3 Articles that Will Help You Use Email to Build an Engaged Audience of Superfans

build an audience who wants to hear from you

This week’s Copyblogger Collection is a series of three handpicked articles that will help you build an email list full of subscribers who are eager to hear from you.

You’ll learn:

  • How to turn website traffic into business
  • How to encourage visitors to sign up for your email list
  • How to use landing pages to speak directly to readers

That’s right — these articles will help you connect with excited fans who love what you do and want to hear more about the products and services you offer.

And if you want more information about smart email marketing strategies, don’t forget to sign up for Brian Clark and Jerod Morris’s free webinar on Thursday, July 23, 2015.

Space is limited, so grab your spot right now!

Register for Free: Build a Responsive Email List with Rainmaker

As you work your way through the material below, think of these lessons as a mini email marketing course.


Focus on These 4 Steps to Harness the Addictive Power of Email (And Turn Your Traffic Into Business)

harness-power-of-email

What are the most effective ways to get readers hooked on your voice and the content you provide?

In Henneke’s article, Focus on These 4 Steps to Harness the Addictive Power of Email (And Turn Your Traffic Into Business), she walks you through methods that turn casual readers into repeat visitors.

You’ll also discover little-known ways email can be a dynamite tool for your digital business.


5 Subtle Writing Strategies That Drive Email Signups

boost-email

Ramsay Taplin says:

Your email list is a group of readers who have chosen to get information from you. They want to hear from you, and you want a large email list that is full of potential clients or customers.

In 5 Subtle Writing Strategies That Drive Email Signups, he reveals the writing techniques he uses that always inspire readers to become email subscribers.


Unleash a Surge of Email Subscribers from Your Guest Posts With This Simple Landing Page Strategy

guest-post-landing-pages

When you produce content on sites other than your own digital media platform, you need to smoothly guide readers back to your site (and to your email sign-up form).

In Unleash a Surge of Email Subscribers from Your Guest Posts With This Simple Landing Page Strategy, Henneke explains how to seduce your readers — with your author bio, sign-up incentive, and landing page copy.

Accelerate your email marketing education

Use this post (and save it for future reference!) to accelerate your email marketing education in a step-by-step, manageable way that will help you build your digital business.

This is doable. These articles are for you.

We’ll see you back here on Monday with a fresh topic to kick off the week!

About the author

Stefanie Flaxman

Stefanie Flaxman is Copyblogger Media’s Editor-in-Chief. Don’t follow her on Twitter.

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SEMrush Rank and The Top Webinar Providers in SEMrush

In the spirit of Podcast and Webinar Week, I decided to map out how various webinar services appear in the eyes of SEMrush. I also wanted to use webinars as an example of how we can analyze SEMrush Rank in your industry and apply it to your SEO efforts.  With various forms of content out there, […]

The post SEMrush Rank and The Top Webinar Providers in SEMrush appeared first on SEMrush Blog.

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Online Marketing News: AdWords Adds ‘Buy’, Dashing New Twitter Dashboard, WordPress Wows

Noob Guide To Online Marketing

The Noob Guide To Online Marketing [Infographic] – Unbounce decided to put together a noob guide to online marketing which teaches you how to market your product, service or website over a period of 6 months. It’s based on an article by Oli Gardner over at SEOMOZ.org, and it should shed some light on how to go about things. Check it out. Unbounce

Tumblr Adds New Data Partner as Marketers Race to Interpret Social Images – Crimson Hexagon has become the the latest social company to tap Tumblr’s firehose of real-time data, reinforcing the growing importance marketers are placing on understanding images, memes and GIFs of the sort that reign there. Ad Age

Report: How Social Spam Distorts Data Insights – Social media is riddled with spam. Up-and-coming networks attract spam as they grow quickly, and older networks have to deal with ever more sophisticated bots. A new report from Networked Insights examines how spam and bots distort the insights brands try to gain from social media. SocialTimes

Study: Mobile Campaigns Drive Twice the Sales of Desktop – A mobile ad platform releases what it claims is the first true benchmarking of the channel’s impact on in-store sales. Direct Marketing News

