SEO Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Friday’


How Business Listings Are Made – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by:  /  Tags: , , , ,

Posted by David Mihm

As a local business owner, it’s important for your business to be listed in Google’s search results. But how do you fix your business listing if the information is incorrect? 

In this week’s edition of Local Whiteboard Friday, David Mihm sheds some light on the complicated process that Google uses to create its business listings.

For reference, here’s a still of David’s whiteboard diagram.



Video Transcription

“Hey everybody. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday and in particular a local edition of Whiteboard Friday. I’m David Mihm, the Director of Local Search Strategy for SEOMoz, and I’m here to answer one of the most common questions that we get asked which is:  “Hey, how come my business information is showing up incorrectly at Google?”

So they type in the name of their business, and there’s either a phone number wrong or their address is wrong or sometimes the marker for where their business is, is in the wrong place. So I want to try to answer how Google generates its business listings.

So the first step that a lot of business owners take, which is a great step to take, is they go directly to Google. Google offers a dashboard for businesses that Google Places as well as Google+, there are kind of two ways into it right now. A business owner goes and he enters his business name, his address, his phone number, some categories, maybe the hours that he operates his business, and he tells that directly to Google. Of course the expectation is, “Oh well, I’m the business owner. I’m telling Google this information. That’s how it should show up when Google spits out a search result.” But in reality that’s not actually how Google assembles a business listing. So I’m going to erase these lines, and I’ll try to walk you guys through how this process actually happens.

So for many of you, if you’re business owners, you go to one of these places, the Google Places dashboard or the Google+ local dashboard, and you tell Google about your business and you find before you even get there Google knows about your business. It can guess at what your address and phone number are for example.

So you might wonder where Google is finding that information. Actually in the United States there are three companies that aggregate business data for United States businesses. Again, this is the United States only, but in this country those guys are Infogroup, Neustar and Axiom. So Google buys or leases information from at least one of these companies and pulls it into its index. But it doesn’t go right into Google’s index. It actually goes into a massive server cluster that takes it into consideration as one data source.

So not only is the business owner one of these data sources, but you would have one data provider, maybe Infogroup is another data source. Neustar might be another data source and so and so forth. So imagine this graphic going quite far to the right, even off of the whiteboard just with some of these data aggregation services.

That all gets assembled at a server cluster, somewhere in Mountain View let’s just say, that compiles kind of all of this information. These however, aren’t even the only places that Google gets data. These guys, these data sources actually also, in addition to sending information to Google, they send data out to a whole bunch of other sites across the web. So Yelp, for example, gets information from one of these sources. Yellowpages.com gets information from one of these sources. Many of you guys have seen my local search ecosystem infographic that kind of details a little bit more about how this process works.

Then Google goes out, and it crawls these sites across the web and again throws that information into this server cluster. So again, imagine this table here going off basically to infinity, kind of off this page.

Additionally, in addition to these data aggregators, in addition to websites, Google looks at government information. So if you’re regional, like your county has a place of businesses that are registered in a particular county or maybe your secretary of state, Google is either probably going to crawl that information. In some cases the government publishes this in PDF format or something like that, and that gets pulled into this cluster again as one of these data points in this huge spreadsheet.

Another place that Google might get information believe it or not is Google Street View. Bill Slawski of SEO by the Sea recently gave a keynote at Local University in Baltimore, and there’s information in Google’s patents that suggest that street view cameras from these cars that they go out and they drive around trying to find driving directions are taking photos of storefronts with business name signage, with the address numbers right there on the storefront, and that information gets pulled into this, what we call the cluster of information.

So there are all these different sources pulling in, and you as the business owner, you are only one of these data sources. So even though you tell Google, “Hey, yes this is my address, this is my phone number, this is where I’m located,” if Google is seeing bad information, at any of these other places from these data aggregators, from websites, from government entities, Google pulls data in from everywhere. So if every other source out, there or a lot of other sources out there that Google trusts, especially major data aggregators or government entities, if they have your information wrong, that could lead to misinformation in the search results.

But there’s one final step actually before Google will publish the information, the authoritative information from this cluster. Google actually has human reviewers that are looking at this information. They are calling businesses to verify things like categories, the buildings that certain businesses are located in, and these reviewers will again call a real business offline. So if you get a call and it says, “Hey, Mountain View is calling you, it might actually be Google.” So pay special attention if your business receives those kind of calls. They might be trying to validate information that they’re finding from across the web.

The other thing to keep in mind is that Google accepts data from other reviewers, from other human reviewers via a website that it operates called Google Map Maker. So if you’re having trouble with your information from one of these sources, you might check Google.com/mapmaker. It’s like a Wikipedia for locations. Anybody in the world can go in there and update data. So it’s really, really important if you’re a business owner and you’re having trouble with Google publishing bad information about your business, you can’t just go into the Google Places dashboard or the Google+ dashboard and fix this information. You really need to go to all of these different sources. So these major data aggregators, they’re different in every country. So if you’re from somewhere else in the world besides the United States, you need to do some research on who these guys are. You need to update your information at Internet yellow pages sites. You definitely need to update your information with government authorities, and you probably want to check your information at least on this Google Map Maker site, because all of these feed into this central data cluster that then feeds into a Google search result for your business.

So I hope that explains a little bit about this very complicated process that Google has to assemble business listings. If you want more information in the text part of the page on which this Whiteboard is published, I’ll reference one of my colleagues at Local University, Mike Blumenthal. Mike has a great sort of text based layout of what I just explained visually, and Mike is actually the inspiration for this idea of the data cluster at Google Local.

So hope you enjoyed that Whiteboard Friday, and again for more information I’ll link to Mike Blumenthal’s blog down near the comments.

Thanks guys.”

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!


Moz Blog

Keyword-Driven Personas – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by:  /  Tags: , , ,

Posted by RuthBurr

As inbound marketing is gaining traction, marketers in all inbound disciplines are realizing the importance of taking on keywords with a more holistic approach. It's time to start building your keywords into the bones of your site, rather than adding them once your site is already completely mapped out. 

In today's Whiteboard Friday, Ruth Burr discusses how you can use your keywords to drive personas, and ultimately affect your site mapping process for the better. Leave your thoughts and questions in the comments below! 


 

For your viewing pleasure, here's a still image of the whiteboard used in this week's video!

Still image of Whiteboard Friday - Ruth Burr - Keyword-Driven Personas

Update: Ruth referred to some code that Mike King of iAquire put together that may help your site if integrated into your analtyics. Give it a look!

Video Transcription

"Howdy, SEOmoz fans. My name's Ruth Burr. Welcome to another Whiteboard Friday. I'm the Lead SEO here at SEOmoz, and today I want to talk about using keywords to drive personas and ultimately your site mapping process.

One thing that we're really thinking a lot about as we move more and more toward an inbound marketing model, where there are multiple different people with multiple different functions all working together to have the best inbound marketing possible, is what we're doing with keywords and sort of when we're adding keywords into the site. I know that we've all had the experience in years past where we would get a site or get a piece of copy that was completely written and then just kind of have to plug our keywords into that existing content wherever they would fit. You might have an entire site that's already completely mapped out, it's got a sitemap, it's got information architecture, and then you're supposed to go in and put in your keywords. I've found that that is not always the best user experience for the keyword, and also isn't as effective as taking a more holistic approach.

So what I'm really hoping you guys will get out of this is take it back to your UX and your IA teams and really think about how you can build keywords more into the bones of the site.

One thing that Google is thinking a lot about that is really important for us to be thinking about as marketers as well is searcher intent. Search engines are spending tons of money and tons of time and tons of effort trying to figure out what people are searching for when they use a keyword. It behooves us as marketers to do the same thing because that way we can give people what they want when they tell us they want it, and that's the beauty of search engine marketing.

My example here is chocolate cookies, because I like to think about cookies. You might have somebody that's searching for the keyword "chocolate cookies," and maybe you own ChocolateCookies.com, a great domain. If that's the case, you don't really know what they want when they want chocolate cookies. They could be looking to buy chocolate cookies. They could want to learn how to make chocolate cookies. They could want recipes. You might also have ingredients. Maybe in addition to cookies you sell ingredients for cookies. Maybe you have recipe content and sales content, and you want to know how to serve up each of those pieces of content in a way that's really going to serve the user. What you can start doing is really thinking about the search intent of each one of these keywords and building that in to a traditional persona-based marketing model.

This is my example model. All of these examples are made up. The data is not real. You cannot use this data and take it out and just go build ChocolateCookies.com. You could, but results are not guaranteed. To reiterate, this data, made up.

In my ChocolateCookies.com example, we've got three different personas. We've mapped out who they are and what they want. Now we can actually assign keywords to them. Say you're trying to target people who want to make cookies. What they're looking for, they're looking for recipes, they're looking for ingredients. They are not looking to buy cookies. If somebody googles "chocolate cookie recipes" and they click through to your site and it's a page about how you can buy cookies from you, that is a bad user experience. Those people are not going to buy cookies, and they're also going to bounce right back to the search results.

That is the kind of thing that search engines are tracking. How quickly did somebody return to the search results page from your site? Did they do it without taking an action? If so, that can be a signal that you're not serving up quality content. It's bad from a ranking factor's perspective, and it's also bad because that person did not give you money and that's what we're trying to do, trying to sell cookie recipes.

