The conventional wisdom surrounding e-books as SEO tools pretty much says give it away and people will link to your giveaway page. You’ll acquire a lot of links and you’ll be giving away information that translates into dollars.
Unless, of course, the e-book is no good. Then, you’ll get no links and no dollars.
Is that all there is?
No, not really. There’s more to it than that. You can still receive SEO benefits on an e-book that you sell from your website. If it’s a good book, people will link to it, or at least mention it by name. A good book will always get a recommendation by someone.
There are other ways to drum up some public relations on your e-book, which will lead to additional inbound links and SEO. You could send out a press release. You could also read an excerpt from your book and post it to YouTube. Or you could host a Google+ Hangout. Social media promotion is always a good way to get more publicity for your e-books, and it often results in more inbound links.
Of course, none of this is a guarantee. The first step is quality. Write a quality e-book about a topic that people care about. If you do that, links and SEO will take care of themselves.
While reading SEO Theory, I came across this startling paragraph:
As the provider of content you create the keywords people search for. I have said this in oh-so-many ways over the years. This is a particularly important lesson in search marketing for journalists who fear the keyword-laden spreadsheet. No self-respecting SEO should be demanding that journalists write about keywords. Journalists should be taught to understand what the difference is between a keyword and everything else, but the journalists make the keywords — not the readers.
This is in stark contrast to how many SEOs think of keywords and keyword-based content.
That first sentence is a humdinger.
As the provider of content you create the keywords people search for.
You create the keywords? You mean, the keywords aren’t already there? It’s not the SEO who is just tapping into them?
Many SEOs approach content marketing that way, but it’s not necessarily the right way. If you let your readers dictate what your keywords are, then you’ll always be pandering to your readers. If you create your own keywords based on your business philosophy and what’s important to your business, then you can teach searchers to look for your content by teaching them which keywords are important.
This is how leaders in search marketing are made. Think more deeply about what a keyword is and how you employ them. SEO is broader than you think.
Every two years, Moz (formerly SEOmoz) conducts a survey wherein they ask high profile SEO experts to weigh in on what they believe to be the most important ranking factors in the search engines. Recently, Moz conducted its 2013 ranking factors survey and some interesting results have come to light.
For starters, the biggest ranking factor, according to the SEOs surveyed, appears to be page authority. That’s no real big surprise, but Google+ and Facebook social signals having a high correlation might be.
Another interesting survey result is that anchor text is still considered a very important ranking factor despite Google’s efforts through the Penguin update to kill low quality anchor text links.
Moz was careful to point out that correlation does not necessarily lead to causation, so that should stop us in our tracks in believing that social signals can be determined to be a bona fide ranking factor based on this survey.
Finally, the Moz survey led to the following conclusions by survey analysts:
Links are still believed to be the most important part of the algorithm (approximately 40%).
Keyword usage on the page is still fundamental, and other than links is thought to be the most important type of factor.
SEOs do not think social factors are important in the 2013 algorithm (only 7%), in contrast to the high correlations.
In other words, not much has really changed. It all still boils down to inbound anchor text links and on-page keyword-based content.
Going forward, however, the consensus seems to be that these ranking factors will not be as important. What will become more important to future SEO efforts, according to SEOs involved in the survey, are authorship, structured data, and social signals. So what is the practical application?
I’d say it this way: Continue building solid on-page content and building links while incorporating Google+ and other social media into your content promotion strategy along with structured data and schema.org standards.
In short, a long click is when someone searches for something through a search engine and clicks a link to visit the website. Instead of clicking back and making another search, they click through to another website. They may stay on the original site for a while, but ultimately they move on to another website because their search query has been answered.
As far as the search engine is concerned, the user stays on the first website forever. The search engine can’t detect a click through from a website – only from its own index.
Nevertheless, this is important user behavior because it indicates user satisfaction. You may not think that sending your visitors to another website is evidence of user satisfaction, but it is. You are giving them something they want – answers to their questions.
Your Number 1 goal is to provide searchers with answers to questions. That’s what SEO is all about. If you do that, then you’re doing your job.
That doesn’t mean you can’t sell them something or that you should drive your traffic to internal landing pages that result in conversions. The primary goal in SEO is to answer search query questions. If you do that, then you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing.
