November 30, 2010

SEO and the English Premier League

By Simon Heseltine

I’m English, well technically a dual citizen of the US and the UK, but I hail from Yorkshire.  As the English Premier League season (soccer) has been heating up, I’ve been struck by the similarity between it and SEO.

SoccerballRanking highly matters

In the English leagues there are 92 professional teams, however the big money is only available to those in the Premier League.  The Premier League only contains 20 of those teams.  Where you finish at the end of the season reflects the prize money you earn ,with 1st place taking close to 16Million GBP, and 20th taking just over 700k GBP.  The team that finished 1st in the division below only pockets 50k prize money.  However, teams that finish in the top 4 get to play in the European Champions League the following season, which is highly lucrative, so getting a high ranking really matters.  In SEO… you get the idea.

SoccerballThrowing money != success

Sure, you can have a limitless budget, hire as many of the best resources as possible, with the goal of hitting the top of the rankings.  But as many an oligarch / sheikh / American investor has discovered, there’s only one team that can be at the top of the standings, and it takes time for the investment to pay off, if indeed it ever does.  You don’t get to pick whether you’re number one in the SERPs, you just get to try for it.

SoccerballThe best content doesn’t always win…

…but it generally does well.  A team of superstars takes time to gel, just like it takes time for a search engine to rank content at the top of the SERPs.  Your content may be the best out there, but without the right links, or tweaks to the targeted keywords, you’re not going to displace your competition / that pesky Wikipedia link.

SoccerballROI is important

Over the last 10 years, 2 Premier League clubs have spent themselves into receivership (Leeds and Portsmouth, although technically Leeds didn't enter receivership until after they left the Premier League).  Throwing money they didn’t have into players that didn’t produce.  But what about your site?  If you’re not generating a decent ROI, then you’re not going to be in business for very long, or at the very least, you’re not going to be an employee there for very long.

SoccerballManagerial Buy-in makes a difference

The best way to succeed in online marketing is to have the backing and visible support of the management team.  Without that it’s very difficult to succeed.   In the Premier League, if a player doesn’t have the support of their manager, they can find themselves left on the bench, or played out of position, neither of which is very conducive to success for that player.

SoccerballSuccess breeds success

Over the 18 years of the Premier league, 17 of the titles have gone to either Manchester United, Arsenal or Chelsea  (16 of the last 16 to that triumvirate) .  If you get things right in the search engines you’ll see your site rising up across the board on your target keywords.  The better you do, the more opportunities you’ll have to focus on your conversion driving keywords.

SoccerballThink of the long term

The tenure of a Premier League manager is fairly short.  However, Sir Alex Ferguson of Manchester United has been there since 1986.  During his first season things didn’t go particularly well, and it’s generally regarded that he was on the chopping block, but a couple of good results turned the season around, and he went on to become the most successful manager that England has ever seen (for the record:  he’s Scottish).   Your management should  be willing to allow you to make mistakes when you’re starting out, as long as you learn from those mistakes.  The learning process is what helps you to improve as an SEO, pushing you on to improve.

SoccerballIt’s a team game

Sure, Wayne Rooney may earn an alleged 250k GBP weekly, but without the other players around him he won’t win anything.  Similarly, you need a good dev team, a UI / design team, project managers, and further support in order to succeed.  

SoccerballChanging the rules can change the game

Up until this season a Premier League team could have as many players in their squad as they could afford to keep.  This year the league instituted a maximum squad size of 25 players.  Given the results so far this season, where the top teams are not as far ahead of the chasing pack as they usually are at this time of the season, and several lower rated teams are doing particularly well, this shift appears to have changed the game.  When Google makes an algorithm shift similar things can happen.

So can your site be the Manchester United / Chelsea of Google, or are you doomed to be the next Accrington Stanley?

