June 19th, 2012 @ // No Comments
When I suggest that businesses should think about creating some content I’m frequently met with objections like -
“But my niche is boring – no one cares!”
Actually I don’t think that there’s such a thing as a ‘boring’ niche, but I do understand where they’re coming from. It’s definitely the case that coming up with ideas for great content is tougher in some than others – but there are companies out there doing it already. As such I wanted to put together this post highlighting some companies who are already doing great things in tough markets. Undoubtedly some of them you’ll have seen or heard of before, but I’ve deliberately tried to come up with some other examples that hopefully you won’t already have heard of.
I hope this will serve as inspiration or food for thought if you will.
Got your tea / coffee / gin and tonic at the ready? Let’s do this.
Garden sheds – that’s a tough niche at first glance. Except of course that people are really passionate about their humble sheds and some people’s sheds are pretty damn amazing. With this is mind, to appeal to all the sheddies out there Reader Sheds run an annual competition to find the shed of the year – they have over 1800 entries this year.
Here’s my favourite:
Fiskars started out way back in 1649 and originally produced iron. In 1967 they were the first company to produce plastic handled scissors. Today they’ve diversified somewhat but their mainstays are still scissors and other paper cutting tools and they also do gardening equipment.
In terms of content Fiskars have elected to tap into the community of people who use their products – namely those interested in arts and crafts. The Fiskarettes blog contains loads of art and craft ideas and readers are also encourage to submit their own projects – in Fiskar’s own words: “We want to offer you an environment where you will be able to exchange your love of crafting with others, to share your passion, showcase your creativity and share your expertise.”
What can we learn from these companies?
I think the key message here is – go big or go home. If you want to get the attention of an existing community of people you’ll need to spend significant time and resource creating awesome content or in Reader Shed’s case – running their annual competition. You’ll also need to work hard in terms of outreaching to that existing community to get them involved. Plus of course in order for this to work there needs to already be an active community out there. Whilst it’s certainly not for the faint-hearted, or those who are light on resources the potential benefits are huge.
Simply Business are an insurance broker in the UK. Rather than creating content exclusively around insurance, instead they’ve taken the approach of creating content and resources which small business owners will find useful. In addition to creating short-form blog post content they’ve also created guides for social media, PPC and productivity –
Tessa Shepperson is a landlord and property solicitor in the UK. She started blogging back in 2006 and uses her blog to comment on legal developments, new regulations, answer reader’s problems, and discuss relevant reports and consultation papers issued by government and relevant organisations. She also runs a school for landlords and creates resource content like this questionnaire that explains which sort of tenancy agreement you ought to use
Salesforce have created some fantastic content around how businesses can harness the power of social media including expert interviews, how to guides and case studies. Kieran has already published a post explaining their strategy and how it worked for them.
What can we learn from these companies?
I’m a huge fan of content strategies focused around a particular business’s customers – creating content your customers need or want; or will just plain love – it’s a no-brainer, right? What’s interesting to me is that you don’t need to see your own product or service offering as a limitation in terms of what you can create. Just because you sell insurance doesn’t mean that all your content needs to be about insurance.
Landlord Law is an interesting example as the content seems to have led the business in different directions – what started out as a single solicitor’s blog is now a business in its own right – three different sites, some subscription content, training, tools etc.
Australian online electronics store Kogan has launched an IE7 ‘tax’ – use a crappy browser? Get charged more when you checkout
Forex is definitely a tough niche, and their You vs. John Paulson infographic was immensely popular and successful – read more about it in Sam’s post.
Iscars make cutting tools for metalwork. This video of theirs recently went hot on Reddit -
Mind = Blown
These guys offer an alternative to skip hire – skip-sized bags… How strong are they? They tested them out with a SMART car… Nice use of video to demonstrate the product.
Air conditioning might not be sexy, but this company definitely has a great sense of humour. Way back in 2009 they published a post about a woman who saw the Virgin Mary on her air conditioning unit – pictured above. Ashton Kutcher tweeted their post and it went hot on a whole bunch of social networks.
These guys definitely are owed an honourable mention for shaking up the shaving market with *that* video I’ve elected to put them in the ‘using content as a tactic’ bracket as to date they’ve only done the one video – albeit a very successful one.
What can we learn from these companies?
I think that the examples above highlight that even in tough niches you can create great one-off pieces of content without breaking the bank.
I’ve struggled to categorise BlendTec. Some might disagree, but I think BlendTec create those videos for the YouTube community rather than their key customer base. Are the people who watch those videos in the market for a blender right now? Probably not. But one day they might be, and when they are they’ll probably remember BlendTec.
What can you learn from them? Think outside the box and have fun.
I’m not sure if ukuleles really count as a ‘tough’ niche or not; but either way Al Wood has created an amazing resource. Rand’s dubbed it the SEOmoz of ukulele playing.
