Wow! I have to say that this year’s Bad Ass SEO Guest Blogging Contest REALLY lived up to its name. Not only was the sponsorship level greater this year (a whopping $2700 in cash), but the talent level took a big leap forward as well. I am honored to have so much talent on my blog!
Now, without further ado, the moment you have all been waiting for. The winners are:
1st Place – $1000 + a Lifetime Premium Membership to MyBlogGuest.com:
How to Optimize 7 Popular Social Media Profiles for SEO by Kristi Hines
2nd Place – $500 + 1 Year Membership to The SEO Training Dojo:
3rd Place – $350 + Link-Assistant.Com SEO PowerSuite Enterprise License:
4th Place – $250 + 3 Month Subscription to SEMRush.com:
Have You Claimed Your Local Business Listing on These 21 Sites? by Kaila Strong
5th Place – $225:
6th Place – $125:
The Seven Secret Steps to Irresistible Blog Posts by Andrew Nattan
7th Place – $100:
Panda, Panda, Panda by Amanda King $100
8th Place – $75
Secret 4 Step Affiliate System by Ben Jackson
9th Place – $75
Social Media Suffocation: Why I’ve Had Enough Of Networking Online by Lewis Austin
Now for a brief explanation of how we can up with our winners:
We had 4 independent judges who scored each post on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being the worst and 10 being the best). The judging factors included style, creativity and usefulness. We then averaged the scores from all 4 judges. You can click here to see the Excel spreadsheet with the scoring.
This year, Kristi absolutely dominated the top spot! Not only was her guest post published on Sphinn and mentioned in SEOMoz’s newsletter, but it has received:
1000 Facebook Likes
224 Google Pluses
Over 200 Comments
Places 2 and 3 were also clear winners. However, places 4 through 8 all tied with each other. As a result, we had to use social engagement factors to determine those winners.
The way our social engagement scoring works is 1 point for each tweet, +1, Facebook Like, Stumble or comment. Also, we looked at social engagement on blokube and blogengage. Additionally, we didn’t count meaningless or ambiguous comments like “Great post thanks.” By calculating these totals, we were able to determine who won spots 4 through 8.
Everyone who won, please email me your Paypal email at gweber at sem-group dot net so I can hook you up with your cashola and non-cash prizes!
Once again, I want to thank all the sponsors, contestants and judges who donated their time. Without all of your help, this contest wouldn’t be possible. You all rock!
We’ll see you all next year when the donkey starts misbehaving again!
In just shy of a month, Google Plus had created a community 25 Million strong. In all of the hysteria of selective invites and profile creation, Google had created one of the fastest growing website in the illustrious albeit short history of the internet. There were those who saw the meteoric rise as a sign that the writing was on the wall for Facebook and its flimsy definition of privacy.
However, that hasn’t exactly been the reality. The reason for the initial buzz falling flat should be all too familiar to Google. Last time, however, they were the beneficiary of the phenomenon. The easy recent comparison would be Microsoft launching Bing with ad budget in the millions. Google was able to stand pat and watch the well-funded upstart try to chip away at the empire that it had amassed. Not that the reminder is needed but Google remains king of the search.
With all that being said, there is great functionality to Google Plus, features that have yet to be widely discovered by the general public and could give Plus staying power.
- Focused Sharing: Plus allows the sharing of content to select circles, you could say social media via scalpel. You can share works articles with your colleagues or post your weekend plans with friends, you have the tools to choose the intimacy of your networking. This comes in handy when you don’t want coworkers or parents to see your updates. Intimacy is vital to Plus and could very well be the differentiator between Facebook and Plus in the long run.
- Authentic Social Experience: Facebook has become a true place of business, with pages and likes becoming a focus of most modern marketing strategies. If businesses begin to lessen the social experience, there is a chance that more and more users could seek out a new network the way that they left MySpace en masse.