So you really want to make sure that this person when they're searching for these keywords, which you've mapped back to their persona, you're serving up chocolate cookie recipes. And if they're looking for ingredients, you're serving up ingredients. Then you're creating an entire experience. You're not just paying lip service saying, "Oh, here's a recipe and then buy a bunch of stuff." You really are serving them up that high quality content that users love, that brings them back to the site again and again. If the recipe content is good enough, this baker might even share your content and share it with their friends, and maybe even link to it from their blog that's all about making cookies. Wouldn't that be nice?

Then you might also have somebody who does not want to make cookies because they don't have that kind of time. They want to buy cookies. They just want to buy them and then eat them. It's a model that I practiced for years. So they're going to be looking to buy cookies online. They're not going to care about recipes at all. They're not going to care about ingredients at all. They're going to be much more purchase-driven and be looking at keywords around their favorite brands and looking for sales. These are the people that you can really incentivize with calls to action and trust signals, like free shipping, delivery, sales, coupons, join our mailing list, and things like that. You've now mapped these back, so again you're creating this entire experience and all of this content based around the fact that this person does not care about recipes at all, they just want to buy.

Then our third persona is somebody who's buying at the corporate level. Maybe they're an office manager, or at SEOmoz, Team Happy is constantly buying us goodies and snacks, and we love that. But this person is in charge of the cookie supply at their office. What, does your office not have cookies? I'm so sorry. Get some cookies.

So this guy, he doesn't care about recipes at all. He's not going to make cookies every day for 100 people. He wants to buy them, and he's not spending his own money. He's spending the company's money. So he's looking for things like a corporate discount, a bulk discount, Maybe he's catering a party. He needs same-day delivery. These are the things that are really going to be important to this person. Since you know that, you can create content that is solely targeted toward this one person, this one buyer. Especially if you have things like a corporate discount, this is the place to really show it off.

So you've got these three different personas, and they're taking three very different paths through the site and they're consuming the site in different ways, whether it's buying a bunch of stuff, buying one thing, consuming your content and buying ingredients, coming back. Each of these personas is experiencing your content in very different ways. Rather than just creating one site and popping in keywords all willy-nilly so that all of these people are having the same experience, you can start crafting unique user experiences for each of these people based on their paths through the site.

Great, except that that takes a lot of time and money. Both in the fact that at most businesses time in some ways is money, and you may actually have to spend some money on it. One of the things that I actually really recommend doing during this part of the process is running some PPC campaigns around the keywords where you're trying to define user intent. If somebody's just searching on chocolate cookies, you might not know if they want to buy them, or if they want to make them or what they want to do. So use PPC, run a little test, and see whether people respond better if you've got recipes, or free shipping, or what the different calls to action are for those more generic terms. Over time you can start to see what the majority of users' intent is and what they really respond to and craft experiences for those more generic terms based around that. That's a really great way to use PPC as a little guinea pig test.

Now here comes my favorite part because it involves metrics. What you can do is go into your Google Analytics or whatever, use your analytics tools and start looking at these behaviors based on keywords. Once you've got your persona and you've got your keywords assigned to your persona, first of all make sure that all of these keywords really are the same persona. Make sure that users who enter on those keywords are taking similar paths through the site and executing similar actions. That's a great secondary indicator that all of these keywords do belong to this same persona.

Start looking at what they do. Maybe you get the most traffic from the baker, but you get the most revenue per order from the corporate guy. Maybe the shopper doesn't return as much, but she does convert at 2.4%. The baker spends the longest time on site, but maybe she doesn't buy as much. These are the things that you can start to look at and say, "Okay, so we know that the baker spends a lot of time on site, that's great. What can we do to encourage her to turn that into a purchase? How can we brand message to her in ways that make her feel more comfortable buying ingredients, or what can we do to incentivize her sharing this content which clearly she's consuming or loving?"

The same thing with the corporate guy. If he's got the highest revenue per order, obviously we want more of this guy. We want to figure out what does he want, what is he doing, and what are the triggers that we can use that get him to buy more or get him to return to the site more. You can start really testing, and that's great because it allows you, even just before you've done any of that amazing tweaking and testing, to say, "Okay where is the biggest mover of the needle among these two personas? What are the activities that we could be doing that could encourage them to do more of the activities they want to do fastest?" Then that'll help you prioritize and it'll help you target your efforts and your budget.

Then if you want to go above and beyond and really get in there and be a little bit creepy, what you can do is actually link up your site to Facebook Open Graph so that people are opting in to a Facebook app when they're registering on your site. They're connecting with Facebook. So there is that opt-in. You don't just want to take people's information. Once you've done that, you can actually, in your Google Analytics code, link it up to your Facebook Open Graph data, and you can start getting real demographic data on the actual people who are using these keywords and coming to your site. Now in addition to knowing that the baker is 40% of searches, you know that she's 35 to 40, you know she's female, and you know she's a mom. The corporate guy you know that he works at a company of more than 100 people most of the time. So you can really start targeting these people based on their demographic information.

What you also learn then is who these people are that like you so much. They're coming to your site over and over. They're buying things from you, which is really what we're trying to do here. And you can start targeting more of those people in your own SEO efforts, in your own customer acquisition efforts. You're targeting them on social. You're reaching out to them for links. You're buying ads to put in front of them, and you have more confidence that you'll have a return on those ads because you already know these are the kind of people who like you.

So you have all of this information about keywords and about personas. Now you can take that back to your user experience team, to your information architects and say, "Hey, let's redo the sitemap and have it be based on these personas, based on these proven user behaviors that start with a keyword and end with a purchase, and let's build experiences for those keywords." Now instead of just saying, "Well, here's what I think. We've got like About Us, Contact Us, Products." You can really say, "These are three main personas, so in the header we should probably have cookie recipes, shop cookies, corporate discount," and know that even from page one on the site whenever one of your target people comes to the site, it's really easy for them to find the experience they're looking for, make their way through the site, and then buy something.

Mike King of iAquire, who blogs at ipullrank.com, put together some code using Stack Overflow, which may or may not work on your site. Take it to your devs and see if they can make it work with your analytics. Every site is different. Your mileage may vary, but there is a link to it here at the bottom of the screen. There should be. It's invisible to me, but you can see it.

Now that you have this data, go to your UX people and show them the power of keyword-driven site mapping. Show them how SEO has so much to do with what they do, and not only will this project work for you, but in the future they'll be more likely to come back to you and say, "Hey, we're going to change the whole site, and we thought you should know before we do it." That's what you want.

That's it for Whiteboard Friday this week. Thanks for coming by you guys. See you next time."

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!


SEOmoz Daily SEO Blog

Remove Unnecessary Steps & Win More Links, Shares, and Conversions – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by:  /  Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Posted by randfish

When creating a product, website, or communication, including a simple user experience is key to success. The easier you make the A to Z process for a user, the more likely they'll be to accomplish the plan you spent time and resources putting together piece by piece. 

In this week's Whiteboard Friday, Rand walks us through user experience and the actions that we can remove from our processes in order to drive more conversions, earn more links, get more social shares. Simplicity, FTW!

This week, we've added a still image of the whiteboard for easier viewing. Do you find this addition helpful? Let us know in the comments! 

Video Transcription

"Howdy, SEOmoz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week I want to talk a little bit about user experience and the actions that we can remove from our processes in order to drive more conversions, earn more links, get more social shares. Let me show you what I'm talking about.

In this first example, embed codes, a lot of websites use embed codes all over the place. SlideShare is a good example. When you get to SlideShare, you find a particular presentation, and then you can copy and embed that onto your page.

Bitly is another good example. When you go to Bitly, they've got a little copy and paste sector. You paste in a link. It turns into the short Bitly link. You grab that out.

All sorts of things do this. YouTube does it. Vimeo does it. Any type of infographic that's embeddable, they all have these embed codes.

Embed codes are a phenomenal way to drive links, especially to content that people are likely to put on their own sites. The problem becomes when you make that a multi-step process. In fact, we've seen research and data from several sources now, saying that if you can make this a single click on here, and it says "copy to clipboard"' automatically, as opposed to popping something up like Bitly has started to do, or having to grab the entire embed code, Ctrl A, Ctrl C. I have to copy it myself, that actually will drive more embeds, meaning more links to the places you want with the anchor text that you want.

We remove an unnecessary step, that secondary piece, and make it so one click right in here with you cursor gets you copied to clipboard, a transitional message or a temporal message that pops up that says, "Copy to clipboard," or says below here, "Copy to clipboard." Now, all I have to do is paste, and I'm done. Very, very simple. Very easy.

Number two:  Shorter, more action-oriented emails. We send a lot of emails. We send emails for outreach. We send emails that are in newsletter format that are trying to drive actions back to our websites. We send emails to try and get shares from our friends or our network, those kinds of things. All of these can be made more concise and more actionable. I see a lot of challenges when we sort of go, "Oh, I'm going to start with some nice fluffy introduction. Here's who I am. Here's more about my company. Oh, and now here, here is the final action. This is what I was actually trying to get you to do. I felt like for some reason I had to do all of this."