March 27, 2009

Pay-for-Performance: Winning Strategies for Advertisers and Agencies at SES NYC

By Brian Cosgrove

At the end of the first day at SES NYC came this interesting panel. Many ideas were shared about the importance of restructuring payment for search services and a few of the solutions offer considerations that should be made when considering these models. The panel featured the following speakers:

Moderator

  • Matt Van Wagner: President, Find Me Faster

Speakers

  • Richard Zwicky: Founder & CEO, Enquisite
  • Ron Belanger: SES Advisory Board, Vice President of Agency Development, Yahoo!
  • Tom Cuthbert: President & Founder, Click Forensics
  • Brian Klais: Executive Vice President, Netconcepts
  • Jonathan Scott: COO, Direct Traffic Media

Zwicky began the panel by illustrating the imbalance in compensation for paid and organic search. In his statistics, approximately 88 percent of spend goes to 12 percent of the search engine traffic (paid search) and 12 percent of spend goes to 88 percent of the traffic (organic). These numbers back up his notion that organic search is not getting the compensation it deserves. According to Zwicky, top SEO specialists can deliver top ROI so they deserve to be compensated for value delivered; and everyone should be focused on real value to the end client.

Next up is Belenger. Like Zwicky,this Yahoo! employee stresses minimizing the industry buzz-speak and getting down to business value. Unlike Zwicky, Belenger calls pay for performance problematic. It's true that for Belenger, search marketers need to minimize the sorcery by taking details of the tactics out of the price negotiations and instead get into value delivered. When it comes to pay for performance, however, there are a number of reasons that it may not be a good fit.

For example, the agency may not be able to influence all factors such as:

  • Conversion flow
  • Pricing competitiveness
  • Shipping and promotional offers
  • Brand "trust"
  • Customer service

As an alternative, percent of media spend presents its own issues:

  • It provides incentives agencies to spend more for paid search than they should.
  • In some cases, it disincentives economies of scale.
  • The first 90 days of of the engagement are bleeding red for agencies.
  • Search marketing is reduced to buying more keywords.

For Belenger, an FTE (Full-Time Equivalent) model with fair rates makes the most sense. The following were points on this subject:

  • Data is the new black: pay for it and agree on its value. Use it to derive strategy and insights.
  • Add incentives for cost savings: use technology deployment, outsourcing, and only provide in-house support where applicable.
  • Reach and stretch goals: create an upside for heroic work and a win/win business climate.

Next up, Cuthbert provided some interesting statistics. Online advertising is up 11% while print is down 19%. To explain this, he references phenomena such as CPA models, targeting, measurability, an roi focused culture, the collapse of traditional media, and enhanced tools.

Following Cuthbert is Klais. Klais works with software that is used to execute pay for performance search campaigns. Like Zwicky, he reiterates that there is an inverse relationship between spend and volume with paid and organic search. When thinking of pay per performance, there are a number of factors to consider such as the following:

  • Market opportunity
  • Click-through rate
  • Acquisition costs
  • Keyword coverage
  • Non-brand reach
  • Page placement
  • Page yield
  • Incremental traffic/revenue
  • ROAS

In general, the margin can increase based on value delivered which better aligns agency/marketer interests and should ensure positive ROI/ROAS. He did, however, express some performance model drawbacks for agencies:

  • Investment of resources ahead of revenue
  • Lack of control over execution and conversion
  • Difficulty in managing channel attribution
  • The possibility of succeeding out of a job
  • The program may contain baggage

For the customer, there are also drawbacks:

  • Costs can scale indefinitely
  • Bigger payouts tempt agencies to try risky tactics

When constructing a pay for performance arrangement, consider a revenue sharing model where you define fair commission structure. In this respect, consider rates for the percent of brand or nonbrand; or for incremental increases only. Consider affiliate levels for brand merchants and figure out how to handle channel attribution. Ultimately, try to make sure that SEO and paid search are given their fair split in credit.

Another model is cost per click. After defining a fair click cost, similar considerations should be made about branded vs. non-branded, comparing SEO cost to ppc acquisition cost, and multichannel attribution.

Scott came next and echoed the idea of performance related pay. He believes the industry should embrace performance contracts because the SEO gold rush is over, and clients are demanding accountability and governance in plans.

Scott proposes a base + performance model. That is, the performance element is the carrot, the motivator. He suggests setting up incentive targets based on true KPIs where you can approximately value them and trust them. Even still there are a number of considerations that should be accounted for when developing one of these plans.

The first consideration is seasonality. On a month to month basis, consider using Adwords trends to predict the possible changes in volume that occur. On a similar note, also consider other external factors such as the state of the market by doing a year over year comparison and utilize some basic forecasting. After that, relax and caveat a bit.

