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Search Engine Guide : Small Business Search Marketing
Search engine marketing news and information you can use to grow your business.

Search Engine Guide
  • 7 Types of Blog Posts That Earn The Most Inbound Links

    by Jayson DeMers

    If you want to be successful in SEO, climbing the ranks of search engines and earning more visibility and traffic for your brand, then you need more inbound links from high-authority sources. Yes, it's more complicated than that, but on a basic level, getting more links for your site is the only way to build domain authority. But how can you do this while evading the harsh evaluations of the Penguin algorithm and maximizing the potential of your brand?

    Link Building vs. Link Attraction

    The first key is to note the significant difference between link building and link earning. The former focuses on establishing single instances of links on external sources, such as through guest posts, while the latter focuses on creating compelling content that people naturally want to link to on its own merit. Of the two, link earning is a somewhat safer strategy (while link building is a bit more stable, scalable, and controllable). But at the same time, link earning is also unpredictable--how can you make sure that your content's going to earn the links you need?

    The Best Blog Posts for the Job

    To get you started, there are a handful of types of blog posts that naturally earn more links and attention than others. Here are seven of the most popular articles and posts that people link to:

    1. Infographics.

    Infographics have long been heralded as an exceptional form of content, and for good reason. They naturally contain easily-understandable and valuable information, making them appealing from a logical and practical perspective (if you choose the right topics). They're visually accessible, which makes them easy to digest and share, increasing overall visibility. Plus, you have the freedom and flexibility to get as creative as you want in the design, showing off what makes your brand unique. As a perfect example, Podio's Daily Routines of Famous Creative People went viral last year, earning thousands of links for the brand.

    2. Videographics.

    Videographics are so much like infographics that they almost don't warrant a separate entry on this list. However, the tremendous rise in video popularity, along with new consumer-centric features like auto-playing videos in Facebook news feeds, makes it important to distinguish this type of content. Essentially infographics in motion, videographics have all the advantages of infographics with an even more modern spin.

    3. Interviews.

    Interviews are a fantastic mutual opportunity to earn links, whether you're the interviewer or the interviewee. You can produce interviews in multiple ways (such as video, audio, or written transcript), and both you and the other party (interviewer/interviewee) will have an incentive to share the finished product. This will double your audience instantly--maybe even multiplying it further, depending on the other party's level of influence. Plus, interviews make for highly sharable, linkable assets in general.

    4. List posts.

    List posts, like habits that will make you rich or top superhero movies, tend to attract tons of links simply because they're easy to digest. People rarely have time to wade through thousands of words of content, but they can blaze through a list post quickly, often just skimming the subheaders to see if there's any new or particularly interesting information. This makes list posts fast-paced, sharable, and most importantly, appealing to almost any online audience. They're natural link magnets.

    5. Strong opinion posts.

    Opinion posts can be really good or really bad--and if they're really good, they'll have the power to earn you tons of links. The power of a good opinion post is presenting ideas that nobody's heard alongside compelling information that reinforces your position. Accordingly, your piece needs to be extremely well-researched, well-argued, and focused on a point. Your post also needs to be debatable, to attract more discussion and attention when you start syndicating your piece.

    6. In-depth reviews.

    Take the Verge's thousands-of-words, video-embedded review of Oculus Rift as an example. People love to gather and share information when they're trying to make a purchasing decision, or when something new enters the market. Your brand may not always be well-poised to take advantage of this, but whenever you have the opportunity to post an in-depth review of a product, service, or even a piece of news (like new technology that's shaping your industry), do so.

    7. Stories.

    Don't underestimate the power a simple story can have, especially if it has an emotional root. People fundamentally love stories, whether they're case studies, metaphorical illustrations, or just simple anecdotes. Frame your story correctly, make it meaningful, and people will share your material all over the web, earning you tons of links in the process.

    Final Caveats

    These types of content all carry some natural potential, making them inherently better than some of their counterparts for attracting inbound links. However, that doesn't mean you can scrap them together or rest on your laurels! You still have to pay close attention to best practices for a successful content strategy in general:

    • Unique ideas only.
    • Write for your audience.
    • Pay attention to the details.
    • Stick to your niche (and stay consistent with your brand).
    • Share, syndicate, and publicize your material.
    If you can accomplish these simplified best practices with the types of content we listed above, you'll have a top-notch link earning strategy that can greatly increase your domain authority, traffic, rankings, and visibility in no time.

    Be sure and visit our small business news site.



