Nine Practical Guides to Public Speaking and Presentations

October 14, 2014

Whether you’re the type of person who eagerly dashes off a proposal for every speaking opportunity that comes your way, or the type who avoids the spotlight as much as possible, public speaking—delivering presentations to our peers, customers, prospects, or other audiences—is a part of virtually every marketing and PR professional’s life. And something most of us could improve at.

Practical Guides to Better PresentationsHow can you get and keep a roomful of people engaged with your presentation? Visually optimize the content you deliver? Effectively use humor? Tell a story that keeps listeners focused on you—instead of checking email on their phones?

Find the answers to those questions and more in these helpful guides from professional speakers. Some date back nearly two years, but all are still relevant and useful.

How To Stand In Front Of A Room Full Of People And Tell A Stellar Story by Fast Company

Jane PorterJane Porter passes along five valuable tips from master storyteller Kevin Allison. Among them: realize you’re never up there alone (think of it as a conversation, not a monologue); decide where you want to end up and work backwards; and vary your pace (“the juicier moments in your story should take up proportionately more room”).

The Science Behind Storytelling — and Why It Matters by The Official SlideShare Blog

Gavin McMahonNoting that Pixar continually tells great stories in its movies, Gavin McMahon shares 22 rules for storytelling from Emma Coats, former story artist at Pixar. He highlights two rules in particular that are essential to telling a great story: tailor your content to the audience, and structure your story (think hook, meat, payoff).

Event Marketing – The One Secret To Killer Events by B2B Marketing Insider

Michael BrennerMichael Brenner writes that the teams behind the best events think in terms of “multi-format, multi-channel and a steady and continuous promotion of great content. The event is seen more like a conversation that continues well before and long after the physical part.” He also shares specific tips from three professional event planners.

15 Presentation & Public Speaking Tips that Rock by Content Marketing Institute

Joe PulizziBased on his extensive experience both delivering and listening to presentations at social media and marketing events, Joe Pulizzi lists 15 helpful tips for better presentations, such as putting your Twitter handle on every slide; walking around; smiling a lot (it’s contagious); and “switching the flow and telling a story every eight minutes.”

7 Tips to Transform Your SlideShares From Good to Great by HubSpot

Erik DevaneyErik Devaney provides advice for content creators on how to avoid getting stuck in the “mediocrity loop” and instead embrace the improvement loop when creating new content. His seven practical recommendations for continually creating better Slideshare decks include choosing the perfect fonts (“a bold, stylized font for headers, and…a simple, easy-to-read font for body text”); using contrasting colors; and placing text legibly on top of images using a semi-transparent overlay.

What You Don’t Know About Speaking by Communication Rebel

Michelle MazurPublic speaking rock star Michelle Mazur shares a video outlining a handful of tips from Darren LaCroix, a past winner of the Toastmasters Superbowl. Among Darren’s recommendations for being a more successful public speaker: let go of the ME mentality – “On that stage when you are focused on the me, you are not focused on the ‘you’ in the audience. It dampens your connection with the audience.”

How To Be Funny: Stand-Up Comic Takes Public Speakers to School by DIY Blogger NET

Dino DoganDino Dogan presents a video interview with speaker, writer and standup comic Brendan Fitzgibbons about how to be funny (rather than intense) when presenting. It’s not easy (at least not for many us), but it is powerful. Brendan recommends starting off by showing vulnerability with some self-deprecating humor.

A 47-Point Guide for First-Time Webinar Success by MarketingProfs

In this timeless piece, Agnieszka Wilinska presents four dozen helpful tips covering all the bases for delivering a successful webinar, from focusing on providing value and setting goals (“If the webinar is designed to produce sales, set your expectations in units and in dollars and cents”) to polling participants, managing and concluding the meeting.

13 Ways to be an Awesome Guest Speaker by SlideShare

Barbara NixonBarbara Nixon shares a baker’s dozen recommendations for delivering as a guest speaker. She recommends starting by learning about the audience and tailoring your presentation for them, as well as creating a presentation with the flexibility to expand or contract the content. She also suggests being prepared for the technology (including the Internet connection) to fail, with a backup plan to keep the show going on.

