Posts Tagged ‘Krista LaRiviere’

19 Excellent Guides to SEO Link Building

Tuesday, September 16th, 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).

Post to Twitter

31 Expert Guides to Maximizing Online Brand Visibility – WPO

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

Given all of the changes Google has made affecting organic ranking factors (asking webmasters to disavow low-quality links, reducing the value of guest blogging, ignoring links in press releases, etc.),  the practice of SEO—optimizing owned content for search—is no longer sufficient for maximizing a brand’s online visibility.

This is not to say “SEO is dead” or that it no longer has value, only that it can no longer stand on its own. It needs to be part of a larger, coordinated strategy encompassing owned, earned and paid media: web presence optimization (WPO).

The original WPO model focused on content-sharing to maximize organic brand visibility; as the WPO framework evolved, it incorporated paid and industry (e.g., event sponsorships, community outreach, analyst coverage, trade association membership) components.

Today’s WPO model emphasizes the importance of fusing a solid content strategy with a comprehensive online distribution strategy in order to maximize brand visibility and credibility.

The Web Presence Optimization Model - WPOYet despite the analytical and strategic power of the model, WPO still largely remains the concept that everyone talks about, but no one names. It’s as if sportswriters constantly wrote about “contests in which opposing teams of five players attempt to shoot a round orange ball through a hoop with a net attached” instead of simply saying “basketball.” As indicated by the posts from Search Engine Watch and All Twitter highlighted below, that is starting to change, but only just.

How can social, PR, SEO, and online advertising efforts be coordinated to maximize brand visibility? How can paid, owned, and earned media be harmonized to achieve business goals? How can paid and organic content promotion channels be used together most effectively? What role does email play in extending online visibility?

Find the answers to those questions and many more here in 31 of the best blog posts and articles about WPO (even if they don’t call it that) of the past year.

Beyond Search & Social: Online Marketing in 2014 by Search Engine Journal

Marcela De Vivo covers a great deal of ground in this thought-provoking and wide-ranging post, from the impact of social signals on organic ranking to earning (vs. building) links, measuring key performance indicators (KPIs) based on your goals (e.g., “If your goal is organic visibility, your KPI’s will be based on increasing your rankings and organic traffic”), and the debate around paid, earned and owned media: all critical consideraations in a WPO strategy.

Convergence: Merging Disciplines Between PR and Marketing by InNetwork

Hessie Jones contends that while marketing and PR have traditionally been separate disciplines, due to social media, “these roles are converging in a big way,” so today brands need “a combination of PR and Marketing to stay on top of the conversation, and be ready to develop compelling content to engage and build advocacy,” and furthermore to pair “mainstream and digital media experts with creative specialists like copywriters, digital designers and video producers to uncover storytelling opportunities in real time, deliver critical business insights, engage influencers and customers and create the content that shapes news and conversations.” Which is to day: they need to coordinate the efforts of everyone involved in maximizing a brand’s online visibility and relevance.

How to build a robust content program by iMedia Connection

Writing that “Today, superb, consistent content best serves your customers and leads to increased loyalty and bottom-line results,” Deborah Hanamura explores a baker’s dozen considerations for content marketing strategy, including social, SEO, PPC (“Great Pay-Per-Click advertising requires great content. Create an impression versus multiple impressions”), and events—in other words, most of the key elements of WPO.

______________________________________________________

Download the WPO Framework White Paper

______________________________________________________

Integrated Marketing: The Magic Formula for Success by Blue Kite Marketing

Laura Click (correctly) asserts there is no “one singular tactic that will help you achieve results” in digital marketing, but rather that achieving the objective of being everywhere your prospect look online requires an integrated marketing approach coordinating efforts across:

  • • content marketing;
  • • media relations;
  • • advertising;
  • • search engine marketing (actually, a form of online advertising);
  • • social media; and
  • • email marketing.

Add SEO to the list above and you’ve got WPO.

Integrating POEM: The Rhyme and Reason of Harmonizing the New Media Mix by iMedia Connection

Aaron Dubois explores the strengths and weaknesses of paid, owned and earned media (POEM), and advises marketers, “Throughout the planning process, take a step back and look at your brand’s overall marketing strategy. If the P, the O, and the E aren’t working in conjunction with each other – with a consistent brand voice across all communications – then it’s not likely you’re going to get as much out of your campaign as you hope to.” That’s another way of saying: adopt WPO, which coordinates efforts across these these three types of exposure.

Harmonizing owned, earned and paid mediaCreating a Multi-Channel Content Marketing Strategy by BlueGlass

Kevin Gibbons illustrates the POEM concept and recommends that marketers “have a fully integrated strategy, where everyone is involved towards having success across all of your owned, earned and paid media channels” in order to properly plan and execute to achieve online business goals (or in other words, adopt a WPO approach). He then provides further guidance regarding content creation, measurement, and audience targeting.

6 Reasons Social Media Is Critical To Your SEO by Convince with Convert

Jason Clegg offers “six reasons social media needs to be an important part of your website marketing and SEO strategy for years to come,” such as that social media enables you to “crowd source” your link building; social links actually drive traffic to your website; and “Google hates link building.” Though the post goes a bit over the top in spots (“link building as a direct SEO tactic is completely dead”—not quite true), Jason’s overall points regarding the SEO value of social media are spot on.

The PR Strategies SEOs Haven’t Learned by Siege Media

A helpful companion to the post above, Ross Hudgens here focuses on the value of PR for SEO: “Many PR companies still blast releases out to publishers that have no reason to receive them. Many SEO companies do the same with their outreach to bloggers. The best of both worlds will find the intersection, combine agility with empathy, and make for an extremely potent content marketing package.”

MarketingSherpa 2013 Marketing Benchmark Survey ResultsMarketing Research Chart: Integrating email and search marketing tactics by MarketingSherpa

Daniel Burstein notes that the chart at right “highlights one of marketers’ key challenges. They’re doing a lot. Even the least used tactic — digital asset optimization — is being conducted by 45% of marketers.” He then explains three ways that marketers can be more efficient by “SEO and email tasks to get more done in less time.” This type of coordination between different types of content promotion efforts is also at the heart of WPO.

The Evolution of Content In A Big-Content World by MediaPost

Writing that “‘big content’ is the definition of what content marketing has become: unruly, amorphous, exponential and everywhere,” Steve Kerho suggests that marketers should “think of big content as branded content that exists in multiple channels, across devices and…is no longer controlled solely by the brand.” Indeed they should, and efforts should be coordinated across these different channels to optimize visibility and engagement while maintaining consistent brand messaging.

SMO Guide for BusinessThe Complete SMO / SEO Guide for Business & Brands in Social Media by REALSMO
***** 5 STARS

Joshua Berg provides an indispensible and comprehensive guide to how social media and search work together; the principles of social media optimization, aka SMO (“Focus on the user and all elSEO will follow”–spot on); and the (possible) future of search.

The Aftermath Of SEO’s Death This Summer by Forbes

Writing that Google’s Penguin and Hummingbird algorithm updates “mean no more hat tricks, keyword stuffing, comment spamming, backlink image stuffing…Finally, Google uncovered the secret to blocking SEO tricks used to get customers on the infamous PAGE 1,” Eris Poringer provides excellent guidance on implementing a “comprehensive plan” for maximizing online brand visibility, incorporating social media, email, content marketing, native advertising, and other tactics. This approach isn’t SEM (paid search) though SEM is a key component of a wider WPO strategy.