In some real life examples, Scott explained how there were bands where the % of bonus became larger and these bands were routinely adjusted to account for seasonality and market factors. It's about taking the time to reach an agreement that makes life easier and avoiding an overly complicated model. In this respect, the client should feel in control, there should be a warm-up period explained, and there should be get out clauses for both parties. It's about negotiating a sense of shared risk among both parties.

That wrapped up the session.  In summary, there are many factors out of the control of search marketers which make it difficult to come to a performance based agreement but, none-the-less, organic search marketers should be paid on the value that they deliver.

March 26, 2009

SEO: Where to Next? at SES NY

By Brian Cosgrove

On Day 1 of SES New York, the Where to Next panel was among the first in the track portion of the show. As you will read, the session was a conversation that migrated from topic to topic in fairly nonlinear path.

Speakers for this session were as follows:
Moderator:

  • Mike Grehan: SES Advisory Board, Global KDM Officer, Acronym Media

Speakers:

  • Marcus Tandler: CEO, Creativity in Action
  • Jill Whalen: CEO, High Rankings
  • Bill Hunt: CEO, Global Strategies Intl, Director, Global Search Strategy, Neo@Ogilvy
  • Duane Forrester: Senior Program Manager - SEO, Live Search, Microsoft
  • Chris Boggs: Director, SEO, Rosetta

The session begins with some best practices. Hunt suggests working on page focus for Title Tags, Headline Tags, and the First Paragraph. This is nothing new and as Whalen points out, at some point no more “on page” work will help. Boggs talks about being consistent with tying the story to the landing page.

The next theme of conversation related to link building. Tandler states that people miss links they legitimately need for their business (while spending too much effort on ones they don’t). Forrestor suggests that the “cold call” approach of sending an email to the webmaster asking for a link still works. This is debated though since all webmasters receive a ton of these emails all the time. Boggs talks about the quality of these links mentioning that many of them include the anchor text of the brand name. For Hunt, these links should be linking to the most relevant internal page. Many link opportunities are sold short because they don’t send users to the right page.

Following this talk comes universal search. Forrester says that SEOs need to get the right mix within the results. It’s all part of a program, depending where your at in the results. Getting into Google News, for example, involves meeting a number of guidelines and applying to get in if you meet the criteria of a news source rather than a journalist who is blogging. Boggs tells us that universal results are very smart and it takes some care to get search traffic from your latest press release.

Since universal search changes the organization of the SERPs, Grehan asks the panel if rankings reports are dead. Tandler suggests scanning the results for the terms you’re targeting and noting which modules show up. Whalen notes that personalized and Geo-targeted results throw a wrench into the rankings report scenario; but Boggs follows that up by noting that they’re still illustrative of overall rankings trends and movement. Further, they can indicate certain categories, etc…. that are moving up. Forrestor says he only uses them internally and one panelist claimed that they aren’t a KPI (this stands for Key Performance Indicator. I am not in agreement with where he was going here. I think rankings can certainly be predictive/indicative of progress toward getting terms which don’t drive traffic closer to a place where they will, at least in aggregate. That being said, a ranking number is not a KPI but KPIs can certainly be derived from rankings, even if there is no traffic, yet, to be seen).

Next up is analytics. Whalen expresses her affinity for Google Analytics. Forrestor encourages the audience to set up conversion, set a goal for that conversion, put a number on it, and beat that number. Boggs offers that the full purchase cycle needs to be considered with analytics since there are often multiple touch points for customers. He mentions creating an attribution model. To this Grehan asks “Why does search get credit for everything?” Hunt quickly replies that it’s the only thing you can measure and people are too lazy to click on organic (this didn’t make much sense to me either but I believe he meant it’s more straight forward for tracking than some other online marketing tactics, or that clients don’t have tracking configured for other methods).

Grehan mentions term “engagement mapping” and Whalen offers that it takes multiple touch points to market effectively (that is, they are complementary, not competitive with each other). Tandler follows this up with a statement that users should not take anything for granted when it comes to looking at their numbers. As he asks, “Who said 2% is great?” He mentions that in the context of that particular situation, they may be able to get it up to 10%. Always Be Testing (incidentally, this is the name of Bryan Eisenberg’s book on Google Website Optimizer). He mentions to get the most out of a landing page (a theme that has been growing momentum as of late).