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5 Fast Hacks To Increase Your Twitter Click Through Rate

October 7, 2014

Guest post by Logan Strain.

There are few things more satisfying to an online marketer than witnessing your brand’s Twitter account reach critical mass. All the work you put into building a large social platform is paying off, and now your account, which was once only followed by your coworkers, is now a social media powerhouse. But after that success, how do you make the most of Twitter as a traffic driver to your blog posts, landing pages, and other valuable content?

How to get more clicks on Twitter

Image credit: Flexspan

Merely providing links to your followers without thinking about presentation isn’t enough. Through a few tactical tweaks to your tweets, you can achieve a higher click through rate and more traffic to your digital properties.

Here are five simple ways to improve your tweets for a higher CTR.

Create Custom URLs

You’re already using a URL shortener to make the most of the limited space you have on Twitter. But are you carefully crafting those URLs, or are you letting your shortener turn them into a nonsensical garble of words and numbers? Random characters in a link have the whiff of spam, so they may get unfairly overlooked on Twitter.

Bitly, one of the most popular link shorteners, now features vanity URLs, which means that your social media links are 100% customizable. So you can turn “bit.ly/jd59i8” into “bit.ly/PrettyLink.” The latter, since it contains an actual word, is appealing and is more likely to earn those coveted clicks from your audience.

Choose An Eye-Catching Image

Gaining followers is only half the Twitter battle. Since your followers scroll through countless other tweets on their feed, you also need to stop them in their tracks when they see your tweets. When we promote blog posts on Instant Checkmate’s Twitter account, we create a banner image for both the blog post and the tweet. This not only makes the post itself more visually appealing, it creates a graphic that can help your tweets get noticed.

Fortunately, you don’t have to be a graphic designer or spend half an hour tweaking an image in Photoshop to create pro-style images. Online graphic creators like Canva can help you make high-quality, customized Twitter graphics in mere minutes. Simply create an image that contains your content’s headline and a visually striking background and your tweets will stand out.

Command Them To Click

Experienced marketers and salespeople know that you have to ask for what you want. Ambiguous calls to action produce lackluster results. But for some reason they consistently fail to apply that knowledge to their social posts. If you want your followers to click the link, tell them to do just that. Commanding your audience with a simple, brief “click here” or “check this out” will turn more Twitter followers into website visitors.

 Tweet Multiple Times

When pushing your content through Twitter, there’s no reason to take a “one and done” approach. When scheduling your posts, set your most valuable content to be tweeted multiple times throughout the week. Just like you, your followers have other things to do and might miss tweets relevant to their interests. A tweeting schedule that pushes your best pieces multiple times gives them many opportunities to see your content.

 Leverage Hashtags From Industry Events

Relevancy always increases click through rates. If there is a major conference or Twitter chat that is relevant to your industry, take advantage. Include the event’s hashtag in your tweets to promote your content. You’ll get in front of a brand new and intensely passionate audience for your content. By using this technique, you won’t just gain new traffic, you’ll probably also see a bump in followers.

Logan Strain is a web content creator who regularly contributes to Instant Checkmate’s blog, a father, and a podcast addict. When he’s not browsing Reddit, playing with his daughter, or binge-watching Netflix, he’s creating top notch web content. Follow him on Twitter @LM_Strain.

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26 Awesome Search Engine Marketing Guides

September 30, 2014

Search engine marketing (SEM) accounts for roughly three out of every eight dollars spent on digital advertising, with Google alone commanding 31% of the market.

That share is even larger within the b2b marketing space, and for good reasons: 88% of b2b buyers conduct online research before making business purchasing decisions, and nearly half of b2b tech buyers say they’ve discovered brands they weren’t previously aware of through a search engine.

Best search engine marketing guides 2014

Image credit: Placeit.net

While organic search traffic still drives roughly half of business website traffic, paid search accounts for 10%—and it enables marketers to guarantee first-page presence even for highly competitive search phrases that are difficult to optimize for organically.