Report: 78.8% Of Site Owners Use WordPress For Content Management – CodeGuard’s “State of the Web Report” found a large majority of its 250,000 SMB sites use WordPress over Joomla, Drupal and others. Marketing Land

Demand for How-to Content on YouTube is On the Rise – Plenty of publications have taken advantage of the digital medium to provide how-to guides for the internet. However, video is one of the best mediums this type of content. SocialTimes

Digital Ad Spend to Near $60 Billion in 2015 – Marketers will spend $58.6 billion on digital advertising this year, paced by retailers who will account for about 22% of that total, according to eMarketers 2015 “Digital Ad Spending Benchmarks by Industry” report. Retail will lead spending in all three classes of digital spend measured by eMarketer: mobile, programmatic display, and video. Direct Marketing

Report: Calls Have 30 To 50 Percent Conversion Rates, Most Come From Mobile – A call is, generally speaking, a better lead than a click. But how much better is striking: calls have 30 to 50 percent conversion rates while clicks top out at 1 to 2 percent. That’s according to a new Call Intelligence Index report from Invoca. Marketing Land

STUDY: Majority of Global Brands Still Focus on Facebook – The results of a study by social media analytics provider Quintly on global interaction rates with social networks were no shock: Facebook remains at the top. SocialTimes

Twitter Announces A New Dashboard To Help Monitor and Manage Your Account – This week, Twitter is continuing to roll out to all users the Twitter data dashboard — a new tool to help you monitor and manage your account. Twitter

Google Adwords Introduces Anticipated ‘Buy’ Button – Google’s much anticipated ‘Buy’ button is finally here, at least in a some capacity. The new “Purchases on Google” feature was announced today, along with a number of other notable enhancements. Search Engine Journal

Report: Social Share Buttons Are Useless and Unused – When Web use was dominated by desktop and laptop browsers, social share buttons were an important part of social media campaigns. Now users are spending more time on mobile devices and more time in applications. Data from Moovweb, a mobile experience optimization firm, shows that social share buttons are practically useless on mobile. SocialTimes

From our Online Marketing Community:

In response to The Key to a Successful Digital Marketing Agency and Client Relationship, Josue Valles shared, “Hi Lee, great information about client relationship. It was very helpful to me! Thanks!”

On 5 Common Writing Clichés to Avoid for Better Content Marketing, Jacklin commented, “Great read! Really good point about “We All Know…” I definitely think that phrase comes off as sales-y and you’re right, it’s totally unnecessary. I’m guilty of a bunch of these too-eek!”

And Darryl Villacorta said about, Updated! A Master List of Social Media Marketing Management Tools, “Great list, Lee! Couldn’t agree with you more that it’s important for companies to choose a SMM tool that best suits their needs. Keep up the great work.”

What were the top online and digital marketing news stories for you this week?

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Infographic: Unbounce


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New #MarketingNerds Podcast: Successful Strategies for Live Tweeting and Event Coverage on Social Media by @AkiLiboon

In this Marketing Nerds episode, Social Hospitality’s Debbie Miller joins Kelsey Jones to talk about how to take advantage of live tweets in an event.

The post New #MarketingNerds Podcast: Successful Strategies for Live Tweeting and Event Coverage on Social Media by @AkiLiboon appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

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Sharing: The Art and Science of Social Sharing

Do you create content for your business? Want to encourage people to share it? To explore the art and science of social sharing, I interview Bryan Kramer. More About This Show The Social Media Marketing podcast is an on-demand talk radio show from Social Media Examiner. It’s designed to help busy marketers and business owners […]

This post Sharing: The Art and Science of Social Sharing first appeared on Social Media Examiner.
Social Media Examiner – Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle

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Content Marketing Experts Reveal Which Brands are Pushing the Envelope

content-marketing-experts-cover

A lot of brands are embracing the power of content marketing. Red Bull, Kraft, GE, Caterpillar are familiar names in the land of enterprise content marketing, but dozens of other brands are doing great work, too.

As Vertical Measures CEO Arnie Kuenn explains, “There are a lot of brands out there that have done big content things – Chipotle comes to mind. There are also less flashy, but just as successful brands that may not get a ton of news headlines, but consistently create useful, helpful content that has transformed their business.”