  • How to Use SEO When You Need to Hire Someone Now

    by Jayson DeMers

    When most people think about online marketing, they think about the straightforward side--the one that makes them money directly. They think about earning more traffic from their target demographics, and earning more conversions from the pool of that traffic. This leads to more sales (or leads), which then translates to bottom-line dollars for the company.
    But there's another way that online marketing can help your organization--by promoting an open position and attracting more qualified candidates to apply.

    SEO for Human Resources

    SEO (search engine optimization) is a marketing strategy, plain and simple. By leveraging it, you'll get more visibility for the pages that matter most on your site. The delusion that most optimizers have fallen into, however, is that the pages you promote should be directly tied to your bottom line. It's equally possible (and sometimes better) to promote pages that have a chance of benefiting your brand instead, such as human resources pages or individual open positions.

    Strategies for Success

    Knowing that, you'll need a handful of specific strategies if you want to use SEO effectively for your hiring campaign:

    1. Include a general human resources page.

    This should be a main navigation "housing" for your subsequent open position pages. Here, you'll detail your company's human resources department, optimizing for keywords related to your business as a place to work rather than a place to do business with. For example, a SaaS company may use a phrase like "a leader in software engineering," as opposed to a phrase like "a leader in task management software" to cater to software developers over paying subscribers.

    2. Create a dedicated page for each position.

    Creating a dedicated page for each open position you have provides the opportunity to optimize a page for each of those keyword phrases. Title the page with the job title near the front, and include at least one or two synonyms for that job title in the description. In the body content, describe job responsibilities in detail, and be sure to include at least a handful of instances of the job title.

    3. Target individual locations.

    Even if your company is a national level organization, and even if you're hiring multiple people at multiple locations, it's a good idea to segment your open positions by location. This will allow you to optimize for geographic keywords in your titles, descriptions, and of course, your body content.

    4. Use referral links to drive more traffic.

    The more links you have pointing to your individual position pages, the stronger those page authorities will be (and the more likely you'll be to rank for keyword terms relating to that position). Build links on as many different sources as you can, and don't forget the power that referral traffic can lend to your site. Choose content and publishers that have the highest likelihood of passing qualified candidates your way.  For example, you may want to produce content or make your position available for outside content detailing open positions for job hunters. This is especially effective when localized to one area, such as open jobs in New York City.

    Key Challenges

    Despite the advantages that SEO for an open position can offer, there are some key challenges you'll need to bear in mind:

    • Competition from job boards.

    There are tons of online job boards, and they pretty much have a lockdown on general searches like "jobs in Chicago." If you want a chance at ranking for any search queries, you're going to have to find a niche. That means seeking highly specific candidates, or using specific variants of job searches as your target.

    • Split resources.

    As you optimize for a human resources campaign, you'll probably be splitting your SEO resources between that and your marketing campaign. For most organizations, this is only a temporary investment (until the position is filled), but if you're planning on running this as a long-term campaign, you'll need to carefully strategize so you don't end up neglecting either side of your campaign.

    • Keyword targeting

    Obviously, you'll need to target keywords for your open positions, but finding the right keywords is tougher than you might think. There are dozens of synonyms for your job title, and the job title you give may carry different connotations than you intend. At the same time, there are only so many "alternative" job titles you can include in your body content. The best approach here is to pick a direction and stick with it as best you can; if you try to optimize for too many different keywords, you'll end up splitting your efforts and ranking for none of them.

    If you can incorporate these strategies and overcome these challenges, you'll be able to attract far more traffic to your open positions, and wind up with far more qualified candidates to choose from when you're ready to follow through with hiring. That means your organization will run smoother, and you'll become more profitable.

    Be sure and visit our small business news site.



  • Enterprise marketers must tightly choose the focus of their website

    by Mike Moran

    Are you responsible for a big company's digital marketing? You might not be the CMO, however, so that whole website isn't your problem. You are only responsible for a small piece -- maybe one product line. Or a single country. Or maybe a product line within a single country. Maybe your responsibility is even narrower than that. But do you actually know which pages on the website are your problem? Often I find people aren't exactly sure. 

    So, why do you need to figure this out anyway? If you are the product manager for US sales of product X, isn't that good enough? I mean, you know where the home page is of your website. If you haven't spent the time to identify every blessed page that pertains to your country and your product, what's the harm? After all, you're busy with a lot of other things. 

    Well, think about a few points:

    • Your budget probably pays for these pages. Most companies use chargeback systems where your IT team, copywriters and other shared resources are paid by the page. Or you have a dedicated team spending time on these pages-some that you might not even know about. Is this where you want your money going?
    • You want to know the traffic to these pages. Do you regularly check how many visitors come to these pages? And from what other sites? Can you tie back your traffic to your inbound marketing campaigns? If you can't identify all the pages that are yours, then you can't do any of this, either-and you won't know which marketing efforts are working and which aren't.
    • You want to know the conversions from these pages. You also want to measure (and improve) the conversions from these pages. Every page needs to be doing some work to move visitors closer to a sale. Most of us don't have e-commerce sites, but we all have something we want our web visitors to do to gain an offline sale. We need to be sure that every page has a job to do (even if it is just to get a click to another page) and that we measure how well it is doing it.