So how can search engine marketers maximize their click-through rate (CTR) and conversions from paid search? Which tools and reports are most helpful? How and when should marketers use retargeting and ad extensions? What common SEO pitfalls and mistakes should they avoid?

Find the answers to those questions and many others here in more than two dozen of the best guides to search engine marketing of the past 18 months.

7 deadly sins of Google AdWords by iMedia Connection

Sheri FirstenbergCalling AdWords “both an easy-to-get-started and difficult-to-master tool for online advertisers,” Sheri Firstenberg takes a “look at seven AdWords sins that could be killing your ROI,” among them using search network with display select as your campaign type (search and display work differently and campaigns should be managed separately); dropping the ball on ad extensions; and ignoring match types and negative keywords.

New Google AdWords Callout Extensions How-To: Highlight Offers in Your Ads by WordStream

Miranda MillerMiranda Miller writes that Google’s recently introduced Callout extensions enabole “you to add more text to your ad to spotlight free shipping, discounts, price matching and more. Callout extensions are similar to sitelinks, but without the links,” then explains why advertisers may want to use them, how to get started, and tips & tricks.

10 ways to get the most from PPC in a small-keyword category by eConsultancy

Malcolm SladeUsing the category of home insurance as an example, Malcolm Slade demonstrates how “how search marketers operating in a highly-competitive category can achieve visibility and acquire new customers without simply increasing their paid search bids,” through tactics like remarketing, ad extensions, and social proof.

9 Pay-Per-Click Tools That Will Help You do Keyword, Ad Copy and Profit Analysis by KISSmetrics

Gary VictoryOnce you get past the obnoxious pop-up ad here, Gary Victory reviews nine helpful tools for paid search keyword research, including KeywordCompetitor (which shows “your competitors’ paid keywords, ads, and landing pages”) and iSpionage (“allows you to gain insight into competitors’ effective keywords, ad copy, and ad budget”) as well as popular tools like SEMrush and SpyFu.

Your Guide to Targeting Prospects on Google’s Display Network (Part 1) by The Daily Egg

Adam KreitmanAdam Kreitman explains what the Google Display Network is (“a huge network of websites—from the New York Times site down to tiny sites hardly anyone knows about—that run Google ads”); how it can help search advertisers expand impressions, clicks and conversions; and how to use keyword targeting and management placements. Additional targeting options are explored in part 2 and part 3 of this series.

4 Google Analytics Reports Every PPC Manager Should Use by PPC Hero

Emma WellandEmma Welland identifies four reports within Google Analytics that search engine marketers should be reviewing, and the value provided by each. For example, the Keyword Positions report (found at Acquisition>Adwords>Keyword Positions) reveals which ad positions actually provide the highest conversion rate (it’s not always the top spot).

Help! I Raised My AdWords Bids and Got LESS Traffic! by WordStream

Andy StefanoAndy Stefano does the math to show how increasing bids can actually reduce clicks, how quality score can increase clicks without increasing the budget, and strategies to address different search marketing goals (branding, traffic, conversions, or ROI).

AdWords Keyword Diagnosis Report: Diagnosis Statuses Decoded by Search Engine Journal

Heather CooanReporting that “AdWords provides a keyword diagnosis tool inside the user interface that few people know about, and even those who do use the tool may be surprised to learn the tool is quite robust,” Heather Cooan explains what each keyword status means, from “ads showing now” (what you’d like to see for every keyword phrase) through “low quality score,” “low search volume,” “keyword disapproved,” “excluded” and more than a dozen others.

Crowded SERPs, Top-Heavy Ad Positions, and What It All Means for Your PPC Campaigns by ClickZ

John A. LeeJohn A. Lee looks into the implications of changes to search engine results pages like product listing ads (PLAs), knowledge graphs, and suggested searches (less space for ad units and higher CPCs), and what search advertisers can do to try to retain top exposure for their ads.

Maximize Your Click Through Rate: Tips on Writing Killer Ad Copy by Vertical Measures

Natalie BarredaNatalie Barreda explores how to optimize ad copy, from the headline to ad extensions, competitive analysis, and ad body text: “The absolute, most important component when writing ad text to ensure quality clicks is the call to action in the ad. Another important thing to note is the ad relevancy/keyword use within the actual ad copy.”

