Monday, 2 December 2013

Types of Social Media Link Building

We've been talking about social media for what seems like ages now. However, unless you've seen it grow from the ground up, it's not an immediately clear concept – you and your clients may not be on the same wavelength.

One concept that can still confuse the heck out of clients is social media link building. So let's dig into why social media matters, which networks/platforms have value and which don't, and methods of using social for your own link efforts.

Why Does Social Media Matter?

One huge reason that social media matters right now is, simply, because everyone likes it. Even if you detest some (or all) of the platforms, using the big ones is almost mandatory at this point.

Nearly everyone is on Facebook. Lots of people are on Twitter. A good number of people are on LinkedIn. Some people are on Pinterest. And SEOs are on Google+.

Social media is all about relationship building, and the more recent lines of thinking about link building involve (guess what?) relationships. Just as you have to earn the trust of a friend, you have to earn good links these days.

With trust being such a good thing, using trusted sites is a critical way that you can show your community that you are legitimate. Many things are easy to automate and fake, but doing social media well? That's difficult.

Sites like Twitter and Facebook are seriously trusted sites, and a profile link there is obviously going to be a good link, but the interaction there is also a good source of trust for a brand. Tons of spammy template sites are built in order to capture rankings and traffic and send it elsewhere, for example, but the chances of those types of sites having a Facebook page with 1,000 fans who actually comment and interact is pretty slim.

Social matters because everyone uses it, basically, and because it's a seriously efficient way of promoting your site, your brand, and your personal voice. We used to comment on blog posts and in forums mainly, but now we have all these other ways of expressing our opinions, bonding with others, and promoting ourselves.

How to Build Links Socially

Promoting a site through social media can also help to build links. A key point to remember here is that there are many ways to build links.

Social media links are difficult to measure much of the time. Many links generated through social are indirect ones, being placed down the road.

Sometimes you don't actually generate links. Sometimes you generate straight conversions, which is fantastic.

Sometimes all the social activity helps you rise in the SERPs, hopefully leading to more links/clicks/conversions. The links that you insert into your profiles can certainly help you, and you can build links to those profiles to boost their visibility. Sounds almost like magic doesn't it?

The Benefits of Social Links

The main benefit, as mentioned earlier, comes from the visibility that social promotion gives your brand. Social signals are a factor in Google's algorithm and can cause your results to appear higher in searches at times.

Having great social sites encourages people to interact with your brand and have it on their minds, thus (hopefully) encouraging more conversions and links.

Popular social networks also give you a good link to your main site from your profile, which carries the very real benefit of any great link. If it's a followed link, it will help you rank higher, which is a good direct SEO value.

Not all profile links are followed, and those that aren't are still good for traffic, but if you can grab the followed ones? That's fantastic for SEO purposes.

Pinterest and Google+ profile links are followed for now. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn profile links are nofollowed.

Don't ignore a site that's big just because you can't get a followed profile link though, as the benefits are still there.

The Major Social Networks


Facebook LogoFacebook has been around since early 2004 and has more than 1 billion active users.

We constantly fuss about privacy issues and being served ads on Facebook yet we're still using it to show off our kids' latest photos, tell everyone about our amazing vacation, inspire jealousy about how awesome our lives are, spout off about politics and religion, and annoy everyone with our game requests and group invitations.

Facebook has a lot of problems and a lot of intricate settings that you need to pay attention to, but it has some fantastic benefits too, most importantly (for marketing purposes) the Facebook Page. A brand can post photos, videos, status updates, information about upcoming events/sales, contests, etc. You can communicate with a brand and its users on a Page, and some brands give you special information if you "Like" them.

What about a small brand? My daughter takes ballet classes at a local dance school that has 469 likes. That's a far cry from Starbucks but for them, it's a nice amount. They can promote upcoming dance shows, post photos in hopes of getting more parents to sign their kids up, offer special rates for signing up before a certain date, give parents information about rehearsals and extra practices, etc.

In their case, maybe they don't generate actual links to either their Facebook page or their website, but they can generate signups. If the goal of a link is to increase brand visibility and generate more converting traffic, then anything else that functions in that same way can easily be regarded as just as important as a link.

