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Category Archive: Copywriting

  1. How to Hire and Manage Freelancers for Your Content Marketing Campaign

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    If you’ve decided to move into content marketing, one of the facts that you quickly learn is that it requires hard work – a lot of it. Doing the background research, developing your content calendar, writing or producing the content, optimizing it for publication, getting it published, disseminating it, engaging with your readers, and measuring your results is no small feat.

    Many businesses use freelancers to accelerate some or all parts of these processes. I’ve worked with freelancers throughout my career for various projects, and I’ve learned a few things along the way. Here are my top tips for ensuring you hire the right people for the job, building your relationships with your freelance team, and getting the most value out of these relationships

    Crafting the Job Advertisement

    For purposes of this article, I’ll use the example of hiring and working with a freelance writer. Everything outlined in the attached is applicable to any freelancer you’ll work with. The first place to get started is with defining the role and articulating those needs in your job description. If you need more ideas on the kinds of writing required for a content marketing strategy, I recommend reading “How To Build Your First Content Marketing Strategy.”

    There’s a wide variety of writers on the market. Skills range from beginner to advanced, as do price ranges and professionalism. The best way to vet your pool of candidates is to start by being very thoughtful in terms of how you structure your job ad.

    Start by sketching out a list of the deliverables that this person will handle: blog posts, guest posts, and articles, for example. How long do they need to be, and how frequently do you need them written? Different candidates will be drawn to one five hundred word post per week versus and two fifteen hundred word posts per day, for example. The more clear you are about your needs, the more candidates will self-select during the application process based on quality, pace, and topics required.

    Next, think about the kind of voice or function you want these pieces to have for your business. Are you looking for a journalistic voice that can help you educate readers about your space, or someone that can make the hard sell and move people toward a purchase right away? There’s no right answer, but it’s important that you consider the voice you’d like to use for your business. Versatile writers can often communicate in multiple voices, but specific candidates are also likely to have strengths.

    Finally, consider the work style that you’re most comfortable with. Do you need someone that’s very independent, who is comfortable developing and pitching topics? Are you looking for someone to deliver finished products that you can just publish? Or are you looking for a collaborative writer that can breathe life into your ideas, that is willing to conform to a strict style guide, and can run with your article titles or outlines? Once you’ve gotten clear on these points, you’re ready to draft the job description.

    Here are a few tips to take into account when writing the job description:

    1. Be very clear about your required experience: Can anyone smart and willing to research write these pieces, or does it require a certain level of area expertise or writing finesse?
    2. Use clear criteria to define the way that you’ll measure that experience: For example, if you’re hiring someone to write guest posts that you hope to publish on high-end tech blogs, one reasonable measure would be to ask for published examples from blogs such as Mashable, VentureBeat, or other well-known publications with strict quality guidelines for guest authors. If your goal is to write white papers and other content geared toward ethanol engineers, ask to see writing samples that demonstrate their expertise in that field.
    3. Always ask for examples: Whenever possible, ask to see at least five samples of someone’s work. If you’re hiring a less experienced person, it’s possible they won’t have a strong portfolio yet. However, seeing five samples of solid work on different topics or from different clients or publications can confirm that this is a person that can deliver a quality product that doesn’t require excessive editing.
    4. Request some background information: When you’re hiring a writer or creative, it’s unlikely that you need a detailed resume (but you should request one if it makes you feel more comfortable). What you do want to understand is their general background, the basis of their expertise or interest in your field, and what kind of writing career that they’ve had to date.

    Once you’ve written the job description, test it with three trusted colleagues, advisors, or friends. Ask them to give you feedback on clarity. Can they describe the role? Is the profile of person you’re trying to hire clear? The combined feedback of a few people should ensure that what you’re putting out there is attracting the right kind of candidate.

    Managing the Publishing Process

    Once the job description is written, it’s ready to be posted. There are a number of places on which you can post freelance work. Here’s a quick look at different options and their pros and cons.

    Bidding sites, like Elance or Guru: Sites like Elance allow you to post jobs in a variety of niches and get bids from vendors around the globe. The advantages are simple:

    • access to a pool of professionals;
    • a single interface to hire and manage projects and payment;
    • access to past performance data of each freelancer to help make your decisions.

    The downsides typically relate to quality: these sites are often a stepping stone for professionals that are building their careers. The most accomplished individuals usually look elsewhere for work.

    Your own networks: Don’t overlook the power of reaching out to your own networks. If you’re hiring, post a link to the job description on your social media networks or email it to trusted colleagues. Many times, someone you know has a person that they use for this specific service or a contact that’s seeking new clients. Pay extra attention to candidates that come your way via referrals.

    Specialty sites: Depending on which niche you’re hiring for, there are likely to be specific sites where you can connect with freelancers. For example, if you’re hiring writers you’d likely consider sites like JournalismJobs, ProBlogger, and Freelancewritinggigs. Hiring coders? Sites like Dice.com and Sologigs are the right places to start. Find a few of the top sites in the niche where you’re looking for talent and evaluate the quality of ads there. It may cost you a bit more in the beginning but you’re more likely to get responses from a highly qualified customer base.

    How to Vet Freelance Writers

    Once you’ve developed your pool of likely suspects, do a paid test article. There are three ways to approach this: none will always going to be the right approach, but each will give you slightly different insight to your candidates.

    Pitching: Ask your candidates to get to know your business a bit, and then have them pitch topics that would be good fits for your company, audience, and marketing goals. This approach gives you an instant understanding of how well they really get your company’s unique positioning, your audience, and what you’re hoping to accomplish with your content. It’ll also allow you to take a deeper look at the content they produce and their overall writing ability.

    Assigning the same article to different writers: To do more of an apples to apples comparison, take a specific topic (e.g. “The Top Things Entrepreneurs Should Know about Google Analytics”) and assign that to each of the finalists from your applicant pool. Seeing how the writers each tackle their assigned subjects will give you an excellent perspective on whose work resonates the most with your voice and style.

    Assign specific but different content pieces to your writers: There’s a good chance that you’ve got a looming pile of content ideas that need to be written. This audition could be a practical way to identify your new writer and make a dent in what you’re hoping to accomplish with your content marketing strategy.

    Ongoing Communication and Management

    Once you’ve found the right candidate, it’s time to put your communication and management plan in place. Every entrepreneur-writer relationship is different. Your ongoing communication and management should reflect a work style that keeps you informed and on track and syncs with what your writer needs to accomplish the most for your business. Here are a few recommendations that work for me or that my colleagues have mentioned as best practices that help them collaborate with freelance writers:

    Use a content calendar: Use a weekly content calendar that shows your specific campaign milestones and the writer’s deliverables. For a guest posting campaign, for example, you might list each specific venue and due date in a Google Calendar or Basecamp format. Having this guideline will keep your writers writing and allow you to gain steady traction over time.

    Monday pitch letters: Whether your writers are pitching topics or whether you’re assigning specific titles based on keyword research, consider using a Monday check-in letter as the basis of that week’s communication. Whoever is in charge of outlining titles should do so, along with publication targets and deadlines if appropriate. If you’re just beginning to work with a writer, consider asking for a title and a two to three sentence blurb that fleshes out each idea. You can then offer feedback and adjustments that meet your goals.