Going Unicorn Hunting: The Secrets Behind Ads with 3x the Average CTR by WordStream
***** 5 STARS

Larry KimIn this long and detailed post, Larry Kim goes step-by-step through a process to “ads to the point they’re performing in the top 1% of all ads across the platform.” Along the way he spells out the difference between average and exceptional campaigns; the intricacies of AdRank; dynamic keyword insertion; ad extensions; and much more.

The Ultimate List to Clean Up Your PPC Accounts for the New Year by Search Engine Watch

Joe KerschbaumJoseph Kerschbaum details 16 elements that search marketers should review periodically to keep campaigns running in top form, among them geographic tarketing and bid modifiers; ad scheduling; ad rotation and delivery; ad copy; landing pages; and shared negative keyword lists across campaigns (“make sure all of your negative lists are targeted to the proper campaigns. You might be surprised at what you find”).

Rethinking Your Paid-Search Presence by MediaPost

Writing that “Unfortunately, many marketers look at their paid-search keywords in a silo. They get stuck in the channel. They may realize that certain terms work better in paid search, increasing conversions, customers and revenue, but they stop there, rather than integrating these terms across all marketing initiatives — which would provide a far greater impact,” Elizabeth Dillon explains how marketers can and should rethink paid strategies in terms of optimizing overall web presence.

New AdWords Ad Ranking Formula: What Does It Mean? by Search Engine Land

Larry Kim (again) demonstrates how AdRank works in AdWords and how Google uses it to determine “the order in which competing ads should be ranked on a SERP.” He also points out that AdRank “plays a huge role in determining the actual cost-per-click that your competitors [ITALICS] pay when someone clicks on their ads,” and delves into what search marketers should be doing to optimize AdRank given Google’s latest changes to this algorithm.

The Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords Quality Score by PPC Hero
***** 5 STARS

This long, detailed, and outstanding guide is designed to “help you understand the different types of Google Quality Score, why they’re important, the misconceptions about Quality Score, and it will provide you with a checklist of actions you can take to help raise your Quality Score.” This is one worth bookmarking for long-term reference.

Top 5 Ways You’re Leaking Money in AdWords by WordStream

Erin SaginNoting that small businesses typically waste 25% of more of their AdWords budget, Erin Sagin identifies five “culprits” that unnecessarily drain those dollars, and how to deal with each one. For example, not using negative keywords: “If you detect that a searcher is looking for something that you do not offer, eliminate the possibility of showing your ad to them by setting a negative keyword.”

A Guide to Retargeting (Remarketing) for B2B Marketers by KoMarketing B2B Online Marketing Blog

Joseph VivoloJoseph Vivolo defines what remarketing and retargeting (which are pretty much synonyms) is; dispels common misconceptions (“The biggest misconception is that retargeting is a form of stalking…[but] no matter what, you will find ads on webpages as you browse the web. The only difference with retargeting, is that the next time you see an ad, it will most likely be something that you are interested in”); explains the value of retargeting for B2B marketers; and lists several best practices.

Search Remarketing: What You Need To Know by MediaPost

Contrary to the post above, Jeremy Walker writes that “While each serves to more accurately reach specific audiences, search retargeting and search remarketing are two very different practices.” He goes on to explain the distinctions, benefits, considerations (be prepared for much lower volume), and mistakes to avoid when using search remarketing.

Infographic: Nearly 1/3 of consumers click on paid links by leaderswest Digital Marketing Journal

Jim DoughertyJim Dougherty presents an infographic from DMNews containing a number of interesting SEM-related stats, such as that paid search has a higher average conversion rate (2.6%) than organic search (1.9%), and that paid search accounts for 44% of all search engine traffic revenue for online retailers. The figures may or may not be spot on, but the underlying message that marketers shouldn’t ignore paid search is spot on.

Should Every PPC Expert Know CRO? by PPC Hero

Sam OwenCalling conversion rate optimization (CRO) a”a fundamental part of PPC,” Sam Owen lays out the five principles of how good websites work, then explains how to improve your CRO skills using the DHAES approach (for data, hypothesis, approach, experiment, and statistical significance: typically you “need at least 50 conversions per test page”).

