Tag Archive | "Link"

SearchCap: Alexa & Google Assistant, AMP URLs & link building

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

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Image Link Building – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by BritneyMuller

Image link building is a delicate art. There are some distinct considerations from traditional link building, and doing it successfully requires a balance of creativity, curiosity, and having the right tools on hand. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Moz’s own SEO and link building aficionado Britney Muller offers up concrete advice for successfully building links via images.

Image Link Building

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Video Transcription

Hey, Moz fans, welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Today we’re going to go over all things image link building, which is sort of an art. I’m so excited to dig into this with you.

Know your link targets

So first and foremost, you need to know your link targets:

I. Popular industry platforms – top pages

What are those top platforms or websites that you would really like to acquire a link from? Then, from there, you can start to understand who might be influencers on those platforms, who’s writing the content, who might you contact, and also what are the top pages currently for those sites. There are a number of tools that give you a glimpse into that information. Moz’s OSE, Open Site Explorer, will show you top pages. SEMrush has a top page report. SimilarWeb has a popular page report. You can dig into all that information there, really interesting stuff.

II. Old popular images – update!

You can also start to dig into old, popular images and then update them. So what are old popular images within your space that you could have an opportunity to revamp and update? A really neat way to sort of dig into some of that is BuzzSumo’s infographics filter, and then you would insert the topic. You enter the industry or the topic you’re trying to address and then search by the infographics to see if you can come across anything.

III. Transform popular content into images

You can also just transform popular content into images, and I think there is so much opportunity in doing that for new statistics reports, new data that comes out. There are tons of great opportunities to transform those into multiple images and leverage that across different platforms for link building.

IV. Influencers

Again, just understanding who those influencers are.

Do your keyword research

So, from here, we’re going to dive into the keyword research part of this whole puzzle, and this is really understanding the intent behind people searching about the topic or the product or whatever it might be. Something you can do is evaluate keywords with link intent. This is a brilliant concept I heard about a couple weeks back from Dan Shure’s podcast. Thank you, Dan. Essentially it’s the idea that keywords with statistics or facts after the keyword have link intent baked into the search query. It’s brilliant. Those individuals are searching for something to reference, to maybe link to, to include in a presentation or an article or whatever that might be. It has this basic link intent.

Another thing you want to evaluate is just anything around images. Do any of your keywords and pictures or photos, etc. have good search volume with some opportunities? What does that search result currently look like? You have to evaluate what’s currently ranking to understand what’s working and what’s not. I used to say at my old agency I didn’t want anyone writing any piece of content until they had read all of the 10 search results for that keyword or that phrase we were targeting. Why would you do that until you have a full understanding of how that looks currently and how we can make something way better?

Rand had also mentioned this really cool tip on if you find some keywords, it’s good to evaluate whether or not the image carousel shows up for those searches, because if it does, that’s a little glimpse into the searcher intent that leads to images. That’s a good sign that you’re on the right track to really optimize for a certain image. It’s something to keep in mind.

Provide value

So, from here, we’re going to move up to providing value. Now we’re in the brainstorming stage. Hopefully, you’ve gotten some ideas, you know where you want to link from, and you need to provide value in some way. It could be a…

I. Reference/bookmark Maybe something that people would bookmark, that always works.

II. Perspective is a really interesting one. So some of the most beautiful data visualizations do this extremely well, where they can simplify a confusing concept or a lot of data. It’s a great way to leverage images and graphics.

III. Printouts still work really well. Moz has the SEO Dev Cheat Sheet that I have seen printed all over at different agencies, and that’s really neat to see it adding value directly.

IV. Curate images. We see this a lot with different articles. Maybe the top 25 to 50 images from this tradeshow or this event or whatever it might be, that’s a great way to leverage link building and kind of getting people fired up about a curated piece of content.

Gregory Ciotti — I don’t know if I’m saying that right — has an incredible article I suggest you all read called “Why a Visual Really Is Worth a Thousand Words,” and he mentions don’t be afraid to get obvious. I love that, because I think all too often we tend to overthink images and executing things in general. Why not just state the obvious and see how it goes? He’s got great examples.

Optimize

So, from here, we are going to move into optimization. If any of you need a brush-up on image optimization, I highly suggest you check out Rand’s Whiteboard Friday on image SEO. It covers everything. But some of the basics are your…

Title

You want to make sure that the title of the image has your keyword and explains what it is that you’re trying to convey.

Alt text

This was first and foremost designed for the visually impaired, so you need to be mindful of visually impaired screen readers that will read this to people to explain what the image actually is. So first and foremost, you just need to be helpful and provide information in a descriptive way to describe that image.

Compression

Compression is huge. Page speed is so big right now. I hear about it all the time. I know you guys do too. But one of the easiest ways to help page speed is to compress those huge images. There’s a ton of great free tools out there, like Optimizilla, where you can bulk upload a bunch of large images and then bulk download. It makes it super easy. There are also some desktop programs, if you’re doing this kind of stuff all the time, that will automatically compress images you download or save. That might be worth looking into if you do this a lot.
You want to host the image. You want it to live on your domain. You want to house that. You can leverage it on other platforms, but you want sort of that original to be on your site.

