Fast Five in Search – Week 41, 2014

fast-five

 

I had a student ask me about video optimization this week. By video optimization, I mean SEO for videos uploaded to her company YouTube account. Naturally, she wanted her company videos to appear at the top of the search results when anyone conducted a search on YouTube for her business brand.

I referred her to a couple of my favorite video SEO resources and thought that perhaps you readers may find them useful too.

Here’s this week’s Fast Five:

1) How to Optimize Video: Step by Step Instructions by Jennifer Osborne of Aim Clear. Although this post is a little dated, most of the content is still relevant and it contains some tips you won’t see anywhere else.

2) Moz Whiteboard Friday: SEO for Video Content by Scott Willoughby of Moz. Well, Scott is just the post author, but the content is actually provided in video format by Rand Fishkin in one of his ever-helpful Whiteboard Friday videos.

3) Video SEO: A Technical Guide by Joost de Valk of Yoast. An incredibly clever guy, Joost is the creator of several uber-successful WordPress plugins and knows an enormous amount about SEO. This was the first post I found that waded into the technical concept of meta markup for video content.

4) Distilled Guide to Online Video Marketing by Cheri Percy of Distilled. These guys don’t do things by halves. Big fans of downloadable white-papers and reports, the Distilled crew have created this Guide as a PDF doc for download. It’s pitched as “a practical and expansive guide covering all aspects of online video marketing” and it totally delivers on that promise.

and finally…

5) Schema.org Markup for Videos by Some Poor Guy Who Didn’t Deserve a Name But Apparently Deserved Sub-Titles of Google. This video posted on Google Webmaster Tools Help explains how using schema.org on-page markup to describe your videos will allow Google, Bing, and Yahoo! to index and show your videos in search results.

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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Are You Over-thinking SEO?

no-inspirationYou might be a little shocked by the time you finish this article. You might even refuse to believe me. But I’m telling you straight: when it comes to SEO, you are almost certainly over-thinking it.

Let’s take a quick poll. Are you reading every SEO article you can get your hands on? Are you constantly tweaking your page title and meta tags to see if your site moves up the rankings? Are you running daily search queries to see how your site ranks for certain keywords? Do you break into a cold sweat every time Google rolls out a new algorithm update?

If you’re guilty of one or more of these actions, you are totally over-thinking SEO and you need to stop. Right now.

I’ve been in the Search Engine Optimization business for 18 years – long before the acronym SEO was even coined. I’ve witnessed the birth of Google, the death of AltaVista and more algorithm tweaks than Yahoo’s had CEOs. With all the changes the search industry has experienced over the years, I can tell you that the key to SEO is this: understanding your audience. That’s IT. That’s all you need to know.

You don’t need to understand latent semantic indexing, you don’t need to know HTML, you don’t need to know Google Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird, Pigeon or any of the other latest algorithm changes. You just need to KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE. If you don’t know your audience you need to get to know them. Quickly. Talk to them, talk to the staff who deal with them most often. Find out what makes them happy and what is turning them off. Look at their purchase history, their feedback, their interaction with your brand on social media. Survey them.

There is a lot of talk these days about the Semantic Web and how this is changing SEO best practice. Well guess what? SEO has always been about semantics. The main purpose of the Semantic Web is to enable users to find, share, and combine information more easily. Just like it has always been, the Semantic Web of today is based on searcher intent.

Every search is a question in disguise. When deciding what web content to rank highest in search results, Google compares the content of your pages with the original search query to see if they match semantically. In other words – does your content answer the intended question posed by the searcher?

Let me give you this example:

  • Oil
  • Hammer
  • Spaghetti
  • Car
  • House
  • Toothbrush

Take these six items and mentally put them into either two groups of three, or three groups of two, based on the first grouping that comes naturally into your mind. My initial grouping was:

  • Oil / Hammer / Car
  • Spaghetti / House / Toothbrush

My justification was that the first group was outdoor related and the rest indoor related. Did you group the items the same way as I did?

Now, if you give this same exercise to someone else, their groupings would likely be different to yours. I regularly present this exercise to my SEO training workshops and the outcome is almost always different for everyone. Some people group the items based on assets and consumables, others might group based on the number of letters in the words and there are always different assumptions about whether *oil* is the edible kind or the motor kind.