We wanted to hear which brands are inspiring today’s leading content marketing experts so we asked the speakers and friends who will share their insight at Content Marketing World 2015: What brands excel at creating content that pushes the envelope on what can be accomplished with content marketing?

Their responses run the gamut, from familiar brand names to little-known companies thriving in a unique niche – but every one offers an inspiration no matter the size of your content marketing team.

Take a big bite

I love Taco Bell. But let me clarify – it’s not the nachos that hook me. It’s the engaging, quirky, and fun online content. Just take a look at the myriad bright colors featured in the reel of photographs on its Instagram account. This immediately captures my attention.

taco-bell-instagram-image 1

Plus, Taco Bell’s amusing, tongue-in-cheek voice is so compelling that its personality totally outweighs its product (which is great because that’s a far less-fattening way to indulge in the brand). Best of all, the online content exudes passion and positive energy, which makes the visuals, text, and messages they share easy to connect with.

Taco Bell dares to be different. Go check out the online content. And while you’re at it, can you please grab me a burrito?

Jordan Borensztajn, social media trainer, Social Needia | @JordanaOZ

Go beyond boundaries

The storytelling platform Maptia has built a powerful community in an incredibly competitive and tough space, but has managed to put together some of the best experiential travel content on the web. It’s particularly remarkable because Maptia does it through user-generated and submitted works at a time when everyone in that world is competing for those content creators.

maptia-image 2

I think the lesson is that relationship building, slow-and-steady progress, an extremely high-quality bar, and remarkable work can be advantages rather than the disadvantages they’re often perceived to be in the fast-paced, startup-style, growth-hacking mentalities.

Rand Fishkin, co-author, Art of SEO; co-founder, Inbound.org and Moz | @randfish

Make mundane attractive

Dollar Shave Club leaps to mind because every touchpoint is fun. Do I look forward to grooming? Hell no. But I definitely look forward to Dollar Shave Club’s next video, post, social media update, email, and especially their packaging.

When you make the mundane insanely exciting, you make people smile. Joy may be hard to measure by way of marketing metrics, but it’s the universal spark of the spender.

Sadly, though some B2B marketers push (or at least deliver) the envelope, it’s awfully rare they bring a sense of humor to bear. I’d sure like to see it though.

Barry Feldman, founder, Feldman Creative | @FeldmanCreative

Be bold and helpful

Neil Patel and his team at QuickSprout are just doing an amazing job of providing content so useful that I can’t stand it, such as Stop Guessing: Here’s a Social Media Strategy That Works and another post about 22 Gmail plug-ins.

I also love what Doug Kessler has been doing at Velocity with the manifestos and calls-to-arms about crap content, and the search for meaning. They are making bold statements with well-designed and super-thoughtful pieces of content. I realize both of these examples are very “meta” (content marketing about content marketing) but they are really great.

Michael Brenner, head of strategy, NewsCred | @BrennerMichael

Bottle it up

I’m in love with what Coke is doing with its bottle these days. It’s a perfect expression of the brand in a cultural moment – whether using all of the Mad Men main character names on the bottles or making rainbow-colored bottles to highlight the landmark Supreme Court same-sex marriage ruling. Coke is inserting itself in the zeitgeist in a way that is absolutely undeniably on-brand. Open Happiness, indeed.

coke-image 3

Image source

Julie Fleischer, director, data + content + media, Kraft Foods | @jfly

Disrupt longstanding brands

We’re really interested in what brands like JackThreads, Wayfair, and NET-A-PORTER are doing to combine the content and shopping experience. The integration of the experiential and editorial with a product, service, or some form of commerce is becoming a really effective mix that has the potential to drive a lot of disruption in many categories where incumbent brands have historically set the rules.

net-a-porter-image 4

It’s not simply that these companies are creating really good content, it’s that they’re learning to master and integrate two marketing systems – one focused on marketing products or services, and the other focused on marketing content. These companies are paving the way of how marketers establish more intimate relationships with niche lifestyle audiences, which has the very real potential of transforming the marketing landscape.

