year — I was always the kind of kid who walked up to a group, sat down, and took charge.

I didn’t see gender as a hurdle until I was old enough to recognize or be affected by sexism in the workplace (or sexual advances), and I used that anger to fuel me further. I didn’t pursue legal actions, I just accepted that the world has a lot of jerks and I’m not going to be one of them. I surround myself with incredible people I trust and we get to work.

Thoughts on building today’s SEO team … what does it look like?

Teams in general require a special balance of attributes and skills wrapped in a culture burrito, so put anything I say into that context. The future of SEO demands that we evolve as marketers — that we better understand users, their experience, their technology, their needs, how they communicate, their expectations, their behaviors, etc. All of this looks like a combination of well-rounded marketers and specialists.

At Outspoken Media specifically, our needs change with the industry, our vision, and the demands of our clients. Today, we’re actively seeking individuals to fill many different roles. Interested? Contact us. :)

What does the right culture look like for today’s SEO team?

I can speak to an agency model — fast-paced, drama-free, flexible, work/life balance, education-centered, creative, and accountable to each other.

What advice do you give entrepreneurs and startups about SEO and building a site from the ground up?

SEO is just one channel in a more robust marketing strategy that has to support your brand and business objectives. If you aren’t clear on your brand and haven’t defined business goals, you’re not going to be able to structure a great content strategy that can support earned links and content that fits the need states of your target audience.

Many businesses lack clarity around their brand, value proposition, point of differentiation, values, and other core areas that any great business needs a stronger handle on to succeed. When these aren’t well-defined, marketers (which SEOs are!) are expected to operate blind and guess.

I don’t like to guess. I want data. I want to know who you are, which will fuel creativity and alignment for enterprise-wide campaigns and processes that are needed for successful marketing and reputation management strategies.

How do you keep yourself ahead of the SEO moving target?

I’ve seen enough to know that a reactionary approach is rarely a recipe for long-term SEO success. I’m not in this industry to ride ripples, I will wait for the right waves and enjoy them, feeling relatively calm and prepared.

We’ve seen this with our clients at Outspoken Media. Those who establish long-term relationships with us don’t get hit by updates. Not to say that they will never experience a negative drop, but they aren’t receiving manual actions or massive algorithmic changes to their positioning. We do still take on industry innovators, who accept great risk for a high reward, but they’re strategic and thoughtful in their approach and we only work together if we feel it’s something we can reasonably put our name to. They know they have a business to run and jobs that depend on measured, incremental success, not risky behavior.

Staying ahead is relatively simple — diversify your marketing strategy, stay informed (find a few sources you trust and can bounce ideas off of), set up your own barometers, and pay attention to trends.

How often should a business evaluate SEO and what’s the best way to go about it?

Businesses should always be evaluating SEO, just like any other major marketing channel. This doesn’t mean that it’s a daily task for some businesses, but certainly it needs to be a monthly consideration with good data to help you make informed decisions.

What exactly does it look like, in your opinion, to “win” at SEO?

Minimal/calculated risk to no risk (based on business needs) and steady growth in metrics that matter. Investment in quality assurance/monitoring and accountability to leadership. The latter requires enterprise-wide education. An SEO shouldn’t be left alone on an island with what is often one of the most important revenue drivers for a business. It is essential that leadership, boards and managers understand what you are doing, so that they can grasp the big picture and strategize long-term.

Can you share some obvious mistakes that brands make when it comes to SEO that are the easiest to fix?

  • SEO is positioned under the wrong department or put on an island.
  • Poorly defined metrics and KPIs.
  • No internal education.
  • No communication across an organization.
  • No understanding of brand.
  • No understanding of audience.
  • No feedback loop/monitoring/quality assurance.

These might not be quick, tactical SEO tips, but they are among the most important problems brands face when it comes to SEO.

What are some of the biggest risks in SEO today?

Everything mentioned in the last question:

  • Cutting corners.
  • Cheap content.
  • Duplicate content.
  • Being overly reactive.
  • Investing in a strategy without really understanding it (I know Kate Morris, our Director of Client Strategy, sees this often with international SEO strategies).
  • Doing something because someone heard from that one guy at a thing to create a unique page for every country, state, region, ZIP code, city, and city-block.

What are some of the pitfalls that are practically impossible and most damaging to recover from when it comes to SEO?

Years of cutting corners with poor content and aggressive link development, paired with poor customer service (lack of proactive or reactive reputation management), and no broader marketing strategy or investment in other channels.

The lack of diversity in marketing, poor business reputation, and high-risk SEO often produces a combination of problems that a business can’t come back from. I’ve seen established companies work with multiple agencies and consultants for years and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars simply to conclude that they need to start over with their entire business and/or brand. It’s heartbreaking to witness.

At Outspoken Media, we find our recommendations often speak to much larger inefficiencies within a company and it’s our job to delicately uncover those and provide our clients with the resources, education, and data they need to change course.

How much should SEO pros know about social media and how much should social media know about SEO?

