How to Create High-Performing Landing Pages [GUEST POST]

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How to Create High-Performing Landing Pages

Every business has a particular reason for landing pages but the most common ones are to get more leads, increase sales, or build awareness about the brand. These pages are so important that marketers often design new ones for each campaign they launch. For example, a recent article on Hubspot reported that 48 percent of marketers developed new landing pages for each campaign.

The motivation behind this tactic is simple:

Good Landing Page = Good Return on Investment

However, if you neglect the importance of landing pages for the marketing and growing, the consequences will be the same: waste of time and money. To avoid these outcomes, one needs to follow two simple rules. Let’s review them below.

Rule #1: Relevancy and Clarity

According to Hubspot, 55 percent of visitors spend fewer than 15 seconds on a website. What this means for you as a marketer or business owner is that you have 15 seconds or less to capture the attention of the people visiting your site.

“But that’s only 15 seconds!” you can say, arguing that the time for making a good impression is clearly inadequate. You are right. But that’s the reality of the modern online business and refusing it is a stupid idea.

To ensure that the time spent by visitors on your website is as effective as possible, you should provide a clear and relevant landing page. This requires a lot of consideration but the main ones can be described using the following questions:

  • Can I trust this website?
  • Can this place be beneficial for me?
  • Am I presented with sufficient information?
  • How much time will all this take?

The answers to these questions should the main information on your landing page. Also, they will help to entice the viewers to stay and do what you need them to do: convert.

Rule #2: Effective Organization

Every effective landing page follows a certain organization that has specific elements that ensure maximum results. The first and most important element is the headline. It should clearly represent the benefits for the customers in order to attract their attention. For example, “Marketing Tips for Businesses” is a good headline but it is too general. “Breakthrough Marketing Tips for Small Businesses” is a much better headline because it emphasizes the effectiveness of the solution and clearly defines the recipients of the benefits.

The next major element in the structure is text. Its amount should be kept to a minimum to ensure that viewers actually read it. For example, “the best writing service for academic paper inquiries” is a good text but it once again, it lacks benefits for customers. “Professional essay writing service with 10 years of experience and 7,000 happy clients from U.S. and Australian colleges and universities” is a more quality text. It shows the potential customers and convinces the viewer to make the right decision (because 7,000 people have already made this choice and received a good service).

Use techniques to emphasize benefits of your offer, such as bulleted points. If your text is ready, move on to the Call-to-Action (CTA) Button. It is the button that viewers click to convert, so it is very important to you provide only one action button. If other options are offered, the conversion rate will be low.

To make sure that attention of the viewers is focused on the action button, there should be no distractions on the landing page. Multiple actions buttons, weak placement, navigation bars, weak testimonials, and messed up conversion forms were described as the main distractions that screwed up millions of possible conversions last year. Reduce these distractions to increase conversion rates.

The next important element on the landing page is the subscription form. It consists of the fields where visitors are required to provide their details. It should be big, prominent, and distinct in order to attract attention and make an appreciable impact. Remember: this element should stand out to be noticed and fulfill its function.

Lastly, an effective landing page is consistent with the design of the website. Making it different is a mistake because the visitor may lose the feeling that the page is a part of your website.

Headline + Text + CTA Button + Subscription Form + Consistent Design – Distractions = High-Performing Landing Page

Now we know how to design great landing pages! Only one thing is needed: final considerations before handing your vision of the page to the web designer.

Final Considerations

  • Clearly, one should keep in mind the audience that will visit the page. Take a minute to think whether the landing page “speaks” to the target audience. This might help you with the design.
  • Define the message that will “hook” the attention of the viewers. Remember, it should emphasize the benefits for the customers. Business owners and marketers often create several messages and then brainstorm with their team to define the advantages and disadvantages of each one. As the result, the best message is defined.

Where to next?

Go to your web designer and start developing the landing page! If you want to see how this task is done, you may also use tools for building landing pages such as Instapage and KickoffLabs.

 

Author Bio:

Tom Jager is professional blogger. He works at A-writer.  He has degree in Law and English literature. Tom has written numerous articles/online journals. You can reach him at G+  or  Facebook.

 

 

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Adapting to the Dynamic SEO Landscape in 2017 and Beyond

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Adapting to the Dynamic SEO Landscape in 2017 and Beyond

Over the years, there have been some constant subtle changes in Search engine Optimization here and there over the years as SEO continues to grow as a category that most businesses focus on to drive leads, engagements, and sales as platforms like Google, Yahoo, and their ilk continue to evolve. It’s no secret that the rules that run how and why websites rank against each other are constantly changing. Whether you notice it or not, every algorithm update from Google sends little waves of effect all throughout the SEO industry, and if you don’t fiddle with your systems and processes, you’d be left for dead.

That’s why it is important to know the different ways SEO is changing or evolving. Sooner than later, these developments, no matter how subtle they are, will have a significant effect on website rankings and SEO as a whole. But knowing is juts half the battle – what’s more important is having a profound grasp of these trends so your business can adjust your practices and processes accordingly.

Let’s start with the no-brainers:

#1: Keyword Research Still Matters

How to Target Long-Tail Keywords for Better SEO

How to Target Long-Tail Keywords for Better SEO

Once upon a time, keywords were (almost) all that mattered to SEO. I mean, write an article stuffed with 100 keywords and you’re good to go. Those days are long gone, but it doesn’t mean keywords don’t matter anymore. Google and other search engines (but just concentrate on Google) still look at keywords, but the process has become more complicated and well, more intelligent than just looking for the meaning of the words in context.  Other things that matter are the placement of your keywords and the way your keywords fit together and other stuff we can’t totally comprehend. What’s more, single keywords are no longer advisable, hence the popularity of long-tail keywords.

There are more or less 200 factors for a website to rank well, and even if keyword search doesn’t have as much weight as it used it, it is still a factor. So don’t give up on them keywords, especially the long-tail ones.