Forrestor offers the term “claiming the cookie” to describe his attribution. He offers a term (2 day theoretical?) to explain that people should be asking themselves, “How much is the customer worth to me when they are with me?” He says that every month, he feels he gets closer to understanding what is attributable to search.

Grehan talks about Digital Asset Optimization and calls analytics the new SEO. This speaks to the concept of universal search encompassing many forms of digital content that together form the clients assets for online marketing. For analytics to be the new SEO, he may mean that it is the optimization of this whole system, through analyzing each one’s particular value, that will lead companies to success.

At this point, we move into slides for each speaker. I’ll list some of the ones that stuck with me:

  • Incompetent SEOs must stop wasting the time of companies
  • Big brands have the upper hand which means that there definitely is not a level playing field.
  • Developers need to bake in SEO
  • Don’t just be satisfied with #1 rankings, get the most out of Social media
  • Optimize your conversions
  • Don’t buy links, buy whole sites (Tandler alluded to fake review sites which sounds like bad news to me).
  • Create a deeper “real” integration between paid and organic search
  • Flash, Flex, Ajax need to be search engine friendly
  • Optimize your digital assets
  • Match the right page with the intent of the searcher
  • Speak the language of your audience (including from a business perspective
  • “Be a webmaster” and look at search holistically, take on all the various roles to some extent
  • Embrace in-house+agency SEO relationships
  • Make organic entry pages unique to go with the keywords

On the topic of things not being level, Boggs offered that money means time and bigger brands have money so they can afford to put more time into SEO. Another person asked of auto-completion or auto-correction where decreasing the amount of long-tail terms that are searched but someone mentioned that those tools are not always accurate. Someone asked about Woopra and some other tools that are good for looking at your traffic but I don’t recall much of a response.

So there you have it: A collection of topics all covered in a one hour time slot that offer many thoughts and ideas about “What’s next in SEO?”

March 24, 2009

Matt Bailey on Advanced (Persuasive) SEO at SES NYC

By Kim (cre8pc)

One of the most dynamic speakers to grace Search Engine Strategies, year after year, is Site Logic Marketing's President, Matt Bailey.  His popularity earned him his own time slot, and not surprisingly, his session was packed and overflowing with attendees.  Despite stressed vocal chords, he presented what he claimed were over 200 sides...or else he was just kidding.  If it was that much, it certainly never felt that way during his one hour talk.

His topic was called "Advanced SEO Strategies: Integrating Analytics, Usability, Persuasion and Journalism.  Matt was introduced by Stewart Quealy, VP. Incisive Media.  I had the honor of sitting with Mrs. Bailey, which was fun because we could giggle together.  There is always something to laugh at with Matt's talks.

Matt has lots to wisdom to share.  Here are some highlights, most of which you can apply right away and see immediate improvements on your web pages.  The thrust of his talk is about on-page factors.  In others words, optimizing content out front and behind the curtain.

1. "Clean up your house before inviting people over". Get ready for  searchers.There is a sender of information and a receiver. Users have to decode our sites. Our job is to make pages easier to decode and understand.  Search engines will reward you with better rankings when your users are happy.

2. Words are the building blocks of information.  You want to communicate credibility and encourage users to take action.  We want action as a result.  Matt loves the "Power of words." Words are like  dynamite sticks in people's minds.  By finding words that resonate with searchers, this  will create a reaction in their mind. They can tell when a site has what they're looking for.

3. Absolutely NO generic navigation link labels. If it fits on someone else's web site, its generic. It must be specific to you!

4. Call things what they are.  Brand managers want to control the market and often create odd jargon. Users are looking for specifics and seek exact descriptions.  Remember that consumers may not talk the same way you do.  (He shows the now famous "butt paste" slide, for a diaper rash ointment page.)

5.  Search engines are machines that are trying to make humans happy.

6. Page titles - Make them unique and concise and specific to content on the page.  This will get you rankings and you will see immediate results.  You have  60 characters to get your marketing message in search results pages via the title tag. The title tag says, "This is what is on the page."  It is your promise to your users.  Do not use the same page titles on every page.

