August 9th, 2012 @ // No Comments
Do you know why they always say to pick your business name carefully? There’s lots of reasons, but one of them is so you’ll avoid ever having to change it. If you’ve already built and established a brand, changing it can be worse than starting over from scratch.
Andrew Shortland covers this topic in eight points for Search Engine Land, and his first two are “Don’t Do It!” and “Seriously. Don’t Do It!” That said, things can happen that make it unavoidable. In Shortland’s example, a dentist’s son went into the family business and wanted the name changed to reflect that. But a major change in the focus of your business can also prompt a change; so can trademark issues; and so can other events that may or may not be beyond your control. What should you do then?
If you absolutely must change your business name, be prepared to roll up your sleeves and go to work. If at all possible, try to keep the same domain name. If you change it, you could lose a lot of search engine traffic. If you must change it, “make sure you have a good URL redirection plan in place,” Shortland advised. Indeed, planning well may be the most important thing you can do to minimize the negative impact on your business. You’ll need a good PR plan to build new links and social sharing signals with the new name. A paid search campaign – again, with the new name – can fill in the gap while you’re working on the SEO for the new domain.
Your next step is to update your business contact data – not just on your stationary and your website, but everywhere. You must make sure that Google knows your business name, address and phone number. The search engine looks at this information to determine where you are geographically and what you do. It indexes yellow page sites, local chamber of commerce sites, and so on to get this data. That means if you haven’t completely corrected that information in even one place, your local rankings could drop.
Speaking of local, “don’t forget about updating your NAP [name, address, phone number] data on your Google+ Local page, Bing Local and Yahoo Local profiles,” Shortland noted. And as you bring in the new, make sure you get rid of the old. Some sources might give you hard time about it – and these could cause duplication issues down the line. If you find a lot of sources won’t let you change your data, you might consider changing your phone number – though only as a last resort – so searchers looking for you can better distinguish your new information from your old information.
While you’re going about updating your business name in various places online, make sure you update it on your website! In fact, you should update it there before you update it on services such as Bing Local and Yahoo Local. You’d think this would be a no-brainer, but Shortland revealed that “it’s not uncommon for a business to change its name but forget to change it on its website.” Don’t become another statistic; at the very least, you’ll confuse potential customers, and you definitely don’t want to do that.
Speaking of your customers, be sure you tell them all about the name change before you do it. “When you change your name, it might put off customers who weren’t in the loop and don’t understand what’s going on,” Shortland explained. So get the word out, especially if you have a presence on Facebook and/or Google+. You can even show them a “sneak peak” of your new name or elements from the new site, and find out what your customers think of the change.
I haven’t covered everything; check out Shortland’s article for more details and suggestions. Rebranding is a lengthy, tedious, potentially expensive and detail-laden process. It is not for the faint of heart, and it should not be attempted lightly. If you find yourself in this unenviable position, I wish you good luck; you’re going to need it.
August 9th, 2012 @ // No Comments
Not everybody wants to get busy on social media sites or send out tons of e-mail begging for links. But just about everyone with a website would like to rank well and be found in Google – and it’s hard to do that without links. Fortunately for the introverts among us, you can build useful links to help you rank while hardly leaving the comfort of your home page.
I found these and other amazing ideas for link building on Search Engine Journal. I’d like to tip my hat to Sujan Patel, who has come up with one of the most comprehensive lists of link building tips I’ve ever seen – and after well over a decade covering the Internet, I’ve seen a lot of these lists. If you ever find yourself at a loss as to how you can get more links to your website, just go through this list; you’re bound to find something you haven’t tried yet.
Patel wrote the list in response to complaints he kept hearing that link building has gotten so hard now. Well, yeah, with Penguin on the prowl, perhaps you can’t build links the way you used to. But that doesn’t mean it’s actually gotten hard to do. In fact, in this piece I’m only going to focus on the first set of techniques he mentions, all of which you can do without really leaving your own website.
So you feel odd getting on social sites to share your blog posts. No problem. Why not get your readers to do it for you? Just add social sharing tools to your blog posts. Make it easy for your readers, and they’ll happily oblige. You can even make this easy on yourself by using a plug-in, such as Digg Digg or TweetMEME.