Social Media Should Not Be A Stand Alone Brand Tactic by Brand Cottage

The smart and engaging Patricia Wilson lists seven reasons why social media should not be a stand-alone brand tactic (such as, “Social Media is very hard to scale on its own”) and suggests that “social strategy works best as part of a larger integrated marketing and business plan.” Couldn’t agree more; it’s a vital component of a WPO strategy.

The B2B Marketing Guide to Paid Content Distribution by B2B Digital Marketing
***** 5 STARS

In this highly bookmark-worthy post, Eric Wittlake details almost two dozen options for paid content distribution, from advertising on the large social networks to content distribution services like Outbrain and Taboola to native advertising and sponsored posts on B2B publication sites. As long as you stick with reputable sites that keep up with Google’s latest guidelines, these are great avenues for extending the reach of your content and increasing overall online brand visibility.

Social Media AdvertisingHow to Amplify Your Content Strategy with Social Media Advertising by Content Marketing Institute

Observing that tweets have an average half-life of 18 minutes, Facebook posts have a half-life of 30 minutes, and keeping up with algorithmic changes in organic search is getting increasingly difficult, Dan Stasiewski recommends “creating an advertising flow to your content ecosystem.” Excellent advice, though not either/or; successful content promotion requires coordinating all of the elements of WPO.

SEO And Other Web Marketing Techniques: Tools Or Tricks? by Forbes

Roger Kay comes down rather hard on content marketing and SEO (“a rather polite term for another way to game the system”), but writes that he likes “the concept of inbound marketing because it relies on product quality…at bottom, inbound will only work if the product is good.  Effectively, the Internet is a fantastic channel to give an idea a chance to make it in the wild, but the virus only spreads if the content justifies the buzz.” True, which is why content strategy forms the base of WPO. But as noted here previously, even the “most epic content will FAIL without content distribution,” which is why coordinated sharing and promotion across channels is just as important as creating high-quality content to begin with.

When Keyword (not provided) is 100 Percent of Organic Referrals, What Should Marketers Do? – Whiteboard Tuesday by Moz

Rand Fishkin steps through a number of steps SEO practitioners can take to deal with the loss of organic keyword data from Google, such as using “keyword suggestion sources like Google Suggest, Ubersuggest, certainly AdWords’s own volume data, SEMRush, etc. to see the keyword expansions related to your brand or the content that’s very closely tied to your brand.” Running AdWords ads and examining keyword performance is another option.

Time for a New Definition of SEO by Search Engine Watch

Writing that “digital marketing tactics such as email marketing, paid search and search retargeting have very clear, undisputed definitions. The definition of SEO, on the other hand, seems to be just as unclear as the practice itself,” Krista LaRiviere suggests WPO (she actually uses the term) represents the evolution of SEO, and defines WPO as “an all-encompassing approach to optimizing an entire web presence for organic search including the website, social channels, blogs, articles and press releases.” Her ideas clearly resonated, as the post garnered 50 comments.

The Web Presence Optimization Cycle [INFOGRAPHIC] by All Twitter

Allison Stadd showcases a helpful infographic designed to help marketers visualize “the steps to web presence optimization with the goal of helping you reach organic search success.”

The Web Presence Optimization Cycle Infographic

Getting less traffic from Google? Here’s why it may not matter soon by Jim’s Marketing Blog

Jim Connolly details three reasons marketers should diversify their efforts beyond just organic SEO, most importantly because “Google sends less traffic to sites than before…between August 2012 and March 2013, search traffic from Google nosedived an incredible 30%” to a collection of large publisher sites including The Huffington Post, The Daily Mail, Newsweek, Time, Sports Illustrated and Rolling Stone. It’s not that search isn’t still an important tactic, but that it’s only one of several important elements in a brand’s total online visibility (the focus of WPO).

Relying on organic SEO? You’re losing customers! by Digital Growth

Building on the arguments in Jim Connolly’s post above, Luke Chapman illustrates how ads and universal search elements continue to push organic listings further down on the typical search results page, making even a #1 organic ranking less valuable than it used to be. To combat this, he recommends using social media, email, PR, blogging and blog commenting, and industry/community marketing—pretty much the range of WPO elements. And investing in SEM also helps maintain search visibility.

Google SERPs - More Ads, Less Organic

Is SEO Dead — Or Decentralized? by MediaPost

Musing about the decline of traditional SEO and the rise of social media optimization and paid search, Ryan DeShazer concludes that “In today’s marketing communications organization, everyone is an SEO…creative teams (now) include content discoverability and SEO into their work streams; technologists are building sites and apps compliant with known onsite SEO best practices; and UX specialists are including keyword research before developing user personas and journeys.” Hmm, coordinating the efforts of multiple disciplines in order to optimize web visibility…sounds familiar.

The 4 SEO Trends Every Marketer Needs to Know by iMedia Connection

Tony Quin reveals what he believes are four key trends in SEO that marketers need to understand, the most relevant of which for WPO is number four, “Traditional marketing tactics will boost digital marketing initiatives…Press releases, for example, provide branded mentions and links that will increase the authority of your website while also increasing exposure. Despite what some might say, email is still extremely effective in creating opportunities for awareness and sharing.” Creating compelling content is vital, but that content then needs to be shared using social media alongside “traditional marketing tactics.”

Inbound vs. Interruption MarketingInbound Marketing: 15 tactics to help you earn attention organically by MarketingSherpa

Daniel Burstein (again) serves up a list of “quantitative metrics, case studies, how-to articles and other resources to help you improve your own inbound marketing efforts by learning more about how your peers are effectively using these tactics,” including SEO, PPC, email, events, PR, blogging, content marketing, and other aspects of WPO.

How to optimize your emails for search by iMedia Connection

Noting “It might sound like a strange idea to optimize your emails for search engines, but SEO is a skill that email marketers better start working on,” Michael Linthorst explores the ins and outs of Gmail Field Trial, an “experiment in which Google includes a user’s Gmail inbox in his or her search results.” Engagement, content, and relevancy are keys to “email SEO”—and a solid approach to email marketing regardless.

Social Search Engine Marketing Throws Search Experts A Lifeline by MediaPost

Laurie Sullivan reports on recent research showing that “Social signals continue to make their way into search results—making social search engine optimization the next major trend in organic listing. Enterprise SEO requires a search across traditional techniques and social media channels.” This integration is, of course, at the heart of WPO.

Why Your Online Marketing Department Is All Screwed Up by ClickZ

Andrew Delamarter describes how marketing departments can, and must, sop operating in “silos” and coordinate efforts across paid, earned, and owned media: “Now is the time to stop thinking SEO, media, content marketing, web analytics, and Facebook posts and start thinking holistically about inbound marketing that brings it all together.”

Marketing in Silos is Screwed Up

Must evolve to:

Integrating Owned, Earned and Paid Media Efforts

If you build it, they will come — maybe by iMedia Connection

The brilliant and prolific Rebecca Lieb believes “The winners in content marketing will create not just quality content, but distribution strategies that will get that content ‘out there'” (i.e., WPO). SEO, PR, advertising, and social all have their role to play, but so do media companies.