    Quarterly big trends and goals updates: Content marketing is only effective if it serves your business. In today’s environment, the reality is that a company’s needs and goals often shift frequently. Keeping your writers focused on your top yearly, quarterly, and even monthly goals will help them craft more effective content for your campaigns. For example, in a specific month, your goal might be to get articles published on as many new publishers as possible, or it might be to educate a specific demographic about your company. Whatever the objective, the more you communicate, the better the results you’ll achieve.

    Share periodic feedback: For many entrepreneurs, the idea of doing detailed line edits and sharing that feedback is daunting. Your role isn’t to be your writer’s managing editor (although it can be if that’s your approach). However, sharing periodic feedback is absolutely critical. Are certain topics or types of content getting real traction? Let the writer know. Are you seeing more success when you feature your links in a specific way? Send a quick note to share these insights. Did you really have to cut into a piece to make it fit your voice? In that instance, sharing detailed edits and asking the writer to review the changes can save you time down the road.

    Show appreciation: Last but not least, if you find a writer that gets your business and makes your content marketing job easier, take the time to let them know. Whether they get your voice better than other writers you’ve worked with or make it easier to hit your deadlines, sharing occasional praise will make you a valued client. Writers, especially freelance ones, work in a highly transactional context. Client request, write, rinse, and repeat. Taking the time to recognize their contribution will help ensure that they want to do their best to help you reach your goals.

    For more tips on hiring, see my article 10 Lessons That I Learned from Launching a Startup.

    Conclusion

    Identifying the gaps in your own ability or in your existing company’s talent base can help you create a roadmap for hiring freelance talent. Freelancers – whether we’re talking writers, coders, designers, or process consultants – can help you reach your business goals effectively and with less stress. Do you have tips for hiring and managing freelancers? Let me know in the comments below.

  2. Q&A From the MarketingProfs University Search Marketing School

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    On Thursday, August 8th, I helped kick-off MarketingProfs University’s Search Marketing School. It was a great session with tons of questions at the end, so I figured I’d answer those questions here. Without further adieu, let’s begin!

    Audience Questions from class one by instructor Jayson DeMers: 

    SEO in 2013 – Current Trends and Future Predictions

    Q: When your website is very similar to your competitors – a generic design with similar use of images and message (words) – how do you decide on changing the design so that it becomes more interactive

    A: Ask your clients, members, or visitors for website feedback. You can start by asking friends and family, too. See what their complaints or difficulties are and address those. Also, look at your competitors’ websites that are ranking in the top 10 results for your top keyword. What do their websites have or do differently from yours? You can get ideas for improvement from doing a bit of competitive analysis.

    Q: What’s your best strategy for back links (quality back links that is)?

    A: Guest blogging. I actually wrote a step-by-step guide for business owners looking to get started with guest blogging. You can find it at bitly.com/demers-guest-blogging

    In a nutshell, you’re going to go through a process that involves first identifying authority publishers in your space, finding contact information for their editors, then reaching out with a solid pitch for an article. The more articles you publish, the easier it’ll be to get more guest publishing opportunities. Eventually, you can work your way up to becoming a contributor at some of the Web’s top media outlets, where you can really improve visibility, exposure, and grow your business while helping others.

    Q: With regards to responsive websites. there are sites that will take your existing site and turn it into a responsive, mobile-friendly site.  What are your thoughts regarding designing a site with native responsiveness VS. these sites that will convert your existing site into a mobile site?

    A: I have never used a site that converts your existing site into a mobile site, so I can’t really speak to that from a perspective of personal experience. However, from what I’ve heard, they work just fine.

    Q: How is “quality” content determined/measured?

    A: You may find this article I wrote helpful:

    http://www.searchenginejournal.com/7-ways-to-find-what-your-target-audience-wants-and-create-epic-content/63798/

    Basically, in the end, ask yourself if your content provides significant value to your target audience.

    Q: None of our competitors are doing blogs and internally there is resistance to something that sounds “soft”.  We are a highly niche technical B2B.  Suggestions? We are doing guest blogging now.

    A: If none of your competitors are doing it, then that sounds like a ripe opportunity to set yourself apart from the competition. I 100% recommend you beginning a blogging strategy.

    Q: When engaging in guest posts (external) what is the best way to ensure your activity externally is linked to your corporate online presence without overtly dropping company name or links?

    A: I don’t see a reason not to include company name (in your author bio) and a link (or multiple links throughout the body of the article). But if you’re trying to avoid that for whatever reason, then you could link it to your corporate online presence by sharing the article from your corporate social media accounts.

    Q: I recently read an article that Google requests no follow on links in press releases and guest blogs.  Is this something that may be penalized in the future?

    A: Yes, this could be penalized in the future. But the vast majority of business owners and webmasters know little or nothing about Google’s algorithms, no-follow, or anything of that sort. Because of that, it’s hard to imagine Google will dish out strict punishments for these sorts of things.

    Q: Will I get penalized by using stock photography VS photos I take in-house?

    A: As of now, no. However, Cutts stated in a recent webmaster video that he’d like to consider rewarding pages that have original images. As such, it’s probably best practice to begin using original images now.

    Q: Is there any recent research on the utilization of hashtags? Not necessarily by brands but by the Twitter “audience.” Are people actually searching based on hash tags or setting up feeds for them?  Or is it true that people are searching more naturally, for words or phrases or users?

    A: I’m not aware of any current research in this area. However, people do search based on hashtags, and many set up feeds for them (though many of those folks are likely to be marketers). But people are searching more naturally as an overall trend, and I expect that trend to continue.

    Q: What is the easiest way to find relevant hash tags for twitter and Facebook … for your particular industry

    A: I haven’t used it, but I’ve heard that hashtags.org is a good place to start. Other than that, I’d probably just do some brainstorming with my colleagues and do some testing.

    Q: How often do you suggest tweeting something? Is there value to multiple times per day?

    A: This depends on your niche/industry and your target audience. In general, tweeting several times a day is considered a good practice. However, in some niches, tweeting 50 times a day is perfectly reasonable. It all depends on how much interaction and engagement your audience is receptive to.

    Q: What about hash tags on Facebook? Seeing any traction there?

    A: I don’t have any experience with this, so I can’t speak to it.

    Q: What tools would Jayson recommend for hearing “social signals”? We used Netbase before but it’s quite pricy. Thanks!

    A: I’ve used Sendible (sendible.com) and I really like it. I think SproutSocial.com also offers the service, but I’m not entirely sure.

    Q: Is it possible for your FB page to be tracked by Google Analytics?  If so, is it possible to link to a GA account that’s already set up for your e-commerce site?

    A: Not to my knowledge (regarding both questions).

    Q: What are your thoughts about news releases and sites like PRNEWS etc..? A benefit or waste of time?

    A: I don’t think they have much inherent SEO value, but I do recommend them to my clients. Here’s an in-depth article I wrote about it:

    http://authoritylabs.com/blog/googles-matt-cutts-says-press-releases-dont-have-seo-value-or-do-they/

    Q: Ads above the fold.  What does Google consider an ad?  Something that’s part of an ad network?  Or something that simply looks like an ad?

    A: I don’t know the specific algorithm, but I’d guess that there are a number of known ad networks that leave a footprint which Google can easily identify. Aside from that, certain triggers like images that are sized like standard display ads may be labeled ads.