Once you’ve added those social sharing tools, you can take things one step further. In addition to the gentle nudge of putting the tools in place, go ahead and directly ask your readers to share your post, with a call to action at the end. Patel notes that this is an easy way to significantly boost social sharing. It could be as simple as writing “Did you like what you’ve read? Tell your friends about it!”
If you write for a loyal audience that keeps coming back (or would like to build one), you should launch an RSS feed. Your readers will appreciate being informed whenever you publish a new post. Set it up right, and your readers will be even more likely to share your posts with their friends on social networks, thus building more links to your site.
Once you’ve set up that RSS feed, you might want to encourage more sign-ups. But how? You’ll need to venture off your site just long enough to find a directory – not just any directory, mind you, but a respected one that covers your industry. Once you do, you can submit the link for your feed to that directory. Doing this may not only boost your ranking in Google; it can get you a wider audience.
Here’s a simple link building tip that’s way too easy to forget: linking internally to other pages on your website. If your blog post focuses on a certain topic, chances are you’ve written other posts that focus on the same or related topics. (See what I did there?) Link to those other posts within your current one, and you give your readers a reason to stay on your website and keep interacting with your content.
If you’re already publishing regular content on your website (or even if you’re not), have you considered creating an email newsletter? Readers will share newsletters with their friends, as long as they feature helpful content. I know I don’t need to tell you to include links back to your website in the newsletter! As readers share the newsletter, you’ll gain even more links back to your site.
My final two tips are so website-based and simple, at least in principle, that it’s amazing more sites don’t do them. Make sure the search engines can easily crawl and navigate your website! That may mean reverting to text-based navigation links rather than using graphic navigation elements. At the very least, if there are issues with your site’s navigation when a search engine looks at it, you need to get them resolved. As Patel notes, “Resolving these problems automatically results in more backlinks.”
Link building doesn’t need to be painful or a major struggle. You’ll probably want to use many more techniques, but these should get you off to a good start. So put your site’s best foot forward and get busy. Good luck!
August 9th, 2012 @ // No Comments
Is all that time spent doing linkbuilding helping you acquire links faster than you would acquire them without linkbuilding? This guide will help you determine if the rate with which your site is acquiring links is any different than the rate your site acquires links naturally.
To start this process you will need to have already verified your site in webmaster tools. Once verified, navigate to the TrafficLinks To Your Site section of webmaster tools.
From here you will see three sections: who links the most, your most linked content, and how your data is linked. Click “More” under the who links the most section.
Once you have clicked for more, you should see a list of domains that are linking to you, the number of links, and the number of linked pages. What you will also now see is the ability to download the latest links.
While I love Google docs, for this example I recommend downloading a CSV and using Excel.
You should now have a CSV file open in excel with two columns, one with the linking domain and the other with the date the link was acquired (or spotted by Google). The first thing I recommend is formatting the data as a table.
What you are going to do now is split up the list of links into pieces based on the date you or your SEO company started doing linkbuilding. If you stared linkbuilding six months ago, select the last six months of links and cut and paste them in a new column.
This New Column will be the links after you started linkbuilding (or hired someone to do linkbuilding) The next step is to create another new column that has a date range equal to your date range for your “linkbuilding” column. We can call this column “Just before Linkbuilding”. In this column you will cut and past the links from the original “links” making sure that you do not get out of position vertically within the list.
You now have three columns of links all in alignment with their corresponding dates. It’s time to turn this data into a Pivot Chart.
With you data all setup you can now insert a pivot chart.
You should now see a blank pivot table and chart. In the lower right corner of the screen you will see an area that has four sections ( Report Filter, Column Labels, Row Labels, Values) Drag the items from the Pivot table Field list into each of these boxes as you see here.
As you do this you will notice your pivot table and chart come to life. The next step is to group the dates by month to make the pivot chart a bit easier to read. To do this, within your pivot table, right click on any date and select group.
Now Select Years and Months and hit Ok.
You should now have a nice easy to read chart with your links broken into three sections and organized by year and month. Mine looks like this:
The next step is to add trendlines to each of the three sections (data series), to really identify any changes in link acquisition rate. I find the easiest way to do this is to right click on one of the columns in the chart and select “add trendline”.