Six Ways Internet Marketing Meets PR Online by SteamFeed

Because “the online world of content marketing requires knowledge of Internet marketing which includes search marketing, key word designation, html coding, link building, and the other tools and tricks of the trade,” Jayme Soulati outlines half a dozen ways for PR professionals to work with their Internet marketing counterparts to maximize online brand visibility and impact.

Search Marketing Integration, a.k.a. WPOThe New SEO: Search Marketing Integration by Search Engine Watch

Brad Miller writes that while SEO isn’t dead, “the days of SEO as a distinct, independent discipline are certainly numbered. SEO is fast evolving into a more creative, diverse, and challenging profession.” He uses the term “search marketing integration” to describe the coordination of activities across social search, branding, PR, SEM, and others areas in order to integrate all your marketing efforts into “into one single, agile, engaging strategy.” That would be WPO.

2013 – Break the (Digital) Marketing Silos by The RKG Blog

As noted above in the introduction to this post, WPO is about coordinating the efforts of everyone on your team involved in content creation or digital marketing. As Todd McDonald writes here, “Imagine the insights available to those who successfully bring together PR, social, email, PPC, SEO, and other channels!  Each one can feed the next, providing ever-deepening levels of data and connections that will drive data-driven strategic marketing decisions.  SEO will be a cog in this machine and it will need the machine to work well in order to functional optimally.” He challenges marketers to smash their internal silos—a vital step (as noted above) in WPO, even if he doesn’t call it that.

Post to Twitter

28 (of the) Best SEO Guides, Resources and Infographics of 2013

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

Panda, Penguin, Phantom, Hummingbird. Disappearing keyword data. Personal / universal / local / mobile search. These are indeed “interesting times” for SEO professionals, with rapid and wide-ranging changes to the search landscape being announced at an accelerating pace.

Given all of this change, what are the best practices for SEO as we head into 2014? Which SEO strategies, tactics, and ranking factors still apply? How have SEO techniques changed in the post-Penguin world? How do you recover rankings if your site is hit by a penalty?

Find the answers to these questions and more here in more than two dozen of the best SEO guides of 2013 so far.

SEO Guide, Tips and Best Practices

The Latest and Greatest SEO Strategies by Bad Rhino Rumblings

Amanda DeSilvestroAmanda DiSilvestro and Nick LaRosa outline new SEO strategies, tools and resources. Among the strategies recommended are taking advantage of local search (e.g., by completely filling out profiles on Yelp, Bing Places, Yahoo Local, and Google+ Local) and posting frequently (“The more you post, the better chance you have for link building, sharing, and engagement opportunities—all important when it comes to SEO”).

Google Panda And SEO: Updated Tips For Online Marketers by MediaPost

Brian RauschenbachBrian Rauschenbach outlines three broad areas important to focus on post-Panda, and three types of activities to avoid, such as complicated sitemaps and navigation: “With Panda, Google has pretty consistently made it clear that simple navigation is best; websites that require too much digging to find desired content could be negatively affected.”

2013 Search Engine Ranking Factors by Moz

Matt PetersMatt Peters breaks down the latest study into high-correlation factors for website rank. While there is a great deal of data here, at a high level: backlinks remain the most important part of the algorithm (though quality matters more than quantity; on-page keyword usage is still fundamental; and social factors may be more correlational than causational with high rankings.

Weighting the Clusters of Ranking Factors in Google’s Algorithm by Moz

Rand FishkinFollowing up on the post above, Rand Fishkin presents the weighting of categories of ranking factors in Google, based on a survey of 128 SEO professionals. More than half of all the factors that determine a page’s rank are based on backlinks (e.g., quality of sites linking to the domain, anchor text distribution) or page-level keyword usage (content quality, relevance, meta tags, etc.).

The 10 New Rules for SEO by Business2Community

Rekha Mohan outlines a process for SEO in the post-Panda and Penguin world. The English is a bit rough but the information is useful. Most of what’s covered is well-trod ground, but the detail behind developing searcher personas and considering buyer intent are interesting.

SEO Reporting & Metrics: How to Prove Progress by Search Engine Watch

Krista LaRiviereKrista LaRiviere steps through a process for reporting on SEO efforts to a client, starting wih five key questions such reporting should answer for clients (among them: “What impact did these efforts have on the web presence for organic search?”), and proceeding through setting expectations, goals, and benchmarks, and driving action items.

SEO Best Practices – 5 Tips to Get You Noticed by Masterful Marketing

Debra MurphyThe always engaging Debra Murphy details five tactics for optimizing rankings on Google, such as using responsive design to optimize cross-device user experiences: “This saves resources for your website and for Google’s crawlers.  A responsive design makes it easier for your users to interact with, share, and link to your content while also helping Google’s algorithms assign the most relevant indexing properties for the content.”

How to Think Like Google by QuickSprout

Neil PatelOnce you get past the annoying pop-ups on this site, you’ll find a detailed and valuable post from Neil Patel highlighting attributes that Google frowns upon in determining search rank (e.g., spam (comment and otherwise), malware, duplicate content, low quality inbound links) as well as things Google likes: authoritative content, social signals, and adapting your website to user needs.

7 Awesome Competitive Niche SEO Strategies by Search Engine People

Dennis MiedemaWriting that “(in) SEO strategy for competitive niches…you need to win each of the small battles before you even think about declaring yourself the winner of the war,” Dennis Miedema recommends content marketing, local SEO, and industry networking among other strategies in industries with a high degree of SEO competition.

3 SEO Tactics We’re Easing Up On in 2013 by The WordStream Blog

Elisa GabbertElisa Gabbert suggests that over-optimized anchor text, anchor text through infographic links, and guest posting are SEO tactics to ease up on. The first is obvious; the second two are more controversial, as exhibited in the large number of comments generated by this post.

SEO Audit Tips and Techniques

How to Conduct a Competitive SEO Audit to Outrank Industry Rivals by HubSpot

Rebecca ChurtRebecca Churt details a process for performing a competitive SEO analysis, beginning with identifying key competitors (in both search and the real world) and proceeding through taking action on your findings: “Think about how you will use this information — whether it be for your content strategy, product or service positioning, social engagement tactics, etc. — all of which help with your SEO in the long run.”

How to Do an SEO Audit of Your Website by Entrepreneur

AJ KumarAJ Kumar outlines a five-step process for performing an SEO audit on an existing website, from checking on-page optimization title tag content and length to comparing the site’s backlink profile to that of competitive sites in order to “uncover link-building patterns in your industry that you should be paying attention to.”

10 Insights from a Lite SEO Audit That Any Small Business Can Benefit From by Search Engine Watch

Glenn GabeGlenn Gabe explains how even on a small website, a “lite” SEO audit can expose issues such as missing 301 redirects, broken links, site speed issues, and backlink problems (or simply a lack of relevant backlinks).

SEO Infographics

Infographic: How up-to-date are your SEO practices? by leaderswest Digital Marketing Journal

Jim DoughertyJim Dougherty shares an infographic comparing “old” to “new” SEO practices, for example, the shift in importance from technical knowledge to marketing knowledge (unquestionable), from optimizing for search engines to optimizing for users, and from link building to link earning.

Infographic: 2013 SEO Ranking Factors, From SearchMetrics by Search Engine Land

This beautifully crafted infographic covers social, backlinking, technical and content-related factors in SEO. Among the key takeaways are that keyword domains and links have lost relevance, and that brands are the exception to many rules. Be cautious about placing too much faith in the accuracy of every factor, however, as advised in the (copius) comments generated by this post.