Email is a medium where heavy communication is great between people you already know, where there are lots of things to say, and you need to have that more complex dialogue. When it's between new people, between strangers, between someone you're reaching out to, I find that the most effective emails I ever get from an outreach perspective are, "Hey, Rand. Love what you're doing over there at Moz. Would you send this over to someone on your product team or someone on your marketing team?" Or, "Hey, we have this app that we think would be great for your events folks. Could you make an intro?" That is something I'm likely to do very, very quickly. Or, "Just check out this new app. It does this." Great. Really quick.

All the press release ones I get are like, "Such and such is a this type of company, and here's all of this. Here's their latest press release. They raised this round of funding. Would you be interested in writing about them or talking to their CEO on the phone?" Dude, all you have to do is have that CEO email me and be like, "Hey, man. I want to connect." I'll be like, "Hey, let's chat. Sounds good. Sounds interesting,"' if it actually does sound interesting. Shorter, more action-oriented emails.

Number three:  Simpler sign-up forms. Oh, my goodness. You do not need to collect all of this data all at once. I need name. I need first name and last name. I've got to get this person's address, or at least the city and state they're in, because of this. You can collect so much of this data in the application later, as they're using it, if they're actually using it. You can collect some of that from IP address, location sensitive IPs, those type of things. You can tell the type of device they're on.

The thing is, as people browse the web more and more with mobile devices, this guy right here, when I'm on here, I absolutely hate filling out forms. The most I can ever do is an email and password field. A confirm password field really gets me going. It's just infuriating because it's a pain to type those extra letters, especially on something that doesn't have a full keyboard. If you can remove those and ask for that later, remember even if they get their password wrong and they forget it, you have still emailed them. You've got their email address, and you've sent them an email. It says, "Hey, click here to confirm." If they log back in, oh now the password is wrong or they forgot, great, you can fix that later, but you've gotten that initial essential sign-up. That's what you're looking for.

Number four:  I know HTTP is a common protocol. So is GTTP, or at least I'd like to make it one. Get to the point with your content. Get to the point. A lot of the time, I see this stuff tweeted and shared on social networks, put on Inbound.org or Hacker News, where it says, "Hey, conversion rate testing shows that this performs better than that." Cool. Then, I have to scroll and scroll. Where is that? Oh, there's the test. There's that test they were talking about. It's way down deep in the content. I'm not exactly sure why, but a lot of times with blog content, with even infographics, with videos, with stuff that we should be sharing on the web and is good content, we're trying to say, "Here's what I want to tell you, and I'm prioritizing that for some reason above what you actually care about."

What you actually care about should be the primary and potentially only thing on that page. If you really have stuff that you want to tell me, I will go investigate. I'll check out your About page. I'll check out your product pages. I want to see what your company does because it sounds interesting. You've got a cool brand, and you've got a great blog post and that kind of thing. If you really must, you can put it down here below the stuff that I actually care about. I came to your site to watch a video I was told was awesome, to check out an infographic, to see, to learn something about a test, to figure out something, solve some problem. Deliver that to me upfront, please. That will not only make me more likely to come back to your site in the future. I'll have a positive brand association. I'll be more likely to share that content. Just a beautiful thing.

Number five:  You actually see this a lot, and I see tremendous effectiveness when this is done, which is socially sharing links directly to what matters on the page or on an individual site. A lot of times, there will be a product tour section. Then, there's a video, a really interesting video or a demo. I'll see the social shares that are most effective are the ones that point directly. Sometimes, they have a JavaScript field in the URL that has a hash in it or a hash bang system or whatever it is. Those people who share direct do better than the ones who share the broad page. They've gotten into the process and dug around enough to share directly that piece that I care about. You can do this too.

In fact, I have recently seen a test where I essentially had been tweeting a link to something like where we were competing against another company for which company is better at this particular thing. I had been tweeting links to the page. Then you had to scroll down the page quite a ways, and then there was a little voting widget. Then I saw from the voting widget itself, there was actually some hash URL that would link directly to the voting widget on that page. When I tweeted that, it drove way more actions. In fact, like four or five times as many actions. I think something over 100 votes, whereas previously I had shared it a couple times and gotten like 15 or 20 votes from it. That is definitely a way to show that tweeting directly to the thing you want people to do, great way to socially share and to make those shares go further.

Last one, maintaining logged in state. Zappos, Amazon, all do this brilliantly well. Google actually does a pretty solid job of it as well. They maintain a logged in experience for as long as possible. Do you remember back in the day with Twitter? You used to get logged out all the time. They just weren't maintaining cookies and session variables and all that kind of stuff. You were losing your log in. You'd have to log into Twitter, even though you clicked that Remember Me button, you'd have to log in many, many times, every time you came back.

If you have this "Please log in" system here, and it does it even though you clicked "Yes. Please, remember me" down here, remember, please remember. Check. You're killing your conversions. I don't just mean conversions in terms of someone who makes a purchase. I mean someone who might have left a comment, someone who might have participated in your community, someone who might have shared something, someone who might have reached content they otherwise wouldn't have, someone who might have been a lead for you.

Moz actually did this. We have this as a conversion killer, and we can show the data. It was about 18 months ago, I think, that Casey and the inbound engineering team did a bunch of work to make sure, that most of the time, you're logged into your account. You wouldn't be logged out as quickly. I still find some challenges with it, but it's way better than it used to be. The data shows. You can see more comments per post view. You can see more people checking out and filling out their accounts. All that type of activity, that UGC that's driving long tail traffic, just a beautiful thing by maintaining this logged in state.

All of these are specific examples. The big takeaway message here is you don't need unnecessary steps. You don't need to be taking actions and requiring things of your visitors that they don't need to do, especially with the rise in mobile browsing and with the advantages that we've seen from web page speed increasing. We know, as web users and as people who build for the web, that visitors care tremendously about accomplishing tasks quickly. They're getting more and more used to it on their phones, on their desktops, on their laptops, on their tablets. We need to deliver that in order to be successful at marketing as well.

All right, everyone. Hope you've enjoyed this edition of Whiteboard Friday. We'll see you again next week. Take care."

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!


SEOmoz Daily SEO Blog

Personalization and SEO – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by:  /  Tags: , ,

Posted by randfish

Personalization usage data and user data give marketers deep insights into their users' interests and actions. But how can you make the most out of these complex data sets to better serve your SEO campaigns?

In this week's Whiteboard Friday, Rand takes us through the intricate world of personalization and how it affects SEO. We'd love to hear your thoughts and tips in the comments below! 

Video Transcription

"Howdy, SEOmoz fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week I'm wearing a hoodie and a T-shirt, so it must be informal. I want to take you in a casual fashion into the topic of personalization user data and usage data, and these are complex topics. This Whiteboard Friday will not be able to cover all of the different areas that user and usage data and personalization touch on. But what I do hope to do is expose you to some of these ideas, give you some actionable insights, and then allow you guys to take some of those things away, and we can point to some other references. There are lots of folks who have done a good job in the search world of digging in deep on some of these other topics.

Let's start by talking about some of the direct impacts that personalization usage data have. Of course, by personalization usage data I mean the areas where Google is showing you or other users specific things based on your usage activities, where they are leveraging usage data, broad usage data, for many users to come up with different changes to these types of search results, and where they're leveraging user personalization on a macro level, taking the aggregate of those things and creating new types of results, re-ranking things and adding snippets. I'll talk about each of those.

In these direct impacts, one of the most important ones to think about is location awareness. This is particularly important obviously if you're serving a local area, but you should be aware that location biases a lot of searches that may not have intended to be local simply by virtue of their geography. If you're at a point, if I'm here in downtown Seattle, there is location awareness that affects the results ordering. I can perform searches, for example for Coffee Works, and I will get these Seattle Coffee Works results.

Perhaps if I was in Portland, Oregon and they had a Coffee Works in Portland, I would be getting those Coffee Works results. Usage history also gives Google hints about your location, meaning that even if you're searching on your smartphone or searching on your laptop, and you said, "Don't share my location," Google and Bing will still try to figure this out, and they'll try to figure it out by looking at your search history. They'll say to themselves, "Hey, it looks like this user has previously done searches for Madison Markets, Seattle Trader Joe's, used our maps to get directions from Capitol Hill to Queen Anne. I can guess, based on that usage data, that you are in Seattle, and I will try and give you personalized results that essentially are tied to the location where I think you're at."

A fascinating example of this is I was searching on my desktop computer last night, which I have not made it location aware specifically, but I did a search for a particular arena in Dublin, which is where the DMX Conference, that I'm going to in a couple days and speaking at, is going to be held. Then I started typing in the name of the hotel I was at, and it's a brand name hotel. What do you know? That location came up, the Dublin location of the brand hotel, even though that hotel has locations all over the world. How do they know? They know because I just performed a search that was related to Dublin, Ireland, and therefore they're thinking, oh yeah, that's probably where he's looking for this hotel information as well. Very, very smart usage history based personalization.

Do be aware search suggest is also affected directly by personalization types of results. If you are doing a search that is going to be biased by some element of personalization, either your search history or your location, those kinds of things, auto-suggest will come up with those same biases as the rankings might.

Next, I want to talk about the semantics of how you perform queries and what you're seeking can affect your search as well. Search history is an important bias here, right? Basically, if I've been doing searches for jewelry, gemstones, wedding rings, those kinds of things, and I do a search for ruby, Google and Bing are pretty smart. They can realize, based on that history, that I probably mean ruby the stone, not Ruby the programming language. Likewise, if I've just done searches for Python, Pearl and Java, they might interpret that to mean, "Aha, this person is most likely, when they're searching for Ruby, looking for the programming language." This makes it very hard if you're a software engineer who's trying to look for gemstones, by the way. As you know, the ruby gem is not just a gem. It's also part of the programming protocol.

