Monday, May 15, 2017

See, Think, Do, Care: A New Way to Communicate Your SEO Strategy – Search Engine Journal

See, Think, Do, Care: A New Way to Communicate Your SEO Strategy
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When discussing SEO strategy with the C-Suite, do you ever experience your audience’s eyes glazing over?

Sure, you can try to explain website optimization in terms of the top of the funnel, mid-funnel, and bottom of the funnel; every CMO has some understanding of that. But that still doesn’t effectively capture the essence of what organic search optimization should be today.

What if I told you there’s a better way to approach discussing SEO with business stakeholders, in a language they can understand?

I’m referring to the marketing model envisioned by Avinash Kaushik, digital marketing evangelist at Google, called “See, Think, Do.” His framework applies to all types of marketing strategies, regardless of the channel. Let’s look at how to apply this framework to discussions around the implementation of optimizing a website for organic search.

Understanding “See, Think, Do”

Discussing his framework in an interview with Acronym CMO Mike Grehan, Kaushik dismissed the age-old AIDA (Attention-Interest-Desire-Action) model, as well as the conventional consumer buying cycle of awareness, consideration, purchase, and loyalty.

Instead, he argues for taking a customer-oriented approach based on an understanding of the consumer’s journey. Grehan’s conversations around “intent-based digital marketing” align nicely with this notion.

“I believe when you develop content around intent and think in a more focused way about the ‘required experience’ on the customer journey, you begin to change the voice and the way you communicate, too,” according to Grehan. “You begin to think more of the individual and speak in a one-to-one tone as opposed to the often copied ‘mass media audience’ voice. The fact is, nobody watches the internet. You can’t compare it to the audience-designed broadcast medium. In short: Talk to ‘me’ — not my demographic.”

(I talk about intent briefly as well in this Search Engine Journal post on fleshing out the intent behind keywords.)

“I don’t think about awareness, consideration, purchase loyalty — these standard marketing models, I hate them,” Kaushik said in the video. “So I created a new one. I call it ‘See, Think, Do.’ And what it says is that rather than thinking selfishly as a company, you have to think from a consumer perspective.”

He adds, “Every single person in the world is in one of these four buckets [See, Think, Do, Care].”

The buckets of consideration that Kaushik is referring to happen when an audience is on their buying journey.

  • See: This stage is comprised of the largest, qualified, addressable audience
  • Think: This stage is the part of the audience that is actually thinking or considering a particular thing
  • Do: This stage is made up of that subset of the audience that is looking to buy

Below is an illustration from Kaushik that shows the See, Think, Do framework with the types of audiences that fall into each stage of consideration (with “Care” added for established customers):

Illustration of Kaushik's See, Think, Do, Care framework with the types of audiences that fall into each stage

In this model, “audience intent” is defined by behavior, not demographics or psychographics, Kaushik said.

So how does this model relate to SEO strategy? Tying it into the traditional way we think about how people search, Grehan compared See, Think, Do to search queries that are either informational, navigational, or transactional in this article.

The difference here is that the SEO of yesterday might focus on simply optimizing web pages with specific keywords from those three buckets (informational, navigational, transactional). Today, See, Think, Do coupled with intent-based optimization is focused on what the audience is trying to accomplish, and bringing in various elements on a web page to help them reach their goal.

Applying the See, Think, Do Framework to Website Optimization

Let’s look more closely at how you might apply the See, Think, Do framework when discussing and implementing the optimization of a website to drive organic search, conversions, and revenue. Keep in mind that when talking about optimization, we aren’t just placing keywords; we’re creating an experience through content and the various elements on a web page.

  • See: This includes the larger audience of people online that are interested in something, and relates to the more generic search queries we see, for example, “doorknobs.” In this phase, if you’re in the market of selling doorknobs, you might create informational content in various forms on your website about doorknobs; varieties, uses, features and benefits, installations, etc. Again, we’re thinking about the intent of the audience here.
  • Think: Your audience is essentially thinking about a purchase. Your website’s job is to help that decision become easier. In this phase, you might create buying guides for doorknobs. You might also have functionality on your product pages that allow a person to compare various doorknobs.
  • Do: This is enabling a conversion on the web page, whether that’s buying a product or signing up for more information from your brand or any other type of conversion you deem important. This is usually facilitated by the elements on the web page (for example, a noticeable “add to cart” button, an easy-to-find way to request more information or talking to customer service via chat, and so on).

Let’s remember that the traditional journey from the top of the funnel to the bottom is no longer linear. Yes, your audience will still likely go through all three phases to get to the conversion, but it does not mean that their actions exist in a silo.

While in the “See” phase and on an informational web page, your audience may benefit from choices in the other phases of the journey, so that they move along at the pace they choose.

As this presentation from McKinsey & Company outlines, the consumer decision-making journey today is much more circular than linear:

See, Think, Do: An Example

Kaushik shares an illustrative example of how ModCloth employs multiple See, Think, Do elements on any given web page on their site:

Illustrative example of how ModCloth employs multiple See, Think, Do elements on any given web page on their site

Why You Can’t Afford to Ignore the New Approach

Without an understanding of what your audience is trying to do, SEO strategies today can fall short, be too prescriptive and too tactical.

When you implement the wrong tactics, you end up measuring the wrong things, too. As Kaushik points out here:

Without great content, and an equally worthy marketing strategy across See-Think-Do-Care, data is almost completely useless. Scratch that. It is completely useless.

In an era where search engines are becoming smarter at identifying the web pages that answer your audience’s intent, you can’t afford not to consider models like intent-based optimization and See, Think, Do. Without it, your chances of visibility online are becoming slimmer.

Plus, approaching your conversations with the C-Suite in a more strategic way when discussing SEO is speaking a language they can understand, and presenting a roadmap they can get behind.

Image Credits
Featured Image: Depositphotos
Image 1: / See, Think, Do, Care Winning Combo: Content +Marketing +Measurement!
Image 2: / See-Think-Do: A Content, Marketing, Measurement Business Framework

On – 20 Apr, 2017 By Christopher Hart


22 Unique SEO Tips Backed by 22 Renowned SEO Experts

How great would it be if we could gather all the awesome SEO experts in just one room to talk about search engines ranks with a focus on the best SEO tips available out there? It would be glorious! Since we don’t have a room big enough to gather all the best experts in one place, we took advantage of the online “meetings” and gathered all the up to date SEO tips into an awesome expert roundup post. That is how we got the idea of interviewing 22 renowned SEO experts and how we found out 22 awesome and unique search engine optimization tips … the best of them.


22 Unique SEO Tips Backed by 22 Renowned SEO Experts

We’ve got answers from some of the brightest minds about the most actionable tips from the digital marketing world. We’ve found interesting news, insights and really helpful tips and guidelines about mobile optimization, metrics, qualitative content marketing, testing, technical SEO and customer centric websites. These 22 tips are some of the best for small businesses or large enterprises. Make sure you get the best of them.


Grab a coffee, sit comfortably and start reading the next list with 22 unique SEO tips backed by 22 renowned SEO experts that will make your search traffic bloom. 


