Posts Tagged ‘Laurie Sullivan’
As Geddy Lee of Rush sang in the band’s 1981 hit Tom Sawyer, “changes aren’t permanent. But change is.”
While he wasn’t referring to SEO (which wouldn’t really exist for another 16 years), the lyrics certainly apply.
Search engine algorithms are constantly being updated. SEO practices which may be very effective one day are useless the next, and then actually invite penalties, before being once again ignored.
So what’s an SEO professional to do? Which tactics are most likely to stand the test of time–and which should be avoided? What needs to be done to recover from search engine penalties? What’s most important–on-page optimization, link building, or technical SEO? What are the current best practices (and which aren’t worth spending time on) in each area?
Find the answers to those questions and many more here in four dozen phenomenal SEO guides, tips and tricks from the past year.
Guides to SEO for Beginners
The Complete Beginner’s Guide to SEO by Buffer
***** 5 STARS
Before you turn up your nose at yet another beginner’s guide to SEO, check this one out. The practice of SEO has (of course) changed considerably over the past few years, and Courtney Seiter recognizes those changes in this noteworthy guide explaining what exactly SEO is today, how search engines rank content, and what SEO professionals do now to optimize websites for search.
SEO for Dummies: Learn SEO in 10 Simple Steps by Social Media Today
SEO isn’t easy, but according to Brian Hughes, it is simple. He walks through 10 basic steps for site optimization here, from getting the foundation right and doing keyword research through on-page content, meta tags, and link building (“Focus on link building through content marketing, blog writing, guest blogging, infographics, site directories (CAREFULLY), and other tools that allow you to leave online footprints leading back to your site”).
Infographic: Search Ranking Made Simple by Sword and the Script
Frank Strong showcases an infographic from Neil Patel that provides a simple, widely accepted explanation of how Google’s search algorithm (probably) works, including the importance of keyword domains, image optimization, domain age, social shares, title tags, keyword repetition, content length, and other factors.
15 Step SEO Checklist for 2015 by Social Media Today
Jason Parks serves up solid advice “to ensure that you are well prepared for 2015″ in SEO terms. Among his 15 steps are title tags, on-page content (keywords used naturally, not stuffed), video, site audits, and otpimized photos (“use alt tags to help describe your image. Google image search only gets a half a percent of Google’s overall traffic. But due to blended search results, images actually get a lot more traffic than that half a percent”).
Expert SEO Guides, Tips and Tricks
Alex Schultz, the VP of Growth at Facebook (and formerly marketing manager at eBay) “has no educational background in marketing, instead opting to get his masters in physics at University of Cambridge.” In this fascinating post, he shares strategies for growing website traffic, the importance of customer retention, finding your “north star metrics,” and SEO (“the single most important thing is to get valuable links from authoritative sites. Then you need to internally link effectively”) among other topics.
How Long Does SEO Take To Start Working? by Forbes
Joshua Steimle writes that the answer to the tragically common question “How long will it take me to get ranked #1 for my keywords?” is not simple, “because the question itself is misguided.” SEO has changed, with searchers now making much greater use of longer phrase and natural language search (driven in part by the use of Siri and other voice-based tools). He goes on to state that it takes roughly four to six months for SEO efforts to start showing results, but to “bear in mind this is when you start seeing results, and SEO results grow over time.”
Lauren Polinsky summarizes “the most important and interesting issues” which may face SEO professionals in 2015 and beyond, from multichannel reporting, local search, and mobile optimization, through monitoring brand citations (“brands will want to work on building more citations, linked or unlinked, from authoritative websites”).
The SEO “Food” Pyramid by The Elumynt of William Harris
Creatively using the traditional “food pyramid” as a metaphor for SEO, William Harris places architecture (proper coding, optimized page titles, correct use of headers, an XML sitemap, etc.) at the base, with a healthy SEo program layering on smaller portions of content creation, promotion, UX, and social signals–topped off with (careful) link building.
Content Quality Score: Google’s Best Kept Secret For Rankings by Mace Dynamics
**** 4 STARS (would be five if not for the popups)
Contending that “Every page indexed by Google has a content quality score assigned to it. This score directly influences how well a page ranks in Google. This however is not promoted by Google and few webmasters or SEOs are even aware of it,” Terence Mace supplies an in-depth post covering quality signals, page purpose, “Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) pages…(which) are pages that can impact a person’s future happiness, health or wealth,” quality factors, EAT (expertise-authority-trust), and much more.
How To Use SEO To Boost Your Brand’s YouTube Channel by MediaPost
Writing that “YouTube, the second most-searched site with one billion monthly unique users, delivers a massive potential impact for SEO to drive visitors to a brand’s video channel,” Jeremy Walker shows how to optimize your YouTube channel to maximize your brand exposure on the site, from video element optimization (title, description, locations, etc.) through integrating your YouTube channel with your Google+ account.