    Q: How to we determine “above the fold” given various screen sizes? Will responsive design address that?

    A: Traditionally, the standard monitor size for “above the fold” calculations has been 1024×768, but I found this article (http://techcrunch.com/2012/04/11/move-over-1024×768-the-most-popular-screen-resolution-on-the-web-is-now-1366×768/) which claims otherwise. Nobody knows for sure, but I’d still go with 1024×768 as the baseline for now.

    To be honest, I’m not sure how Google reacts to responsive (mobile) sites with above-the-fold violations. My guess is that they treat it the same way as they’d treat the desktop version.

    Q: He says avoid Meta tags. All of them? Title, description?

    A: I don’t mean you should avoid them entirely – what I mean is that the days when they played a critical role in the algorithm are gone. Title tags and meta descriptions should still be present and unique on every page of your site. But beyond that, spending much time on them is just a waste of time. Meta keyword tags are completely dead and should be avoided entirely.

    Q: Does “publish epic content everywhere” include PR tactics? For instance pitching bylined articles/blogs to target journalists. I assume this would be helpful as well – is it helpful even without links embedded?

    A: Yes, absolutely. And yes, this would be helpful even without links embedded, though I’d do my best to ensure the link is present.

    Q: What about a mobile home page customized with just map, call, email, etc? Then a button to continue to full site.

    A: Google may not like to rank a page highly that has such sparse content – this is a bit risky. However, I haven’t seen any case studies that indicate one way or the other. It’s worth testing!

    Q: Can you point to any research/studies on mobile SEO and the trends Jayson is discussing? The growth rates of voice search, industries, locations of prevalence, etc.? Specifically, B2B

    A: I don’t have any specific studies on-hand, but they’re all over the Web. I’d recommend a Google search and some time perusing the results.

    Q: How SEO rules in Google are different from Baidu, Chinese clone of Google or Russian clone, Yandex?

    A: I have no idea, unfortunately. I really only care about Google ;)

    Q: Does bad media/press that generates inbound links improve your search engine rankings?

    A: There’s no way to know for sure, but my thought is that it does help your rankings. Google surely would love to get to a point where it can reliably understand the context and sentiment surrounding a link, but I doubt they’re sophisticated enough for that yet, and I don’t think they’ll implement anything like that until it works flawlessly.

    Q: Why is Google Authorship important?

    A: Several reasons.
    - Allows authors to claim their content, preventing scrapers from claiming it and taking credit for it
    - Allows users to easily find more content by any single author, helping authors build a following and an audience
    - Helps establish credibility and legitimacy of content
    - It’s the first step toward verifying author identity, which will soon (if not already) be used to calculate Author Rank, which I believe will have a growing score in the algorithm in the coming months and years.
    - Websites that have it set up get higher click-through rates due to authorship markup applied in search results, which looks like a headshot of the author next to the text listing, drawing the eye and attracting clicks.
    - Increased social signals for your content from Google+, which impacts how your content ranks in search engines.

    Q: If my website makes money from ads on the site, could that hurt my rankings?

    A: Possibly. Ads are a spam signal, but only when implemented in a way that detracts from the user experience. One Google algorithm update called “top-heavy” that was released about a year ago specifically targeted sites with too many ads and images above the fold. If you’re going to use ads, make sure you do so in a non-spammy, non-intrusive way.

    Q: How do I know if my website needs to be redesigned?

    A: Ask your clients, members, or visitors for website feedback. You can start by asking friends and family, too. See what their complaints or difficulties are and address those. Also, look at your competitors’ websites that are ranking in the top 10 results for your top keyword. What do their websites have or do differently from yours? You can get ideas for improvement from doing a bit of competitive analysis.

    Q: How do I know if my content quality is good enough?

    A: Ask yourself if a major media publication in your industry would publish your content. Be honest. If not, it’s probably not good enough. Ask your colleagues, friends, or employees to read some random samples of your website content and provide feedback.

    Q: How do I find out if I have bad inbound links pointing to my site?

    A: Unless you’re an SEO professional, you’re probably going to need to find a professional to conduct a link audit for you. The purpose of the audit should be to diagnose the health of your inbound link profile and identify any links and/or domains that should be removed or disavowed entirely.

    Q: How do I get started with guest blogging?

    A: I actually wrote a step-by-step guide for business owners looking to get started with guest blogging. You can find it here: The Ultimate, Step-by-Step Guide to Building Your Business by Guest Blogging.

    In a nutshell, you’re going to go through a process that involves first identifying authority publishers in your space, finding contact information for their editors, then reaching out with a solid pitch for an article. The more articles you publish, the easier it’ll be to get more guest publishing opportunities. Eventually, you can work your way up to becoming a contributor at some of the Web’s top media outlets, where you can really improve visibility, exposure, and grow your business while helping others.

  3. Q&A From the MarketingProfs University Search Marketing School

    Leave a Comment

    On Thursday, August 8th, I helped kick-off MarketingProfs University’s Search Marketing School. It was a great session with tons of questions at the end, so I figured I’d answer those questions here. Without further adieu, let’s begin!

    Audience Questions from class one by instructor Jayson DeMers: 

    SEO in 2013 – Current Trends and Future Predictions

    Q: When your website is very similar to your competitors – a generic design with similar use of images and message (words) – how do you decide on changing the design so that it becomes more interactive

    A: Ask your clients, members, or visitors for website feedback. You can start by asking friends and family, too. See what their complaints or difficulties are and address those. Also, look at your competitors’ websites that are ranking in the top 10 results for your top keyword. What do their websites have or do differently from yours? You can get ideas for improvement from doing a bit of competitive analysis.

    Q: What’s your best strategy for back links (quality back links that is)?

    A: Guest blogging. I actually wrote a step-by-step guide for business owners looking to get started with guest blogging. You can find it at bitly.com/demers-guest-blogging

    In a nutshell, you’re going to go through a process that involves first identifying authority publishers in your space, finding contact information for their editors, then reaching out with a solid pitch for an article. The more articles you publish, the easier it’ll be to get more guest publishing opportunities. Eventually, you can work your way up to becoming a contributor at some of the Web’s top media outlets, where you can really improve visibility, exposure, and grow your business while helping others.

    Q: With regards to responsive websites. there are sites that will take your existing site and turn it into a responsive, mobile-friendly site.  What are your thoughts regarding designing a site with native responsiveness VS. these sites that will convert your existing site into a mobile site?

    A: I have never used a site that converts your existing site into a mobile site, so I can’t really speak to that from a perspective of personal experience. However, from what I’ve heard, they work just fine.

    Q: How is “quality” content determined/measured?

    A: You may find this article I wrote helpful:

    http://www.searchenginejournal.com/7-ways-to-find-what-your-target-audience-wants-and-create-epic-content/63798/

    Basically, in the end, ask yourself if your content provides significant value to your target audience.

    Q: None of our competitors are doing blogs and internally there is resistance to something that sounds “soft”.  We are a highly niche technical B2B.  Suggestions? We are doing guest blogging now.

    A: If none of your competitors are doing it, then that sounds like a ripe opportunity to set yourself apart from the competition. I 100% recommend you beginning a blogging strategy.