How Google Ranks Your Website – 200 Google Ranking Factors by Digital Information World
***** 5 STARS

This phenomenal infographic aggregates “the best information (available) about how Google ranks pages and websites,” with ranking elements divided in groups like domain factors, page-level factors, backlink factors, and user interaction among others.

The New Face of SEO: How SEO Has Changed [INFOGRAPHIC] by SEO Blog

Another excellent infographic illustrating the diference between “old” SEO (e.g., targeting a specific, narrow set of keywords based on search volume) and new SEO tactics for the post-Panda world (e.g., targeting a wider range of keywords based on intent and conversion data).

Post-Penguin SEO Guides

Google Penguin 2.0 vs. Black Hat SEO by SteamFeed

Brien ShanahanBrien Shanahan reports on high-traffic websites hit with Penguin penalties, including among several truly spammy sites unfortunately SalvationArmy.com, one of the most reputable and highly-rated charitable organzations, noting that “While Salvationarmy.com has many valuable links, it also appears to have thousands of links from low-quality websites.” He goes on to explain why these sites are penalized and how to recover from a Penguin penalty.

Winning with White Hat SEO in the Post-Penguin Era by SteamFeed

Brien Shanahan (again) contrasts black-hat SEO tactics (e.g., content spinning, link building, doorway pages) with whitehat tactics (creating useful content, social sharing) and details 10 white-hat techniques for achieving SEO success.

The Myth of Content Marketing, the New SEO & Penguin 2.0 by Search Engine Watch

Kristine-SchachingerContending that “Content marketing isn’t new. It’s just a new buzzword picked up by other industries that suddenly found out they could to ‘do SEO,’, but they didn’t want to ‘do SEO,’ so they tried to make it more special. It isn’t,” Kristine Schachinger positions content marketing as just another SEO tactics, albeit one that’s always been very important, along with on-page optimization, legitimate link building, optimizing site load speed, and avoiding or fixing crawl errors.

Penguin 2.0: PANIIIIIIIIC!!!…(or not) by Search Engine Journal

Matt BurnsMatt Burns explains seven changes to link-building tactics and their effects in the post-Panda environment: tiered linking and excessive keyword-match links are out, high authority and social links are, and guest blogging is in…for now.

It’s Time to Change the SEO Mindset by Search Engine Watch
***** 5 STARS

David HarryThe brilliant David Harry argues that SEO today is not about link building but rather about “Content + Outreach + Social + Promotion + Brand reach,” which incorporates content development, PR, social media, and online advertising. Sounds just like web presence optimization (WPO), though he doesn’t use that term.

How to Recover from a Search Engine Penalty

How to Recover from Panda Dance by Kaiser the Sage

Jason AcidreJason Acidre supplies seven tips for recovering from “Panda dance” penalties in search rankings, including improving low-performing landing pages (“Start with the pages that you believe are important and optimize these landing pages to mainly increase user dwell time”) and making updates to evergreen landing pages, such as lists of industry resources.

Phanteguin: A Phantom & Penguin One-Two Punch From Google by Search Engine Watch

Glenn Gabe (again) explains how to recover from penalties resulting from “Phanteguin,” the “one-two punch from Google” on sites hit by both Phantom and Penguin. He explains not just the differences between the two algorithmic changes, but also between Penguin 1.0 and Penguin 2.0, how to identify a Phanteguin penalty, and steps to take to recover lost rankings and traffic.

Google Panda, Penguin & Phantom: 3 Recovery Examples by Search Engine Watch

Glann Gabe (once more) presents three real-world case studies highlighting recovery from tanking rankings due to each of Google’s three most recent major algorithmic changes.

Step-by-step guide to my Google Panda penalty recovery by SME Pals

David MercerDavid Mercer provides a detailed, step-by-step account of a real-world recovery from a Panda penalty, from improving site speed and fixing broken links to redesigning the page template and disavowing low0-quality backlinks. Some of his advice will be hard to swallow, however, such as “stop syndicating content.” And anyway, isn’t Google Authorship supposed to take care of that issue?

Technical SEO

Speeding Up Your WordPress Blog’s Load Times by Find My Blog Way

Matthew BarbyMatthew Barby demonstrates how to measure page load time and then minimize it (focused on WordPress sites) using a variety of techniques, from compressing images and caching “everything” to setting up a content delivery network.

Reclaim Lost Link Juice by Capturing 404 URLs by Search Engine Journal

Noting that changing URLs to a more search-friendly structure can cause 404 errors, traffic loss and even reduced site authority, James Parsons details two methods for identifying 404 errors and correcting them, in this helpful technical post.

Post to Twitter

37 Fantastic SEO Guides, Tips and Tactics

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

Considering that the average b2b website gets about 40% of traffic from organic search, with some sites getting as much as two-thirds of all visits via search engines, effective search engine optimization (SEO) remains a vital strategy.

But precisely what constitutes “best practices” in SEO is a continually (and lately, rapidly) moving target. Yesterday’s on-page optimization and link building tactics—even those used with the best, non-manipulative intentions—may get a site penalized in search rankings today for being “over-optimized.” (You can’t be too rich or too thin, but apparently you can be too optimized.)

So what’s a marketing manager, PR professional or SEO specialist to do? Keep up with SEO trends and changes. Optimize off-site content (for example, on YouTube and other social platforms). Use effective SEO tools and marketing metrics. Create link-worthy content. Use social signals to boost rankings. Learn how to do all of that and then some here in more than three dozen of the best SEO guides and tips from the past year.

General SEO Tips and Guides

When Search Becomes Invisible by MediaPost Search Blog

Laurie SullivanLaurie Sullivan explores how online advertisers and search engine optimizers will adjust to a not-too-distant future “when the act of typing keywords into a search box to create a query becomes invisible? The act of searching for information will blend into voice-assisted programs, with geolocation targeting supported by data.” She reports on how Google, Ask, online ad platform vendors and others are simultaneously creating and adjusting to these changes in technology.

4 questions to ask when hiring an SEO consultant by iMedia Connection

Louis RixLouis Rix recommends four questions that marketers ask before hiring an outside SEO consultant or firm, such as what kinds of reports they provide and how they build links (great question). His fourth suggested question is a bit tricky however, as even the author notes that “Nobody can promise you a No. 1 ranking.”

10 Elements of a Perfectly Optimized Page by Search Engine Watch

Gareth OwenGareth Owen presents 10 important elements for on-page SEO, though he acknowledges that “perfect” may be stretching things a bit (“It’s worth noting that the ‘perfectly optimized page’ above won’t be perfect for all verticals, or for all brands – not everyone has the ability to add customer reviews to their product pages”).

4 Enterprise SEO Trends to Watch in 2012 by ClickZ

Adam AudetteAdam Audette outlines four trends he sees in SEO, among them “Further Corporatization of SEO in the Enterprise: The trend over the last several years has increasingly shown SEO teams ‘go within’ at large companies. This is a trend I’ve long supported and recommended, for example in my piece on in-house SEO teams. In fact, for enterprise companies to realize exceptional results in SEO, they almost always require a dedicated internal SEO team. That’s the case today primarily because incremental gains are harder to achieve.” True perhaps, but this is not necessarily a trend in small to midsized firms yet.