I’ve heard it argued that they’re not necessary now, which is only partially true, I think. As semantic search becomes more the norm, then I expect keywords to become less important. They are certainly a lot less important in conversational search, as demonstrated by Danny Sullivan.
The big question is, When will Google take the semantic aspects of conversational search and apply them to organic text-based search? I figure it could happen within the next five years – probably sooner.
Of course, that won’t immediately kill the need for keywords. I suspect that keywords will always be a part of search but in a more diminished way as search becomes increasingly more sophisticated. Personalization was one step in that direction. Google+ is another step. Conversational search is a big leap.
Keywords are still necessary because they are a good way for search optimizers, searchers, and the search engines to communicate on common ground. What Google is increasingly trying to do is make search more like natural conversations.
So the big question on the table is, How long will it be before Google succeeds at making search entirely conversational, completely semantic? You want to take a stab at that? Will it be within the next five years?
One of the latest developments for website design is responsive design. This is a term that is used to describe a website that is accessible from any device and allows the user to experience the website whether viewing it from a desktop machine, a laptop, a mobile phone, a tablet, or some other device. The website responds to the device it is being viewed from.
For instance, responsive websites eliminate the duplicate content issue. If you have a website in HTML that was designed for computers and a separate website that was designed for mobile devices, you’ll either have to rewrite the content for the second site or potentially deal with duplicate content issues in the search engines. There’s no way around it. Even if your mobile site is a subdomain of your main site, you’ll have to face the duplicate content monster.
You also only have to do SEO on one site. If you have two sites, that’s twice the SEO work.
Thirdly, if you have a traditional website and a mobile website, then you’ll have to build links to both sites. Link building is a time consuming activity. You will most certainly duplicate your efforts in social media promotion and other link building activities if you have a dedicated mobile website.
You’ve spent hours upon hours of time pushing your content through social media channels and analyzing the results. You get lots of traffic to your website only to see it bounce and go somewhere else. Is this how social media is suppose to work, or are you doing something wrong?
Traffic generation is good. I’m glad you are able to attract visitors to your website, but is your traffic targeted?
It’s better to get 100 highly targeted users to your website than to attract 1,000 non-targeted users. The targeted users are more likely to stick around and check out your content, maybe even buy something. Non-targeted users are more likely to go somewhere else.
It’s important to realize that just because you have a social media presence doesn’t obligate anyone to show up at your business website. People aren’t going to do that. But they will visit your website, and even buy something, if you have what they need.
Social media marketing is not about attracting the highest number of website visitors. It’s about attracting the right website visitors. If you aren’t doing that, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate your social content and see if it’s doing the job you want it to do. You’ll get a higher click-through rate and more conversions if you focus on the traffic you want rather than the traffic you can scrounge.
So many SEOs and Internet marketers spend a lot of time chasing links and then end up with their web pages losing Web rankings. You might get more mileage if you focused on driving traffic to your website instead.
Internet marketing has always consisted of a balance between writing great content and performing solid SEO analysis. God links and great SEO techniques are useless unless they generate a long-term benefit. The best benefit, of course, is an increase in traffic that leads to conversions.
I’m going to share three ways you can increase your website traffic relatively easily.
Becoming a columnist – Everyone wants to be a guest blogger, but you’ll get a lot further if you become a columnist instead. A columnist is a person who writes regularly for a Web property they don’t own. Find a website related to your niche where you can develop a relationship with an editor who will give you a chance to write daily, weekly, or monthly columns on a specific topic.
Paid tweets – Find a Twitter user who posts items related to your niche and who has a lot of followers. Find out their optimal price for paid tweets and ask them to tweet something for you. Twitter is one of the best traffic generation tools online.
Sponsored posts – The thing you have to remember about sponsored posts is you want to disclose the sponsorship openly. If people know you are sponsoring content on another website, they’ll be more responsive to what you have to say. It’s not a guarantee, but people respect openness and honesty.
Not everyone is going to be warm to these ideas, but if you employ them properly and respectfully, they can lead to good website traffic.