 

#2: Engagement Metrics Matter

With the decrease of the significance of keywords came the increased relevance of actual engagement in your content when it comes to SEO. Meaning, you have to prove to Google that people are reacting to your content – commenting, sharing, asking questions, and so on. These actions mean the people find actual value in your website. In our case, we use these metrics to measure if we’re doing well or not:

  • Traffic from organic search
  • Time spent on site
  • Bounce rate
  • Page views

The best part is, all of these can be tracked with Google Analytics. Go ahead and try them, yourself.

Related: Confession of a Google Spammer

#3: Focus on Mobile Users

Again, I cannot overemphasize the importance of mobile when talking about SEO today or in the near future.  Mobile optimized websites were the result of a Google algorithm that focused on mobile users and since then, mobile users showed no signs of slowing down. Having a website that is mobile friendly has become the rule rather than the exception. Mobile isn’t going anywhere, and you should ensure the user experience for these users is as strong or stronger than desktop visitors. Everything should fit on the screen without the need for stretching or horizontal scrolling.

As per our practice, we create a mobile version of our website. Thanks to our talented developers and programmers, we have mobile responsive designs that allow the pages to adapt to the size of the screen they are displaying on. Here’s How to Manage Google’s Mobile First Indexing for SMBs

#4: Focus on User Experience

I’ve always believed that all business are services no matter the product being sold. Based on this premise, all businesses should focus on the user experience. At the end of the day, it’s always people who are going to use the product or service we are selling. That’s why it doesn’t come as a surprise that even Google is focusing more and more on the overall user experience itself. This should give us all the more reason to tailor our improvements in our processes with the customer experience in mind. So when we’re designing or improving our website, we can take into consideration some very simple but impactful design elements like:

  • Accessibility for people who are differently-abled (those with audio and visual impairments)
  • Creating buyer personas that would lead to better understanding buyers’ needs
  • Creating valuable content that actually solves problems

Related: Why Customer Profiling Could be the Best Investment your Company Makes

#5: Create more unique and varied content

As a rule, it’s not enough that you produce quality content. It has to be unique, too. But wait, there’s more. Creating quality, unique content isn’t enough anymore. It has to be varied, too. Meaning, just making articles – no matter how good the quality and how unique they are – isn’t enough. Today, written content needs to do more than ever to stand out. Long form content of 2,000 words or more that is well-organized is a great start.  But what will sustain your ranking is if you consistently produce content in other forms, such as:

  • Videos
  • Video Blogs (Remember to stick to these Three S’s for Creating Viral Video Content)
  • Podcasts
  • Interactive content
  • Games
  • (You can even make written content and categorize them into infographics, shareables, etc)

As technology grows, more types of content become available, and it brings with it a need to diversify your own work so you can stand out in the crowd. Learn these Five Elements of Quality Content (According to an End-user) to attract more visitors.

#6: Content Promotion

In case you haven’t heard, promoting your content on social media is a great way to gain new exposure and growth for your brand. Ok, social media itself isn’t a ranking factor, but Google is smart enough to look at it more and more for information on how useful your content is for visitors and followers. So distribute your content in as many social media channels you deem necessary. Like they always say in lotteries, the more entries you send, the more chances of winning!

Here are some of the ways content marketing helps boost your SEO in today’s world and into the future:

  • Social Signals – activity on your social media channels shows Google that your content is useful.
  • Earned backlinks – these are achieved when people naturally link to your content because they saw it on social media.
  • Increased traffic from social media channels – this results in additional ranking signals as people arrive and engage with your content

Final Thoughts

SEO is an incredibly dynamic industry that requires you to always be on your toes. By keeping these changing rules in mind, you put yourself in the best position to thrive. How about you? How do you adapt to the changes in the SEO landscape? Share your thoughts below!

 

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Latest SEO Trends – A preview of how SEO changes in 2017

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Here’s How to Manage Google’s Mobile First Indexing for SMBs

In the past few years, SEO has completely changed its meaning.

From simply matching the user search term – through providing useful information – to addressing user queries at greater level of ease and speed. SEO has become a marketing tool that is more about processing user queries rather than being a channel of increasing business revenue.

Google says that they change their search algorithm 1-2 times per day (around 500 times a year) just to improve their user experience. And only those websites can rank higher in search results that are built around the same objective.

Initially Googlewould only focus on findingthe exact match of“strings of words” entered by users to display search results. But after countering the highest level of spamming and lower user satisfaction, Google now considers only those websites to rank in SERPs that are useful to its users. Everything else is penalized.

Based on these recent updates by Google and the ever changing user behavior, we believe the following 5 SEO trends can be seen in 2017.

  1. Rankbrain

This is an artificial intelligence system launched by Google in October 2015, which brought a new level of user experience and SEO challenge in 2016, and is expected to show its full potential in2017.

Currently, the systemtries to identify the behavior/language of the users by analyzing the words/phrases searchedby them and keeping a record of what sort of results they choose. Then it uses its advanced formulas to bring the most relevant results each time the same query is searched by a user. And it is also equally effective at handling search queries never seen before.

In the coming year 2017, we expect Rank Brain to present greater challenge for search marketers as it continues to understand different user behavior for both text and voice search.

  1. Voice Search

Even though it was introduced a few years back (in 2013), but not many users showed interest in voice search until the end of 2015.

A survey conducted in 2013, showed around 85% of respondents had not used voice search at all. But a similar study conducted in December 2015 showed over 60% of respondents using it for some personally preferred search terms. And ever since, there has been a constant rise in thepopularity of voice search. In2017, we expect voice search to bring new opportunities for marketers as it attracts more user attention this year.

  1. Bounce Rate

Just like being an important quality measure of an Adwords campaign, Bounce Rate of a website is known to have great influence on organic rankings of a website too. The webpages with high bounce rate are considered to be less preferred by users (particularly for their search term). For example, a user searching for Chicago seo techniques may not be interested in SEO tips from a marketer based in Australia. And as soon as he realizes that the SEO recommendations are made by an expert outside Chicago, he clicks the back button without exploring the website.