7. For content, make liberal use of headlines, sub-headings, bullet points, paragraph header and H1 tags. Watch text contrast and text size. Break up content.  Search engines can tell what text you put emphasis on.

8. How many keywords on a page?  This is the age-old question and the answer has always been - "Does the page make sense?"

9. Meta tags such as keywords are extinct, like the old library card catalog.  They're "pre-2000 DEO".  On page factors have more weight.  Make sure keywords are are unique and focused on each page. Remember, also, alt text behind images because you can't always control how your page is rendere.

10. Put descriptive text around images.

11. Use keywords in image and file names.

12. Optimize multi-media files, video, images, pdf, flash files, images..as these are shown in search engines and are rankable. Search is based on human factors and search engines use the same things. 

13. Users scan content.  79% of users scan a page, 16% read word for word.. Therefore, the most important information needs to be in the first paragraph.

14. Don't make links hard to see.  And more importantly navigation should show where you are, especially if it's a landing page.

15. Credibiliy is based on site's visual appeal. This includes layout, fonts, color scheme, how content is arranged, if consistent and if readable.  Readability  issues are things like small text, blinking, scrolling, rotating, low contrasts and often elements that work for print but not online.

16.  People refine searches by brand, by need and by want.  You want to hit the whole process.  Some products are seasonal. 

17. Don't forget regional words like hoagies, grinder, po-buy and sandwich.  There are different ways to say the same thing and people look for our stuff in vastly different ways.  Research what they call it.   

18. Be aware of everyone's own personalized search. Everyone's search results are different.  Don't forget different languages and spellings for words.Laptopmoney

19. There are many different types of searchers...sharp shooters. shotgun, artillery searcher , planner,
browser, price shopper  (customer loyalty is for how long price lasts), last minute shopper.  Offer more than what you ask for.

20. For persuasion, make sure you have ready your elevator pitch, does it meet needs, benefits, build rapport, is it understandable...remember logic, emotion and credibility. Why should people do business with you? Because they NEED to do business with you.

Bravo Matt!

Make Money Per Conversion, Not Click: Search Engine Strategies, NYC

By Kim (cre8pc)

It is day one for sessions at the NYC Search Engine Strategies Conference being held this week at the NY Hilton. There are over 5000 attendees, and believe me, every session I've sat in on has been overflowing with people. There is strong interest in Advanced topics, with a keen eye on what the future holds for the Search Marketing industry.

 I'm delighted to report that although I'm not there in any official capacity as a usability speaker, the relationship of user experience, persuasive design and conversions is inching its way into many sessions and conversations.

The following is are my takeaways from a talk called "Pay Per Conversation" from today's sessions.

Moderator: Jeff Rohrs, ExactTarget

Speakers: Jeffrey Eisenberg, FutureNow
Sandra Cheng, Product Mgr, Google

Jeffrey is standing in for his brother, Bryan Eisenberg, because his wife just went into labor. This room is filled to capacity. Unlike the first session I attended this morning (SEO: Where to Next?"), where it was overflowing and I had to sit on the floor, this time I'm firmly planted in the front row.

Jeffrey leads off the session by having us consider the typical PPC (Pay per click) term and reworking it to "pay per conversation". The reason for this is that we don't want to make money per click. We make money per conversion. He also pondered that rather than "SEO", we view it as "search experience optimization". As he says, "There is a signal by the searcher and if we hear it right, we can get them to take action." So let's look at his ideas on how we can listen and meet user/searcher expectations:

 1. Web Analytics consulting can show you were the disconnects are. These are where our user expectations are not met. Did they search on a phrase and your page appear but not meet what they expected? Your goal here is to study your data to discover traffic patterns and unmet needs.

 2. There were several references to what we now called "information scent". While there are many different definitions, essentially "scent" are cues to your visitors to keep them interested. They'll stick around when pages are relevant and click paths are goal driven. Links, for example, should contain content that will promise to take your users where they want or need to go. Where there is scent, there is momentum. Study your drop off data and note where they have lost the scent of what put them on the trail to your site. Information Scent creates motivation. The objective is to avoid losing so many users up front. Pay attention to the signals users are looking for.