SEO and social media are both just individual channels in a much broader marketing bucket. SEOs, like any digital marketer, should be well-versed in both areas as well as other critical areas of marketing.

Just because I don’t technically know how to structure and run a PPC account, doesn’t mean I don’t understand industry best practices, how to structure a content strategy that can be effective for both SEO and PPC needs, and rely on the information we can share.

Social media is the same. We’re able to tap into some great information through social media, but this doesn’t mean the audience is the same as on-site. We should understand all channels, how they work together, and the data that’s available to us. We should be aware of trends and how users are receiving/sharing information. If we can’t intelligently speak to this, I don’t believe we’ve done our job well.

I will add a caveat to this that you will always need very technical SEOs who can implement broader digital marketing strategies. This doesn’t mean they have to be the person who defines the strategy, but communication should still be happening, so that they’re aware of the reasoning behind certain decisions.

The Lightning Round

Who are the top five people to follow on Twitter?

That’s a super broad question — there are so many reasons to follow someone. Let’s go with people who inspire me or folks I feel positively competitive with:

What’s your favorite blog?

I have difficulty sticking to a single blog — just like books, ideas, and people. I’m very utilitarian — I’m reading something for a very specific purpose and I have no use for it after that point. I now realize this is because I’m an ENTP personality type according the MBTI.

I’ve been on a big self-discovery kick the past few days. The research led me to a blog that’s now inactive, but for 16 glorious posts, it perfectly encapsulated what it’s like to live inside of my brain: http://entp-problems.tumblr.com/. Scary stuff, but everything single one of those is spot on.

This blog won’t give a lot of great industry insight to your readers, but the point is to be aware of what makes you tick and how you work best. Don’t fight your natural tendencies, learn to embrace and work with them.

Oh wait, there’s Greg Hoy’s blog over here that I’ve really been enjoying: https://the-pastry-box-project.net/baker/greg-hoy :)

What’s the last book you read?

“Champion: A Legend Novel” by Marie Lu. I like dystopian young adult literature. I mainly read YA and business books. It’s an interesting mix.

If I spend a lot of time thinking about why, it’s because YA seems to really embrace bada** heroines. Not like Bella in “Twilight.” That’s just a shame.

One of my favorite quotes is, “you can’t be what you can’t see.” So many girls don’t see strong women in their everyday life. When I was a kid She-Ra was my everything. She wasn’t a supporting character and her hair was 10 times better than He-Man’s bob.

I like continually reading literature where women save the world. It’s a small goal I have before I die — I want to leave a positive dent in the universe at the very least (a la Steve Jobs). That’s a lofty goal, but we all need dreams and I’d rather dream big.

What’s your goal for 2015?

Continued, responsible company growth; team development; best-of-industry benefits; and launch of our new reputation management offering.


Get more insights straight out of SMX East 2014 — check out interviews with Jason White, director of SEO at DragonSearch, and Jim Yu, CEO and founder of BrightEdge. Next week, the SMX East 2014 Speaker Series continues with Joanna Lord, VP of Consumer Marketing at Porch.com. The SMX East 2014 Speaker Series continues all this month. Follow Bruce Clay, Inc. and Kristi Kellogg on Twitter and be the first to know when the next interview is up.

September 12th 2014 SEO

SMX East 2014 Speaker Series: Jim Yu on the ‘Massive Mobile Shift’

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SMX East 2014 Speaker Series: Jim Yu on the ‘Massive Mobile Shift’ was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

Earlier this year, Search Engine Journal reported that the mobile market will generate an estimated $261 billion more in 2015 than it did in 2012. This is no surprise, considering that the average American now spends two hours a day on a mobile device.

It’s an undisputed fact that mobile optimization is a critical component of SEO, and Internet marketers are hungry for the latest tactics concerning mobile optimization. Later this month, you’ll find marketers gathered at Search Marketing Expo (SMX) East 2014, and one of the must-attend sessions of the conference is “What SEOs Should Be Doing With Mobile” (Oct. 1 at 9 a.m.), featuring SEO VIPs Jim Yu, Cindy Krum, Michael Martin and Gary Illyes.

jim yu smx east 2014Here’s a sneak preview of those mobile SEO insights as Yu, founder and CEO of BrightEdge, joins us for the second installment of our SMX East 2014 Speaker Series. Yu has made a name for himself in SEO, marketing and software development. Prior to founding BrightEdge, Yu led teams at Salesforce and IBM. He’s an in-demand speaker, sharing his knowledge at conferences around the globe. Today, he’s sharing them right here in an exclusive interview for the Bruce Clay, Inc. Blog.

BrightEdge just hosted its own conference called Share14. You focused on content, measurement and mobile optimization. How do these 3 cornerstones translate to your SMX East presentation?

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk with you today. I am really looking forward to my session at SMX East this year and sharing further insights into how marketers can optimize for mobile.

As you mentioned, the theme this year at BrightEdge Share14 was content, measurement and optimization. Content marketing has developed to become the catalyst that has fueled the convergence of search, social and digital marketing disciplines. In parallel, mobile growth and adoption has skyrocketed to become one of the fastest-growing channels for driving revenue through consumer engagement.