    Q: When engaging in guest posts (external) what is the best way to ensure your activity externally is linked to your corporate online presence without overtly dropping company name or links?

    A: I don’t see a reason not to include company name (in your author bio) and a link (or multiple links throughout the body of the article). But if you’re trying to avoid that for whatever reason, then you could link it to your corporate online presence by sharing the article from your corporate social media accounts.

    Q: I recently read an article that Google requests no follow on links in press releases and guest blogs.  Is this something that may be penalized in the future?

    A: Yes, this could be penalized in the future. But the vast majority of business owners and webmasters know little or nothing about Google’s algorithms, no-follow, or anything of that sort. Because of that, it’s hard to imagine Google will dish out strict punishments for these sorts of things.

    Q: Will I get penalized by using stock photography VS photos I take in-house?

    A: As of now, no. However, Cutts stated in a recent webmaster video that he’d like to consider rewarding pages that have original images. As such, it’s probably best practice to begin using original images now.

    Q: Is there any recent research on the utilization of hashtags? Not necessarily by brands but by the Twitter “audience.” Are people actually searching based on hash tags or setting up feeds for them?  Or is it true that people are searching more naturally, for words or phrases or users?

    A: I’m not aware of any current research in this area. However, people do search based on hashtags, and many set up feeds for them (though many of those folks are likely to be marketers). But people are searching more naturally as an overall trend, and I expect that trend to continue.

    Q: What is the easiest way to find relevant hash tags for twitter and Facebook … for your particular industry

    A: I haven’t used it, but I’ve heard that hashtags.org is a good place to start. Other than that, I’d probably just do some brainstorming with my colleagues and do some testing.

    Q: How often do you suggest tweeting something? Is there value to multiple times per day?

    A: This depends on your niche/industry and your target audience. In general, tweeting several times a day is considered a good practice. However, in some niches, tweeting 50 times a day is perfectly reasonable. It all depends on how much interaction and engagement your audience is receptive to.

    Q: What about hash tags on Facebook? Seeing any traction there?

    A: I don’t have any experience with this, so I can’t speak to it.

    Q: What tools would Jayson recommend for hearing “social signals”? We used Netbase before but it’s quite pricy. Thanks!

    A: I’ve used Sendible (sendible.com) and I really like it. I think SproutSocial.com also offers the service, but I’m not entirely sure.

    Q: Is it possible for your FB page to be tracked by Google Analytics?  If so, is it possible to link to a GA account that’s already set up for your e-commerce site?

    A: Not to my knowledge (regarding both questions).

    Q: What are your thoughts about news releases and sites like PRNEWS etc..? A benefit or waste of time?

    A: I don’t think they have much inherent SEO value, but I do recommend them to my clients. Here’s an in-depth article I wrote about it:

    http://authoritylabs.com/blog/googles-matt-cutts-says-press-releases-dont-have-seo-value-or-do-they/

    Q: Ads above the fold.  What does Google consider an ad?  Something that’s part of an ad network?  Or something that simply looks like an ad?

    A: I don’t know the specific algorithm, but I’d guess that there are a number of known ad networks that leave a footprint which Google can easily identify. Aside from that, certain triggers like images that are sized like standard display ads may be labeled ads.

    Q: How to we determine “above the fold” given various screen sizes? Will responsive design address that?

    A: Traditionally, the standard monitor size for “above the fold” calculations has been 1024×768, but I found this article (http://techcrunch.com/2012/04/11/move-over-1024×768-the-most-popular-screen-resolution-on-the-web-is-now-1366×768/) which claims otherwise. Nobody knows for sure, but I’d still go with 1024×768 as the baseline for now.

    To be honest, I’m not sure how Google reacts to responsive (mobile) sites with above-the-fold violations. My guess is that they treat it the same way as they’d treat the desktop version.

    Q: He says avoid Meta tags. All of them? Title, description?

    A: I don’t mean you should avoid them entirely – what I mean is that the days when they played a critical role in the algorithm are gone. Title tags and meta descriptions should still be present and unique on every page of your site. But beyond that, spending much time on them is just a waste of time. Meta keyword tags are completely dead and should be avoided entirely.

    Q: Does “publish epic content everywhere” include PR tactics? For instance pitching bylined articles/blogs to target journalists. I assume this would be helpful as well – is it helpful even without links embedded?

    A: Yes, absolutely. And yes, this would be helpful even without links embedded, though I’d do my best to ensure the link is present.

    Q: What about a mobile home page customized with just map, call, email, etc? Then a button to continue to full site.

    A: Google may not like to rank a page highly that has such sparse content – this is a bit risky. However, I haven’t seen any case studies that indicate one way or the other. It’s worth testing!

    Q: Can you point to any research/studies on mobile SEO and the trends Jayson is discussing? The growth rates of voice search, industries, locations of prevalence, etc.? Specifically, B2B

    A: I don’t have any specific studies on-hand, but they’re all over the Web. I’d recommend a Google search and some time perusing the results.

    Q: How SEO rules in Google are different from Baidu, Chinese clone of Google or Russian clone, Yandex?

    A: I have no idea, unfortunately. I really only care about Google ;)

    Q: Does bad media/press that generates inbound links improve your search engine rankings?

    A: There’s no way to know for sure, but my thought is that it does help your rankings. Google surely would love to get to a point where it can reliably understand the context and sentiment surrounding a link, but I doubt they’re sophisticated enough for that yet, and I don’t think they’ll implement anything like that until it works flawlessly.

    Q: Why is Google Authorship important?

    A: Several reasons.
    - Allows authors to claim their content, preventing scrapers from claiming it and taking credit for it
    - Allows users to easily find more content by any single author, helping authors build a following and an audience
    - Helps establish credibility and legitimacy of content
    - It’s the first step toward verifying author identity, which will soon (if not already) be used to calculate Author Rank, which I believe will have a growing score in the algorithm in the coming months and years.
    - Websites that have it set up get higher click-through rates due to authorship markup applied in search results, which looks like a headshot of the author next to the text listing, drawing the eye and attracting clicks.
    - Increased social signals for your content from Google+, which impacts how your content ranks in search engines.

    Q: If my website makes money from ads on the site, could that hurt my rankings?

    A: Possibly. Ads are a spam signal, but only when implemented in a way that detracts from the user experience. One Google algorithm update called “top-heavy” that was released about a year ago specifically targeted sites with too many ads and images above the fold. If you’re going to use ads, make sure you do so in a non-spammy, non-intrusive way.

    Q: How do I know if my website needs to be redesigned?

    A: Ask your clients, members, or visitors for website feedback. You can start by asking friends and family, too. See what their complaints or difficulties are and address those. Also, look at your competitors’ websites that are ranking in the top 10 results for your top keyword. What do their websites have or do differently from yours? You can get ideas for improvement from doing a bit of competitive analysis.

    Q: How do I know if my content quality is good enough?

    A: Ask yourself if a major media publication in your industry would publish your content. Be honest. If not, it’s probably not good enough. Ask your colleagues, friends, or employees to read some random samples of your website content and provide feedback.

    Q: How do I find out if I have bad inbound links pointing to my site?

    A: Unless you’re an SEO professional, you’re probably going to need to find a professional to conduct a link audit for you. The purpose of the audit should be to diagnose the health of your inbound link profile and identify any links and/or domains that should be removed or disavowed entirely.