You will be presented with a set of trendline options. There are two options I suggest changing, the first option is I suggest selecting set Intercept, this will result in all of your trendlines intercepting the x axis at 0, the second recommendation is setting the trendline color to match the series you are creating this trendline for, it just makes it easier to look at.
You now have a chart that clearly shows the liner trend with which your site is acquiring links broken down into segments based on your time linkbuilding (or hiring someone to do linkbuilding), just before linkbuilding, and historically before that. If you don’t see a change in slope between the trendline for before linkbuilding and during it, something is probably not working with your linkbuilding campaign.
Note: for greater accuracy, you would NOT set intercept to zero and you would compare the slopes of the lines, but for a quick view and more organized graph, this gets the job done.
August 9th, 2012 @ // No Comments
The Inbound Jobs story with Five Tips on Getting Buy-in from Thought Leaders.
August 9th, 2012 @ // No Comments
If I started with “I have a confession to make…”, that would be cliché, so I have TWO confessions to make:
This post has nothing to do with SEO. It’s about creative work. I guess it applies to content marketing. Ok, maybe it’s a little bit about SEO. If you’d rather eat a sandwich, I understand.
I am a serial, high-functioning under-achiever. In other words, at the risk of sounding like an ass, my half-assed efforts usually return 7/8-assed results. I learned too early to game those ass-fractions – during final exams in college, for example, I’d calculate exactly what I needed to get an A in the class. If it was only going to take a 67% on the exam, I’d study for 30 minutes and then play Wing Commander for six hours.
Fast-forward to my 40s, and I still sometimes slip into habitual half-assery. As a marketer, I’m especially guilty of one bad habit – I save my best material for the future. When I have a really “great” idea, I add it to a list to write later, presumably because only content marketing will save us from the coming Zombie Apocalypse. Instead of wasting my best ideas, I pull something from the B list and try to get it to 88% assedness.
So, why would I choose a method where I’m purposely ignoring my best ideas and ultimately doing sub-optimum work? I’ve asked myself this question a lot, and now that, on my good days, I’m finally breaking the habit, I think I’ve found a couple of answers:
When it comes to any creative block, you can bet the P-word is going to come into play. Obviously, my “best” ideas need to result in my best work, so enter the self-doubt. I could fight through it and put in twice the effort, or I could just procrastinate (the other P-word). Unfortunately, fear of imperfection doesn’t just rob you of your best ideas – it robs you of your passion in the here and now. If I’m always taking the idea I’m most excited about today and putting it on a list for later, I’ve already lost half the power of that idea. When I go to revisit it down the road, the spark is already gone.
I think that moment of passion is a lot of what makes any piece of content worth creating. I won’t claim that this post is the best thing I’ll ever write (please feel free not to wholeheartedly agree with me in the comments), but for whatever reason this particular fire was burning today. If I left it for next month, I’d be scratching out this sentence with the leftover coals.
I’m also not saying that you should never plan your writing or content ideas in advance, or that it’s bad to make a list. It’s always nice to have a back-up plan. Just don’t keep pushing today’s best ideas to the bottom of the list. Your “B” ideas can go on Plan B. Hit the A-list today.
I suppose this is the outgoing half-sister of perfectionism – I’m waiting until my skills are good enough to be worthy of my best ideas. Only then, will the world recognize me in all my glory and unanimously declare me Supreme Commander of Taco Night (it’s a job – shut up).
Here’s the problem – only your most ambitious ideas push you hard enough to learn. If you keep churning out half-assed work, you’ll never close the gap between your capabilities and the idealized ideas in your head. If you’ve never seen radio producer/personality Ira Glass’s take on the “gap”, then do yourself a favor and watch it now…
This quote (in part 3) sums the series up, but doesn’t begin to do it justice:
All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions.
I’ll go one step further – it’s not enough just to do a lot of work. You have to take a shot at your best ideas; at doing your most important work even when you don’t feel ready. That’s how you grow and, eventually, become worthy of those ideas.
Finally, there’s the fear that I think all writers (fiction, non-fiction, ad copy, part-time, whatever) have – that we’ll just run out of ideas. If I use up my best ideas today, all I’ll be left with is junk, so I’d better save them up. The irony is that, the more I write, the more good ideas I generate. If I write more often, I find it easier to come up with things to write about. I can’t convince you of that until you’ve seen it for yourself – all I can tell you is this: trust yourself. Your creativity is a renewable resource, if you give it a chance.
