Link Building (SEO)
Google’s Search Suggest automatically recommends popular searches as you type your query into the search field. Let’s examine how Google determines these results and what factors go into influencing them. Today we are talking about the very exciting topic of search suggest, also known as Google Instant or Google Suggest. Bing actually does this as well. So do search engines like DuckDuckGo. Even places like Quora and Wikipedia are starting to do this so that as you type a query, so I started typing “Does anyone . . . ” and Google has suggested things to me that perhaps I might want to search for. Curious things like, “Does anyone still use MySpace?” Well, maybe I am interested in that. “Does anyone use MySpace anymore?” Well, thank you, Google, that’s quite repetitive of you. “Does anyone live in Greenland?” Well, yes, there are at least a few people. “Does anyone use Google+?” Nope, nobody. I’m just kidding. Hopefully, at least all of you watching Whiteboard Friday are using Google+.
These suggestions are interesting from two perspectives. Number one, they’re interesting because sometimes negative things can show up in here as you start searching for a business name. Things like scam or fraud or, I don’t know, illegal activity or criminal or something like that, bad stuff can come up. Occasionally, SEOs will receive calls from clients or potential clients seeking to have that altered. Or you might be trying to control the reputation for your own business or your own name, making sure that search suggest is controlled so that the queries that show up in here, the phrases that are suggested by Google, are good ones.
The second thing, of course, that is really, really interesting is thinking about this from a branding perspective. So I’ll give you an exciting example. For years and years, if you started a search, let’s make our own little search box here, if I started a search for SEO, the first thing that would come up, at least in most of the United States, was Seoul. Seoul, Korea, which is the capital there and the most common flight destination. Now, that’s interesting, but there were other things that would come up – SEO book, SEO guide.
Let’s talk about the signals that Google is using inside of search suggest. So, first off, query volume. If lots and lots of people start searching for “Does anyone else watch Whiteboard Friday,” how about we all search for that. Wouldn’t that be cool? Should we do a test? What you’ll see is that may start to show up inside of these results over time. Now this is happening because query volume is something that the engines look at and they see, hey, people are searching for this. Let’s start to suggest it.
Now, be very careful, because Google did, in fact, have even a particular relationship with Amazon’s Mechanical Turk a few years ago. There was a representative at Mechanical Turk who was contacted by Google and Google said, basically, hey we want to know if anyone’s asking for search suggest influencing, that kind of thing. Google has gotten a lot more sophisticated about this, so you can bet that today they’re probably using things like unique verifiable accounts, independent users. But what it did do is show me that very quickly this would pop into search suggest, and it popped into geographic areas where I had lots of followers or friends who searched for that, which is really, really interesting. It suggests strongly that the geography is influential but that you don’t necessarily need that many users searching for a particular phrase in order to get it included in here.
Now, obviously, there are black and gray hat things you could do with this. Don’t do that. Don’t try it. You’re going to get in trouble. Google obviously does some scrubbing of these results anyway, so it is going to get caught very quickly. But if you can naturally do it, through branding, through product naming, through social sharing, through content marketing, through all sorts of forms of inbound marketing, then this is something you can change.
Finally, and interestingly, the keyword a phrase mentions, and what I mean by mentions is actually mentions on the Web. I am betting that Google does something where they verify both geographically and through unique users, and they look for keyword phrases and mentions. So if something is being searched for, but no one is talking about it on the Web, that might be a little odd. But if something is in the news, especially in news headlines, and it’s popular, it’s in lots of sources, and it’s getting search volume, then it’s probably going to make its way into search suggest.
Hopefully this article has helped you to understand how Google is doing this things right now and I look forward to seeing you again next week. Take care.
SEO Branding and Inbound Marketing
The web marketing community, and specifically many folks in the search field have recently been engaging in lots of conversations about the industry’s nomenclature. I think these discussions are excellent to have and I’m glad we’re openly communicating with one another on the topic. If there’s to be a shift or a progression in how online marketers focused on non-paid channels describe themselves and their work, I believe rigorous debate is a great starting point. And, as part of that belief, I want to share my views on the topic.
I’ve been in SEO a long time; at the end of this year, it will have been a decade since I joined my first SEO forum and attempted to learn how to capture the magical, free traffic that engines like MSN, Yahoo! and the emerging Google could send. In 2005, after experiencing the remarkable, positive impact SEO could have, I went from a practitioner to an evangelist. I loved SEO and I still love it. I love the complexities of search technology, the overwhelmingly vast sea of technical tactics, the individual stories, the packed conference-hall bars, the dark stories of spam and the illuminating tales of white hat triumphs. But, most of all, I love the people. I have met most of my best friends, hundreds of people I wish I saw more of and literally thousands of awesome individuals all around the world thanks to this field.
