The Blog

My Blog Guest's Penalty: You Should Have Seen it Coming

Posted Tuesday, March 25th, 2014 in Link Building, Search Engine Optimization by .

Yep. On March 19, 2014, Google penalized “My Blog Guest,” and many of the sites that used it to build links with guest posts. And you should have seen it coming.

You should have seen it coming when Matt Cutts told you to stop using guest posts to build links, and I warned you that a penalty was on the way.

You should have seen it coming when “real” bloggers started publicly complaining about irritating guest post requests flooding their inboxes.

Frankly, you should have seen it coming all the way back when Build My Rank got penalized.

And to all the sites that were penalized even though they used the tool “properly,” or even some who just had a profile on the site, but no links, I feel for you, I do. It sucks. It was over the top. It was unfair. (more…)

What Would the FTC Say About Paid Links?

Posted Monday, March 10th, 2014 in Link Building by .

(Please note, I’m not a lawyer.)

As you probably know, Google’s Matt Cutts recently posted a video about what they consider a “paid link.” It addressed the gray area where, say, you might buy a blogger a beer, and soon after that they write a post about you containing a link. The takeaways from the video were pretty straightforward:

  1. If you explicitly exchange money for links, which is evidently what happens in “99.9 percent of cases,” it’s a no-brainer.
  2. How much is the exchange “like” money, and is its financial value comparable to the black-market value of a link?
  3. Are you gifting a product, or just loaning it? It’s common to loan products to review sites so that they can give adequate reviews, but giving them the product for free is not so common.
  4. Intent. A gift isn’t really being sent in exchange for a link if there’s no expectation that a link is going to be given.
  5. Surprise and relevance. A movie blogger wouldn’t be surprised if they were given free access to a movie, but they would be surprised if they got a free iPad.

What really caught my ear, though, was when Matt Cutt’s mentioned that Google’s policies pretty much mirrored the FTC’s policies. This is something a surprising number of SEOs aren’t aware of: that their link building strategy could be violating FTC law.

So what would the FTC have to say about your link building strategy? (more…)

10 Ways To Enhance Your Rankings Without Using Content

Posted Thursday, March 6th, 2014 in Search Engine Optimization by .

10WaysToEnhanceRankingsWithoutContentRand Fishkin’s recent Whiteboard Friday (WBF) saw him highlight six ways to rank for SEO without using content. Our own writer, Carter Bowles, used this article as the basis for his latest blog post, The Cult of Content, where he gave us an interesting perspective on how Rand was actually just offering ways to promote content marketing. While my post might differ slightly to his, we both drew inspiration from the same place and were able to dissect this WBF in the way that suited our needs.

The current state of inbound marketing has us fully focused on creating exceptional content to help boost our brands and elevate our businesses. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this and we should continue to do so, but it’s not the be all and end all of trying to get your sites to rank well on search engines. There are still hundreds of other factors that we can take into account, tweak and push to help our sites rank, and none of these have anything to do with content.

I really appreciated the fact that for once we could speak about the staples of SEO and remember that although content is directing most of the flow of traffic around the web, there are technical considerations to take into account too when trying to place in search engine rankings.

In saying that, here is a summary of what Rand had to say with my own insights thrown in too.


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

Posted Tuesday, March 4th, 2014 in Resource Roundups by .

i love chicagoEach month, we gather up the most interesting and informative SEO, social media, and content marketing articles that we come across. We do this because we believe that if you're looking to grow your business, these three elements should work in unison, supporting each other to provide a maximum return. This past month continued what has already been a long winter in Chicago, so we've had lots of time to peruse the web looking for the best content. These are the articles from February that we think you'll find useful. If you want the same great content the rest of the year, feel free to follow us on Twitter, Google +, or Facebook. Enjoy!


Mammoth Guide to Webmaster Tools for SEO

Google Webmaster Tools is an incredible tool for running health checks, monitoring your site's progress or uncovering the source of a problem. It's also an essential SEO tool.

4 Black Hat SEO Techniques to Avoid: How to Build Traffic the Right Way

There are a number of less-than reputable ways to "optimize" your website for search engines, but such black hat SEO techniques (the moniker borrowed from hacker lingo) leave your website exposed to penalties and unprotected in the event of algorithmic changes.


The Cult of Content

Posted Monday, March 3rd, 2014 in Search Engine Optimization by .

Inbound marketing is not content marketing.

Neither is SEO.

We need to set this straight.

