5 Must-Have Spreadsheets For Online Marketing Professionals

I_love_spreadsheets_hatAs an online marketing consultant and trainer for the past 15 years, I have used a LOT of online tools to help me do my job.

I’ve seen time-saving tools come and go in crazy peaks and troughs. I’ve also seen a few that have ridden the waves of consumer fascination to become permanent fixtures in the online marketer’s toolbox.

Below are 5 spreadsheet-based tools that I use myself or recommend on a regular basis:

1) Distilled’s MS Excel for SEOs – This Excel-based workbook is like a detailed instruction manual for SEOs on how to manipulate bulky data into logical form using Microsoft Excel. If you are an Excel wizard, you’ll love this tool. If not, you’ll probably need a week to wrap your head around the analysis, but it will be worth it – I promise.

2) HubSpot’s Blog Editorial Calendar Template – If you are a content curator or social media marketer, this template will save your life. It simplifies calendar-based content allocation and helps you prioritize content deadlines and build an annual strategy to meet multiple marketing campaign objectives.

3) Shimon Sandler’s PPC Campaign Kick-Off Template – this Excel template is quite a few years old now, but I still use it as a starting point when kicking off a new AdWords or Bing Ads campaign for a client. It helps you and your client to focus on the big picture objectives and build a unique campaign to suit specific requirements rather than implementing a cookie-cutter PPC campaign that needs tweaking to fit.

4) Google SEO Rank Checker Spreadsheet – a recent discovery, this customizable Google Docs template is all kinds of awesome. It includes a clever integration of ImportXML that allows you to collect at-a-glance keyword rankings on Google in real time.

5) Outspoken Media’s Link Building Spreadsheet – another Google Drive shared doc, this is a customizable template consisting of a gigantic list of link building strategies collated by Rhea Drysdale and her team at Outspoken Media.
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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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Q and A: Is it good SEO practice to cross link related sites in the footer?

QuestionHello Kalena

I took your SEO classes at Search Engine College a while back. I’m hoping you might be able to help me with a question that I really don’t know the answer to.

I now work at an advertising agency and we have various clients…some we work on their SEO and some we don’t.

One of our client’s websites [link removed] has their sister companies listed on the bottom of the site with links pointing to each. All the companies are related and interlinked in the same way. They were told by their “SEO” company that having the companies linked is not a good SEO move.

I would think that since these would be quality links that it is good practice to link them.

Can you please weigh in on this?

Thanks
Lena

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Hi Lena

Actually, I can see where their SEO’s concern lies. All of the sister sites are linked together in the footer, in a kind of feedback loop. This can be misinterpreted by Google to be a mini link farm of sorts.

Please read Google’s guidelines about links and you’ll understand what I mean. They particularly highlight this issue:

“Here are a few common examples of unnatural links that violate our guidelines… Widely distributed links in the footers of various sites…”

By all means link to the sister sites, but use the *rel: no-follow* tag on those links so that no link value is attributed to them. That should prevent Google from misinterpreting the link intention.

Hope this helps!

Kalena
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Can competitors harm your Google ranking?

My little tribute to the Beastie Boys

A client and I were Skyping this week and the topic inevitably turned to Google Penguin and the impending doom of link building *tactics*.

This particular client has been having issues with rogue affiliates setting up fake link networks in order to boost their sales for my client’s products. Despite repeated warnings and/or promises to clean up their act, some of these affiliates have continued using dodgy practices for years, managing somehow to avoid Panda, Panda II and even Panda III. But their house of cards came tumbling down with the implementation of Penguin and with it went over 30 percent of my client’s traffic.

The problem is that, ultimately, my client has NO CONTROL over the tactics used by persons linking to their site. If they spot dodgy tactics being used, my client can alert or even ban the offending affiliate, but what of all the affiliates spamming under the radar? And these are sites supposedly in favor of my client staying in business. Imagine if they were direct competitors? All the education in the world isn’t going to stop spammers using whatever tactics they can if they are rewarded for those tactics in cold hard cash. And who can blame them?

This is inherently the problem I have with Google at the moment. They still claim it isn’t possible for spammers to hurt innocent sites using SEO spam but guess what? There are many, many examples of exactly that happening. Heck, this guy is offering a $10,000 reward to find the persons responsible for link bombing his site. Do you think he’d offer cash if the issue wasn’t crippling his business? There are even public projects set up encouraging people to use SEO spam in order to influence the Google SERPs in a positive or negative way for political purposes. And what about super competitive industries like the PPCs – porn, pills and casinos? I can assure you that competitor sabotage is alive and well and flying business class.

Now I applaud that Google are concerned enough about the issue to roll out updates like Penguin to try and punish persons using obvious SEO spam. Comment spam is evil! they warn. Artificial backlinks are evil! they say. Use of these tactics is a violation of our guidelines! But then they say don’t fret if others build backlinks to your site. Don’t worry too much. Just concentrate on making your site the best that it can be.

Why oh why do they keep insisting that competitors can’t harm your site using those same methods? Asked the question, Can competitors harm your ranking?, this was Google’s reply:

Google works hard to prevent other webmasters from being able to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index. If you’re concerned about another site linking to yours, we suggest contacting the webmaster of the site in question. Google aggregates and organizes information published on the web; we don’t control the content of these pages.

I look at these posts and this is what I’m hearing:

“Don’t be evil. Don’t do this, this or this. Doesn’t matter if your competitor tries that, they can’t hurt you. Oh look at these naughty spammers ruining your SERPs. We’ve got an update to fix that. What? Your legitimate site was smacked down? Not our problem. Don’t be evil.”

Well Google may not want to admit it but here it is: Can competitors harm your Google ranking? You bet they can.

 

 

 

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Q and A: How can I attract more inbound links to my site?

QuestionDear Kalena,

We have a plant seller nursery website that contains mostly product and contact information etc. How can I attract more links to my site?

Thanks in advance,
Trish

Dear Trish,

In order for your site to be considered ‘linkworthy’ you need to build some good-quality, industry-specific content that people in your niche market will find useful. If your site is purely product-based there are fewer reasons for other sites to link to your site.

Building links is all about obtaining online referrals. A good link building strategy considers internet users and website owners. The ultimate aim is to obtain more referrals for your site from other website owners and ultimately to get more customers to your site.

Think about the people that view your website (in your case plant growers and gardening enthusiasts) what would they find useful? What would make them want to revisit your site? A searchable database containing photographs and general information about the plants that you sell would be an appealing addition. Or an article library/blog – filled with gardening ideas, advice and resources could keep your customers coming back to your site again and again.

When it comes to attracting inbound links, content is king. If your site contains good-quality, industry-specific information, people will come to your website not only to buy things, but to find information. Also other websites may refer to information contained on your site in order to be associated with your quality content. In this way you will develop an authoritive presence within your industry that will attract good quality inbound links over time.

Sarah Parker
Parker Communications

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