Last example: My agency runs a local news site and we've relied heavily on Facebook to promote its articles. In fact, in all of 2012, our number one referral was Facebook, sending us 8,321 visitors who averaged over 3 pages per visit and over 3 minutes per visit. For a small local site run totally through volunteers those numbers aren't bad at all. That's great visibility for us and it's translated into advertising requests, guest post inquiries, and new non-agency volunteer staff.

And personally on your own account, you can always promote whatever you like. I sometimes post my articles there but don't always because I use the account for more personal than business reasons.

Some people have their Twitter and Facebook connected so whatever they post on one gets posted on the other. Although I'm not a fan of that usually, it certainly does provide efficiency.


twitter-bird-new-june2012Twitter has been around since 2006 and currently has about 500 million users, half that of Facebook.

If I had to pick a favorite network, it would be Twitter. The 140 character limit fits my attention span and lets me scan loads more information than I could get if I had to read 15 articles.

The ease of interaction on Twitter makes it a very accessible network. You don't have to do any more than "tweet" something. There's no pressure for video or photos, and there are a host of applications that you can use to make Twitter work better for you. I use web Twitter because I am a Luddite but for the serious social media power user, you'd probably be better off exploring a proper Twitter application.

Where people fail the most on Twitter is in tweeting links only, or tweeting only their own posts. No one wants to deal with a one-sided tweeter.

Some of the best promotional efforts on Twitter will come about through influential people who follow you or see your tweets, and if you've never interacted with them or anyone else, they may be less likely to help you out.

Some people believe that you should respond to everyone who tweets to you, no matter what, and there are those who disagree. I tend to side with the "respond to everyone" group but I don't think you need to thank every single one of the 500 people who retweets your article or says "nice writeup" because that can get silly.

Brands being addressed should always respond, though, big or small. If someone is complaining on Twitter, that's worth an extremely quick response.

Just like other networks, Twitter can help you build links by getting your content in front of people who may link to it. While Facebook sent my news site the most referrals, Twitter tends to be the biggest social referrer for both my agency site and most of the sites for which I have Google Analytics access. With that being the case, I don't think most people can afford to ignore the power of Twitter for getting people to your site, hopefully leading to links and conversions.


LinkedIn logoLinkedIn was launched in 2003 and is considered to be a social network for people who have a professional job or are looking for one. It currently has 200 million users, around a third of what Twitter shows. You can have a personal and/or a business page so it's definitely a good profile to have, and if you're job-hunting, in some industries it may be critical.

However, just because it's considered to be a professional networking site doesn't mean that it's not full of spam. Chances are that if you have more than a few connections, you'll be besieged by connection requests from people that you have never met.

That being said, for professional purposes like networking and keeping up with industry news, it's quite nice. You can see content pushed by people in your network and it tends to be more industry-relevant than what's promoted on Facebook certainly, and Twitter occasionally.

People don't tend to use LinkedIn to argue about the latest election or show photos of their latest latte. If you have a relevant professional piece of content to share, this is a great place to do it that should get you some nice visibility.

Interesting note: LinkedIn sends my site zero traffic. However, my profile gets plenty of visibility and I don't promote articles here, but considering I'm advising you to do so, I should probably start, right?


Google Plus Social ProjectGoogle+ came out in 2011 and, like most Google offerings, was (and still is) disliked and ignored by a lot of anti-Google types. This network uses circles that you can create and share content with, and you can create lots of different circles to share certain types of content so if you want something that can be promoted in a tailor-made way, this is a great option.

Google+ is also tied to Google Authorship which is becoming a more important factor in search results for Google. If you aren't signed up and you write any content anywhere, you should get on the ball and get yourself an account here.

From what I can tell, most of the people in my contact list who use G+ are other SEOs. Obviously any success will depend on the demographic of the network because if you're writing about organic gardening and no one in your circles gives a flip about organic gardening, your content probably won't get shared as much and it won't draw conversions.

Basically, though, Google+ works like the others: you promote content and others can share it, like it (by +1'ing it), or comment on it. It may not be as important as the other networks just yet, but it seems to be getting there.


pinterest-logoPinterest is personally the network that I like the least although I'm not a big fan of images or video anyway, as I'd rather read words. It's huge with many people though.

Launched in beta in 2010, it became seriously popular in 2011 and suddenly everyone was on Pinterest, whether they actively used it or not. The last number of users I can find referenced is 40 million.

From my perspective, lots of people in my Facebook friends group who were not present on Twitter or Google+ were on Pinterest when I joined. For certain industries it's probably the best way to market, but for others, not so great.