  1. Understand That SEO Is Not Just About Rankings by Phil Frost
  2. Optimize Your Content for Your Customers and Not for the Search Engines by Omi Sido
  3. Understand How Your Site Is Actually Performing Away From Vanity Metrics by Danny Denhard
  4. Don’t Underestimate the Power of Creative Technical SEO by Paul Shapiro
  5. Have Content Deliberately Written to Be Highly Linkable by Sujan Patel
  6. Do Not Underestimate How Important “Branding” Is to SEO by Dixon Jones
  7. Build Your Website on a Solid Foundation of Data and Keyword Research by Trond Lyngbø
  8. Spend the Time and Money to Have Your Site Analyzed in Terms of Its Existing SEO by Julie Joyce
  9. Make the Best Page on the Internet for Your Topic by Andy Crestodina
  10. When It Comes to Link Acquisition You Need to Be Looking for Trust by Tim Grice
  11. Invest Time and Effort into Developing a Link Earning Strategy by Caleb McElveen
  12. If Everyone Else Is Zigging, Then Zagging Is a Strategic Opportunity by Greg Jarboe
  13. Invest More in Content by Eric Enge
  14. Run Your Own SEO Tests Across Different Search Categories by Carl Hendy
  15. Perform an In-Depth SEO SWOT Analysis by Marcus Miller
  16. Understand What Your Targeted Audience Might Be Looking For by Bill Slawski
  17. Test Longer Strategies over Tactics and Measure Each Step of the Way by Bill Sebald
  18. Make Sure Your Site Is Mobile Friendly by Andy Drinkwater
  19. Create Your Own Websites and Experiment Things Risk-Free by Mark Porter
  20. Focus on Content Quality by Rishi Lakhani
  21. Find a Way to Create Attention by Patrick Hathaway
  22. Hone Your Technical SEO Skills as Much as Possible by Dan Leibson 


We need to mention that all our cool experts had to answer just one-question interview:


If you were to recommend just one SEO tip, what would that be?

1. Understand That SEO Is Not Just About Rankings

I’ve talked with many business owners that think ranking high in Google is all you need to be successful.  The reality is that SEO is just one of many tactics to drive prospective customers to your website. Sure, ranking high in Google is great, but it’s also worthless if you don’t have a website that is set up properly to convert that traffic into leads and sales.  Plus, you won’t rank high for long unless you have proper tracking in place and a process to monitor and analyze your SEO efforts.  As you can see, SEO is not just about rankings; it’s also about website conversion rate optimization and website analytics and tracking.  That’s important to understand before you start to invest in SEO.


2. Optimize Your Content for Your Customers and Not for the Search Engines


Producing content that’s irrelevant and insignificant to your audience’s wants and needs leads to only one thing – people stop taking you seriously. People click on your links in the SERPs but they do not interact with your website and leave quickly – wasted opportunity to turn visitors into customers.



So how do I find what my buyer persona (not to be confused with ‘buyer profile’) is looking for?


Glad you’ve asked, so let me give you some actionable tips. Finding questions that people are asking about your products or services.


A very good place to start is Quora. I just went there and typed something very uninspiring like “carrots” (Writing content for a boring industry? No Problem).


Some of the questions I get:

  • Why are carrots good for your eyes? Does eating carrots improve your eyesight? How?
  • How many carrots should I eat a day?
  • What else besides carrots can help your vision?

Another favorite place to go would be Answer The Public.

Answer the public

Last but not least, take data from your internal Site Search. All you have to do now is to align a question with a keyword that would bring traffic to your website. To do that just drop a question in the Google keyword planner and you will be presented with an opportunity.

Keyword Planner

Note: Stay focused and only choose the keywords that answer your original buyer’s persona question.


I am sure you already know where I am going. You’ve got the question and you’ve got the targeted keyword. All you have to do now is give an answer in the form of a blog article or video.


We’ve started with the customer in mind and ended up with a content that’s relevant to YOUR audience and, at the same time, well optimized for the search engines.



3. Understand How Your Site Is Actually Performing Away From Vanity Metrics


If you track for the right KPIs, auditing will supply you with ongoing changes and help you focus on making the highest priority changes for you to hit KPIs and plan for the future.

4. Don’t Underestimate the Power of Creative Technical SEO

People often neglect testing in SEO, mostly because it’s not easy, but optimizing CTR is a way to get some huge wins. Check out how Etsy is doing it or this recent look at approaches from Wayfair and their learnings.

 I’m talking about coming up with novel ideas and analyses that help move the needle but are less about copywriting and more about technical proficiency. A couple examples: digging deep into semantic keyword research and data mining or dynamically populating title tags using the Google Search Analytics API.

5. Have Content Deliberately Written to Be Highly Linkable

Highly linkable content is content written on a broad enough topic that you can work it into guest posts and other link opportunities naturally, without the article having to be directly related to the content you’re linking to.


For example, I wrote a big piece on customer delight – a thorough guide on how to make your customers happy at every point in your relationship. I’ve been able to link to this piece within articles on topics ranging from marketing and sales to operations and employee management. Having a few of these kinds of pieces means you’ll never miss an opportunity to link to your content.

6. Do Not Underestimate How Important “Branding” Is to SEO

Do not underestimate how important “branding” is to SEO.

7. Build Your Website on a Solid Foundation of Data and Keyword Research

Your goal should be to build a customer-centric destination that works 24/7 at attracting fresh business.


My company, Search Planet, specializes in E-commerce SEO. I often see even large e-commerce Web shops leak revenue and profit because they’ll mirror their own needs and organizational structure online, instead of focusing on their customers’ needs. So the best prospects don’t find them in search results. Or when they do, they won’t buy from them – but go to their competitors instead.


By transforming your online presence to be entirely customer-focused, you’ll cut through the clutter, dominate search engines, draw a flood of targeted traffic to your website, and make more sales.

8. Spend the Time and Money to Have Your Site Analyzed in Terms of Its Existing SEO


 You could have all kinds of issues that you aren’t aware of and rather than just trying to throw links at the site or find someone to write better content for your home page, put some focus on doing a thorough SEO audit.


9. Make the Best Page on the Internet for Your Topic

 So here’s how I think about SEO:

  • If you made the best page on the internet for your topic …there are 2000 Math PhD’s trying to HELP you;
  • If you didn’t make the best page on the internet for your topic …there are 2000 Math PhD’s trying to STOP you.


Of course, it’s not enough just to make a great page. But it’s step one. Combine this effort with a clear understanding of off-site SEO, links and basic understanding of how to increase your domain authority and everything is going to work out well for you.

10. When It Comes to Link Acquisition You Need to Be Looking for Trust

The landscape has changed so much, we’re seeing a lot more weight shifting towards user experience, and link building has become a game of trust.

SEOs need to forget about them; there isn’t a metric out there that gives a true reflection of the value of a link, we have come across so many links with good domain authority or domain trust that we would class as toxic websites. When it comes to link acquisition, you need to be looking for trust, and you can only do this through a manual review; is this website the kind of website Google would trust and want to pass value through, is it a trusted source of information? You should then focus on how your links appear on that site, links that look like ads, in the footer or sidebars are going to be less likely to pass value in the long term.


We’re seeing a huge increase in the influence site speed has on rankings. We have run a few tests now with clients and are seeing a direct and almost immediate correlation with speed improvements and an uplift in rankings. Make it a priority, work with the development team and ensure your website is as fast as possible.

11. Invest Time and Effort into Developing a Link Earning Strategy


Do not take any shortcuts to buy or build low-quality links. While links are still a ranking factor, that is no longer their sole purpose. An effective link will provide the opportunity to improve three things; your traffic, your brand, and build trust. These are the links that should be your focal point. These types of links are found in building relationships with relevant websites and companies, creating valuable (not just quality) content, and a consistently having a giving mentality. Though it takes times, the reward will be worth it.