SRCSET

Source set attribute is getting a little technical. It’s super interesting, and it’s basically this really incredible image attribute that allows you to set the minimum browser size and the image you would prefer to show up for different sizes. So you can not only have different images show up for different devices in different sizes, but you can also revamp them. You can revamp the same image and serve it better for a mobile user versus a tablet, etc. Jon Henshaw has some of the greatest stuff on source set. Highly suggest you look at some of his articles. He’s doing really cool things with it. Check that out.

Promotion

So, from here, you want to promote your images. You obviously want to share it on popular platforms. You want to reach back out to some of these things that you might have into earlier. If you updated a piece of content, make them aware of that. Or if you transformed a really popular piece of content into some visuals, you might want to share that with the person who is sharing that piece of content. You want to start to tap into that previous research with your promotion.

Inform the influencers

Ask people to share it. There is nothing wrong with just asking your network of people to share something you’ve worked really hard on, and hopefully, vice versa, that can work in return and you’re not afraid to share something a connection of yours has that they worked really hard on.

Monitor the image SERPs

From here, you need to monitor. One of the best ways to do this is Google reverse image search. So if you go to Google and you click the images tab, there’s that little camera icon that you can click on and upload images to see where else they live on the web. This is a great way to figure out who is using your image, where it’s being held, are you getting a backlink or are you not. You want to keep an eye on all of that stuff.

Two other tools to do this, that I’ve heard about, are Image Raider and TinEye. But I have not had great experience with either of these. I would love to hear your comments below if maybe you have.

Reverse image search with Google works the best for me. This is also an awesome opportunity for someone to get on the market and create a Google alert for images. I don’t think anyone is actually doing that right now. If you know someone that is, please let me know down below in the comments. But it could be a cool business opportunity, right? I don’t know.

So for monitoring, let’s say you find your image is being used on different websites. Now you need to do some basic outreach to get that link. You want to request that link for using your image.

This is just a super basic template that I came up with. You can use it. You can change it, do whatever you want. But it’s just:

Hi, [first name].
Thank you so much for including our image in your article. Great piece. Just wondering if you could link to us.com as the source.
Thanks,
Britney

Something like that. Something short, to the point. If you can make it more personalized, please do so. I can’t stress that enough. People will take you way more seriously if you have some nugget of personal information or connection that you can make.

From there, you just sort of stay in this loop. After you go through this process, you need to continue to promote your content and continue to monitor and do outreach and push that to maximize your link building efforts.
So I hope you enjoyed this. I look forward to hearing all of your comments and thoughts down below in the comments. I look forward to seeing you all later. Thanks for joining us on this edition of Whiteboard Friday. Thanks.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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How we hacked the Baidu link submission script for better indexation

Baidu’s Link Submission Script is a great way to help Baidu index your content, but it can create some potential SEO issues. Columnist Hermes Ma shares an improved version of the script that is more SEO-friendly.

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Link Strategies that Stand the Test of Time: A Tribute to Eric Ward (Link Moses) – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

This week, we pay a special tribute to the late SEO pioneer Eric Ward. His link strategies formed the foundation of many of today’s smartest approaches to links, and in this Whiteboard Friday, Rand covers several that are as relevant today as they were when Eric first started talking about them.

Link strategies that stand the test of time

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Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to a special edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we are paying an honorary tribute to our friend, lost but not forgotten, Eric Ward.

Eric was one of the pioneers of the SEO industry. In fact, he was a link strategist and a creator of links for websites before search engines even valued links on the internet. He was the very first link marketer that Amazon.com hired. He had a testimonial from Jeff Bezos on his website, from Google’s Matt Cutts from many years ago, and worked with hundreds, if not thousands, of organizations to improve their link strategies.

Beyond that, Eric was a remarkable contributor to the field of SEO through conferences and events, through webinars, through his blog and his Twitter account, and through countless conversations with SEOs like me. In fact, Eric was one of the first people who helped me to understand how link strategy worked, and I have many, many fond memories of him.

I’d also like to say that Eric and I had a number of phone calls and emails over the years about mental and emotional health. I know that’s something that both of us have struggled with. I know that it’s something that many of us in the entrepreneurial and technology worlds struggle with, and it’s an issue that deserves more openness and more attention. I hope that we can do that and that I can do that here at Moz.

But, of course, this is Whiteboard Friday, and since we’re honoring Eric, what I want to help today with is talking about some of his link strategies that stand the test of time. These are high level concepts, which we often dig into the very weeds and the details here on Whiteboard Friday, but I think it pays to pull back a little and think about links from a big-picture perspective.

For those of you who are active link builders and link strategists, much of this might be familiar. But I bet for your clients, for your teams, for your bosses, for the people that you work with, this sort of strategic level thinking sometimes goes ignored, and it means that you don’t always get the credit that you should. So let’s take some of the lessons. These are just a tiny handful of the plethora of value that Eric has provided over the decades that he had been in our field.