5 Keys to Improving Search Rankings with Duane Forrester of Bing by Stone Temple Consulting
Eric Enge talks to Bing’s Duane Forrester about the keys to improving SEO rank on Bing. Link building is somewhat surprisingly at #4 of Forrester’s five top areas. Content remains number one, though he warns, “The reality is that it’s not up to you to decide if (your site has) quality content. The quality is determined by the interaction of the visitor to your website. If they’re interacting with it, if they’re finding value in it, then there’s quality to it.”
7 Things That Will Improve Your SEO More Than SSL by Search Engine Watch
Erin Everhart deconstructs Google’s announcement late last summer than SSL may impact organic search rankings. She concludes that while SSL may indeed play a small role in SEO success, many other factors carry far more weight; she details seven of those here, including consistent URLs (“the link you use in your internal linking strategy, and the links you use in your XML Sitemap need to match”), relevant content, and CTA-friendly title tags (include “action words — Shop, Buy, Apply, etc — in…title tags”).
Laurie Sullivan reports that enterprise marketers generally view SEO as critical to achieving their ojectives, but also challenging to be successful with. Among the specific research findings here are the top SEO challenges businesses face: “41% find link building one of the more difficult strategies, and 39% call out keyword research management as a close second. Some 33% admit that quality content creation proves challenging, followed by 30% for social media integration; 28%, frequent blogging; 26%, frequent Web site updates; 22%, mobile search optimization; and 13%, local search optimization.”
SEO Tutorial. The ultimate SEO 2.0 guide by Seolution
***** 5 STARS
Albert Mora compiles one of the most valuable and comprehensive guides available for SEO in 2015. One warning though – at nearly 6,000 words (plus a lot of pictures), this is no quick read, not a post to skim. It’s one to bookmark as a vital reference. Not every resource or tactic cited is appropriate in all situations. It’s also a lot of work–but then, successful SEO always is.
Cyrus Shepard presents “a simple framework for on-page topic targeting in a way that makes optimizing easy and scalable while producing richer content for your audience” in this graphical guide covering keyword research, keyword relationships (position, frequency, distance), internal links, semantic markup, page titles and more.
The Ultimate Guide to Enterprise SEO by SERPs
Enterprise-level SEO–optimizing thousands of pages, often across multiple subdomains and interlinked microsites as well as a mothership site–is different from working on smaller sites. Activities have to scale, there are more people involved, more politics, more planning, etc. This comprehensive guide details the elements of enterprise SEO, the environment, and the unique challenges, as well as providing additional useful references.
Dealing With Onsite Duplicate Content Issues by Search Engine Watch
Navneet Kaushal clarifies the causes of on-site (common in ecommerce) and off-site (caused by content syndication, as one example) duplicate content issues, and how to deal with them using tactics like 301 redirects, the “rel=canonical” tag, meta tags, and a consistent internal linking strategy.
Asking “Does SEO boil down to making a site easily crawlable and consistently creating good, relevant content?,” Rand Fishkin answers–no. He lists some of the variety of inputs and tactics that go into successful site optimization, noting these are “why SEO is neuropsychology. SEO is conversion rate optimization. SEO is social media. SEO is user experience and design. SEO is branding. SEO is analytics. SEO is product. SEO is advertising. SEO is public relations.” And more.
The Truth about Video SEO by acSellerant Studios
Bob Leonard transcribes his interview with video SEO expert Daniel Loeschen of LT Creative Media on how to search-optimize video content. Among Daniel’s advice: “Videos that are meant to drive traffic to your site should ONLY be hosted on your site. If you want to create a video that is specifically for branding and getting your name in front of people, then YouTube, Vimeo, etc. are great for that…(for on-site video) add the video to the most recent site map of your website and update Google webmaster tools with it.”
10 Clever Strategies Content Marketers Use To Earn Links by Shareaholic
Danny Wong forwards tips from the Young Entrepreneur Council on how to get high-quality links through content (other than guest blogging), such as by creating highly sharable content like infographics; developing quizzes and contests; writing controversial content (certainly a strategy to use with caution); and developing blog-based courses using expert interview videos.
7 Hot SEO Tips and Tricks for Blogs by RazorSocial
Ian Cleary passes along seven helpful tips for improving blog rank in search, among them internal link building (“When you write content on your website, find relevant articles that you have already published on your site to link to. As the value of the new post goes up, the value of the link goes up too”); revisiting older posts that aren’t ranking quite as well as they could; and strategic (not spammy) guest posting.
The Complete Guide to Google Webmaster Tools by Positionly
***** 5 STARS
Kristi Hines delves into “why you need to be using Google Webmaster Tools to monitor the health of your website in Google search and to learn more about your search engine optimization efforts” and how to make the best use of all the site’s capabilities in this highly bookmark-worthy post. The Search Queries section is popular with SEO pros, but not everyone knows that “If you click on a keyword, you’ll be shown which pages rank for that keyword, along with details about those pages.”