12. If Everyone Else Is Zigging, Then Zagging Is a Strategic Opportunity



If you just want one SEO tip, then let me share the insight that led me to co-found SEO-PR back in 2003. Hundreds of SEOs optimize web pages hoping that they will get a high ranking in Google search results. And many of them do a great job. But only a small handful optimize news stories, blog posts, or press releases hoping that they will get a high ranking in Google News search results.

Now, the Google News algorithm is similar but different than the Google algorithm. Why? Because inbound links aren’t as strong a signal of the importance of a story. This puts a premium on relevance. But, the big mistake that many SEOs make is assuming that the popularity of keywords used on Google is the same on Google News. They often aren’t. You can see this for yourself by using the Google Trends Explore tool. The default result for any keyword will be web search interest. But you can use the drop down menu to see news search interest. And the trends are often different.


In addition, Google says that 16% of searches that it sees every day are new. Well, ask yourself: “Where do baby search terms come from?” And you’ll discover that the stork doesn’t bring them. They are generated by the “news.” So, these are search terms that your competitors haven’t been optimizing their web pages to get high rankings for 15 years. So, you have a better shot of getting your news stories or blog posts (if you’re a news source) and even your press releases to get high rankings for than you would for yet another web page.

Now, admittedly, your ranking in Google News may only last a day or two. But, for near term news and events, this is the opportunity to drive traffic to a relevant landing page on your website. Now, the links in press releases are no-follow, so there is no “link juice” in them. But, they can still drive visitors to a page with more information — if it’s relevant and important. We used unique tracking links in four press releases for Southwest Airlines to generate $2.5 million in ticket sales. And when the CFO asked how we knew that they came from the press releases, we showed him that the tracking parameters on the links weren’t used by any other element of the company’s marketing. And when he suggested that we were merely harvesting interest that had been generated by the company’s excellent TV advertising, we showed him that the releases were for new service to cities where Southwest Airlines had never run an ad. He asked what else we knew. Well, we’d analyzed the database of people who had purchased tickets and found that two-thirds had never flown Southwest Airlines before and that they were generally purchasing round-trip tickets for two people.


Now, here’s the punch line: Part of why we got such strong response was the use of the term “low airfare” in the headline and lead paragraph of the press release. But the other part was the actual price of a one-way ticket in the headline — which actually was a “low airfare.” So, it isn’t just about putting a keyword in the headline and lead paragraph.

13. Invest More in Content

 Here at Stone Temple, we have built up numerous case studies of work we’ve done where we have more than doubled traffic to the pages we work on, simply by making improvements to the content on those pages.



14. Run Your Own SEO Tests Across Different Search Categories


15. Perform an In-Depth SEO SWOT Analysis

It is always tough to provide a generic yet actionable SEO tip that folks have not seen a million times before. What is right for a local business is not right for a national business. What works for a B2B company won’t work for a B2C eCommerce store.

If you create a basic SWOT grid and start to detail your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, you can start to get a better idea what kind of SEO you need. This is exactly how we work at Bowler Hat and even our SEO service page details how you need to identify what kind of SEO is right for you.


As an example. If a weakness was domain authority, then you can focus on that area. Often businesses will have competence in one area or another. They may be great on page SEO but lack keyword research skills. You may have all the content you need but lack authority. It is very easy to focus on your strengths – this approach forces you to confront your weaknesses.


So my tip – identify your current situation and focus on your weaknesses.

16. Understand What Your Targeted Audience Might Be Looking For

A lesson I learned from one of the highest level corporate law judges in Delaware was to “be responsive” – Make it as easy as possible for people to answer you and to say yes to something that you are asking. This lesson translates well into SEO also. 

What words they might use when they search for it, how they might construct their query and what words they will expect to see on your pages. Also what questions they might have about the goods or services offered on that website; and the answers to those questions, so that you can provide answers, and begin the journey towards having them become customers of your site.


Being responsive means building a website for your audience that makes it easy for them to learn about what you are offering, and easy for them to purchase from you. Being successful at SEO means building websites for your client’s audience.

17. Test Longer Strategies over Tactics and Measure Each Step of the Way

If I were pressed to give just one SEO tip, it’s to not expect a quick return today (generally speaking).  



Try testing longer strategies over tactics, and measure each step of the way.


Google has made huge changes that altered the way SEOs do their work.  Many of the historic, quick-hitting tactics we wrote into our playbooks have either been devalued by Google or have little weight today.  SEO isn’t for the weak-hearted – expect that it could take a while to move into a position that starts to hit your goals.  It takes diligence, trial and error, and patience.  


Google wants to rank the sites that earn their users’ satisfaction. Google isn’t as easily influenced, thanks to new search models and AI that are designed to truly understand the value of a page the way a user would.

18. Make Sure Your Site Is Mobile Friendly

Google is testing a new algorithm called Mobile First and as long as tests go well, expect this to be rolled out. The reason it is so important is that it will change how Google ranks websites.

At the moment, Google uses your desktop site to rank you on desktop searches – Mobile First turns this on its head because it will base your desktop rankings on your mobile site.


So if your mobile site is very poor, or even if you don’t have one, expect mobile first to cause you problems.

19. Create Your Own Websites and Experiment Things Risk-Free

When I started out in the industry I was obsessed with consuming every SEO article that was published, but ultimately things really took off when I started launching websites. None of them are particularly successful, but they allowed me to try things risk-free without jeopardizing a client’s campaign. I was able to freely dive into onsite SEO, and I also dabbled in the ‘dark arts’ of link building which of course led to one of my sites being penalized..all fun and games!


In order to truly understand how a website works I think it’s important to have some hands on experience, and getting that is easier than you might think. WordPress websites are simple to set up, and building up a bit of traffic can also allow you to experiment with advertising, log file analysis and more!

20. Focus on Content Quality

 It seems that the Google algo is getting better and better at pulling out content and really starting to understand how that content answers a query.


Traditionally we used to talk about “content” and used to hammer in content in areas where really there was no structure, for example on product category landing pages in eCommerce websites. That used to be good enough to dominate the short, mid and long tail of queries as long as you had a decent volume of links.


My experiments have shown that although you may be able to dominate these queries by link volume alone, you can actually rank better with fewer links if your content quality is decent. And quality means ease of reading, supplying specific answers, breaking it down into digestible pieces, and even semantically layering it. Some of my small affiliate sites are dominating spaces where traditionally massive e-commerce sites used to occupy.

21. Find a Way to Create Attention


22. Hone Your Technical SEO Skills as Much as Possible

While SEO is a relatively broad discipline, the technical aspects of it are relatively opaque to many, and there is no shortcut for. On top of that, it is a skill that will likely always be in demand.




On the long run, search engine optimization will always work, it is just metamorphosed into different forms and approaches. The SEO experts involved  in this article said that every business owner should focus on the customer, valuable (not just quality or unique ) content, testing, in-depth analysis, link earning, mobile responsiveness, creative technical SEO while keeping an eye on the ranking signals and the quality backlinks. There are a lot of Youtube videos or “ultimate guides” to improve your SEO.  The truth is that some grass-root pieces of advice directly from the professionals in the field are always the SEO tactics you can learn from. 


The best place to hide a dead body is page 2 of Google search results. Because nobody might go to the second page in SERP when they look for something. That’s why, from time to time,  you need take into account these kind of actionable SEO tips (directly from SEO experts) and rank higher in Google. Lots of people want to receive organic traffic, write relevant fresh content, have fast loading speed, earn quality links, have authority sites and no Google penalties. Having an SEO strategy, get registered with Google Search Console, Google Analytics, Google Adwords, and other digital marketing tools might help you outrank your competitors and become number one. But it depends on you to do the things right; if you follow these SEO techniques backed up by experts you might have bigger chances of success. 