Hopefully you’ve found this useful, I’ve certainly had fun pulling it together. Got some more examples? Do let me know via the comments.
Need some content ideas? Leave a comment explaining your product / service your target market – myself and the awesome Moz community will try and come up with some ideas for you.
June 19th, 2012 @ // No Comments
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. For SEOs and webmasters in June 2012, that sentiment is true. Some websites have reached record highs in SERPs since the sites which have been beating them for so long have been penalized. Other websites have received what is clearly the most painful, costly and time consuming penalty Google has ever dished out. The current Google penalty for manipulative links is so bad one of the seriously suggested solutions is to abandon the affected site and start a new one!?!?
The first step in dealing with a penalty is identification. Site owners often are not immediately aware they have been penalized. They notice a drop in traffic or rankings, then begin to investigate the issue. So how do you really know if your site has been penalized? Once you know you have been penalized, how can you figure out the cause and fix it?
The easiest means to diagnose the penalty is if Google informs you they have penalized your site for manipulative links. Log into your Webmaster Tools account and search your message page from Google. Below is an image of the dreaded Google “you have been manually penalized” message. According to Matt Cutts, about 25,000 webmasters received similar notices earlier this year.
NOTE: identifying information such as web addresses have been removed from all images to protect client confidentiality.
The key elements of the above message are:
As bad as this message is, it is better than not knowing and guessing whether you have been penalized and what is the root cause. You now know you have a manual penalty due to unnatural links. Now you can focus your attention on fixing the problem.
If you do not have a manual penalty notice, then another possibility is you have been hit by Penguin.
Penguin’s birthday is April 24th, 2012. What day did your rankings drop? If your ranking drop is right around that time, there is a strong likelihood your traffic drop is Penguin related. If you are unsure of the exact date, take a look at your Google Analytics account to see when your traffic dropped.
TIP – In your GA account, go to Traffic Sources Search Organic. Do not expect to see a straight off the cliff drop in traffic. Most of the Penguin penalties I have seen involve about a 1/3 drop in organic search traffic. You will notice your overall organic search traffic for the two weeks after April 24th is approximately 1/3 lower than the two weeks before April 24th. If your site was boosted by a larger percentage of manipulative links, the drop can be more severe.
It’s important to note that the Penguin changes are NOT about improving search quality, but rather seems to be focused on penalizing specific types of spam. The most particular focus seems to be on anchor text “over-optimization”. For more information on the Penguin update please watch Rand’s WBF update on Penguin.
Many clients ask “why was my site penalized but my competitor’s site was left untouched?” We have all seen plenty of instances of this happening. It’s similar to asking a cop “why am I getting pulled over for speeding when all these other cars are speeding too?” A line was drawn in the algorithmic sand and you were found to be on the wrong side of the line. With future updates, the line may move and hit your competitor’s site too. That response isn’t very comforting but it is the closest we are likely to get to the truth.
Google often manually penalizes sites and does not inform site owners of the penalty. Furthermore, Google makes many algorithm changes each year. Most people are aware of the major algorithm changes, but you should also know Google makes about 50 algorithmic changes each month which could lead to ranking changes or an “algorithmic penalty”. With the Penguin update specifically, we are unsure if there will be further refinements and rollouts as has happened with Panda. On May 25th Google rolled out what Search Engine Land calls Penguin 1.1.
What advice is available for a site owner who wants to know if they have received a link penalty or at risk in the future?
Check your anchor text distribution to see if it appears natural. You can perform a fast check in Open Site Explorer of your top 20 links as follows:
Hopefully your anchor text distribution looks more natural than the below example. Notice how all the links show anchor text? A natural distribution would show a high percentage of links with simply the site URL. When anchor text is naturally used, it is often far less than ideal.
So what does a natural profile look like? It is easiest to show from AHREFs (https://ahrefs.com/), a tool similar to OSE but which offers a cool anchor text report.
Below is the anchor text distribution report for GNC.com. GNC stands for General Nutrition Center. They sell vitamins, supplements and other health products. According to AHREFs, GNC.com has 5700+ domains linking to their website. The report below shows the top 10 anchor text keywords used in their backlinks. Notice all the keywords are their unique brand / site name, or generic terms such as click here to view website. What you don’t see is anchor text such as “buy vitamins” or “best herbal products”. Even if their 11th highest anchor text used a keyword, it would only represent 1% of the links to their site. THAT is a natural link profile. You can see similar profiles by looking at sites such as seomoz.org and google.com as well, but I wanted to use an e-commerce site to show how those sites can achieve the same results.
In comparison, below is the backlink profile for the site first shown with the OSE anchor text distribution. This site has 335 linking root domains as per AHREFs. Notice the difference? 70 of the site’s 335 LRDs (over 20%) use the exact same keyword anchor text. This particular domain name, which uses the format doctorjohnsmith.com, has no relation to “los angeles dentist”. What are the chances that 20% of domains naturally chose that anchor text?