    Q: How do I get started with guest blogging?

    A: I actually wrote a step-by-step guide for business owners looking to get started with guest blogging. You can find it here: The Ultimate, Step-by-Step Guide to Building Your Business by Guest Blogging.

    In a nutshell, you’re going to go through a process that involves first identifying authority publishers in your space, finding contact information for their editors, then reaching out with a solid pitch for an article. The more articles you publish, the easier it’ll be to get more guest publishing opportunities. Eventually, you can work your way up to becoming a contributor at some of the Web’s top media outlets, where you can really improve visibility, exposure, and grow your business while helping others.

  4. How to Properly Include Links and Penguin-Safe Anchor Text in Your Guest Blogs

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    In today’s post-Penguin SEO world, one of the clearest signals of attempted search engine ranking manipulation is the improper use of anchor text within blog posts. The problem stems from the fact that SEO professionals know that anchor text is a hint to the search engines of the topic or relevance of the destination URL (ie, the URL to which the link points). Furthermore, it’s well-known that the quantity and quality of inbound links play a major role in the ranking algorithm.

    Because of this, SEO professionals developed a habit of using “keyword-rich” anchor text for all their links in an attempt to extract as much value as possible from each link. This “over-optimization” of anchor text is what ultimately led to Google’s Penguin algorithm, which sought to identify manipulation based on calculating and analyzing the anchor text distribution of each website’s overall inbound link profile.

    While keyword-rich anchor text used to be taught as a best practice, it’s now a risky practice at best. So, in today’s post-penguin world, what’s the proper way to include SEO-optimized links that will escape the wrath of Google’s Penguin algorithm, stand the test of time, and provide value for readers? Read on.

    The Two Elements of a Link

    Before beginning a discussion about anchor text, it’s important to first understand what “anchor text” means. Luckily, it’s quite simple. Anchor text is the clickable text of a link. For example, notice the link above, in the second paragraph that says “calculating and analyzing the anchor text distribution”. The anchor text of that link is “calculating and analyzing the anchor text distribution”.

    link segments

    (Image source: http://www.seomoz.org/learn-seo/anchor-text)

    There are two elements of any link:

    1. The anchor text
    2. The destination URL

    The destination URL is the URL to which you’ll be taken when you click the link; it’s the destination that the link points to.

    It’s very important that the anchor text and destination URL are properly paired together. For instance, it wouldn’t make any sense for the anchor text to say “beach balls” if the destination URL linked to a page about polar bears.

    Types of Anchor Text

    There are different types of anchor text; here’s a brief overview of each.

    • Naked URL

    A naked URL is simply anchor text that is, itself, the destination URL. Here’s an example of a naked URL:

    You can learn lots of great information about SEO and social media from our blog at http://www.audiencebloom.com/blog

    Notice how the clickable portion of the link is actually the destination URL itself. This is why it’s called “naked” – it’s not dressed up.

    • Branded

    A branded anchor is when the anchor text is the brand name of the company or website. Here’s an example:

    At AudienceBloom, we offer SEO and social media marketing services.

    • Branded-hybrid

    A branded-hybrid anchor is when the anchor text includes the brand name as well as a keyword (or keyword fragment) associated with that brand. Here’s an example:

    If you’re looking to improve your online visibility and website traffic, AudienceBloom’s SEO services are top-knotch.

    • Exact-match (keyword-rich)

    An exact-match (or keyword-rich) anchor is when the anchor text is exactly the keyword for which you want a page to rank in the search engines. For example, if I wanted AudienceBloom’s “guest blogging services” page to rank well for the keyword “guest blogging services,” here’s what I would do:

    AudienceBloom offers unparalleled guest blogging services for its clients.

    • LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing)

    LSI stands for “latent semantic indexing” and is really just a super fancy way of saying “related keywords.” For example, a related keyword for “guest blogging services” might be “guest post service,” which could have an anchor that looks like this:

    If you’re looking for a great guest post service, check out AudienceBloom.

    • Sentence fragment

    A sentence fragment anchor is one that flows naturally within the text and is NOT one of the other types of anchors. This type of anchor is the most trustworthy, credible, and safe type of anchor, and should be used often. Here are a few examples, shown as images (the orange text is the anchor text of the link):

    sentence fragment anchor text

    sentence fragment anchor text

    sentence fragment anchor text

    Notice how each link flows with the text and does not fit any of the other categories of anchors.

    • Junk

    Junk anchors consist of anchors such as “click here,” “visit this website,” “here,” etc. Here are a few examples:

    To learn more about AudienceBloom, click here.
    If you’re looking for a great SEO company, visit this website.
    To learn more about SEO and what it can do for your business, click here.
    Ready to learn how to build an effective SEO strategy? Learn more.

    Now that you’re familiar with the different types of anchor text, you’re probably wondering which type you should be using. There’s no easy answer to that question, as different situations call for different solutions.

    However, try to stick with just “branded” and “sentence fragments”, as these types of anchors should be sufficient for almost all text copy, and will be safe from Penguin updates.

    Goals of Anchor Text

    There are several possible goals of including links within articles; one of those goals should NOT be to get a link to improve search engine rankings. The right goals can be broken down as:

    • Provide more information about a particular topic, website, thing, person, or place.

    For example, my link in the second paragraph of this article is meant to provide more information about analyzing anchor text distribution.

    • Anticipate and answer a reader’s question.

    As you read your article, try to anticipate questions your readers will have. Let’s take a look at an example:

    “We’ve moved from directories to guest blogging and other new approaches, so it’s discouraging to observe some SEO people who still pursue many of the old tactics.”

    In the example above, “other new approaches” links to an article that describes what those other new approaches are. This anticipates the reader’s question “what are the other new approaches?” and links to a resource that answers it.

    • Cite the source of referenced information.

    As you write your article, you’ll reference sources of information. Here are a couple examples of how to properly reference sources:

    “Although Pinterest didn’t receive all that much attention a few years ago, it’s seen steady growth and currently has over 500 million users.”

    “According to statistics by Quantcast, the majority of Pinterest users have earned either a bachelor’s degree or completed grad school.

    Notice in the first example how the source is referenced using a sentence fragment anchor. In the second example, the source is referenced as a branded anchor. Either is completely acceptable.

    Proper Destination URLs

    Destination URLs are extremely important and should be considered carefully. Links to homepage URLs are risky in today’s post-Penguin environment; avoid linking to homepages and instead link only to internal pages within a website.

    Linking to commercial websites (ie, websites that sell products or services) is more risky than linking to resource websites. Instead, try to link to authoritative, credible, trustworthy websites like Wikipedia, Youtube, Mashable, TechCrunch, Forbes, etc.

    Articles that link to your website in addition to an authority website will associate your website with the authority website by means of co-citation. This will have the effect of increased search engine rankings for your website.

    Note: See that “co-citation” link above? I anticipated that you, as a reader, may not know what co-citation is, so I linked to an article I wrote that describes it in detail.

    When NOT to Link:

    To maintain proper article formatting, don’t include links in subheaders or as part of a bulleted list (unless you include a link in each and every bullet point).