What does this tell you? Everyone is DIFFERENT. Depending on what time of day you did this exercise, or even whether you were hungry at the time, it might change the outcome. What does this tell you about the way people search? Everyone searches with a unique mindset and question in their head. Different day, different mood, different mindset, different question.

So how do you identify searcher intent? How do you use the semantic web to your advantage? By understanding your audience. By studying the search terms that your target audience uses to find the goods and services you offer. Once you understand HOW they search and what questions they are asking, you can optimize your content to ensure you answer their questions. Doing that will give you a much better chance of Google, Bing and Yahoo ranking you above your competitors in the search results.

Another SEO shortcut is to create user personas for your main customers. Track what pathways they take through your site. Notice what pages they visit most often and what content they share. Publish more of that type of content. Create unique and distinct marketing campaigns for each persona you identify. Your ROI will hit the roof.

Call your best customers on the phone, buy them a coffee. Get to know them, reward them. Show them you care. They are your advocates and should be your best friends. Turn them into brand evangelists and they will do half the marketing for you.

Spend less time looking at algorithms and more time looking at your analytics and customer feedback. Publish content that your audience is asking for. Publish content that your audience is searching for. Publish OFTEN. Internal Site Search is your best friend. Don’t have internal site search? Get it fast and review what people are searching for within your content.

Re-purpose and re-package your content in different ways. That newsletter that you sent out via email last week? Publish it on your web site – and I don’t mean a PDF – put each individual article on it’s own page. Search engines love fresh content. Ask your best customers why they like your product. Write an article about that. Create a Q and A blog post out of a help-desk ticket. Publish your customer testimonials. Write a case study with the help of your favourite client. Turn your Knowledge Base into several white-papers for download. Republish your blog posts on your Facebook page. Tweet the links from your Twitter account. Add the images to your Pinterest boards. Embrace social media and cross-promote your social channels.

You can do this. Everyone reading this article can do SEO. Everyone. It is NOT a specialist skill. It takes a holistic approach, but primarily it comes down to 3 words: KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE.

So stop over-thinking SEO and just get on with it.

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Q and A: What are some typical daily tasks of a SEO business?

QuestionHello Kalena

I have read a handful of your blog posts and LOVED THEM. I’ll get to the point. I was looking to see if you could write a post on daily tasks of an SEO business if you had ONE client (to keep it simple).

I have about 60 domains that I use to test SEO techniques, I own two businesses with I SEO myself, I attend many webinars, buy books etc to keep my SEO skills sharp. I pretty good with SEO and running a business.

My problem now is I’d like to run an SEO business but I don’t know what a client wants from me on a day today basis for results. Could you possibly email me or write a post about what I would do day-day for a client. Almost like a checklist. Of course I would have to do many other task that randomly come at me (problem solving).

My brain gets a little jumbled when it comes to organization. Since I’ve never run an SEO business yet, I have no idea what my days would look like. I have my web/graphic design business down perfectly!

I understand you are very busy but if you could give me a little boost I will definitely pay it forward.

Thank you!

Chris

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Hi Chris

You might be interested to know that our SEO Advanced course includes a whole bonus lesson dedicated to setting up your own SEO business, including recommended tools and checklists.

In the meantime, I actually wrote an article a couple of years ago that might help you. Although it might not be quite be written as the day in the life of a SEO, it IS written as a diary of typical SEO tasks that you need to perform over several weeks. It’s called The 10 Week SEO Diet and there is even a video version.

Hope this helps!

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20 Free Marketing eBooks You Need to Download Right Now

Sssshhh!I don’t know about you, but I’m a bit of a sucker for free downloadable PDF eBooks and White Papers. Because they are usually organized into chapter form, they tend to be meatier and contain more valuable content than blog posts and articles. I’ve obtained an impressive collection of eBooks over the years and will often whip one out to share with a client or a Search Engine College student who might be struggling to understand a particular marketing or SEO concept.

So I thought I’d share with you my favorite free eBooks and White Papers, categorized by theme. Where possible, I’ve linked to the jump page from where you can access the PDF file, rather than linking to the PDF itself.

Top 5 Free Marketing Related eBooks

1) Definitive Guide to Marketing, Metrics and Analytics by Marketo – This chunky, 70 page eBook is a methodical guide for how to implement effective marketing measurement practices across your organization – big or small. It deals with that tricky subject of determining how your various marketing programs impact your revenue and profit so that you can decide which ones to focus on going forward.