In order for marketers to maximize their return on investment in mobile they must understand, measure and optimize their mobile search strategies. Mobile was a key talking point at Share14. You can watch my keynote address at Share14 and other highlights here.

Can you share some tips on content creation for the mobile user? What content works and what doesn’t?

What works and what does not work … That’s a great question. BrightEdge data tells us that mobile is outpacing desktop by 10 and, because of this massive shift, marketers have had to recalibrate their mobile strategies.

People now consume media across multiple mobile device types and hence each device type requires a different approach. The important thing to remember about mobile is that all mobile content is not created equally; what works and reads well on one device type (for example, mobile vs. tablet) may not work on another. The key to the success of mobile content lies in understanding the customer experience and serving content that serves a purpose and has meaning and value for the user. For this reason “mobile” can mean video and “mobile” can mean social. YouTube (who presented at Share14 on content, social and mobile) is the third largest search engine in the world and serves as a great example.

How can marketers best benchmark and measure for mobile? Do you have any dos and don’ts for measuring mobile?

Do: Utilize all mobile data at your disposal. Track, measure and optimize/optimize and measure. Your ultimate goal as a marketer is to measure conversion and ROI, and in order to do it, it’s vital to track the changing SERP (blended rank and mobile rank). Ensure that you measure mobile and local landing pages and build solid mobile campaign reporting dashboards.

Don’t: Take your eye off the SERP. Do not take a one-size-fits-all approach to mobile measurement. Conversions vary dramatically via device type, content type, location and industry!

Do: Keep on adding and testing content types and measuring the corresponding, multiple, mobile tracking variables.

As we head into 2015, what are some trends in mobile optimization that marketers need to know about? What optimization strategies should we leave behind?

As I mentioned earlier, leave behind the one-size-fits-all mobile approach. On average, 62 percent of organic searches show different results depending on whether the search was performed on a desktop or smartphone, according to BrightEdge research. Further BrightEdge research found that on average, 27 percent of websites were misconfigured for smartphone searches, which resulted in an average 68 percent loss of smartphone traffic to those websites. If these mobile sites were to regain the full potential of their traffic, it would equal a 212 percent jump from what they currently experience.  As you can see, the mobile optimization opportunity is still massive!

In 2015 keep an eye out for new developments with regard to mobile app optimization and the integration of mobile and wearable technology.

Can you share your top recommendations for further reading on SEO-for-mobile matters?

1. The Mobile Opportunity: How to Capture Upwards of 200% in Lost Traffic

2. How the Mobile Channel Compares with the Desktop Channel: How These Channels Drive Conversions

3. How to Prepare for MoCo: Mobile, Content and Advanced SEO

4. Mobile Site Configuration: How to Choose


Want more of the SMX East 2014 Speaker Series? Check out our interview with Jason White, director of SEO at DragonSearch — his rousing interview laid the groundwork for “stupid successful” keyword research and link development. The SMX East 2014 Speaker Series continues all this month. Follow Bruce Clay, Inc. and Kristi Kellogg on Twitter and be the first to know when the next interview is up. We have Joanna Lord, Cindy Krum, Rhea Drysdale and our own Bruce Clay on deck.

September 10th 2014 SEO

The Weekly Compete Pulse

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Weekly-Pulse-2014

Welcome to the first Weekly Compete Pulse of September! With summer wrapping up, we hope you fall in love with these popular articles. See what I did there? Fall. Like the season.

Here are the articles…

How Brands Can Remain Human When Native and Ad Tech Collide

More and more, programmatic is showing up on everyone’s radar. It’s understandable that the transition may seem daunting to brands who value their relationships with consumers. This article from Ad Age provides advice to guide you through the impending changeover to programmatic so that you can maintain your rapport with your audience and continue to succeed while using new technologies.

How to Do Proper On-Page SEO for Your Website

Are you sure that your site is SEO friendly? With effects of the Penguin update still looming, you’re definitely going to want to avoid using unethical SEO practices…perhaps mostly because they’re just about guaranteed to result in a Google penalty. This article from Business 2 Community provides valuable advice on how to handle keywords and permalinks. Check it out here.

Brands: Consumers Don’t Want to Be Your BFF in Social (They Want Help)

With social media and content marketing very much in vogue, it can be hard to keep focus on what it is that your consumers truly want from you. What they do want is assistance, what they don’t want is unsolicited attempts at friendship. This article from Ad Age will show you how to walk the line between clingy and supportive.

How Social Media and SEO Impact Your Ranking

With the ongoing debate over whether you should focus your efforts on social or SEO finally wrapping up, we now know it’s in in our best interest to consider these tools in conjunction. If you’re still not convinced, this quick infographic from Visually should help sum things up. It takes you through the connection between social and SEO and how the duo can ultimately affect your website, together.