David Germano, vice president, Magnetic Content Studios | @david_germano

Tie the strings together

In my home life, I’m a DIYer at heart, and I find that Home Depot’s Apron Blog successfully speaks to me on a lot of levels, offering a mix of step-by-steps and recommendations without overtly selling me on this hammer or that pitchfork. The blog is written for me – an unskilled laborer who frequently bites off more than he can chew – and solves a lot of problems for me.

Joey Hall, vice president of content marketing, EnVeritas Group | @JKHallJr

Brew it up

I’m not even sure if Starbucks has a content marketing program – and if it does, it is so much a part of the brand that you don’t notice it. In my opinion, the best content delivered is that which the end user doesn’t see as content, but as a relatable interaction with the brand.

John Hunt, senior manager digital marketing corporate communications & content, Smead Manufacturing | @Smead_JohnH

Blur the lines

In the publishing space, Refinery29 and Apartment Therapy do a great job at being visually appealing without being flashy. And their content is excellent. Sometimes, it’s hard to distinguish between Refinery29’s editorial content and its branded content, meaning that they’re both equally engaging.

refiniery29-image 5

Apartment Therapy is the master of curating user-generated content, which is an underutilized marketing tool. Readers love authenticity, and what’s more authentic than publishing real people’s content?

Sachin Kamdar, CEO & co-founder, Parse.ly | @SachinKamdar

Grab the hub and spoke

Yale Appliance, an everyday Boston appliance company, has driven more leads, revenue, and profitability with its content marketing. It follows a hub-and-spoke model of content creation – developing buying-guide hubs for all its major appliances and connecting them via spokes to comparisons, articles, reviews, videos, and more.

yale-appliance-image 6

This model can be replicated in any industry, in any size business. It takes an integrated strategy based on providing useful content that people need. This isn’t a quick win strategy – it’s a commitment to creating a culture of content marketing and sticking with it for the long run. It’s been proven again and again that this strategy truly works to drive results.

Arnie Kuenn, CEO, Vertical Measures | @ArnieK

Make sequence personal

With over 4,500 potential offerings for its audience, Illumina runs a huge risk of overloading customers with content and losing them in the process. To get around that challenge, the genetic-sequencing innovator has developed a tool that asks website visitors about their research project. It then automatically assembles a single, custom document for each visitor with relevant content based on the visitor’s responses. Why is this so good? It creates a great user experience that allows the audience to access content customized for them. And it helps Illumina save hundreds of thousands of dollars in localization and printing costs.

illumina-image 7

Steve Rotter, chief marketing officer, Acrolinx | @sjrotter

Want to learn more from these and other experts? Register today for Content Marketing World this September in Cleveland. Use the code “Summer” this week to save $200.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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Controlling Search Engine Crawlers for Better Indexation and Rankings – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

When should you disallow search engines in your robots.txt file, and when should you use meta robots tags in a page header? What about nofollowing links? In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand covers these tools and their appropriate use in four situations that SEOs commonly find themselves facing.

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Controlling Search Engine Crawlers for Better Indexation and Rankings Whiteboard

For reference, here’s a still of this week’s whiteboard. Click on it to open a high resolution image in a new tab!

Video transcription

Howdy Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to talk about controlling search engine crawlers, blocking bots, sending bots where we want, restricting them from where we don’t want them to go. We’re going to talk a little bit about crawl budget and what you should and shouldn’t have indexed.

As a start, what I want to do is discuss the ways in which we can control robots. Those include the three primary ones: robots.txt, meta robots, and—well, the nofollow tag is a little bit less about controlling bots.

There are a few others that we’re going to discuss as well, including Webmaster Tools (Search Console) and URL status codes. But let’s dive into those first few first.

Robots.txt lives at http://ift.tt/1h4oU6r, it tells crawlers what they should and shouldn’t access, it doesn’t always get respected by Google and Bing. So a lot of folks when you say, “hey, disallow this,” and then you suddenly see those URLs popping up and you’re wondering what’s going on, look—Google and Bing oftentimes think that they just know better. They think that maybe you’ve made a mistake, they think “hey, there’s a lot of links pointing to this content, there’s a lot of people who are visiting and caring about this content, maybe you didn’t intend for us to block it.” The more specific you get about an individual URL, the better they usually are about respecting it. The less specific, meaning the more you use wildcards or say “everything behind this entire big directory,” the worse they are about necessarily believing you.