Google’s Matt Cutts, head of the web spam team, posted a YouTube video about upcoming algorithm changes. This is something Google rarely does, but Matt thought it was important he posted on Twitter that “Pretty much every SEO should watch this video:”
I’m going to post the video for you to watch, but before I do, here’s a summary of what you’ll hear:
There will be a major Penguin update
Google will address advertorial spam
Spammy queries will be looked at
He doesn’t say what, specifically, Google will do in this regard, but Matt does say they plan to “go upstream” to address link spam
More sophisticated link analysis (Matt seems really excited about this one even though his language is tentative)
Improvements on how Google handles hacked websites
Algorithm tweaks to boost “authority” as a ranking factor
Google will attempt to soften the blow of Panda for sites in the “gray area”
This one actually makes a lot of sense and it’s surprising Google didn’t think of it sooner, but they will diminish the number of times a domain cluster appears in the SERPs for the same domain, addressing specifically subsequent SERP pages
Improvements to webmaster communication
Much of this has to do with addressing blackhat SEO techniques, so most of us don’t have anything to worry about. The changes that will affect us whitehat guys are mostly positive. Should we be worried, or do you see any of this as good for webmasters?
On-site SEO is every bit as important as off-site SEO. In fact, I’d say it’s more important. If you can’t get your on-site SEO right, then it won’t matter how good you are at off-site SEO. Here are three on-site SEO tricks that don’t get talked about much.
404 pages – There are all sorts of error pages, but the 404 error page can be the most frustrating for users – especially if yours isn’t optimized well. Don’t settle for the generic 404 page. Customize your page with your company’s logo and some helpful information to assist your visitors in finding the right web page. To do that well, include some link suggestions and encourage your visitors to keep trying.
Site speed – Search engines love fast-loading websites. They don’t like slow-loading websites. Therefore, you should do everything you can to increase your website’s load speed. Often, sites load slowly due to an overwhelming number of huge graphic or video files, server issues, or clunky CMS systems.
Rich snippets – Rich snippets are a good way to provide extra information about your page to help your site visitors find the information they are looking for. They won’t necessarily help your site rank better, but if visitors can’t find what they are looking for, then it won’t matter.
SEO is in a constant state of change. Very little we do today bears any resemblance to how SEO was performed 10 or 15 years ago. And it’s likely that SEO will be quite different 20 years from now. Here are three outdated SEO ideas that still get shared in social circles even though they are completely WRONG.
META Tags Are Extremely Important – No they’re not. Neither Bing nor Google even look at your keywords meta tag. They completely ignore it. Your SEO Title tag is usually redundant. It is only slightly useful. The most important meta tag is the meta description tag and, technically, you can do without it. It’s useful to the degree that you write a good one and that Google or Bing uses it in the search snippet in user search results – which doesn’t happen every time.
Search Engine Submissions Are Necessary – Absolutely not. I still see web companies offering search engine submission services. The truth is, the search engines have spiders that crawl the web. If you have one inbound link to your website, it will be found and indexed by the search engines. Submission is not necessary.
Exact Match Domain Names Rank Better – Just a cursory look at the web will tell you otherwise. Many branded non-keyword-matching domain names rank No. 1 for specific keyword searches. None of the search engines have “search engine” in their domain name. Yahoo! is a branded name. Bing is a branded name. Google is a branded name. YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest are all branded names. Enough said.
Are you listening to outdated ideas? Stop listening to the people selling you bad SEO advice. Listen to the folks who are moving with the times.
The reason clients outsource their search engine optimization is because they don’t have the time to commit to it or they don’t have the expertise necessary to create a successful SEO campaign. Both of those are understandable. However, you still need to be involved.
Some clients have the attitude that the SEO professional will take care of all of the details. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. But the reality is, it’s your business. No SEO in the world is going to be an expert in every niche every one of their clients is a part of. You still need to be involved in the SEO process.
Here are 4 ways that clients often sabotage their own SEO campaigns.
The client isn’t committed to the campaign – This typically happens in large organizations where a marketing professional hires an outside SEO firm but upper management, who have no knowledge or experience with SEO and don’t want it, have not been sold on the idea. This usually leads to infighting. This can often be a distraction to your SEO firm. Make sure everyone on your team is sold out to your SEO campaign before you start it.
The client is not involved in the process - Don’t just hand over your SEO to your consultant and forget about it. Your input is necessary for keyword selection and strategy implementation.
The client doesn’t keep up their end of the bargain – Whether it comes to paying for services or conducting experiments, testing, or research, if you tell your SEO consulting firm that you will do something, then you should do it. After all, you’d expect the same from them.