Pinterest Gives Marketers Analytics to Make the Case for Brand Budgets

Advertising on Pinterest is now a reality. Moreover, consumer analytics on Pinterest is now a reality. Brands on Pinterest can now access details about their audiences, including both personal data on their consumers and information on the level of traffic Pinterest drives to their sites. Check out this article from Ad Age to learn more about the Pinterest analytics update and advertising expansion.

September 7th 2014 News, SEO, Social Media

SMX East 2014: The Conference, The Liveblog Schedule & More

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SMX East 2014: The Conference, The Liveblog Schedule & More was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

Search Marketing Expo (SMX) East 2014 is right around the corner. In less than a month, Internet marketers will gather in the heart of New York for the much-anticipated conference. More than 100 SEO, SEM, social media and content marketing experts will share their top strategies and recommendations in tactic-packed sessions Sept. 30 through Oct. 2, Bruce Clay among them.

Where to Find Bruce

smx EAST 2014

  • Clay will lead his acclaimed One-Day SEO Training on Sept. 29 (it’s already sold out).
  • Clay and fellow search leaders will answer questions from the audience in the “Ask the Search Engines & SEOs” panel (always a big hit) at 2:30 p.m. on Oct. 2. Get there early — seats fill up fast when you Bruce and VIPs from Bing, Google, Ford and more take the stage.
  • meetgreet_200x86When evening falls on Sept. 29, Clay can be found at the SMX Meet & Greet. Bruce Clay, Inc. is the SMX  Meet and Greet sponsor — come have a drink on Clay! Mix and mingle from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Inc Lounge (224 W. 49th St.).
  • Throughout the entire conference, you can stop by booth #406 in the Expo Hall to meet Bruce and co.

SMX East 2014 Liveblog Schedule

SMX East 2014 Kristi Kellogg Virginia Nussey

Virginia Nussey and I will be liveblogging key sessions throughout SMX East 2014. Here are the sessions you can expect to see covered on the blog, as they happen!

Day 1: Tuesday, Sept. 30

Time SMX East Session Blogger
9 a.m.

Search Marketing Boot Camp

  • No, SEO is Never Dead … It’s Just Trying to Be
  • All Search is Now Social
  • Branding Your Data Visualizations
Virginia
9 a.m. Let’s Work Together: How SEO & SMM Can Help Each Other Kristi
10:45 a.m. Competitive Research for SEO Kristi
1:30 p.m. Search Marketing Boot Camp

  • Automation Does Not Equal Strategy (Or, A Tool Box Does Not a Cabinet Make)
  • The 4th Wave of Content Marketing
  • The Future of a Brand
Virginia
3:30 p.m. Up Close with Twitter Cards & Facebook’s Open Graph Kristi
3:30 p.m. Search Marketing Boot Camp

  • Search & Find: Marketing in the Age of the Internet of Things
  • The Importance of Imagery
  • The Audience Imperative
Virginia
6 p.m. Evening Forum with Danny Sullivan Kristi

 

Day 2: Wednesday, Oct. 1

Time SMX East Session Blogger
9 a.m. Breathing New Life Into a Tired Paid Search Campaign Virginia
9 a.m. What SEOs Should Be Doing with Mobile Kristi
10:45 a.m. 25 Smart Examples of Structured Data You Can Use Now Virginia
10:45 a.m. Creating, Testing & Optimizing Paid Search Ads Kristi
1:30 p.m. Deconstructing Pigeon, Google’s New Local Search Algorithm Virginia
1:30 p.m. Tough Love: What I Wish CMOs Knew About Search Marketing Kristi
5 p.m. Keynote Conversation: Jonah Peretti, Founder & CEO of BuzzFeed Kristi

 

Day 3: Thursday, Oct. 2

Time SMX East Session Blogger
9 a.m. Keyword Research for Better Content & Audience Engagement Kristi
10:45 a.m. Conversion Rate Rock Stars Kristi
1 p.m. How to Secure Your Site for Google’s HTTPS Algorithm Kristi
2:30 p.m. Meet the Search Engines and SEOs Kristi

 

We’ll see you at the SMX East 2014! In the meantime, check out our SMX 2014 Speaker Interview Series.

September 6th 2014 blogging, SEO

7 Things You Need to Know about SEO in 2014

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SEO

Image from: SEO / Shutterstock

Whether you’re an SEO veteran or new to the game, it can be difficult to keep track of the most recent, and most effective, SEO tactics. We’ve compiled a list of the seven most important elements of your strategy, no matter the size of your brand.

1. Use What’s Out There

SEO is a hot topic, and as a result there are several tools that exist to make your strategy more successful. If you aren’t using Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools, or Bing Webmaster Tools, get on that right away. Among other potential gaffes, Google Webmaster Tools will check duplicate content and technical errors, either of which could result in penalties. Further, the Google Keyword Research Tool and Google Page Speed Tools will prove to be immensely helpful to your SEO strategy. Tools such as Browseo and Xenu are worth looking into as well, Browseo will work to locate additional technical errors while Xenu will highlight any broken links. SEO can get intense, but there’s no reason to go into battle unarmed.