- Google Integration: One advantage that Google has over Facebook is that there are numerous reasons that the internet population is already using some Google functionality. Gmail, for example, has built a base over the course of seven years. Switching between Gmail, Google Docs and Google searches will create a more seamless internet experience.
If Plus can foster the feeling of genuine connection that is being seemingly drained from Facebook, it stands a great chance of rivaling the current king of social networking and not becoming victim to the crash after a sugar rush.
Caution: The opinions in the following blog post represent my own as a guest blogger—not necessarily Search Engine Marketing Group’s or Gerald Weber’s. Just sayin’…
Okay, I’ve got to get something off my chest here. It’s been building and building and if I don’t scream it from the mountain tops, my chest is going to explode. So here it is. Are you ready.
GO TO HELL, GOOGLE PLUS!
Wow. There. I said it. Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Who cares. Big deal, so you hate it. You’re a Facebook groupie. Or a Twitter Tweeter. Or whatever. Big deal, join the club.”
Ah, but see, it’s different for me. Why? Because I’m busy trying to pull my foot out of my mouth. Not sure what I’m talking about? Checkout this post I made on my blog a few months back, in which I said that Google Plus was basically going to murder Facebook.
Here’s the deal. I wanted Google Plus to be our savior. You know, the one to topple the world system (i.e. Facebook) and bring revolution to the social media world. I prayed that it was true. I hoped with everything within me. In fact, I wanted it to be the case so badly that I wrote a post daring people to argue otherwise with me.
But here I am, a few months later, barely even blinking when I see my Google Plus notifications box pop up. Why? Here’s what I’ve narrowed it down to:
- My friends aren’t into it. Well, a couple of them maybe. But most of the updates I’m reading are from people I barely know. And quite frankly, I could care less what most of them have to say.
- People keep adding me and I have no clue who they are. Not sure what the deal is, but I sear the last million people to put me in their circles—I don’t know them. No clue at all. And let’s face it, I don’t really feel like getting to know them.
- I’m in too deep with the other social networks. My worst fear. I’m too tied into Facebook and Twitter to quit. I’m an addict. Sad, yet so true.
Now, am I saying Google Plus won’t beat them out in the end? Not necessarily. When you compare Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus you can definitely put together a solid argument in Google Pluses favor. But as for now, as for me…sorry Google Plus. I just don’t have the time or the patience.
Last week, I got all teary and vulnerable as I spilled the beans on how I miserably failed with my first blog.
Admitting defeat is the first step in the “12-Steps to Getting Over a Blogging Failure” program. Step 12 is to learn from your mistakes and start all over.
Last week we talked about failing to pick the right niche, do your keyword research, and pick the right domain.
Now let’s move on to the final three reasons I committed my first blog suicide.
4. I Failed to Make My Blog Look Professional
Yes, blog design does matter, especially when your readers have a sea of other blogs to choose from.
Most of your first-time visitors will spend but a few seconds on your blog, deciding whether they should read on or move on.
The last thing you want your blog design to do is to scream out “I am an amateur!” in the face of your audience.
When I say “professional design“, I don’t mean to make it sound like you need to spend an arm and a leg hiring a professional designer, which could run you about $1,500 to $2,000.
No, you don’t need to spend MUCH money on your blog design, but you do need to spend SOME.
Here’s what I recommend you do to take your blog design from lame to polished:
- Stop using free themes. You don’t want to look like any other blog out there, plus you don’t want to ruin any chances of getting search engine traffic because of poor coding.
- Get a premium theme. They usually cost under $100, are SEO-ready (some better than others), and are fully customizable, even if you want to do it yourself. I personally use Thesis theme on my blog for those specific reasons.
- Customize the theme. You’ll have 3 choices here: A. do it yourself – once you have a good theme to work with, it’s not that difficult to make it look custom; B. buy a semi-custom skin – theme skin customizes your out-of-the-box theme and allows you to add personal touches to it; C. Hire someone to do it for you – with premium themes like Thesis, there’s no shortage of freelancers that will be over-joyed to help you.