Like other networks, Pinterest is plagued by spam and fake accounts, but after the links from pins were nofollowed things calmed down a bit. Pinterest does not send any decent traffic to any of the sites that I have Google Anaytics access to unfortunately, even though a few of those sites do have accounts.

"Why Your SEO & Social Strategy Should Include Pinterest" points out the awesome benefit of any good network: "Does Google like fresh content from social sharing? Yes." The author goes on to list examples of brands doing well on Pinterest so if you're interested in how to do it right, definitely check those out.

Other Social Networks To Pursue


Foursquare is useful for many businesses, especially if they can attract customers through discount codes or anything else related to checkins. Bruegger's Bagels has used Foursquare to give customers a free bagel on every 5th checkin. That's pretty awesome stuff to inspire loyalty.

Foursquare can be an awesome asset for local search as well. Recently people have started predicted that this network will be dead by the year's end, but I thought that it would be years ago and it's kept going strong.


Instagram is insanely popular with many people (not me…yet) and again, depending upon your niche, it can be a great marketing tool. Considering the new apps that are being developed to help you analyze your results there, it's probably not going away anytime soon. As with Pinterest, visuals are amazing marketing tools for certain niches.


StumbleUpon can be fantastic for sending traffic, and if your site happens to resonate with the stumblers who find it, you definitely have a good chance of conversions and links, just like you do with anything else.


MySpace seems to still hold value for certain niches, like new music for example. In my opinion though, I wouldn't create a MySpace profile for a professional business unless your target market is teenagers who talk a lot.

A few other good social sites:


There are many other ones of course, and just because they aren't major (yet) and may never be giant sources of referrals doesn't mean that you should ignore or discount them.

One great way to get profiles on all the big networks (and to see a good list of all the sites) is to use KnowEm, which is a service that can grab all your usernames and/or (depending upon the price) fill out profile bios for you. If you're thinking of social profiles in terms of getting links to your site, this is a great option.

Networks To Avoid

In terms of which social networks to avoid, a lot of that depends upon your industry and your target market. I wouldn't put a massive effort into a social site that wasn't popular in general, but I also wouldn't put a huge effort into a popular site where my customers can't be found.

As I mentioned above, MySpace really doesn't have the professional credibility to be used for a lot of brands and small businesses. I don't necessarily think that it's harmful, but considering some of the MySpace profiles that rank, you'd probably be much better off having another social site show up in the SERPs, rather than MySpace (unless it really, really fits your target audience).

A couple others that might be best avoided if you're using them for professional purposes are Bebo and Friendster.

Some Good Social Examples

As mentioned above, Bruegger's Bagels has given out a free bagel on every 5th Foursquare checkin. (Note: I'm not sure they do this currently, or constantly.) I was just thinking "well how does that get them a link?" but as you can see, they just got a link from me because of it. The promise of getting something free for your loyalty inspires many of us.

Marmite is something you either love or hate, and I happen to love it. Their Facebook page has almost a million likes.

As I'm looking at the page, there are close to 13,000 people talking about the brand. They can ask "what's for breakfast this morning?" and get 300 comments in an hour. People obviously like to interact with this brand here.

Interestingly, Marmite's Facebook page only has 54 referring domains in its link profile. Their page encourages engagement but you can't see the benefits just by looking at the links it generates.

The links don't look overly fantastic either, but they help rank the site of course, and they probably send traffic to it. You just can't measure the value of this page in terms of the links it generates, but I do wonder how many extra jars of Marmite were consumed because of this page.

How Can You Use Social?

Obviously social media isn't going to be right for everyone. There are considerations like embarrassment factor (most people aren't going to be excited to seriously and publicly discuss their erectile issues on Twitter, for example).

However, many brands that sell the types of products that you'd try and hide beneath the paper towels in your grocery basket are actually using social very well, and with a healthy dose of humor. They may offer coupons to anyone who likes them on Facebook or they may promote special deals to their fans, but the legitimate involvement of a community like that does still seem to be somewhat limited.

Some target audiences just aren't currently participating in great numbers on social sites, either. If you sell vitamins for women over 75, a MySpace page isn't the smartest idea. A Facebook page may be, but it still may not work for you.

Not every product or service needs a social media presence, and it's important to remember that just because you read tips about how to do social well, it doesn't mean that you're required to set up and maintain presences on the big sites or you'll soon be out of business, as that simply isn't true.