 3. Keywords don't fail to convert. Rather, how pages are relevant to keyword searches makes the difference.

4. Personas. There are simple vs robust" personalities, logical vs emotional, quick vs deliberate, methodical vs spontaneous. User behavior absolutely is taken into consideration when determining design, content, and tasks. Eye tracking studies have proved different patterns of page usage can be traced to different types of personalities. Some people will find something quickly and then move on. Motivation is where users will focus. Geico appeals to an emotional need with the use of its lizard, who promises to save you hundreds of dollars. However, if you have sold the idea and then present your visitor with a technical and complicated form to fill out, you risk losing your visitor.

 5. (I loved this!) "Plan, improve, measure and plan again, over and over...." Conversions are a continuous improvement process. Align customers with business objectives and consider their behavior patterns. By studying patterns, this changes what you add and enhance on your web pages. Don't throw anything against the wall and see what sticks.Darts

 6. There is a White Paper on creating personas on FutureNow. Their Twitter account is twitter@thegrok Jeffrey had a great set of slides to compliment his talk and also showed several case studies from some big brand companies, where something as simple as changing the content on a call to action button increased conversions. He illustrated the value of testing several pages to see what converted best.

Sandra was next. She's an excellent speaker. Very clear and easy to follow. She strongly emphasized the value of using Google Analytics in her presentation but any testing is fine. She showed how testing can help you figure out what works best for your users. Some highlights from her talk include:

1. Not everybody who comes to your site will do what you want them to do (but lets try to nab what we can).

2. Try to avoid bounces and abandonment by making sure the directions are clear.

3. The best way to understand what's confusing is to watch a friend use your web site. You know where everything is already. Where did they get stuck?

4. Get analytics to get data. You need an idea where people are going on your site and what happens when they get there. Reports will prompt you to ask the right questions about your traffic. Data shows where they come from. You will ask questions, get answers and make fixes, all with the help of your reports. Look at landing pages. Where do they enter your site? Google Analytics shows bounce rates. Do they land and leave before clicking anywhere? Bounce rates represents opportunity. What changes can you make to help them to stay? Look at funnel reports. These are goal paths and show Where they come in and out/ Page leaks (where users leave) are also opportunities to patch leaks.

5. Internal site search are great sources that show customer intent. People type into your site what they are looking for. This is how they tell you what they want. Study where they go when the search and also investigate where they left. Look at search terms and un-met needs. Perhaps the search results page is too confusing. or you don't carry the product they're looking for. You can get a great picture of customer intent with on-site search.

6. Test page or ad copy. Look at non-paid keywords and bounce rates and compare with paid keyword strategies.

7. Let visitors design your pages for you. Compare page content by making and testing 3 variations of the page. Google will track responses and show you the winning combination. Run mulit-variate testing. Test an image vs without an image near a call to action prompt. It is not rare for 20-50% conversions improvement by making small changes that appear in this kind of testing

8. Remember that "best practices" aren't always the best for YOUR site.

February 21, 2009

SES London 2009 - Link Building Basics

By SEOidiot

This session is in the fundamentals track so a lot of the content may not be suited to people at a more advanced level already

Moderator:
Kevin Newcomb, Managing Editor, Search Engine Watch

Speakers:
Peter van der Graaf, Advanced Search Specialist, Netsociety
Debra Mastaler, President, Alliance-Link
Jonathan Stewart, Head of Natural Search, iCrossing UK
Brian Turner, Offpage Optimisation Specialist, Propero Digital

Debra Mastaler of Alliance Link:

Links are the soul of the web, sites that have a lot of links rank well.
Before we can do that we need to understand where this all came from.
Back in the 50's with the launch of sputnik the world realised that they needed a network that would survive if nuclear war happened and this eventually lead to the creation of the internet. Once the amount of pages on the net increased the search engines became the way to find information.

Google started with the view of course that the links between these sites were citations as sites voted for each other.

Link Popularity

Link quantity - Number of links
Link quality - The authority that is passed through the link
Anchor text - The text used in inbound links
Anchor text is most effective when these links point at pages optimised for that term.
Link relevance - establishes where your site is in the neighbourhood of links.

Authority sites
Sites that rank well and have strong positions within their niche and have quality inbound links that support that.