Rae Hoffman collects her live tweets from the “Meet the Search Engines” session at SMX last year, reporting among other interesting tidbits of SEO news a kindler, gentler Panda release from Google; the impending scale-tipping of mobile over desktop searches; Google’s premeditated attack on MyBlogGuest; and that ranking well on Bing is a matter of “content, usability, social signals and link building”–in that order.
How Top Ranking Brands Like Moz and HubSpot REALLY Do SEO by Social Media Today
Noting how crucial earned links are to SEO success today, Chad Pollitt explains how some high-ranking brands have achieved their search visibility, and outlines a four-step process companies can use to emulate them–essentially a combination of research-driven content creation coupled with social and traditional media promotion, in line with a web presence optimization (WPO) approach.
18 Social Media SEO Resources to Improve Your Search Ranking by Social Media Examiner
Patricia Redsicker explores how social media impacts search and then shares resources that support “best practices for social media SEO,” such as How to Customize Your Social Share Buttons for Increased Traffic, which “walks you through the process of pre-populating social media share buttons for Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Facebook with links to your own website.”
Though content marketing is unquestionably valuable for SEO, it’s not by any means the only tool in the box. Here, Rand Fishkin (again) explains “six out of probably 600 ways that you can earn higher rankings without investing in content creation or content marketing,” from using rich snippets and compelling page meta titles to fixing or deleting low SEO-value pages across a website.
Chris Lake provides an outstanding and comprehensive summary of user experience signals that help with search rankings. Most of these are just good UX practice, so the SEO benefit is a bonus. What’s surprising is the sheer number of signals that can affect search rank, from site speed and mobile-friendliness to button size, navigation, broken links, readability, and other factors.
21 Industry Experts Share Their SEO Tips For 2014 by Reginald Chan
Reginald Chan compiles the responses of 21 SEO pros to questions about how SEO is evolving and their favorite techniques. Adam Connell, Brent Carnduff, Eric T Tung, Kristi Hines, Neal Schaffer, and Tad Chef offer observations and tips like “SEO will…become more professional…content has always been at the center of…efforts (but) being an SEO who also masters UX and CRO can be a competitive advantage now.”
How Social Signals Impact Search Engine Rankings by QuickSprout
Writing that “Just because Facebook and Twitter aren’t driving you a ton of sales doesn’t mean you shouldn’t leverage them…both Google and Bing use data from social sites in order to determine how high to rank your website,” Neil Patel presents an infographic showing real-world examples of how social shares impact search results, along with a few tips on how to get more social shares.
How to Audit Your Website for Improved SEO and Conversions by Proven Rankings
Matt G provides a detailed guide to assessing the content and technical optimization of a website, asking questions like: Is your website optimized for maximum usability? Is it optimized for lead generation and conversions? Does it use responsive design? And are your website URLs optimized?
Brian Dean shares clever techniques for improving search rank by finding broken-link building opportunities on Wikipedia, discovering untapped keywords on Reddit, finding link prospects on Delicious, and 18 other tactics, including using “best of” lists to “find awesome link targets.” Hmm, “best of” lists…wonder where to find those?
11 reasons SEO is a science; 15 reasons it’s an art by BarnRaisers
Rob Petersen lists more than two dozen reasons SEO is both a science (e.g., “Value of the [back]links, whether they are high or low value authority, can be determined by SEO Majestic and Marketing Grader”) and an art (e.g., “Titles that convince people [to click] have clarity, creativity and imagination. The right keywords and key phrases just happen to be in them”).
The decay and fall of guest blogging for SEO by Matt Cutts
If you somehow missed this—or perhaps blocked it from your mind due to intense mental anguish—here’s the post where Matt Cutts declared that guest-blogging is dead. Except that he really didn’t; he only said that spammy guest-blogging purely for the purpose of generating backlinks is dead. Note this post generated nearly 700 comments. That’s enormous power—whether used for good or evil.
Guest Blogging and SEO: Still a Match Made in Heaven by QuickSprout
Here is Neil Patel (again), this time reacting to Matt’s post above, essentially clarifying what type of behavior he believes Google will actually punish, and how bloggers can still get value from guest-posting (e.g., “Focus on writing high quality content that actually educates the reader”). Fortunately for Neil, Google still doesn’t punish blogs for pop-ups.
The Ultimate Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Guide by Firepole Marketing
Observing that (as noted above) achieving higher search rank is “simple, but it isn’t easy,” Ahmed Safwan walks through a dozen SEO “sins” to avoid (including lack of proper keyword research, poor site speed, and creating URLs without keywords) along with a nine-step guide to optimizing a blog (or website) for search, from conducting keyword research the right way through ongoing measurement and adjustments.