This gets very interesting. Even seemingly unrelated searches and behavior can modify the results, and I think this is Google showing their strength in pattern matching and machine learning. They essentially have interpreted, for example, as disparate things as me performing searches around the SEO world and them interpreting that to mean that I'm a technical person, and therefore as I do searches related to Ruby or Python, they don't think the snake or the gemstone. They think the programming language Python or the programming language Ruby, which is pretty interesting, connecting up what is essentially a marketing discipline, SEO a technical marketing discipline, and connecting up those programming languages. Very, very interesting. That can modify your results as well.

Your social connections. So social connections was a page that existed on Google until last year. In my opinion, it was a very important page and a frustrating page that they've now removed. The social connections page would show, based on the account you were inside of, all your contacts and how Google connected you to them and how they might influence your search results.

For example, it would say randfish@gmail.com,which is my Gmail account that I don't actually use, is connected to Danny Sullivan because Rand has emailed Danny Sullivan on that account, and therefore we have these accounts that Danny Sullivan has connected to Google in one way or another. In fact, his Facebook account and several other accounts were connected through his Quora account because Quora OAuths into those, and Google has an agreement or whatever, an auth system with Quora. You could see, wow, Google is exposing things that Danny Sullivan has shared on Facebook to me, not directly through Facebook, but through this protocol that they've got with Quora. That's fascinating. Those social connections can influence the content you're seeing, can influence the rankings where you see those things. So you may have never seen them before, they may have changed the rankings themselves, and they can also influence the snippets that you're seeing.

For example, when I see something that Danny Sullivan has Plus One'd or shared on Google+, or I see something that Darmesh Shah, for example, has shared on twitter, it will actually say, "Your friend, Darmesh, shared this," or "Your friend, Danny Sullivan, shared this," or "Danny Sullivan shared this." Then you can hover on that person and see some contact information about them. So fascinating ways that social connections are being used.

Big take-aways here, if you are a business and you're thinking about doing marketing and SEO, you have to be aware that these changes are taking place. It's not productive or valuable to get frustrated that not everyone is seeing the same auto-suggest results, the same results in the same order. You just have to be aware that, hey, if we're going to be in a location, that location could be biasing for us or against us, especially if you're not there or if something else is taking your place.

If people are performing searches that are related to topics that might have more than one meaning, you have to make sure that you feel like your audience is well tapped into and that they're performing searches that they are aware of your products getting more content out there that they might be searching for and building a bigger brand. Those things will certainly help. A lot of the offline branding kinds of things actually help considerably with this type of stuff.

Of course, social connections and making sure that your audience is sharing so that the audience connected to them, even if they're not your direct customers, this is why social media strategy is so much about not just reaching people who might buy from you, but all the people who might influence them. Remember that social connections will be influenced in this way. Right now, Google+ is the most powerful way and most direct way to do this, but certainly there are others as well as the now removed social connections page, helped show us.

What about some indirect impacts? There are actually a few of these that are worth mentioning as well. One of those indirect impacts that I think is very important is that you can see re-ranking of results, not just based on your usage, but this can happen or may happen, not for certain, but may happen based on patterns that the engines detect. If they're seeing that a large number of people are suddenly switching away from searching ruby the gemstone to Ruby the language, they might bias this by saying, "You know what, by default, we're going to show more results or more results higher up about Ruby the programming language."

If they're seeing, boy a lot of people in a lot of geographies, not just Seattle, when they perform a Coffee Works search, are actually looking for Seattle Coffee Works, because that brand has built itself up so strongly, you know what, we're going to start showing the Seattle Coffee Works location over the other ones because of the pattern matching that we're seeing. That pattern matching can be a very powerful thing, which is another great reason to build a great brand, have a lot of users, and get a lot of people around your product, your services, and your company.

Social shares, particularly what we've heard from the search engines, Bing's been a little more transparent about this than Google has, but what Bing has basically said is that with social shares, the trustworthiness, the quality, and the quantity of those shares may impact the rankings, too. This is not just on an individual basis. So they're not just saying, "Oh well, Danny Sullivan shared this thing with Rand, and so now we're going to show it to Rand." They're saying, "Boy, lots of people shared this particular result around this topic. Maybe we should be ranking that higher even though it doesn't have the classic signals." Those might be things like keywords, links, and all the other things, anchor text and other things that they're using the ranking algorithm. They might say, "Hey the social shares are such a powerful element here, and we're seeing so much of a pattern around this, that we're going to start re-ranking results based on that." Another great reason to get involved in social, even if you're just doing SEO.

Auto-suggest can be your friend. It can also be your enemy. But when you do a search today, Elijah and I just tried this, and do a search for Whiteboard space, they will fill in some links for you – paint, online, information. Then I did the same search on my phone, and what do you think? Whiteboard Friday was the second or third result there, meaning, they've seen that I've done searches around SEOmoz before and around SEO in general. So they're thinking, "Aha. You, Rand, you're a person who probably is interested in Whiteboard Friday, even though you haven't done that search before on this particular phone." I got a new phone recently.

That usage data and personalization is affecting how auto-suggest is suggesting or search suggest is working. Auto-suggest, by the way, is also location aware and location biased. For example, if you were to perform this search, whiteboard space, in Seattle, you probably would have a higher likelihood of getting Friday than in, let's say, Hong Kong, where Whiteboard Friday is not as popular generally. I know we have Hong Kong fans, and I appreciate you guys, of course. But those types of search suggests are based on the searches that are performed in a local region, and to the degree that Google or Bing can do it, they will bias those based on that, so you should be aware.

For example, if lots and lots of people in a particular location, and I have done this at conferences, it's actually really fun to ask the audience, "Hey, would everyone please perform this particular search," and then you look the next day, and that's the suggested search even though it hadn't been performed previously. They're looking at, "Oh, this is trending in this particular region." This was a conference in Portland, Oregon, where I tried this, a blogging conference, and it was really fun to see the next day that those results were popping up in that fashion.

Search queries. The search queries that you perform, but not just the ones the you perform, but the search queries as a whole, kind of in an indirect, amalgamated, pattern matching way, may also be used to form those topic models and co-occurrences or brand associations that we've discussed before, which can have an impact on how search results work and how SEO works. Meaning that, if lots of people start connecting up the phrase SEOmoz with SEO or SEOmoz with inbound marketing, or those kinds of things, it's very likely or you might well see that Google is actually ranking pages on that domain, on SEOmoz's domain, higher for those keywords because they've built an association.

Search queries, along with content, are one of the big ways that they put those topics together and try to figure out, "Oh yeah, look, it seems like people have a strong association with GE and washer/dryers, or with Leica and cameras or with the Gap and clothing." Therefore, when people perform those types of searches, we might want to surface those brands more frequently. You can see this in particular when you perform a lot of ecommerce-related searches and particular brands come up. If you do a search for outdoor clothing and things like Columbia Sportswear and REI and those types of brands are popping up as a suggestion, you get a strong sense of the types of connections that Google might build based on these things.

All right, everyone. I hope you've enjoyed this edition of Whiteboard Friday. I hope you have lots of great comments, and I would love to jump in there with you and suggestions on how you people can dig deeper. We will see you again next week."

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!


SEOmoz Daily SEO Blog

Why Google Analytics Tagging Matters – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by:  /  Tags: , , , , ,

Posted by RachaelGerson

When Google Analytics doesn't know where a traffic source comes from, it assumes the traffic is direct and lumps it in with your direct visits. This happens frequenly with social shares, as many of us make the mistake of not tagging our links accordingly.

In today's Whiteboard Friday, Rachael Gerson sheds some light on "dark social" and explains why tagging in Google Analytics improves the accuracy of your referrals. Take credit for the work that you're doing, and tag your links!

 

 

Video Transcription

"Hi, everyone. I'm Rachael Gerson. I'm the head of analytics at SEER Interactive. We're a digital marketing agency in Philadelphia, although we are growing and spreading across the world. Although we're primarily known for our SEO, we actually have an amazing paid search team and a really talented analytics team. I want to share our story with you. The timing on this story is actually really convenient because it ties with what I wanted to talk to you about.

My sister wrote a blog post last night. She has a new blog. No one ever goes to it. I think I may be the only person who knows it exists. She wrote the post. I read it this morning and went, "This is really good content. I'm going to share this." And I put it out on Twitter.

She saw me share it, and she put it on Facebook and thought, "Okay. Let's see what happens." In the last 8 hours, she's gotten 74,000 page views to this one blog post. I'm looking at the real-time traffic right now, down here. There are 1,500 people on the site. This thing is blowing up. It's going viral.

We can see it spreading through Twitter. We can see it spreading through Facebook. We can see it being referred by random sites, but we're also seeing a lot of traffic come in as direct. Since no one knows this blog exists, I highly doubt they're typing in the 40 plus characters of the URL to go directly to this page. They're not. It's being shared socially. This is the idea of dark social.

It's not a new idea, but it's a fascinating idea, and that's what I wanted to talk to you about today, was this idea of dark social, that content spreads, if it's good content, socially, organically.