1. People and organizations link because:

First off, Eric liked to talk about why people and organizations link, and I think there’s actually some excellent tactical and strategic thinking in here.

A. Content is deserving of their recognition

First off, he talked about how the content that they would link to is actually deserving of their recognition, which I think makes intuitive sense, but is something that is often not considered in a link building list. When we create our lists, we sometimes ignore that.


B. They have a non-financial incentive to link

Which makes sense. If you’re trying to get someone to link, they need to have a reason, an emotional reason, a business-driven reason, a partnership-driven reason. If it’s financial, of course, the search engines will penalize it or eventually penalize it.

C. The right person made them aware that the citation should exist

This was the form of work that Eric concentrated on particularly early in his career, when he was a very tactical link strategist, and I think it makes great sense, but is so often ignored, that we don’t find the right people in our organizations to make that connection, that we don’t actually make the organizations that should link to us aware of why a link should happen and where it should exist, and that this work, while very manual, is also very powerful. It can drive direct traffic, and of course it drive rankings in search engines.

D.The content actually matters to their audience

That whoever you’re reaching out to, this reason, this incentive needs to connect with their audience. Otherwise, Google is unlikely to count that link, and visitors are unlikely to click on that link. I actually think personally that the two might be related, that there’s some form of browser level data, user and usage level data that Google is using here.

E. That content is new (or recently updated)

I found this fascinating that Eric pointed out that it is vastly easier, vastly easier to get content to earn links from its audience, from a target if it is new or recently updated. It’s much more challenging to do that with older content, which is one of the reasons why a lot of the strategies or a lot of the tactical elements that he proposed, when working with his clients, centered around: How are we going update, redo, or make something new that is going to cause all of these things to be true?
I think if you can check off these five, you have got a great set to be able to go out and pitch people on why those links should exist.

A quote from Eric: “Identify and contact venues that would be inclined to care about the new content enough to write about it and/or to link to it.” I think that really is PR. That’s public relations, just in a digital marketing capacity and really a huge part of what successful outreach looks like.

2. Great execution is a result of strategy and planning

Next up, great execution is a result of strategy and planning. I know. Who knew? What’s true in every other part of the business world and every other part of the world of things that get accomplished is also true in link building? Yes, it is.

A. Strategy flows from understanding your topic and online space

Eric liked to say that strategy flows from a deep understanding of the topic and the space, which is why a lot of these services that you might find online, that are very inexpensive or very scalable, don’t work very well in links, because they don’t have that deep topic and deep space understanding. When you have a deep understanding of the topic and the space, you can better target your link earning abilities.

B. A blueprint of how to earn links from various types of targets dramatically increases the odds of success.

So two interesting things in here. If you have a blueprint, that means you have a structure for how you’re going to target and how you’re going to outreach. If you consider various types of targets, and Eric mentions a number of these on his website. I’m planning to link to link to a bunch of resources in this Whiteboard Friday from Eric around this. If you choose those various types of targets, you will over time discover which ones are consistently high performing for you and have the best opportunity to earn you the links that will make a difference in your campaigns.

Eric would say what we do, and he’s using “we” here to refer to link strategists rather than just link builders, “What we do is to help content find the audience it was intended for and the audience find the content.” I love that. It has a beautiful simplicity to it, but also a deep strategy that unfortunately a lot of link building campaigns don’t pay attention to.

3. Short-term thinking leads to devaluation, penalties, and poor results

Eric was extremely passionate, if you ever spent time with him or listened to one of his webinars or interviews, he was very passionate about this idea that…

A. Links that would exist, even if Google and Bing did not, are almost always the ones that provide the most value. That’s both in traffic and in rankings.

Eric had this wonderful nomenclature. He was known as Link Moses, and Link Moses had these commandments about link building. He said, “The link schemer may eat today, but the link earner eateth from a bountiful table for a lifetime.” I think that’s a beautiful sentiment.

Folks, if Eric has provided you with value, and I can assure you that if you are in the link world, almost all of us, who have anything worthwhile to share, have earned our ideas from people who have learned from Eric or from Eric himself. His family is grieving, and it would be wonderful if we could help show them support. Geraldine and I, my wife and I have done so, and I’d encourage you to do so as well.

Danny Sullivan, who’s now with Google, but of course who was behind Search Engine Watch and Search Engine Strategies and then Third Door Media, has set up a donation page that will go directly to his family at bit.ly/ericward2017. I think it would be wonderful if the Moz community and all of us who have benefitted so much from Eric’s help over the years paid him that respect.
Thanks very much.

Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Understanding and Harnessing the Flow of Link Equity to Maximize SEO Ranking Opportunity – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

How does the flow of link equity work these days, and how can you harness its potential to help improve your rankings? Whether you’re in need of a refresher or you’ve always wanted a firmer grasp of the concept, this week’s Whiteboard Friday is required watching. Rand covers the basic principles of link equity, outlines common flow issues your site might be encountering, and provides a series of action items to ensure your site is riding the right currents.