    Conclusion

    Proper link insertion should augment your article; it should achieve one of the three goals listed above. If it doesn’t, then you shouldn’t include it. When you do include a link, it should almost always be a sentence fragment or a branded anchor. There are very few exceptions to this; other types of anchors are often spammy and risky, and could end up doing more harm than good.

  5. What’s the True SEO Power of Press Releases?

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    For a long time, SEO professionals regarded press releases as little golden nuggets that could be added into pretty much any SEO campaign for a boost.

    However, back in December, Matt Cutts threw a not-so-beautiful egg into that basket, saying he wouldn’t “Expect links from press releases to benefit your rankings”… and the industry went up in arms.

    Was he right? Was he simply misunderstood? Was he just being misleading on purpose?

    Ever since, SEO professionals have been scrambling to determine the truth of the matter. Do press releases still offer the same amount of value as they once did, or did that get squashed under big Penguin feet? As with everything in SEO, there will probably never be a 100% iron-clad guarantee that it works or it doesn’t. But let’s explore the matter.

    Why would Google devalue press releases?

    If you’re a business owner, you may regard press releases simply as they “should” be seen: They’re something you carefully craft, or pay good money to have crafted for you, in order to gain publicity for your news. Right? Right.

    Wrong. Kinda. I know… bear with me here.

    Yes, some people and businesses use press releases for the right reasons, as described above. But there are other people who use them solely for the sake of SEO. This is where they start to swim in troubled water.

    Low-quality sites, SPAM sites, and even scam sites were using press release syndication to create lots of backlinks. Since backlinks are a vital part of the ranking algorithm, it worked well for a while. Press release syndication sites and services popped up in droves, offering to spread your press release all over the web—often for free, or at very low rates.

    We aren’t talking about the true PR professionals and big companies that have been doing this for many, many years. Naturally, Google noticed the game eventually and realized they had to do something about it.

    The “Test”

    After Cutts made the above statement, a well-known person in the industry decided to give it a test. He released a very poorly put-together press release to try and rank Cutts’s blog for a silly, seemingly made-up word.

    And it worked. It showed that some kind of weight is still awarded for links from press releases. While that may make you think it’s still easy-peasy to use PR syndication to get better search results, you have to look at this another way too. If there’s nothing, or not much, to be found online about that word he used, then of course it would be easy to rank something for it. What else would they show?

    So does that mean you shouldn’t waste your time on press releases? Would you be treading on dangerous ground if you released one online? Can it help your rankings or not?

    Should you use online press releases?

    The short answer is yes. The medium answer is yes, but not merely for backlinks and SEO. The long answer? There are several factors you need to keep in mind if you’re going to post press releases.

    First of all, it needs to be a good press release written about something that deserves having a PR circulated about it.

    Finding a worthy topic

    Believe it or not, you probably have some amazing topics to base a PR around, even when you think you got nothin’. You could focus a PR on plenty of things, but here are just a few ideas:

    • New products/services
    • New employees
    • Upcoming events
    • Charities or organizations that you’ve sponsored
    • Milestones (e.g., 5th year in business, or record-breaking revenues)
    • Promotions or awards within or for the company

    If there truly just isn’t a thing going on or coming up, don’t fret. Put on your thinking cap and get creative. There are many ways you could devise something strategic that would serve as the basis for a rockin’ press release.

    Here are a few ideas to get your juices flowing:

    • Identify a charity or nonprofit you like and sponsor it
    • Take this even further and host a fundraiser for them
    • Offer to volunteer your time to help out the organization with something
    • Create an infographic, ebook, or white paper about something in your industry or area of expertise

    Once your release is completed, what do you do with it?

    First let me tell you not to do with it. Don’t give it to someone who says they’ll publish your PR to 300 different sites for $10. Don’t go plaster it everywhere and anywhere you can.

    You want to stick with the bigger, well-respected PR authority sites. Yes, you’re going to pay more. But it’s worth it.

    Getting blogged …

    One of the best things that can happen is to have your PR get noticed by respected bloggers who write about and link to it. How do you do that? Your PR not only has to be well written and deserving of the attention, but it has to get noticed in the first place.

    PR tips

    • Include images and video in your press release
    • Include social media links and make it easy to share
    • Write for your audience, not search engines
    • Create a few different versions of your PR to use with different (respected) syndication services

    Something to think about: targeted traffic from a PR itself

    The other day, I spent a couple of hours looking at press releases and who’s using them, and tried to assess what’s happening right now in general. What trend do I see? Using the authority of PR sites and ranking your PR highly, instead of the traditional (SEO-minded) focus of ranking your site.

    I’ve seen it being talked about on forums and I’ve seen it in action. Here are just a couple of examples. Keep in mind, though, that I only found this happening with “long tail” keywords.

    long tail keywords

    long tail keywords

    Remember that a good, well-written PR that’s crafted correctly, newsworthy, and geared toward your audience will always get the best results. Don’t write one solely to try and rank for a keyword. It should capture the heart and mind of the blogger, customer, or journalist that runs across it.

    It should trigger an emotion of some sort. Keep these things in mind and your PRs will attract attention, as well as more business.

  6. 10 Steps to SEO-Optimizing Your Blog Articles

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    blogging best practicesSEO copywriting is, essentially, writing copy that resonates with users, moving them to share and link to your content, and be moved to take action. In this article, we’ll explore the elements that makes online copy SEO-optimized.

    1. Perform Keyword Research

    Use keyword research tools to help you find keywords that have

    1) low competition and;

    2) a good amount of search volume.

    There are many free and paid keyword research tools, but all you really need is the Google Adwords Keyword Tool. Google’s own keyword research tool lets you find keywords that have low, medium and high competition, as well as local and global search volume. For detailed instructions on how to use this tool, please see this post.

    2. Write for Skimmers

    I bet lots of readers now are just skimming through this very blog post. That’s how most people normally consume online content, and why it’s important that when you write copy, you first create an outline of your points so that readers can easily scan through it and still get the point.

    3. The Killer Headline

    After you have an outline of your article, you need a magnetic headline. One that that attracts links, retweets, and social shares. Some great powerful and magnetic headlines include:

    • A number (ie, “Top 7 Ways to…”)
    • A “How To” (ie, “How to Grow Your Business by Guest Blogging”)
    • A one-stop-shop (ie, “The Definitive Guide to…” or “The Ultimate Guide to…”)
    • Help for beginners (ie, “A Step-by-Step Guide to…” or “7 Steps to…” or “Onsite SEO 101: A Basic Guide for Beginners”)
    • The mythbuster (ie, “7 Myths about SEO”)
    • The bold or shocking claim (ie, “5 Things Your SEO Company is Lying to you About”)

    The targeted keyword should be included within the headline, which is usually tagged with the H1 tag.

    4. Sub Headlines

    Subheaders usually come after the main headline and before every major section of the copy. They should summarize important points of the copy (remember the scanners?).

    5. Highlight, Bold, Underline and Italicize

    When you highlight, bold, underline and italicize a key point, you add emphasis to the main points. This helps readers (especially the scanners), and has the same effect on search engine crawlers.

    Emphasizing the keywords by underlining or bolding them sends a signal to the robots what the content is about, and what the most important elements of it are.

    6. Drive the Point Home with Bullets

    The important or “listable” sections of your copy could also be emphasized with bullet points. Distilling your points into smaller chunks also makes your copy easier to read and more engaging.