Dark social sounds like a bad thing. It's not. It's actually really awesome and really fun to dig into. Let's say that someone read this post earlier, and they shared it on Twitter, Facebook, whatever. We kind of know where that came from for the most part. They may have texted it to a friend or copied a link and sent it in chat. In both cases, when the person clicks on the link and goes to the site, they come in as direct.

Direct is Google Analytics' version of, "We have no idea what this is, so let's call it direct and throw it in that bucket." We know it's not direct. That's our dark, organic social. It's spreading organically in all different ways, and we're getting traffic because of it. It's pretty amazing.

I wanted to talk to you about the analysis I'm doing on the dark social side because it's really fun stuff. Unfortunately, in talking to a lot of people, I found they're not there yet.

Here's the problem. When we say direct it's our catchall bucket and we need to look at direct to get an idea of our dark social, organic social, whatever we want to call it, if things are not tagged properly, we can't dig into to what's [out] to this dark social side. Actually, we can't do anything. If things aren't tagged properly, you're not taking credit for the work that you're doing.

For your paid search, for your social media, for email marketing, whatever it is, you have to tag your links. Otherwise, you're not getting credit for the work that you're doing.

You know what really sucks, by the way? When you work really hard on a project and, at the last second, your boss takes credit for it. That was your project. You did all the work for it. Why is he taking your credit? It sucks!

What we're talking about right now is the digital marketing version of that. It's the online version, where you're giving your credit away for the work that you're doing. Honestly, you need that credit to keep your budget, to keep your job, to get a promotion, to get any of these things. You need to prove your value.

When we talk about tagging, it's using UTM parameters. Dark social, organic social, that's really sexy. It's fun. We can dig into that. UTM parameters are not sexy. They're not fun, but they're necessary. If you're not doing this, you're wasting your time and you're wasting your money. Now that sucks.

How are you wasting your time? If you're not doing this, you're putting all kinds of time, hopefully, into analysis, if you're looking at what you're doing, but your analysis is based on data that's not accurate. You're putting your time into marketing efforts that may not actually be working as well as you think they are. You're putting your money into marketing efforts. You need to know that your stuff's actually working. Keep doing that. Make your well-informed decisions to help the business and drive it forward.

Again, time is money. You need to make sure you get all this stuff right, so you can do all the other stuff.

Let's talk about a few examples of where tagging actually matters. If we're looking at Twitter, if you don't tag your links, things will still come in. You'll see t.co showing up. In your real-time traffic, you'll see Twitter as social coming in, and you'll see some of that in your multi-channel funnels as well.

If you tag your links, you're going to always know it's Twitter. You're going to know which campaign it was. You're going to know all the information you put into it. You're also going to be protected from the other side of it. That's when people use Twitter apps. For example, HootSuite doesn't come in as Twitter unless you've tagged it. People clicking on a link that you post on Twitter that's untagged in HootSuite are going to come in as HootSuite referral usually.

If you posted on TweetDeck, they're coming in as direct. By the way, I'm still playing with all of this, and it all changes. I've played with stuff that's changed before. So if this is different by the time it comes out, I apologize. Just keep up with it all the time.

That's our Twitter side. On Facebook, if we don't tag our links, they'll come in as Facebook referral. It's nice and easy. It's clean. We know what it is. The exception to that is if someone's trying to open a link in Facebook, they click on the link, it doesn't load fast enough, they're probably going to click Open in Safari if they really care about it. Once they open in Safari, that's a direct visit. We just lost the Facebook tracking in it.

There're also a missing piece here, and that's if you do tag this stuff, you get an extra level to your analysis. You can say, "This is all the same campaign. It's the same effort, same content." You can tie it together across all these different platforms, and that helps.

We get to email. If you're putting time and money into your email marketing, you want to take your credit for it. If you're not tagging your email, it's usually going to come in one of two ways:  One as a referral from all the different mail things that can come in or as direct.

At least with the mail, where is says mail.yahoo.whatever, we know it's mail. We can't track it down to what you did versus what someone sent. We have some analysis on it. If it's direct, you lose everything. So tag your email.

Paid search. It's nice. AdWords actually makes it really easy for us to tag our paid search. We can connect Google Analytics and AdWords very easily, and they play really well together. It's awesome. The problem is when you don't tag your stuff. If you don't tag your paid search, either through AdWords or through your manual tracking parameters on other platforms as well, it comes in as organic.

This actually happened to us at SEER. One of our SEO clients, we were watching their traffic, and organic traffic spiked. The account manager went, "Hey, guys, this is awesome." To which the client responded, "Oh, we forgot to tell you we launched paid search," and the account manager discovered they weren't tagging their paid search. This paid search manager accidentally just gave away their credit. We don't want to have that happen.

Let's say you've actually tagged everything properly in your URLs. All this is done. These are just a few examples, but all of the other stuff is taken care of. Let's look at the tracking on the site itself. We see this happen pretty often with paid search landing pages, where we have to put this on our checklist that this is done immediately.

We'll create brand new landing pages that are optimized for paid search for conversion. They're different from the rest of the site. They're a totally new template, which means that if the Google Analytics code is in a template already for the site, it may not be in here. If we don't have someone add it back in, what's going to happen is paid search will drive all this traffic to the site, they'll get to that page, go to page two. Page two has the Google Analytics code, but they don't know where it came from. This is going to show up as direct. Paid search just gave away their credit. We can't have that happen. You worked too hard for that credit.

I've also seen it where people make little mistakes with the tracking on the site. Spotify did this a few months ago, and I sent them a message to help them out with it. They were tagging all of the links on their site with UTM parameters. When visitors would hit those different links, they'd reset the visit ,and it would be a new visit with each one. Spotify, all their marketers were giving away their credit through that.

Let's say you've got all this other stuff right. Good job. That's awesome. There's still stuff that you can't control unfortunately. There are a lot of things that can cause traffic to come in as direct when it really isn't. I have a short list that people have been adding to at [bitly/direct-rome]. If you have others, keep adding them because I want to have a giant list of all the things we can tackle and fix, but the list just keeps growing.

If you look at mobile traffic, for example, iOS 6, we can't tell if it's search or if it's direct. That's a problem. For me, if I'm doing an analysis and I really need that part, or I really need to know that part for sure, I may cut that out so it's not throwing off my data. There are different ways to deal with that, and that's a whole other topic.

The point is control whatever you can. Where you control the spread of information, make sure you're doing your part. If you're sharing a link socially, tag your links. That way, if people want to share it or retweet it, the tracking is already in place there. If your posts on the site have social plugins, put the tracking in your social plugins too. It makes it easy if someone wants to hit the share on Facebook or to share on Twitter. It already has the tracking. It goes through, people get to the site, your tracking's in place, and you can breathe a sigh of relief.

Now once you've done everything else up here, your tagging is right on your URLs, your tracking is right on the site, there's nothing you messed up by accident, you've controlled everything you can with these other issues, you kind of have to accept what's left. You know that there's stuff that you can't account for. There's direct in there that may have been shared through a text, through a chat, through any other thing. You don't know where it actually came from.

First off, that gets a dark social. We can now start doing our awesome analysis, like dark social or other things, because we have confidence in our data. We can trust that we're making the right decisions for our business, and we can save our time and our money this way.

If you have questions or thoughts, hit me up on Twitter or in the comments below, because I love talking about this stuff. Maybe another time, we'll talk about this organic social idea."

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!


SEOmoz Daily SEO Blog

UX Myths That Hurt SEO – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by:  /  Tags: , , ,

Posted by randfish

User experience and SEO: friends or enemies? They've had a rocky past, but it's time we all realized that they live better in harmony. Dispelling the negative myths about how UX and SEO interact is the first step in improving both the look and search results of your website. 

In today's Whiteboard Friday, Rand talks about some persistent UX myths that we should probably ignore.

Have anything to add that we didn't cover? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Video Transcription

"Howdy, SEOmoz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week I wanted to talk a little about user experience, UX, and the impact that it has on SEO.

Now, the problem historically has been that these two worlds have had a lot of conflict, especially like late '90s, early 2000s, and that conflict has stayed a little bit longer than I think it should have. I believe the two are much more combined today. But there are a few things that many people, including those who invest in user experience, believe to be true about how people use the web and the problems that certain user experience, types of functionality, certain design types of things cause impact SEO, and they impact SEO negatively. So I want to dispel some of those myths and give you things that you can focus on and fix in your own websites and in your projects so that you can help not only your SEO, but also your UX.

So let's start with number one here. Which of these is better or worse? Let's say you've got a bunch of form fields that you need a user to fill out to complete some sort of a registration step. Maybe they need to register for a website. Maybe they're checking out of an e-commerce cart. Maybe they're signing up for an event. Maybe they're downloading something.

Whatever it is, is this better, putting all of the requests on one page so that they don't have to click through many steps? Or is it better to break them up into multiple steps? What research has generally shown and user experience testing has often shown is that a lot of the time, not all of the time certainly, but a lot of the time this multi-step process, perhaps unintuitively, is the better choice.

You can see this in a lot of e-commerce carts that do things very well. Having a single, simple, direct, one step thing that, oh yes, of course I can fill out my email address and give you a password. Then, oh yeah, sure I can enter my three preferences. Then, yes, I'll put in my credit card number. Those three things actually are more likely to carry users through a process because they're so simple and easy to do, rather than putting it all together on one page.

