The Blog

How To Get In Google's Rich Answer Box

Posted Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 in Search Engine Optimization by .

CarterThe following instructions apply if you are trying to get included in a rich answer box for a "how to" style query. It's up to Google whether or not they choose to display an answer box, but if they do, the rules below seem to apply under most circumstances. See my evidence listed after the instructions.

Instructions: Getting Into Google's Rich Answer Box

  1. Rank yourself well for the query.
  2. Start your sentences with command words.
  3. Write a clear, unambiguous heading.
  4. Use <li> tags, and keep the section short.


Why You Need To Understand Demand Generation’s Connection To Your Brand Image

Posted Monday, February 23rd, 2015 in Content Marketing by .

smiling girlHey there, folks! Today, we’re going to talk about reputation management and brand awareness. See, the days when a brand could generate a positive image of itself solely through advertising are long behind us.

Thanks in large part to social media, brand recognition is now only the tip of the iceberg. Today’s users are more empowered than they’ve ever been, able to directly impact a business’s chances of success through words alone. As a result of this shift, brands now need to pay attention to the conversations consumers are having across digital channels - they need to examine comments, read reviews, and respond to negative feedback.

“The landscape in which brands now operate has changed beyond recognition,” writes B2B Marketing’s Toby Southgate. “A brand’s reputation, once the healthy product of a successful strategy, can now be driven and developed completely by its customers, prospects, and other external audiences.” (more…)

John Mueller Says Don't Build Links, Confuses Everybody

Posted Monday, February 16th, 2015 in Link Building by .

link graphAm I the only one who thinks these Google Webmaster Central office-hours hangouts are doing more harm than good?

Unlike the carefully-planned, carefully-worded webmaster videos of old, the hangout format just keeps leading us down a familiar path:

  • Webmaster asks question about contentious SEO subject
  • Mueller offers dismissive, short, uninformative response
  • SEO news sites publish said uninformative response with clickbait title
  • Commenters respond with snark and conspiracy theories
  • Uninformed webmasters make bad decisions based on uninformative responses from Google and misleading internet comments

Google's policy on links has been clear for a very long time: (more…)

What’s The Difference Between B2B And B2C Lead Generation?

Posted Monday, February 16th, 2015 in Content Marketing by .

a bookLet’s say you’re an inbound marketing firm. Your business is lead generation - which means that having a sound strategy for the capture of leads is integral to your success. Unfortunately, this is precisely where so many businesses run into trouble.

See, lead generation is among the most misunderstood marketing principles on the web. Way too many marketers make the mistaken assumption that there can be a one-size-fits all strategy; that they can easily capture leads for their brand simply by aping what someone else is doing. This, in turn, leads to a whole lot of wasted marketing dollars and wasted time.

The truth is that, when you’re setting out to generate leads, the type of customer you target matters every bit as much as your industry and brand. An inbound marketing firm that primarily deals with other businesses is going to capture leads in a different way than one that works with regular consumers, even if there are similarities. One Bird’s Chris Hokansson put it best, I think:

“B2B marketing and B2C marketing are like two different dog breeds,” he explains. “Sure, there’s a big difference between a German Shepherd and a poodle, but at the end of the day, they’re both dogs.”

“B2B and B2C marketing are both about people,” continues Hokansson. “But just as you wouldn’t handle a pit bull the same as you would a basset hound, B2B and B2C marketing demand different approaches.” (more…)

Creating Your Personal Brand

Posted Thursday, February 12th, 2015 in Marketing Strategy, Social Media Marketing by .

If you’re running your own business, you’re going to face a bunch of hurdles before you get off and running. But small businesses are becoming more prevalent and some of them can hold their own against large corporations. With so many new brands popping up, you need to stick out from all of the rest. An essential part of your marketing plan should be to establish your company’s personal brand.

If I mention a name like Buzzfeed, most people will not only recognize the name, but they’ll recognize the type of audience they cater to. That website makes me think of fast journalism, reaction gifs and pictures, and relatable pop culture references. It also makes me think of “clickbait,” but let’s not go there. The point is, they’ve branded themselves to be instantly recognizable and we as consumers know what to expect when going to their website.

Here are a few tips to help you create a successful personal brand for your company.

Create your mission

The first step of creating your brand is to think about what you want your business to represent. Think about how you want to be perceived by your audience. It might be helpful to write down a list of what draws you into a particular business that you already admire. Establishing your own values is a great place to start if you’re unsure of what you want your brand to look like. You’ll be left with a set of keywords that you’ll be able to follow and incorporate into your business strategy.

Think of your audience

What type of person are you hoping your business will appeal to? If you want to appeal to the young, fresh out of college generation, you might want to change your company’s tone to match that. Talking to a twenty-something year old is completely different than approaching someone in their late 50s. Know what type of familiarity you can use when addressing your clients.

Join the right social sites

As you’re trying to get the word out about your business, you might think it best that you should join every social platform from Pinterest to Slideshare. While getting your name across the web is great, it might not be entirely beneficial. If your business has a creative focus, sites like Pinterest and Tumblr can be great. But if you’re seeking a polished and professional appearance, try for sites like LinkedIn and

Sharing information

When sharing information on your social platforms, everything you post or re-post will be an extension of your personal brand. Make sure that whatever you share aligns with your company’s goals and aims. If you read an article that you enjoy and want to share it with your audience, always make sure it’s somehow related to your business.