Google now considers bounce rate as an important ranking factor for search results. So, it will be more challenging for marketers to match up with this quality parameter in the coming year.

  1. Accelerated Mobile Page (AMP)

For users who browse theweb on-the-go, the major reason for poor web experience is theunstable internet connection.And Google planned to counter this issue by introducingthe AMPopen source platformthat lets webmasters create pre-renderableMobile friendly version of the websites that is super lightweight, and is critically designed to load quickly even with an unstable internet connection.

And ever since the idea of AMP got popular and appreciation by all mobile users, Google has now introduced a mobile-friendly indexing system which checks each website for AMP files and ranks those sites higher in SERPs which are mobile phone compatible.This new trend is believed to bring a new level of SEO competition and opportunities in the year 2017.

  1. High-Quality Links

One of the oldest yet consistently important ranking factors for all search engines is the quality of backlinks pointing to a website. Google in particular has strict guidelines for creating backlinks for a website. It discourages a webmaster from getting involved in unnatural link building techniques like, large scale article marketing, directory submission, link exchanges, paid links and more.

Google is still very active in penalizing such websites employing unnatural link building techniques. Therefore, the best way to ensure a high ranking performing website in 2017 is by creating unique, useful, relevant content that your users like to share with others, which ultimately generates more backlinks for your site. The more informative or useful content you have, the greater are your chances of getting linked by your readers.

Apart from the SEO trends listed above, there are some other critical SEO quality parameters like,Microformats, Incorrect Robots.txt, Browser Caching, Active Social Profiles, Brand Searches,HTTP Page Requests that cannot be ignored in 2017. A marketer must keep updated with the latest SEO trends and design super-actionable strategies to get higher search rankings.

 

Author Bio: 

Dylan Moran is a digital marketing expert who enjoys writing about helping small businesses be successful with their Internet and social media marketing objectives.  He has extensive experience in community management, social media consultancy, child safety, and crisis management.

 

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Here’s How to Manage Google’s Mobile First Indexing for SMBs

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Here’s How to Manage Google’s Mobile First Indexing for SMBs

With the official announcement that Google is switching to mobile-first indexing, some small businesses might find themselves calling for help. SEO; being the all-important topic to consider whenever placing your brand on the internet, takes a major role in this message. What steps does your company need to take in order to overcome this update?

It’s actually here!

It’s been a highly debated and forecasted topic since the release of Google’s Penguin 4.0 update and their Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project. Finally, it was announced at this past month’s Pubcon Las Vegas that Google is now officially switching to mobile-first indexing.

The webmaster trends analyst at Google, Gray Illyes was the bearer of (maybe not-so) bad news, when he stated that Google would roll out a separate mobile index within the next couple of months. With the aforementioned service updates and the fact that there are more Google searches that take place with people using their smart phone or tablet devices than computers, this update was anything but surprising. For those that are not as keen in the area of search indexing, Pubcon explains the significance of it in their news article:

“History, Google has had a desktop index. That means they are crawling the desktop site, determining the relationship to the mobile site, and then they rank the mobile version of your pages based on the desktop version/desktop signals… Nowadays, since 85% of their (Google’s) results are mobile-friendly already and more than half of the search queries are from mobile devices, it makes sense to switch over the desktop index to a mobile index.”

Yes this is all very nice and informative, but what does this mean for Mobile SEO and the future of web development?

Why Oh Why?

Cheer up! Just remember this one statement: The trend is your friend.

If you’re the type of company that remains relevant and up to date with tech movements, you already know that Google loves (and I mean loves) to keep their software inline with current market directions. The trend we are seeing now is clearly this evolution of on the go cellular usage.

Image Source: www.aumcore.com

As beautifully put in this blog post;

“The internet is no longer parameterized by this huge desktop that sits on a desk in our living room and office but rather, it’s a way of life – something we’re all connected to during most points of our day.”

Due to this style of thinking, Google considerably favors mobile-friendly websites over sites that inhibit a consumer’s mobile user experience (UX). The issue with indexing a website purely off it’s desktop page, is that Google’s not evaluating the actual site that would inevitablybe viewed by someone searching off their smartphone. This is why this mobile first-index change has decisively been released. They will continue to generously rank pages that can easily be viewed on smartphones or tablets; and consequently the search engine crawlers/algorithms Google has in place will condemn your brand’s website if it doesn’t work well on a cellular/ tablet device. All Google really wants to do, is to build a search experience enjoyable by both smartphone and desktop users. This creates the question:

What actions does your business need to take in order to fight Google’s mobile-first indexing?

How you can be prepared for Google’s mobile first indexing

This terribly important shift in the search engine’s indexing will unfortunately leave many websites out in no man ’s land. Luckily, Google offers some recommendations on their official announcement page to make sure your brand doesn’t suffer:

  • If you have a responsive site where the content is the same across both desktop and mobile, you are in great condition and don’t need to worry about changing anything.
  • If the above isn’t your case, you should consider to serve structured markup for both your brand’s desktop and mobile versions.
  • Verify your mobile site ownership on Google.
  • If you still only have a desktop site, Google will continue to index your desktop like normal, even if they are utilizing a mobile user agent to scope out your site.
  • Only launch your mobile site when you are sure it is ready.

In a nutshell, the only pages that will be affected are the ones that have a mobile version, whichdoesn’t have the same content as its desktop counterpart. Reconsider how your desktop pages are constructed. Let’s say for example your desktop homepage has some content that’s missing on the smartphone version. Maybe this is an opportunity to rework how you display items on your desktop page so that it molds into an architecturally sound cellular site. Keep in mind that a good user experience goes a long way, especially now in the eyes of Google.

Traditionally speaking, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has and always will be based off how well your website looks in the eyes of search engines. Strategic keyword density, backlink building, content creation, etc. achieve this. With the entire world going cellular, this approach slightly changes. Now web developers have to pay even more attention towards how well a website looks in the hands of a user. Things to ask yourself now are:

  • How well formatted is my website?
  • Are the pages easily navigable?
  • How fast can my mobile site load?
  • Is my site responsive? Is the content easily searchable and usable? Are there unplayable videos within the structure of my web?