Meta robots—a little different—that lives in the headers of individual pages, so you can only control a single page with a meta robots tag. That tells the engines whether or not they should keep a page in the index, and whether they should follow the links on that page, and it’s usually a lot more respected, because it’s at an individual-page level; Google and Bing tend to believe you about the meta robots tag.

And then the nofollow tag, that lives on an individual link on a page. It doesn’t tell engines where to crawl or not to crawl. All it’s saying is whether you editorially vouch for a page that is being linked to, and whether you want to pass the PageRank and link equity metrics to that page.

Interesting point about meta robots and robots.txt working together (or not working together so well)—many, many folks in the SEO world do this and then get frustrated.

What if, for example, we take a page like “blogtest.html” on our domain and we say “all user agents, you are not allowed to crawl blogtest.html. Okay—that’s a good way to keep that page away from being crawled, but just because something is not crawled doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t be in the search results.

So then we have our SEO folks go, “you know what, let’s make doubly sure that doesn’t show up in search results; we’ll put in the meta robots tag:”

<meta name="robots" content="noindex, follow">

So, “noindex, follow” tells the search engine crawler they can follow the links on the page, but they shouldn’t index this particular one.

Then, you go and run a search for “blog test” in this case, and everybody on the team’s like “What the heck!? WTF? Why am I seeing this page show up in search results?”

The answer is, you told the engines that they couldn’t crawl the page, so they didn’t. But they are still putting it in the results. They’re actually probably not going to include a meta description; they might have something like “we can’t include a meta description because of this site’s robots.txt file.” The reason it’s showing up is because they can’t see the noindex; all they see is the disallow.

So, if you want something truly removed, unable to be seen in search results, you can’t just disallow a crawler. You have to say meta “noindex” and you have to let them crawl it.

So this creates some complications. Robots.txt can be great if we’re trying to save crawl bandwidth, but it isn’t necessarily ideal for preventing a page from being shown in the search results. I would not recommend, by the way, that you do what we think Twitter recently tried to do, where they tried to canonicalize www and non-www by saying “Google, don’t crawl the www version of twitter.com.” What you should be doing is rel canonical-ing or using a 301.

Meta robots—that can allow crawling and link-following while disallowing indexation, which is great, but it requires crawl budget and you can still conserve indexing.

The nofollow tag, generally speaking, is not particularly useful for controlling bots or conserving indexation.

Webmaster Tools (now Google Search Console) has some special things that allow you to restrict access or remove a result from the search results. For example, if you have 404’d something or if you’ve told them not to crawl something but it’s still showing up in there, you can manually say “don’t do that.” There are a few other crawl protocol things that you can do.

And then URL status codes—these are a valid way to do things, but they’re going to obviously change what’s going on on your pages, too.

If you’re not having a lot of luck using a 404 to remove something, you can use a 410 to permanently remove something from the index. Just be aware that once you use a 410, it can take a long time if you want to get that page re-crawled or re-indexed, and you want to tell the search engines “it’s back!” 410 is permanent removal.

301—permanent redirect, we’ve talked about those here—and 302, temporary redirect.

Now let’s jump into a few specific use cases of “what kinds of content should and shouldn’t I allow engines to crawl and index” in this next version…

[Rand moves at superhuman speed to erase the board and draw part two of this Whiteboard Friday. Seriously, we showed Roger how fast it was, and even he was impressed.]

Four crawling/indexing problems to solve

So we’ve got these four big problems that I want to talk about as they relate to crawling and indexing.

1. Content that isn’t ready yet

The first one here is around, “If I have content of quality I’m still trying to improve—it’s not yet ready for primetime, it’s not ready for Google, maybe I have a bunch of products and I only have the descriptions from the manufacturer and I need people to be able to access them, so I’m rewriting the content and creating unique value on those pages… they’re just not ready yet—what should I do with those?”

My options around crawling and indexing? If I have a large quantity of those—maybe thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands—I would probably go the robots.txt route. I’d disallow those pages from being crawled, and then eventually as I get (folder by folder) those sets of URLs ready, I can then allow crawling and maybe even submit them to Google via an XML sitemap.