2. Wording is Key

Keywords are among the most critical elements of SEO practices. It’s crucial to ensure the body of your site has keywords that support your title tag and also that you place your most important keywords to the front of your title tag. Further, you can reiterate your title tag by using the keyword again within the first 100 words of the text and absolutely within your H1 tag. Your primary keyword should also appear in your page URL. Make sure to keep the URL short and to the point (so as not to intimidate potential visitors) and to use hyphens, never underscores, as spaces in your permalink structure.

3. Size Matters

Most blog posts range between 400 and 600 words, but the ideal length for highest ranking is actually around 1,500. For your title tag, keep it to around 60 characters. You can push it to 75, but steer clear of going beyond that. Because the space is so limited, you’re best off placing your brand name at the end. Additionally, articles and conjunctions are a waste of space; keep “an,” “and,” “or,” and “the” out of your keywords. Meta description tags should max out around 155 characters, anymore and the description will be truncated. Finally, make sure you have at least 100 words of text accessible to search engines so that they can understand the topic of your page or post.

4. Tweet for Traffic

If done correctly, search and social feed off of one another. Your goal should be to align these practices so that you instigate a continuous cycle of traffic. Make sure that your SEO and SMM strategic objectives line up with one another by establishing common KPIs and keyword management. In addition to social media’s ability to bring awareness to web content, it can also prompt other social media users to utilize keywords organically. These off-page strategies can lead to the shared objective of SEO and SMM: on-page optimization. This will be particularly successful if your brand maintains an active blog where you can produce quality content to support both tracks.

5. Ditch the Duds

Because search algorithms change so frequently, it’s not difficult to lose track of which strategies have fallen out of favor. That said, there are a few things you absolutely need to eliminate from your SEO practices. Keyword stuffing and poor back linking is not simply no longer effective, it’s considered by search engines to be unethical. As a result, sites who participate in these outdated practices are likely to be penalized in search rankings. Instead of sketchy backlinks, focus your efforts on social. And instead of using excessive keywords, try focusing on themes to develop more consistent results. Also, utilize synonyms. Using more natural language that’s inspired by, rather than duplicating, keywords will prove effective on the search results page.

6. Change Happens

Search algorithms are constantly changing, and it’s possible they have had an impact on your brand’s SEO, but you likely don’t need to worry long-term. Search engines are constantly working on updating their algorithms, so chances of your SEO remaining impaired in the future are slim. In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to get back on top. First, determine the less competitive search categories relevant to your brand in your geographical area and dominate them. Get working on content that ties you to that genre specifically, earn new reviews in the category, and consider changing the category on search engine business pages. Second, bring it back to basics. With more fierce competition you can’t afford sloppy mistakes, so make sure you don’t have any technical issues on your site. Finally, report the spam. It’s frustrating to get pushed off of the search pages by junk, but you have the ability to influence what gets removed, so act on it.

7. The Other Guys

A huge component of SEO has to do with your competition—whether that be direct competitors in your industry or just other people who may be drawing positive attention away from your brand. Be sure to take a look at your competitor link profiles. There are several sites you can check to see what kind of anchor text they’ve been using: check out Link Diagnosis or Open Site Explorer to start. Additionally, it’s important to ensure you have ownership over your brand’s username on other major networks to protect your reputation and control as much of the attention on your brand as possible.

To start keyword research for your industry, and to learn which strategies work best for your brand, start your free trial of Compete Pro today!

September 6th 2014 Search, Search Engine Optimization, SEO

The Weekly Compete Pulse

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Weekly-Pulse-2014

Happy Labor Day Weekend! Here in Boston, we’re soaking in the warm weather while we still can. If you find yourself with some free time when not winterizing splashing around in your pool, check out a few of our favorite digital marketing articles from our feeds this week.

Millward Brown Acquires InsightExpress To Bolster Digital Measurement

It’s been an exciting week in our office with announcement that we will be growing the Millward Brown Digital family! Our acquisition of InsightExpress takes our capabilities to the next level, allowing us to provide the ultimate behavioral and attitudinal solutions. Take a look at this article to learn how our expansion will help our clients achieve optimal marketing effectiveness and get digital right.

10 Surprising Things You Should Know About Social Media

Keeping up the latest social media trends can seem like a never-ending task. Chances are some of the information you’ve been hanging on to is outdated. This infographic by Entrepreneur features a collection of social media facts that will likely surprise you. Check it out to learn what your followers expect from you, capitalize on trends, and spruce up your social strategy.

With SEO, There Is Now A Difference Between Data And Wisdom

Forbes interviewed two digital experts, Bruce Clay, President at Bruce Clay, Inc. and Duane Forrester, Sr. Product Manager, Webmaster Outreach at Bing about the newest SEO trends. Take a look at this article to read expert advice on how search engine changes should be impacting your strategy, what opportunities you should be taking advantages of, and what mistakes you should be avoiding.

Search Marketers: The Time To Focus On Mobile User Experience Is Now

Marketers are currently in the process of hopping on the mobile bandwagon. For many, developing mobile SEM has been a trial-and-error process. This article by Search Engine Land highlights the successful implementations while underscoring the shortcomings. Check it out to make sure you brand falls on right side of the divide.