5 big SEO changes you might have missed by iMedia Connection

Lisa WehrGoing beyond the usual SEO guidance, Lisa Wehr explains how to capitalize on mobile and local search, Google encrypted search results, and even Google+ and Facebook: “Where on a social site can you insert keywords? From Google+ profiles to Facebook info sections, you can display keywords and all of your business web properties (website, Twitter, YouTube, corporate blog, etc).”

SEO Strategy for New Domains by Search Engine Journal

Sujan PatelWriting that “When you first launch a new website, it’s a blank slate in the eyes of Google and the other search engines,” Sujan Patel serves up a five-step plan for gaining search ranking, from “make sure that your site is set up as effectively as possible from an internal SEO standpoint” to planning for ongoing optimization.

5 Best Practices for Global SEO by ClickZ

Crispin SheridanFor websites that are truly global in terms of their market targeting, Crispin Sheridan offers a handful of helpful tips for optimization, among them engaging in local link building: “Link building, whether through traditional efforts such as outreach programs or guest blogging, social media, and leveraging partnerships, will always be one of the strongest ways to obtain more favorable rankings. In addition to helping with rankings, the search engines will look at the origin of the links to help determine local relevance. For example, a Chinese site that has a large number of links coming from other China-based sites will have a stronger authority within the local China search engines.”

7 Signs That You’re Overvaluing Search Engine Optimization by MarketingSherpa

Daniel BursteinReporting that nearly a third of b2b marketers “consider search engine optimization to be very effective — more than email marketing, content marketing, and most noticeably, paid search,” Daniel Burstein outlines warning signs that a company may be overvaluing SEO, to the detriment of considerations like providing valuable content and optimizing for conversions.

Create A YouTube Traffic Jam With These 4 Simple Optimization Tips by KISSmetrics
***** 5 STARS

Brian HonigmanWhile it’s not SEO strictly speaking, optimizing your YouTube videos for search is a great way to increase brand exposure, and to (indirectly) drive website traffic. Brian Honigman provides an outstanding, comprehensive guide to optimizing videos from tags and titles to playlists, annotations and channel branding.

Confirmed: Google+ Is Critical To Your Search Rankings by Sean Clark

Sean ClarkSean Clark contends that “Keywords (are) a thing of the past,” and that social media signals (particularly from Google+) are the future of search engine ranking signals. True? Perhaps. Carefully consider Sean’s arguments and those of his commenters.

DuckDuckGo Search Engine Crowdsources Plugins by Wired

Scott Gilbertson reports on DuckDuckHack, “a developer platform that allows anyone to add new features to the search engine.” The platform enables anyone to write plugins (to go along with current “goodies” like time-based queries and unit conversions) for the search engine and share them. Is this article really one of the best SEO guides of the past year? Maybe not, but it’s hard not to love DuckDuckGo.

9 Lessons from 1,000 SEO Questions by SEOmoz

Dr. Peter J. MeyersDr. Peter J. Meyers distills the answers to 1,000 private questions asked of SEOmoz into this compact summary of SEO  wisdom, such as “One-trick Ponies Make Good Glue…People naturally get comfortable with one aspect of search marketing (link-building, on-page, social, etc.) and then want to ‘perfect’ it, but at best they hit diminishing returns fast.”

Google Webmaster Tools: An Overview by Search Engine Watch

Simon HeseltineSimon Heseltine offers a helpful guide to the features in Google Webmaster Tools, from getting started through navigating the dashboard, messages, configuration, assessing a website’s health (e.g. through crawl errors), search queries,  internal links, sitemaps and more.

10 Myths That Scare SEOs But Shouldn’t – Whiteboard Friday by SEOmoz

Rand FishkinRand Fishkin dispels myths that shouldn’t be keeping SEO practitioners awake at night, such as having a large number of backlinks from a single domain (unless the linking site is really spammy or the links were built manipulatively) or keyword density that’s “too high.”

10 SEO measurements every marketer should know by Biznology

Rob PetersenNoting that “80% of people who visit a website get there from typing a keyword in the query box of a search engine” (seems a bit high, your mileage will vary) and “90% click on websites on the first page” (of search results), Rob Petersen defines 10 imperative SEO metrics for marketers, from the number of keywords driving traffic to the number of pages indexed by search engines.

7 Small Business SEO Tips by Search Engine Watch

Adam StetzerAdam Stetzer suggests “seven small business SEO tips to help earn more business through traditional organic search rankings,” among them understanding that onsite SEO is necessary but not sufficient; that creating engaging content is critical; and that content marketing should be used to earn backlinks (“Quality content containing humor, information, controversy, politics or training usually brings backlinks – and is definitely considered acceptable SEO”).

SEO Tips for Panda and Penguin

Interview of Jonah Stein by SEO Book

Aaron WallAaron Wall has a long, detailed conversion with SEO expert Jonah Stein about the impact of Google’s series of Panda algorithm updates, and how to respond to penalties. One key line from Jonah: “It is short sighted to believe that any of the SEO niche strategies are going to survive if they are not supported with PR, social, PPC and display.” Which is pretty much what the web presence optimization (WPO) framework is designed to address.

What is your SEO Social Signals Strategy? by iMedia Connection

Krista LaRiviereKrista LaRiviere reveals, in her words, “how Google’s algorithm changes impact both backlinking and social signaling; how to build an SEO social signals strategy; how your SEO backlinking and social signals strategies come together in your content strategy; (and) how to measure it all.”

Google Plans SEO Over-Optimization Penalty by Practical eCommerce

Jill KocherJill Kocher provides some details about Google’s throw-the-baby-out-with-the-bathwater approach to penalizing “over-optimization.” For example, one sign of over-optimization to Google is reportedly “Linking repeatedly from body copy to a handful of key pages with optimized anchor text. If 33 of my 100 pages link to www.jillsfakesite.com from the body copy with the anchor text “Jills Fake Site,” that should count as over-optimization.” Never mind that there may be perfectly legitimate reasons for doing this, and it may improve the user experience.

6 Changes Every SEO Should Make BEFORE the Over-Optimization Penalty Hits – Whiteboard Friday by SEOmoz

Speaking of over-optimization, Rand Fishkin (again) here reviews half a dozen ways to avoid Google’s “over-optimization” penalties, including this on in-content text links: “go with logical, useful, change it up when you’re linking to pages, maybe a couple of times, in some spaces. You have a blog post and it mentions a page on your site that you want people to actually go to and that you think is useful in context. Great, link over there. Fine, use the anchor text. Maybe use a modified version of the anchor text, a little longer, a little shorter, a little more natural sounding, and you’re going to get these same results, but you’re going to do it in a much more effective way. You’re not going to be at risk of whatever is happening with this over-optimization penalty.”

The Rise of Content Strategy–What to do about Google killing SEO by Biznology

James MathewsonJames Mathewson outlines four ways Google is killing SEO, including semantic search: “How do SEOs traditionally optimize pages? By advising their clients to put keywords in strategic places on a page. When Google goes to semantic search, it won’t be as much about keywords at all, but on the meaning of the words you use. This might be the biggest SEO killer of all. If tuning our content for keywords our users care about is no longer an effective strategy, what is left for SEOs?” He believes content strategy is the new SEO.