If your site’s anchor text distribution looks similar to the below, expect to be hit by a penalty. As a note, it appears this particular site has NOT been hit by Penguin, but I would suggest it is a prime candidate for Penguin 2.0 if Google decides to move in that direction.
There are some reports from site owners who were penalized by Google after 301 redirecting a penalized site to their site. There is not enough data on this topic to form any conclusions yet.
I can confirm two other items related to these penalties. First, any form of link network is a concern. The first client I worked with who had been penalized for links was in November of 2011. The client is a leader in their niche selling $18 million worth of products the prior year. Over a 12 year period the client grew a network of over 100 sites, mostly various forms of duplicate content of the main site. These were very large sites having hundreds of thousands of pages. By dismantling the network, we removed over 3.5 million links. If you are penalized, you should consider other sites you own which link to your main site. Ross Hudgens credits the removal of links from other company owned sites as the most critical reason WPMU made a fast Penguin recovery.
The second item I wanted to share relates to Bing. Shortly after the above mentioned client was penalized by Google, they were penalized by Bing as well. Once the Google penalty was lifted, removing the Bing penalty was easy. I simply shared with Bing all the actions taken to resolve the Google penalty and they accepted that answer and lifted the penalty. With all the attention currently on Google, let’s not forget that Bing (Bing + Yahoo) controls approximately 30% of search traffic in many markets.
Thanks for reading. I hope you find this information helpful.
This is my first SEOmoz blog article. I spend most of my limited free time in the QA. There seems to be a huge interest in both diagnosing and resolving link-related penalties. If this article is popular, I will write a follow-up article soon on How to Remove Link Penalties sharing some case-study examples. If you have any questions related to diagnosing link penalties, feel free to ask. I would like to extend a special thanks to Gianluca Fiorelli and Keri Morgret for nudging me to become more active in YouMoz. This article would not have been written without their encouragement.
June 19th, 2012 @ // No Comments
It’s a familiar story. My first website name came from Go Daddy, found using a hunt–peck method, one name at a time. Using a $7.99 promo code, if a name wasn’t available I moved on to the next.
Let’s step into the modern era.
Each letter of a domain name is big business. In today’s environment, your domain name may appear thousands (or millions) of times daily in Google’s search results. A change in rankings or clickthrough rate of just 1% can make the difference between fortune and bust. Choosing the right name is both an art and a science.
Recently, a startup that I work with (full disclosure: I’m the part-time Director of Marketing for this company) undertook this naming process. Here’s how it played out:
Before I joined the company, the co-founders paid an upscale branding/advertising agency to help develop a logo and name.
2. Survey 1
A handful of people, including myself, disliked the name. After some feedback from investors, we decided to open the issue back up before launching. We brainstormed for days, went back to original ideas, and then surveyed a group of 40 friends, families and investors using a free service from Survey Monkey.
3. Survey 2
Using the results from Survey 1, we took the top contenders and crafted a 2nd survey, soliciting feedback from 30 top-notch online marketers who were unfamiliar with our concept.
We held a name contest on NameStation. (Good, clever results from the community there. The only drawback is the community is so very small at this point)
5. Clickthrough Rate Test
I took the top 10 contenders from 1-4 and created an Adwords campaign with 10 individual ads. The keywords related to our market. Each ad was identical except for the company name in the title and display URL. The ad led to a generic “coming soon/sign up” page. For $100 we generated over 100,000 impressions and measured the CTR for each ad, trying to keep all other variables equal.
Surprisingly, the CTR test resulted in a clear winner: the original name we paid the agency to develop. This cinched it.
I present to you PlaceFull.com
Today, I like the name a lot better. Data has a funny way of doing that. Lessons learned:
It stands to reason that certain names perform better in search results than others, and correlation data shows that certain domains tend to perform better than others.
What this data shows is that longer domain names tend to rank lower than their shorter counterparts. (Remember the difference between correlation and causation). Most likely, this is not due to an algorithmic bias, but rather:
If given the choice, “toothfestiva.com” would make a better choice than “chicagodentistscheduleanappointmentnow.com“. As of this writing, both are available.
When the perfect domain is already taken, some webmasters resort to hyphenated versions. Is this a good idea? Bill Slawski, the Google patent guru, recently identified a patent that describes how Google might handle hyphenated domains.
… when two, three, or more hyphens are present, this is often an indication that these domain names are associated with companies that are attempting to trick search engines into ranking their web pages more highly.
United States Patent 8,046,350
Takeaway: “chicago-hotdog.com” might pass the mustard, but “best-chicago-hot-dog-cart.com” is going nowhere fast.