Google Rolls Out Metrics Tool, Estimates Conversion Tracking To Improve Bids, Budgets by MediaPost

Laurie SullivanLaurie Sullivan writes that “The Estimated Total Conversions AdWords tool estimates online sales and conversions that require multiple devices to complete,” and explains how this tool works to “give advertisers a complete view of all conversions driven by Google search advertising…(including) metrics based on phone calls and store visits.”

The 10 DOs & 10 DONTs in Google AdWords by Search Engine Journal
***** 5 STARS

Rocco BaldassarreRocco Baldassarre helpfully provides a reference-worthy list of 10 things advertisers should definitely DO in AdWords (e.g., utlize the keyword planner, hone your ad text, use tightly themed ad groups) and 10 practices to avoid (such as paying “too much attention to keyword popularity metrics,” trying to outbid competitors, and neglecting geographic targeting).

Quality Score Hacks: 3 Sneaky Ways to Increase Your Quality Score by WordStream

Elisa GabbertAfter noting that optimizing AdWords quality score can reduce CPC by as much as 50%, Elisa Gabbert explains three ways to gradually improve quality scores, from using site extensions (like sitelinks and call extensions, which are “especially key for mobile ads, allowing people to call you with one click and get what they need right when they want it”) to bidding on brand terms.

Every Adwords Campaign will have its Day by KKSmarts

Mike SeddonWriting that “By combining their adcopy with that time their ad is running they will definitely stand out from the other adverts and, as we know, ads that stand out usually get clicked on!,” Mike Seddon proceeds to explain how to use ad scheduling to separate your ads from the pack and increase CTR.

10 best practices for landing page design you need to know by Polaris B

Shelley PringleShelley Pringle shares 10 key considerations for designing an effective landing page, from making the offer clear and “answering, the question: what’s in it for them?” and keeping the form short to using the “blink test” and optimizing your post-submit thank-you page.

10 Alternatives to Google AdWords by PPC Hero

Aleh BarysevichWhile Google AdWords is by far the largest PPC network, there are times when marketers may need to use other networks in addition to or in place of AdWords. In this post, guest blogger Aleh Barysevich details 10 alternatives, from the obvious Yahoo! Bing Network to AdRoll, “a retargeting platform, which is one of the top third-party tools officially approved by Facebook.”

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The 5-point plan: how to increase marketing ROI from call conversions

September 22, 2014

Guest post by Luke Rees.

Every marketing executive wants to know when their efforts are getting through to consumers, and the online world is certainly making it easier to do so. Whilst there is still no way to track impressions from offline marketing (human interface programmes just aren’t that advanced yet…), the online world makes it possible to track real time results via impressions and clicks.

Increase ROI from call conversionsBut although online is great for understanding your customer base, it may not be the best platform for converting leads into customers. In fact, a recent study found that two thirds of people get frustrated when they can only interact with a company online. 

65% of businesses still consider the phone their strongest lead source, so how can marketers track when their online efforts are generating phone calls?

Here are five techniques marketers can use to better understand their customers; to streamline their experience with the contact centre; and to ultimately improve ROI.

Click-to-call tracking

Click-to-call tracking allows advertisers to identify and measure calls to their business after an ad click through occurs. Google recently announced they are offering this service free for their AdWords users.

How it works:

  1. a code is placed on the company’s website or mobile site;
  2. this code generates a unique forwarding number for each AdWords click;
  3. when a customer calls from a unique number you can link it back to a specific page on your website, as well as publisher sites within the display network, to see the types of calls that are being generated;
  4. with the help of Google Universal Analytics it is possible to track the keywords (i.e. search phrases) the customer used before clicking on your webpage. Your call centre staff are therefore already clued-in about the specific needs of the customer.

Data from this new free feature allows marketers to understand which keywords and ads are driving the most phone calls from your website, as well as where the most valuable calls are coming from.

Customer acquisition

Google’s call conversion tool allows marketers to optimise each page of their website by seeing the amount of engagement it’s getting, but there are also more sophisticated methods available for tracking where customers are coming from.