SEO & Content Marketing: Getting The Most Visibility For Your Valuable Content by MediaPost Search Insider

Janet Driscoll MillerObserving that “with recent algorithm updates, Google has noticeably placed renewed emphasis on unique, relevant, and timely content. Clearly there’s a marriage between SEO and content marketing,” frequent best-of honoree Janet Driscoll Miller explains how to capitalize in search on difficult-to-optimize content such as information that’s behind a registration wall, infographics and PDFs.

How to Identify Search Engine Penalties by Search Engine Journal

Reassuring that “Not all search engine penalties are permanent, and with a little detective work and remedial action, you should be able to restore your previous rankings and rebuild the flow of organic traffic to your site,” Sujan Patel (again) outlines a five-step process to determine if your site has been penalized, and it so, recover from it.

17 Ways SMBs Can Survive the Google Penguin Update Effect by ClickZ

Lisa BuyerFor those concerned about Google’s Panda update (which is to say, anyone involved in SEO), Lisa Buyer highlights a number of resources for help including guidance on optimizing beyond Google, including advertising, socializing, pinning, profiling, twittering, and more.

Backlinks Strongest Factor For Positive Search Rankings by MediaPost

Laurie Sullivan (again) reports that “Content shared from Facebook and the amount of backlinks appear to influence organic search engine results most, but Google +1s have the strongest impact on rankings,” and that recent analysis of Google ranking factors in the post-Panda-and-Penguin era suggests that social signals will play an increasing role in site ranking.

6 Months with Panda: A Story of Complacency, Hard Decisions, and Recovery by Search Engine Journal
***** 5 STARS

Glenn GabeIn this must-read case study for any site hit by Panda, Glenn Gabe explains how even a large, mature, well-respected website with a stellar link profile can get hit with Panda penalties, what caused this to happen, and the single most important thing that needed to be done to regain ranking and traffic.

7 Achievable Steps For Great SEO After The Penguin Update by SEOmoz
***** 5 STARS

Chris WarrenThis post from Chris Warren would be a must-read for anyone struggling with search traffic issues in the post-Penguin era even if it only contained steps one (“Understand your link profile…The biggest risk factors are a combination of lots of low quality links with targeted anchor text”), two (“Learn what makes a good link…there is a lot of evidence that these high value links are really the main drivers of a domain’s link authority”) and five (“almost never change your URLs”).

Understanding Penguin 1.1: Be Safe from Updates in 3 Easy Steps by Search Engine Journal

Muzzammil BambotMuzzammil Bambot steps through some of the biggest negative factors in post-Penguin search ranking and how to correct those, from getting rid of paid links and excessive links from a single domain to having too many exact-match text links (solved by increasing the diversity of text link variations).

3 Ways to Use Social Media to Improve Your Search Rankings by Social Media Examiner

AJ KumarAJ Kumar suggests strategies for using social media to improve search rank, but just as importantly to “future-proof” your site from still more Google algorithm changes by using social media to reduce your reliance on organic search traffic, for example by including “prominent social sharing buttons at both the top and bottom of each blog post on your website (or use a scrolling option that moves down the page alongside your readers).”

10 Ways Coding Can Help Your SEO by Search Engine Journal

Sujan Patel (once again) provides an excellent collection of SEO tips, here focused on technical factors that can affect rankings. Among his recommendations: use a search engine spider simulator to validate your code for spider-friendliness; create search-optimized page URLs; and combine script files to speed up page load times.

How Google’s Panda and Penguin are affecting your site’s rankings by iMedia Connection

Kent LewisKent Lewis does a commendable job of explaining how Google’s Panda and Penguin updates affected search rankings, and practical steps for avoiding penalties and regaining rankings (e.g., “Cancel or remove unnecessary footer links. Take it easy on the internal ‘SEO’ linking”), though his contention that “A minority of those sites (negatively affected by these algorithm changes) may be legitimate, but a majority of those impacted were consciously in violation” is questionable, particularly given the experiences of other experts noted above.

10 Old SEO Methods You Need to Stop by Search Engine Watch

Greg HabermannGreg Habermann warns against 10 SEO “techniques” that no longer work (or never really did), including Ezine Articles submissions, “news” release without any real news (produced just for links), link exchanges, thin content, and spider-unfriendly web design.

Top 1 SEO Tips for 2013 by SEOmoz

Pete Myers (again) shares his single most valuable SEO tip for 2013, writing that: “While I can’t tell you Google’s next move, I can tell you one thing with absolute certainty – there’s more to come. So, how can you protect what you’ve built in 2013? I was going to write a long list of suggestions, but I realized that they almost all boiled down to just one idea. I’m not going to toy with you – my top tip for 2013 SEO is…”

Best SEO Infographics

On page content SEO Puzzle #infographic by WordPress Hosting SEO
***** 5 STARS

Berrie PelserWriting that “SEO is a large and dynamic puzzle…to have a successful SEO strategy, you will need to all of the pieces of the puzzle together,” Berrie Pelser presents an easy-to-grasp infographic covering the basics of on-page optimization, coding, site architecture, social factors, reputation, links and more.

The History of Search Engine Marketing by Erik Holladay

Erik HolladayErik Holladay shares an infographic from Markus Allen that details the major ranking factors used by the leading search engines and the significant changes and upgrades made to ranking algorithms from Lycos and WebCrawler in 1994 through Google’s Panda algorithm update.

A Simple SEO Audit For Your Website by Soulati Media
***** 5 STARS

Jayme SoulatiJayme Soulati share a helpful infographic outlining the process for a basic website SEO audit, from content (fresh? Keyword-stuffed? Easy to read?) through technical considerations (navigation, crawl issues, broken links) to backlinks (spammy or paid vs. relevant and high-quality).

Infographic: The New Face of Search Engine Optimization by Marketing Technology Blog

Douglas KarrDouglas Karr presents an excellent SEO infographic contrasting what used to work in terms of keyword targeting, user experience, on-site content (e.g., “stuff title tags with keywords”), anchor text, directory submissions, news releases, and more, to what works today (e.g., “social traction correlates with links…Google+, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest are the most important SM platforms to SEO”).

Post to Twitter

33 Phenomenal Content Marketing and Copywriting Guides and Tips

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

Content marketing represents the most fundamental and widespread rethinking of marketing practices in decades. Unlike other modifiers attached to the discipline (consumer marketing, b2b marketing, trade show marketing, digital marketing), the term “content marketing” doesn’t describe an audience, tactic, or channel, but rather a completely different approach to marketing.

Content and Branding InfographicContent marketing turns the dominant paradigm of the last half-century—interruption-based mass marketing—on its head. Rather than interrupting prospective customers with content they generally didn’t want (product pitches) while they were consuming content they did (entertainment or news), content marketing entices targeted buyers with entertaining (consumer) or informative (b2b) content that also happens to reflect the company’s brand messages or product/service strengths.

Disruptive as it is, this philosophical shift has spread widely and quickly: according to recent research, “86 percent of companies serving consumers and 92 percent of ‘business to business’ companies now use content marketing.”

Since content marketing itself is no longer a differentiator, practitioners are asking questions like: how can I efficiently create a steady stream of fresh, relevant content? What types of content are most valuable to my sales prospects? How can content be optimized to support search engine optimization (SEO) efforts? What metrics are most helpful in measuring success and support continual improvement?