    It might be easy to identify your site, even when you work in a big company. If you are the worldwide product manager for Crest toothpaste, you site is crest.com, even though you work in the bowels of the behemoth Procter & Gamble. But usually big company sites are a bit harder to pin down for you. I remember when I worked for IBM, it was common for me to be speaking with someone whose responsibility was software in Germany, whose site was all of the pages underneath www.ibm.com/de/software-and many had even smaller responsibilities with even more arcane URLs that defined their scope. Whatever yours is, you need to treat every page within it as yours, which starts by identifying what your site is. What exactly are you responsible for?

    If this sounds a bit persnickety, ask yourself this: Do you have any trouble identifying which ad campaigns are yours? Which brochures? Which commercials? Which coupons? I thought so.

    Don't be sloppy about your digital marketing. It's easy to be vague about your website scope in a big company. Focus your sights on your sites-just like small companies do-so that you have the focus that drives improved results.

    Originally posted on Biznology

    Enhanced by Zemanta

    Be sure and visit our small business news site.



  • How to Use Customer Reviews and Ratings for SEO

    by Jayson DeMers

    It's no secret that customer reviews and ratings are a good thing. Social proof is a demonstrably powerful effect, with more than two-thirds of online users being influenced by customer reviews and testimonials in their purchasing decisions. They may see a review and be prompted to take immediate action, thus affecting your on-page conversion rate, or they may be indirectly influenced by the review, influencing them to refer friends and family to your business, or causing them to buy from you at a later date.

    This alone should be enough for you to seek more (and better) online reviews, but what about search engine visibility? Is it possible for your online reviews to influence your position or visibility on SERPs?

    Dedicated Review Pages vs. Embedded Reviews

    The two main ways to feature reviews on your site are on a dedicated review page (here's a great example of one) or as embedded bits on individual product or services pages. The approach should depend on your approach to business. For example, an ecommerce provider with lots of individual products may need specific product-based reviews and have very little in terms of overall branded reviews, while a B2B service provider may have the opposite effect; if someone is specifically searching for "[your brand] reviews" or something similar, you'll want your dedicated review page to come up.

    Keyword Opportunities

    Online reviews are beneficial because they present more opportunities for you to have keywords and natural language content on your individual pages; this is always a boon for rankings. You won't be in full control over your customer reviews, but if they're writing them for individual products, you can bet that they'll feature some of the most important phrases associated with your products. You can nudge this in the right direction by encouraging specific types of reviews from your users, or offering prompts.

    Ongoing Content Submissions

    Accepting and publishing online reviews also gives you an opportunity for a free stream of regularly updated content, which Google likes to see. This won't provide much of a boost in rankings, but it will show site visitors that you're dedicated to keeping your site up-to-date, which may boost conversion rates. This effect is more pronounced for a dedicated review page, as individual product pages may take longer to cycle through new reviews.

    Microformatting

    So far, we've mostly discussed how on-site reviews can improve your rankings. This approach will help your search position become more visible and attractive to potential visitors. Through the use of microformatting, you can communicate to Google where your reviews begin and end, and if there is a rating system associated with your products. With this information, Google can create rich snippets of information to display to users immediately in the search results. If they see that your product is rated an average of 4.7 out of 5 stars, they'll be far more likely to click through to your specific page.

    Local SEO and Off-site Reviews

    Of course, on-site reviews aren't the only type of reviews that can be good for SEO. The topic's been suitably covered under the topic of local SEO, but it's important to acknowledge that the more reviews you have for your business in third-party directory and other offsite sources (and the better those reviews are), the more likely you'll be to earn a place in the local 3-pack.

    The Bottom Line: Get More Reviews

    Since you won't be the one doing the writing of the actual reviews, you won't have as much control over how your reviews are optimized. Even if you could, reviews play only a small part in your rankings and visibility--it's worth obtaining them, especially for local SEO visibility, but this approach won't make or break your SEO strategy. Instead, set your sights on attracting as many reviews as possible (and making sure those reviews are positive with best business practices). More reviews will build your reputation, earn you more traffic, and bolster your conversion rates--you can't go wrong.

    Be sure and visit our small business news site.