    7. KISS – Keep it Short and Sweet

    The first line of every paragraph should be the most important, followed by a couple sentences to expand on those important points. Keep your paragraphs short for optimal readability and scannability.

    8. Include Primary and LSI Keywords

    While writing your article, your primary goal should be on delivering extreme value. However, if your keywords aren’t included in the body copy, it’ll be very difficult for it to rank well. Be sure to identify LSI keywords and include them within the copy to boost the relevancy of your article for all keywords related to your primary topic.

    9. Include Images

    Images provide several distinct benefits:

    • They visually support concepts or ideas in your article, adding to the readers’ understanding
    • They provide an opportunity to gain search visibility in Google Image Search
    • They cause your post to have visual appeal when the link is shared on Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social channels
    • They create an opportunity for your post to be pinned on Pinterest, creating inbound links and maximizing the reach of your post

    Always ensure your image filenames are named properly. For instance, if your image is of a red Ferarri, then the image filename should be “redferrari.jpg.” Similarly, it should have an alt tag that describes the image (ie, “Red Ferrari). These clues will help search engines properly index the image and understand what the image portrays. If your blog post is about a red Ferarri, then including an image of one will provide extra value to readers; search engines will reward this value-add with a higher relevancy and quality score for your post, resulting in better rankings.

    10. Ask for Feedback

    The end of your article should ask for feedback from your readers to generate and spark discussion. Comments will improve the SEO-value of your article, so ask for them! Readers who feel compelled to comment on articles are also more likely to share them, leading to rank and brand-boosting social signals.

    Conclusion

    Whether you’re writing onsite content or guest blogging, I hope these tips help you write amazing articles. Do you have any other tips I missed? Let me know in the comments!

  7. Assessing Your Content before Publishing

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    Do you know how to ensure that your content is great enough before you release it into the open?

    If you find that your content is not delivering the traffic and conversions you had hoped, then there must be something wrong with the way you create it.

    To guarantee that your content delivers exactly what you expected, the following is a simple list of assessments you need to conduct before you publish your next content.

    Check for grammatical errors

    Nothing will turn off your regular readers and first-time visitors more than simple errors in grammar and spelling that should have been eliminated prior to publication. Even if you feel confident that your content doesn’t have any errors, it doesn’t hurt to check a second time. In fact, triple check it.

    Errors in grammar are liable to make your readers think you don’t care that much about the message you’re posting; after all, you didn’t take very much trouble with it, did you? Worse, the readers may believe you don’t value them, either.

    What your readers expect to find is output from a trustworthy content publisher. Grammatical errors signal to readers that you may simply lack sufficient professionalism to be worth their attention.

    That’s why making sure to check for errors in grammar and spelling is critical if you hope to gain trust and loyalty from your readers.

    Is your content great enough?

    Honestly, is your content good enough to be worth sharing? Does it hold your readers’ interest the way you expect it to? Does it help your readers ease their pain and increase their pleasure? Does it entertain them? Does it solve their problems?

    If your content doesn’t accomplish any of these goals, then you may need to do more research to identify what your target audience is really looking for.

    Great content is share-worthy content; it ultimately helps readers handle their most pressing concerns.

    Is the content useful to your target audience?

    Make every word, sentence, and paragraph of your content count. Make your entire copy useful.

    Before setting out to write content, pinpoint the goals you wish to achieve. Who is your content for, precisely? What problem/s do you wish to address? What do you personally hope to derive from the publication of your content? Is it increased traffic? Sales?

    If you don’t know to whom you are marketing, your website content will fail miserably because it won’t be useful enough to connect with its proper readers.

    And if you don’t know the true objective of your content, your copy will lack substance. It’ll be a waste of everyone’s time.

    If you’re selling through your copy, do you emphasize the benefits?

    A great copy that aims to sell something addresses the concern “What’s in it for me?”

    Unless you can accurately and honestly show the true value and benefits of your content, you will fail to keep your readers’ attention long enough to close the deal.

    By focusing on a product’s features, for example, you will sound as though you are hard selling. Nobody cares about what you think of your product. What people care about is how your product will solve their problems.

    When you start to shift your focus to the benefits of your product, your readers will see that you understand them and are helping them.

    Check for readability

    Be sure to check your content not only for errors in grammar and spelling, but also for readability. Precisely phrased and correctly spelled copy can still come across as stiff or cold. Your content should be easy to read; it should flow well. This encourages your readers to remain longer on your site.

    How do you make your content readable? Consider the following tactics:

    • Include lots of headers, especially at the start of each important section.
    • Break paragraphs into bullets to make it easy for your readers to scan through your content.
    • Use bold fonts to emphasize important points.

    When you are fully satisfied that you’ve adequately covered all the aspects described above, the odds are your audience should be satisfied as well.

    Conclusion

    The next time you create your content, have this guideline handy for reference. And if you need help in creating an effective content strategy for your business, contact us to find out more about your options.

  8. How Automated Content Generation and Recycling is Bad for Business

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    Creating high-quality content on an ongoing basis is one of the most important aspects of running an online business. For one thing, creating specific content caters to a specific audience. And populating your site with fresh content regularly is crucial for raising your site’s ranking in search.

    But let’s be honest. The steady composition of new content can take a toll on your resources, especially if you are running a solo online enterprise.

    Because writing marketing posts is indeed an exhausting activity, some online marketers have opted to use software that automates the process of churning out content for their sites. It sounds like a great idea — one that helps businesses save on their precious time and resources.

    But is it really smart to entrust content production to software?

    Before we can address that question, we need to delve into an issue that is at the heart of web content production.

    To plagiarize or spin?

    Spinning an article has become a popular tactic among many content marketers. It has become much more acceptable to spin an article than copy or plagiarize an entire article without attributing the content to the proper source.

    Article-spinning software aims to create a unique piece of content out of an already published article in such a way that it it will pass duplicate tests administered by the search engines.

    What an article-spinning software does is to mechanically create a new version of an essay or review by using synonyms to replace certain terms, or rephrasing entire sentences and paragraphs to make the piece look and read differently from the original.

    How spinning crashed

    Spinning articles worked for a while … at least during the early stages of search engine optimization. Automating content production certainly helped online marketers to free up their time and save on resources. This approach allowed many marketers to focus on other tasks that were also important to their business.

    The need to automate the content-writing process arose when it took a toll on the marketer’s time. As many of you can undoubtedly recognize, even some of the simplest forms of writing require a level of critical thinking that no software has thus far been able to match. Despite the advances in technology, no software is capable of writing in a way an average human does. At least not currently.

    As search engines have gotten smarter, they have become better able to determine which content has been spun and which has not. We are now at the point where spinning an article using automated software no longer works.

    Search engines are currently capable of determining how an article should read; i.e., that it should flow smoothly and naturally. We humans are also readily able to tell whether an article has been spun or not. Spun articles tend to be difficult to read; the sentence structures are convoluted. That’s why most of us human web browsers tend to discard content at the first hint that it has been spun robotically.

    The death of content duplication

    Before the age of Google Panda, authors were free to distribute a single article to as many different article directories as they could find. However, when Google released an update that penalizes duplicate content, the tradition of submitting a single content to multiple directories was effectively outlawed. Google and other search engines became hell-bent on implementing measures to provide nothing but quality information for users.