If I’m talking about a small quantity—a few dozen, a few hundred pages—well, I’d probably just use the meta robots noindex, and then I’d pull that noindex off of those pages as they are made ready for Google’s consumption. And then again, I would probably use the XML sitemap and start submitting those once they’re ready.

2. Dealing with duplicate or thin content

What about, “Should I noindex, nofollow, or potentially disallow crawling on largely duplicate URLs or thin content?” I’ve got an example. Let’s say I’m an ecommerce shop, I’m selling this nice Star Wars t-shirt which I think is kind of hilarious, so I’ve got starwarsshirt.html, and it links out to a larger version of an image, and that’s an individual HTML page. It links out to different colors, which change the URL of the page, so I have a gray, blue, and black version. Well, these four pages are really all part of this same one, so I wouldn’t recommend disallowing crawling on these, and I wouldn’t recommend noindexing them. What I would do there is a rel canonical.

Remember, rel canonical is one of those things that can be precluded by disallowing. So, if I were to disallow these from being crawled, Google couldn’t see the rel canonical back, so if someone linked to the blue version instead of the default version, now I potentially don’t get link credit for that. So what I really want to do is use the rel canonical, allow the indexing, and allow it to be crawled. If you really feel like it, you could also put a meta “noindex, follow” on these pages, but I don’t really think that’s necessary, and again that might interfere with the rel canonical.

3. Passing link equity without appearing in search results

Number three: “If I want to pass link equity (or at least crawling) through a set of pages without those pages actually appearing in search results—so maybe I have navigational stuff, ways that humans are going to navigate through my pages, but I don’t need those appearing in search results—what should I use then?”

What I would say here is, you can use the meta robots to say “don’t index the page, but do follow the links that are on that page.” That’s a pretty nice, handy use case for that.

Do NOT, however, disallow those in robots.txt—many, many folks make this mistake. What happens if you disallow crawling on those, Google can’t see the noindex. They don’t know that they can follow it. Granted, as we talked about before, sometimes Google doesn’t obey the robots.txt, but you can’t rely on that behavior. Trust that the disallow in robots.txt will prevent them from crawling. So I would say, the meta robots “noindex, follow” is the way to do this.

4. Search results-type pages

Finally, fourth, “What should I do with search results-type pages?” Google has said many times that they don’t like your search results from your own internal engine appearing in their search results, and so this can be a tricky use case.

Sometimes a search result page—a page that lists many types of results that might come from a database of types of content that you’ve got on your site—could actually be a very good result for a searcher who is looking for a wide variety of content, or who wants to see what you have on offer. Yelp does this: When you say, “I’m looking for restaurants in Seattle, WA,” they’ll give you what is essentially a list of search results, and Google does want those to appear because that page provides a great result. But you should be doing what Yelp does there, and make the most common or popular individual sets of those search results into category-style pages. A page that provides real, unique value, that’s not just a list of search results, that is more of a landing page than a search results page.

However, that being said, if you’ve got a long tail of these, or if you’d say “hey, our internal search engine, that’s really for internal visitors only—it’s not useful to have those pages show up in search results, and we don’t think we need to make the effort to make those into category landing pages.” Then you can use the disallow in robots.txt to prevent those.

Just be cautious here, because I have sometimes seen an over-swinging of the pendulum toward blocking all types of search results, and sometimes that can actually hurt your SEO and your traffic. Sometimes those pages can be really useful to people. So check your analytics, and make sure those aren’t valuable pages that should be served up and turned into landing pages. If you’re sure, then go ahead and disallow all your search results-style pages. You’ll see a lot of sites doing this in their robots.txt file.

That being said, I hope you have some great questions about crawling and indexing, controlling robots, blocking robots, allowing robots, and I’ll try and tackle those in the comments below.

We’ll look forward to seeing you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care!

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The Blunt and Brutal Honest Truth About SEO

The Blunt and Brutal Honest Truth About SEO

There is no other marketing effort more complex or changing at a faster rate than search engine optimization (SEO). It takes a great deal of time to just keep up with the trends. Something you learned six months ago can be outdated today. And it’s unique in that you no longer really perform SEO on its own – it’s grown to live in unison with all other digital marketing practices. I’ve only been [directly] involved in SEO for a few years, but boy has there been a lot of changes in that time related to best practices and effective tactis. So I wanted to clear up a few things and also highlight what my biggest takeaways have been since my first encounter with SEO.