If you sell “pink widgets”, does it still make sense to use an exact match domain like “pinkwidgets.com“? There’s been a lot of debate over exact match domains over the past year, but the correlation data suggests it’s still a good idea. The most recent SEOmoz study showed a fairly good 0.22 correlation between exact match .com names and higher rankings.
Recent Google algorithm changes and concerns about Penguin and over-optimized anchor text have cooled exact match enthusiasm, but a more recent study by the Open Algorithm showed a still respected 0.181 correlation.
Although it’s clear to SEOs that their effectiveness has declined since their heyday, the data shows exact match domains still perform well in search results.
The SEO benefit of partial match domains is less clear. A partial match domain includes part of your keyword without the exact match. (For example, “widgetman.com” is a partial match domain for the keyword phrase “widget seller”.)
Although there may be a branding benefit of including a relevant keyword in your name, Mark Collier of the Open Algorithm argues that “having the keyword in some of your domain isn’t very beneficial. It’s either exact match or forget it.” Controversial words, for sure.
Regardless, if you become successful, your domain can become an exact match brand, much like Amazon, Facebook and Target.
In early 2013, ICANN plans to introduce 1000s of new domain extensions in addition to the 22 generic TLDs (like .com and .net) already in existence.
For now, .com still rules.
Although correlation data shows very little preference for .com extensions, the public has traditionally embraced the dot com. Companies often start with non-traditional names, such as del.icio.us and bit.ly, only to seek mainstream success with a dot com. Regardless, many webmasters believe the dot com domination won’t last forever. My friend Andrew Dumont successfully uses the .me extension, and numerous examples of successful non-.com alternatives are not hard to find:
A few years from now, we might remember .coms as an interesting relic of the early days of the Internet.
For the record, it cost $185,000 to apply for a new gTLD. Google applied for 50.
If you do business outside the United States, should you use a country code top-level domain such as .de or .uk?
In this case, there’s no one rule that applies to all circumstances. In many cases there may be some ranking and branding advantages to targeting a specific country. The problem is if you want to expand later, it causes a lot of work. Most experts agree that it’s usually best to snag a .com, even if you don’t use it right away.
International domains are good for other uses as well. In fact, SEOmoz uses mz.cm, from the country of Cameroon, for its URL shortener.
Note: For history buffs who want to buy a domain from the collapsed Soviet Union, the .SU extension is still available.
In the PlaceFull.com example above, we used Google Adwords to test our 10 best candidates in the real world. Using ads that matched our brand message, this allowed us to gauge clickthrough rates and engagement on a massive scale at low cost.
Spending $100, we generated over 100,000 impressions on Google’s search and display network. The ads led to a public DropBox URL that displayed a generic “Coming Soon” signup page. Each ad was identical except for the first word of the title and the display URL – which represented the name we were testing.
The winning name earned a CTR almost 250% better than the lowest performer, and about 10% higher than the second place winner.
Validating your assumptions early can lead to higher earnings in the future.
So, the “ideal” domain is a short, exact-match .com (for now) with no hyphens that’s easy to remember, spell, and accurately represents your brand.
Other tips include:
No more hunt and peck! For savvy marketers, the days of typing single domains into a search box are long gone. Below is a list of my favorite domain hunting tools.
Dead simple, fast and intuitive. Helps you quickly find names you never would have considered.
This premium set of tools offers both a free and paid level of membership. The paid level is well worth the cost, and the small community of human idea generators can offer professional naming ideas for a fee.
The standard. Great when you already have a few ideas, and want to quickly see what’s available.
The made-up word generator.
Combines unique TLDs to generate names like elbo.ws and thehipsterho.me.
Is this one of the best domain name generators ever?
Combines Panda and Bee. Get it? A great name-combining tool.
So many tools here, you could get lost for days.
Solid, all-around domain tool.
Another well-rounded tool. Also checks Facebook and Twitter availability.
Fast and easy domain suggestions.
You know you’ve made it in the online marketing world when you can afford to spend more than $11 on a domain. Seriously, it drives me crazy to hear about startup founders (with funding!) still limiting themselves to available domains. Great after-market names are available at any price range, often starting as low as $25.
Yes, there are still great domains out there unregistered, but if you’re a million dollar company launching a new venture, why not expand your horizons?
Super large collection of premium domains. In the screenshot below, the name “firstrankseo.com” is available for $60.
Hand selected premium domains.
Listing over 4,000,000 premium domains.
Great opportunities can often be found buying recently expired domains. Some of these are well-aged domains with hard to find keywords.
Lists tons of data about domain about ready to expire including backlink information, PageRank, age and more.
A word of warning: Some webmasters buy expired domains because of a strong backlink profile, but often these domains come complete with a spammy links and a black-hat history. A PR6 expired domain isn’t always what it appears to be. Buyer beware.
If you don’t want to spend weeks digging for the perfect domain, there are websites that will do it for you – complete with a new logo. In minutes, you can be up-and-running with your new brand starting with just a few hundred dollars.