Link equity flow

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Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to chat about understanding and harnessing link equity flow, primarily internal link equity flow, so that you can get better rankings and execute on your SEO. A big thank you to William Chou, @WChouWMX on Twitter, for suggesting this topic. If you have a topic or something that you would like to see on Whiteboard Friday, tweet at me. We’ll add it to the list.

Principles of link equity

So some principles of link equity first to be aware of before we dive into some examples.

1. External links generally give more ranking value and potential ranking boosts than internal links.

That is not to say, though, that internal links provide no link equity, and in fact, many pages that earn few or no external links can still rank well if a domain itself is well linked to and that page is on that site and has links from other good, important pages on the domain. But if a page is orphaned or if a domain has no links at all, extremely difficult to rank.

2. Well-linked-to pages, both internal and external, pass more link equity than those that are poorly linked to.

I think this makes intuitive sense to all of us who have understood the concept of PageRank over the years. Basically, if a page accrues many links, especially from other important pages, that page’s ability to pass its link equity to other pages, to give a boost in ranking ability is stronger than if a page is very poorly linked to or not linked to at all.

3. Pages with fewer links tend to pass more equity to their targets than pages with more links.

Again, going off the old concept of PageRank, if you have a page with hundreds or thousands of links on it, each of those receives a much more fractional, smaller amount of the link equity that could be passed to it than if you have a page with only a few links on it. This is not universally… well, I just want to say this doesn’t scale perfectly. So it’s not the case that if you were to trim down your high link earning pages to having only one link and point to this particular page on your site, then you suddenly get tremendously more benefit than if you had your normal navigation on that page and you link to your homepage and About page and products page. That’s not really the case. But if you had a page that had hundreds of links in a row and you instead made that page have only a few links to the most important, most valuable places, you’ll get more equity out of that, more rank boosting ability.

4. Hacks and tricks like “nofollow” are often ineffective at shaping the flow of link equity.

Using rel=”no follow” or embedding a remotely executable JavaScript file that makes it so that browsers can see the links and visitors can, but Google is unlikely to see or follow those links, to shape the flow of your link equity is generally (a) a poor use of your time, because it doesn’t affect things that much. The old-school PageRank algorithm not that hugely important anymore. And (b) Google is often pretty good at interpreting and discounting these things. So it tends to not be worth your time at all.

5. Redirects and canonicalization lose a small amount of link equity. Non-ideal ones like 302s, JS redirects, etc. may lose more than 301, rel=canonical, etc.

So if I have a 301 or a rel=canonical from one page to another, those will lose or cost you a small, a very small amount of link equity. But more potentially costly would be using non-ideal types of redirects or canonicalization methods, like a JavaScript-based redirect or a 302 or a 307 instead of a 301. If you’re going to do a redirect or if you’re going to do canonicalization, 301s or rel=canonicals are the way to go.

So keeping in mind these principles, let’s talk through three of the most common link equity flow issues that we see websites facing.

Common link equity flow issues

A. A few pages on a large site get all the external links:

You have a relatively large site, let’s say thousands to tens of thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands of pages, and only a few of those pages are earning any substantial quantity of external links. I have highlighted those in pink. So these pages are pointing to these pink ones. But on this website you have other pages, pages like these purple ones, where you essentially are wanting to earn link equity, because you know that you need to rank for these terms and pages that these purple ones are targeting, but they’re not getting the external links that these pink pages are. In these cases, it’s important to try a few things.

  1. We want to identify the most important non-link earning pages, these purple ones. We’ve got to figure out what these actually are. What are the pages that you wish would rank that are not yet ranking for their terms and phrases that they’re targeting?
  2. We want to optimize our internal links from these pink pages to these purple ones. So in an ideal world, we would say, “Aha, these pages are very strong. They’ve earned a lot of link equity.” You could use Open Site Explorer and look at Top Pages, or Ahrefs or any of our other competitors and look at your pages, the ones that have earned the most links and the most link equity. Then you could say, “Hey, can I find some relevance between these two or some user stories where someone who reaches this page needs something over here, and thus I’m going to create a link to and from there?” That’s a great way to pass equity.
  3. Retrofitting and republishing. So what I mean by this is essentially I’m going to take these pages, these purple ones that I want to be earning links, that are not doing well yet, and consider reworking their content, taking the lessons that I have learned from the pink pages, the ones that have earned link equity, that have earned external links and saying, “What did these guys do right that we haven’t done right on these guys, and what could we do to fix that situation?” Then I’m going to republish and restart a marketing, a link building campaign to try and get those links.

B. Only the homepage of a smaller site gets any external links.

This time we’re dealing with a small site, a very, very small site, 5 pages, 10 pages, maybe even up to 50 pages, but generally a very small site. Often a lot of small businesses, a lot of local businesses have this type of presence, and only the homepage gets any link equity at all. So what do we do in those cases? There’s not a whole lot to spread around. The homepage can only link to so many places. We have to serve users first. If we don’t, we’re definitely going to fall in the search engine rankings.