Mobile Marketing: Stop Ignoring the Modern, Connected Customer!

For consumers, mobile means convenience, so if you aren’t utilizing mobile formatting, you’re missing out on a huge segment of the digital population. This post, and podcast, from B2Community discusses how thinking mobile from the get go will benefit both you and your consumers.

Marketing Automation is Only The Beginning: How Algorithms and Artificial Intelligence Will Disrupt Marketing Forever

Marketing automation is here! Sort of. It’s shaping up to become a multibillion dollar industry, but right now it’s still in its infantile stages. This article by PR2020 provides a strong overview of the realities of marketing automation and the prospects it may come to offer.

August 31st 2014 News, SEO, Social Media

SMX East 2014 Speaker Series: Jason White’s ‘Stupid Successful’ SEO Guide to Keywords, Link Cleanup and Personal Success

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SMX East 2014 Speaker Series: Jason White’s ‘Stupid Successful’ SEO Guide to Keywords, Link Cleanup and Personal Success was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

Search Marketing Expo (SMX) East 2014 is fast-approaching. In preparation for the acclaimed Internet marketing conference, I’ve invited a handful of distinguished speakers (Bruce Clay among them) to sit down for an interview. First up is Jason White, the director of SEO at DragonSearch. The New York native has graced the SMX stage before and has also shared his vast SEO knowledge with the next generation of Internet marketers as a guest lecturer at New York University. White’s writing has appeared on Search Engine Journal, WordStream and the Marketology Blog.

Jason White SMX EastAnything that requires some strategy and a burning desire to figure out the why tends to be what gets me revved up,” White said. “More than anything I like to make my clients stupid successful.”

White will be speaking in two sessions at SMX East: “Earning Authority: Successful Link Acquisition & Auditing Advice” and “Keyword Research For Better Content & Audience Engagement.” Accordingly, I picked his brain on keyword best practices, content marketing success stories, link management and more.

Can you share a must-do and a must-don’t when it comes to keyword research?

Gather data from as many sources as you can and don’t use just the Keyword Planner. Go offline and talk to the sales team, listen to sales calls and flag the terminology and words that are being used. If the client is using PPC, mine all of that information including the negative keywords. If everyone is using the same tools for their keyword research, juke  and go with a different current, the opportunity is away from the pack. Long-tail keywords have been steadily diminishing so you need to be willing to consume other forms of data and hunt.

What mistakes are SEOs making when it comes to managing and/or disavowing links?

I’ve seen brands get hit by Google’s Penguin and submit the disavow with Bing. I’ve also seen marketers disavow YouTube and Facebook links. I’ve encountered people who had a manual penalty and were fearful of submitting a reconsideration request. These are extreme examples but it’s insanity. The misinformation is absolutely mind-boggling.

If you’re about to embark on a Penguin cleanup campaign, the best thing you can do for your client is to deep dive and do the research. If you have questions, reach out to people and ask — there is a lot of snake oil in our little industry but there are even more caring, knowledgeable people who are willing to share and help.

Can you share some examples of brands doing it right when it comes to content?

The International Space Station’s Instagram feed is fantastic. It’s bringing back the romanticism of our space program. Keeping with the government theme, the TSA’s blog is an example of what can be done when you work with what you have and I like how it’s humorous yet educational.

What is your philosophy on building your individual brand?

Being myself and sharing my knowledge freely has opened magnificent doors. I coach my team to understand that the best personal opportunities will come when they’re overworked and feeling like they are at their limit, but they should ignore those feelings and do the work, and push a little harder when someone presents an opportunity for them to seize. There is a Buddhist proverb that says something to the effect of ‘the urge to quit is strongest the moment before success is achieved.’ This is something that has become a bit of a mantra for me. At the same time, when the zombie apocalypse comes, the sum total of the work I’ve produced will be meaningless … which is something else I remind myself often.

TLDR? —> Give. Work a little harder than your perceived limit but don’t take yourself too seriously.

You’re an avid participant in #SEOchat, the weekly chat discussing all things SEO (Thursdays at 10 a.m. PT). What’s the value of staying connected with your fellow SEOs and sharing knowledge?

It’s all love. Love the people around you and be interested in their success, they’ll pay it back in spades.

In addition to #SEOchat, how do you stay on top of Internet marketing news? Blogs, books, hangouts – tell us anything and everything.

I have a very select group of people who I follow on Twitter and Google+. I attempt to get out of the echo chamber as much as I can so that I can get new ideas and concepts whenever possible.

I follow different people for different reasons; I like following Eric Enge on Google+ because of the wacky times I’ll get invited to one of his awesome Google Hangouts. It’s stupid, but I’m hell-bent on figuring out if the timing is completely random or if there is science behind it. It’s almost to the point where I’m expecting to unravel his strategy and earn the keys to the universe. Almost.