I think the best way for anyone to use social media is to realize that it's not just a matter of throwing content all over the place and expecting people to eat it up. You need to see what other people in your niche or local area are doing with it and really dig in to good examples when you find them. Obviously you shouldn't copy what someone else is doing, but you can use these examples to help you see what works and what doesn't.

Whereas one site will work for one company, it may not for another, so don't assume that you immediately need to invest hours a day in Facebook just because Pepsi uses it. You do need to invest time and energy to see results though.

I mostly use Twitter to promote content and it works well for me, but I don't invest the same energy into building up a community on Facebook or Google+, for example, and that shows. When I do promote anything there, the rewards are much, much less than they are when I do it on Twitter.

Like many things, social media is trial and error to some extent. What many people forget (or ignore) is that social media isn't one-sided, and these sites don't exist solely for you to throw out links to your site.

Social media can help you build links but those links tend to be difficult to measure. One of your Twitter followers may read your content in January and remember it in March when she's writing a related article, and you'll get a link without being able to immediately trace it back to its source.

I've gotten some amazing links from people that I've interacted with on Twitter and who later asked me to be a part of a crowdsourced post or be interviewed. I know those links came from the interaction, and that's enough for me to realize how valuable social media link building can be.

Six Major Google Changes Reveal the Future of SEO

The last few weeks have been amazing. Google has made some big changes and they are all part of a longer term strategy that has many components.

In short, Google is doing a brilliant job of pushing people away from tactical SEO behavior and toward a more strategic approach.

You could argue that "tactical SEO is dead", but that's not quite right. And don't run around saying "SEO is dead" because that is far from the truth, and I might just scream at you.

Instead, let's take a few steps back and understand the big picture. Here's a look at the major developments, some of Google's initiatives driving this change, and the overall impact these changes will have on SEO.

1. '(Not Provided)'.

2. No PageRank Update Since February.

3. Hummingbird.

4. Google+.

5. Authorship.

6. In-Depth Articles.

1. '(Not Provided)':

Google made the move to make all organic searches secure starting September 23. This means we've lost the ability to get keyword data for users arriving to our websites from Google search.

Losing Google keyword data is sad for a number of reasons. This impacts publishers in many ways, including losing a valuable tool for understanding what the intent of customers that come to their site, for conversion optimization, and much more.

For tactical SEO efforts, it just means that keywords data is harder to come by. There are ways to work around this, for now, but it just won't be quite as simple as it used to be.

2. No PageRank Update Since February:

Historically, Google has updated the PageRank numbers shown in the Google Toolbar every 3 months ago or so, but those numbers haven't been updated since February. This means 8 months have gone by, or two updates have been skipped.

In addition, Google's Distinguished Engineer Matt Cutts has said Toolbar PageRank won't be updated again this year, leading many to speculate that PageRank is going away. I won't miss it because I don't look at PageRank often and I normally don't have a Google toolbar in my browser.

However, a lot of people still use it as a crude measurement of a site's prominence.

For sites with a home page that has PageRank 7 or higher, it may in fact be reasonable to assume that the site has some chops. Correspondingly, sites with a home page that has a PageRank of 3 or lower, it is either new, or probably a low quality experience. Stuff in the middle, you just don't know.

If Google shuts off this data flow entirely, which wouldn't be surprising, then they will have to rely on other real world (and better) measurements instead. This would actually be better than using PageRank anyway, because Google says they don't use it that way themselves.

3. Hummingbird:

There are a few elements to Google's Hummingbird algorithm, announced in time for Google's official birthday, but like Caffeine before it, this is really a major platform change. Google has built a capability to understand conversational search queries much better than before.

Both of these show conversational search at work (but note that the Boston Beacons folded in 1968 after just one season, so that is an error in that result – shows that they have much work to do!).

Hummingbird really changes the keyword game quite a bit. Over time, exact keyword matches will no longer be such a big deal.

The impact of this algorithm is likely to be quite substantial over the next 2 or so years. Net-net, they have drastically reduced access to the raw data, and are rolling out technology that changes the way it all works at the same time!

4. Google+:

OK, this one isn't new. Google launched Google+ June 28, 2011.