SEO Checklist: 60 essential checks before launching a website by Web SEO Analytics
***** 5 STARS
Vasilis Vryniotis provides a detailed pre-launch SEO checklist for new websites, with 60 questions to ask in categories ranging from keyword optimization (“Did I choose the targeted keywords wisely? Have I made sure that I can compete for the selected terms?”) to technical website development, link structure, URL optimization and more.
Expert Guides to Google Algorithm Updates (Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird and Pigeon)
5 SEO Trends From 2014: What We Learned by NewsCred
Jayson DeMers looks back at five key developments in Google search from 2014 (including the “diminished impact of Google+…Social media marketers are still using Google+, to some degree, but search engine marketers are no longer viewing it as the significant platform they once projected” and the Pigeon update) as well as forward, with predictions regarding key optimization factors in 2015 and beyond.
An Introduction To Google’s Algorithm Updates by MediaPost
For those who aren’t immersed in SEO on a daily basis but still need a general understanding of how the field is continually evolving, Jeremy Walker provides “a quick primer on the most notable algorithm updates of the past five years and why they’re significant to marketers,” from Panda (first launched in February 2011) through Pigeon in July 2014 (which primarily affected local search results).
Marie Haynes provides a comprehensive summary of Google’s three most recent major algorithm updates, explaining the focus of each as well as how to recover from related penalties. Panda, for example, focused on thin, duplicate, and low-quality content; recovering from a Panda hit requires “removing thin and duplicate content” and then waiting “sometimes take several months for Google to revisit all of your pages and recognize the changes that you have made.”
5 Reasons a Site Hit by Google Penguin Won’t Recover by Search Engine Watch
Writing that “When Google launched the Penguin algorithm April 24, 2012, many sites who had relied strongly on low-quality link building were severely affected” and had difficulty recovering their former levels of search traffic, Marie Haynes (again) digs into a handful of common reasons for slow-or-no recovery, such as improper disavowing: “In almost every case, if you’re going to disavow a link, disavow it on the domain level.”
The Story of Google – a #DigitalHistory Infographic by Tamar
***** 5 STARS
From the launch of Google in 1998 through the beginning of AdWords and the first named updates in 2002 through Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird, this outstanding infographic illustrates all the major (and many of the minor) milestones in Google’s journey from startup to the world’s largest search engine.
No longer news, but helpful as a reference, this post from Pratik Dholakiya “takes readers through 11 of the most important Google search engine algorithm updates/changes of 2013,” from link devaluation and Panda (content quality) updates through increased emphasis on long-form, “evergreen” content and Hummingbird.
Expert Guides to Semantic Markup, Schema.org and the Google Knowledge Graph
6 Ways to Make Your Search Results Shine by Search Engine Watch
P.J. Fusco says “your content can leap off page-one results – if you are willing to invest a little time learning how to understand” the Google Knowledge Graph and how to use Schema.org structured markup. Fortunately, she writes, “adding structured markup is particularly easy” using Google Structured Data Markup Helper or WordPress plugins.
5 options for semantic markup to improve SEO by Smart Insights
For those on the technical side of SEO, Yusuf Bhana details “useful semantic HTML elements for SEO” including authorship, local business schema, product details (“Ecommerce businesses should consider product mark-up to incorporate product data such as colour, manufacturer, weight, height and price”), and breadcrumbs, with examples of each.
How Rich Snippets Add Spice to Your Online Content’s Search Results by Content Marketing Institute
Amanda DiSilvestro demonstrates how rich snippets can enhance a site’s appearance in search results, and how to get started with the most popular types of rich snippets including authorship and video: “When I want to use a video rich snippet, I use this link and enter in the URL or YouTube ID of my video. It automatically generates a source code for me to use, so I don’t need to know much about coding.”
Updates to SEO by MediaPost
Lauren Kade discusses how the Google Knowledge Graph works, what rich snippets are and how to use them, and “how to add (rich snippet) markup yourself using the data highlighter feature in Google Webmaster Tools” to make your site’s organic search listings look better.
How To Rank Above 25 In Search Queries by MediaPost
Laurie Sullivan (again) reports that “The Schema.org markup code aims to help Web sites rank better in search results, but only 36.6% of Google’s search results contain at least one Schema.org rich snippet and just 0.3% of the 50 million domains analyzed by Searchmetrics make use of Google’s Schema tools.” Consumer-oriented sites in particular can increase their probability of ranking higher by incorporating Schema markup language.
Google Sends Manual Penalty for “Spammy Structured Markup” by TrueLogic Online Solutions
Elrica Gosiengfiao reports that Google is “cracking down on rich snippet spam more actively,” exactly what this means, and how web developers can avoid problems of this type with Google; for example, follow Google’s rich snippet guidelines and “make sure the markups used are correct and use Google’s structured data testing tool to preview your snippets.”