    If you are actively promoting articles and other forms of content to increase your business’ exposure and your ranking, be careful not to damage the search engines’ trust, especially Google’s. The search engines are now disqualifying sites that use various forms of content duplication. As you know, Google is not very forgiving about that.

    Conclusion

    Quality will always be at the top of the agenda for Google and other search engines. It should be on yours too. Always strive to write content of unique and excellent quality. The search engines will approve — but more importantly, your target human audience will, too.

    If you would like to know how we can help you with your content marketing strategies, contact us to find out more about the opportunities.

  9. 4 Ways to Copywriting Success

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    Image from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

    Here are some golden copywriting tips for you. Copywriting is fairly easy. But online copywriting can be a bit tricky.

    Let’s put it this way. Writing in general is all about finding words that compel. Copywriting is aimed at people out in the real world, while web copywriting is written for both real-world people and search engine spiders.

    Yes, search engine spiders do read texts . . . and they are the equivalent of virtual robots who try to discern what a web page is all about.

    But whichever way you look at it, whether you are writing for people or for people and robots, it’s all about the words.

    A successful piece of online copy effectively compels human readers to do what you want them to do, and makes search engine spiders understand what your page is trying to communicate.

    If done right, online copies have the potential to be read by a massive number of highly targeted customers who are all but ready to say: “Shut up and take my money!”

    Let’s take a look at several of the most important points about writing effective web copies.

    The compelling headline
    Perhaps the most important part of any copy is the headline. Without a great, Adele-like headline, no one will notice your message, much less care about it.

    Pundits will argue that the best way to come up with great copy that flows and persuades readers is to start by writing the headline. It’s the foundation from which you build a magnificent and magic piece of copy.

    What are the elements of a great online copy headline?

    In the past, we’ve comprehensively covered effective headline writing. A compelling headline is urgent, unique, and very specific. A truly powerful headline states at least 2 bold claims that will make readers take a second look.

    Write with your readers in mind
    Your copy should have your readers’ best interests written all over the piece. It’s all about THEM.

    Write as though you are writing to just one person and put plenty of emphasis on the benefits. In other words, always, always make them feel you’re writing to satisfy that burning question: “What’s in it for me?”

    Keep your readers interested. Don’t allow their interest to flag after a few paragraphs. One way to do this is to break down your copy into smaller chunks and introduce each section with a sub headline.

    Ideally, the sub headlines summarize the entire set of copy below so that if you removed the rest of the content and left only the headline and sub headlines, all the important points of your message would be sufficiently covered.

    Keep the following points in mind to hold the readers’ interest throughout your piece:

    • Cut the content into smaller chunks
    • Use bullet points to emphasize the benefits
    • Place the most important ideas of each paragraph in the first two lines
    • Use bolding, underlining, and highlighting strategically

     

    All of these tactics are intended to keep the readers’ mind from straying from the forward flow of the copy.

    Then write for the search engines
    Online copywriting includes the conscious use of SEO. By properly optimizing the page’s title, headline, and H1 and H2 tags, as well as the body of the copy for the keywords that you are focusing on, you make it easy for search engine robots to understand what your page is all about.

    Make readers want to take action right this instant
    After walking your readers through the entire length of your copy with all the spellbinding magnetism of your words, it’s time to go for the kill: the call to action.

    The call to action instructs your readers to do something about what they’ve just read and does it with a sense of urgency. You tell them why it’s important to take action right this very instant.

    With the call to action, you inform your readers where to buy the product, how to get in touch with you, or how to download your freemium.

    As pointed out earlier, online copywriting is easy if you have a good understanding of how to compel your readers to take action and sufficient knowledge of how to help the search engines grasp what your page is all about.

    Conclusion
    It may be a challenge at first, but if you keep at it, in short order — possibly just a matter of days — you’ll be able to churn out highly effective online copies.

     

  10. 5 Ways to Succeed at Guest Blogging

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    Guest blogging is one of the most important developments in online marketing today. With guest blogging, also referred to as guest posting, bloggers receive the chance not only to spread the word about their business, but also to provide value to other bloggers’ audience.

    It may seem that only the elite and veteran bloggers are given this golden opportunity. But don’t let that notion discourage you, because there are ways for even novice bloggers and online marketers to land a guest blogging gig.

    If you are looking for a chance to do guest posting, here are some tips to help you increase the odds of your getting accepted to appear as a guest writer in other people’s blogs.

    Choose the right blog for your intended topic and audience
    Strategy is key to getting accepted by the most appropriate blogs for your area of expertise. As always, quality trumps quantity. The game has shifted from posting on as many blogs as you can handle to posting to the most authoritative and relevant blogs in your field.

    The goal is to find the blog that is most closely related to your own in subject, but has a good pagerank, solid authority, and a respectable number of followers or readers. Go over the blog’s posts to determine its voice; in other words, how the blog owners like the posts that appear on their blog to be written. It’s also helpful to go through each post’s comments to get the feel for the readers’ sentiments.

    Write fresh and creative posts
    Now that you’ve targeted the best location(s) for your guest blogging activities, it’s time to focus on how to attract your target audience. The only sure way to do that is to compose a unique and interesting post. Your existing posts, whether on your own blog or other people’s, may not be sufficient to land a guest post opportunity if those are the samples you show potential host bloggers.

    What really counts is how effectively you can wow your target audience with the post that you propose to publish on another person’s blog. The more unique, timely, and interesting your post, the greater chance you’ll have of getting accepted.

    To determine the relative uniqueness of the topic you propose to write about, go through the blog’s previous posts to find out how much the subject has already been covered. If it hasn’t been covered at all, your chances of getting your post accepted are that much better.

    Quality as top priority
    Nothing grabs people’s attention like a post that is coherent and original. Guest posting is a golden opportunity that, if done right, could land you more lucrative opportunities as you establish yourself as an expert.

    Be sure not to submit content until you have thoroughly edited it. Don’t pass the burden of correcting errors in spelling and grammar to the owner of the blog. Run your draft by a friend or colleague whose judgment you trust. Put in the required amount of effort to make your post as spotless as it can be — chock full of high quality and interesting information.

    Provide accurate information to bloggers
    Prior to approaching bloggers whose site you would like to write for as a guest, prepare your own blog’s stats. This will establish your “street cred,” your legitimacy, for their benefit, if they’re not familiar with your work.

    But when when you do present information about your own blog, be sure you provide accurate information. Honesty will go a long way. Provide accurate stats on traffic, social media followers, and engagement, as well as conversion rate (if applicable).

    Promotion
    After doing your research, writing the post, and preparing your blog’s statistics and other pertinent information, it’s time to go for the kill: promoting your post to other bloggers. Send email to them and let them know your intentions.

    However, don’t send a message about what you want. Send a message about how you can offer value to their blog and to their audience. If you’ve gotten accepted, it’s also your duty to help the blog owner promote his or her site. Be sure to direct traffic to your guest post.

    Conclusion
    Asking to do a guest posting and getting turned down can be a frustrating experience, but getting accepted is such a blast that you will forget your previous failures. Just keep on practicing the tricks of the trade and asking for an opening, and sooner or later you will find success in guest blogging.

    If you need help finding a guest blogging opportunity, let us know and we’ll show you your options.

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