The Blog

Spammy backlinks: What are they really? Do they matter?

Posted Wednesday, September 17th, 2014 in Search Engine Optimization by .

spamWe all think we know a spammy link when we see one, right?

A blog comment from somebody named "free cheap Nike shoe sneakers" is a spammy backlink.

An article that's been spun past the point of legibility and "published" in an "article directory" without human review is a spammy backlink.

But where do we draw the line between spam and promotion? Does Google, as a policy, even see a difference between the two?

Just as importantly, do spammy backlinks really matter? Should you be monitoring your link profile for spam, asking for links to be removed, or cleaning up after previous efforts?

The answer to all of these questions starts with one important insight, and that insight challenges a core assumption of many in the SEO community. (more…)

What Type Of Content Is Your Site Best Suited For?

Posted Monday, September 15th, 2014 in Content Marketing by .

For me, writing comes as easily as breathing. It’s something I’ve always done, ever since I was old enough to pick up a pen. Because of my incredible aptitude for the written word - and my admittedly poor capacity with other forms of media - deciding what sort of content would be the best fit for my site seems a rather easy choice, no? It’s whatever comes most naturally.

That answer doesn’t necessarily work for everyone though - or even for me, really. See, what I’ve written above paints a remarkably simplistic picture of website management and optimization. While it’s certainly true that you should stick to whatever format you’re most skilled at working with, there’s also something to be said for branching out and trying something outside your comfort zone - particularly if it’ll improve your site and increase your readership. (more…)

The Fundamental Error in the Theory of Content Shock

Posted Wednesday, September 10th, 2014 in Content Marketing, Marketing Strategy, Search Engine Optimization by .

tidal waveI've argued against the cult of content in the past.

The most successful sites on the web have always been the Googles, the Facebooks, and the Amazons, never the Mashabless, HuffPos, or BuzzFeeds.

Content has never been "king," and it never will be, because content is not the core of most business models.

But today, I want to address the opposite side of the spectrum: the theory of "content shock."

The idea behind content shock was first proposed, or more likely popularized, by Mark Schaefer in January this year. His article was, in many ways, a much needed wake up call for those who preach content marketing above all else. To this day, I maintain that the most powerful force on the internet is the power of interactivity, built on the solid tripod of utilities, communities, and games.

But as much as I like the spirit of the article, there is a fundamental flaw in the logic of the theory, and I've reached a point where I feel like I need to address it.

Here it is. (more…)

August Resource Round-up: The Best of SEO, Social Media, and Content Marketing

Posted Tuesday, September 9th, 2014 in Resource Roundups by .

looking through telescopeThroughout the month, we know that it can be hard to stay current with all the news, announcements, and generally great content. That's why we scour the web on a daily basis to find the most relevant and interesting articles from the world of SEO, social media, and content marketing. Here's the best from August. Feel free to peruse when you have a moment, and if you're looking for the same great content the rest of the year, join us on Twitter, Google +, or Facebook. Enjoy!


HTTPS as a Ranking Signal

Security is a top priority for Google. We invest a lot in making sure that our services use industry-leading security, like strong HTTPS encryption by default. That means that people using Search, Gmail and Drive, for example, automatically have a secure connection to Google.

The Penguin 3.0 Rollout Will Bring Tears to Your Eyes

For some, it will be tears of joy. Tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of webmasters have performed meticulous link audits after being impacted by Penguin.


Why Your Blog Needs A Comments Section (And Why It Doesn't)

Posted Monday, September 8th, 2014 in Content Marketing by .

commentsAs a web user, one of my favorite things to do after I’ve finished reading an article or watching a video is to scroll down to the comment section to see what people are saying about it.  On the one hand – particularly where YouTube is involved – it’s something of a guilty pleasure. It’s almost like my own personal episode of Jerry Springer, filled with web-based drama and spam-bots as far as the eye can see.

On the other hand, however; I find reading the comments rather enlightening. It lets me see how many other users share my perspective (and in the case of those who don’t, why they think differently from me). It lets me get to know some of the other people who are interested in a particular YouTuber or follow a particular blog, and also serves as a sort of ‘benchmark’ of how popular a work is.

Naturally, these are all elements that benefit you greatly as a content creator. Interacting with your readers in the comment section can lead to new customers, collaborators, suppliers, and supporters. It helps you build a community around your work – and that’s awesome, especially if your blog is just starting out. (more…)

There Are No SEO Gurus

Posted Thursday, September 4th, 2014 in Search Engine Optimization by .

secretI'm going to say it.

There is no such thing as an SEO guru.

Sure, there are SEO experts. There are advisers, mentors, consultants. There are people who can help.