I hate to say it, but this tendency to push our best ideas back to the future can also turn into a form of professional selfishness. My best ideas should benefit me, right? Why should my clients get them? I’ll make the same argument I did in (3) – you won’t run out of ideas, at least not in the long-term. If one of your favorites is a good fit for a client, let them have it. It’ll make you both look good, and you’ll grow as a professional. If you’re stuck on being selfish, then let me tell you from experience – showcasing your best work for a client will also make you a lot more money down the road. You cheat them, you just cheat yourself again.
There was a great bit of history going around this week – a letter from F. Scott Fitzgerald to a family friend and aspiring writer. It was very honest criticism, but also a path to creative success. He cuts right to the chase with this advice:
I’m afraid the price for doing professional work is a good deal higher than you are prepared to pay at present. You’ve got to sell your heart, your strongest reactions, not the little minor things that only touch you lightly, the little experiences that you might tell at dinner. This is especially true when you begin to write, when you have not yet developed the tricks of interesting people on paper, when you have none of the technique which it takes time to learn. When, in short, you have only your emotions to sell.
So, pay the price, and put your whole ass into it. The only way to do your best work is to write what demands to be written, even if you aren’t ready. You can’t wait until you’ve got the skills, because no one will give you the chance to get there unless you make them care today – and to make them care, you have to care. So, stop shuffling your best work to the bottom of the to-do list – get out there and wreck it.
August 9th, 2012 @ // No Comments
First of all, let me say that in general, when it comes to social media marketing, I am not a fan of automating social media. However, if you must automate some tweets or Facebook posts here and there, Buffer and Timely are two great tools you can use to make your job a bit easier.
But before I start, here is my $.02 words of advice: When I say “easier”, I do not mean it makes social media marketing “easy”. If you want to use a tool to automate tweets etc, make sure you are around to answer feedback, questions, RTs etc. These tools should not be used to replace the human efforts behind your social media marketing campaign. Social media is about relationships, not automatically spewing content for the world to see (or not see).
If you have not heard of these tools, basically they are a service that lets you easily queue up posts to go out at predetermined times during the day… automatically. It could be a standard status update, or you can install an easy to use browser plugin that lets you queue up a post with one click. That’s pretty easy cheesy, no?
I like to use platforms like Buffer and Timely to share great content I find online. I read a lot of great posts every day here at SEO.com, and the last thing I want to do is slam Twitter or Facebook with 10-30 posts in one hour as I am reading them, so I will use these tools to share that content throughout the entire day, or week. Note: I only share content if I think it is of value to the people kind enough to follow me personally, as well as the audience of SEO.com.
ProTip: Make sure your alerts are set up so you can join in on the conversation as they happen. There is nothing worse than scheduling posts and getting feedback, replies, RT’s etc, and not acknowledging the person who mentioned you. As one of my favorite people on Twitter, Mr.”@UnMarketing”, Scott Stratten says:
Automating tweets is like sending a mannequin to a networking event. Stick a post-it note on it, and roll it in to multiple events around the world! Think of all the Chamber of Commerce mixers you could cover! Different time zones! Let the relationships winfall begin!!! Boooyaa!!!”
Buffer Timely – Features In Common:
Distinctive to Buffer: http://bufferapp.com
Distinctive to Timely: http://timely.is
Overall I like Buffer the best… the UI is more slick, less clunky, and sometimes Timely freezes up on me. I have yet to upgrade to a paid account in Buffer, so I find myself using two browsers, one for a personal account, and one for SEO.com. The ability to only add 10 posts at a time can sometimes be a drag, so if you manage multiple accounts, the added value you get for $10 a month is well worth it for Buffer. You probably have $10 in your couch cushions or under your chair in your car… so, now you have the money to get Buffer! #Winning
Another thing I like about Buffer is drag-and-drop rescheduling… whereas Timely just has a feature “Move to Top”. I also prefer the bit.ly integration over awe.sm.
With that being said, I have been using Timely quite a bit as well. I do like having multiple accounts under one login and being able to select what account I want to post from in one browser. And the scheduling may be a bit better as well, since it auto calculates the best times to tweet. Plus, you cannot beat the price of FREE!