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.
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
Calling 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.
Miranda 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
Using 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.
Once 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.
Adam 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.
Emma 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 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
Reporting 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.
John 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 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
In 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
Joseph 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
Noting 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 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 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
Calling 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”).
Laurie 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 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).
After 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
Writing 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.
Shelley 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
While 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.”
Much has been written about how the internet in general, and the explosion of content marketing in particular, has changed the nature of b2b marketing. In less than a generation, information has gone from being scarce to overabundant. Today’s b2b buyers are typically 70% of the way through their purchase process before they contact a vendor’s sales team.
Information proliferation means buyers are better-informed than ever about potential approaches to solving problems, and the related product and service alternatives. But the increased availability of data means vendors are also more knowledgeable about what matters to buyers, how they conduct research, which content resonates with prospective customers (and what types of content fall flat), how to refine and act on key measures and metrics, and most importantly, how decisions are ultimately made. The old “sales funnel” model is giving way to more sophisticated analytical frameworks.
How should b2b marketers adjust their strategies to keep up with this evolution? What types of messages matter most to today’s buyers? Which long-held beliefs of b2b marketers need to be discarded? What do elite marketers do well that their more average counterparts don’t?
Find the answers to those questions and others here in more than a dozen insightful guides to b2b marketing strategy from the past year.
How To Market For the Top Four B2B Business Growth Strategies by g2m Solutions
Sarah Pern examines “four major business growth strategies identified by the Ansoff Product-Market Matrix and shows you how to develop marketing strategies that are aligned with achieving the business goals you want.” For example, recommended marketing strategies for the business growth approach of market development include market research to help develop rich buyer personas, and awareness building using “online advertising…PR, SEO, Social Media, attending exhibitions, sponsoring events” (basically all of the elements of the web presence optimization framework) plus outbound tactics.
How To Do It Right: Demand Generation by Forbes
Patrick Spenner brilliantly makes that case that b2b marketers should focus on “improving the connections among stakeholders at customer organizations” rather than those between the supplier and individual stakeholders. He astutely notes that personas are often created as isolated individuals, with the connections between the different stakeholders who make up the B2B customer buying team left unexplored and unaddressed.
Glenn Taylor reports on the disconnect between what B2B companies tend to say about themselves and what potential customers want to hear (that is, what types of messages contribute most to perceived brand strength. He advises vendors to take the “opportunity to dig into your positioning and try to tell your story and the ‘why’ of what you do. Statements like ‘driver of innovation’ or ‘leader in our field’ are over done and past their prime. Most marketers cannot deliver on these and almost no customer believes them.”
John Lee details four practices used by the most successful social brands in B2B, such as using measurement to drive integration (“Lack of measurement is the number one reason that social fails…Nearly 90 percent of brands measure volume and engagement (likes, followers, etc.), but only 31% measure it against revenue”), and developing individual strategies for each social media platform.
B2B Marketing Trends That Will Shape Your Strategy by Anders Pink
Noting that B2B marketers have been gradually shifting effort and budget from outbound to inbound marketing channels “as buyers increasingly manage the early stages of the buying process without contacting vendors by reviewing websites, talking to peers in the industry and reviewing resources. This allows them to often filter and shortlist without ever talking to a sales rep,” Steve Rayson details eight strategy-shaping trends, including changes in buyer behavior, SEO, and corporate websites, along with the growth in content marketing and social media.
B2B Marketers Need To Step Up Emotional Connections by MediaPost
B2C marketing is often perceived as emotion-based, while B2B buyers decide based on facts and logic. The reality turns out to be quite different though; Laurie Sullivan reports on recent research which found “Emotional connections are much more ‘intense’ for business-to-business clients compared with B2C…Between 40% and 70% of customers feel emotionally connected to brands like Oracle, Accenture, FedEx, SAP, and Salesforce, compared with between 10% and 40% for CVS, L’Oreal, and Wal-Mart.” B2B marketers need to become more adept at presenting the professional, social, emotional, and personal value of their products and services.
Expanding on the findings reported in the post above, Scott Gillum reveals that “The company customers say that they are most emotionally connected to is…Cisco.” B2B purchases involve professional risk, particularly for the internal champion, and Cisco is very good at reducing risk for buyers. Furthermore, “Cisco is able to create…’personal value’ consisting of four parts: professional, social, emotional and self-image benefits.”
6 Persuasion Techniques: Science in B2B Marketing by Ideas@Work Blog
Following up on the post above, Vann Morris describes half-a-dozen techniques for tapping into B2B buyer emotion, such as liking: “Research shows that we are more likely to say yes to people we like, and we tend to like people who are similar to us, people who complement us, and people who cooperate with us toward a common goal.” Creating the vision of that “common goal” (and the buyer’s emotional attachment to it) is a powerful marketing technique.