I read a lot of content from Amazon, I love the ESPN digital blog and I lurk on a lot of black hat forums. I also stalk some select verticals to earn new ideas but the who and how will only be admitted after a few beers. I like IPA.

Who are your top three favorite Twitter users and why?

  • Ian Lurie. He’s free and giving with his knowledge, has tested most everything or it at least appears that way and I appreciate his humor.
  • Mike King. He just gets it done with no bull and is interested in marketing which is something I feel that many SEOs are missing the boat on.
  • Bill Slawski. I value his ability to connect random facets from different periods of time. The ability to recognize unrelated opportunities is where magic happens and Bill seems to have this as a sixth sense.

When you’re not directing SEO, what are your favorite ways to spend your time?

Making sure my little human is growing up as a well-adjusted person, fixing my old house and telling my wife how much appreciate her for dealing with my brand of crazy. Occasionally the stars align just so and I get to ride my bike in the mountains which is something I really enjoy.

August 26th 2014 SEO

The Compete Weekly Pulse

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Weekly-Pulse-2014

It’s Saturday. Congratulations, you survived the work week! This edition of the Compete Weekly Pulse has a strong focus on one of our favorite topics—blogging! Take a look at some of our favorite articles from the past week to learn all about how your can optimize the results of your blogging endeavors.

How To Create A First-Rate Content Marketing Strategy

If you want your brand to be successful, utilizing content marketing is no longer optional. The reality of today’s digital marketing is that your potential customers are likely forming their opinion of your brand long before actually contacting you. This article by Business 2 Community gives you all the information you need to get your content marketing campaign up and running. Check it out and unleash your creativity.

6 Reasons Experts Include Case Studies in Their Blog Posts

If you’ve ever seen someone use a case study on their blog, chances are that it impacted your perception of their brand. Case studies do two major things when included in blog posts: first, they increase the blog’s level of authority, and second, they generate long-term traffic. Case studies are frequently used among blogging experts for these and many more reasons. This article by Jeff Bullas will take you through the benefits of using case studies and teach you exactly how to go about it.

What Really Happens When Someone Clicks Your Facebook Like Button

Most bloggers have Facebook buttons on their blog, but few are familiar with the impact they have on their posts. This piece by The Next Web details the difference between getting people to “like” your content and getting people to share it. Discover which is more preferable, which buttons are worth keeping on your blog, and how you can get those buttons to work for you here.

4 Tips for a Successful Local SEO Marketing Strategy

With the new Pigeon update, you need to reevaluate your local SEO marketing strategy. If you’re not sure how the update affected you, or if you don’t know how to go about adjusting, this article by SEO Clarity will be sure to help. Check it out to learn exactly what you need to focus on to optimize your new local SEO strategy.

How My Blog Post Got 1052 Social Shares in 3 Days

Even if your content is spectacular, it can sometimes seem impossible to get attention for your blog. The good news? You’re not alone. Blogger Will Blunt faced a similar conundrum back in July, just before his content went viral. His advice on how to get your content shared is a must-read. Learn where your focus should be, what you shouldn’t waste your time on, and exactly what you need to do to get all the attention you deserve here.

August 24th 2014 blogging, News, SEO

Hangout on Recent Google Updates: Panda, Penguin and HTTPS

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Hangout on Recent Google Updates: Panda, Penguin and HTTPS was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

Do you have an action plan now that Google says HTTPS is a ranking signal?

Are you eager for the next Penguin Update?

Have you ingested the newest version of Google’s Quality Rating Guidelines and integrated them into your optimization approach?

As web marketing professionals, Google keeps us on our toes, and August has been a busy month on the Google organic algorithm front. There’s been:

  • A mini Panda update
  • Confirmed progress on a coming Penguin update
  • And a new ranking signal, SSL encryption

In this Hangout you’ll hear what we’re doing and recommending for our clients in light of the recent Google updates. Our SEO manager, Mindy Weinstein, and our senior lead SEO analyst, Rob Ramirez, video chat about those three big changes to Google’s organic ranking algorithm and touch on takeaways from our reading of the 160-page Google Quality Rating Guidelines version 5. Listen to our conversation and read the highlights below.

SEO industry insiders, has Panda, Penguin or HTTPS got you thinking about a new approach?

Unconfirmed Mini Panda Refresh

A rankings shake-up in early August is suspected to have been caused by an adjustment to Google’s Panda algorithm (evaluation of content quality). Another theory is that the highly volatile Google rankings over the last week were due to the tweaking of multiple ranking signals at once ━ a multi-pack update, as it’s sometimes called.

As Hangout moderator, I thought we’d break the ice with this subject. But to be honest, things got more interesting as we broached topics with more critical and unknown implications. Like … could a Penguin backlink refresh be a bad thing for a lot of websites?

Overdue Penguin Update In the Works

In a Google Webmaster Hangout, John Mueller confirmed that engineers are working on a Penguin refresh, and while some outcry from the community suggests SEOs are eager for the update, John explained it’s not as simple as flipping a switch. Rob said there’s speculation that recent fluctuations in SERPs could be Google live testing the effect of Penguin elements and looking at what those SERPs will look like in the wild if they were to flip those switches.