Avoid when link building: -

Try to build slow and steady to avoid sending a signal to the engines that this isnt normal
Repetitive anchor text - try to avoid just using one term and link deeply into the site rather than just to the homepage.
Reciprocal links - dont get stuck just using reciprocals
Links in the content rather than the navigation as these can appear to be potentially paid or out of full context.
Links that nofollow or are affected by robots.txt wont help you with your link popularity
Make sure the pages you are trying to get links from are indexed as a guide that it should pass at least some value.

Jonathan Stewart of iCrossing UK:

Links - its all about quality

  • Trust
  • Dofollow
  • Age of links
  • Page Rank
  • Content
  • Anchor text
  • Position
  • Relevance

Tools for link analysis

  • Google webmaster tools
  • Yahoo site explorer
  • SEO Elite
  • Linkscape

How to get links

  • Directories
  • Had a tough time of late (Google have even removed it from their guidlines)

Dont use to focus on big money terms (Better used for long tail)
Make sure the directory has good editorial and that the page you want is indexed and has a cache in google

Link reconfiguration

  • Approach webmasters already identified as linking to you and ask them to change the link to something more optimised or even add further links to additional content.
  • Agencies - use the clients email address to ask and be personal (phone, manual email etc)
  • Identify sites linking to a 404 page on your site and ask them to correct

Press Releases

  • PR Web
  • Response Source
  • Source Wire
  • 27-7 Press release

Embed links in the release
Google only takes the anchor text from the first link. So if three links in your release all point to the home page the first found is the one that google uses.

Creating great content

  • For a recent toyota blog campaign they looked at the fact that the car was aimed at people who are looking for fuel efficiency
  • They decided to do some hypermiling where they tested how efficient you could get the car to act.
  • Flickr photos
  • Twitter
  • Blog posts
  • Picked up and linked from some highly valuable sites.

Peter van der Graaf of Netsociety

Just sending mass emails isn't that effective
Stages of link building

  • What do i have and where do i want links from (Inc competitor link analysis)
  • Link bait creation
  • Distribution
  • Continue the relationship with people who link to you

Preparation

  • How natural and full is my current link profile
  • Do i have good links?
  • Do I have links that could appear paid
  • How does this appear in relation to your competition
  • Which possible link partners would help bridge that gap?
  • Can these possible link partners be grouped into possible approaches ?

Link Bait Creation

  • You have to match the content that you create that match the approaches that you identified in the previous stage. Do some research on a topic and create content based on that research.
  • Contribute to websites, content, providing tools, guest post, reward their visitors (discounts perhaps?)
    Linker rewards - reviews, testimonials, link trades (knowing the down sides of that now)
    Must see - shocking, funny, hot topics

Distribution

  • Email, as personally as possible. The more personal the better the results.
  • Take personal control of the most important targets to ensure the best chance of success.
  • Distribute through sites that already have some authority. Press releases, social, news etc
    Spread virally
  • Continue relations
  • Link value keeps building up so don't lose them.
  • Makes it easier for ongoing projects.


Brian Turner of Propero Digital

A lot of people misunderstand link building as they often look at links in isolation as a way to manipulate the results rather than making it part of the overall marketing process.

  • Link buying is a good example of an area that if focussed on getting links can cause you problems.
  • Google is developing newer methods than just links as signals. Human traffic values for example.
  • Link building therefore has to be part of a wider communications strategy.
  • By entering into conversations with people in your industry you are naturally inviting links
  • The internet is a social web run by people for people so engaging in conversations is a natural way to invite links as part of that conversation.

Q & A

1 link building tactic that works right now

  • Jonathan - Link reconfiguration
  • Peter - Reduce branding - people are far more likely to respond without a prominant brand
  • Brian - be newsworthy



January 28, 2009

Checking Redirects? Don’t trust Live HTTP Headers and Firefox

By Chris Phillips

We all know that we should use 301 redirects to consolidate link value and ensure each unique page of content has its own unique URL. Unfortunately the data that some tools provide are not always accurate.

Firefox’s add on tools can help save time and effort when analyzing websites and redirects. Unfortunately since they are made for Firefox, they are at the mercy of the way Firefox functions.

Live HTTP headers is a great tool that I use quite a bit to check to verify the right header information is being transferred. Unfortunately, Firefox’s “awesome bar” (the part of the browser where you type the URL in) can cause Live HTTP headers to report the wrong data.