Every domain on the site is $250 and comes with a color logo.
Often a little pricier than Stylate, but a big, well organized selection.
What’s your favorite domain tool? Let us know in the comments below.
The best name is one you take pride in, want to print on a t-shirt, and enjoy.
That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
A good name delivers to its master high ROI.
- Bill Shakespeare, Silicon Valley
June 19th, 2012 @ // No Comments
As the head of content creation and SEO over at Designbysoap Ltd, a significant chunk of my weekly activities is spend producing and promoting infographics for our clients. We’ve had infographics commissioned to be used for a variety of purposes, including public awareness campaigns, personal CV’s, teaching aids, brand recognition, and everything in between. The vast majority of them, however, are produced with one key goal in mind: to increase backlinks to a target website.
So with that in mind, here’s my in-depth guide to making the most out of your infographic, framed from the point of view of gaining the highest level of distribution (and therefore links) as possible.
It’s worth noting that the concept, research, and design phase are extremely important in gaining links from your infographic – all the promotion in the world won’t help with an infographic that people simply aren’t interested in (or one that features a poor design concept). However, as this post will focus on promoting and pushing your infographic, I’ll have to assume that you’ve got an infographic that’s worth promoting. If you’re still at the content creation stage, then my previous SEOmoz post might help you create something worthy of being shared.
You need to ensure that you make your infographic as easy to share as possible, which means ensuring that social media sharing buttons are clearly visible on the post – have a look at the social media buttons at the bottom of this post for a good example.
If you’re publishing your infographic on a high profile blog then this probably won’t be an issue, but if you’re publishing on your own blog, make sure you’re making it as easy as possible for your visitors to share the infographic via social media platforms. You should also include a clear call to action at the end of your post, something along the lines of ‘if you enjoyed our infographic, please consider sharing it using the buttons below!’
Similarly, you should make reposting the infographic and linking back to you as easy as possible, and the best way to do this is to supply a HTML embed code. An embed code will not only provide people with an easy way of re-publishing your infographic, but it will ensure that they link back to you (via an image link) and allow you to control the anchor text. If you’re not too hot with HTML, I’d recommend you take advantage of a simple but very clever tool from SEOGadget; their HTML embed code generator.
This tool will allow you to input your infographic URL, the title, your preferred anchor text and your link URL and then it will generate a HTML code that you can use on your own site.
Even with an embed code, some people will inevitably repost your infographic without providing a credit link back to you (they will just save the image and re-publish on their own site). We’ll have a look at one way of dealing with this later on in the post, but just because someone isn’t linking back to you doesn’t mean you can’t ensure you get credit for the content (and improve your brand recognition in the process). You should always add some kind of branding to the infographic to make sure people know where the content came from – now this doesn’t mean plastering your logo all over it or relating everything in the infographic to your brand, but you can add a small, unobtrusive logo or standout URL at the footer of your infographic, like we did for the WordPress infographic for the Yoast website:
You can also add a QR code to the footer of your infographic, which is particularly useful if you’re going to be using them in the real world, but we’ll cover this in a bit more detail later on in the post.
As you would imagine, the vast majority of links you’ll gain will be from English speaking websites, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore international links. Getting your infographic translated into other languages can hugely increase the number of inbound links your infographic gains for your website, and it’s not particularly difficult to do. This is particularly worthwhile if your infographic includes information that would be interesting or valuable to countries other than the UK or the US, which is probably the case with a huge number of infographics.
Here’s an example taken from the Destructoid website; the Guide To The GamersUniverse infographic in English:
And in Chinese:
(Note these are just sections of the infographic, to see the whole infographic follow the link to the Destructoid website above).
If you’re lucky enough to have someone on staff who speaks more than one language then great, but generally you’ll need to source people who can translate the text in your infographic for you. You could use an online translation tool such as Google Translate, but these translations aren’t always accurate, so you’re probably better off using a platform like Elance to source a translator.
Once you have your translated infographics, you can start promoting these alongside your English version – you could have links from your original publishing site to versions in different languages (for example click here for Spanish version, click here for Chinese version, etc), as well as targeting internationally based website for further placement of your infographic.
While you’re getting your infographic translated, you might also want to consider getting the translator to provide you with text you can use to Tweet out links to the foreign language version of your infographic (in the target language).
Encouraging people to link to or share your infographic is one thing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t continue the process of active link-building after your initial infographic publication. In this section we’ll have a look at some of the ways you can build links to your infographics, and increase the likelihood of it encouraging further links.