7 Tactics that Are Working for B2B Lead Generation Today by CustomerThink
Louis Foong shares seven tactics that work in b2b marketing today, among them lead scoring using behavioral data (“For example, when a prospect signs up for a free trial, you should attach a higher score to that behaviour than when a new subscriber gets added to your email newsletter list”); progressive lead profiling (asking for new, additional information each time a specific prospect converts); and social retargeting (“If a prospect is just about floating at the top of the funnel, gated content won’t work—you need to give away something valuable, easily, with no strings attached. Gated content will work for prospects that are already quite convinced that your company has the knowledge to educate them on specific problems they are challenged with”).
The Myth of the Infinite Selling Universe by DemandBase
The always-insightful Ardath Albee exposes the myth (often used when raising venture capital) that the pool of prospective buyers for a company’s product or service is infinite; why this myth is dangerous (“it costs more to generate more leads. It costs more for salespeople to spend more time following up with more leads. This increases the cost per opportunity.”); and suggests how marketers should focus their time on the small set of ideal prospects.
Five Ideas on the Business-to-Individual Concept for B2B Marketers by MarketingSherpa
Reflecting discussions with industry experts including Brian Carroll and Brian Solis, David Kirkpatrick offers “five lessons on why you should be marketing to the individual, even as a B2B marketer,” among them: “Creating relationships should be a philosophy, not just a marketing strategy”; relevance matters; and the customer is now completely in charge of the buying process, so b2b vendors must “make it easy for those prospects to conduct self-discovery and self-service…provide content and tools that enable those potential prospects to make the decision to buy from you.”
5 Buyer Behaviors Reshaping B2B Marketing by iMedia Connection
Frequent best-of honoree Tony Zambito delves into five buyer behaviors that marketers need to be aware of and respond to, including that buyers embrace collaboration; they want to be involved in the co-creation of products and services; and “buyers want less content – yet desire smart content.”
B2B Marketing’s Measurement Problem by B2B Digital Marketing
Writing “It is called a complex sale for a reason, but B2B marketers keep trying to fit it into a simplistic measurement framework: where did we get that lead?,” Eric Wittlake explains why simple B2B marketing metrics are not just ineffective but also misleading, and offers recommendations on how to “more effectively measure the impact of marketing on your business.” (We would agree that a new breed of marketing metrics is needed to understand cross-channel impacts.)
The Forgotten Stars of B2B Lead Conversion by Business2Community
Warning about the dangers of forgetting the “less glamorous but vitally important tactical elements that do a lot of the the hard, relentless work of attracting and converting visitors to real leads,” Christabelle Tani outlines three simple yet vital components of lead generation, including social proof (“evidence that other human beings are advocating your company and what you sell”) and their role in each stage of the sales funnel.
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.
Yet 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.
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.
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.
Creating 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.”
Marketing 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.
The 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.
How 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.
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.
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.”
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.
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 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.
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.
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.”
Must evolve to:
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.
The 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.
As noted in part one of the best SEO posts roundup for last year, with all the significant changes announced by Google in the past 12 months (at least six, detailed in a pair of posts below), “These are indeed “interesting times” for SEO professionals, with rapid and wide-ranging changes to the search landscape being announced at an accelerating pace.”
The general consensus is that the practice of SEO is becoming more strategic, less tactical; more content-driven, less technical. The winners should be organizations that focus on providing targeted, relevant, high-quality content, as well as their prospective customers; with the (little lamented) losers being the spammers, manipulators and black-hat SEO types.
What techniques still work in the new world of SEO? Which need to be discarded? What new tactics and ranking factors are most vital to understand? How should SEO professionals strategically align frameworks for maximizing online visibility and business results?
Find the answers to those questions and many others here in more than two dozen of the best SEO guides from the past year.
Expert SEO Guides and Tips
Noting that in any field, “once a myth has been established it hard to get rid off,” Joop Rijk debunks nine SEO-related myths including duplicate content penalties (“Duplicate content is not considered spam and sites do not get penalized for duplicate content. Google ignores duplicate content and has a way to determine which page they should rank”—though it doesn’t always get this right) and the 100 links-per-page limit (“Googlebot can crawl more than 100 links on a page and there is no specific [known] limit”).
SEO Strategies for People that Hate SEO by Search Engine Guide
Brian Dean offers a handful of simple yet effective rank-improving tips from people not naturally inclined to SEO work, from a clever tactic for getting mentioned in link roundups (one of the few remaining manual link-building strategies that still work) to how to get featured on resource pages.