The client doesn’t implement changes fast enough – If you agree to perform some of the tasks related to your SEO, then be sure to do it. Your SEO firm may be relying on you to complete certain tasks before they can do their jobs. If you don’t implement the necessary changes when you say you will or install particular software on time, then you could be hurting your own marketing efforts.
SEO is getting more and more technical and difficult to implement, not to mention costly. Don’t sabotage your company’s SEO efforts with any of these mistakes.
Chances are, if you’ve been online for any period of time and have been reading SEO blogs, then you’ve probably heard that press releases are a great way to build links back to your website and garner a little SEO from them. Exercise caution. This could be bad advice.
Think about it. Google slapped article directories hard with its Panda update. They essentially killed some of the top article directories on the web. Some of them managed to bounce back.
Press release distribution websites are just like article directories. They are directories for press releases.
While I believe press releases are important tools for getting publicity for your business, I think you’re better off developing a list of media that you send your press releases to directly. You can upload your press releases to press release distribution websites in addition to your own media and PR list. However, don’t expect much.
Those press release distribution websites have become saturated with overly optimized press releases that do little to inform journalists about anything.
You may find a few journalists in any industry that scour these sites for news stories, but my bet is that most of them rely on press releases sent directly to them. Inbound links from press releases might help a little, but I wouldn’t use them as a primary SEO tactic.
If you submit press releases for online distribution, you want them to be effective. An effective press release contains at least six elements. These include:
Headline – Just like a news story has a headline, your press release must have a headline. Your headline should grab your reader’s attention, state succinctly what the story is all about, and be well optimized for search.
Lead paragraph – The lead paragraph should contain the bare essentials of your news story: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How.
Body content – If you want your press release to be effective, it should be structured the same way a journalist would structure a news story. That’s typically an inverted pyramid structure where the most important information is near the top and you work through to the least important information at the bottom.
Quote – Don’t ever send out a press release without at least one quote. The quote should come from a credible source, be realistic-sounding, and offer something new or interesting the rest of the press release content doesn’t cover.
Contact information – Your contact information and your public relations team’s contact information should be on your press release.
Search engine optimization – The only difference between a traditional press release and an online press release is that your online press release must be optimized for search. Otherwise, what’s the point?
Google recently announced the publication of a new webmaster cheat sheet. So if you just built your first website and want to know how you can get it to rank in Google’s search engine, you should download this PDF right away.
Keep in mind, however, that it’s just a basic overview, not a full tell-all. In other words, it isn’t comprehensive.
The PDF essentially offers the following advice:
Write a concise, informative page title
Chose a domain name that is descriptive and easy to remember
Write unique meta descriptions for each page of 160 characters or less
Give images short and descriptive file names
Write a keyword-based alt tag for each image
Include an informative and descriptive caption for each image
Keep your website’s content up to date and unique with fresh regular blog posts
This advice really isn’t earth-shatteringly new. Reciprocal Consulting has been giving this same advice for years. And remember, it’s still basic information. There is a lot more you can do to help your website rank in the search engines. For instance, you should build some inbound links to your site by sharing it on social media, encouraging your site visitors to share it with their friends, and writing guest articles and blog posts on niche-related websites.
What do you make of Internet marketers, or search engine optimizers (professional SEOs), recommending putting your content behind a paywall? Won’t that drive your traffic elsewhere?
There are content publishers making good money with paywalls. And there are others going belly up. So what’s the recipe for success?
There’s no one recipe that will work for every website just like there’s no one way to bake a cake. There are certain things you don’t want to put in a cake, and even if you have all the right ingredients, you have to have them in the right measure. Plus, you have to mix those ingredients in just the right way, and keep it in the oven just the right amount of time, etc.
I’m no baker, but I know about SEO. I know about marketing online. Sometimes it makes sense to put your content behind a paywall. Sometimes it doesn’t.
Here are a few things to consider if you are looking at putting your content behind a paywall:
How much does it cost you to produce a page of content?
What is your expected return on each page of content?
How much competition do you have in your niche?
What is the availability of the content you are producing for free on the Internet? If you have a lot of competition producing the same content for free, then it might not make sense to add a paywall. You have to create value or people won’t pay for it.