5. I Failed to Find my Voice
Now that you have a professional and inviting blog design and get your readers to actually scroll down to see more of what you have to offer, you REALLY have to show them what you are made of.
What’s your hook?
How are you different from thousands of other blogs out there?
With my first blog, I tried to write what I THOUGHT my readers wanted to read. I sounded sweet and fluffy and made myself nauseous and ready to throw a white flag pretty quickly.
I made a much better choice when I started Traffic Generation Cafe: I decided to use the voice I ALREADY had.
Be myself – what a novel idea!
Turned out that was exactly what made my blog successful: no fluff, no rose-colored glasses, just plain-looking bulleted posts that contained nothing but actionable advice.
If your blog is voiceless, then you need to find an angle that sets you apart from the rest of the herd NOW.
Here are some possible ideas:
1. If you have a great personality already, look no further; just be yourself.
3. Create a multi-author blog and share different views on a controversial subject.
4. Have a reader-driven blog, where readers ask questions and you answer them in blog posts. In the beginning, you might have to browse other blogs to find questions you could answer or come up with your own.
5. Create a video-log, communicating with your visitors via videos exclusively. Many readers learn much better from video, but for those who don’t, plus for SEO purposes, I’d publish video transcripts to go with each video.
6. Failing to Choose the Right Blogging Platform
This wasn’t one of my mistakes, but I think it’s important to mention it here since I see so many bloggers take the wrong turn on this one.
It doesn’t take a brainiac to do a quick research on Google and learn that a self-hosted WordPress.org blog is the way to go.
Sure free blogging platforms like Blogger.com, WordPress.com are much easier to set up and don’t cost you a penny.
HOWEVER, consider this:
1. MONEY: free platforms are definitely not huge fans of you trying to make an income off their sites, which means no AdSense, no paid ads, no affiliate links.
If they catch you do anything against their TOS, they’ll shut your blog down in a jiffy without any warning.
2. FUNCTIONALITY: most of the cool internet marketing tools like plugins, themes, and support are for self-hosted blogs only. Without having access to such tools to enhance your blog, you are giving your competitors everything they need to take over your niche.
My grandmother was right when she said “Learn from other people’s mistakes.”
Did you do it? Of course, not.
But you don’t have to make the same mistakes I made. It’s up to you.
Love it or hate it? Comment to show me that you’re alive!
Zombies have a strange appeal to the world’s psyche. And where it seems vampires have a firm grasp on movies and television, zombies make their home on the Internet and in the Internet’s favorite past time, video games.Knowing web surfers’ insatiable hunger for brains, marketers have been using zombies in their campaigns to great success for some time. In this article we’ll take a look at the best examples of zombies in online marketing.
Mingle2 had a viral success with this fake dating website that hoped to help the undead find love. This website was purely created with marketing and SEO in-mind, but the level of detail done on the site and the subject matter made it a hit as it spread from blogger to blogger and social bookmarking site to Facebook.
This marketing effort also happened to be one of the first campaigns created by now-famous Internet success story Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal.
Tea Party Zombies Must Die
In the spirit of this years Halloween festivities and political climate, advertising agency Starvingeyes released the viral game Tea Party Zombies Must Die. The game is a Doom-style first person shooter that let’s the player run around various apocalyptic arenas while trying to destroy as many politically mis-guided zombies as possible.
The game is very much a vehicle for a political agenda, but you can tell a lot of work went into this excellent marketing ploy.
Zombie Preparedness Center
National hardware chain Westlake Hardware takes a stab at the zombie spirit with a whole section on their site to give tips for when the zombies attack. In a good mix of fun versus education the tips are actually helpful for home repair whether the attack was form a zombie or a fallen tree branch.
Another well executed marketing attempt that takes advantage of the holiday spirit. Once again you can see that it is the level of dedication that earns them a mention in AdAge.