Here are two more techniques for tracking customer acquisition:

  1. IP and ISP (Subscriber Trunk Dialing) tracking software allows agents to see the exact geographical location where calls are coming in from;
  2. integrating call tracking with bid management software can allow marketers to see the keywords that lead to the most offline telephone conversions. Having this data means they can fine tune their PPC and SEO campaigns.

Companies who understand the needs of their clients and know how to target them are likely to significantly reduce their cost per lead. For one company who had their data reviewed this was as much as 50% reduction.

Conversion to call

Call tracking companies like ResponseTap provide software which allows marketers to track the entire customer journey, not just the initial call.

With the help of web analytics programmes it is possible to see:

  1. which keywords the customer used before calling;
  2. the publisher which drove the visitor to the website;
  3. the webpages they looked at before, during and after each call.

Integrating call tracking with analytics software like Google Adwords tracking, Adobe SiteCatalyst, or DC Storm can further improve customer understanding and increase the conversion to the right kind of call.

One company wanted to reduce information only calls to make capacity for Sales calls. By reorganising content for existing members and non-members differently they were able to increase the conversion to the right kind of call by 66%.

Conversion to sale

Wouldn’t it be great if your call centre staff new exactly the needs of the customer before they’ve even picked up the phone? These three strategies do just that, which significantly increases your chance of making a sale:

  1. Call screening alerts the agent about the campaign that has motivated their call. A phrase is read out to the agent before or after a call, telling them information like how the caller found your website, and what keyword they typed in;
  2. Dynamic call routing allows companies to route a call depending on to how a visitor have found their website. The call can then be directed to the best team, department or person within the business;
  3. SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) can be integrated into your call centre tactics. SIP is a signalling protocol that makes it possible to implement services like voice-enriched e-commerce, web page click-to-dial, or Instant Messaging depending on the preferences of the individual customer.

Using smarter and more sophisticated routing to get the calls to the right people will result in increased ROI. One of the businesses who had their data reviewed saw an uplift in sales of 15%.

Higher order value

Increasing the average order value (AOV) at the end of the customer journey is the final part of the customer journey which marketers can optimise through clever call tracking.

Two way to ensure customers spend bigger are:

  1. URL callbacks allow you to send data about the caller to an online system at the start or end of the call in real time. By storing this data in a database, you can integrate with other online solutions like web analytics or CRM solutions to better understand the customer experience and needs.
  2. CRM Integration: instead of using your CRM to just be a system that retains customer information based on manual entries, integrating your website and call tracking software brings in valuable customer information directly into your CRM. It also enables complete end-to-end reporting of lead to conversion through the call channel.

One company presented the call handler with the actual landing page the customer arrived at so that they had an immediate understanding about their intent. As a result they believe AOV went up 20%.

Conclusion

By taking each point of the customer’s journey in isolation, businesses will begin to notice real results.

Let’s take a look at the example company numbers for each metric, before and after they integrated four call tracking strategies.

So initially traffic acquisition went up 50%, then conversion to phone call improved by 66%, conversion to sale went up 15% and finally AOV increased by 20%:

Before 

  • 1,000,000 visitors
  • converting at 1% from visit to call
  • converting at 20% from call to sale
  • at an AOV of £1000

= £2,000,000 revenue

After (assuming some fairly typical conversion metrics, and the improvement percentages taken from each of the businesses above)

  • 2,000,000 visitors
  • converting at 1.66% to call
  • converting at 23%
  • at an AOV of £1200

= £9,163,200 revenue

The difference on these metrics is a 458% improvement. By implementing some clever software with a few smart tactics to connect online and offline efforts, it is possible to improve marketing ROI exponentially.

Luke Rees is a digital marketing executive from London who writes extensively about technology and trends in the search market industry. You can contact him on LinkedIn and Google+

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19 Excellent Guides to SEO Link Building

September 16, 2014

Contrary to articles and blog posts claiming link building is dead, the reality is that  it’s not—as even Google’s Matt Cutts has confirmed. But like SEO more generally, it has evolved.