But, typically, when people use the word "guru," they're talking about something more than a mentor or consultant. They're talking about somebody who possesses some arcane knowledge, a virtuoso, somebody who knows hidden secrets, or somebody who knows virtually everything that can be known about a subject.

Those people do not exist in the SEO industry.

The industry leaders, the Rand Fishkins and Danny Sullivans? They're not SEO gurus. They became industry leaders because they know more than a few things about SEO, and they know how to run a media company.

The forum "gurus," with their eBooks, tips and tricks? They're not SEO gurus. Many are hucksters.

Us agencies? Most of the trustworthy ones try to avoid the label. We're practicing SEOs. We learn by getting our hands dirty. We're not gurus. We're pragmatic professionals.

Realizing that there are no SEO gurus out there is one of the most important lessons you will ever learn, whether you want to become an SEO yourself, or you want to hire one.

I'm not joking. Even many of the people who read this and say "yeah, yeah, I know that already" still haven't fully absorbed this lesson. It is absolutely crucial that you really and truly get it, or inevitable pitfalls will continue to claim you.

Here's why. (more…)

Why You Should Always Write What You Know (And Love)

Posted Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014 in Content Marketing by .


I’d like to start off today with a little thought exercise. I want you all to imagine you’re attending a keynote presentation - the topic doesn’t really matter. The keynote speaker is one of the most enthusiastic, energetic presenters you’ve ever laid eyes on. They hold their audience’s rapt attention with every word they utter and every gesture they make; their eyes sparkle with love for their job even as they hold an entire conference hall under their spell.

Next, I want you to imagine another, different speaker. This one’s the polar opposite of the guy who was just up there. He speaks in a passive, apathetic voice; a sleep-inducing monotone. His gestures are sluggardly; his body language isn’t all there and he stumbles over even basic concepts. Before long, people begin to check out; when he leaves the stage, they applaud more out of relief that he’s gone than appreciation of his keynote.

Now, ask yourself - what’s the difference between the two? (more…)

The Ultimate List of 33 Traffic Sources

Posted Thursday, August 28th, 2014 in Affiliate Marketing, Content Marketing, Link Building, Marketing Strategy, Search Engine Optimization, Social Media Marketing by .

lookAs digital marketers, it's easy for us to get wrapped up in a specific method of attracting visitors.

While this kind of tunnel vision can help us become experts at one particular tactic, it can also blind us to all of the other opportunities made available to us.

Realizing this, I decided to put together a comprehensive list of places to get traffic on the web. Needless to say it doesn't contain everything (since that would literally be the entire web), but this covers most of the kinds of places you can use to pick up visits.

I've divided the list into "free" and paid traffic sources, with an emphasis on the unpaid channels. Let's take a look. (more…)

How Can You Tell If What You're Writing Is Resonating With Your Audience?

Posted Monday, August 25th, 2014 in Content Marketing by .

boredIf you don’t know what you’re doing, measuring reader engagement can be one of the most difficult tasks you’ll ever face as a writer. How can you tell if people are interested in what you have to say, or if they’re simply bored to tears?  How can know that what you’re writing has actually reached your readers, and isn’t simply falling on deaf ears?

Although there’s no singular factor you can point to and say “this is how I can tell people like my content,” there are nevertheless a number of metrics you can track to give you some idea of whether or not what you’re writing is resonating with your users. Paying attention to each of these metrics is vital to ensuring you’re publishing effective content; if your content is ineffective, they’re also vital to working out just what you’re doing wrong. (more…)

A Secret Path to Low Competition Keywords That Matter

Posted Wednesday, August 20th, 2014 in Search Engine Optimization by .

secret pathYou want to rank, right?

If you're like most bloggers, small businesses, or SEO agencies, chasing competitive keywords is a waste of time.

You need to find queries you actually stand a chance of turning up in search results for, and that means finding low competition topics to cover.

So here's the problem. Most of the advice out there about how to actually accomplish this is terrible (at least in isolation). Advice like this:

  • Check how many search results Google lists for your exact keyword phrase (and throw in "allintitle," "intitle," "inanchor," or "inurl" if you like)
  • Use a keyword tool that automatically analyzes the SERPs to identify those perfect keywords with just the right combination of traffic and low competition
  • Analyze the competitors on the front page based on the number of backlinks, whether or not they are using keywords in the title and subheadings, their toolbar PageRank, etc.

Now, when I say this advice is "terrible," I'm not saying that you should never do any of this. Instead, what I'm saying is this:

That is not a strategy for finding low competition keywords.

That is a strategy for wasting time by checking keyword after keyword for months until you randomly discover one that works. In the case of the keyword tools designed to help you find low competition keywords, guess what? All the other SEOs are using the same tools, and they're eventually going to find the same low competition keywords, and swamp you with them.

Want to learn what it really takes to find low competition keywords that actually matter?

Read on. (more…)

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