30 Days as a Freelance Geek for Hire

geek-for-hireI came to a dramatic conclusion today. I need more income. As you all know, I’m a digital marketing consultant and trainer.

My contractual consulting work has dried up for the year and the exciting new IT start-up that had offered me 3 months work has been dismantled by their board and abandoned. Bye, bye guaranteed income.

So here I am, an unemployed geek, in need of consulting work in order to keep me in coffee and French doughnuts for the foreseeable future. What’s a girl to do?

I had heard that marketing and IT specialists could make a nice little income on the side of their *real* job by using sites such as Elance, oDesk, Freelancer and Guru.com. I immediately thought “I can do that”. I’ll just have to take on enough freelance projects to provide a full-time income.  How hard can it be?

So I’ve decided to spend the next 30 days totally immersing myself in the seedy online job market and pimping my services as a freelance geek-for-hire. I thought my experience might make for entertaining reading, or at the very least provide an example of what not to do for future freelancers. So I’m going to blog about my experiences right here. Watch me as I fly or fail. Or quite possibly both.

If you’ve got any burning questions about freelancing in the digital / IT space, please post them in the comments and I’ll make sure I cover those off during the month. Any words of advice (warning?) for me would also be welcomed.

Wish me luck!

PostScript 13 Dec 2014: You may have noticed I’ve pulled the first few posts from this *30 Days* series. Sorry about that. It turns out that they gained the attention of a major publisher who would like me to write the series exclusively for their audience. I’ll restore them and post the link to the full feature as soon as it is published.

 

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Fast Five in Search – Week 42, 2014

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This week, I’ve been setting up social media accounts for a new start up biz. We’ve been discussing what content would be the best to invest time in and things are starting to get exciting, especially in the lead up to Christmas.

So the inspiration for this week’s Fast Five is: “Where should you invest your time in terms of content marketing and how can you use social media channels to get your shiny new content out there amongst the great unwashed?”

Here’s this week’s Fast Five:

1) Should You Invest Your Organic Efforts on Twitter or Facebook? by Ryan Ernst of Social Media Today. In this post, Ryan makes the argument that organic reach on Twitter is currently outperforming organic reach on Facebook and explains why.

2) Digital Business: Getting Real About Social Media Results by Daniel Newman of Social Media Today. I like this article, because it tears down the unrealistic expectations that many businesses have about the impact social media can have on their bottom line. Yes, you can get that occasional magic bullet social piece that goes viral overnight. But in all likelihood, your investment in social channels will take just as much time – if not more – to pay off as your regular marketing efforts.

3) The Top 10 Corporate Blogs of 2014 by Nick Cicero of Social Fresh. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Well, if you’re stuck for original ideas, perhaps your content marketing can imitate that of the 10 corporate blogs independently voted as having the best content in 2014.

4) Tip: The Vanilla Ice Rule of Content Marketing by Jason Keath of Social Fresh. The title of this post caught my eye straight away, perhaps because I’m a bit of an 80’s tragic. But the post is basically explaining the 80/20 rule – where you can concentrate most your efforts on a single piece of content that you know has been / will be successful – just like the one hit wonder Vanilla Ice. So spend more time on less content. Easy, right?

and finally…

5) How to Increase Your Conversion Rate With Social Media by Neil Patel of Social Media Examiner. This post has actionable tips on how to use Social Login, Social Checkout and Social Sharing methods that you can apply straight away to boost your conversions. I was especially intrigued to see the use of Social Checkout – a method of allowing your customers to purchase on your site by logging in via one of their social accounts, rather than forcing them to sign up to your site first. Great tip!

Happy reading.

*Image courtesy of Threadless.

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Fast Five in Search – Week 40, 2014

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Lots of very interesting tech and search news this week. A couple of game changers for those of us using search channels to market products and services.

Here’s this week’s Fast Five:

1) Google AdWords Offers Ad Creatives at Scale for PPC by Jessica Lee at Search Engine Watch. This month, Google launched the ability for AdWords advertisers to create ads using custom parameters that you want inserted into your ads. Using a spreadsheet you pre-fill, the feature allows AdWords to retrieve product information that is most relevant to what each customer is searching for and dynamically insert it into your ad text.

2) New Panda Update Rolling Out, Google Takes Another Stand Against Thin Content by Matt Southern of Search Engine Journal. Earlier this week, an analyst at Google UK let slip that a new Panda update was in the process of being rolled out to the Google algorithm. Matt has the scoop on what you can expect from this update.

3) The Yahoo Directory – Once the Internet’s Most Important Search Engine – Is to Close by Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land. This news came as a bit of a shock. As someone whose job (for years) consisted of submitting client sites to the Yahoo Directory, it was an *end of an era* moment to hear the Directory would be closing down. I’m with Danny on this one – Yahoo has cruelly glossed over the closure of the Directory that started the entire company AKA “Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web”. So long Yahoo Directory.