Zombie Boy Cover Up
Dermablend make-up takes the opposite approach to zombies by taking Rico Genst aka the Zombie Boy and turning him into a normal person. Genst has covered his body with tattoos in an attempt to look as close to a zombie as possible.
The video is pretty remarkable. The video has also received millions of views and been blogged about on a ton of blogs. Makes you wonder though if Rico had any regrets after seeing how well he cleaned up with the make-up on.
Hot Girl vs Zombie
Axe of course get sin on the zombie act with their video depicting a girl being chased by a zombie in her underwear. I won’t ruin the ending, but if you’ve ever seen an Axe video, you know exactly where this is going.
Guns, Guns, Guns
Although completely appropriate, it seems strange that bullet manufacture Hornady and gun magazine Guns and Ammo get into the zombie act. I guess it is all fun and games until you start talking about actual guns meant to kill zombies (zombies are as of yet not real remember).
Hornady has made a very impressive zombie video to launch their ACTUAL line of bullets claiming to work best against zombies.
Guns and Ammo simply has a link bait article with completely made up “facts” as to how best deal with zombies.
With the popularity of zombies in popular culture only increasing, we can only wait and see what marketing efforts with zombies will be created for next year.
Since this is my first guest post for Gerald’s blog (thanks for having me here, Gerald, by the way – I am honored!), I somehow find it appropriate to start this post with bragging about myself.
I run a very successful blog that primarily focuses on increasing your website traffic by all (mostly free) means possible: TrafficGenerationCafe.com.
My blog is just over a year old, yet it has achieved a lot of recognition in the internet marketing niche. If you haven’t heard about it, you must be new; let’s quickly fix it by you visiting Traffic Generation Cafe as soon as you finish reading this post.
Now that I opened this post with a good amount of blowing my own trumpet, let me tell you something that not too many people know: TGC wasn’t the first blog I started.
As a matter of fact, my first blog miserably failed. Just goes to show that the path to success is paved with failures, right?
Well, the good thing that came out of all of this is the fact that I learned from my mistakes, avoided them when I created my present blog, which turned out to be a success, and now feel qualified to tell you what I did wrong in the first place, so that you can hopefully learn from my mistakes.
1. I Failed to Pick a Niche
I see it over and over again in the blogosphere – people who blog about everything under the sun.
Even they don’t know what their blog is about. Where does that leave their readers? Or better yet, Google?
Yes, Google needs to be told what your blog is about in order for it to start ranking you for your chosen keywords. Left alone, it’ll just guess what your niche is and start ranking you for some strange keywords that will never result in targeted SEO traffic.
And your readers? They need a reason to come back to your blog and the best way to do it is to provide them with information that is beneficial to their businesses. However, it’s a bit hard to do when you don’t have a niche.
Here’s another good one: “I am in the internet marketing niche.”
In my book, that falls under “everything under the sun.”
Take, for instance, Gerald’s blog.
Why do I love to come here? Because I can count on finding consistently great information on SEO link building here.
Why do my readers return to my blog again and again? Because they know that they can find everything they need to increase their blog traffic at Traffic Generation Cafe.
My first blog had no niche.
NO NICHE = POOR CONTENT = NO READERSHIP
That was the first reason why my original blog was on its way to blogging suicide the minute I started it.
2. I Failed to Do Keyword Research
This one goes hand in hand with failing to pick a niche.
Just because we THINK something might make a good niche, doesn’t mean that there will be any demand for it.
Did you know that:
- 90% of keywords will never bring you much traffic?
- Out of the remaining 10%, 90% will never make you any money?
- Out of the remaining 10%, 90% are way too competitive to consider for your niche?
I hear this a lot from bloggers giving advice on picking a niche: go with your passion. “You have to love what you do.”
This is not EHarmony; LIKING what you do and making a good income from it is good enough for me.
Picking the right niche starts with a thorough keyword research, period.
And picking the right keywords starts with exploring what your potential target market might be interested in, NOT where your passion lies.