So in this case, where the pink link earner is the homepage, there are two things we can do:

  1. Make sure that the homepage is targeting and serves the most critical keyword targets. So we have some keyword targets that we know we want to go after. If there’s one phrase in particular that’s very important, rather than having the homepage target our brand, we could consider having the homepage target that specific query. Many times small businesses and small websites will make this mistake where they say, “Oh, our most important keyword, we’ll make that this page. We’ll try and rank it. We’ll link to it from the homepage.” That is generally not nearly as effective as making a homepage target that searcher intent. If it can fit with the user journey as well, that’s one of the best ways you can go.
  2. Consider some new pages for content, like essentially saying, “Hey, I recognize that these other pages, maybe they’re About and my Terms of Service and some of my products and services and whatnot, and they’re just not that link-worthy. They don’t deserve links. They’re not the type of pages that would naturally earn links.” So we might need to consider what are two or three types of pages or pages that we could produce, pieces of content that could earn those links, and think about it this way. You know who the people who are already linking to you are. It’s these folks. I have just made up some domains here. But the folks who are already linking to your homepage, those are likely to be the kinds of people who will link to your internal pages as well. So I would think about them as link targets and say, “What would I be pretty confident that they would link to, if only they knew that it existed on our website?” That’s going to give you a lot of success. Then I would check out some of our link building sections here on Whiteboard Friday and across the Moz Blog for more tips.

C. Mid-long tail KW-targeting pages are hidden or minimized by the site’s nav/IA.

So this is essentially where I have a large site, and I have pages that are targeting keywords that don’t get a ton of volume, but they’re still important. They could really boost the value that we get from our website, because they’re hyper-targeted to good customers for us. In this case, one of the challenges is they’re hidden by your information architecture. So your top-level navigation and maybe even your secondary-level navigation just doesn’t link to them. So they’re just buried deep down in the website, under a whole bunch of other stuff. In these cases, there are some really good solutions.

  1. Find semantic and user intent relationships. So semantic is these words appeared on those pages. Let’s say one of these pages here is targeting the word “toothpaste,” for example, and I find that, oh, you know what, this page over here, which is well linked to in our navigation, mentions the word “toothpaste,” but it doesn’t link over here yet. I’m going to go create those links. That’s a semantic relationship. A user intent relationship would be, hey, this page over here talks about oral health. Well, oral health and toothpaste are actually pretty relevant. Let me make sure that I can create that user journey, because I know that people who’ve read about oral health on our website probably also later want to read about toothpaste, at least some of them. So let’s make that relationship also happen between those two pages. That would be a user intent type of relationship. You’re going find those between your highly linked to external pages and your well-linked-to internal pages and these long tail pages that you’re trying to target. Then you’re going to create those new links.
  2. Try and leverage the top-level category pages that you already have. If you have a top-level navigation and it links to whatever it is — home, products, services, About Us, Contact, the usual types of things — it’s those pages that are extremely well linked to already internally where you can add in content links to those long-tail pages and potentially benefit.
  3. Consider new top-level or second-level pages. If you’re having trouble adding them to these pages, they already have too many links, there’s no user story that make good sense here, it’s too weird to jam them in, maybe engineering or your web dev team thinks that that’s ridiculous to try and jam those in there, consider creating new top-level pages. So essentially saying, “Hey, I want to add a page to our top-level navigation that is called whatever it is, Additional Resources or Resources for the Curious or whatever.” In this case in my oral health and dentistry example, potentially I want an oral health page that is linked to from the top-level navigation. Then you get to use that new top-level page to link down and flow the link equity to all these different pages that you care about and currently are getting buried in your navigation system.

All right, everyone. Hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of Whiteboard Friday. Give us your tips in the comments for how you’ve seen link equity flow, the benefits or drawbacks that you’ve seen to try and controlling and optimizing that flow. We’ll see again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Marketing 101: What is a vanity link (or vanity URL)?

Ever see a print ad or brochure or even a TV or radio ad that has a long, confusing URL that you’ll never type in or remember correctly? Don’t expect your customers to manually type in those confusing URLs. Use a vanity URL to create a nice, easy, memorable and branded URL to lead your customers from your offline marketing to your landing pages.
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The 3 Easiest Link Building Tactics Any Website Can Use to Acquire Their First 50 Links – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Without a solid base of links, your site won’t be competitive in the SERPs — even if you do everything else right. But building your first few links can be difficult and discouraging, especially for new websites. Never fear — Rand is here to share three relatively quick, easy, and tool-free (read: actually free) methods to build that solid base and earn yourself links.

Link Building Tactics to Acquire Your 50 First Links

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Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to chat about how to get those first few links that every website needs to be able to compete. Many folks I know when you get started with link building, it can seem daunting and overwhelming.

So let me walk you through what is essentially a half a day of work, maybe three or four hours of work to try these three tactics that will almost certainly get your business or your organization the first handful, let’s say 50 links that you need to start being able to compete. Content can you take you a long way. Keywords can take you a long way. Engagement and interaction can take you a long way. But you’ve got to have a base of links. So let’s get started here.