2) The Email Marketing Showcase by Pollen Marketing – A recent discovery, this ROI-Driven email marketing guide by Natalie Giddings includes 50 published email examples compiled by experienced Internet marketers. It showcases stunning newsletter design elements, clever use of graphics and color and highly converting calls-to-action so you can learn from and implement them in your own email marketing programs. I read this in one sitting and then spent the weekend completely re-writing my follow up email series. I was so impressed, I contacted Natalie and offered her a tutor role at Search Engine College! (more about that soon).

3) A Guide to Marketing in 2014 by Vocus – How will you make the right choices for your 2014 digital marketing mix? This comprehensive guide will light the way for you. Written with a team of digital marketing’s foremost technologists and innovators, the guide explains 2014’s key marketing trends, what they will mean for you, and how to make them work with your brand’s strategy.

4) Take Your Business Online in 5 Hours for $26 by AWeber – You might be aware that I use AWeber for nearly all my online marketing activities. This includes email marketing campaigns, newsletter distribution and subscriber management needs. They just make it SO easy. So it makes sense for a company serving small and medium sized businesses to create a PDF guide to getting a biz online, fast. As they say in this guide, you can take your business online with just a basic website, an email series and some social network profiles. This step-by-step guide shows how to create an online presence for your business in only five hours for just $26.

5) The Essential Step-by-Step Guide to Internet Marketing by HubSpot – I just love Hubspot. They are very clever marketers and always seem to come up with a relevant eBook, right when I’m researching a particular marketing topic. This was one of the first eBooks I ever downloaded from Hubspot and I refer to it all the time. Whether you’re just getting started with internet marketing or you want to brush up on the basics, this ebook can serve as your essential guide to setting up and implementing a successful internet marketing strategy, step by step. Be sure to check out their free MS Excel-based Editorial Calendar as well.

Top 5 Free SEO Related eBooks

1) SEO Starter Guide by Google – First published in 2008, Google has recently updated their SEO Starter Guide and translated it into 40 different languages. The Guide was written in response to Google staff being inundated with the same question in various formats over many years: “What are some simple ways that I can improve my website’s performance in Google?” The result is a compact guide that lists best practices that webmasters can follow to improve their sites’ crawlability and indexing. The Google Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide covers a range of common site design and coding aspects that webmasters need to optimize, such as improving title and description meta tags, URL structure, site navigation, content creation, anchor text, and more. If you want to improve your rank in Google, downloading this eBook is a no-brainer.

2) Beginner’s Guide to SEO by Moz – Following on from Google’s SEO Guide, this Beginner’s Guide from Moz will fill in any gaps you may have in your SEO knowledge. Beautifully designed and divided into clear, logical sections, this Guide is an ideal starting point for webmasters who want to educate themselves about what makes a search compatible site. It’s viewable online or via downloadable PDF and because it is written in such an approachable format and regularly updated by the Moz team, I recommend this eBook to all my SEO students.

3) 17 SEO Myths You Should Leave Behind by Hubspot – You’ll see Hubspot mentioned a few times in this article, for good reason. Their content is always timely and intuitive. Hubspot produced this eBook shortly after Google rolled out their confusing Panda algorithm update and webmasters were clambouring for some kind of guidance about how it would impact their SEO strategy. In the eBook, Hubspot debunk some of the most common SEO myths that still persist. After Google let loose their shiny new Hummingbird algorithm update, Hubspot cleverly updated this eBook to keep the advice fresh and relevant for the latest SEO methodologies.

4) The Web Developer’s SEO Cheat Sheet by Moz – When I first started optimizing web sites for clients back in 1996, I actually wrote a similar Cheat Sheet of my own to give to web development staff to ensure they wouldn’t make any major SEO blunders and undo all my hard work. But Moz have taken the SEO Cheat Sheet concept to a whole new, beautiful level. Recently updated, all the geektastic SEO tips and shortcuts you’ll ever need while coding are in here, including metadata, sitemaps, pagination, authorship, user agents, robot syntax, canonicalization and much more. This one is permanently pinned to my office wall.