I think the psychology behind this is that this just feels very overwhelming, very daunting. It makes us sort of frustrated, like, "Oh, do I really have to go through that?"

I'm not saying you should immediately switch to one of these, but I would fight against this whole, "Oh, we're not capturing as many registrations. Our conversion rate is lower. Our SEO leads aren't coming in as well, because we have a multi-step process, and it should be single step." The real key is to usability test to get data and metrics on what works better and to choose the right path. Probably if you have something small, splitting it up into a bunch of steps doesn't matter as much. If you have something longer, this might actually get more users through your funnel.

Number two. Is it true that if we give people lots of choice, then they'll choose the best path for them, versus if we only give people a couple options that they might not go and take the action that they would have, had we given them those greater choices? One of my favorite examples from this, from the inbound marketing world, the SEO world, the sharing world, the social world is with social sharing buttons themselves. You'll see tons of websites, blogs, content sites, where they offer just an overwhelming quantity of tweet this, share this on Facebook, like this on Facebook, like us on Facebook, like our company page on Facebook, plus one this on Google+, follow us on Google+, embed this on your own webpage, link to this page, Pinterest this.

Okay. Yes, those are all social networks. Some of them may be indeed popular with many of your users. The question is:  Are you overwhelming them and creating what psychologists have often called the "paradox of choice," which is that we as human beings, when we look at a long list of items and have to make a decision, we're often worse at making that decision than we would be if we looked at a smaller list of options? This is true whether it's a restaurant menu or shopping for shoes or crafting something on the Internet. Etsy has this problem constantly with an overwhelming mass of choice and people spending lots of time on the site, but then not choosing to buy something because of that paradox of choice.

What I would urge you to do is not necessarily to completely get rid of this, but maybe to alter your philosophy slightly to the three or four or if you want to be a little religious about it, even the one social network or item that you think is going to have the very most impact. You can test this and bear it out across the data of your users and say, "Hey, you know what? 80% of our users are on Facebook. That's the network where most of the people take the action even when we offer them this choice. Let's see if by slimming it down to just one option, Twitter or Facebook or just the two, we can get a lot more engagement and actions going." This is often the case. I've seen it many, many times.

Number three. Is it true that it's absolutely terrible to have a page like this that is kind of text only? It's just text and spacing, maybe some bullet points, and there are no images, no graphics, no visual elements. Or should we bias to, hey let's have a crappy stock photo of some guy holding up a box or of a team smiling with each other?

In my experience, and a lot of the tests that I've seen around UX and visual design stuff, this is actually a worse idea than just going with a basic text layout. If for some reason you can't break up your blog post, your piece of content, and you just don't have the right visuals for it, I'd urge you to break it up by having different sections, by having good typography and good visual design around your text, and I'd urge you to use headlines and sub-headlines. I wouldn't necessarily urge you to go out and find crappy stock photos, or if you're no good at creating graphics, to go and make a no good graphic. This bias has created a lot of content on the web that in my opinion is less credible, and I think some other folks have experienced that through testing. We've seen it a little bit with SEOmoz itself too.

Number four. Is it true that people never scroll, that all the content that you want anyone to see must be above the fold on a standard web page, no matter what device you think someone might be looking at it on? Is that absolutely critical?

The research reveals this is actually a complete myth. Research tells us that people do scroll, that over the past decade, people have been trained to scroll and scroll very frequently. So content that is below the fold can be equally accessible. For you SEO folks and you folks who are working on conversion rate optimization and lead tracking, all that kind of stuff, lead optimization, funnel optimization, this can be a huge relief because you can put fewer items with more space up at the top, create a better visual layout, and draw the eye down. You don't have to go ahead and throw all of the content and all of the elements that you need and sacrifice some of the items that you wanted to put on the page. You can just allow for that scroll. Visual design here is obviously still critically important, but don't get boxed into this myth that the only thing people see is the above the fold stuff.

Last one. This myth is one of the ones that hurts SEOs the most, and I see lots of times, especially when consultants and agencies, or designers, developers are fighting with people on an SEO team, on a marketing team about, "Hey, we are aiming for great UX, not great SEO." I strongly disagree with this premise. This is a false dichotomy. These two, in fact, I think are so tied and interrelated that you cannot separate them. The findability, the discover bility, the ability for a page to perform well in search engines, which remains the primary way that we find new information on the Internet, that is absolutely as critically important as it is to have that great user experience on the website itself and through the website's pages.

If you're not tying these two together, or if you're like this guy and you think this is a fight or a competition, you are almost certainly doing one of these two wrong. Oftentimes it's SEO, right? People believe, hey we have to put this keyword in here this many times, and the page title has to be this big on the page. Or, oh we can't have this graphic here. It has to be this type of graphic, and it has to have these words on it.

Usually that stuff is not nearly important as it was, say, a decade ago. You can have fantastic UX and fantastic SEO working together. In fact, there almost always married.

If you're coming up with problems like these, please leave them in the comments. Reach out to me, tweet to me and let me know. I guarantee you almost all of them have a creative solution where the two can be brought together.

All right, gang, love to hear from you, and we will see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care."

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!


SEOmoz Daily SEO Blog

How to Win a Content Arms Race – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by:  /  Tags: , , , ,

Posted by randfish

Ever feel like you're neck and neck with your competitors in the mad dash to produce exciting, unique content? The push for content generation has taken off across all industries lately, and it's not surprising that content strategy feels like it's turning into an arms race.

In this week's Whiteboard Friday, Rand shares his tips on entering the content arms race and what you can do to come out victorious in your space. Content marketers, to your battle stations!

Video Transcription

"Howdy, SEOmoz fans, and welcome to this edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week, I wanted to talk a little bit about content strategy, specifically as it relates to content arms races. I've been noticing that many folks in our community and the marketing community overall have said, "Boy, it's not just me anymore who's investing in content, trying to share that content through search and through social networks. It's all my competitors too."

So we're almost getting into this like content arms race type of environment, which is tough. I recognize that. I also recognize that I do a terrible job drawing a guy with a knife and another guy with what looks like a shower head. They both have guns and shower heads. I don't know why, but they're in an arms race for content, because content marketing is becoming so popular. Because of that, you need to take extra steps to go above and beyond what your competitors do in order to win in this space.

So first thing I'm recommending is choose some creative content formats. A lot of folks, when they get into content marketing, they think, "Oh, we're going to have a blog. Maybe we're going to have a forum. Maybe we're going to have some articles and some white papers we put out." Those are fine, but you should think beyond that.

So in the SaaS world and the enterprise world, a lot of people extend immediately into webinars. Some people get into slide shows. I would also urge you to think about video. Whiteboard Friday itself, a very effective content marketing tool. I think we started Whiteboard Friday long before we knew what content marketing really was or content strategy.

Conversations. You can see a lot of people using conversations, Q & A types of formats, forums, using their communities to build conversations, and even the blog comments becoming conversations.

Comics. Comics have been really huge on the Web. You can see people like XKCD having a ton of success, and lots of folks in the marketing world and in the B2B world even trying to leverage some comical stuff.

Graphics. Certainly if you can produce high quality graphics, photos, imagery, whatever you're capturing.

Graph and charts. If you can assemble data, even if you don't create the data yourself or you're not responsible for the data, if you build the charts yourself, wow, you can really win with that.

Interactive tools. These ones are extremely hard to replicate. If you are the source, the resource, in your industry for that particular type of tool, man, no one is going to take you. You've got a win.

Next step, share what others are unwilling or unable to share, and this can be highly valuable. So when I say "unwilling," what I'm really talking about is some people aren't willing to go to the length of transparency to share data from their own campaigns or data from their networks, or they don't have a large enough community to be able to survey, or they don't have a network where they can reach out to folks who have that type of information or can make those kinds of contributions. Maybe they don't have the financial resources to bring in expertise or to commission a public study or whatever it is that you have an advantage on. That could be your size, your nimbleness, your community, your creativity. Do those things that you're competitors cannot or will not do, and that includes data from your contacts, but also investing beyond what is reasonable.

So I like to think of this as the quality sort of beats quantity approach. Now, this is true for two things. The first one I'd say is that it's not always the case that quality wins out, but if you do these couple of things right, it can. Number one is being able to create resources that no one can do a better job of. What's great about that is it means you can actually steal ideas from your competitors, from the rest of the marketplace, from the media, reproduce them yourselves in a better way, do an even better job. "Oh, there was this study, and we decided to replicate the results, and we have an even larger audience for it, and so we've got even more data. We asked a few questions that were really missing in the first one. We used an even better method." Blah, blah, blah, blah.

You should go for consistency here. So consistency and quantity are often tied together in people's minds. This is not actually the case. Just because you're consistent doesn't necessarily mean that you have to produce a huge volume. Two times a month in terms of a great piece of content, even once a month can work out just fine. Think of one of our favorite content marketing examples in the inbound marketing world has been, for the last few years, OkTrends, the OkCupid blog, and they were literally producing sometimes a blog post only once every two or three months, but it was fairly consistent. Now it's dropped off after the acquisition, but still very exciting stuff.

I would urge you, if you haven't already, to think about how you can build a community. A community for marketing content is invaluable because it means that the amplification of your message and of the content that you share is so much broader than what you could get otherwise. If you don't have a community, your competitors almost certainly can win by building up one.