#1. Your brand name, domain name, and founder’s/execs names

The first one is basically looking for links that come from your own name, your brand name, your domain name potentially, and the names of the founders or people who run your company.

Step One: Search Google for the names in quotes.

So if it was me and Moz, you’d be searching for “Rand Fishkin” or “Moz.com” in quotes, not the domain name in the URL field. But in the Google search bar, I’d be searching for “Moz.com” in quotes or “Moz + SEO.” Moz also has other meanings, including the singer Morrissey, which makes for confusing types of things. If you have that, you’ll need to use your brand name plus some sort of signifier or identifier. It’s very rare that Morrissey gets mentioned along with search engine optimization. It’s very often that Moz gets mentioned along with SEO, and so I can combine those to search for it. So any of these searches will result in a big list of tons of Google results.

Step Two: Manually check the top let’s say 50 to 100 results to confirm that…

  1. They link to the right place, and if they don’t, if there are mentions of Rand Fishkin that don’t link to Moz, we should fix that. We’re going to contact those people.
  2. If you can control the anchor text and where the link location points, you can update it. For example, I can go to my LinkedIn. My LinkedIn has a link to Moz. I could update that if I were at a different company or if Moz’s domain name changed, for example when it did change from SEOmoz to just Moz.
  3. If it’s missing or wrong, I find the right people, I email them, and I fix it. As a result, I should have something like this. Every single mention in Google has a link on the page to my website. I can get that from brand name, from domain name, and from founders and executives. That’s a lot of great links.

#2. Sites that list your competition

So this is essentially saying we’re going to…

Step One: Identify your top 5 or 10 most visible on the web competitors.

This is a process that you can go through on your own to identify, well, these are the 5 or 10 that we see on the web very frequently for searches that we wish we competed for, or we see them mentioned in the press a ton, whatever it is.

Step Two: Search Google not for each one individually, but rather for combinations, usually two, three, or four of them all together.

For example, if I were making a new whiteboard pen company, I would look for the existing ones, like Pilot and Expo and Quartet and PandaBoard. I might search for Pilot and PandaBoard first. Then I might search for Pilot and Expo. Then I might search for PandaBoard and Quartet and all these various combinations of these different ones.

Step Three: Visit any sites in the SERPs that list multiple competitors in any sort of format (a directory structure, comparisons, a list, etc.)

Then in each of those cases, I would submit or I would try and contact or get in touch with whoever runs that list and say, “Hey, my company, my organization also belongs on here because, like these other ones you’ve listed, we do the same thing.” So if it’s here’s whiteboard pen brands, Expo, PandaBoard, Quartet, and your site, which should now link to YourSite.com.

This is a little more challenging. You won’t have as high a hit rate as you will with your own brand names. But again, great way to expand your link portfolio. You can usually almost always get 20 or 30 different sites that are listing people in your field and get on those lists.

#3. Sites that list people/orgs in your field, your geography, with your attributes.

This is sites that list people or organizations in a particular field, a particular region, with particular attributes, or some combination of those three. So they’re saying here are European-based whiteboard pen manufacturers or European-based manufacturers who were founded by women.

So you can say, “Aha, that’s a unique attribute, that’s a geography, and that’s my field. I’m in manufacturing. I make whiteboard pens. Our cofounder was a woman, and we are in Europe. So therefore we count in all three of those. We should be on that list.” You’re looking for lists like these, which might not list your competitors, but are high-quality opportunities to get good links.

Step One:

  1. List your organization’s areas of operation. So that would be like we are in technology, or we’re in manufacturing or software or services, or we’re a utility, or we’re finance tech, or whatever we are. You can start from macro and go down to micro at each of those levels.
  2. List your geography in the same format from macro to micro. You want to go as broad as continent, for example Europe, down to country, region, county, city, even neighborhood. There are websites that list, “Oh, well, these are startups that are based in Ballard, Seattle, Washington in the United States in North America.” So you go, “Okay, I can fit in there.”
  3. List your unique attributes. Were you founded by someone whose attributes are different than normal? Moz, obviously my cofounder was my mom, Gillian. So Moz is a cofounded-by-a-woman company. Are you eco-friendly? Maybe you buy carbon credits to offset, or maybe you have a very eco-friendly energy policy. Or you have committed to donating to charity, like Salesforce has. Or you have an all-remote team. Or maybe you’re very GLBTQIA-friendly. Or you have a very generous family leave policy. Whatever interesting attributes there are about you, you can list those and then you can combine them.

Step Two: Search Google for lists of businesses or websites or organizations that have some of these attributes in your region or with your focus.

For example, Washington state venture-backed companies. Moz is a venture-backed company, so I could potentially get on that list. Or the EU-based manufacturing companies started by women, and I could get on that list with my whiteboard pen company based there. You can find lots and lots of these if you sort of take from your list, start searching Google and discover those results. You’ll use the same process you did here.