5) Microsoft Excel for SEOs by Distilled – This Guide is so much more than an eBook. Produced by London-based digital creative agency Distilled, Microsoft Excel for SEOs started life as a White Paper written up to help SEO professionals retrieve meaningful information from mountains of data, using MS Excel. It is now less of a White Paper and more of an extremely comprehensive mini course in how to use Microsoft Excel to revolutionize traditionally time-consuming Search Engine Optimization tasks. If your job involves data analysis of the marketing kind, give this Guide a look. It’s viewable online or via downloadable PDF and comes with an XLS Example Workbook to help cement your knowledge with practical examples.

Top 5 Free Social Media Related eBooks

1) The Marketer’s Guide to Social Media by Vocus – This guide is written for marketers to help them come to terms with where they should invest their time and money and what social media tactics will help them achieve the greatest ROI. The guide includes insights from social media butterflies Ekaterina Walter, Jason Falls and Michael Stelzner that will take you through the most pivotal social media marketing trends and show you how to leverage them to deploy winning campaigns.

2) The Definitive Guide to Social Marketing by Marketo – If you are looking for a comprehensive understanding of Social Media for business in under 100 pages, this visually splendid eBook won’t disappoint. Written from a strong business ROI perspective, this guide is the one eBook I recommend most often to all my Social Media Marketing workshop attendees.

3) How to Get 1000+ Followers on Twitter by Hubspot – If you’re a Twitter junkie like me, this snappy eBook will make light work of the problem of not having enough Twitter followers. The advice includes how to optimize your Twitter profile, how and when to follow people, how to use hash tags and what to retweet.

4) Do It Yourself Social Media Audit by JanetFous.com – Did you know that you should conduct a social media audit quarterly? Well apparently you should. According to Social Media expert Janet Fouts, it’s a good idea to conduct a social media audit every so often to step back and take a benchmark of your performance. This allows you to see yourself as others might see you and judge if you are delivering the message you think you’re sending. It’s also a good way to evaluate what networks are working for you, which aren’t and if you are using social media efficiently. This eBook shows you what you need to do in order to audit your own Social Media activities and set a benchmark for the future.

5) Building a Killer Content Strategy by Hubspot – Everyone knows that great content is the foundation of highly trafficked sites. But how do you define *great*? How should you implement a content creation and publication strategy? This guide will teach you how to do all these things by giving you actionable advice, including how to understand your audience, map content to the buying cycle and build an editorial calendar.

Top 5 Free Advertising Related eBooks

1) AdWords Step by Step by Google – It’s amazing the number of marketers who abandon AdWords as a channel following a string of failed campaigns. The truth is that AdWords is a complex and tricky beast and you really need to educate yourself in campaign set up and planning before any of your ads go live. This free eBook by Google is a great starting point for both new advertisers and experienced marketers.

2) Google AdWords: A Brave New World by Google – Andrew Goodman wrote the first eBook on AdWords, over 10 years ago now. As Andrew states in his book, the world of AdWords changes frequently, even though many of the fundamental principles do not. Andrew’s original eBook eventually morphed into a 400 page published book that quickly became everyone’s favorite AdWords reference and has been updated several times. This pocket guide is a 40-page mini version of Andrew’s book, that offers a faster read for marketers in a hurry to understand the complexity lurking in Google’s advertising system.

3) Open the Black Box – Maximizing Success in Bid Automation by OptiMine – Bid automation software is essential for companies with complex paid-search programs. However, when using bid automation software it’s hard to determine the “why” behind their paid-search performance. This whitepaper looks at why companies need to use bid automation software that gives them transparency and control of their paid-search programs.

4) Conversion Secrets of a Million Dollar Landing Page by Conversion Rate Experts – This case study really put Conversation Rate Experts on the map. During the process of building a highly converting landing page for SEOMoz.com (now re-branded as Moz.com), CRE obtained such phenomenal results, that they set a new conversion benchmark for the industry. This online case study (downloadable as a PDF) is another resource I refer my students to frequently. It contains invaluable advice on boosting your ad and landing page response rates and highlights all the key features of high-converting content.

and finally…

5) From Abandon to Conversion: Why Shoppers Abandon Carts and What Merchants Can Do About It by Bronto – Shopping cart abandonment is a major problem for online retailers, with rates averaging between 60-70 percent. Departing shoppers represent a significant amount of lost revenue and to reverse that trend, you need to understand customer motivations and reasons for abandonment. For this white paper, Bronto staff examined the carting experience and follow-up email strategies of 100 retailers to discover the reasons for abandonment and the top strategies for bringing those shoppers back.

Happy reading!

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