Paywalls can be good if you produce enough high value content that can’t be acquired anywhere else. If there’s an audience for it, there could be a profit in your content behind a paywall. But don’t jump into it blindly.
More and more, the search engines are using a process called Latent Semantic Indexing for categorizing search results. So what does that mean?
In a nutshell, Latent Semantic Indexing (or LSI) involves analyzing a web page to look for related words and phrases that can be substitutes for each other or help the search engine identify what that page is about. For instance, “car” and “automobile” are two words often used for the same object. If you write a web page about your blue 4-wheel drive automobile, based on the principles of LSI, that page could also rank for search terms that include the word “car” even if “car” doesn’t appear anywhere on the page.
This is an important concept to understand for content writers because it means you can play up these related keywords in your content without harping on them.
In the old days, you counted your keywords and tried to write your web pages with a certain keyword density in mind. In other words, the number of keywords per words on the page. You wanted “automobile” to appear 1% to 5% relative to the actual number of words on the page (i.e. 1-5 times for every 100 words on the page). That’s no longer the case.
Instead of counting keyword densities, with LSI you can spread your keyword usage around to all related keywords. You might use “automobile,” “car,” and “vehicle” interchangeably throughout your content, which is more like natural writing anyway.
Latent Semantic Indexing is the future of SEO. It means that writers can get back to being writers again instead of keyword managers.
If you want to succeed at social media and SEO at the same time, then you need to learn the 5 basics of social media SEO. Here they are in a nutshell:
Optimize your social profiles – This is real simple. Write your social media profiles in such a way that you will be found for the search terms you wish to be found for.
Optimize each social media post – When you post to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., optimize your posts. You don’t have to overdo it. You can get by with a few here and there not optimized for your key search terms, but if you post a lot about things in your industry, then include your key terms in the posts.
Include social sharing buttons on your website – Add the popular social share buttons to your website and blog. Encourage your visitors to share your content.
Optimize your images – Social media now includes images. Include images with your content and optimize those images. When you share your content on social media, include the images.
Sign up for Google+ – Seriously. Your Google SEO will go a long way if you have a Google+ account. Use it. Spend a little time each day on Google+ and share your best content.
In this decade, search and social media go hand in hand. Make sure you optimize your social media as an ongoing content marketing strategy.
Dave Pasternak wrote a post on WebProNews proclaiming SEO to be rocket science. Accusations of flip-flopping behind, this got me to thinking about where he might be coming from.
For many larger companies who have a lot of data to sift through, SEO may very well be likened to rocket science. Online marketers will have a lot of analytics data to sort through, links, keywords to manage, etc. But for small businesses, it’s still largely about long tail keywords and quality content.
In fact, you could argue that it’s all about quality content even for the big players in (choose your) industry. But, the fact is, those large companies still have to sort through the data. Mom & Pop don’t.
SEOs and online marketers have to decide if they want to build a huge ship to sail the oceans or steer a tugboat through the harbor. If you are a small business owner, then your job is achieve respectable results through SEO and social media that keep your company profitable and your customers happy. A larger business has to measure every element of its marketing campaigns to determine ROI, and that can get tedious.
Panda and Penguin changed a lot, but they didn’t kill SEO. They just made it a bit more complex. Even for the small business owner.
Still, it’s not rocket science. The basics are still the basics.
If you are designing your small business website, one of the decisions you’ll have to make is whether or not to use a theme or build your website from scratch. That is, will it be in HTML or based on a template?
Even if you choose a template, it’s still based on HTML. The difference is, you’ll be using someone else’s framework versus building your own.
There are pros and cons to both approaches.
If you build your own website from scratch, then you control every element. You also take ownership of the problems. So you have to make sure that every element is useful. Your navigation needs to be easy to follow. Your infrastructure needs to be helpful to your site visitors. The design needs to be attractive. And the content needs to be top-notch.
In many cases, these things are already done for you with a website template, but you still need to check them out. Some templates, for instance, offer little to no SEO benefit. But how do you know if you don’t have the knowledge and skills to test them?
This is where a professional web designer can help you. It might be less expensive to have your designer build from a template, but you’ll get a much better website if you allow them to build it from scratch. A good designer can get you a unique look that makes your company look professional and ready for business.
Your call, but be sure to weigh the pros and cons to every business decision.