The easiest way to build links via your infographic is to submit it to the numerous infographic distribution portals available, almost all of which will allow a credit link back to the original designer or publisher. To help get you started, here’s a quick list of sites that allow infographic submissions (thanks to Paddy Moogan and Doug at Pixel Design Studio for helping me out with a few extra sites for the list):
Fuck Yeah Infographics
I Heart Infographics
Infographics Online Directory
Brandless Infographic Blog
Another great way to build links to your site via the infographic is with guest blogging – many people think that they can’t continue to post out an infographic once it’s been published, but this simply isn’t the case (after all you’re relying on other people continuing to post the infographic with a credit link back to you). As the infographic is an image, it doesn’t count as duplicate content, so as long as you’re writing unique copy to accompany the design with each guest blog, you’re still using a perfectly legitimate technique and you don’t need to worry about duplicate content. Find a list of sites that are in a relevant niche to your infographic topic, and start sending out some emails requesting placement of the infographic. For each person that accepts your request, write a brand new description / post to go with the infographic and get it published – as long as you’re not duplicating that copy, you can repeat this process over and over again, gaining more and more links each time you do so.
If you don’t have a network of blogs you can get in touch with, or you simply don’t have the time for manual blogger outreach, you could consider using a service like MyBlogGuest, which has a specialised infographic guest blog section (we actually suggested this to them some time ago, so it’s nice to see a service that really listens to their market). The MBG infographic section allows you to supply numerous different descriptions for one infographic, each of which will be available for bloggers to publish – if you’re unfamiliar with MyBlogGuest and you’re interested in link building via guest blogging, infographics, or both, I suggest you check it out via the link above.
It’s also worth submitting your site to relevant content aggregation networks – there’s not much point including a list here as it depends on your niche, but as an example, an infographic on SEO, link-building, or social media would be well suited to inbound.org.
You can also create a detailed press release around the infographic and submit it to platforms such as PRWeb, which will allow you to link back to the original publication.
Static infographics are phenomenal for building natural links to your website, but by going one step further and reformatting your infographic, you’re ensuring you can get the most out of it in terms of inbound links and referred traffic.
One of the best ways to reformat your infographic is to animate it, which allows you to target video distribution platforms in addition to infographic submission sites. If you’re lucky enough to have someone on staff who can use Adobe After Effects (or a similar program), then you can do this in-house, or you can hire an agency or freelancer to do this on your behalf (you’ll need to supply them with the working file, which will most likely be in Illustrator or Photoshop format). You might even find that your infographic design agency can complete this for you (at Designbysoap Ltd we now offer this as an additional service), in which case it’s always best to allow the original designer to animate it.
To show you the sort of thing you can do with the already finished artwork, here’s a short animated infographic taken from the piece we designed for BusinessEnergy.com, entitled ‘UK Business Energy Costs’.
Having the infographic as a video will not only increase the likelihood of people linking to you (as you can offer them two different ways of sharing your content), but it allows you to utilise high authority video distribution channels such as YouTube and Vimeo.
Another excellent way of reformatting your infographic to encourage natural links is to make your infographic interactive, although admittedly this is again an additional step forward in terms of the skillset required. An interactive infographic not only helps set your design apart from the scores of other infographics out there, but can dramatically increase engagement and social media sharing.
You should obviously host the infographic on your own website, and utilise either Flash or HTML5 to achieve the desired effect. An excellent example of an interactive infographic is the Future Of Car Sharing, which does a phenomenal job of portraying the information whilst keeping the user engaged and entertained.
Another idea for reformatting your infographics is through a smartphone application – admittedly this could be potentially expensive, but there are companies out there who will turn your content into an app for free, in return for a cut of future profits. Infographics can make a good app too, particularly if you can come at it from the right angle – a good example is the Great War 100 app, which portrays genuinely interesting information about the first World War through infographics, and given we’re approaching the 100 year anniversary of the conflict, it stands a good chance of making lots of sales. We actually supplied the infographics for this app, which you can see the advertisement for below:
Another good idea, particularly if you have a long infographic with lots of different stats, is to chop it up into slides and turn it into a slideshow (in either PowerPoint or PDF format) which can then be uploaded to platforms such as SlideShare or Scribd.
If you have released infographics previously (particularly if they’re all in a similar industry), then you could also consider turning the infographics into an e-book, which can be sold on platforms such as Amazon, or distributed free of charge via your website. If you are considering placing it on your website as a free download, then consider using a service such as Pay With A Tweet, which will allow you to provide your e-book to visitors in return for a Tweet promoting the content.
As well as doing your best to encourage sharing around your infographic, you should also make the effort to promote the content yourself via social media and bookmarking platforms. Obviously you should promote the infographic via your own (and your staff’s) Twitter, Facebook, Digg, Reddit, and StumbledUpon accounts – particularly if you have fairly strong profiles on those platforms.