Discover the answers to these questions and many more here in more than 30 of the best content marketing articles and blog posts of the past year.

Content Marketing Guides, Tips and Tactics

5 Ways to Clone Great Social Media Content by SteamFeed

Jennifer KaneHelpfully pointing out that “You likely already have strong content on hand (either on-line somewhere or even stuck in a file cabinet in your office.) Instead of developing new stuff from scratch, riff on/reuse this stockpile of awesomesauce and use it more strategically,” Jennifer Kane proposes a handful of techniques to get more mileage out of existing content, such as “Drill down or spiral off on your content themes…if a piece of your preexisting content has resonated with your audience, consider using it as source material for a more in-depth examination of the topic or to jump off on a sub-topic tangent that will enable you to expand the perception your audience has of your brand.”

Digital Natives: How They Are Changing the Content Marketing Game by Content Marketing Institute

Patricia RedsickerPatricia Redsicker presents six strategies content marketers need to embrace in order to address the information needs and wants of digital natives–those born “between the mid-1970s and the late 1990s, (who) have grown up during our current golden age of digital technology. Now in their mid-teens to mid-thirties, people in this generation came of age knowing how to interact with technology and are comfortable using it to their advantage.” Among her recommendations are focusing on content that builds trust, that efficiently answers simple questions quickly, and that makes content consumers feel valued.

Corporate Content Marketing for Best in Class Results by Creative Marketing Channel

Catherine LockeyNoting that “Best in class companies utilize content marketing for brand awareness, customer acquisition, lead generation, and customer retention” and that most companies plan to increase budgets in this area, Catherine Lockey answers six key questions about content marketing, such as “How do best in class companies create all of their great content?” The answer to that one is outsourcing; roughly half of all small companies and three-quarters of large firms outsource at least a portion of their content creation efforts.

Seeking Marketing Alpha by Propel Growth Blog

Candyce EdelenThough the panel discussion this post was written to promote is long past, the thoughts about content marketing shared here by  Candyce Edelen are still well worth a read. “The Internet and email make it easier and cheaper to make noise, resulting in a virtual cacophony of marketing claims barraging customers every day – with everyone claiming to be ‘the leading, number-one, unique, value-added, trusted provider’ of ‘robust, innovative, cutting-edge, high-performance, ultra low-latency technology….’ Yawn. How can every vendor be the ‘leading provider’ anyway?”

Content Marketing in 6 Steps by Social Media Today

Steven Van BelleghemSteven Van Belleghem lays out “the 6 crucial steps to take in order to end up with a good content strategy,” starting with topic selection (determining what’s at the intersection of your company’s unique internal expertise and the information needs/wants of your market) and proceeding through measuring marketing performance (based on the content marketing objectives you’ve established).

Long Live Content Marketing by Rebelations

Rebel BrownRebel Brown offers practical guidance on how to avoid self-promotion and salesy content that “will send your audiences running” and instead focus on providing value: “For example, let’s say your audience is challenged by performance problems with their applications. Don’t send them a piece of content all about your faster processor, database, system or whatever. That’s obnoxious and pretty blatant self-promotion!  Instead,  share a piece of content about the key aspects of their infrastructure that they might want to check for problems. Share your expertise to guide them through the process to better understand their issues.”

5 CEO-Worthy Metrics for Demonstrating Inbound Marketing Success by Marketo B2B Marketing Blog

Jon MillerJon Miller outlines five key inbound marketing metrics to measure and continually improve content marketing success, such as lead generation by content and channel: “Beyond core organic traffic and leads, track lead generation by content asset and source.  What sources are driving the most traffic? What kinds of content drive the most leads? The most revenue?  It can also be insightful to track how these vary by product line or business unit.”

Feeding The Content Marketing Beast – 7 Places to Find Cheap Content by Heidi Cohen

Heidi CohenNoting that two of the biggest challenges content marketers face are “producing sufficient content” and “having enough budget to cover the cost of content,” Heidi Cohen has compiled almost two dozen recommendations for developing content cost-effectively, from repurposing speeches delivered by company executives and soliciting employee contributions to reworking content from your distributors and suppliers.

What Tech Buyers Want From Content by Marketing Interactions

Ardath AlbeeArdath Albee reveals three key attributes that technology buyers value in marketing content, including freshness: “58% (of technology buyers in a UBM TechWeb survey) said they wanted content that was timely and current (while) only 11% said they’d consider content more than 18 moths old.” If you’ve got older content that is still relevant to buyers, refresh it to keep it current with the state of your industry.

Don’t Forget the ‘Marketing’ in Content Marketing by The Content Cocktail

Christina PappasChristina Pappas shares a seven-step checklist for making sure that your content contributes to company goals, without being too pushy or salesy, among them “Make sure there is an offer or connection to your product in every piece of content…every piece of content you publish should have some tie-back to your company and the solutions you provide to the market. This doesn’t have to be obvious and it doesn’t have to be smothered all over the thing, but it should be there somewhere,” such as links to white papers or other related assets at the end of a blog post or report.

Exploring the Five Cs of Content Marketing at Cisco by IT Services Marketing Association

Sherri LieboSherri Liebo identifies the “5 Cs” that Cisco Services looks at to better listen to customers when creating and sharing marketing content, including Customers (“What are customers looking for?”),  Competition (“What is the competition doing? How does Cisco Services compare?”) and Collaborators (“What is happening with our channel and strategic partners?”).

Research: B2B Buyers Want Content by Social Marketing Forum

J-P DeClerckJ-P De Clerck summarizes findings from Base One’s Buyersphere Survey regarding the content needs of business buyers. While the study focused on Europe, its findings are more broadly applicable, such as that “87% of…buyers look for advice before buying…The first source when doing so: Web searches. With 71% of respondents who look for information, searches are by far the main source of information.” Among other findings:

  • • Business buyers are most active in sharing content on forums, LinkedIn and blogs;
  • • Younger members of the buying team are most likely to read white papers and blogs, and attend webinars; and
  • • Buyers “who are working in IT were more likely to have downloaded whitepapers (36%) or read blogs (28%)” than those in other industries.

J-P has also launched a blog, Content Marketing Experience, focused exclusively on content marketing issues and guidance. His post Five Reasons No One Shares Your Content is spot on and well worth a read.

Content Marketing: 3 tips for how to get started by MarketingSherpa

Daniel BursteinDaniel Burstein dispels three myths than hold content marketers back or prevent them from getting the support they need within the organization, such as “‘We don’t want to give away our secrets.’
If you can’t give potential customers enough information about how you do what you do (whether that is fixing plumbing leaks or improving marketing performance), then why should they trust you with their business?” And McDonald’s “secret sauce” is (shhhh)…Thousand Island dressing.

4 secrets to successful content marketing by iMedia Connection

Jacqueline McDermott LiskWriting that “the digital world allows us to measure just about anything, including three factors that help marketers gauge the success of their content: click-through rates, time spent on content, and shares via social media,” Jacqueline McDermott Lisk outlines strategies for producing high-quality content that will both improve these statistics and drive business results.

Sweet talk your leads and move them through the sales funnel by Polaris B

Shelley PringleBecause not all “leads” are ready to turn immediately into buyers, Shelley Pringle outlines a four-step process for converting those leads into customers over time. The process starts with understanding your prospects’ buying cycle and creating content for the top, middle and bottom of the sales funnel.