Make sure you pay attention to these more advanced SEO tactics but don’t forget about the basic SEO tips for your website, such as an internal link strategy, increasing social shares for brand awareness, building relevant links for your website optimizing anchor text, crawling your site to fix broken links, get keyword ideas, create valuable and relevant content on your site, easy to read blogs with popular content, onpage SEO optimization for long tail keywords, image alt text, compelling meta descriptions and unique titles and descriptions. Also bear in mind to integrate social media into the whole SEO strategy, because it is an important piece of the pie. This blog post is a collection of actionable SEO tips for beginners but also for professionals and we hope you will take full advantage of them. 



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On – 26 Apr, 2017 By Andreea Sauciuc


Saturday, May 6, 2017

34+ Link-Building Tips, Tools, and Examples for SEO and Website Traffic


If you care about content marketing and SEO, you can’t ignore link building.

Google executives acknowledge that backlinks are among top three ranking factors along with content and RankBrain (Google’s artificial intelligence technology that handles search queries).

Backlinks are among top 3 ranking factors along with content and RankBrain, says @mikeonlinecoach. #SEO Click To Tweet

When you get more links, your search engine rankings can improve and website traffic will increase to help you with branding, leads, and sales.

However, it also involves considerable time, patience, and potential disappointments. Like any marketing, it’s trial and error.

For instance, let’s say you create an infographic or video, and ask people to link to it. Even if the content is exceptional, you may be rejected or ignored.

To help, use some of these 34-plus link building tips, tools, and examples to help your business reach the right audiences:

1.Know your talent

Decide early on who is going to do the work. Do you have the expertise? Who can support you internally? Do you need to hire an outside resource? A blend may be best.

2. Prioritize effectively

Link-building strategies often involve concurrent tactics and tasks. Weigh your options and my suggestions. Determine what’s worth your time. Every tactic may not be for you.

3. Track your keyword rankings

Create a baseline of some strategic keywords so you can chart how they improve in light of your link-building efforts. Be sure to add to the list based on new content you promote. You can’t begin to track everything so monitor the most relevant keyword phrases.

4. Use link-building tools

The following link-building tools help you find, sort, and manage potential link sources, including influencer and competitor research. For each link, learn about authority and trust scores that are influenced by the type, quality, and number of backlinks. You may even discover that you’re failing to link well among the websites that your company owns. Here are some tools to consider:

  • Ahrefs – here is an example of a report (other tools also offer many data options and types of reports)


5. Research competitors

I call them “me-too” links. You can find directories, blogs, newsletters, media, and other websites that may be open to linking to your website. Clearly, many will be based on relationships those media have cultivated. But you can usually find some gems and reach out to the same publishers.

6. Clean up your inbound links

One of the worst things about online marketing is that you can be penalized even when you’re not at fault. Unfortunately, some disreputable, spammy, irrelevant, waste-of-digital-space websites may link to you even if you don’t want the link.

You get the “honor” of tapping into your limited time to deal with them. And you can use disavow tools with Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster tools – and hope for the best. Basically, you let search engines know which websites you despise. Along the way, you’re expected to beg the websites to stop linking to you (if they will listen). You simply trust that Google will agree that they’re awful links and you didn’t request them.

You can also minimize or avoid the Google Penguin penalty for spammy backlinks by avoiding as many as possible in the first place. Use the tools to size up link prospects, including authority scores.

Minimize Google penalty for spammy backlinks by avoiding them in the first place, says @mikeonelinecoach. Click To Tweet

7. Buy websites and domains (but be careful)

If you find the right website (with content) or domain name that used to be tied to content, you can inherit backlinks. But you’ll need to size up those backlinks before pointing the websites and/or domain names to yours. Assess the actual links to ensure that they seem to be legitimate (look at the authority scores, number of links, etc.)

8. Create a study

Survey managers and top executives for their opinions on best practices, trends, and industry forecasts. Create a landing page with an executive summary. You’ll feel some pressure to add a response form so you can get key data from prospects. Resist it. Why not just make the results available? Leverage the free resource for awareness and link building.

Go with that executive summary. Beginning with the initial landing page, divide the study into multiple pages on your website so you can get some added SEO value. Reference the full PDF on every page. Block search engines from indexing the PDF so they can focus on crawling each of the pages.

Although it doesn’t cover multiple pages, I like how Spiceworks presents its study, STATE OF IT: The annual report on IT budgets and tech trends. It’s well designed and full of data worth sharing.

State-of-it-annual report

9. Publish examples of great content

If you take the time to make useful collections, they can attract links. Here are a couple that caught my attention:

10. Roll out how-to guides

Educational guides won’t always attract many links. It depends on the topic and the quality of your content. If you develop How to Choose a Metallurgy Company, it may not prompt marketers to drop everything and dish out link love. But there is hope – if you ask (more on that later).

Educational guides won’t always attract many links, says @mikeonlinecoach. #SEO Click To Tweet

I like how Gorilla 76 offers The Hardworking Inbound Marketing Guide for B2B Industrial Companies. The agency wraps it with a separate, free resource: Industrial Marketing: The Definitive Guide.

Content Marketing Institute routinely offers free guides like the Content Marketing Survival Guide: How to Navigate the Wilds of Social Media. You don’t need to share your name or email.


11. Go natural

Your best bet is to go the natural route, allowing countless websites to link to yours because of your great content. Although they won’t always be high-profile places, search engines will value the diverse sources and the diverse ways they link (anchor text will vary).

Other websites frequently reference CMI content, such as The Next Web’s 5 Ways to Skyrocket Your Content Marketing in 2017 (it links to CMI’s Skyscraper Content the Right Way: How to Truly Help Your Readers).


TODAY gave Briggs & Stratton a link for supporting a good cause: Raising Men Lawncare Service.


12. Support charities

It’s an easy way to build links. You might question the value of the links if they’re not relevant to your industry. But search engines look at the number and quality of links, not only relevancy.

Burlington is a major sponsor of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.


13. Distribute news releases

Years ago, search engines frowned when companies loaded news release text with backlinks. But you shouldn’t avoid using news releases to get the word out about your latest research or products. A news release service may include the “no follow” tag, which basically means your website won’t benefit from the website’s authority. You’ll still get traffic. And who knows? Others may see the news release and link directly to your website.

14. Write testimonials

If you need a product or service for your business, offer some praise for their websites (if you notice they offer backlinks to customers).

15. Nurture relationships with influencers

It’s a long-term tactic, but it can pay off. If you support the influential people in your industry, they will likely link to your content. Start by promoting their content and commenting on it.

16. Leverage social media

It may seem obvious, but some companies fall short with their efforts because they didn’t try hard enough. On Twitter, you can promote good content – or portions of it – several times. It’s not overkill either, not when you’ve made the effort to share other publishers’ content and engage with followers (far more often than you call attention to content you create). Tweet about portions of your latest survey.

17. Create useful things

Develop online tools, industry-specific calculators, and other resources. They can range from Gardener’s Supply Company Soil Calculator to Plotly, which marketers use for charts and presentations.


18. Consider guest blogging

It still works if you write something original for an online publication. You can get a link to your website in the article and your bio. Check out The Ultimate Guide to Guest Blogging from Kissmetrics for tips, including ways to find blogs that want guest contributors.

19. Leverage corporate leadership

Identify leaders in your company who have name recognition. Get all sorts of links when they’re listed as conference speakers or featured as regular contributors to online magazines and blogs. Make a list of their key contacts and connections.