As you can imagine, this topic goes way beyond the scope of the post, but I’ll tell you this: both Gerald and I can’t take a step without Market Samurai as our primary keyword research tool.
Picking up a copy of Market Samurai was the first thing I did when I realized that my first blog was on its last leg.
That’s what helped me to pick “traffic generation” as my niche and turned out to be one of the most profitable decisions I’ve made.
3. I Failed to Pick a Great Domain Name
I know this one will rise some eyebrows, so let me start with an example.
Let’s say you are searching for information on how to increase blog traffic.
You do a Google search and the top two results for it are as follows:
Which one would you believe provides the information you are looking for? Which one would you choose over the other?
See my point?
Sure it’s nice to have YourName.com as your domain name: it’s flattering, boosts our egos, and… well, that’s about it.
Does it make you money though?
Unless you are a household name, I strongly suggest that you let your domain name reflect the essence of your niche, your main theme.
Don’t get me wrong; I am not saying you shouldn’t own YourName.com. Quite the contrary, I definitely think you should purchase it.
Just don’t use it as your primary domain, that’s all.
More tips on how to pick a great domain name:
- Make it as short as possible.
- Don’t use words that are easy to misspell.
- Buy a .com domain.
- Use your main keywords in it if you can.
- Make it easy to remember – great for direct traffic.
- Stay away from hyphens and numbers.
Fun and catchy is always a plus; although this guy might’ve overdone it by a cinch – www.the-name-i-wanted-was-already-taken-so-i-used-a-lot-of-dashes.com. Did I mention not to use hyphens?
What to do if you already have a domain name, but don’t think it’s working for your blog?
Yes, it’s a pain in the neck.
But if you look at the long-term benefits, they usually far outweigh any short-term hassle this move might cause.
I did it when I killed my first blog.
Instead of creating a brand new blog from scratch, I created Traffic Generation Cafe using my first blog as a foundation. Since it already had some traffic and content, it only made sense.
My friend Jane Sheeba recently did it as well and wrote this great tutorial on how to do it step by step.
No, I am not short-changing you – just trying to give your attention span a break.
We’ll talk about the other three reasons I committed blogging suicide next week, so stay tuned.
Meanwhile, let me leave you with this: if any of this struck a chord with you, don’t just ignore it.
Don’t just say “It’s too late to change it now.”
It’s never too late. Especially if your business is struggling. One of these changes just might be the push it needs.
Love it or hate it? Comment to show me that you’re alive!
PS I am excited to announce that I am starting a new giveaway for CommentLuv Premium plus a free 30-minute consultation with me. Entering is easy. Just check out my CommentLuv Premium Giveaway post for more details.
Struggling to come up with some brilliant and potentially viral content for your website or blog? Not sure how to go about generating and executing on ideas without bringing in the heavy hitters (i.e. expensive experts)? No problem.
Here are 5 amazing and cheap-ass ideas that you can use to create content that will set the Internet on fire – and if done right – give your domain a huge SEO boost. Best of all, they won’t break the bank.
Let me be clear. This is for cheap-ass entrepreneurs like me. Not for broke entrepreneurs with no money at all.
So if you’re willing to part with a few bucks on some affordable ideas, let’s get started.
1. Pizza, Beer, and the “Yes and…” Game
If you’ve exhausted your list of potential ideas, why not get some of your colleagues and friends involved. Blast off an email to 20 of your friends inviting them to a pizza and beer party with a fun twist. It’s called the “yes and…” game.
If you’ve ever seen improv comedy, you know how hilarious it can be. It also tends to take some of the most unpredictable turns. Why? Because of one rule:
No matter what twist the plot takes, you have to go with it.
It works like this. Let’s say your friend suggests an idea that is completely ridiculous, you can’t reply with a negative comment poopooing the idea. You have to reply “Yes, and….”
“Let’s close the office for a month.”