What Next?

The biggest concept to understand from this update is that if you haven’t been keeping up with your common SEO practices, you need to start now. Just remember to think mobile first. Reevaluate your business goals, so that they align with the notion that mobility is key in our tech savvy day in age.

With a good content strategy, your small business can achieve exactly what this software change is promoting; a superior and exciting web browsing experience through Google’s search engine.

 

Author Bio:

Jacob

Jacob is a creative content writer for the digital marketing agency Aumcore. He enjoys writing blogs and learning about interesting and relevant content about advancements in Mobile SEO and information technology.

 

 

 

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Go explore The Savvy Marketer’s Blog or Learn more about our Lead Generation Services

Talk with our Marketing Consultant or Dial 888.810.7464

 

 

Confession of a Google Spammer

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Confession of a Google Spammer

For a black hat seo practitioner, linkbuilding was a goldmine. But all bad things must come to an end, including spamming.

Here’s an article by Jeff Deutsch, Ptengine’s VP of Marketing, as he confesses and unveils the cloak of his dark past. For someone who started as a Google spammer, a backflip to Whitehat and inbound marketing is a tough battle yet a couple of things made him realize that these practices must be retired.


Before I became an inbound marketer, I once made $50,000 a month spamming Google. I worked a maximum of 10 hours a week. And I am telling you from the bottom of my heart: never, never ever follow in my footsteps.

This blog post will tell you exactly why...

My Mindset in 2009

I never wanted to spam the Internet. Google made me do it.

This is what I told myself back then.

If spamming is so wrong, I wondered, how come it always works so well? Most black hat SEOs think this way. They rationalize spamming Google’s index in so many ways:

  • We’re helping Google improve their algorithm!
  • Content is king?!? LOL! Links are the only content you need. Google’s lying to people. They deserve to get spammed.
  • If we don’t do spam, our competitors will–and then they’ll beat us. We have to spam.
  • We’re helping our customers–the little guy–win the battle against a big, bad, evil empire that wants to enslave them to paying PPC costs!
seo_spammers
Black hat SEOs: masters of ethical rationalization

But there I was, responsible for Google adding 45,000,000 new words of spam to its index every day. I had built a spam machine; the thing was brilliant enough to give my clients huge SEO ranking boosts (this was before KontentMachine and all the other spam-producing software out there now).

Some examples of my “work”:

 Some samples of my automated article creation “work” c. 2009

Spamming was very profitable back in 2012

Sales of our SEO SaaS subscriptions peaked at around $150,000 a month in subscriptions. Profit margins were about 70-80%. All profits were shared 50/50 between my partner and I. We had two sales threads—one on WarriorForum and another on WickedFire.

Here’s what a few hours of sales looked like back then:

paypal_sales
An average couple hours of income at my company during the high times. These would all magically appear after I returned from a swim, playing with my son at the park, or from playing pickup basketball with the local islanders.

PayPal had no idea how I was suddenly making so much money. They were so confused about my business model that they froze $25,000 in my account. They expected massive refund and chargeback requests.

But our refund/chargeback rate was less than 1%.
Because our SEO service worked.

Most of our users were ranking high for big affiliate keywords. I even got my electrician buddy’s website in New Jersey to rank in first place for the keyword “electrician” just for fun. I could literally rank first page for any keyword I wanted to with about 5 minutes of effort.

And my life became very easy as a result. I had two apartments on an island in China with 180-degree panorama views of Sanya Bay–one for myself, and one for my son’s mom.

I barely worked.

Our entire business was outsourced to 7 VAs in the Philippines and one transgender customer support rep in Nevada who was saving up her salary to complete her hormone therapy.

My schedule looked like this:

  • 7:00am: Wake up, do some stretching and play with my two-year-old son while my chef prepared breakfast.
  • 8:00am: Eat breakfast and watch an NBA game (the Clippers, if they had a game) while eating breakfast. The nanny watched my son.
  • 9:30am: Check in with my partner and employees, Facebook, and chat with my two journalist friends in Beijing.
  • 11:00am: BS on Skype with some SEO spammer buddies for a bit.
  • 12:30pm: Ride my scooter to the gym.
  • 1:00pm: Run 10km, lift weights.
  • 3:00pm: Go for a swim in the ocean or the neighborhood pool.
  • 3:30pm: Play with my son and his friends.
  • 5:00pm: Play basketball at the court with maintenance workers and tourists staying in my neighborhood.
  • 7:00pm: Shower, then dinner, prepared by my chef.
  • 8:00pm: Put my son to bed.
  • 9:00pm: Check in on Skype, BS online, read books.
  • 11:00pm: Sleep.

Lonely SEO Spammer Millionaires

The above schedule is what a spammer’s four-hour workweek looks like. And it’s the life of a lot of black hats that are still balling today. It’s a comfortable but often dull and somewhat empty life.

The most exciting (and nerve-wracking) times are when the loophole you’re exploiting gets closed, and your life flips upside down while you scramble to adjust.

During the boring times, my other spammer buddies and I would BS on Skype about our lives. One guy made $100k a week for a time selling garcinia cambogia pills after Dr. Oz fraudulently proclaimed them to be a magic weight loss supplement.

One woman focused on morally shady but technically legal niches like bath salts, salvia, and access to guides on how to cheat on your spouse. Yet another guy (also in China, like me) was working with prison wardens who forced their inmates to mine World of Warcraft gold for sale online.

All three bought links from me.
They spent their earnings like spoiled little kids.

They bought luxury cars and $5,000 bottles of champagne to spray their spammer buddies at conventions. They ate ADHD medication like candy, trying to stay awake and focused to work as long as possible. They traded NLP secrets to work on their powers of female seduction. When that didn’t pan out there was always the old staples of prostitutes and cocaine. Many practiced intensive bodybuilding, and took steroids, HGH, and weird supplements like deer antler sprays to hack their muscle growth.