20. Research websites with edu domain extensions

Over the years, marketers have suggested that edu-extension links have extra value. Maybe it’s because of the eligibility requirements (a .edu domain name isn’t available to everyone). Even if search engines don’t view them differently, they’re often still worth targeting because of their age and authority. Look for individual faculty, school, or program pages that link to companies and resources. Get more insights from How to Find and Build Powerful EDU Backlinks.

Seek links from .edu domains because of their age and authority, says @mikeonlinecoach. #SEO Click To Tweet

21. Join business groups

Whether it’s a local chamber or a national association, you can get links to your business.

22. Be active in local communities

From churches to civic organizations, you have ample opportunities to support people and places that may link to your website.

23. Promote links through email

Yes, you want people to open the email and click the links. But if they like the content, they may highlight it on their websites as well.

24. Look for general industry and niche directories

Evaluate them by looking at their authority score and see whether they feature competitors. Pay attention to the number of listings. For example, manufacturers may want to consider the IQS Directory from Industrial Quick Search.


The popular DMOZ directory recently closed, but you can use a static version to research potential backlinks. Get some great tips from How to Find Niche Directories to Boost Your SEO.

25. Include ego bait

You can mention one or more experts in your content and promote it socially. Will they link to your content just because you cited insights? Maybe. But if you don’t have a relationship, they may not link back even if they come across it or if you contact them directly.

26. Develop expert roundups

Your relationship odds could be enhanced if you ask experts to contribute to an article – like when they each provide some tools and best practices.

27. Publish a Q&A

You might arrange an interview with an industry expert and include his or her perspectives on a key topic. Maybe the expert will link back because you reached out, respected the ideas, and took the time to develop a piece.

28. Claim broken links

Hunt down broken links on websites and reach out to website owners and managers. Point out a link to a page that’s missing or a website that shut down. Offer your content as a substitute. Broken Link Building: How to Build Quality Backlinks by Fixing the Web and Broken Link Building Made Easy both offer numerous tips about this tactic.

29. Get more inbound links from existing sources

Who is linking to you that could be linking in more than one place? It never hurts to have multiple links from one source. You just don’t want to “game” search engines by getting a ton of links from one website in most situations. In other words, don’t seek a backlink from their footers.

Don’t “game” search engines by getting a ton of links from one website, says @mikeonelinecoach. #SEO Click To Tweet

30. Find product and brand mentions

Search for your products and brand, and inventory some websites that may be willing to link to your website. Many won’t as a matter of policy, but some will if you ask.

31. Be careful with self-created links

I’m not saying these types of links (also referred to as non-editorial links) are useless. Their value may be limited and they could be viewed as spammy (e.g., blog comments and forum profiles). You should be cautious and avoid going overboard.

32. Assess blog networks

If you create blog networks, you can control the content and build their authority over time. Other options may provide results sooner. If you tap into an existing blog network, you could be vulnerable if the network falls out of favor with search engines.

33. Use Help a Reporter Out (HARO)

With HARO, journalists share what stories they’re working on. Industry experts agree to be sources. It’s one way to earn backlinks when stories are published. Some participating media have more credibility than others.

34. Anchor text

When you request links or place links on directories, you should vary the anchor text. Don’t always use the same keywords. Link to a company, product name, or a variation of a keyword phrase you’ve used.


At the end of the day, good content will attract links. But the degree of your visibility will depend on your link-building efforts. What’s your experience? What approaches work best for your business?

Please note: All tools included in our blog posts are suggested by authors, not the CMI editorial team. No one post can provide all relevant tools in the space. Feel free to include additional tools in the comments (from your company or ones that you have used).

If you follow no other tip to improving your SEO, do this: Create great content. Want help in making it great? Subscribe to the daily CMI newsletter.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

On – 03 May, 2017 By Mike Murray


How to Beat Google’s Mobile Page Speed Benchmarks – Search Engine Journal

How to Beat Google’s Mobile Page Speed Benchmarks
  • 5.5K

Google recently unveiled mobile page speed industry benchmarks and analyzed customer behavior to figure out how the two lined up.

Unfortunately, they didn’t.


  1. Most mobile websites are slooooooooooow.
  2. Consumers won’t wait longer than a few seconds.

That’s a problem. It means the vast majority of mobile websites are losing money, practically forcing customers to bounce and go somewhere else.

Here’s why that’s happening and what you should do about it.

Infographic: Google's new mobile page speed benchmarks and how they impact your business

Slow Page Load Speed Sabotages Your Revenue

The probability of someone bouncing from your site increases by 113 percent if it takes seven seconds to load, according to Google’s mobile page speed industry benchmarks, which were released in February.

Page load times and the probability of bounce

The problem?

The average time it takes to fully load a mobile landing page is 22 seconds, according to the same report.

That’s not good. In fact, it’s awful because that trickle down effect hits your bottom line, too. Slower sites cause more bounces which then lowers conversions:

“Similarly, as the number of elements—text, titles, images—on a page goes from 400 to 6,000, the probability of conversion drops 95 percent.”

This is nothing new. Slow page speeds have long been public enemy number one for years. Over a decade ago, then-Googler Marissa Mayer confirmed that Google themselves saw a 20 percent drop in traffic with just a 0.5-second delay.

Mobile-first indexation is coming, and speed is the mobile SEO Achilles Heel. E-commerce brands lose half of their traffic if pages take three seconds or longer, which has motivated some to get up-and-running in less than a second.

The primary reason for slow loads? In a word: bloat.

Too much. The way you feel after a Thanksgiving feast.

Google’s latest industry benchmark report analyzed more than 900,000 mobile ads from 126 countries (so sample size apparently ain’t a problem). Seventy percent of pages were over 1MB and “1.49MB takes 7 seconds to load using a fast 3G connection” (which brings things back to seven seconds and the 113 percent increase in likelihood to bounce).

The solution isn’t easy. You’re not gonna like it.

In fact, you might be tempted by a shortcut. It might seem easier initially to use a mobile-friendly alternative like AMP or Facebook Instant Articles.

But that would be a mistake.

Here’s why.

The Problem With AMP & Instant Articles

The Accelerated Mobile Pages Project (AMP) is a self-described “open-source initiative” with the lofty ideal to make the web faster.

Companies who use their technology can see mobile pages load “nearly instantaneously.” It does that by minimizing the amount of resources required through optimizing and compressing notoriously ginormous files like your images.

The ideals are lofty and ambitious. And the results are admittedly good.

Wired Magazine is just one of many huge publishers to reveal glowing highlights, with a 25 percent increase in click-through rates from search results. Gizmodo’s AMP traffic is 80 percent new visitors (presumably coming via search).

Why does AMP perform so well? You don’t need Benedict Cumberbatch for that one. It’s a Google-backed project. So AMP pages tend to get, how should we say, prime mobile SERP placement.

That’s a good thing. But there are a few drawbacks.

AMP is technically more difficult to implement, for starters. Jan Dawson argues that it’s effectively making it harder to publish on the web, writing:

“Technically, these formats use standards-based elements — for example, AMP is a combination of custom HTML, custom JavaScript and caching. But the point here is the outputs from traditional online publishing platforms aren’t compatible with any of these three formats. And in order to publish to these formats directly, you need to know a lot more code than I ever did back in the mid-1990s before the first round of WYSIWYG tools for the web emerged.”

Fortunately, things are slightly easier for WordPress sites. Here’s a three-step guide to setting up AMP on a WordPress site.