To say I’m a raving, fanatical, lunatic SEO evangelist is putting it mildly.
But over the past 3 years, I’ve been gradually coming around to the viewpoint that in spite of my personal adoration for all things organic search, the outside world of marketing departments, startups, small-medium businesses and individual consumers doesn’t see it that way. Last night, a startup friend of mine was over, reviewing a slide deck I’m building for another round of fundraising pain, when he received a spam email trying to buy some links on his site.
“Ha. You SEO guys never quit do you?”
Then today, in an interview with a candidate, I asked her about her background in SEO and she replied, “I told my husband about SEOmoz and he said ‘SEO company? Watch out, those guys are spammy and untrustworthy.” We talked through it, of course, but if you’re in the field, you surely encounter this feedback daily, too.
There’s the problem. No matter how many cities I fly to, or times I evangelize the great things SEO can do, no matter how many blog posts or retweets or guest articles, it will always carry with it the taint of manipulation and inauthenticity. Even from those who know better. Even from those who’ve invested in SEO. And always, always from the mainstream and tech media.
So what’s to be done? Should we give up using the acronym? Perhaps shift to something like “get found online,” “search engine visibility” or “content optimization?”
In my opinion, those aren’t real options. SEO is an established practice and it’s an established, descriptive term. For millions of people around the world, it carries the accurate meaning – the practice of improving a brand’s visibility in and traffic from search engines. That meaning may be negatively tarnished by frustrating and inaccurate brand sentiments, but even if we could shift to a new phrase, this new moniker would undoubtedly attract the same sorts of bad actors who cloud SEO’s perception today.
For better or worse, SEO is here to stay.
But I’m not blind to the emerging reality: a shift in terminology is accompanying the growth in responsibilities of professional SEOs. I did some simplistic LinkedIn research recently that’s illustrated below:
That figure above shows overlap between these various fields and skillsets, and it’s my opinion that we’re going to see considerably more overlap between them in the years to come. To be an effective social media marketer, you must understand content, analytics and SEO. To be a great SEO, you need social media, content marketing, analytics and CRO skills. The “specialist/generalist marketers” – those who excel at a particular facet but have competence in all of them – are best poised to win in the upcoming decade of marketing.
We need a way to describe this combination – it’s simply too cumbersome and not descriptive enough to say one’s job is: “Content creation, combined with investments in both the technical and outreach-based tactics in channels such as organic search, social networks, blogs and other websites, measured through analytics and tuned with conversion rate optimization.” That’s a mouthful, but it’s getting to be a more and more common mouthful, because this process needs to be explained!
This is hard, because in many ways, I agree. If you’re a modern SEO and you don’t also embrace content creation, social media marketing, link outreach for brand and direct traffic value (beyond their algorithmic contributions), PR, CRO and analytics, you’re probably not achieving all that you could by combining these practices (at least a little). And yet, there’s no way to explain to the outside world (even those in web marketing but not directly tied to SEO) that “search engine optimization” also includes “social media” or “conversion rate optimization” or “public relations” or “content marketing.” SEO necessarily equates to search engine-based stuff. Social media and other practices may have direct and indirect positive influences, but to an outsider, SEO will never mean all of these things, and saying you do “SEO” will never carry the meaning of that bolded sentence above.
Hence, we need a term/phrase that accurately describes this combination (but is not “Internet Marketing” since that phrase encompasses vastly more than what we’re trying to get across, paid channels in particular).
I’ve been a personal fan of the concept behind Inbound Marketing for a long time – that we should earn our customers’ attention rather than interrupting them by buying it. I gave a talk about inbound for startups last December in Silicon Valley:
If you skip to 7:05 or so in the video, you can see the start of my talk, one of the better ones I’ve given in the past year.
I recognize that not everyone in the marketing and search field feels as positive as I do toward the phrase “inbound marketing.” But, I am seeing nearly everyone adopt the principles behind it, which include:
Combining the practices of content creation and conversion optimization to earn visitors’ trust and their businessJointly leveraging the channels of search, social, blogs, PR, referring links, email and word-of-mouth to promote this contentUsing sophisticated analytics practices like first-touch and multi-touch attribution to better understand the true value of your content and your visitor sources
I asked on Twitter last week about alternatives to “inbound marketing” that still mean the same thing – narrow enough to exclusively focus on free channels of web-based customer acquisition (which terms like “Internet marketing” or “digital marketing” wouldn’t), yet broad enough to include the items mentioned above. Two other suggestions seemed widely-adopted enough to consider: “earned media” and “organic marketing.” I ran a comparison of these across several services:
That chart above compares keyword searches on LinkedIn, SimplyHired, Google News, Google’s AdWords Tool (for exact matches) and Topsy’s Analytics. To be fair, all of these trail behind the individual tactics like “SEO,” “social media,” or “blogging,” (as I noted above, they’re not meant to replace those terms, but rather to explain the marketing practice that combines them). Inbound is clearly many steps ahead of the other two, though “earned media” has a lot of traction in the c-suites of large enterprises and publishers.