Example:
alltell.com is a vanity URL that is owned by Alltel Communications, but IS NOT correctly redirected to the  main Alltel website. When I type in “alltell.com” into the following browsers (and hit enter):

Alltell_type_in  

I get the following results:

Firefox:

Alltell_firefox_screenshot

Internet Explorer:
Alltell_ie_screenshot

Google Chrome:
Alltell_chrome_screenshot



Results:

  • Firefox goes and retrieves the page/site it thinks is most related to what you typed in
  • IE returns a list of google search results
  • Google's chrome returns a page with a DNS error


On the surface this may not seem like an issue, but if you are using tools that are built on top of Firefox, the tools could report back incorrect information.

Live HTTP Headers
Live_http_headers

In the screenshot above, you can see Live HTTP Headers reports back there is a 301 redirect from http://www.alltell.com/ to http://www.alltel.com/ when in fact there is no such redirect.

This can be tested using 3rd party Search Engine Friendly redirect tools. In this example, I will use The Search Engine Friendly Redirect Checker from webconfs.com.This is a good tool to quickly check if a redirect is set up properly. The tool does not provide as much information as an internal agency tool but this tool will let us know if a redirect is “Search Engine Friendly” or “Not Search Engine Friendly”.

Below is the result when I checked to see if alltell.com was set up properly:

Alltell_redirect_check

Below is an example of the response you would receive if your redirect is set up correctly:

Chris_phillips_redirect

As you can see the alltell.com redirect is NOT set up correctly, even though Live HTTP Headers reported a 301 redirect was in place.

So the main idea here is to always double check your data using different tools to make sure you are getting accurate information. Getting accurate data from the beginning of a project can save you a lot of time, and aggravation in the long run.

January 07, 2009

Online Marketing Tips Video: Link Building Strategies

By Li Evans

This week's video is all about some simple concepts you can incorporate into your link building strategy.  Wondering about those emails that claim they can get you thousands of links for paying a minimal fee?  How about why people link to you?  Or maybe your boss doesn't want you linking out to anyone. 

In this short educational video, 3 simple concepts are discussed to help get your link building campaign off on to the right start.




Full Video Transcript After The Jump....

Continue reading "Online Marketing Tips Video: Link Building Strategies" »

October 28, 2008

Optimizing Your Product Data Feed for the Holiday Rush

By Donna McCarthy

Holiday-season As we get closer to the 2008 Holiday season, everyone is asking how can I best optimize my product data feed and how can I increase my conversion rate to get more sales over my competition. Below I will outline a few helpful simple helpful hints to increase your conversion rate and increase your revenue.

Optimize Production Descriptions

First, your product descriptions need to stand out to make the consumer want to click on your products links instead of your competition. The primary goal is to differentiate your products from your competition. How do you do that? You need to really take time with your product descriptions. Make them as unique as possible, do not use the general product descriptions provided by the manufacturer.  Chances are this is what everyone else is using. Include things like your shipping costs, if the item is available online only, or if you’re running a special discount. Your descriptions are key to making your products stand out among the competition.

Update Feeds Frequently

Second, make sure you are updating your product data feeds frequently. You should update your feeds as often as your inventory changes. Pricing and products need to be as fresh as possible. Nothing depresses a conversion rate more, than when a consumer clicks on a product which is out of stock.

Check Your Landing Pages

Third and I think the most important, is your landing pages. Make sure your landing page URLs go directly to your product pages. So many times, I’ve seen data feeds where all the landing pages go to the home page. Why would you send the consumer to your home page, when they have already selected the product they want?

These helpful hints probably seem really obvious, but you would be surprised how many companies are not using these best practices. That’s good news for you! You now have the advantage to get better conversion rates and earn more revenue.

August 28, 2008

Online Marketing Tips Video: Utilizing Video in Online Marketing Strategies

By Li Evans

Tuesday's Tips in Online Marketing for this week is a few days late, due to some technical difficulties, but we do have one!

This week's video on online marketing tips features tips on utilizing video in your online marketing strategies.  These tips can help you get the most out of your videos that you are uploading to the video sharing sites.

   

Full video transcript after the jump...

Continue reading "Online Marketing Tips Video: Utilizing Video in Online Marketing Strategies" »

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