SEO Is Not Dead

Young digital marketers are usually passionate advocates for SEO. But old-school thinkers are the first to wave the white flag.

How many times have you been to Google today? It’s 8 am at the time of this writing and I’ve already logged about 10 searches. Guaranteed, by the end of the day, I’ll be looking at close to 100 between desktop and mobile. Not to mention all the other ways I’ve navigated around the internet today.

We rely so heavily on search engines, and the results they feature, that I don’t know what we would do without them. The top results [usually] serve our needs. And that’s because the algorithms have been refined to feature the best and most accurate answers. So becoming one of those top answers is naturally an important goal for any business, since it will lead to high levels of high quality traffic.

Plus, SEO today is much more than just organic visitors. Consider searches from retail sites like Amazon, referral traffic, direct traffic, conversions outside of your website like on local listing pages, Twitter links, news feed links, site links and more. I’ve been around the world and back again before I even finished my morning coffee – because it’s just so easy to get around online. How can SEO be dead? SEO is helping affect everything I just mentioned.

As long as the search engines continue to serve a purpose and as long as there are things we, as marketers, can do to bring qualified visitors into our site, SEO will prevail as an important piece in the digital marketing puzzle. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t changing.

SEO Is A Long-Term Strategy

Photo source: Wikipedia
Photo source: Wikipedia

 

It didn’t used to be this way. Couple tweaks here, some link purchases over here, throw up some meta data. Voila! We got that number one spot, like Ludacris.

Okay, now let’s stop thinking about how easy it was to do SEO in 2004. (And let’s stop referencing songs from that year too).

It’s 2015 and Google has smartened up. Can you blame them? There was a lot of shady stuff going on for a long time and it greatly affected who was appearing on page 1. From the user’s perspective, you expect to find the best and most accurate results. So that’s what Google has been/is always trying to do. Think about Google Updates/Penalties as a way of helping us all, not hurting SEOs.

Poor links? Bad. Thin content? Bad. Comment spam? Bad. So what are you gonna do about it?

As a result of the many updates over the years, we’ve now arrived at a point where SEO is not easy. Actually, it’s pretty friggin’ hard and time consuming. And with that, it takes time to see results. Do the right thing on your site and make your site worthwhile to the audience. Focus on better/longer/more relevant content, site speed, mobile friendliness, social activity, rich snippets, security, etc. There a thousand factors in Google’s algorithms and many things you can do to help improve your online properties.

I did a tremendous amount of SEO work for a client two years ago and I’m just now seeing the fruits of all that labor. The timeline will range depending on the type of SEO work, the competition, the industry, and the company, but keep in mind that the days of quick fixes and short term results are gone. Do good work and you’ll eventually see results. Just be patient.

Conversions > Traffic

Let’s say your company sells t-shirts to young girls. What value is there in bringing 1,000 visitors to your site made up of 55+ men? The answer is: no value. They aren’t buying anything, and they probably aren’t there for the right reasons (yikes!). Your efforts are unsuccessful and the visitors arriving aren’t helping drive sales.

Thankfully, many of us are [finally] getting past the idea of traffic being the main metric we use to measure online success. And we’re opting to instead look at conversions. But the first step is to identify the conversions that mean most to your business.

Set-up goals and events in Google Analytics (and Tag Manager), or your preferred measurement software, and monitor them constantly. Goals can be sales through an e-commerce store, form completions, downloads, video views, pricing pageviews, and more. Anything that you deem as a value metric (just because you don’t have an online store, doesn’t mean you can’t measure ROI). Then monitor. These converters are the people who are qualified on your website.

Traffic means nothing. Stop leading your reports with it! Conversions will always be more valuable to you than any other metric. Plus, it allows SEO professionals to more accurately justify their work, by basing their progress around conversion-type metrics. Assign dollar values to your conversions and that’s where true ROI becomes evident. We, as marketers, need to do a better job at fighting the good fight against crappy metrics. Start today. Set up those goals and events.