Even if inbound marketing isn’t the term that wins the lexicon battle, I believe the principles behind it are sound. They work. And they earn outsized returns to investments in most paid marketing channels or myopically singular investments on search, social or content alone. That’s a message I’ve been working to refine and spread for some time now.
I don’t think explaining that SEO means a bunch of other non-search-engine-related marketing practices is viable, nor do I think it’s practical to explain the full concept every time you want to refer to it. SEO, in my opinion, isn’t going anywhere, but it has tactical allies today that didn’t exist 5 years ago, and I hope that some terminology encompassing these techniques takes root.
TL;DR – SEO is great as is. It doesn’t need a new name. The combination of all free/earned/organic/inbound tactics needs a name of some kind. “Internet Marketing” is too broad. “SEO” far too narrow. I like “inbound marketing” for now.
Footer Link Optimization for Search Engines and User Experience: It’s huge – seriously big. And while it’s valuable for users and even contains some interesting content, it’s not really accomplishing the job of a footer – it’s more like a giant permanent content block on the site
7 Tips To Write The Perfect Press Release
Writing the right press release is of course a difficult task. This is precisely the reason why we come cross thousands of inaccurate, badly edited press releases. Such press releases do not add value to website promotion; rather they have a negative effect. Therefore writing and formatting a press release correctly is an absolute must. The online press release is the most effective way of providing important updates and information in the Internet. If you are launching a new website, you cannot expect all your customers to know about the forthcoming project. A press release is the perfect way to give them this information to your customers and search engines.
1. Use Simple Language
The press release should be easy to understand. The paragraphs should be short and the language crisp. Like any other forms of writing avoid redundancy; rather focus on news. In short, the reader should understand clearly what news/new development you are trying to convey.
2.Call for Action
Like a sales copy a press release should encourage the readers to action. The news written should be interesting and compelling and the reader should feel free to contact you at the number given below the press release. Read More
7 Ways to Beat the Google Panda Updates – High Quality Post with tips, advice and examples. The Panda update only seems to run every 4-6 weeks, meaning until the update is run again, your website will not be rescored or have the potential to recover. Ice Clear Media Interactive
Link Building for Ecommerce Sites – Targeting the Right Anchor Text
While search volume data can help you make more informed decisions when choosing keywords for link building campaigns, it is important to be driving traffic through terms that not only bring in more traffic but convert well. Targeting anchor text phrases that have above average conversion rates will provide a higher ROI on your link building efforts than focusing only on search volume. Further, targeting keywords with above average conversion rates tends to help you get buy in from your clients/managers for your link building efforts because you are focusing your efforts based on monetary conversion rather than just traffic.
Using conversion data will prevent you from link building to terms that statistically don’t convert.Here is the process I use to find high value anchor text phrases. Make sure you are only looking at organic traffic and add “&limit=50000” to the end of the URL (and hit enter) to export up to 50,000 keywords instead of 500. Make sure to download as CSV (not CSV for Excel) or you won’t get the full 50,000 export.Note: you must be in the old version of GA to extract the 50,000 rows by adding &limit=50000Delete all data that can’t be considered significant – to find the minimum number of visits a keyword must have, divide 1 by your conversion rate (site conversion rate in the ecommerce overview) (1/.0125). In general, this number is the minimum number of visits a keyword must have to have valid data. For this example, you would delete all keywords with less than 80 visits.Remove keywords that convert below your average conversion rate (conversion rate in the ecommerce overview). This will focus your link building efforts on high value keywords.Plug the remaining keywords into the SEOmoz Keyword Difficulty Tool and paste (paste special: text only) in the resulting data next to the appropriate keywords.The important columns have been highlightedRun the keywords through your favorite rank checker. I really like using the SEObook rank checker because it’s fast, pretty accurate and has a nice CSV export. Avoid running tons of ranking reports so that you don’t get your IP banned.Remove keywords where you already rank really well (positions 1-3), and ones where you will most likely need a lot of work (less than position 20). The remaining keywords are most likely to give you the highest ROI on your link building efforts as they convert well and are already ranking within the first two pages.Sort your keywords by conversion rate and identify the keywords that convert the best; put these on your list of anchors to use in link building. You should also consider prioritize link building efforts for keywords with a low Keyword Difficulty score (if they exist for you) as you can see significant results on a faster timeline. While conversion rate is really important, search volume also needs to be a consideration. If you have a 50% conversion rate, that’s great, but if there’s only 10 searches a month, you are really capping your potential for profit. While this is really easy to do quickly when you only have three keywords, reality is you will have a lot of keywords to comb through. Identify your most desirable keywords by plotting them on a graph.Likewise, you should also look for an optimal balance between conversion and keyword competition to identify profitable quick wins.You can take this one step further and create a “potential value score” to replace the search volume metric (vertical value).While this metric has obvious drawbacks (such as you won’t be able to get 100% of the search volume), it does provide a high level value for a keyword.This is applicable to just about any site – If you are a lead gen or affiliate site, just set up your goals and then associate a goal value (average value per referral). Or, if you are a nonprofit, you could set up a goal for filling out a contact form and then creating a goal value based on average donation amount by users who initially contact you through your contact form. MFA site? Create a revenue per visitor value.