While it seemed to get off to a slow start initially, many argue that it has developed a lot of momentum, and is growing rapidly. The data on Google+'s market share is pretty hard to parse, but there are some clear impacts on search, such as the display of personalized results.

n addition, you can also see posts from people on Google+ show up in the results too. This is true even if you perform your search in "incognito" mode.

And, while I firmly believe that a link in a Google+ share isn't treated like a regular web link, it seems likely to me that it does have some SEO value when combined with other factors.

How Google+ fits into this picture is that it was built from the ground up to be a content sharing network that helps with establishing "identities" and "semantic relevance". It does this quite well, and in spite of what you might read in some places, there is a ton of activity in all kinds of different verticals on Google+

5. Authorship:

OK, authorship also isn't new (launched on June 7, 2011), but it is a part of a bigger picture. Google can use this to associate new pieces of content with the person who wrote it.

Over time, this data can be potentially used to measure which authors write stuff that draw a very strong response (links, social shares, +1s, comments) and give them a higher "Author Rank" (note that Google doesn't use this term, but those of us in the industry do).

We won't delve into the specifics of how Author Rank might work now, but you can read "Want to Rank in Google? Build Your Author Rank Now" for my thoughts on ways they could look at that.

That said, in the future you can imagine that Google could use this as a ranking signal for queries where more comprehensive articles are likely to be a good response. Bottom line: your personal authority matters.

I also should mention Publisher Rank, the concept of building a site's authority, which is arguably more important. Getting this payoff depends on a holistic approach to building your authority.

6. In-Depth Articles:

Google announced a new feature, in-depth articles August 6,The Google announcement included a statement that "up to 10% of users' daily information needs involve learning about a broad topic." That is a pretty big number, and I think over time that this feature will become a pretty big deal. Effectively, this is an entirely new type of way to rank in the SERPs.

This increases the payoff from Author Rank and Publisher Rank – there is a lot to be gained by developing both of these, assuming that Google actually does make it a ranking factor at some point. Note that I wrote some thoughts on how the role of in-depth articles could evolve.

Pattern :

Yes, there is. The data they have taken away has been historically used by publishers to optimize their SEO efforts in a very tactical manner.

How do I get higher PageRank? What are the keywords I should optimize for? Taking these things out of the picture will reduce the focus on these types of goals.

On the other side of the coin, the six major Google changes listed above are all moves that encourage more strategic behavior. Note that I didn't bring up Google Now, which is also a really big deal too, and it's another big piece of the Google plan, just not a major driver of the point I'm trying to make today.

All of these new pieces play a role in getting people to focus on their authority, semantic relevance, and the user experience. Again, this is what Google wants.

For clarity, I'm not saying that Google designed these initiatives specifically to stop people from being tactical and make them strategic. I don't really know that. It may simply be the case that Google operates from a frame of reference that they want to find and reward outstanding sites, pages, and authors that offer outstanding answers to user's search queries. But the practical impact is the same.

The focus now is on understanding your target users, producing great content, establishing your authority and visibility, and providing a great experience for the users of your site. Properly architecting your site so that the search engines can understand it, including using schema and related markup, addressing local search (if that is relevant to you), and work of this type still matters, too.

But, the obsession with tactical items like PageRank and keywords is going to fade away. As Google tweaks the way their service operates, and look for ways to capture new signals, they do things that naturally push you in that direction. It isn't going to stop. Expect more of the same going forward!

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Ways to Get Link Building

I always try to get link building integrated into the DNA of my client's daily activities. Links as "votes of confidence" shouldn't be requested, but earned.

Being conscious about the activities that promote linking is the most important step to improve your ranking. That doesn't mean you can't actively hunt for links. In heavily competitive industries you need continuous link building to maintain your current ranking and additional boosts to improve your ranking on selected topics.

The following activities should be streamlined and mixed for best results.

1. Participate in the Online Community

Any media attention for your brand can attract links as long as you have additional background information on your website. Online mentions of your name without a link should be seen as a lost opportunity, so learn what background information is needed for each mention type.

You should also make someone responsible for your corporate response to relevant hot topics and create an active role for your website within your field of expertise. Participate with insightful content contributions, clear opinion pieces, and openness about the challenges your company faces. Try to communicate through many platforms and empower ambassadors to promote your brand.

2. Benefit From Regular Partnerships

Votes of confidence are logical when people are enthusiastic about your brand. Provide testimonials for the services of your business partners and request something similar in return. A clear description on what they like or dislike about your services is sure to be relevant and looks much more natural to Google than a site-wide footer link on their website.