SEO Is Only One Ingredient

Baking Cake
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I’ve worked with clients that give SEO too much attention (resulting in too little attention elsewhere) and also ones that don’t believe it in altogether. The happy medium is to first understand that SEO is one piece in the marketing mix, and a component of other marketing work. Content writing and content marketing, social media, website development – all of these tasks/projects are seamlessly integrated with SEO. And keeping SEO in mind with all of these can help you perform better.

You can’t make a cake with just flour. Similarly, you can’t expect to see online success with just SEO. If you don’t have the time and the resources to add all the other ingredients – content, social, video, photos, improved development, etc – then don’t even bother. It won’t taste any good.

The best approach to marketing is having an integrated strategy and having many different touchpoints to reach your target audience. SEO should not be your only activity. There must be many more items on your plate. Managing them well, and in unison, will have the greatest affect. No matter the audience, however, SEO should play an integral role. SEO is an ongoing activity. It’s not a one-and-done project, or a tactic that you can start and stop at any time. It’s a constant effort. It takes a ton of time. It doesn’t end. So budget accordingly.

Linking Totally Sucks

Quality links still pose as a factor in search engine algorithms to help dictate rankings and drive traffic. Problem is: Google and the search engines have struck down linking practices pretty heavily over the years because of how bad they were being abused (i.e. Google Penguin). Link farms, paid links, comment links, etc. So we also have to wise up.

Making an effort to specifically go out and get links is very hard. It can be done, but it must be very specific and strategic, getting only quality links placed on sites that you trust. My opinion today is to not focus on linking at all. Let the links come naturally. And there are a number of ways to do that.

  • Blog. A lot. Make them high quality posts and share them on social and through email campaigns.
  • Conduct PR work to garner earned media pieces that feature links back to your site.
  • Host internships and scholarships at your company where descriptions and write-ups will be posted by your local colleges, allowing you to get .edu links.
  • Participate in tradeshows or sponsor different events and submit company bios to the event websites.
  • Conduct cause marketing, like volunteering or donations, and let links come naturally from those non-profit .org sites.
  • Finally, work with your vendors and partners to be featured on their sites or blogs.

If you do ethical work, create unique quality content, and have ongoing outreach, your backlink profile will grow. It’s just the natural effect. Take that Google!

You Can Do It Yourself!

I’ve yet to see a master’s degree available in search engine optimization. That’s because it doesn’t exist. That means that all of us – from the most experienced professional down to the recent college grad – is at a [somewhat] even playing field. We are learning as we go. On the fly. From research, reading blogs, testing, trial and error. There isn’t any piece of paper that proves we know this stuff. It’s just based on our own learnings. And that means that you can get caught up to speed. For free.

Read blogs like Steamfeed (sorry, had to), Moz, SearchEngineWatch, SearchEngineJournal and SearchEngineLand to get the daily scoop on the latest trends. Test out software like SEMRush, Raven Tools, BrightLocal and others to learn more about the art of SEO/website analysis and how to access and utilize data. Then, go to work.

It takes time to get familiar with the lingo and the technical aspects of SEO, but it’s certainly learnable over time. No one has formal education in this stuff. We’re all self-proclaimed experts. So put in the time and the work and you can get the job done yourself. And if you do not have the skills or time to pull it off, that’s where agencies and freelancers come in.

SEO still has a lot of life left in it. Though rapidly changing every day, it’s important to exercise SEO efforts in all of our digital marketing activities to help drive the right people to our sites and lead them down the sales funnels. As long as the web serves a purpose, SEO will prevail. Take these tips into consideration and prep your site properly for long-term success!

Author information

Thomas J. Armitage

Digital Marketer at Site-Seeker Inc.

Thomas is a high-energy, socially-consumed digital marketer. With a passion for telling stories, he puts his creativity to use in building content that is optimized and attractive on the ever-changing, ever-growing web. He works full-time at Site-Seeker Inc, a small digital marketing agency, and part-time as an adjunct professor at Utica College where he teaches social media. Tom earned his master’s in IMC from West Virginia University and his bachelor’s in PR from Utica College of Syracuse University. He’s a music enthusiast, obsessed with punk rock and 90s rap, and lives in Central NY with his wife and daughter.

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