  • 5 Link Building Tactics to Avoid (and Modern Alternatives)

    by Jayson DeMers

    Few SEO strategies have changed as dramatically or as consistently as link building. Despite some occasional claims to the contrary, link building is still a necessary element if you want to earn any significant rankings in search engines. In fact, Google recently confirmed that inbound links are one of the top two ranking factors in the algorithm. Links have always existed as a kind of third-party validation for the trustworthiness, credibility, or authoritativeness of a page or website as a whole; if there are hundreds of sites with links pointing back to yours, clearly you've made a positive impact, and are worth listening to. Therefore, according to Google, you're worth ranking highly. However, without those links, it's virtually impossible to gain any kind of search visibility.

    How Link Building Has Changed

    Old link building strategies were somewhat straightforward: do whatever it takes to get more links. Link quantity was the main focus, along with anchor text, and there weren't many standards for how you could or couldn't build them. However, thanks to increasing publisher standards and more quality checks in Google's ranking algorithm, the entire idea of "link building" has evolved to mean something more. Links should be earned naturally through the power of your content, and serve a genuine value to your readers. All other links can--and will--be disregarded.

    Obsolete Practices

    Unfortunately, a number of old-world strategies persist in our modern link building era. Due to ignorance and confusion, these techniques, when executed, actually put your domain in danger of being penalized. So instead of continuing with these obsolete, questionable practices, engage in a modern alternative that can increase your authority and keep you safe.

    1. Black-hat link exchanges. The old tactic here was an implied or formal deal between two sites to set up direct link exchanges; each site in the deal would link to the other, improving the relative authority of both sites. This type of scheme also evolved to higher scales; link circles and link networks would involve dozens or even hundreds of such sites, resulting in complicated link networks. Such tactics no longer fly, and generally get every site involved blacklisted from Google. So instead of seeking a valueless exchange, why not come together for a mutual benefit, with value for your readers? Interviews are the perfect opportunity for this; one authority interviews another, members of both audiences get content value, and each participant in the interview earns a link and visibility out of the deal.

    2. Including links in forum comments. It used to be common practice to simply post a link wherever you had an opportunity to post anything--and forum comment boxes presented a great opportunity. All you had to do was paste the link to your site and click "submit." Today, posting only a link as a forum comment will get you banned from the forum long before Google even catches up to you. Instead, become an active participant in the community. Once you become known and respected as an authority, you can start including links to your own site--as long as they're appropriate, relevant, and valuable in the context of the conversation. While they probably won't add much SEO value, forum links can drive significant referral traffic, especially when posted by a trusted member of the community.

    3. Article marketing with sneaky links. Article directories once provided an opportunity to slap together fluff content and include your link somewhere in the body of the material. Today, article directories are shunned by Google's algorithm, rarely appearing in search results anymore. Furthermore, links from article directories are often completely neutralized or even result in penalties for the websites they link to, if there are enough of them. Additionally, publisher reputations are held in far higher esteem, and "article marketing" has been exposed for what it is; spam. If you want a chance at your contribute content being accepted by external publishers, you need to meet their standards, which means producing original, well-written, detailed material that's valuable for their readership. As long as your links are valuable and relevant to the conversation, there's no need to try to be sneaky with them.

    4. Stuffing anchor text with keywords. Anchor text used to be a huge deal for a link building campaign--you had to embed your links in text that contained the keywords you wanted to rank for. The end result was usually links embedded in phrases like "cheap bookshelves Kentucky" or "best tacos Portland." These are clunky, non-descriptive, and clear indicators of rank manipulation. This type of anchor text not only has no positive effect today, it's actually the easiest and quickest way for Google to identify spammy, manipulative link building, which can earn your website a manual or algorithmic penalty. Instead, aim for anchor text that is clearly and objectively descriptive of the content you're linking to--check out any of the links in this article as examples.

    5. Plotting a specific rhythm and order to your links. Old-school link building strategies required some level of formalization, identifying potential sources for link building efforts, creating a schedule or calendar for the building process, and putting those sources on rotation. It was all highly mathematical; there was even a term for it: "link velocity." Today, such a process will let Google catch on almost immediately; instead, you have to make your links as natural as possible. And what better way to make your links natural than to just attract natural links? Produce great content, syndicate it far and wide, and readers will link to it, share it, bookmark it, and comment on it.

    There are plenty of modern link building strategies that allow you to earn links naturally and even place some, under the right circumstances. Never again should you have to rely on the kind of black-hat practices that drove search engine visibility growth in decades past. It's important to consider your domain authority and search ranking goals, but don't forget what's most important here--the value you bring to your audience. Keep that as your top priority, and you shouldn't ever have to worry about a penalty.

    Be sure and visit our small business news site.



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