Promotional partnerships offer great link building opportunities, but most forms of advertising should be nofollowed to be safe with Google.

Joint promotions and member discounts are situated somewhere between advertising and votes of confidence. That's because bigger brands wouldn't just risk their reputation by promoting supplemental services that they don't fully trust.

"Buy a Samsung interactive TV and get 6 months Netflix for free" will probably be accompanied with additional info on Netflix including a couple of links. Interesting joint promotions like this can be found in many industries and even bigger brands like Samsung link (dofollow) to their partners.

3. Continuous Partner Search

In the previous activities there shouldn't be a clear focus on the ranking improvement for specific keyword combinations. Diversity is a much stronger signal of a broad-based authority to Google. That doesn't mean you shouldn't focus on ranking.

For keywords in more competitive industries additional link building will be needed. This part of your link building effort should focus on groups of related keywords and the most relevant partners you can find for them. This starts by looking for well ranking sites and finding methods to convince them to link to you.

After having contacted the most relevant partners you keep broadening your search for partners until you've attracted enough links to outrank the competition. The anchor text and the text surrounding the link should be on topic, which can even make up for less relevant partners that have a great link profile.

4. Viral Boosts

In really competitive industries link building by requesting individual links just isn't enough. You need messages that spread themselves and hopefully attract a lot of links from a wide range of websites (and social media). Viral link building is the best way to achieve this. Virals with product innovation, targeting weird niche audiences or research with a newsworthy outcome can all be used to attract links.

It is important that your viral incorporates multiple storylines so everybody can find their own unique media fact in them:

Is it funny?
Can someone feel offended by it?
Does it seem unbelievable?
Is your type of company an uncommon sender for these messages?
Is it interesting for a wide range of audiences?
Is the topic controversial with both protestors and proponents?
These are just some of the questions that make a good viral. As long as your website holds a central role in the message, links are sure to follow.

Use sites like BuzzFeed for additional inspiration. Highly competitive industries like dating, insurance, and gambling often provide the best examples of viral link building. Once you detect one, try to reverse engineer their strategy and learn from it.

Evangelism to get Everybody Involved

Link building isn't just some activity you do. It should be an integral part of all your activities, even outside regular marketing.

Awareness to detect chances and just some small changes to regular activities can make link building an automatic flow. That's why 90 percent of your SEO effort should be to get everybody involved. Online mindedness can be taught, but it takes effort and a lot of patience.

Using Anchor text

To put it in simple terms, Anchor Text is a clickable text in a hyperlink, which will take the users to the concerned page. Search engines too use Anchor text to find the subject matter of the document. The quality of the anchor text is responsible in ensuring a better ranking of your pages for specific keywords.

Search engines collect data by browsing the various web pages through links, which indicate the topics of the pages. The keywords that have to be ranked should be featured in your anchor text. However make sure that all the links do not look the same. This can be done by making slight alterations in the Anchor text. Remember, it won’t take long for Google to find that there is something fishy if a substantial amount of links are pointed to just one page of your website.

Using text Linking Between Pages: 

Text linking between pages will help the web designers to keep the page content short and interesting where the viewers need not scroll down long pages. Text linking is a smart option to let the users jump from page to page and to take them around the site at a pace that they want. These simple navigational tools will take the readers bang n target on the page that they want. Most of the viewers are hard pressed for time to go through all the texts before finally reaching the section, which is of use to them.

Basically, page jumps are links that use the text linking code example element as all other links, but links that point to a certain part of a document. So if you want a link to the top section of your page, you need to add a link  in the body of the text. These can be used to link back to the top of the page from the bottom as well. The users who have scrolled down a bit might find it a bit confusing to inch their way back. Text links can be used for navigating to other pages or to specific sections of a given page.

Text links can be compared to indexes of story books, which tell the readers the exact page of chapters that they want to read. Thus they can reach the climax and the most interesting part of a suspense thriller without having to plough through mounts of text.

Things to Avoid:
PDF Files

PDF files are slow to load and often snap the pace and rhythm of browsing. The layouts might not match with the browser’s window size, which makes it difficult for saving or printing a PDF file. Navigating the content in a PDF file is an arduous task for the users. PDF is suited more for documents that has to be printed out rather than for content that should be read on the screen.