There are other problems, though. Losing your branding on AMP pages is one thing. Not good but not a deal killer necessarily. Losing your mobile traffic to Google is quite another, and it’s also the crux of the issue.

AMP content isn’t technically yours anymore. This can impact things like ad revenue, where results are mixed, as seen in the following tweets from Marie Haynes that caught my eye a few months back:

Marie Haynes tweets on AMP greatly reducing ad revenue

Facebook’s Instant Articles work largely the same way as AMP. Similar pros and cons, too.

Pages load on super speed on the plus side, reportedly up to 10x quicker. Early results from Facebook Partners also showed a 70 percent decrease in Instant Article abandonment (with a 20 percent CTR to boot).

Facebook Instant Articles

But the same proprietary infrastructure problems have caused many media conglomerates to hit the Pause button. According to analysis from NewsWhip and Digiday, several notable companies have pulled back on Facebook Instant Articles in the last year or so:

  • Boston Globe went from an incredible 100 percent to 0 percent
  • Business Insider posted 10 percent and now barely posts 2 percent
  • The New York Times has dropped to 10 percent
  • The Atlantic went from posting 85 percent to now only around 10 percent
  • Other early adopters like the BBC News, National Geographic, and The Wall Street Journal are now “barely using the platform”

Now, this isn’t a Chicken Little, “sky is falling” kinda thing. But it is a cause for concern.

Mobile-friendly platforms offer a tremendous shortcut in boosting mobile page speed. However, there are very serious drawbacks, too, like band-aids on broken arms.

A more prudent approach is to roll up your sleeves, take the long view, and fix your site from the ground-up.

Here’s how to do it.

How to Diagnose Slow Mobile Page Speed

Test My Site is the new version of Google’s old PageSpeed tool (complete with the latest and greatest, 2017 OC Housewives-style facelift).

So start there.

Point and click. This page should pop up next.

Google's Test My Site tool

Just plug in your URL and hit Test Now.

First, you’ll see the Mobile Friendliness score. Then in the middle is the mobile speed score in question.

Mobile speed score from Google's Test My Site tool

Ruh roh.

Let’s scroll down a bit to find out more details on that near-failing grade.

Mobile speed score details from Google's Test My Speed tool

Click on that little box to bring up a detailed assessment of where your site is doing well, along with those areas that aren’t doing so well.

Detailed mobile speed assessment from Google's Test My Site tool

Google mercifully goes into the details of which individual elements are causing you the biggest problems.

Here’s another view of this mobile page speed assessment on a mobile device. Because… why not? Everyone loves a good meta joke.

Mobile page speed assessment on a mobile device

OK. So the result ain’t pretty. That’s fine. Because now we know what to fix.

The next step is to dive into some of these new mobile page speed industry benchmarks and figure out how to increase them.

Buckle up. It’s about to get geeky.

How to Beat 3 Google Mobile Page Speed Benchmarks

1. Reduce Your Average Request Count

Google’s Best Practice: Fewer Than 50

Average request count

Requests are literal. Someone tries to visit your website and their browser requests information from your server. The data is compiled and sent back.

The more requests, the longer it takes. Reduce the number of requests that need to be sent back-and-forth and you can greatly reduce average page loading times across the board.

First, reduce the number of files that need to be sent. Yoast cites JavaScript, CSS, and images as your three primary problems.

Minifying JavaScript and CSS kills two birds with one stone. It reduces the number of files that need to be sent back-and-forth. It reduces the overall file size, too.

  • The GIDNetwork will help you run a compression audit.
  • Gzip will turn website files into zip files for easier transfers.
  • WP Super Minify is a WordPress plugin that will do a lot of heavy lifting for you.
  • Otherwise, Yahoo’s YUI Compressor can help tackle both CSS and JavaScript compression.

Contemporary web design is 90 percent image-driven. I just made up that stat. But you get the point. Today’s websites look like hollow shells if you remove the beautiful, retina-ready images that stretch across your screen.

The problem is that images (if not handled properly) will kill loading times. Once again, Yoast recommends using CSS sprites to combine multiple images into one. SpriteMe, for example, will take background images and combine them to decrease the total number of individual images.

Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) can also help you recoup bandwidth and cut down on website requests. They host large image files for you and distribute them across their own global network of servers. MaxCDN and CloudFlare are among the most popular.

Last but certainly not least, reduce redirects you use if possible. Redirects create additional requests. So proceed with caution.

2. Decrease Average Page Weight

Google’s Best Practice: Less Than 500KB

Average page weight in bytes

Seventy-eight percent of shoppers want more product images, according to the Omni Channel Retail report from BigCommerce.

The problem, as we just discussed, is that images can cripple page loads. They create more requests for servers. But they put your average page weight on a bulking plan that would make those meathead bodybuilders at your gym rage with envy.

Page size should be less than 500KB according to Google. And yet a single, unoptimized, high-res image already clocks in at around 1 or 2 MB.

You could start by simply cropping the sizes of your images so each is the exact width and height for the space it’s being used. Except, of course, nobody ever does that. Manually. Every single time they upload an image.

So instead, let’s start by compressing the image file itself with something like WP A non-WordPress tool like can also reduce an image by up to 73 percent.

Compressing images with

Let’s run a quick scenario:

  1. Average e-commerce website conversions hover around 1-3 percent.
  2. That number can rise as high as 5 percent. (One example, Natomounts, sees 5 percent conversion rates with ~85 percent from mobile!)
  3. We just discovered that shoppers want more product images.
  4. And yet, according to Radware, 45 percent of the top 100 e-commerce sites don’t compress images!

3. Decrease Average Time to First Byte

Google’s Best Practice: Under 1.3 seconds

Average time to first byte

Time to first byte (TTFB) is a measurement that shows how long a browser has to wait before receiving its first byte of data from the server.

It’s essentially a three-step process:

  1. A visitor sends an HTTP request to your server.
  2. Your server has to figure out how to respond. This includes gathering the data required and organizing it to be sent back.
  3. Assuming all goes well, the request is sent back to the visitor.

TTFB is the time it takes for that complete cycle to finish.

We’ve already covered a few potential roadblocks during this journey. Too many requests, too many redirects, too many junky WordPress plugins, etc. all take its toll. A website visitor’s own network connection and speed also make an impact.

The aforementioned CDNs also help by reducing your server’s workload. They take over the burden of delivering large files so your own server can focus on delivering the rest of your site’s files and content. The best CDNs even go the extra mile. For example, reducing the physical location between the person requesting a file and the server sending it can have a huge impact.

Caching reduces TTFB by helping web browsers store your website data. Best of all, it only takes a simple plugin (like W3 Total Cache) or using a premium web host that will set up caching for you at the server-level (so no additional tools or plugins are needed).

A web host is like your server’s foundation. You can optimize images all you’d like. Use the best CDN on the market. But if you’re using slow shared hosting that splits resources, your site is going to be slow no matter how many tricks or tips or hacks you use.

Last but not least, a little sleight of hand.

Technically, removing JavaScript files from the head section and relocating them lower on an HTML document won’t reduce the overall number of requests or reduce file sizes. But it will help the important stuff — like the words on each page — to load a little quicker.

JavaScript is selfish. It wants to load all of its code before allowing anything else on the page to have a turn. Pushing it further down forces it to wait its turn until after a few images and basic content can pop up first.

Lazy loading is another common technique that won’t load (or display) an image until it’s within view. That way, page content can be loaded first. That’s helpful on long pages with tons of images (like this blog post). WPMU has a list of six lazy-loading WordPress plugins to try out.