SEO Makeover for 2014: A Practical Guide for Businesses by Portent
***** 5 STARS
David Portney presents an outstanding checklist of three dozen questions to ask and answer about the state of your site’s SEO, from content-related factors (Does each page have a page-relevant unique title tag? A page-relevant unique meta description? A clear and concise headline?) through links, navigation, and technical SEO considerations.
Top 19 SEO Experts Share Their Best Advice on SEO by Effective Inbound Marketing
Ayodeji Onibalusi curates a big list of helpful SEO tips and tricks from SEO experts including Kristi Hines (“don’t get tempted to buy into cheap SEO services. If someone’s offering 100 backlinks for $5, then they’re more than likely going to get you spammy links that you will pay dearly for in the long run”), Neil Patel (see the next entry), Ann Smarty (“If you love each article you are publishing online, you’ll see genuine interest to your content”), Tadeusz Szewczyk (a.k.a. Tad Chef), and Jayson DeMers (see the “Big Picture SEO Strategy” section below).
11 SEO Changes That Will Give You Big Results by QuickSprout
Neil Patel shares 11 effective but lesser know techniques for optimizing search results, such as capitalizing on the internal-link building power of 404 error pages; creating dynamic infographics; using what he calls the “skyscraper technique” (this blog is an example); and incorporating “most clicked-through words” (such as “how to,” “tips” and “best”) in headlines.
Rethink Link Building for Best B2B Marketing by MLT Creative Ideas@Work Blog
Guest author Jeremiah Smith notes that the old ways of link building are dead (at best, pointless), social sharing is critical, and conversion rate optimization (CRO) supports SEO efforts. He concludes the post with a five-step process for optimizing not just rankings, but also bottom-line business results.
In Search of SEO? Have Content, Be Social by BroadSuite
Dan Newman details several ways in which the practice of SEO has changed over the past 18-24 months, particularly in terms of the role of content (and more importantly, the importance of business blogging: “Even the most optimized B2B site if just a static products and services website will have a hard time growing and sustaining traffic”) and the role of social sharing (“7 of the top 8 factors driving SEO are Social Sharing related and not traditional SEO drivers whatsoever”).
Search Engine Click Through Rate Optimization (+Infographic) by Marketing from the Front
***** 5 STARS
Brent Carnduff reports on some eye-opening research findings in this post which reminds one of a Geico commercial: Did you know that the top four organic search results get 83% of all clicks? Of course, everyone knows that. Okay, but did you know that “As searcher intent becomes more detailed or specific (long tail term), the click distribution across the first page organic listings begins to even out”? That makes, as Brent explains, CTR optimization as important as SEO.
New SEO Best Practices with Schema Markup #SESCHI by TopRank Online Marketing Blog
Confused by what a “schema” is or why you’d bother with one? Brian Larson helpfully walks through the history of this (no longer new) tactic, how it works in action, what the classifications are, and how to get started with schema markup tools, all based on a presentation by Anne F. Kennedy at SES Chicago.
Technical SEO for Nontechnical People by Search Engine Watch
For those confuzzled by technical SEO terms and techniques, Erin Everhart patiently explains “the basics behind what you need to look out for with technical SEO,” including redirects and status codes, canonicals, duplicate uppercase and lowercase URLs (though search engines should really be able to figure this out), and URL parameters.
150 Blog Posts in 50 Days: Why Were Marketers Mad? by Search Engine Journal
McKay Allen details the results of a test to determine how a substantial ramp-up in content creation would affect search traffic, and the surprising response of (some) marketers. The bottom line is that while not all elements of “old school” SEO are dead, content development definitely needs to play a key role in go-forward search strategy.
Infographic: Companies with a blog get 55% more traffic by leaderswest
Jim Dougherty showcases a very helpful SEO infographic, which visually steps through techniques and best practices for on-page and keyword optimization, technical SEO factors, social signals, Google+ authorship, and generating links from inbound marketing.
Best Guides to Big-Picture SEO Strategy
6 Major Google Changes Reveal the Future of SEO by Search Engine Watch
Inviting readers to “take a few steps back and understand the big picture,” Eric Enge looks at half a dozen major changes from Google in 2013–from keyword (not provided) to in-depth articles, and ties them all together concluding “the six major Google changes listed above are all moves that” take tactical data out of the SEO picture and “encourage more strategic behavior.”
How recent Google changes affect your SEO by iMedia Connection
Similar to the post above, Nathan Joynt here reviews the major algorithmic and reporting changes made by Google over the past year, describes the impact of each on SEO efforts, and ties it all together in the end by stating, “one thing is clear: The value of an SEO strategy set on tactics involving direct manipulation of search results is becoming less effective…This is exactly what Google wants. They want inbound marketers and business owners to shift their primary focus away from Google and manipulative link and content schemes and concentrate this energy on each business’ target market and to create the best products, services, and content possible.”
