Google Targets Article Marketing, Guest Blogging & Press Releases in Link Scheme Definition Update

article-marketing-newIf you don’t pay regular attention to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, you might have overlooked it, but last month, Google made a significant change to their definition of link schemes.

The revised link scheme wording now cites the following as violating Google’s guidelines:

  •     Large-scale article marketing or guest posting campaigns with keyword-rich anchor text links.
  •     Advertorials or native advertising where payment is received for articles that include links that pass PageRank.
  •     Links with optimized anchor text in articles or press releases distributed on other sites.

Google also removed these examples from the link scheme guidelines:

  •     Linking to web spammers or unrelated sites with the intent to manipulate PageRank.
  •     Links that are inserted into articles with little coherence.

The changes are important in SEO circles, because article marketing, guest blog posts, advertorials and press release syndication are often key components of holistic SEO campaigns. Note in particular that “links with optimized anchor text” are mentioned specifically for the first time. Until fairly recently, the use of anchor text was considered a standard component of effective article writing and any on-page optimization.

With these changes, article syndication and press release optimization – unless implemented extremely carefully – may end up having a negative SEO impact on the very web sites they were intended to help.

In the wake of the changes, we took our Search Engine College Article Marketing course offline temporarily to check lesson content against the new guidelines and re-write any sections that may have been ambiguous.

If your SEO strategy uses any of these initiatives, I suggest taking a very close look at the revised Google Webmaster Guidelines and ensuring your implementation adheres to the revised policy.

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40 Tips for Stress-Free Public Speaking

public speaking tipsNo matter what kind of job you have, or what business you’re in, there comes a time when you are asked to give a presentation in front of a group of people.

Now public speaking is something that doesn’t come naturally to most of us and in fact a survey not too long ago found that many people are more terrified of speaking in public than they are of death itself. When asked to choose between death and public speaking, death was the preferred option! Crazy, right?

But for those of us with social anxiety, public speaking, even to small groups, can fill us with dread. As an educator and consultant, a large part of my job involves public speaking. I am called upon to present information in client meetings to senior management, I speak to large groups of students and universities via webinars, I give presentations to large rooms full of people at conferences and I run regular full and half day training workshops for industry organisations. So I regularly give presentations to groups of people ranging from 5 to 500.

I used to HATE giving public presentations. I still dislike it strongly, but after regularly forcing myself into giving them for 10 years now, I am slightly more relaxed about it than I used to be. Sure, I still find it difficult to sleep the night before a speaking gig. And if you look closely at me on stage, you’ll probably spot my legs shaking, but provided I have prepared well and know my subject matter, I’ll muddle through and generally do a good job.

Going along with the analogy “do something every day that scares you”, I think it’s important for me to put myself out there and prove to myself that I can do it. I also feel it is excellent therapy to help me deal with my social anxiety. Apart from the benefits to myself, I know I have a lot of knowledge that I can impart to others and what better way to share that knowledge than public speaking?

Anyway, after giving yet another presentation this week, it occured to me that I have built up a pretty good pre-presentation checklist that others might find useful. So here they are:

Top Tips for Making Your Presentations Run Smoothly and Stress Free:

  1. Find out exactly where the venue is in relation to your accommodation and if you’ve got time, make a practice run to the venue the day before.
  2. If the venue is large (e.g. a university), ask for a map showing exactly where the room is that you’ll be speaking in.
  3. If you’re driving to the venue, factor in extra time for unexpected traffic jams and take plenty of coins in case you need to use paid parking.
  4. Find out what technology will be available to you (whiteboard / projector / laptop / slide clicker) and adjust if necessary.
  5. If you’ve arranged catering for break times, confirm details with caterers the day before.
  6. Get at least 8 hours sleep the night before.
  7. Have a big breakfast but no coffee if it makes you anxious. Try a decaf or hot chocolate instead.
  8. Get to the venue at least an hour early so you can get comfortable, test the technology and rehearse.
  9. Upon arrival, make yourself known to someone at the venue who can help you with technical and other issues.
  10. Make sure you know exactly how much time you have on stage and confirm break times with the organizers and your audience before starting.
  11. Wear layers. No matter what the weather outside, air conditioning can be your friend and your foe. Wear clothes that you feel comfortable and confident in, but in layers that you can easily slip on or off depending on the room temperature.
  12. Wear comfortable shoes.
  13. Re-read that last point. This is important! Public speaking is no place for stilettos. Especially when you are walking around on a stage that will likely have electrical cables snaking all over it.
  14. Don’t assume the venue will provide you with water. Take a bottle with you.
  15. Don’t assume the venue will provide paper and pens for your attendees – ask for them.
  16. Bring your business cards and place them somewhere prominent for people to take.
  17. Bring your presentation on a Flash drive in multiple formats (e.g. .pptx, .ppt, .odp, .pdf) just in case something goes wrong.
  18. Bring your own HDMI or component cable for hooking up to a projector, just in case the venue doesn’t have one.
  19. Bring a backup power source for your laptop and/or projector.
  20. Bring or ask for a lapel microphone if the venue is large and you want to be sure you can be heard up the back.
  21. Don’t assume the venue will provide Internet access. With large audiences, free wifi at events can often be maxed out quickly, so if you need Internet access for your presentation, take your own or make arrangements with the organizers.
  22. If you have mobile Internet access via your phone, take along your phone charger and spare battery in case you need to use it.
  23. Don’t assume you can use your own laptop.
  24. Don’t assume you don’t need your own laptop.
  25. Be prepared for the venue to run everything on Windows (take adaptors for Mac and/or Linux). Yes, I learned this one the hard way.
  26. Don’t assume your laptop will recognize the venue projector/monitor. Take your own or have a backup plan.
  27. Don’t assume the venue projector/monitor supports Presenter Mode. Take a print out of your notes in case you can’t see notes/slides view while presenting.
  28. If you are linking to live resources on the Internet, have them open in separate windows on your laptop and test that all links work.
  29. If you are showing videos, test they work and test the volume of the audio to make sure they can be heard by everyone in the room.
  30. Find out how to turn the lights on/off if you need to show videos.
  31. Find out where/if you can increase the temperature of the air conditioning in the room in case attendees are too hot/cold.
  32. Bring deodorant, especially if you have a tendency to sweat when anxious.
  33. Bring breath mints so you can feel confident networking with attendees afterwards.
  34. Remember to turn off your cell phone prior to going on stage, unless you are using it for Internet access. In this case, turn the volume down or off in case your Mom tries to call mid-presentation.
  35. Store some tissues in a pocket that will be easily reachable during your presentation in case your nose starts to run (air conditioning can be brutal at some venues!).
  36. Smile. Even if you’re struggling or things are not going well, people will forgive you if you smile your way through.
  37. Ask your audience some questions! It will take the focus off you, just for a little while and give you a chance to pause and collect your thoughts. This is a great tip if you’re feeling particularly overwhelmed or find yourself racing through your slides.
  38. Work out where the toilets are before you go on stage, in case you have to slip out quickly or the attendees ask you where they are.
  39. Find out the emergency exits and fire/earthquake drills for the venue before you go on stage and make sure your audience knows it too. After living in Christchurch for the past few years, this is pretty much routine at all business events now!
  40. Always ask for feedback on your presentation, either from the audience directly, or via the organizer if they are using feedback forms. Good or bad, audience feedback is extremely valuable. Positive feedback can validate your hard work and reinforce your sense of achievement in standing up in front of a group. Negative feedback in the form of honest, constructive criticism can highlight areas for improvement and help you develop your presentations skills for next time. It’s a win, win!

I hope you’ve enjoyed these tips and perhaps they will help your next public speaking engagement run a little more smoothly. Do you have any tips not included here? Please add them in the comments.

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What to Include in a Web Site Audit

What to include in a web site auditThe other day, I found the very first web site audit that I ever performed for a client’s site, way back in 2000. The page load times were hilarious!

But it got me thinking about how things have changed over the years and how sophisticated web site audits need to be these days. From the conversations I’ve had, there is still some confusion over what should be included in a web site audit.

This prompted me to write an article What to Include in a Web Site Audit which has been published over at SiteProNews.  Let me know what you think!

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How to Find Compelling Internet Statistics Without Falling Down the Rabbit Hole

If you’re like me, you do a lot of research online. Cat in a Cup

Whether I’m writing an article, preparing a slide deck, putting together a presentation or researching a subject for a client, I always seem to be hunting down compelling Internet statistics of one kind or another. Particularly topics like:

  • Number of US households with Internet access.
  • Latest search engine market share figures.
  • Most popular search terms for a particular year.
  • Number of Facebook users in a particular country.
  • Amount of e-commerce expenditure in past 12 months.

I always start a search for stats like these thinking it’s going to be a simple task and then end up down some bizarre rabbit hole, emerging two hours later with an amusing picture of a cat in a teacup.

To prevent this from happening again, I’ve bookmarked a list of *Go To* sites for Internet statistics in my Evernote account and today, (you lucky things!), I’m sharing them with you:

  • Internet World Stats – This site lists a range of Internet usage statistics sorted by country and population figures. The site is regularly updated and features a range of handy charts and graphs. There are also links to the latest Facebook usage statistics.
  • ComScore – The press releases and reports from ComScore are often geared to the search industry, so I can usually find something of relevance here related to my particular slide deck or training workshop. Their white papers and presentations are also fantastic sources of visual cues and infographics to help illustrate your points.
  • Forrester Research – Forrester is a prolific publisher of research documents, market reports, analysis and studies of all kinds and in all industries.  A common focus of their research is the impact of the Internet on business activity. Many of their reports are available for purchase, but they also regularly release synopsis’ of their more influential studies for public use through their media department.
  • Google Trends – Don’t overlook Google Trends as a source for useful web statistics and anecdotes. For example, if you enter a search for *mobile phones*, you can track Google’s search history for that phrase and related phrases since 2004 and note the peaks and troughs as the use of cell phones impacted our daily lives. The items highlighted with a letter of the alphabet are influential news items relating to the search term over the historical period. These make fun anecdotes for your presentation e.g. in 2010, Fox News reported that mobile phones have more bacteria on them than the handles on public toilets. Ewww.
  • Facebook Marketing Bible – The FMB apparently started life as an internal company manual and has now become a published guide to marketing your brand, company, product, or service on Facebook. The Facebook Marketing Bible includes summaries about the inner workings of Facebook, strategies to using Facebook for your business, specific how-tos, successful case studies, and insights from social media experts across the board. I include it in this list because it contains some of the most interesting Case Studies for using Facebook that I’ve come across and everyone knows that compelling case studies are the lifeblood of a successful presentation.
  • Nielsen – Nielsen is another prolific global research company. Anything that Nielsen publish quickly becomes extremely influential and many businesses make major decisions based on the data published by Nielsen. Their whitepapers and webinars are freely available for download once you register for the site and new reports are published every day. If I need stats quickly, I always start here.
  • Gartner Research – Gartner Group provide insightful research on the impact of the Internet and the increasing role of IT in business. Gartner’s specialty is technical research, particularly relating to applications development and business intelligence. Unlike Forrester, Gartner’s research is generally only available via paid subscription, but they do offer a 30 day free trial.
  • Simba Information – Simba offer market intelligence primarily for the media, education and publishing industries, but their research reports often include useful technology-related statistics e.g. *The iPad and its Owner: Key Trends and Statistics 2013*.
  • Google Zeitgeist – Google’s annual wrap of the most searched-for topics, year by year, country by country. Think of it as Google’s answer to the Guinness Book of Records.
  • Gap Minder Not strictly Internet related, but Gapminder is a non-profit site that publishes the World’s most important trends in the fields of wealth, health, global development and the environment. In their own words, Gapminder is a modern museum on the Internet with the intention of being a *fact tank* that promotes a fact-based world view. Gapminder produces videos, Flash presentations and PDF charts showing major global development trends with animated statistics in colorful graphics.

Hopefully this list has helped shorten your search time for compelling and useful Internet statistics and prevented you from falling victim to the Rabbit Hole syndrome. After all, the last thing we need on the Internet is more pictures of cats in teacups.

Postscript: Factbrowser has been suggested as a worthy addition to this page. Thanks Keith!

 

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Top Five Search Industry Blog Posts of the Week

Do you enjoy your morning coffee while sampling search industry news from your favourite blogs? We do.

So we thought – why not share our top five weekly favourites?

This week’s top five includes helpful info on: outreach emails, mobile marketing, duplicate content, link building, and social media campaigns gone wrong… Enjoy!

What Seperates a “Good” Outreach Email from a “Great” One? – Whiteboard Friday

Everybody’s doing it, but what seperates a “good” outreach email from a “great” one? What makes an “outreach” email – which is basically asking for a favour – stand out from the rest and connect with the reader?

Rand Fishkin from SEO Moz receives tonnes of emails every week from people hoping to make a connection with him and his hugely successful brand. Rand acknowledges the need for industry colleagues to assist each other, but says we need to keep things simple, be friendly without being pushy and be sure to offer something in return. In this post Rand describes the four key features of an outreach eamil that are sure to receive a favourable response.

SEO and Duplicate Content Issues that Hurt Google Traffic

This great post by Jill Whalen of High Rankings Advisor, is part of her promise to provide in-depth information about “SEO Killers” for 2013.

Duplicate content can easily creep into a site, either by accident or through mistaken SEO practices – such as building multiple landing pages which target different locations but have the same products. Jill draws upon her extensive experience as a 17-year Search Industry veteran to explain how to check for duplicate content, how to remove it and how to avoid it in the future.

The Broken Link Building Bible

The first thing I noticed about this post was the headline. Immediately I wanted to know – what’s “Broken Link Building”?

Russ Virante from Virante inc, describes it as, “a link building tactic where a marketer contacts a webmaster who has a broken link on his/her site and recommends one or more alternatives that include his/her target site.”

Sounds simple right? It is, on the surface. But like any effective link building strategy – it’s all in the detail.

Russ describes how to identify broken links on target sites using keyword research, methods of link extraction, 404 error checking and the importance of creating content that is worthy of being linked to. He also provides descriptions and links to a variety of tools that will help you in the process.

What Every Content Marketer Needs to Know About Mobile Marketing

Greg Hickman’s post on Copyblogger this week reminds us all to keep the power of “mobile marketing” in our attention when it comes to sharing content and making connections. According to Greg’s research, businesses that integrate a variety of mobile strategies generate the most leads, engagement, and sales.

In this post Greg describes four incredibly effective mobile strategies that can easily be  incorporated into any business. From harnessing the power of SMS, to ensuring landing pages have a clear and un-missable “call to action” button suitable for mobile devices – this blog post really got me thinking about how simple and direct content marketing needs to be in this increasingly mobile era.

Top Five Social Media Fails of 2012

I’ll finish this week’s ecclectic collection with this entertaining post about the power of social media to either enhance or detract from your brand.

Search Engine Journal’s Alech Barysevich has pieced together a noteworthy list of social media campaigns that did not turn out as their masters expected.

 

 

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