Google has helpfully provided a few mobile page speed benchmarks to shoot for based on their in-depth analysis of what customers want. Unfortunately, the vast majority of websites are nowhere close to them.

Slow mobile page speed has been shown to cause users to bounce, which affects where you show up in search results, and ultimately what your website is able to generate in revenue.

Start by reducing the number of requests that happen each time someone visits your site. Then reduce file sizes along with average time to first byte.

It’ll take some heavy lifting. Definitely some dev help. But it’s your only shot at rescuing sub-par performance that’s sabotaging your bottom line.

Image Credits

Featured Image: Templune/

In-Post Photo:

In-Post Photo:

Screenshots by Brad Smith. April 2017.

On – 24 Apr, 2017 By Brad Smith


Friday, May 5, 2017

The Epic Rise of SEO: How, Why & Where to Invest – Search Engine Journal

The Epic Rise of SEO: How, Why & Where to Invest
  • 3.7K

Search engine optimization (SEO) has become a force to be reckoned with through mind, matter, and money. Here are my tools to conquer it.

SEO Is the Core of Brand Development, Awareness & Engagement

The clear majority of web traffic is facilitated by the heavy hitters of search engines: your Googles, Bings, and Yahoos. Thus, to not create your content with that in mind is to immediately omit your website from highly valuable traffic.

After all, 93 percent of online experiences begin with a search engine. Yes, 93 percent!

Take the term “keyword,” and understand its dual meaning. Sure, it is a term that is frequently searched, but also think of it as a key component to your brand development — how it engages your audience and how this term represents your brand.

SEO used to be solely tech-oriented, primarily driven by IT people. Now, it supports really all digital marketing and will continue to for the foreseeable future. Therefore, it should be regarded as a core component of any digital marketing program.

SEO Creates & Expands Your Market Position

Because of the immense and still-growing popularity of search engines, proper use not only engages your audience but will leave your company ascending the market rankings due to the exponential growth in visibility.

The same applies for a thought leader: a company or individual that shows initiative, and subsequently differentiation, in a specific field.

To drive SEO interest around your personal brand, you will need to start making a list of keyword phrases that support your competitive position, strengths, skills, and location. Your keywords, when defined and analyzed for search importance and competitiveness, can be used to boost your LinkedIn profile awareness and potential Google search results.

SEO in the U.S. vs. Global Outsourcing

It’s no secret the rationale behind most foreign outsourcing — cost. The budgetary and futuristic circumstances will differ brand to brand, but undoubtedly there are obstacles in global micromanagement.

One is simply the differences in actual language, and as such, rewriting is a must, no matter the country! There are abundant differences between American English and that of Britain, for example.

Also, be sure to implement local content. Making your content more relevant to your specific target audience increases local link building opportunities.

The Reality of Top Notch SEO

Like the old saying goes, you get out you what put in. You need to take the time and develop a sound strategy based upon that which is unique about your brand and content (an SEO audit is a great first step).

You’d do well to collaborate with a proven SEO consultant to expand your customer base. Have someone, if not a team, constantly monitoring the content and traffic (you can stay in-house with this so long as the vetting is adequate). Good SEO maintenance should never really stop, as search engines are constantly changing and modifying their algorithms.

The SEO Timeline & Forecast

SEO is more complex than ever. As noted here, many of the SEO tactics that were effective in 2004 can easily hurt your SEO today. And, sadly, plenty of companies are using outdated SEO tactics.

At least 50 percent of my current clients came to me after they were penalized by Google. Why? Because they were working with SEO practitioners who are still relying on the risky tactics of yesterday.

Just like a premium company attempts to prognosticate social, political, or financial change, SEO also must be treated and monitored from a forward-thinking perspective. You’d do right by your brand to have your SEO team keep their fingers on the pulse of that which is currently relevant, and that which will be.

SEO Costs & Resources

Revisiting the mantra of getting out what you put in, quality SEO ain’t cheap. Viable expenses include consultation, technical development, user experience professionals, outreach, and management (real online PR).

SMBs should be fully prepared to spend $2,000 to $5,000 monthly, while enterprise-level companies should view $5,000 as an absolute minimum. Digital Current has a fantastic breakdown of the hierarchy of SEO costs and services.

The Necessity of Paid Search

In my SEO experience, I encourage our clients that have either newer sites, penalized sites, or sites that are underperforming to leverage paid search marketing (which we manage). Paid search, or PPC, is typically the most effective in any campaign-driven program or product/model-based campaign.

Envision something specific (Apple MacBook Air, 17-inch white) or specific marketing efforts around a service which ties into a specific landing page that has been designed for conversion or action (one example I’d have in my PPC program would be a thought leadership development training for senior level executives).

Seasoned SEO veterans can utilize the deep data metrics provided in PPC reports to best understand user behavior and competitive market share as well as keyword activity so they can best shape your SEO strategies and programs. They learn from PPC and vice versa, in that if they are working with you, with your active SEO program you want the pros to design and for which to run paid media campaigns, they learn from your SEO reports and progress.

The Marriage of SEO Strategy & Social Media Marketing

There is a synergy between SEO and social media campaigning, and it’s growing by the day, which can result in a goldmine of generated leads. The nature of social media and social media marketing is viral, as content is engaged with and shared. So, by its nature, lead generation develops when a brand understands how to deliver ongoing, frequent content of interest to its influencers and potential buyers.

There is also an ongoing evolution, wherein people are simply using their social media channels to find whatever it is they are in search of, as opposed to Google. Using Twitter as an example of this, this article delves into how social media is becoming its own SEO.

Essential Takeaways

The value of SEO is no longer unclear or up for debate. With e-commerce showing absolutely no signs of slowing down, SEO is as important as it is complex, which is why proper resources and attention must be allocated toward it.

Know the power of SEO, know your personal strengths and weaknesses with it, know its costs, and then you may know it as your friend.

Image Credits

Featured Image: singkham/DepositPhotos

On – 25 Apr, 2017 By Jasmine Sandler


9 Local SEO Experts Share One Secret to their Success – Search Engine Journal

9 Local SEO Experts Share One Secret to their Success
  • 4.5K

Local SEO is more important than ever. That’s why you’re always looking for the best techniques to dominate in the local search rankings and maximize your online visibility.

To provide insight into what’s working for local SEOs today, I reached out to my network of search industry experts and asked them a simple question: What is your number one secret for local SEO success? Here are their responses.

1. Build a Strong Citation Profile

Perhaps unsurprisingly, having a strong citation profile still comes up as one of the most talked about points on a local SEO’s checklist, as highlighted by Mark Scully of Learn Inbound:

“One of the most important aspects of Local SEO continues to be citations. You haven’t a hope of outperforming your local competition if you’re not investing a large proportion of your time into getting yourself listed on quality industry and city specific citation sources.

“So, how do you do it? Simple! Take time to search for the common keywords used for your industry and your location, identify the organic results returned for business listing sites, and then reach out to them to get your business listed.

Google Citation Search

“As with any outreach, it’s about the value-add for the site you’re speaking to, so you should flag what makes your business a standout resource for their audience.

“Attracting citations will be easier if you have a brand that people can warm to. As SEOs, we’re often guilty of just looking at metrics but forget about the most basic areas of branding. Be sure to spend time focusing on the copy contained on the core pages of your site. Make your business sound irresistible by highlighting the value-add of your services, your core values, and what separates you from everyone else as in the long-term, it will be much easier to attract citations.”