Non changing Color of Visited Links:

Links are the basic units in any navigation process. Users should be able to make out the links that have already been opened and fresh links. Thus the users should be able to tell the difference between visited and unvisited links. The sites should show them in different colors so that the users do not visit the same pages unintentionally over and over again. When the visited links don’t change color, users would find it difficult to make out finished reading pages from the unread ones. The changing colors in links work just like a bright colored fabric bookmark that we all use while reading storybooks to mark the read pages so that we don’t read the already covered pages yet again.

Mounting the Text:

A huge chunk of text without any subheads or highlighting might make it boring and a pain to read for the users. Make sure to attract users into the site by using sub heads, bulleted lists and short and concise paragraphs and more importantly an engaging and interesting writing style. Make sure that the users stick to your site by providing authentic information and quick facts, which will make the site interesting and value added. Just imagine that you are in an Express Highway and you lost your way. When you ask for the road directions from a passerby, you expect quick and concise answer as you are not in a position to wait for long nor do you have the time. Similarly the website content should be short, crisp and informative so that the users get what they want in the first few clicks without rummaging through piles of data and texts.

Same Font Size:

Most website owners disable the “change font size” button and specify a fixed font size. This standard font size is often very small that the users over the age of 40 find it difficult to read the information. Let the users have the choice to select the font size that is easy on their eyes.

Page Title  keywords:

Users discover websites by simply typing the keywords in the search engine. The title tag should be used as the headline on search engine result pages (SERP). Page titles become the default entry in Favorites when users bookmark any site. So make sure that the home page contains your company name and a brief description of the site instead of the customary welcome paragraph. Meta tags also should contain all the keywords and explain the services and products offered in the site in simple and short texts. Page titles are just like your personal profile in your resume, which quickly summarizes who you are and what your merits are. It should be short, interesting and above all informative.

Google Hummingbird and Content Marketing strategy in SEO

Are you familiar with the Google Hummingbird algorithm update, the latest tech-update from the search giant? It’s been over a month now that Google’s search engine has been tweaked from its very core. Now, slowly the changes are being felt across the cyber landscape. Talking about changes, if you want to  understand what effect it’s going to have on businesses that mostly operates online, then read on.

First of all, Hummingbird update took a long time coming. Although, we have seen multiple versions  of Panda and Penguin SEO updates periodically, after 2005, there was no significant search algorithm change from Google. According to leading Search Engine Marketing experts , Hummingbird update would help refine Google’s search engine results and free it from clutter, that it has accumulated over the last decade. Google was aware of all these clutter building up and hence, they strategically started cleaning up the mess! First with Panda updates, Google prompted business owners to dispense with junk content for their websites and other web entities. Then, with the Penguin 2.0 Google prevented content marketers and SEOs from using chunks of fabricated links to their websites and other web entities. In the third phase of the cleanup, with Hummingbird algorithm changes, Google is now forcing online businesses to get real serious about using “only” quality web content on their web pages.

What Hummingbird update means for your business?

No more playing with manufactured links to get an overnight website traffic rush. Yes that’s the first criterion Googled has put up on the warning list for search engine optimizers and content marketers. Till now, online marketing experts were playing a hide-and-seek game with Google’s search bots. But now with a rehashed search engine algorithm in place, all fishy links and malpractices will be shunned upfront by Google, a content directive is available for everyone on the official Google Blog.

Here’s our takeaway from the extensive list for easy reference –

1. Create online authority (Google authority) by dishing out fresh, unique and relevant content for all of your online marketing channels. Whether it’s your company blog, webpage, blogger profile, Google+ or e-offerings like white papers, ebooks and online newsletters, make sure you do not have any duplicate content in them.

2. In the field of content marketing, any form of sales starts with educating your target audience. You would see that those websites and blogs that are driving audience to the point of sale (POP) are the ones that are acting as educators. Particularly, they are educating their audience about the benefits of conducting business with their company. In due course, such strategies have resulted in establishing search engine authority contributing to an exponential growth of those online businesses. Hummingbird algorithm further helps this approach to a great extent.

3. Turn your hardcore “salesy” business content into stories that your audience won’t get bored with. The concept is to “use” your brand related stories and engage your target public and readers. This would help convert visitors into followers and potential leads into paying clients.

Make the most out of Hummingbird update! Get your content marketing strategy fixed and turn your business into a profitable venture.