Find your voice

Do you want to come across as witty and amusing, or would you rather be friendly and attentive. Is ok with you to mix in some curse words into your content or would that be strictly prohibited? Once you find the right balance with your tone of voice, you’ll be ready to add your business to the conversation.

January 2015's Best SEO, Social Media, and Content Marketing

Posted Tuesday, February 10th, 2015 in Resource Roundups by .

snow daySo. Google has been quiet so far in 2015. Who wants to take odds on how long that's going to last? While there wasn't a ton of 'news' from the SEO industry this month (which is a good thing), there was no lack of great content for our first roundup of the year.  You can check out articles on mobile and UX, which are only becoming a bigger part of the SEO equation, or our response to a Rand Fishkin article on Moz.  The nice part about finding great content marketing content is that the subject matter demands a constant flow of more content, so you know we have you covered there. And finally, with many businesses still still figuring out how to harness the power of social, we rounded up a number of posts that offer guidance on doing just that. After all the recent snow around the country, we're sure you'll have some time to sit by the fire and catch up on what you missed from January. If you're looking for the same great content the rest of the year, join us on Twitter, Google +, or Facebook. Enjoy! (more…)

Frequently Asked Questions About White Labeling

Posted Wednesday, February 4th, 2015 in Business Strategy, Marketing Strategy by .

root beerWhat is White Labeling?

A white-labeled product is something produced by one company and then sold under a brand name by somebody else. For example, "store brands" are almost always white-labeled products. A manufacturer with no consumer branding sells the product to the retailer, who can sell it for a higher price than the manufacturer due to their position in the marketplace.

Is White Labeling Your Services a Good Idea?

Short answer:

  • The primary reason not to white label your products or services is because it can make it difficult to get the word out about what you do.
  • The primary reason to white label your products or services is to capitalize on the branding and distribution channels of other brands.

Another way to answer the question is to ask yourself how similar your white label work is to the work of the brands you're selling to. For example:

  • It makes sense for computer part manufacturers to white label their services, because the work they do is very different from the branding and design work done by companies like Apple (although by now we're all aware of the humanitarian downside this kind of white-labeling can lead to).
  • It rarely makes sense for a marketing firm to white label their services, since they would be white labeling for other marketing agencies who do (or are supposed to do) essentially the same work. There are exceptions for more specialized work, of course, but this is the exception that proves the rule.


Should You Design Your Content For Leads Or Demand?

Posted Monday, February 2nd, 2015 in Content Marketing by .

writingI’m going to start today’s piece off with a bit of revelation (though hopefully it’ll be old news to at least a few of you): lead generation and demand generation are not interchangeable terms. Although the two are doubtless closely related, they’re anything but identical - in spite of what many inbound marketing gurus might try to tell you. It’s a matter of focus.

“Lead generation and demand generation, often used interchangeably, are essentially at odds with each other,” explains Eric Wittlake of the Content Marketing Institute. “The problem is that demand generation is focused on shaping the audience’s perspective, while lead generation is focused on capturing their information.”

The two, Wittlake continues, cannot comfortably exist side by side in a content marketing plan.

The reason for this is simple - with demand generation, you’re looking to create content that reaches as many people as possible. You’re looking to create demand for your brand’s products or services; to raise awareness of your business with the larger market. In order to achieve this, you cannot gate your content - barriers to consumption run counter to what you’re actually trying to do. (more…)

Five Guaranteed Ways To Enrich Your Content (And Website)

Posted Monday, January 26th, 2015 in Content Marketing by .

fireworks“Content is king.” You’ve all heard the mantra by now. It’s a simple enough concept, really - the idea that if you create something awesome enough, your site’s naturally going to start attracting a following. Unfortunately, it’s a little bit more complicated in practice.

See, it isn’t enough to simply sit down and hammer out a few articles. Even if your writing’s incredibly entertaining to read, words can only do so much. What you need to do is enrich your content - do a bit of extra work to make it more engrossing and valuable to anyone who encounters it.

That’s what we’re here to talk about today. Here are five ways you can enrich both your website and the content you publish to it. Let’s get started. (more…)

Why Rand Fishkin is Very, VERY Wrong About Correlation

Posted Tuesday, January 20th, 2015 in Marketing Strategy, Search Engine Optimization by .

that would be great

...Okay, here we go...

Look, I don't like to pick internet fights for attention. I respect Rand Fishkin's opinions on a lot of things in the industry. I use Moz's little title tag tool practically every day. I've published posts at Moz. But there are times when an idea gets perpetuated and it just has to be put to a stop. What follows isn't about Rand, or Moz. Heck, in my opinion, it's also much, much bigger than a misconception in the SEO community.

So, Rand just published this blog post today, and in it he says this:

Today I'm going to make a crazy claim—that in modern SEO, there are times, situations, and types of analyses where correlation is actually MORE interesting and useful than causality.

Alright. A lot of interesting things come from correlation studies. They are a good jumping off point. They can tell us where causality might exist. But he is so very, very dead wrong about correlation ever being more interesting or useful than causality.

To give Rand his fair treatment, let me summarize the point of his blog post: SEOs should sometimes spend more time thinking about what Google is trying to rank, rather than specifically how. I want to be 100% clear before I move on: I don't disagree with that point. What I disagree with is what appears to be a fundamental misunderstanding of the differences between causation and correlation. I'm not just throwing an academic conniption fit here, either, and here's why. (more…)

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