You know what the great thing about all three of these is? No tools required. You don’t have to pay for a single tool. You don’t have to worry about Domain Authority. You don’t have to worry about any sort of link qualification process or paying for something expensive. You can do this manually by yourself with Google as your only tool, and that will get you some of those first early links.

If you’ve got additional suggestions, please leave them down in the comments. I look forward to chatting with you there. We’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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11 Lessons Learned from Failed Link Building Campaigns

Posted by kerryjones

We’ve created more than 800 content campaigns at Fractl over the years, and we’d be lying if we told you every single one was a hit.

The Internet is a finicky place. You can’t predict with 100% accuracy if your content will perform well. Sometimes what we think is going to do OK ends up being a massive hit. And there have been a few instances where we’d expect a campaign to be a huge success but it went on to garner lackluster results.

While you can’t control the whims of the Internet, you can avoid or include certain things in your content to help your chances of success. Through careful analysis we’ve pinpointed which factors tend to create high-performing content. Similarly, we’ve identified trends among our content that didn’t quite hit the mark.

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In this this post, I’ll share our most valuable lessons we learned from content flops. Bear in mind this advice applies if you’re using content to earn links and press pickups, which is what the majority of the content we create at Fractl aims to do.

1. There’s such a thing as too much data.

For content involving a lot of data, it can be tempting to publish every single data point you collect.

A good example of this is surveying. We’ve fallen down the rabbit hole of not only sharing all of the data we’ve collected in a survey, but also segmenting the data out by demographics — regardless of whether or not all of that data is super compelling. While this can give publishers a large volume of potential angles to choose from, the result is often unfocused content lacking a cohesive narrative.

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Only include the most insightful, interesting data points in your content, even if that means tossing aside most of the data you’ve gathered.

One example of this was a survey we did for a home security client where we asked people about stalker-ish behaviors they’d committed. The juiciest survey data (like 1 in 5 respondents had created a fake social account to spy on someone — yikes!) ended up getting buried because we included every data point from the survey, some of which wasn’t so interesting. Had we trimmed down the content to only the most shocking findings, it probably would have performed far better.

Furthermore, the more data you include, the more time it takes for a publisher to wade through it. As one journalist told us after we sent over an epic amount of data: “Long story short, this will take too much time.”

Consider this: It shouldn’t take a publisher more than 10 seconds of looking at your project to grasp the most meaningful data points. If they can’t quickly understand that, how will their readers?

2. Turning published data into something cool doesn’t always yield links.

If you’re going to use data that’s already been reported on, you better have a new spin or finding to present. Journalists don’t want to cover the same stats they have already covered.

A great example of this is a project we created about the reasons startups fail. The majority of the data we used came from CB Insights’ startup post mortems list, which had performed really well for them. (As of the time I’m writing this, according to Open Site Explorer it has 197 linking root domains from sites including BBC, Business Insider, Fortune, Vox, CNBC, and Entrepreneur — impressive!)

It worked well once, so it should work again if we repackage it into a new format, right?

We used the startups featured on the CB Insights list, added in a handful of additional startups, and created a sexy-looking interactive node map that grouped together startups according to the primary reasons they went under.

While the content didn’t end up being a failure (we got it picked up by Quartz, woo!), it definitely didn’t live up to the expectations we had for it.

Two problems with this project:

  1. We weren’t saying anything new about the data.
  2. The original data had gotten so much coverage that many relevant publishers had already seen it and/or published it.

But of course, there are exceptions. If you’re using existing data that hasn’t gotten a ton of coverage, but is interesting, then this can be a smart approach. The key is avoiding data that has already been widely reported in the vertical you want to get coverage in.

3. It’s difficult to build links with videos.

Video content can be extremely effective for viral sharing, which is fantastic for brand awareness. But are videos great for earning links? Not so much.

When you think of viral content, videos probably come to mind — which is exactly why you may assume awesome videos can attract a ton of backlinks. The problem is, publishers rarely give proper attribution to videos. Instead of linking to the video’s creator, they just embed the video from YouTube or link to YouTube. While a mention/link to the content creator often happens organically with a piece of static visual content, this is often not the case with videos.

Of course, you can reach out to anyone who embeds your video without linking to you and ask for a link. But this can add a time-consuming extra step to the already time-intensive process of video creation and promotion.

4. Political ideas are tough to pull off.

Most brands don’t want to touch political topics with a ten-foot pole. But to others, creating political content is appealing since it has strong potential to evoke an emotional reaction and get a lot of attention.

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We’ve had several amazing political ideas fail despite solid executions and promotional efforts. It’s hard for us to say why this is, but our assumption has been publishers don’t care about political content that isn’t breaking (because it’s always breaking). For this reason, we believe it’s nearly impossible to compete with the constant cycle of breaking political news.

5. Don’t make content for a specific publisher.

We’ve reached out to publishers to collaborate during content production, assuming that if the publisher feels ownership over the content and it’s created to their specifications, they will definitely publish it.