“Yes, and let’s travel the world interviewing strangers and taking photos of everything weird or strange.”
“Let’s buy 1000 pizzas and send them to Google headquarters.”
“Yes, and we’ll include 1000 brainteasers printed on the pizza boxes.”
For the mere cost of a couple cases of beer and 2 or 3 large pizzas, you should be to come up with 100 crazy ideas in less than a couple hours. If you can’t, buy another case of beer.
What kind of things would you do for $5? It turns out that a lot of people would do all sorts of weird things. If you haven’t already, check out fiverr.com.
I’ve used fiverr.com to come up with catchy titles for eBooks, funny poems, and short video scripts. These little $5 investments may not be the source of life-altering goodness, but they will certainly start the juices flowing if you’re feeling a little stumped.
Here are some of the funny and weird things people will do:
- I will make a video of my Bunny eating your message for $5
- I will dance to an entire song of your choice in a hot dog costumer for $5
- I will make you feel better about losing your job for $5
- I will give you existentialist philosophic advice for $5
- I will write you a funny poem on any topic for $5
How can you say no to some of these offers??? Give it a try. You’ll spend more money on a haircut.
3. Xtranormal Videos
Have you ever tried to create viral video content. It’s not easy and it can cost a lot of money. Good quality video production can cost thousands of dollars, especially if you outsource to a production company.
There’s a cheap-ass alternative to production companies: Xtranormal.com. Their tag line says it all:
“If you can type, you can make videos!”
From your pizza and beer night (idea #1 above) or for $5 from a script writer on fiverr.com (idea #2 above), you can bang out a pretty funny 30 to 90 second script on any topic. Take that script, plug it into Xtranormal.com, and you’ve got yourself a funny video that you can spread to the world.
You’ve probably already seen some of these videos. You just didn’t know how easy they were to create.
Here’s a funny one about SEO.
What have I missed? Add your cheap-ass content generating ideas in the comments below.
We’ve all done it. Went out for a few drinks and a few laughs, and the next thing you know—wasted. And as long as you aren’t getting behind the wheel, no harm no foul, right?
Let’s be real for a second. Who doesn’t think it’s the best idea to text/Facebook/Gchat someone after a few too many? For whatever reason, it seems like the best idea at the time. Of course, if it really was a good idea, there wouldn’t be sites like www.textsfromlastnight.com.
I’d even argue that drunk dialing is the best option if you are going to insist on communicating with people who aren’t right there with you when you’re inebriated. Why? Because there is no record of it. But when you text or anything like that, you leave a paper trail that often won’t disappear.
When Drunken Use of Technology Collides with Your Business
It’s one thing to drunk text your ex or accidentally call your mom. But imagine if you accidentally got a hold of one of your clients. Talk about a nightmare.
Well that’s exactly what happened to a friend of mine recently who runs his own SEO article writing business. The other night I was awaken by a text that said, “check your email now.” Here’s what I found. Names have been changed to protect the innocent:
“My drunk ass was trying to Gchat Jason and accidentally clicked on a client. The following is what took place:
11:46 PM me: hahaha. oh my gosh. i was trying to click on my friend’s name. he played a prank on me in my apartment, and i was going to give him a hard time.
11:49 PM Rob: who is this?
no worries man
I’ve done something like this many of times
11:50 PM honestly, pretend it never happened because I think it’s funny
done worse myself
11:51 PM happy hour beers
Rob: luckily it was a guy and not a girl
imagine IMing a girl
and trying to explain that one
me: hahahahah, literal lol’ing
thank God you’re cool about it
Rob: haha yeah man I could care less
anyone who would get mad about that sucks
and needs to loosen up”
Okay. So any part of me that was pissed for being up in the middle of a work night reading my email was long gone by now. I was literally LOLing my butt off. True story.