You provide something specific: That might be a product, a service, a trustworthy source of information, a community space… And you know exactly what your audiences may be searching for to find your wares. But do you know what they really want out of you? Do you know how they really feel? Do you know what they want more of or less of in your industry? Do you know what they like or don’t like on your site or your competitor’s sites? Do you know what they think about your new product launch? If you knew this information, how could you use it to improve your products or services?
In this post we’ll look at a few ways in which you can gather insightful information to help you position your brand against your competitors, laser target the specific desires of your audiences, and dive into the psyche of the people you want to attract and convert, categorized by what they want out of your industry, you, and your site.
WHAT DO YOUR AUDIENCES WANT OUT OF YOUR INDUSTRY?
Let’s say you’re in the online car insurance industry. You are considering what steps need to be taken to avoid search engine algo disasters and provide unique, compelling content and services that your audiences want. You’ve done your keyword research, so you know what search terms people are using, but what do they really want from your industry? Here’s some ways to find out.
1) Industry Market Research
You can typically find a wealth of market research by industry from sites like the ones listed below, although oftentimes this research is not cheap.
What to look for:
Market demandMarket trendsMarket entryMarket issues/obstaclesStatistical details for your target audiences
2) Social Industry Sentiment
Many people think of social media as a way to connect with your industry influencers and brand advocates. But social media data is also spectacular for simply passively gathering insights. There is a wealth of information online about your industry and how people feel about it, talk about it, interact with it, etc. This information can help you take a strategic approach at entering an industry, or refine your current positioning and offerings within an industry.
What to look for:
Track industry terms as your topics, to find out what people are saying about the industry, what they want to see more of, what they don’t like or want to see less of, and potentially for spotting any industry trends through online conversations.Determine industry needs and sentiments in emerging markets before drawing up a product/service strategy.
Source A: Expensive, detailed (and mostly deep crawl) social media monitoring tools
There is still a major gap in social monitoring tools where the ones that provide the best crawl and interface for useful, actionable industry and/or brand health data can run you from $30,000/year to $30,000 month or more. For enterprise-level sites looking to harness conversations around the web, enterprise-level social monitoring solutions are the only answer (in this case, typically as an alternative or accompaniment to traditional survey-based brand health metrics). I’ve done audits on several of these solutions over the years and here are some worth looking into if you can throw the cash towards it.
NetBase – Still one of (if not the) best and most useful tools for brand sentiment I’ve seen yet. Competitive sentiment, competitive liked/disliked attributes, passion index, conversation drivers, etc.Dow Jones Insight – Flexible sentiment, regional trends, large coverage on- and offline, measures not just what happened, but also what was impact?Nielsen Online – LSI-type algorithm, feeling & tone metrics, measure by language + lots more.Visible Technologies – Subtopic identification, management tools, highly drillable, sortable data + more.Radian6 – Share of conversation, demographics, location, influence, Salesforce & WebTrends integration, lots of charts.
Source B: Free and cheapish (but often not very deep crawl) sentiment tools
I want to have more faith in “tools for the people”, but in most cases, I’ve found search engines (see next section) to be more useful in finding good sentiment data than any of the free/cheap tools (and sometimes even the expensive tools). Try the software out and compare the insights you find with what you find in the next section using search engines to make the decision on whether it might be worth shelling out $200-$3000/mo or more towards these sentiment research tools.