With all that money and privilege at stake, the brotherhood of spammers is merciless and ultra secretive. If you fail to attribute a useful tip to the person you found it out from, expect to be shunned. Expose an SEO loophole that made your buddy money, and you’re excommunicated. Betray the ‘family’, and you’ll get kicked out of the Skype group forever. It’s like the Sopranos except instead of wise guys, your family is made up of awkward tech nerds who have cashed in and want to live out all their fantasies.

Google Made Us Do It

I hadn’t originally wanted to go down this path. Ironically, I had applied to work for Google’s webspam team in 2010. I knew all the tricks and hacks in the book, and I thought they could benefit from my help.

When they didn’t reply to my application, I promised myself I would make them pay.
And I had them paying for a few years…

Until one day, Matt Cutts sent out this historic tweet:

The tweet that shook the SEO world
The tweet that shook the SEO world

ALN (Authority Link Network) was the platform we used to boost ranking for all of our users’ websites. Our service was actually called “ALN service”— a fact that helped increase awareness of the network and ironically hastened its demise.

There was a time when our service was one of the hottest things going on WarriorForum. We had found SEO spammer nirvana, and everyone wanted a piece.

Dozens of guys using our service quit their day jobs to open up SEO businesses that relied almost exclusively on our service. Our biggest client, an SEO company that offered reputation management services for celebrities in Mexico, was paying us $25,000 a month and probably charging its clients up to 50 to 100 times more than that. I only realized how hard they were balling when they showed up on the Inc. 500 list in 2012.

But now there was this tweet from Matt Cutts, warning to take the network we relied on out of commission. When our clients asked about the tweet, I pretended I wasn’t the least bit concerned about it. Publicly, I scoffed. How could they find a network of 25,000 blogs? If they took it out, we’d just build a new one.

No big deal..

Privately, I was very concerned. I knew it was easy for Google to find every site in the network. Because all they had to do was buy a few links to one website, wait for those links to show up, then have every website receiving links from that blog manually reviewed. That review would uncover other spam blogs linking to those sites, which would then uncover more cheaters, and so forth.

In fact, from one spam site you can, and Google did, locate and destroy the entire ALN network. To us, it felt like we were the freedom fighters of Zion in the Matrix. The Google guys were like the agents, sending out Sentinels to take us out. Google, of course, saw it the other way around. We were hacking their algorithm and mucking up their search results for fun and profit.

The psychology of spamming for money--spammers always think they’ll “go legit someday soon” 
How Google + SEO is like the Matrix

Publicly, I proclaimed that we were the good guys and Google was the evil empire. But in my heart I knew we were the bad guys.

Google provides clean search results for free, which truly benefits society. What does spamming the Internet provide for society? It helps two people: the spammer and his customer. Everyone else suffers.

And I knew it was shady. Part of me always dreamed of running a more legitimate business model. But it was just like Michael Corleone telling his wife Kaye that his business would be 100% straight in 5 years—there was just too much incentive to keep on spamming.

 

The psychology of spamming for money--spammers always think they’ll “go legit someday soon”
The psychology of spamming for money–
Spammers always think they’ll “go legit someday soon”

I was a hardened, unapologetic spammer. To the real marketing world, I was an outcast. And that became all too clear when I went to Distilled’s LinkLove event in London in April 2012.

Seeing the writing on the wall: the death of link building

My Dutch partner and I had found out about LinkLove from one of our favorite customers. Our customer was scheduled to speak there, so we bought all-inclusive tickets to the event and made plans to meet up there.

Right after we got our tickets, our customer dropped out of the speaker role without explanation. (This was right around the time ALN was getting deindexed, so maybe he was doing damage control with his clients whose rankings were dropping like flies.)

My partner and I went anyway, feeling like confident marketing experts with our massive PayPal bankroll. Those few days in London, however, opened my eyes to how the fledgling world of inbound marketing saw black hats.

We had dinner with all the VIPs the night before the event. Rand Fishkin and Mike King were there. Many other heavy hitters in online marketing were also there.

They were all talking about inbound marketing, quality content, engagement, and a bunch of stuff I didn’t understand or considered “BS.”

None of them seemed very interested in what we were doing.

“F#$%! Link Building”


Their beef with us was even clearer when Rand took the stage to kick off LinkLove 2012. My ego had already taken a hit after the lukewarm response at the dinner, but I never expected the onslaught that Rand would unleash.

He took the stage with a big smile, introduced himself and then proceeded with this presentation called “F#$%! Link Building”.

My heart sank.

I went from slightly butt-hurt to outright angry and defiant. He was insulting our entire industry. I imagine that this is the feeling Michael Corleone, from Godfather II, felt when Senator Geary called him out in the meeting about the casino rights he wanted.

 

 How Rand Fishkin sees link builders

I swore I wouldn’t let Google make us stop hustlin’. But Rand was right. Within 2 months, our entire network of 5,000+ blogs—for which we paid more than $80,000—was deindexed, dead, simply kaput. Our $100k/mo business was ruined.

However, I remained arrogant and defiant. I still believed that making money online would be easy. I thought I could just make some minor adjustments to our strategy and keep on banging out new successful products.

I funneled more than $100,000 into various new link schemes, each one more “white hat”-seeming than the next.

Nothing worked for long. Google’s deindexing, plus Panda and Penguin, were just too much of a challenge for us. I would put in 3 months of work, get 4 months of sales, and either almost break even or have a huge deficit.

I felt discouraged and depressed. I tried to buy myself some fancy clothes and toys to feel better about myself. I immersed myself in a shallow relationship with a model who would end up being Miss Universe China 2014. I took weekly hiking trips with my friends in the hills of Beijing on psychadelic mushrooms.

I was an empty shell of a human being, lost with no sense of purpose or what to do with my future. With anxiety levels at an all-time high, I could only sleep 2-3 hours a night. Most people I met at that time felt uneasy around me.