4) Want to Improve Your Blog’s Conversion Rates? 11 Tests to Try by Pamela Vaughan of HubSpot. In this post, Pamela shares some logical testing formulas for improving your blog’s conversion rate. Suggested items for testing include Click Through Rate, content balance, calls to action and publishing rate.

and finally…

5) 14 Conversion Rate Optimization Tools Every Expert Needs by Steven Macdonald of Search Engine Journal. This one does exactly what it says on the label. Steven has provided a handy list of tools for testing your conversion rate, conveniently categorized by topics such as Analytics, Research and Testing. Be sure to bookmark this one.

Happy reading!

*Image courtesy of Threadless.

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Q and A: Is re-writing content from another blog a legitimate SEO tactic?

QuestionHello Kalena

My sister has just hired a SEO company based in The Philippines to provide weekly content for her company blog. As I’m a bit more web savvy than she is, she asked me to look over their service outline just to be sure she made the right decision.

Problem is, this “Google optimized content” they are providing seems to consist of copying popular blog posts from other sites in the same industry (women’s health and beauty) and re-writing them in a slightly different way before publishing. I don’t know a lot about SEO, but I am sceptical that Google would approve it. Besides the SEO consideration, this tactic just doesn’t sit right with me.

Is this a legitimate SEO tactic or could it harm my sister’s site in any way?

Thank you

Leon

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Hi Leon

You are absolutely right to be sceptical. By the sound of things, this *SEO* firm employs a technique called site scraping – where the content of other sites is copied or “scraped” and either republished unchanged on a different site, or re-written slightly and THEN republished.

Long term readers of this blog might recall my hilarious battle with site scrapers in the past and the revenge I took on them. I’ve got no problem outing site scrapers, especially when all attempts at communication have been ignored. Their tactics are not only unprofessional, but go directly against Google’s published Webmaster Guidelines.

Take BrainySEO for example. This “blog” (run by some clown called Mayank Jain in Singapore) blatantly scrapes the content of hundreds of blogs across the net, including mine. What’s hilarious is that the scraped content is run through some bizarre automated plagiarist thesaurus (I’m guessing Babel Fish) to translate it into a slightly different version of the same content as a way to avoid Google’s duplicate content filters. It is then published on servers based in the UK.

Compare these two posts:

1) My Fast Five post from week 39 (original)

2) BrainySEO’s scraped Babel Fish version (scraped)

The second (scraped) version reads like a drunk Aunty.

The service that your sister has signed up for sounds suspiciously similar. As Google re-iterates in their Quality Guidelines:

“Scraped content will not provide any added value to your users without additional useful services or content provided by your site; it may also constitute copyright infringement in some cases”.

Typically, Google and other engines will ignore or filter scraped content out of the search results for target search terms. But that’s not the only negative impact it can have.

Sites like ScamAudit.com provide a rudimentary way of measuring the trustworthiness of sites and suitably, BrainySEO is ranked as *seems suspicious*.

So my prediction is at best, the content your sister pays for will be worthless. At worst, it may impact the reputation of her business and the trust of her customers.

My advice is that she should sever the contract immediately, perhaps citing Google’s Quality Guidelines as her justification.

Let us know what happens!

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Fast Five in Search – Week 36, 2014

fast-five

 

It’s that time of the week again – Fast Five time. I’m feeling quite smug that I’ve managed to consistently publish a Fast Five post every week this year to date. Blogging can be a time-consuming business, but when you follow a schedule and write about topics that educate and inform, it’s also very rewarding.

If you’re enjoying these Fast Five posts, I’d love to hear as much in the comments. Feel free to suggest some topics for future editions as well. This week, we’re going to take a look back at the five most popular Q and A posts on this blog since it was first launched.

Here’s this week’s Fast Five:

1) How much should I expect to pay for SEO services? by Peter Newsome. In this post from 2009, Pete helps a SEO start-up who are struggling to set realistic rates for their brand new SEO service offering.

2) How do I avoid duplicate content created by my CMS for product pages on my site? by Peter Newsome. Another post from guest blogger Pete sees him helping a webmaster who is concerned that his Content Management System may generate product pages that are so similar in content that they may be deemed duplicate content by search engines.

3) How do I leverage Social Media to improve my SEO? by Yours Truly. In this Q and A from 2012, I explain why social media has become an integral part of SEO and suggest several ways of integrating social media marketing into your existing SEO strategy.

4) How can I get rid of malicious spam content on Google? by Yours Truly. A Q and A from March this year saw someone contact me asking for help relating to malicious content being published about them. I gave advice on how to lodge a Request to Remove Objectionable Content.

and finally…

5) Why doesn’t Google index my sitemap? by Yours Truly. In one of my more recent Q and A’s, I help a webmaster who couldn’t understand why Google wasn’t indexing all his site pages, despite including them all in his sitemap.

If you’ve got a burning question about search or search engines and you want to see it featured here as a Q and A, submit it via this form.

*Image courtesy of Threadless.

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