If you don't have one, there are a few things you can do to leverage some. Number one, bring in people who have communities of their own and ask them for contributions. Sometimes you may need to pay them. Sometimes you can offer them exposure, an audience, something else, a high quality speaker, a great resource that you bring into your site. Sometimes you can even go as far as to say, "Hey, you know what, we're the New York Times, and we really love these Freakonomics guys, and we'd like them to blog for us." There you go. Now the Freakonomics blog exists on the New York Times itself. Same thing with 538, the popular political science blog from Nate Silver.

My last recommendation here, in terms of investing in places where your competitors aren't, is to hit the long tail. By long tail what I mean is if there's a direct funnel, if you think about consumers coming to your site and content marketing sort of being at the top of that funnel, it's going to bring people in who are potentially interested in your product. You can think about that funnel as getting deeper and deeper, and a lot of folks focus on the deeper parts of the funnel. That's where a lot of content marketing happens because they want people in the buying cycle, down and engaged in the buying cycle. What I'd urge you to do, think about it even higher up. Those long tail searches that people are performing, the videos and content and interactive tools and stuff that they are using long before they're even potentially interested in your product, and then you can reach people and brand them and have content marketing success where your competitors aren't even trying to compete with you. They're not even investing.

All right, everyone. I hope you've enjoyed this edition of Whiteboard Friday, and we'll see you again next week. Take care."

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!


SEOmoz Daily SEO Blog

SMX West + SEO Workshop with Bruce Clay – Rates Go Up Friday!

Posted by:  /  Tags: , , , , , ,

SMX West + SEO Workshop with Bruce Clay – Rates Go Up Friday! was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

Education and professional self improvement are works in progress and it’s never too late to start. However, they say the early bird gets the worm, and in the case of next month’s SMX West in San Jose, that worm is a discount on registration. Early bird pricing for the conference ends this Friday. Add to that 10% discount code SMXW13bruceclay and the justification for this investment is overwhelming.

Just be sure not miss the SEO Workshop Bruce  presents at SMX West to take full advantage of this opportunity to learn from search and social thought leaders.

Pass Options
(See what you get)
Early Bird
Now – Feb 1
Conference Rate
Feb 2 – Mar 10
On Site
All Access Pass $ 1,495 $ 1,595 $ 1,695
All Access Pass + Workshop $ 2,395 $ 2,595 $ 2,795
All Access Pass – One Day $ 795 $ 895 $ 995
Workshop Only* (Workshop Descriptions) $ 995 $ 1,095 $ 1,195
SMX Boot Camp (Learn More) $ 399 $ 449 $ 499
Pass (Learn More) Free Free $ 50

If you’re planning to go to SMX West, jump on it. If you’re not sure SMX West is for you, consider this…

The BIG SMX West Preview: Why You Should Attend

  • Keynotes from Facebook and Google promise revealing insights about the company’s missions and the future of marketing on these powerful platforms.
  • There are sessions devoted to SEO, paid search, social media, microformats and semantic search, in-house marketing, content, mobile search and a brand new track called SMX Summit — proclaimed “no-holds-barred Q&A.”
  • On Thursday, Bruce presents the rave-reviewed SEO workshop in conjunction with SMX. Think of this as a sanity booster and concept solidifier after the 3-day marathon of the SMX conference. In this workshop, Bruce places everything you learned over the week in a framework that fits all the Internet marketing pieces back together after the conference sessions broke them down into laser focus. Bruce gives you the knowledge and tools to use your website as the anchor of your online presence, around which you can develop a robust Internet presence for your business.

Who Should Come to the SEO Workshop at SMX West

Attendees of the SMX conference SEO workshop come in with all roles and marketing experience levels. In one survey last year, attendees reported job titles including:

  • marketing coordinator
  • social marketing manager
  • manager of an online business
  • company owner
  • ecommerce product manager
  • SEO specialist

Basically, if you care about your business’s visibility online, you’ll benefit from the workshop.

What Past Attendees Say

SMX West and SEO workshop with Bruce Clay
To totally toot our own horn, this workshop is highly praised by past attendees.

One said: “I found the one-day training from Bruce Clay to be extremely eye-opening and helpful. The course takes a holistic look at SEO and how to make website better for both the search engines and the users. Bruce is very knowledgeable on the subject matter and conveys it well.”

Another said: “I came into this course knowing very little about SEO and when it was done it created a whole new perspective for me and my company on what needs to be done to get in the top 3 organic SEO positions on the search engines.”

And one more for good measure: “If you are interested in learning SEO, Bruce Clay is the one to learn from. He is an excellent teacher, with years of experience and he can get you going in the right direction.”

What You Get in the SEO Workshop at SMX West

One last thing you’d probably like to know is what to expect from the SEO workshop:

  • Course materials, of course, but in a form that you can continually reference in your day-to-day work. Along with Bruce’s slide presentation, you also get the For Dummies All-In-One SEO Desk Reference, a modular handbook for all things SEO. Just search the index and dive-in to the stand-alone topic that you need right now.
  • Future savings on a week of SEO training education with Bruce. If you’re an SEO workshop attendee and it looks like the one day isn’t enough, we’ll deduct the cost of the workshop from the price of our 5-day SEO training course in Simi Valley.
  • A relationship with Bruce Clay, who I’ll honestly say is one of the most generous educators in SEO. Bruce doesn’t really end his workshop at the end of the day. Business consultant Steven Hume attended the SEO workshop with Bruce at SMX Advanced last year, and says, “The staff and even Bruce himself has taken time out of his schedule to speak with me on very simple questions that I really didn’t understand. I appreciate that greatly!” When you come to our SEO training or an SEO workshop, you’ve just opened a door to a great resource in Bruce and our organization that we hope will serve you for a long time.

Register for SMX West by Friday to save with the early bird rate. Use the code SMXW13bruceclay for an additional 10% discount. And we’ll see you in San Jose soon!

Bruce Clay Blog

How Unique Does Content Need to Be to Perform Well in Search Engines? – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by:  /  Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Posted by randfish

We all know that content needs to be unique to rank highly in the SERPs, but how "unique" are we talking? From a content creation perspective, it's imperative to know what duplicate content really means and to understand the implications it can have on SEO.

In this week's Whiteboard Friday, Rand discusses what makes content unique in the eyes of the crawlers, and the bane of duplicate content.

Video Transcription

"Howdy SEOmoz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week I want to take some time to talk about content duplication and content uniqueness, which is very important from an SEO perspective. It can also be important from a content marketing perspective.

For SEO purposes, search engines like to filter out what they view as duplicative content, things that are exactly the same. They never want to show you a set of results where result two, three, four, and five are all exactly the same article or are essentially the same three paragraphs repeated with the same photos embedded in them. It could be that content gets licensed among different parties. News vendors do this a lot. It could be that someone has done some plagiarism and actually stolen a piece. It could just be that someone is posting the same article in several different places on the web that accept content submissions. In any case, the engines are trying to filter this type of behavior out. They don't want to see that content because they know users are made happy by, "If I didn't like this result on this website, chances are I'm not going to like it on result number three on the different website." So they try and filter this stuff out.

From an SEO perspective and for content creators, it's therefore very important to understand, "What does that really mean? What is meant by duplicate content, and how unique do I really need to be?"

The first thing that I always like to talk about when we get into a discussion of content uniqueness is that content, when we talk about the content that the engines are considering for this, we're referring only to the unique material on a page. That excludes navigation, ads, footers, sidebars, etc.

I've got a page mockup over here, and you would exclude all this stuff – the logo, the navigation, the sidebars. Maybe this person is running some ads in the sidebar. Maybe they've got a little piece about themselves, and they've got a bunch of text down the right-hand side. Then they think, "Boy, I only have a couple of lines of text on this page and a photo and maybe a couple of bullet points. Is this unique from these other pages that look exactly the same except they have some different content in the content section?" This is the content. If you're worried that, "Oh no, I think that my pages might be kind of heavy and my content is kind of light," I wouldn't worry too much about that so long as you're doing everything else right. We'll talk about some of those. Number two, uniqueness applies to both internal and external sources. Copying either one can be trouble. It could be that these are other pages on your site and these are other pages somewhere else on the web where this content exists, and you're taking from those and putting those pieces on your site. That can be a problem in either of those cases. Internal duplication, usually engines will try and ignore it if it's small and subtle, just happens here and there. It's like, "Oh, there are four different versions of this page because they've got a print version, a mobile version. Okay. We'll try and canonicalize and figure that out."

You would be wise in these situations to use something like a rel=canonical. Or if you're consolidating pages after a big site move or a re-architecturing, something like that, a 301 is proper. But you should also be aware that this can happen from external stuff.

However, when I say that, what I don't mean to say and what I know a lot of people get confused about in the SEO world is this doesn't mean that you can't take a paragraph from Wikipedia and put it in a bigger article that you're writing, or cite a blogger and include a couple of phrases that they say, or take a piece from New York Magazine or from the Wall Street Journal, from Wired, or wherever you want and take, "Oh hey, I'm going to caption this, and I'm going to have a little clip of it. I'm going to put a video that exists on YouTube already." That's not duplicative so long as you are adding unique value.