 

creepy_internet_millionaires


And I wasn’t the only one having trouble adapting to the post-deindexing world. The Google-hating spammers reached their official low-point when SEOnitro (another public blog network) tried to start a class action lawsuit against Google for intentionally doing harm to many “competing businesses.”

Seriously guys? That’s like spray painting your business’s phone number on someone else’s building, then trying to sue them when they paint over it.

Giving Up, Embracing Inbound and Getting a Job

After 18 months of banging my head against a wall, I started thinking about that LinkLove conference again. What if I started over? What could I have built with that $100,000 I had wasted chasing loopholes in Google’s algorithm? How much awesome content could I have gotten? How many email subscribers could I have gained?

Maybe there was something to that inbound marketing thing Rand and Mike had talked about so passionately after all.

Maybe it was the way for me to really go legit.

So, I moved back to Beijing and put out the word to my friends. I was ready for a marketing job. I got a few offers, but none struck me like the one from Ptengine. They were a small startup making what I would later call “the Swiss army knife of conversion optimization tools.”

They had been successful in Japan, but now they wanted to enter the English-speaking market. They wanted to double their number of users over the next 2 months to show the VC firm looking to invest in them that they were able to achieve rapid growth.

They wanted me to help them with the powers of SEO. I told Ptengine that SEO wouldn’t work. Google’s new rankings sandbox wouldn’t allow it to work. I wanted to go with the safe route.

They were confused.

“What about PBNs?”, they asked. “We’re working with a very well known SEO blogger in the UK who has tens of thousands of email subscribers. He’s building PBNs for us”. I looked at the properties this SEO “god” had built. (Actually, it turned out he just outsourced the SEO work to a company in London.)

It was like opening a time capsule from 2012. Expired domains, duplicate content scraped from Archive.org, he didn’t even block backlink checking spiders. His reasoning: “blocking spiders would look like a footprint to Google.”

I felt a pang of sympathy for Ptengine. They had already dumped $4,000 into this operation. The whole thing was shocking to me. Even the SEO gurus who talked about inbound marketing were still trying to get by with loopholes.

 

My Stubborn Support for Inbound Marketing

I was undeterred by the SEO guru.
I went on with my newfound ideals instead.

By using a variety of outreach methods, including permission emails, sponsored posts, social media, and a very successful deal on StackSocial, we hit the VC’s goals. They bought in with very aggressive growth goals for 2015.

And I intend to keep going this route. We just started working with Joanna Wiebe at SnapCopy.co(whom Shanelle Mullin of Onboardly said might be “the best SaaS copywriter in North America”) and Talia Wolf at Conversioner.com to optimize our entire funnel.

We’re also getting plenty of adopters and influencers to get us case studies that we will promote to targeted segments that need Ptengine. In fact, all content will take all targeted audiences to various inbound funnels that are only meant to give them value.

Hear all that talk about content?

In short, after 5 years of considering white hats and inbound marketers to be snobs, I’m finally drinking the Kool-Aid.

You win, Google.

Content is king.

 

Jeff Deutsch, Ptengine‘s VP of Marketing, wrote this blog post for two reasons. 1) To warn against the anxiety-inducing treadmill of using black hat SEO to get traffic, and 2) To express why he finally gave in and accepted the necessity to use inbound marketing.

 Original Source: Confession of a Google Spammer

A plus for your brand: Generating leads with Google+

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A plus for your brand- Generating leads with Google+

Social media platforms have established themselves as great lead generators when it comes to brand awareness and sales. Among them is social networking site Google+, which puts itself at the forefront when it comes to setting up business pages.


Its seamless integration with search engine Google gives Google+ content and engagement the best SEO benefits, putting your brand ahead of search rankings for potential customers to immediately notice.

These customers now shy away from hard sell and are looking for genuine content they can relate and engage with – and Google+ is the best place to do that! Here are some ways to generate leads through this social networking platform.

Start – and continue – with compelling content

This is how your customers will see you. Make sure your Google+ page is filled with well-written content that’s curated and valuable to your audience. This includes information about your brand, as well as related content that may not necessarily be about the brand itself but lends credibility to it. Include links to your website or your other social media accounts.

As mentioned, the benefit of Google+ above all other social media platforms is its inherent precedence in organic search rankings, driving your page on top of that search result page.

Make it visual

People like seeing pretty pictures. Include visual content like photos and videos (even popular GIFs!) to your posts, as these tend to have better engagement with audiences and are likelier to be shared to friends. Images on Google+ can be turned into links, which allows your audience to click through the photo and land on your website or any other content about your brand.

Bonus tips: A Lesson in Lead Generation: Add Some Sauce to your Storytelling

Target the correct audience

Google+ allows for filtering followers in Circles, which can be used to segment your audience according to what kind of message your brand wants to send out. Hashtags are also another way to attract the right customers, using the correct keywords that will bring them to your page and see your content. The “+” sign also allows you to address another person directly by tagging them.

Bonus tips: Building your Brand? Create Productive B2B Social Campaigns with these Tips

Mind the frequency of your posts

Content optimization is not just about what you post and where you post, but when you post it. Review your audience’s behavior and determine when the best time is to post your content; too few and they will forget your existence, while too many may overwhelm them and make them tune out.

 

The lead generation opportunities on Google+, combined with its innate SEO advantages, are enough reasons for businesses to consider the platform as one of their best options when it comes to building their business online.

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You might also like:

5 Rich Media for Enhancing your Brand’s Influence in Google+

A Match Made in Heaven: How StumbleUpon can Drive Web Traffic

Generating Hotel Leads, Now More Important than Ever

 

Search Marketing for Dummies: Stuff you might not know about SEO

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Stuff You Dont Know About SEO

We know the essence of search engine optimization and how it is used in marketing and in other fields. By definition, it is the intervention of the visibility of a website or other web contents to increase its ranking in the search results listings. But if you think it’s as simple as that, think again.