When you’re promoting your infographic via Twitter or Facebook, rather than simply saying ‘check out our brand new infographic,’ consider taking individual statistics from the infographic (preferably the most attention-grabbing or surprising stats) and posting them out individually. We’ve found this tactic to be much more effective at encouraging click through rates (particularly from Twitter). In addition, don’t forget to include relevant hashtags with your Tweets, as this can help widen your reach beyond your normal friends and followers, giving you a better chance of reTweets and referred traffic.
If you don’t have a strong social media presence, then you could consider utilising a social media promotion agency, although this will of course increase your budget for project. With that said, however, the harder the content is pushed via social media the more likely you are to gain links from a varied selection of sources. If you do decide to take on a social media agency to help with promotion, make sure you check their previous campaigns, clients and results, as you’d be surprised at the number of ‘agencies’ who simply use paid services like Fiverr in order to push social media metrics.
It’s also well worth completing some manual outreach in order to try and gain traction via ‘influencers’ in your industry, as if successful, this can have a dramatic impact on the number of social shares and links. Let’s say for example you’ve produced a high quality and well researched infographic on how social media links affect search engine optimisation – why not try and Tweet people like Rand (SEOMoz), Joost (Yoast), or Richard (SEOGadget) and see if you can get them to share your content. Employing this kind of outreach might not result in any responses (depending on your content and how you get in touch), but it takes very little time or effort and can yield phenomenal results if an influencer does decide to help promote your infographic.
You can also further increase social media engagement by incentivising sharing – let’s say you’ve produced a beautiful infographic that you know will be particularly popular amongst a certain market (gamers, just for example). Print out ten copies of your infographic and say you’ll give them away as a competition prize – all people have to do to enter is share the infographic via Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ and the winners will be picked at random from those who’ve shared the content. We’ve used this kind of competition-entry format for clients in the past to great effect and it’s certainly worth considering for promoting your content or increasing your social media brand traction.
If your brand sends out regular emails to mailing list subscribers (like SEOmoz do with their monthly Moz-Letter), then be sure to include your infographic in your mailouts – place a small, eye-catching section of your infographic in the email with a link back to the full version on your website. This can not only increase traffic, but encourage both social media sharing and reposting (and therefore links).
This is often overlooked by agencies and brands looking to promote their infographic, but it’s something that when done right (and combined with a link to an online presence, most notably a QR code) can be fantastic for increasing brand awareness and mobile traffic to a website.
Let’s look at an actual example from one of our campaigns from last year. One of our clients is a luxury, five-star guesthouse in the city of Brighton, UK, and as part of their marketing campaign we produced an infographic on tourism in Brighton and Hove. As well as promoting the infographic online, we also printed physical copies of the infographic and placed it in relevant part of the City, including the local tourist office. We placed a simple QR code at the bottom of the infographic that allowed people to visit the website by scanning the code with their smartphone:
Infographic section via The Claremont Hotel Brighton (click the image if you’d like to see the full infographic).
Not only did this result in a dramatic increase in website traffic via mobile devices, but did a great job of improving overall brand awareness in Brighton. As an added benefit, we noticed that people were also talking about the infographic and posting photos of it on their social media profiles, increasing the number of social media links pointing at the Claremont website.
Admittedly, this technique isn’t always suitable for infographics, but it’s well worth bearing in mind if local customers are your primary focus.
Now that you’ve produced your infographic, reformatted it, pushed it out to as many different platforms as possible, and promoted it via social media channels, it’s time to chase down a few extra links by finding website who have reposted the infographic without a credit link.
The easiest ways to do this are with a standard Google search and taking advantage of the drag-and-drop function on the new Google Image search. Start by searching for the title of your infographic (as well as a few variations) and visit every website you find that has posted the content – do the same with the image search function, by dragging your infographic from your desktop into the Google Image Search.
This will give you more publishing sites, allowing you to create a list of sites that have reposted your content. From here you can visit each one and note down the URL and contact information of any site that has published your infographic without linking back to you, then simply email each one with a polite request for a credit link. Sure, some webmasters won’t reply to you, but you can gain a few extra links by doing this with every infographic you publish.
So that’s it for my infographic link-building post – did I miss anything? Do you have a useful tip for gaining additional links from your infographic design? Let me know in the comment below and I’ll do my best to respond to every comment.
Post by John Pring, head of SEO and content creation at Designbysoap Ltd.
June 19th, 2012 @ // No Comments
I’ve moved a lot of domains throughout my career as an online marketer. There are many reasons why one would want to move WordPress to a new domain such as rebranding, domain portfolio consolidation, merger or acquisition, etc. Because it’s not uncommon to move domains, I thought it would be good to put together a step-by-step cheat sheet for the average guy/gal who wants to quickly and easily move their WordPress site to a new domain while salvaging as much link equity as possible. The process isn’t as hard as you might think, so let’s roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty.