BUT, if you happen to use SocialBro, you can link SocialBro to Buffer and run “the best time to tweet” report, and import that into Buffer. BOOM! DONE!
Final Conclusion: You should test both platforms and see what one you like best, based on your needs. Both have many pros and very few cons. So with that being said, the FREE service winner for me is Timely. If you have the $10 a month, I say rock with Buffer!
Five Key Takeaways From This Post:
Have you tried either of these services? What one do you prefer, and why? Do you have others that you would recommend? If so, share ‘em in the comments below.
Until next time…
August 9th, 2012 @ // No Comments
The new location is 50 percent larger than the old one, allowing the Internet marketing firm room to expand
SEO.com outgrew its space in Bluffdale, Utah, and has moved into a new office in Draper, Utah. The new building will enable SEO.com to expand as the company enters its sixth year.
“We’re growing really fast, and needed a new building to facilitate that growth,” said Ash Buckles, president of SEO.com, an Internet marketing firm specializing in search engine optimization and social media marketing.
SEO.com’s new location is just five miles north of the former office, which allowed the company room to grow while commutes for employees basically stayed the same.
“We really liked our old location and most of our employees live in Salt Lake and Utah counties,” Buckles said. “We wanted to keep our new location as close to the old one as possible in order to minimize commutes and keep the talent we have.”
Buckles explained that SEO.com’s former location was on the border of the two counties, making it a prime spot for recruiting purposes.
“There is so much talent in Salt Lake and Utah counties,” Buckles said. “We felt our old location gave us a big recruiting advantage, and we wanted to keep that at our new office.”
SEO.com’s new office is located at 11781 South Lone Peak Parkway, Ste. 100 – Draper, UT 84020.
The new location is more than 18,000 square feet, 6,000 square feet larger than the old office. SEO.com currently has nearly 80 employees. The new office will allow the firm to expand and hire a staff of about 150 people.
“It’s crazy to think we started out with four employees in the basement of a home. … We’ve come a long way, and I’m excited to see what the future holds,” Buckles said. “We’re really happy to be in our new home. We look forward to breaking it in and taking advantage of the extra space to create more jobs and stimulate Utah’s economy.”
In addition to extra workspace, the new location has two large conference rooms and a training classroom. It is located next to eBay and features freeway signage along Interstate 15.
“As we grow, our plan is to invest in products and services that will provide the most benefit to our customers. We view this move as a positive opportunity for us to continue to grow our talented pool of search marketers and increase client ROI and satisfaction,” said Julie Martinez, marketing manager for SEO.com.
SEO.com is a search engine optimization company that delivers a big return on investment for its clients by driving traffic to their websites through search engine optimization, social media marketing and affordable small business SEO services. Clients range from small startups to Fortune 100 companies.
August 9th, 2012 @ // No Comments
Most professional SEO companies and experts routinely conduct formal and informal SEO experiments, some of which are generously posted online for education and calibration purposes. At SEO.com, we encourage our employees to build and monetize personal websites when they’re not at work, as an opportunity to innovate, test, and take risks that we can’t with our client campaigns at work.
Now I’m sure this post will attract a lot of scientific method purists that insist that 99% of these tests are invalid because they were conducted in uncontrolled environments, or didn’t account for all possible external variables, etc. And they would be absolutely right, but I respond with a paragraph from John Quarto-vonTivadar’s MarketingLand post, mainly because I couldn’t have said it better myself:
Ever hear the adage, “Anything worth doing is worth doing wrong”? It’s a great way to think about testing and improvement of any kind, because it deals with the fact that the first step toward improvement always “feels” the hardest. It speaks to the moment when you’re most susceptible to false objections like “It’s too complex!” or “That’s inefficient!”
In my opinion, these studies are incredibly valuable and interesting, and should be read and understood with a conscious understanding that they are not examples of perfect science. They’re “helpful” observations, that in most cases increase our understanding of the science of SEO and its best practices, even if they’re not scientifically sound.
This list is certainly not complete, so please be as generous in the comments (as these professionals were kind enough to post their findings for our benefit in the first place) by adding any tests you’ve conducted, or that you feel will complete this list (to date).