Here are some things you need know about search engine optimization:

It isn’t just about keywords

Bombarding web contents with keywords will not guarantee a rank increase in search results listing. This is because Google uses a new search algorithm called Hummingbird. This search algorithm enables Google to reassess particular web contents semantically. It does not only define every keyword but on how it was used in a sentence. To address this, digital marketers should create quality contents that define the keyword and use it in the way its sheer definition will be emphasized.

It isn’t just about You

If you think you have done enough on SEO to lead the search results listings, you are wrong. Just as how the logic behind SEO changes, so does the players in this game. Just like you, they can use SEO to promote their products and they keep on learning the best ways of E-marketing. Innovation in this field never stops; find new ways to further improve product promotion, lead generation, and customer satisfaction.

It’s about the entire Web

One mistake of most digital marketers is that they only focus their E-marketing strategies on their company website and forgot the other 1 billion websites within the web network. Use SEO not only with the on-site contents, but also with other web channels like social media, video sharing sites, blogs, and more.

It’s also about Social Media

SEO and social media integration is an advanced E-marketing strategy that uses the features of both for a doubled result. Social media has been used as a factor in SEO processes. Digitals marketers have been using social media functions in virtually linking their products and services to its target market to build social integrity.

It’s about Google

Among search engines, Google is the biggest with more than 3.5 billion searches per day. Focus on Google’s search engine optimization standards. Moreover, Google’s search algorithm constantly progresses and is getting intelligent based on the shifting trends and user activities; so you have to adapt to this changes to keep you on-track.

It’s about Quality Content

As mentioned, strengthening online presence through SEO is not solely dependent on the number a keyword that was used but on how it was used. In Ascend2’s “SEO Marketing Benchmark Summary” Report, creating a quality content is the most effective SEO tactic, though it is also the most difficult to implement. Focus on the strengths and features of your company; make clear, interesting, and influential.

Search engine optimization is more than what we think it is.  It offers more useful functions, use this as a competitive advantage to lead not only the search result listing but in the entire modern marketing.

Source : http://www.business2community.com/infographics/top-8-surprising-seo-facts-know-infographic-0965850?utm_source=B2C&utm_medium=Trending-Widget 

Improve your B2B Lead Generation Blogging: 3 steps to follow

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Improve your B2B Lead Generation Blogging 3 steps to follow

Lead generation marketers can no longer underestimate the power of online blogging as a tool to seek and communicate with B2B leads. It used to be just a bonus activity to complement SEO and website activities, but now it has become a major channel in absorbing traffic and interaction from the audience.

Whether you agree or not, there’s actually a difference between a quality blog and a mediocre blog. Some would say it doesn’t matter as long as it has the right keywords and the right sharing strategy. Not true. The substance of a blog post can still draw the line between truly engaging prospects and just throwing them away.

Take it from Marketo, as they share 3 major steps in taking your blogging activities to the next level:

1. Establish a cadence you can maintain.

Don’t make a huge commitment to your blog before you’ve written a single post. Start small – you don’t have to post everyday, or even every other day. The most important thing is to be consistent. If you find that a few posts a week is no problem, you can gradually bump up your output.

To ensure your blog’s consistent output, it’s important to establish who will be responsible for maintaining it.

2. Find something to write about.

It should go without saying that your blog isn’t purely a place to pitch your newest product or talk about your company’s latest accomplishments. The sweet spot of your blog’s content is the intersection of two groups of topics: topics that your company can speak credibly to, and topics that your audience is interested in.

Generate a list of your company’s “areas of expertise,” and then make a list of subjects within those areas that your audience is likely to care about.

3. Test and recalibrate

It happens to the best of us – you have a topic you’re excited to write about, and you’re sure that your audience will be just as excited to read it…but you’re wrong. The upside is that, as long as you’re measuring engagement with your blog, even mistakes add a new data point to your future planning.

Experiment with a variety of topics, but also test different styles of titles, different kinds of calls-to-action, and different ways of promoting your blog on social media. You might be surprised by the difference a hot hashtag or a provocative title can make.

Source: The 3-Step Guide to Better Blogging

On-Page SEO: The Essential Blogging Checklist

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On-Page SEO- The Essential Blogging Checklist

When was the last time you’ve ran a check on your blog? Perhaps you’ve been so caught up with figuring out why nothing’s working that you’ve forgotten to evaluate whether certain elements are present in the first place.

For a lead generation blog to be effective, it must be firing on all cylinders. It’s not just about the quality of the content. It’s also about other technical aspects that help make your blog a complete package. That’s the essence of assessing and improving on-page SEO.

Now’s your chance to give your blog the ultimate test. OnlineMarketingInsitute.com offers this comprehensive checklist for lead generation blogging. Go over the list and see how your efforts fare:

Your page title is key. While the content itself is the most important element on the page, the title comes in a close second.

Use the meta description. The meta description is a block of text that offers a great opportunity to sell the page contents and alert users that this is what they were looking for.

Check the URL. Make sure the URL is relevant to the page and also correct (i.e., no spelling mistakes or inaccuracies).

Keywords in the content. You can make good content into great, highly effective content with the use of keywords. It’s important to make sure that they read like they are occurring organically in the text, otherwise the whole thing will feel clumsy.

High-level header tags. The H1 tag is a powerful tool, so don’t overuse it. Use one per page so you don’t confuse search engines (at the top preferably) and use it to describe exactly what your page is about.

The right images. Images must be used in the right format, such as JPEGs for higher quality images (save in Photoshop at less than 60 percent resolution to avoid slow page load times as a rule of the thumb), GIFs for those images with fewer colors, and PNG format for graphics.

Descriptive alt tags. Use alt tags to communicate to search engines what the image is about, which will help with your SEO. Make it descriptive, as this is what will pop up if the image does not load.

Blog categories. Chronologically ordered blog archives give nothing to a user and don’t encourage browsing. Using blog categories instead helps the reader find what she is looking for more quickly.