Number three, uniqueness alone, some people get lost in the minutiae of the rules around SEO, the rules around search engines and they think, "Well, this content exists nowhere else on the web. So I just took someone else's and I changed all the words." You have technically provided unique content, but you have not provided unique value. Unique value is a very different thing. What I mean when I say "unique value" and what the search engines would like you to do and are building algorithms around is providing value that no other sources, no other sites on the web are specifically providing. That could mean that you take a look at the visitor's intent, the searcher's intent or your customer's intent and you say, "Hey, I'm going to answer each of these things that this person is trying to achieve."

If somebody searches for hotels in Cape Town, South Africa, well they're probably looking for a listing of hotels, but they probably have other intents as well. They might be interested in other stuff related to traveling there. They could be wanting to know things about weather. They could be wanting to know things about neighborhoods where these hotels are located. So providing unique value as opposed to just, "Hey, I'm going to take the content from Expedia's website and then I'm also just going to rewrite the paragraph about the hotels specifically," that's not going to help you. But if you were to do something like what Oyster Hotels does, where they actually send a reporter with a camera, a journalist essentially, to the location, they take tons of their own unique photos, and they write about the weather and the neighborhood and the hotel cleanliness and investigate all these sorts of things and provide true, unique value as well as unique content, now you're hitting on what you need to achieve the uniqueness that search engines are talking about when they talk about unique versus duplicate.

Four, there's this imagination that exists in the minds of folks in the SEO field, and has for a long time, that there must be some mythical percentage. If over here, "Oh, this is 100% duplicate and this is 0% duplicate, 100% unique and this is the 50/50 mark, there must be some imaginary, magical, if I just get to like right here at 41%, that's the number. Therefore I'm going to create a huge website and all my pages just have to hit that 47% mark." That is dead wrong. Just totally wrong. There's nothing like this.

The algorithms that you might imagine are so much more sophisticated than an exact percentile of what is and isn't duplicate, even when it comes to just studying the content in here. That specific percentage doesn't exist. They use such a vast array of inputs. I'll give you some examples.

You can see, for example, that an article that might be published on many different news sites, after it moves out of Google news and into the Google main index, sometimes duplicates will appear, and oftentimes those duplicates are the ones that are the most linked to, the ones that have lots of comments on them, the ones that have been socially shared quite a bit, or where Google has seen user usage data behaviors or previous behaviors on those sites that suggests that each site provides some sort of unique value, even if the content is exactly the same.

Like Bloomberg and Business Week are constantly producing the same articles. Business Insider will produce articles from all over the place. Huffington Post will take articles from places that writers submit, and it'll be published in different places. People will publish on one site, and then they'll publish privately on their own blog. Sometimes Google will list both, sometimes they won't. It's not about a percentage. It's about the unique value that's provided, and it's about a very sophisticated algorithm that considers lots of other features.

If you are in a space where you're competing with other people who are posting the same content, think about unique value and think about getting the user usage data, the branding, the social shares, the links, all of those things will be taken into consideration when it comes to, "Are we going to rank your site or this other site that's licensing your content or from whom you are licensing content?" Domain authority can play a big role in there.

The last thing I want to mention is that duplicate and low value content, because of Google's Panda update from 2011, Panda means that low quality content, duplicative content that exists on one part of your site can actually harm your overall site. I'd be very cautious if you're thinking, "Hey, let's produce an article section on our site that's just these 5,000 articles that we licensed from this other place or that we're copying from someone's blog. We might not get much SEO value from it, but we will get a little bit of extra search engine traffic." In fact, that can hurt you because as the Panda algorithm runs its course and sees, "Boy, this site looks like it copied some stuff," they might hurt your rankings in other places.

Google's been very specific about this, that duplicate, low quality content in one area can harm you across your entire site. Be mindful of that. If you're nervous about it, you can robot.txt that stuff out so engines don't crawl it. You can rel=canonical it back up to a category page. You could even not include that in search engines. Use the disallow meta noindex, or you could do it inside your Google Webmaster Tools, disallow crawling of those pages. These are all options for that kind of stuff.

All right everyone. Hope you've enjoyed this edition of Whiteboard Friday and you'll go out there and create some unique and uniquely valuable content, and we'll see you again next week. Take care."

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!


SEOmoz Daily SEO Blog

My Favorite Way to Get Links and Social Shares – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by:  /  Tags: , , , , ,

Posted by randfish

So you've got a new blog post you're ready to reveal to the interwebs. You've worked hard on the content, and now you really need to drive activity on it.

If you don't have a widespread network of contacts to help you, you may need some tips to help drive that traffic. In this week's Whiteboard Friday, Rand shares his favorite way to get links and social shares, while simultaneously seeding future plans to get links automatically built for you.

Make sure to refer back to Rand's post on What Separates a "Good" Outreach Email from a "Great" One for more in-depth tips on conducting outreach.

We'd love to hear your feedback on these processes! If you have thoughts or something to add, make sure to leave it in the comments below.

Video Transcription

"Howdy, SEOmoz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week I thought I would talk about what my personal favorite methodology for getting links in social shares is. A lot of folks ask about this like, "I need to get a lot of links. I've got to share this new blog post. I have a new white paper I want to put out. I'm trying to get people to share this webinar." Whatever it is, you have some people that have content that you really need to drive activity on, and I understand that.

So even the search engines have evolved. Certainly links are still a huge part of the algorithm, especially in Google and Bing, and we're still seeing the value that social shares can bring, in terms of being a leading indicator or highly correlated with lots of links coming to them. Certainly when you need to get activity and you've got to get something announced and get awareness built, these are very helpful.

I actually don't like a lot of the classic methodologies that are kind of go out there and push a link or acquire a link from a place. I really love it when people will automatically build links to me. If that doesn't happen though, or if you need a seed to get that process started, where people can start coming to you and linking automatically because they like what you've done, to seed that I love getting people, that I'm involved with, involved in that process, meaning friends, colleagues, business connections, people in the community, people who are in the particular field where I'm operating in, where I'm creating content, who might have an interest in it. That's a great way to go to help seed this process. If you don't already have that built up though, it's really hard to get that started, unless you do this. This is my absolute favorite process for this kind of work.

Step one. Go out and assemble a list, as big or as small as you want – it can be as niche or as widespread as you want – of people, friends, colleagues, people who you admire, whom you would like to help out, meaning you want to help them promote their stuff. For example, I might email some other companies in The Foundry and Ignition Portfolios, other companies that have been invested by our investors. I might email some other people in the SEO community, some of my agency friends, and in-house SEO friends, some speakers that I've spoken with at other conferences, some people I really admire on Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn, and that kind of stuff. Then I would reach out to them. Maybe your dentist has a great website and is very web savvy and active, your travel blogger friend, your buddy on Twitter, your old boss, or a writer you admire. Whoever these people are, you're going to help them. You'll see where I'm going with this in a minute.

Step two. You need to reach out to them. That outreach process looks like this. Note that you want to share and recommend some stuff. It really helps if you've got, either on your personal website or your blog or your company's site, a recommended resources. These are companies and people or company's content and resources that we recommend, we've loved here at SEOmoz, or I have loved personally over the years and would recommend to you as well. I do this with books and with vendors here in Seattle, that we've used as a company, or that I've encountered. I do it with SEO people. I have a whole recommended list of SEOs. All this kind of stuff.

Then I would note to those people, "Hey, I'm trying to get more active in my social sharing and building up my recommendations list, and you're a person that I really like and admire. Do you have anything that you would like some help promoting? Is there anything I can do to help you promote something out there? Is there something I can link to for you, maybe put on a recommended list. I could socially share this. I could tweet it. I could put up a Google+ post about it." Keep that email just short and friendly. You can reuse a lot of that same email. I'll do this sometimes when I outreach to people. I'll construct the body of it, and I'll just put a new opening line or two and a new closing line or two, but the body of that main paragraph will stay the same.

Then people will reply to you. They'll be like, "Oh my gosh, Rand. That's awesome of you. Yeah, actually I wrote this post last week. It hasn't got a ton of attention, but I think it's a good one. Would you help share it? I think you've got a community of technology people who would really care about this." Or, "Yeah, actually, my friend runs a cleaning service here in Seattle, and I would love if you could reference them. That would be a great citation for them." Terrific. Great. Now I am going out and helping all of these folks, and in the future, right after you've helped all the people, the next time you need help promoting something, whatever it is, you have a group, a list of folks that you know you have already helped out. You can reach out to them again and say, "Hey, I have this thing, and if it's not too much trouble, I would love some help promoting it."

This is not a direct reciprocation, like, "Well, I did this for you, so now you do this for me." This is just seeding the pot. You are creating a positive impression with these folks. Trust me, a lot of the time, even if you don't have something to promote, if you do this for people in your network and people in your world, just try and make their lives better and promote their stuff, they will automatically be incented for the next few months to do something nice for you. If they can think of anything, they will try and do it for you. They will be more likely to help you out. If you do ask for a share, you'll be more likely to get it.

This process is very, very effective in getting results and getting a group of folks who can help you share. I highly urge you to do this. I think the wonderful thing about this is that you're going to help all these people before you ask for any help yourself, which is a great thing too.

All right, everyone. I hope you've enjoyed this edition of Whiteboard Friday. We'll see you again next week. Take care."

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!


SEOmoz Daily SEO Blog

Page 1 of 2 12