I talk to a lot of people about purchasing new domain names. Some of the more common questions I receive are “should I buy a domain name with keywords in it?” or “should I buy a .com or will .info work?”. In the earlier days of my career, I would have said that keyword rich or even better, exact match keyword domain is the only way to go. I guess you could say that I have grown up over the last few years and always recommend purchasing a domain name that can become a strong brand. That being said, it’s your business, so pick a domain name that works for you.
As for a company to register your domain with, I use NameCheap (not an affiliate link) and have never had a problem with them.
Before moving your website over to a new domain, you need to install WordPress on the new domain. I am a huge fan of just about any hosting company who offers one click install WordPress installation. I host with HostMonster (not an affiliate link) and swear by them, however Ash has a different opinion.
If you don’t host with a company who offers one click installation options, you can learn how to install WordPress on your new domain here.
The last thing we want to do when moving a domain is have a whole site of duplicate content get indexed and possibly penalized before we even have the chance to push our link equity from the old domain to the new one. To make sure this doesn’t happen, add the following contents to your robots.txt file.
If you are like me, and I pray you are not, you never update your WordPress install. You either don’t do this because you are lazy, or you are afraid that an update will break your current theme (if this is the case, you need a new, SEO friendly design).
If you want to make the migration process as seamless as possible, you will need to update your install to the same version as your new domain.
Other WordPress migration guides will tell you that you have to copy all files over to the new domain. If you follow my step by step guide, you only have to move one folder from your old domain to your new domain in order for everything to work properly. To get started, you need to open your favorite FTP client. I like to use FireFTP.
Login and browse to the folder where your website files are located. The only files we need to move are those located in the wp-content folder.
You will want to download the entire folder and then upload it to the new domain. It will overwrite the wp-content folder on the new domain, but that’s okay. Now your theme(s) and your plugins are all on your new domain.
To export and upload databases, you will need to work in the phpMyAdmin of your web host.
Once logged in, you should locate your database. It can get a little tricky if you have multiple databases and don’t know the name of the database for your old WordPress install. Once you find the database, you should head to the export section, make sure you are exporting in SQL format, and I like to compress my files. Export and you are half way there!
After you export the database, you will need to find the new database name and head over to the import tab. As with most imports, they are pretty easy, just browse to the file, make sure the format is still SQL and import it.
If you have followed all of the steps thus far, your database settings should be accurate, however, you will want to double check the name and the password of the database just in case. After verifying the database information, you will want to add the following lines code to the file, replacing sample.com with the right domain name:
Again, if you have followed all of the steps in the process above, your settings should remain the same. You will, however, want to double check everything.
Now that all of your content and your theme has been moved over, you will want to replace any mention of your old brand name or URL. The easiest way to do this is by installing the search and replace plugin. This is a pretty tricky plugin and you can mess things up in a hurry, so please read the instructions and keep a backup of your database in case you overwrite something on accident.
Please check everything twice or even three times. The last thing you want to do is launch a site that doesn’t work properly. Check your links (since you used the search and replace plugin), check your forms, check your URL, check everything!
Not much else to say here…
Redirect 301 / http://www.newdomain.com/
If you are running your blog feed through FeedBurner, then you need to update your account with the new feed url. If you are not running your blog feed through FeedBurner then you should be ashamed.
At this point, your new site should be up and running. It may take a few days to get the new domain crawled and indexed with the search engines. I’ve found that by tweeting a link to your new site or sharing it on Google+ will help speed up the amount of time it takes to get the crawlers to your new site. You might also consider dropping a few blog comments on popular blogs as well.
If you have any other tips to add to my list, please do so in the comments below.
June 19th, 2012 @ // No Comments
Another great SLCSEM (Salt Lake City SEM professional organization) event has come and gone and left us with a ton of great information from one of the country’s leading experts in local search, David Mihm. The timing for a local search meetup and having David as a speaker couldn’t have been more perfect as the local search landscape is preparing for a major shakeup in the near future. With Apple dropping Google and launching its own maps product, Google Places changing to Google+ Local and Yelp making big moves to embed itself in major search platforms, there was a lot of great information and speculation on preparing for what’s coming next.
I was invited to speak following David to give the attendees an agency’s perspective on fulfilling local search campaigns for small businesses. Both presentations are available at the bottom of this post. However, I want to highlight what I thought were some of the most interesting takeaways from David’s presentation and the QA session that followed.
Ash Buckles, President of SEO.com, also formally announced that we are offering affordable and effective services for local and other small businesses (see press release here). In conjunction with that announcement, Ash announced that we will be doing a 6-month free SEO services giveaway to 6 lucky small businesses. One winner will be announced each month. Click here to enter and read more about the contest.
If you haven’t had enough talk about local search yet, sign up for our upcoming local search webinar. The webinar will be held June 28th, 2012 at 11 a.m. MST and yours truly will be the presenter. If you’re entering to win the local search giveaway, you’ll definitely want to tune into this webinar to see what you can expect if you are the lucky winner.