In general, we’ve found this approach doesn’t work because it tends to be a drain on the publishers (they don’t want to take on the extra work of collaborating with you) and it locks you into an end result that may only work for their site and no other publishers.

Remember: Publishers care about getting views and engagement on their site, not link generation for you or your client.

6. Hyperlocal content is a big risk.

If you focus on one city, even with an amazing piece of content featuring newsworthy information, you’re limited in how many publishers you can pitch it to. And then, you’re out of luck if none of those local publishers pick it up.

On the flip side, we’ve had a lot of success with content that features multiple cities/states/regions. This allows us to target a range of local and national publishers.

Note: This advice applies to campaigns where links/press mentions are the main goal – I’m not saying to never create content for a certain locality.

7. Always make more than one visual asset.

And one of those assets should always be a simple, static image.

Why?

Many websites have limits to the type of media they can publish. Every publisher is able to publish a static graphic, but not everyone can embed more complex content formats (fortunately, Moz can handle GIFs).

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In most cases, we’ve found publishers prefer the simplest visualizations. One classic example of this is a project where we compared reading levels and IQ across different states based on a analysis of half a million tweets. Our Director of Creative, Ryan Sammy, spent a painstaking amount of time (and money) creating an interactive map of the results.

What did most publishers end up featuring? A screenshot of a Tableau dashboard we had sent as a preview during outreach…

8. Be realistic about newsjacking.

Newsjacking content needs to go live within 24 to 48 hours of the news event to be timely. Can you really produce something in time to newsjack?

We’ve found newsjacking is hard to pull off in an agency setting since you have to account for production timelines and getting client feedback and approval. In-house brands have a more feasible shot at newsjacking if they don’t have to worry about a long internal approval process.

9. Watch out for shiny new tools and content formats.

Just because you are using cool, new technology doesn’t automatically make the content interesting. We’ve gotten caught up in the “cool factor” of the format or method only to end up with boring (but pretty) content.

10. Avoid super niche topics.

You greatly increase your risk of no return when you go super niche. The more you drill down a topic, the smaller your potential audience becomes (and potential sites that will link become fewer, too).

There are a ton of people interested in music, there are fewer people interested in rap music, there are even fewer people interested in folk rap music, and finally, there are so few people interested in ’90s folk rap. Creating content around ’90s folk rap will probably yield few to no links.

Some questions to ask to ensure your topic isn’t too niche:

  • Is there a large volume of published content about this topic? Do a Google search for a few niche keywords to see how many results come up compared to broader top-level topics.
  • If there is a lot of content, does that content get high engagement? Do a search in Buzzsumo for keywords related to the niche topic. Is the top content getting thousands of shares?
  • Are people curious about this topic? Search on BloomBerry to see how many questions people are asking about it.
  • Are there online communities dedicated to the topic? Do a quick search for “niche keyword + forum” to turn up communities.
  • Are there more than 5 publishers that focus exclusively on the niche topic?

11. Don’t make content on a topic you can’t be credible in.

When we produced a hard-hitting project about murder in the U.S. for a gambling client, the publishers we pitched didn’t take it seriously because the client wasn’t an authority on the subject.

From that point on, we stuck to creating more light-hearted content around gambling, partying, and entertainment, which is highly relevant to our client and goes over extremely well with publishers.

It’s OK to create content that is tangentially related to your brand (we do this very often), but the connection between the content topic and your industry should be obvious. Don’t leave publishers wondering, why is this company making this content?”

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Learning from failure is crucial for improvement.

Failure is inevitable, especially when you’re pushing boundaries or experimenting with something new (two things we try to do often at Fractl). The good news is that with failure you tend to have the greatest “a-ha!” moments. This is why having a post-campaign review of what did and didn’t work is so important.

Getting to the heart of why your content is rejected by publishers can be extremely helpful — we collect this information, and it’s invaluable for spotting things we can tweak during content production to increase our success rate. When a publisher tells you “no,” many times they will give a brief explanation why (and if they don’t, you can ask nicely for their feedback). Collect and review all of this publisher feedback and review it every few months. Like us, you may notice trends as to why publishers are passing up your content. Use these insights to correct your course instead of continuing to make the same mistakes.

And one last note for anyone creating content for clients: What should you do when your client’s campaign is a flop? To mitigate the risk to our clients, we replace a campaign if it fails to get any publisher coverage. While we’ve rarely had to do this, putting this assurance in place can give both you and your client peace of mind that a low-performing campaign doesn’t mean their investment has gone to waste.

What have you observed about your content that didn’t perform well? Does your experience contradict or mirror any of the lessons I shared?

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SearchCap: Google Search Console beta, Amazon Echo Show & link building mistakes

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

The post SearchCap: Google Search Console beta, Amazon Echo Show & link building mistakes appeared first on Search Engine Land.



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Fix your outbound link problem in a single workday

Worried that poor outbound linking practices are hurting your site? Columnist Pratik Dholakiya shares his method for identifying and fixing these potentially detrimental links — without getting rid of the ones that are helping you.

The post Fix your outbound link problem in a single workday…



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