5 Reasons You’ll Need to Increase Your SEO Budget in 2014 by Search Engine Journal
Jayson DeMers makes the case that SEO will require more dollars in resources in 2014, for among other reasons, that “cheap” tactics like keyword stuffing and low-quality backlink building no longer work (and may even backfire); the increasing importance of social media; and the need to produce a steady stream of fresh content.
Best Guides to Search Engine Ranking Factors
Cyrus Shepard unveils results from the the Moz semiannual (see also the wrapup of this from Rand Fishkin, below) survey of SEO professionals on ranking factors, and predicts which factors are likely to become more important (e.g., authorship metrics) and less important (e.g., exact keyword match domains0 over the next few years.
Weighting the Clusters of Ranking Factors in Google’s Algorithm by Moz
***** 5 STARS
Rand Fishkin explains some of the key takeaways from the Moz semiannual survey on ranking factors. The top three factors remain the quality and quantity of backlinks to a domain; quality/quantity of backlinks to specific pages; and page-level keyword and content features.
Infographic: Every ingredient that contributes to search engine ranking by leaderswest
***** 5 STARS
For those who prefer their ranking factors in a colorful, illustrated format, Jim Dougherty (again) shares a bookmark-worthy SEO infographic detailing 200 Google ranking factors, from domain factors like domain age and history through page-level factors, site-level factors, backlink factors, social signals and more.
Best Guides to SEO in the Keyword (Not Provided) World
Overcoming Google’s Keyword ‘Not Provided’ Data by Web Marketing Today
Kevin Webster outlines several strategies for dealing with keyword (not provided) in search analytics, such as benchmarking and optimizing search landing page traffic and performance: “The company should let go of the notion of ranking for a search term, and focus more on the idea of ranking for a search concept.”
Google ‘(Not Provided)’ Keywords: 10 Ways to Get Organic Search Data by Search Engine Watch
Jennifer Slegg reviews the motivations behind Google’s move to secure search, how the change affected the practice of SEO, and 10 methods for “replacing the (missing keyword) data now that Google isn’t providing it,” such as looking at non-Google search data, Google Webmaster Tools reports, and analyzing on-site searches.
Best Guides to SEO for Panda and Penguin
Life of an SEO Before, After and Beyond Penguin 2.1 an Infographic by WordPress SEO Cloud Hosting
Berrie Pelser presents a fantastically helpful graphical guide to SEO in the post-Penguin environment, which illustrates for example from spending time and money to obtain directory links (before Penguin) to spending time and money getting low-value links removed, and moving from article spinning to quality guest blogging.
How to Recover from Panda Dance by Kaiser the Sage
If your search rankings were mauled by Panda, Jason Acidre details seven techniques for recovering that lost traffic, including rich-snippet optimization (which “seems to be one of the best methods to use in responding to these recent algorithmic changes”), upgrading “evergreen” landing pages, and optimizing for local search.
Brian Rauschenbach offers half a dozen practical tips for SEO in the post-Panda world, among them: “Ensure that links to your site are natural. Panda likes links from quality sources but will come down hard on you (and may even exclude you from Google’s search results) if your site is inundated with overly targeted links, especially if they are sponsored…it’s clear that Google is looking to essentially reward companies and marketers who make a concerted effort to populate their sites with authoritative, useful, and shareable content.”
Best Guides to SEO for Hummingbird
5 Ways To Unlock The Benefits Of Semantic Search by Search Engine Land
Explaining that semantic search is intended to make search results “more personal, more engaging, more interactive and more predictive,” Barbara Starr offers guidance on how to unlock its benefits, from optimizing content based on user intent rather than keywords (based on Google patents in this area) to fully leveraging Google+ and implementing appropriate semantic markup.
Hummingbird Unleashed by Moz
Gianluca Fiorelli recommends taking using a philological (based on the original documents and observation of effects) method to adapt to Google’s algorithmic changes, and details the results of his “study of those documents and field observations” pertaining to Hummingbird, how Hummingbird works, how large the impact is, and most importantly–how to do “Hummingbird-friendly” SEO (e.g., follow technical SEO best practices, build the right kinds of links, and use analytics to optimize social media marketing efforts).
Hummingbird’s Impact On B2B Sites by Search Engine Land
Contending that “The new Hummingbird algorithm will revolutionize the way B2B companies market their sites in search,” Harrison Jones explains how Hummingbird works, how that is likely to affect search rankings and traffic for b2b websites, and how those sites can capitalize on the algorithm change to draw more–and more relevant–traffic from search engines.
Somewhat echoing the points made in the post above, Laurie Sullivan writes that “Search engine marketers need to put aside attempts to raise their brand’s Web site to the top of first-page query rankings through old-fashioned optimization techniques and focus on content,” and more specifically, that they should “Use objects, images, and videos, and with the correct semantic structure the content will get grabbed” by the search engines.