Forge internal links. You can increase the effectiveness of your blog for your site as a whole by hyperlinking to other pages on your site that are relevant. Use keyword-rich, branded, and normal anchor text to do this.

Claim authorship. Claiming authorship of content and linking it to a Google+ account offers another degree of visibility and will make the effectiveness of that one piece of content stretch even further. In addition, author rank is predicted to become even more relevant as Google continues to understand the authority of each publisher.

Read the full post at Blogging: An On-Page SEO Checklist

 

Will Google’s NoFollow Link Policy Kill Your SEO? Not if you follow these tips

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Will Google’s NoFollow Link Policy Kill Your SEO - Not if you follow these tips

At one point or another, marketing teams resort to using techniques that are generally frowned upon by the online community. It will probably take a long time until the marketing realm is totally rid of these so-called “black hat” strategies, but Google is determined in its crusade against stopping it once and for all.

One of these resolutions is the recent requirement of nofollow tags in links from other websites.

The modus operandi

One of the traditional, overused tactics in SEO is to try and get as many backlinks from authority websites as possible. This is because those websites regarded as having high PR can influence the “linkers” in terms of authority, thus boosting their chances of getting a high rank. This happens despite of Google’s insistence that PageRank be treated as the strongest factor in SERP rankings.

This activity also poses a dilemma for websites in their fear that Google may suspect them as a “link seller”. But now, Google requires links to include the rel=”nofollow” tag to stop passing on authority “credit” to other sites, and to thus avoid being penalized.

 So when do you need to use a nofollow link?

If your site supports paid links, you need to use nofollow in order to keep these links from giving credit to other sites. Also, if your site has a comment section that you don’t always monitor, using nofollow links prevents commenters from getting credit from you, as well as posting bad links that could hurt your SERP rankings. This also applies to content posts that other people may contribute on your business blog.

Nofollow is also helpful when embedding media (such as infographics) or widgets that you obtained from other sites. The thing is, you don’t want Google to think that you’re endorsing those sources, so you need to make sure credit is not passed on to them.

Obviously, you also wouldn’t want to boost the authority of your competitors, so you need to make sure you attach a nofollow tag when linking to a site that most probably belongs in the same industry as yours.

There is nothing to fear so long as you stick by the rules

Google’s intentions are, at the end of the day, for everyone’s welfare. It may be a hurdle to our current marketing situation, especially to those who have been accustomed to using their own strategies, but it’s healthier to compete in leveled field rather than allowing a few to get ahead by not following the rules.

Online Marketing 101: Tips for Choosing a Domain Name

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Online Marketing 101- Tips for Choosing a Domain Name

1 – Name Your Brand

The first thing you should do is to consider what urls are available to you–then choose your brand name accordingly if you can. Be creative–do your research and see who else is using that name or anything similar. Be original, exciting and innovative when naming your brand– the same way you should be with your product.

2 – Tie Your Brand to the Domain Name
Your domain name should match your brand. Always choose one that doesn’t need explanation.

3 – Don’t choose a domain based just on keywords in the URL
Main keywords are not the key for high ranking in your domain name, although this is a factor. Think out a memorable, brand-related and available domain name, but don’t get obsessed with it. And keep it short and simple if you can, like JANE. One of the biggest problems with buying domain names is domain abuse. Existing backlinks in Google (“link:www.yoursite.com”) should always be checked beforehand (Wayback Machine is great to ensure clean domain names).

4 – Don’t Try to be Clever
Forget about hard-to-spell, long and clever words or anything too complex–unless you want to make it hard for people to remember your url. Do yourself a favor: dump the cutesy names and don’t use numbers–they won’t help. Best practice? A name with only one possible spelling.

5 – Extensions Matter (.com, .org, .net, etc.)
As of June 2013, there are 110 million .COM, 15 million .NET and 10 million .ORG domains on the web. Because most people still assume that .COM is the only possible choice, it’s the better option.

Un-complicate your SEO: A B2B Online Marketing Proposition for 2014

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Un-complicate your SEO: A B2B Online Marketing Proposition for 2014

In the world of B2B online marketing and SEO, there’s only one thing that’s constant: change.

The industry is almost purely dependent on Google algorithms and its rapid alterations, and marketers couldn’t help but wonder if there’s any kind of strategy than can remain stable despite of the wobbly conditions of search marketing.

Apparently, such a strategy exists. Here are some of the things you could do to make your SEO campaigns as simplified as ever, making it resilient through time:

Take it easy on keyword research; focus on context instead. A considerable amount of time and effort could be allocated on putting too much magnitude on keywords. Besides, Google has already made clear that a keyword-driven campaign may have unfavorable consequences. Instead, meet with your team to come up with a reasonable number of keywords you can build your content around. Remember: it’s the relevance that counts.

Use SEO tools effectively. According to Eric Siu, CEO of San Francisco-based digital marketing agency Single Grain, marketers should look for SEO tools that’ll simplify the process. WordPress extensions such as Yoast SEO (free) or All-in-One SEO (free) make managing blog SEO a snap, while programs such as QuickSprout Tools (free; paid versions available) or Moz SEO ($99+ a month) help tackle other SEO processes from a single, centralized location.

Ride the viral waves. Instead of hunting for link sources everywhere, why not invest on viral content? These are your videos, slides and infographics that have much more share-potential than typical text-based content. These media-driven pieces sell themselves; they can earn you countless backlinks from credible sources without you having to scavenge them yourself.

Responsive website design cam help, too. Without a responsive website design on your site, you need to host two separate sites for desktop versus mobile visitors. This means you’ve got to run two separate SEO campaigns.

Overload of recurring tasks? Outsource them! In a typical SEO campaign, responsibilities would often include checking monthly SERP rankings, doing keyword research, and adding new page links to your website directory. These are rather humdrum – albeit necessary – tasks that you don’t have to submerge into. You can acquire outside help so you can delegate tasks more efficiently and also to give you time to check on other important things. Outsourcing to lead generation company can also open some doors to innovative technology and modern trends.