2. Keep Your Citations up to Date

As an extension to Mark’s advice, Craig Campbell recommends keeping citations up to date:

“It is also important to keep all the data on your listings consistent, using the same structure and information, and avoiding abbreviations as this will just lead to confusion with Google.

“Further to this, take the time to work on a strategy to earn links from other relevant local websites to build up local relevancy, something which will go a long way to helping you achieve some good local rankings while building up your citation and trust flow, two metrics which we all know Google gives a strong weighting to.”

3. Put a Plan in Place to Encourage Reviews

On a different note, Sam Charles of Float Digital highlights the importance of encouraging and responding to reviews:

“Reviews are a huge part of the internet now, and undoubtedly pivotal for businesses. Ninety-two percent of people regularly or occasionally read online reviews (BrightLocal, 2015), and 90 percent of people say online reviews influence their purchase decisions (Dimensional Research, 2013). If increasing conversions wasn’t enough, reviews work wonders for your local visibility, too.

“To increase your visibility in search engines locally, encourage users to leave reviews, and dedicate time to engaging with them. Remember to thank users for their feedback and motivate them to use your brand again in the future.

“Always be proactive in responding to user reviews, even if you’ve received damaging reviews. Addressing complaints is important for your brand image, and publicly demonstrates that you’ll go above and beyond to achieve customer satisfaction, too.

“Email your customers, set up review landing pages and put up signs in your store, but whatever you do, don’t be tempted to post false reviews. Posting false reviews isn’t only dishonest but it’s against Google’s quality guidelines, and doing so can have a negative impact on your local search visibility when you’re caught. It isn’t worth the risk, and you’ll almost definitely get found out.”

4. Make It Easy for Customers to Give Reviews

As an extension to Sam’s great advice, Marc Swann, Search Director at Glass Digital, advises local SEOs to:

“Make the process of securing reviews as simple as possible for your customers. Create a URL under your domain that redirects straight to the review form, and include the link in a short and friendly email request.

“You should also put resource into securing offsite reviews. As well as generating valuable citations or links, there’s potential for exposure to enhance your Google My Business listing via ‘Critic reviews’ or ‘On these lists’ sections. These can appear in your local SERP listing, giving you the competitive edge and generating click-throughs that boost your ranking.”

It’s all too easy, when running a local SEO campaign, to forget that back in 2014, Google claimed Pigeon created closer ties between the local algorithm and core algorithm(s). As such, many of the tactics used by SEOs shouldn’t be ignored, with those understanding this bigger picture being able to use it as a competitive advantage, earning links from top-tier publications, creating authority content, and leaving competitors falling behind on the SERPs.

5. Produce Epic Content

On the topic of authority content for local SEO, Freddie Chatt of EcomHacker offers his number one secret for success as:

“Don’t neglect the need to produce epic content to improve your local SEO. Even a single great piece of content can make a vast difference to your local rankings with the correct internal linking through to your main pages.

“Creating better (this could mean more in-depth, better designed or additional insights, as just a few examples) content, albeit less of it, will undoubtedly have a much better long term gain than a higher volume of poor quality pieces of content on a regular basis.”

6. Identify Easy Link Opportunities

Understanding the importance and the correct approach to link building in a local SEO campaign is something which was brilliantly highlighted by Greg Gifford in his recent BrightonSEO session. He made a number of top tips and suggestions on the topic of finding link opportunities, as well as why Possum made it essential to focus on ways to earn both industry-relevant links and local links.

According to Greg, local SEOs should always start their local link building campaigns by identifying easy link opportunities through existing relationships, local sponsorships, local volunteer opportunities, local offline groups and, of course, by taking the time to analyze the link profile of similar businesses located in other cities.

A site needs unique local links to win in the SERPs but must also have a strong foundation of those easy-to-acquire local links. Another commonly overlooked success factor: make sure not to point all links to your homepage.

7. Understand Your Audience

Simon Penson, founder of Zazzle Media, encourages local search marketers to understand their audiences and their journey:

“Local search plays an increasingly important role in the age of mobile. While a lot of SEOs focus their advice upon the claiming of ‘local pack’ real estate, my approach is to focus minds on the growing long-tail opportunity.

“My first tip for any marketer doing anything would be to get a clear and precise understanding of their audience and the ‘journey’ to products or services. The job of a marketer is to help them through that, as a subject expert, as much as possible.

“How does that translate into a local search strategy? Think about what informational content would help audiences become smarter consumers and ensure that is a core part of a content strategy. For instance, think about all the pain points and ‘I want to know’ moments an audience has and make sure all of these questions are answered for them, at a local level.”

8. Conduct a Gap Analysis

In many cases, local SEOs fail to understand the advanced approaches which can help take their own and their clients’ campaigns to the next level. This is something which Łukasz Żelezny, Head of Organic Acquisition at uSwitch, acknowledges in his tips:

“Aside from the classic and obviously important tactics we all know and implement in our day-by-day SEO approach, there are various things from a non-local SEO perspective that can be applied to local campaigns. My number one tactic which I’ve been using for years is gap analysis – you are looking for the gaps between you and your existing competitors.

“How it works? You simply need an account with SEMRush, Searchmetrics, SpyFu or Sistrix (all of them, ideally, but you can work with just one if software budget constraints exist).

  • Step 1: Export keyword lists that belongs to a selected LOCAL competitor.
  • Step 2: Duplicate the list if you used more than one software tool to create the export.
  • Step 3: Repeat the process to get export from another LOCAL competitor.
  • Step 4: Duplicate the list if you used more than one software tool to create the export.
  • Step 5: Export your own keywords.
  • Step 6: VLOOKUP to see where YOU ARE NOT ranking and your competitors simultaneously are.

“Now you know where your gaps are and you can start:

  • Optimizing existing content
  • Expanding content on existing URLs
  • Creating new content

“You can go deeper with the gap analysis, narrowing the list to (for example):

  • Only keywords ranking in top 10 positions
  • Keywords with specific ranges of search volume
  • A specific range of URLs

“Some of you may be familiar with the Domain vs. Domain tool from SEMrush. This is the perfect way to get started, especially if you don’t feel strong with Excel. After a while, however, you may find Excel way more efficient. Especially if you have access to more than one platform providing keyword data.”

9. Be Aware That Local Means Local

Rewind five or six years and, sadly, businesses could find ways to rank themselves on the local pack for areas outside their own geographical region. It wasn’t unusual to take on a client and find that they’d created listings in just about every city they could think of and find any old address in. This should never have worked. But it did.

This is something which SEO trainer, author, and speaker Mark Preston reminds marketers of:

“When it comes to local SEO, you need to be aware that local means local. If you want to get ranked in Manchester, you need to ensure your physical postal address is located in Manchester. Many people fail to see this and expect their site to rank within a 50 mile radius or even further afield without a physical presence in that area. It is never going to happen.”

On a slightly different note, albeit one which ties in perfectly with the above, Preston conducted a study back in 2016 which looks at the connection between local SEO and exact match domains, looking at rare anomalies to the usual case of difficulty ranking outside a core geographical area.


There’s no doubt that local SEO has its own tactics, which are essential to earn visibility on both the traditional SERPs and the local pack. Earning both local and industry relevant links are more important than ever before.

However, the lines are blurring with SEO as a whole. In fact, we’re starting to see some of the industry’s top minds offering advice which isn’t really too dissimilar to what would be applied across a site wanting to rank nationally or even internationally.

Image Credits

Featured Image: tashatuvango/DepositPhotos
In-post Photo: tashatuvango/DepositPhotos
Screenshot by Mark Scully. Taken April 2017.

On – 20 Apr, 2017 By James Brockbank