Link building - the right way in 2014 and 2015

Image credit: SEO Book

The days of getting high search rankings based on high-volume, low-quality, easy-to-get links are long gone. Building quality links that will still positively impact rank now requires more work, more creativity, and a more sophisticated strategy for developing owned, earned, and shared links.

Are there any “easy” ways remaining to build worthwhile links? When should you disavow existing links? Which link building tools and tactics still have value? What link building techniques are “Penguin-safe”?

Find the answers to those questions and many others here in some of the best guides to link building in today’s search environment, from the past year or so.

The Low Hanging Fruit of Link Building by imFORZA Blog

Vinny La BarberaWhile acknowledging that the “low-hanging fruit of link building” (links that are relatively easy to obtain) are not incredibly valuable on their own and represent just one component of a broader link-building strategy, Vinny La Barbera points out that such links nonetheless form a basis, particularly for new websites, and explains how to build such from sources like social profiles, local business directories, news releases, and social shares.

Link Madness by SEOBook

Peter Da VanzoPeter Da Vanzo serves up an entertaining rant on link disavowing, recovering from Google penalties (or not), and “link paranoia.” He reminds readers that trying to “game” Google rankings is never a good strategy; diversifying traffic sources always is; and outlines a handful of “approaches to link building that will likely stand the test of time, and incorporate strategy that provides resilience from Google’s whims.”

How to Get Backlinks – The Ultimate Guide by Interwebs Institute

Though written primarily for SEO novices, even seasoned experts may find it worthwhile to skim this comprehensive post covering basic links types, how links convey authority, backlinking guidelines, black hat practices, backlinking tools, expert SEO resources, and common link-building tactics.

The Value of Referrer Data in Link Building by Search Engine Watch

Dave DaviesWriting that “link building is not dead…links matter. The death is in links that are easy to manipulate,” Dave Davies explains the value of looking at referrer data in Google Analytics (“Apart from the fact that traffic is probably one of, if not the best, indicator of the quality and relevancy of a link to your site, your traffic data can also help you find the links you didn’t know you had and what you did to get them”), key questions to ask about those links, and how to find competitors’ link referral data.

12 Scalable Link-Building Tactics by The Moz Blog

Jason AcidreJason Acidre outlines a dozen tactics for non-spammy link building, such as creating your own database of premium images, conducting interviews with popular personalities (particularly helpful for new websites), reverse engineering competitors’ links, and link reclamation (i.e., reclaiming broken or outdated links to your site that have already been created).

7 FREE Link Building Tools For Post-Penguin Success by WebMechanix

Arsham MirshahArsham Mirshah reviews seven free tools to help with link building efforts, including the SEOBook SEO Toolbar, about which he writes, “Not only is this a must-have for link building, but it’s also a necessary tool for anyone in SEO, period.” Do be a bit cautious with link building tools however; despite abiding by Google guidelines, the MyBlogGuest tool was hit with a Google penalty.

How Link Building Changed in 2013 by Search Engine Watch

Julie JoyceJulie Joyce looks at what changed in link building during 2013, and how those changes impact link building tactics in 2014 and beyond. She covers Google’s major algorithmic updates, link disavoiwing and cleaup, changes made by Bing and Yandex, and changes in the industry (for example, “People talked more about building relationships than building links. This whole concept has been around for ages but in 2013, it really started to get much more attention”).

Link Building with the Experts – 2013 Edition by Sugarrae

Rae HoffmanRae Hoffman interviews 10 SEO pros as well as providing her own answers about link building strategies and tactics for the post-Panda and Penguin search environment. Asked if links are becoming less important in Google’s ranking algorithm, Julie Joyce (again) pretty much sums up the opinion of the group, stating that “they are becoming a slightly smaller portion as other factors are being added in but not to a significant extent…Unless they (Google) rebuild the algorithm from the ground up, I don’t see the importance of links drastically decreasing.” This is a long piece but well worth a read.