Let me start with the inspiration for this post. Rand Fishkin and his increasingly large beard recently posted a Whiteboard Friday at Moz entitled “6 Ways to Earn Higher Rankings Without Investing in Content Creation and Marketing.” I was expecting an alternative to content marketing, but what I saw instead was this:

content cult 1

While I was pleased to see Rand diving back into the nitty gritty technical aspects of SEO, I was frustrated to find that I wasn’t looking at an alternative to content marketing. I was merely looking at a way to make content marketing more SEO-friendly.

I get it. Content is cheap, it’s “easy,” and “anybody” can do it. It also happens to be my specialty, and it’s working out quite well for me.

But our industry needs to get past the assumption that content is THE way to expand your reach, build an audience, and retain your customers.

It’s not the only way. (more…)

Making Scrolling Websites Work For SEO

Posted Thursday, February 27th, 2014 in Search Engine Optimization by .

ScrollingSitesForSEO-NorthcuttScrolling websites appear to be the little black dress of the Internet at the moment; you simply have to have one. But there’s been a lot of talk about how scrolling websites can negatively affect your SEO, specifically if they’re built without taking into account what a user will see if they don’t have JavaScript installed.

There are thousands of sites that have taken on the scrolling persona; some news sites have too, offering a similar experience to the endless newsfeed in Twitter and Facebook. While it’s cool to be able to scroll to your heart’s content, it’s aesthetically pleasing and offers a seamless user experience; a search engine bot might not be able to mimic the same behavior that a typical user would. Without being able to crawl your content effectively, there is little chance that your site will show up in any search results.

While scrolling sites often rely on their dashing good looks to get incoming traffic, they are still going to be lost among billions of other pages on the web without some optimization for search. A substantial degree of crawlability is essential in order to get your site featured in search results.


4 Link Building Strategies for Difficult Industries

Posted Tuesday, February 25th, 2014 in Link Building by .

Kite!This is a guest post by Sam Miranda. Sam is a gaming industry marketer and content strategist. Follow him on Twitter here.

The SEO world is awash with link building wins, but how many of these are in niche, undesirable or boring industries? How do you build links to a B2B website selling complex, bespoke software? Or to a website offering gardening and landscaping services?

As a gambling industry marketer, I’m always on the lookout for creative link building strategies. There is a strong, social stigma attached my niche, so I have to focus on creating irresistible content that has cross-industry appeal.

Here are four of my favorite strategies, complete with examples. (more…)

3 Facebook Pages That Slaughtered the Algorithm Update

Posted Monday, February 24th, 2014 in Social Media Marketing by .

Katherine recently talked about the new Facebook algo update, and strategies you can use to beat it. I decided to take a look at the Facebook Pages that are utterly dominating even after the update. These aren’t the most “liked” Facebook Pages. Instead, these are the most talked about Pages. And since I’ve already pointed to academic research demonstrating how audience interactions produce revenue, while Page Likes don’t, this is about as close as we can get to measuring actual revenue.

So, what are these top tier Facebook Pages doing better than the rest of us? (more…)

5 Link Building Email Examples

Posted Monday, February 17th, 2014 in Link Building by .

A lot of webmasters struggle with email outreach, especially was a way to build links. Some have even taken to calling the practice “grey hat,” even though no legitimate and successful inbound marketing strategy can neglect this kind of outreach.

I could go on for days about how to write these emails, but this is one of those things that’s easiest to learn by example. Take a look at the these 5 real world examples and find out how to make link building emails work for you. (more…)

Passive Link Attraction

Posted Thursday, February 13th, 2014 in Link Building by .

Link Atttraction - NorthcuttLink building has become a bit of a swear word in the inbound marketing world. It’s running around in the same realm as “keywords” and has been dubbed “outreach”, “building links” and “content marketing”. But essentially, they’re all the same thing. We want to get people to link to our content and the process that we follow builds these opportunities. So, link building it is.

The fact that links are more difficult to acquire these days and that Google will slam you for obtaining the wrong ones has made it all the more difficult to build them. But the fact remains that they do still act as a vote of confidence for your site and you do still need them and should want them.

Going About Attracting Links

If you’re not one of the Nike, Coca-Cola or Samsungs of the world, it’s a little tricky trying to build and attract links into your site. The process requires a lot of foresight, creativity and downright hard work, but the rewards are of immense benefit. Not only for ranking factors, but also to build brand awareness, referral traffic and hopefully… conversions.

So how do you go about attracting these links?


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