Rob said he suspects the delay to refresh Penguin can probably be traced in part to the massive amount of data that’s been generated from disavow files. If Google wants to use that data, and presumably they do, there are so many domains that have been disavowed that it’s hard for Google to filter out the signal from the noise. Rob suspects that, from its tests to see what SERPs look like if they account for all the disavow data, Google doesn’t like what it sees. Read more about Rob’s criticism of Google’s Penguin refresh delay in Does Google Have a Responsibility to Refresh Its Penguin Algorithm?

Mindy asserted that we don’t know what the next update is going to look like, and that it might actually make things harder for many businesses, rather than better. With each update Penguin gets a little stricter, and so while the SEO community anticipates the refresh, it’s an unknown that could be as much of a risk as a benefit.

What’s our recommended action plan if a client is playing the waiting game against Penguin’s cold shoulder?

  • Work on improving your site, your user experience.
  • Engage in a campaign to build traffic and visibility, and while you may not see your efforts reflected in the rankings, work to make the site as strong as it can be so it’s ready when Penguin is refreshed.
  • Prove your pages’ value and make your site more engaging and likely to convert visitors once Google recognizes your backlink clean-up effort.

Minor Ranking Signal Introduced in HTTPS

HTTPS is a confirmed ranking signal, albeit minor, as of August 7. Page encryption is not as highly valued as other signals, probably because it’s not an option that makes sense for every website. In our discussion, Rob described SSL certificates and encrypted connections as a best practice for sites that accept money and have a payment gateway. However, doing it across all pages is cost prohibitive, especially for sites with hundreds of thousands of pages and sites hosted in the cloud. There’s also the matter of implementing HTTPS properly; if you don’t redirect pages and define canonicals, you can end up with duplicate pages in Google’s index and an SEO clean-up hassle.

Mindy recalled SMX Advanced in June, when Google explained its reasons for recommending encrypted and secure sites. Now, months later, Google has indicated that encryption is a minor ranking signal. Mindy said she considers this the beginning of an ongoing progression toward increased emphasis on site security by Google.

Here’s another thing to consider about the implications of this new ranking signal. It puts businesses that can afford expensive SSL certificates at an advantage and may disadvantage smaller businesses that aren’t able to buy top-of-the-line certificates.

But Google, Rob reminded us, wants to make sure their algorithm doesn’t punish local, mom-and-pop businesses that are focused on their goods, services and customers. A lot of those businesses aren’t going to change their sites so they’re fully encrypted ━ only a small percentage of websites even pay attention to SEO. Google has to balance that reality with its desire to support initiatives for online security via HTTPS as a ranking factor.

One other consequence of a fully encrypted site that Rob mentioned is that it removes Google’s need to encrypt searches and thus filter keyword referral data, known as “Not Provided.” If Google is pointing to an encrypted page on an encrypted site from SERPs, the search engine doesn’t need to hide the referral data from prying eyes. Right now the decision to encrypt a site requires consideration of the cost and effort involved, and whether the benefit is worth that cost. If Google were to return keyword referral data for encrypted sites, Rob would certainly advise his clients to secure their sites.

Google Quality Rating Guidelines

I’d scheduled our Hangout for 30 minutes and we had a few minutes to spare, so I asked Rob and Mindy what stood out to them in their reading of  the May 2014 Google Quality Rating Guidelines that were leaked this summer.

Mindy was struck by the fact that the guidelines instruct human raters to look off-site to get a sense of a site’s reputation. A brand’s or business’s reputation is an important consideration in Google’s rankings, and that means that rankings take into account realities apart from that brand’s carefully curated and owned presence, its website.

Yes, to show you’re an expert, your website needs to align with your subject of expertise. But a true expert’s expertise is reflected in what others say about them. Mindy encouraged online businesses to consider the roots of marketing — getting your business in front of people and getting people to talk about your brand.

Rob pointed out that there is a classification of websites that Google holds to a higher standard, known as YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) pages, which deal with finances, legal issues and health, and sites that accept payment. For these pages especially, Google looks for signals that show time and care have been taken in writing the content, laying out the website, and making information about the business available for customers’ benefit. Contact Us pages, a privacy policy, terms of use, and disclaimers have been identified by Google as necessary trust signals for sites in spaces where a user’s livelihood is directly affected.

Google Hangout with Bruce Clay, Inc. Experts

Final Analysis

The long and short of our chat on the latest Google updates is that there has never been a shortcut that works long-term, only actions which truly earn rankings. For businesses waiting for the Penguin algorithm to refresh, there’s work to do to improve the site so that when the refresh happens and rankings lift, your site is engaging, sticky and better at converting visitors. If you’re considering HTTPS for your site hoping to get a rankings boost, weigh this factor against the cost and effort of implementation and target areas or pages on your site for which extra security serves a purpose. And, finally, don’t overlook the value and trust signals conveyed by general “about” type pages on your site and your reputation as conveyed by what other sites say about you online.

August 22nd 2014 SEO