The Future-Proof Link Building Strategy by Search Engine Journal

Aaron AdersAaron Aders lays out a link building strategy he says is future-proof because it “aligns with the ‘why’ behind search engine technology…At a high level, the strategy consists of creating and promoting great content. The tactical process is broken up into four sections: Research, Creative, Promotion and Conversion.” Hmm, sounds similar to the web presence optimization model.

How to Use Google’s Disavow Links Tool the Right Way by Search Engine Watch

Chuck PriceChuck Price outlines a seven-step process for using Google’s disavow links functionality, from conducting a link audit (using Google Webmaster Tools (alone), to submitting a reconsideration request (“Only if you’re under a manual penalty, will you need to file a reconsideration request. When filing your request, here are some key points to consider.”)

Google’s Disavow Tool: What You Need to Know, and 4 Common Myths by Search Engine Journal

Jayson DeMersJayson DeMers explains how Google’s link disavow tool works, and importantly, what to do before [ITALICS] using the tool. He also dispels four common myths, such as that disavowing links can damage your site’s reputation in the eyes of Google: “Proper use of the Disavow tool is not going to cause Google to label you as a spammer, nor will it negatively affect your web profile.”

How To Get Out Of A Google Penalty [VIDEO] by Vertical Measures

Ben HollandIf, God forbid, you try to do link building the right way but get caught up in a Google penalty anyway (perhaps because of past link-building activities by a less conscientious link builder), Ben Holland shows you how to recover using a six-step process that starts with downloading your backlink list from Google Webmaster Tools and running these through another tool, like Link Detox, that can help separate the good links from the dodgy ones.

5 Ways to Protect your Website from Google SEO Penalties by Search Engine Journal

Marcela De VivoIn the good old days of link buidling, low-value links didn’t hurt, they just didn’t help. Addressing the (justified) paranoia caused by Google’s nasty Penguin, Marcela De Vivo recommends a handful of ways to avoid trouble, like auditing links monthly and creating Google Analytics Alerts for triggers such as “Google Organic Traffic decreased by more than 5%.”

Link Building Without Magic by SEOCustomer

Henrik-SandbergAccording to Henrik Sandberg, Google is the only link-building tool you need–and he steps through his recommended process for tool-free link building, using tactics including blog commenting, guest blogging (“guest Blogging will not only give you traffic – it will also give you some great SEO juice”), directory and resource listing, and forums.

10 Powerful White Hat Link Building Strategies by Blogging Wizard

Adam ConnellAdam Connell walks through 10 Penguin-safe link building techniques that he says “will give you the best results possible if you use them to build relationships,” such as linking out to other blogs (which, yes, is occasionally done here) though he warns that “An important thing to remember is this tactic won’t result in a link most of the time (at least not until you really get on the map and get right in front of the bloggers you’re linking to).”

Top 25 Free and Paid Link Building Tools for Serious Link Builders by Blogging Wizard

As a follow-up to the post above, Adam Connell provides brief reviews of more than two dozen helpful link-building tools, including Wordtracker’s Link Builder: “you can add a bunch of competitor URLs and immediately find where they are getting their links from. You can then also find link prospects by searching for pages that rank for a particular keyword which can be very useful.”

Transform Link Building into Brand Building for 2013 by Search Engine Journal

Pratik DholakiyaPratik Dholakiya believes that “Links are important, crucial even, but sustainability means brand comes first,” and offers 10 tips for using traditional “link building” activities for more focused brand-building (or web presence building) instead–including news releases, guest posting, infographics, forums, and commenting.

High-Value Tactics, Future-Proof Link Building – Whiteboard Friday by The Moz Blog

Cyrus Shepard“The past 12 months have been brutal for many traditional forms of link building. Techniques that once worked are now penalized,” according to Cyrus Shepard, who goes on to explain the “right way” in the current environment to do link building (or earning) using infographics, guest posts, media relations, and direct outreach.

Inorganic vs. Organic Backlinking Strategies: Getting Back to Basics by Search Engine Watch

Krista LaRiviereKrista LaRiviere, CEO of web presence optimization software provider gShift Labs, makes the case that links are still vital in the post-Penguin world, but in order to have value (rather than causing problems), backlinks need to pass the RAID test (relevant, authoritative, influential, and diverse).

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