Sourcing B2B Content For Marketing Strategy! 11 Timeless Examples #FTW by aimClear Blog

Marty WeintraubMarty Weintraub presents “11 timeless content creation examples that have always worked,” among them demystifying myths (“Nearly every sales process is up against some level of customers’ misconceptions and other informational obstacles. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and address these sales impediments head on”), covering industry events in real time, excerpting white papers (a great content idea), and interviewing industry experts.

Content Marketing and SEO

10 Reasons Why You Need an Optimized Content Strategy Now by iMedia Connection

Krista LaRiviereKrista LaRiviere, CEO of web presence optimization software vendor gShift Labs, explains how recent Google algorithm changes (including more emphasis on social signals, the clampdown on low-value backlinks, the Google +1 button, and freshness updates) now make optimized, user-focused content more important than ever for search rankings.

How to create search friendly content by Bing Blogs

This post explains how to create optimized content more efficiently by creating a template or repeatable process for content development, and presents seven tips for discovering tinely topics to write about, incorporating keywords, using hooks to capture readers’ attention, and more.

Content Marketing – Think Campaigns Not Just Links, Your Guide to TOFU by SEOmoz

Kieran FlanaganNoting that “From an SEO viewpoint, the interest in great content is to attract links, where as a lot of what Google is looking to eliminate are examples of where content is used to build links”—particularly in the wake of its Panda and Penguin updates—Kieran Flanagan steps through an approach that puts business objectives first, with links and shares tracked but not viewed as the primary goal.

Infographics, Images and Video

5 Content Marketing Ideas Worth Stealing by jeffbullas.com

Jeff BullasJeff Bullas recommends five content marketing techniques for obtaining and retaining the attention of your prospective buyers by going beyond text: “Sometimes you need some inspiration and you need to try some new ideas and different media that may provide a nudge to try something different and creative outside your comfort zone…Images and photos are much more likely to be shared than an article or a white paper. Videos or infographics will be shared at high velocity compared the the humble ‘written word’ that have been with us for millenia.”

7 Steps to Make Your Infographic a Success by SEOmoz

Slavik VolinskyInfographics can be great for generating re-posts and inbound linke—if done properly. Slavik Volinsky explains what works (e.g., start with a great idea and great distribution plan: “To create a great distribution plan, approach your industry’s ‘big minds’ and ask for their feedback with full intention of listening & improving the infographic”) and what doesn’t.

The History of Content Marketing [Infographic] – Corporate Storytelling is Not New by Content Marketing Institute

Joe PulizziContent marketing guru Joe Pulizzi presents a fascinating history of content marketing, from cave paintings and 19th-century “customer magazines” through the emergence of corporate blogs, business video, microsites, and the proliferation of content marketing sites, books and resources.

Content Marketing and SEO: The world doesn’t need another blog post by MarketingSherpa

Advising marketers to “focus on the message, not the medium” Daniel Burstein (again) offers half a dozen suggestions for taking content beyond blog posts and white papers, like creating a mobile app or a useful online tool “Like the ESPinator from ClickMail Marketing, which helps email marketers choose an ESP that helps them best fit their needs.”

The future of content marketing by iMedia Connection

Rebecca LiebRebecca Lieb reports on research showing that larger, more sophisticated content marketers are gradually “lessening their dependence on text-based channels” and focusing more on video and images. Interestingly, she also notes that “Search, email, blogging, digital PR, and  even (brace yourself) advertising have, and will continue to have a place at the table as content marketing grows in importance,” or in other words, that web presence optimization will get more attention.

7 Rules For Writing Awesome Content by Small Business Trends

Lisa BaroneLisa Barone presents seven writing rules to help in crafting content that will inspire customers to act, including telling stories (“If you want to improve your writing, stop lecturing to people and to start telling them stories”); experimenting (“Improve your writing by experimenting with new mediums [videos, infographics, contests, polls, Twitter chats] instead of getting caught in the same pattern of content”); and to avoid generic messages, “write as if you’re writing to one reader.”

Is Content Marketing The New Advertising? by Forbes
***** 5 STARS

Michael BrennerMichael Brenner shares a highly bookmark-worthy infographic that positions 16 different content formats along the dimensions of attention required from the audience and ease of implementation. For example, social media generally requires little attention from the audience (being very short form), and also little effort, while something like an app, telecast or interactive game is at the other end of the spectrum on both dimensions.

How You Can Use Infographics to Tell a Story by Social Media Club

Mireille MassueMireille Massue offers six steps for creating a compelling infographic (such as making it sharable by submitting it to Infographic Directories); nine resources to learn more about infographics; and (of course), an infographic outlining eight steps to create an infographic.

The 6 Best Slideshare Decks on Content Marketing by B2B Marketing Insider

Michel Brenner (again) passes along half a dozen noteworthy slide decks about content marketing, from experts like Rand Fishkin, Joe Pulizzi, and Rebecca Lieb and Charlene Li, whose Winning Content Strategies presentation notes that “77% of Internet users do not engage with online advertising. A shift from ‘push’ to ‘pull’ marketing is imperative to brand survival.”

Expert Copywriting Tips

Harvard Lesson: Verbs Beat Adjectives by Neuromarketing

Roger DooleyRoger Dooley, commenting on one of the toughest sales jobs of all—”selling” yourself to Harvard Business School, where nine out of 10 applicants are rejected—concludes that verbs sell more powerfully than adjectives. Verbs persuade more effectively because they “require actual examples of the behaviors or characteristics in question…These specifics will increase the credibility of the copy, in addition to providing more information than when the adjective-driven shortcut is taken.”

Using Great Storytelling To Grow Your Business by Fast Company

Kaihan KrippendorffFormer McKinsey consultant Kaihan Krippendorff outlines two approaches for producing more compelling content (or presentations): using LOTS (“language of the senses…When telling a story, share with us what you see, smell, feel, taste, and hear. When you trigger a sense in someone, you bring them into the story with you”) and building on your story spine–a structured approach to use in opening a presentation or throughout a longer document.

25-point Web copy checklist: How to write for Google by Success Works
***** 5 STARS

Heather Lloyd-MartinHeather Lloyd-Martin provides a remarkable checklist for creating content that will appeal to human readers and search engines alike, from starting with a customer persona and keyword/topic research to crafting a compelling title and meta description to effectively “sell the click” to searchers.

Copywriting: How to improve headlines on landing pages and blog posts by MarketingSherpa

Adam T. SuttonAdam T. Sutton, noting that “people are busy. You need to write a headline that convinces them to ignore distractions and pay attention,” outlines four attributes of value to consider when crafting headlines along with five tips for writing attention-grabbing headlines, such as front-loading (start with the most valuable phrase, e.g. “Get Paid to Take Online Surveys” is a much better headline than “We Can Help You Get Paid to Take Online Surveys”).

Write the Best Titles for Content Marketing: A 10-Point Checklist by Content Marketing Institute

Roger C. ParkerRoger C. Parker recommends 10 questions to ask when writing headlines, such as “Does your title clearly promise a desired benefit?,” “Did you emphasize your intended readers in your title?” (for example, “C. J. Hayden’s ‘Get Clients Now: A 28-day Marketing Program for Professionals, Coaches, & Consultants’ targets readers by occupation”), and “Does your title include the keywords readers use searching for information online?.”

Post to Twitter