Social Mention (free) – Sentiment, strength, passion & reach scores around a topic + top keywords, users, hashtags and sources.HowSociable (free) – Brand visibility score in several social networks.Trackur (paid) – Sentiment and influence metrics and tracking (history).eCairn (paid) – Share of voice, mind and/or topic + additional social media tools.Alterian SM2 (paid) – Share of voice, themes, demographics, sentiment analysis, etc.Trendrr (paid) – Sentiment analysis & influencer identification, location & demographic filters.Position2 (paid) – Share of voice, share of media, demographics, sentiment analysis, etc.And 195 more: http://www.salesrescueteam.com/social-media-measurement-tools/
Source C: Search Engines
If you don’t have a social listening tool or you’re just not getting good info from it, use the tool we all know and love: Search! Search engines still crawl much farther and deeper than most social media tools, so you can find more information if you know how to look. Search for any variation of things like:
“like” + [your brand name]“love” + [a feature you provide]“I wish” + [a feature you provide]“sucks” + [an author or blogger on your site or your competitor sites]“hate” + [your competitors’ brand names or features]
Additionally, search Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Yahoo! Answers or other social networks for the same type of information. I typically find the best feedback in this manner (using search + searching social networks), although it is more time consuming than the social media monitoring tools.
WHAT DO YOUR AUDIENCES WANT OUT OF YOU?
3) Social Brand Asset Sentiment
In addition to what people want out of your industry, it is important to know what people want out of you and your brand assets. Your brand assets could include your services, products, product features, executives at the company, editorial personalities, and the brand name in general.
What to Look for + Sources
Test brand asset topics out in the social media monitoring tools mentioned above (including search engines) to gather insights on what people around the web are saying about your brand. Each tool may provide different types of information, like:
Positive and negative sentiment around brand assets and competitorsShare of voiceSpecific likes and dislikes (deeper dig into sentiment)Campaign reach/brand visibilityLocalized share of voice and sentiment trends
4) Traditional Brand Sentiment
These survey-based reports typically show similar types of insights as the expensive social monitoring tools, only they are derived from surveys rather than scraped from the web.
What to Look for
Brand healthBrand sentimentBrand awareness/share of voiceBrand penetrationCSAT (Customer Satisfaction)Same measurements online for competitor brands
WHAT DO YOUR AUDIENCES WANT OUT OF YOUR SITE?
Lastly, you’ll want to gather insights on the site experience that your audiences are having, and how it can be streamlined and improved. Don’t forget, search engines want to see sites that people find valuable, so make sure you’re doing what you can to attract your audiences and keep them engaged, as well as prompting the sharing of your content in social spaces.
5) Solicited Site Feedback
If you ask your visitors for feedback you can use that data as well. Although soliciting feedback is not as unobtrusive as just using your site analytics data to determine where there are problems, it may be useful in getting a more human response to the potential issues on your site. Consider small incentives in return for feedback, like discounts, being entered into a contest, access to survey results (when appropriate), or other types of special recognition.
6) On-Site Search Queries
Looking at what people are searching for on your site, and what they are or aren’t finding, can be very useful site feedback. For sites with large databases like music or movies, site search may be the simplest way to get to the destination. See what is searched for the most to provide that content up front. For other sites, look at what people are searching for, which may be an indication of what they expect to find but can’t. Determine how your site can better meet those needs.
What to Look for:
What people want or expect to find on the site.What people can’t find on the site.Searches on your site that return no results.Searches on your site that end in an exit rather than a click on search results.
Your own on-site search analytics platform.
7) Click-tracking & heat maps
These colorful displays are probably the coolest ways of gathering site feedback. Use these tools to determine whether people are seeing your most important content and calls to action on each page.
What to Look for:
Are your primary calls to action getting clicks? Are they in view?Are you funneling visitors to the pages you want to?Are there links that are not getting any clicks?Is there content that isn’t getting eyeballs?What is the performance from search vs. the rest of the site?
8) Focus Groups and User Groups
Set up some objectives for a focus group to try to accomplish with your site and watch how they try to get there, what obstacles they come across along the way, how they think and feel about the experience, and more. This can be useful feedback from people who are not familiar with the site the way you and your team that are building the site are.
What to Look for:
How people feel towards planned new features or contentWays to improve existing features and contentWhether your users want or need new features or contentWhether there are features and content you can change, improve, or get rid ofHow people attempt to perform a task, and with what level of ease or difficulty
Search for focus group companies in your area.Do research on how to conduct your own focus group.Psychster (usability)
Have any additional methods or tools not listed here? Please share!