What We Can Learn from This
Anthony got lucky. He made a colossal mistake that could have cost him a pretty important client. In his intoxicated state he accidentally clicked on the wrong name and proceeded to cuss at a paying customer. And not only that, but let’s face it, there’s no way the guy bought the “my friend played a prank on me and I was giving him a hard time” thing. Obviously, Anthony was bombed.
Luckily, his client seemed to be a kindred drunken spirit. But it’s safe to say that not all clients would take it this well. In fact, this sort of behavior could make you appear untrustworthy, incompetent, and downright unprofessional.
So what can we do to make sure this sort of thing doesn’t happen? Stop drinking.
I literally LOLed again.
So that solution is out. Now what? Well, perhaps separating our business contacts from personal? Or better yet—keep a separate business email address and don’t add business contacts to your Gchat!
Of course, that won’t keep you from accidentally texting them.
Best bet? Don’t hit the technology when you’ve been drinking. Instead, go home and go to bed.
Have you ever done something similar? How’d you handle it?
If you provide some kind of SEO-related services, there will come a time when your client or boss looks you in the eye and says something like this:
“Yeah, so about those page edits you recommended…
We’re actually quite happy with the current design of our landing page, and our tests have shown that adding text to the page actually decreases conversions. So…um…is there any way you could optimize this page…like…without adding all those words to it?”
To most SEO’s, the idea of achieving top rankings in a competitive niche–without putting keyword-rich content on the page–is unrealistic if not downright ridiculous. But from a design perspective, we also have to acknowledge that text and keywords are not always what’s best for Users. Sometimes, the best User experience comes from a simple, minimalistic interface with no distractions.
The Google home page itself is a perfect example. Arguably one of the most valued resources on the Web, and certainly one of the most visited, google.com currently displays a total of 25 words.
But what if Google was your client, and they wanted you to optimize their home page to rank for keyword phrases related to search engine…
Would you recommend something like this instead?
Hmm…no, that’s not going to work. So it’s kind of a Catch-22, isn’t it? On the one hand, you’re trying to satisfy your client and their Users by providing a slick, clutter-free interface…and on the other hand, you’re trying to be mindful of Google’s relentless addiction to plain text content. So what do you do?
But what if you didn’t have to choose? What if you could fill your landing pages with SEO-friendly content…without it getting in the way of your Users?
Luckily, there’s a solution. It’s called hidden content.
* GASP! *
That’s right, folks…if you’re trying to improve your website’s User experience without hurting your search engine rankings, then you need to start hiding some content–ASAP. But you can’t just hide it anywhere–you need to hide it somewhere where search engines will see it for sure…but Users won’t.
Wait... isn't that SPAM?
That depends on a number of variables, but the short answer is:
No, it’s not spam. It’s not even gray hat SEO. Hiding content is perfectly acceptable, as long as you do it right.
Which brings us to the million-dollar question…
What is the right way to hide content?
Unfortunately, Google isn’t likely to provide a useful answer anytime soon. So you know what? I’m going to take a crack at it. Seriously. I’m going to make a genuine effort to lay down some technical guidelines for all the aspiring content-hiders out there, and I’m going to do so without pretending like “your intent” has anything to do with it.
So here we go. First I’m going to suggest the guidelines; then I’m going to provide a working example that incorporates all of these best practices.
A Perfect Example of Hidden Content
If you don’t really understand the BITCH, don’t worry–I have an example for you. And this isn’t just any ol’ example; this is my attempt at creating a perfect example.
Let’s say you have a news blog with the 10 most recent stories showing on the home page. For whatever reason, you decide that the home page should include the full text of each post. The problem is…your Users are overwhelmed by all that text, and all they really want is an easy way to scan the latest headlines before they choose a story to read. The solution…hide some content!
- Compare the HTML source between the two versions. What differences do you see?
- What is the likelihood of Google flagging the Hidden Content page as suspicious or deceptive?
Download the Hidden Content Example
The live examples linked to above are hosted on GitHub. This means you can easily download the source code files for your own personal or commercial use (files are released under a non-restrictive free software license). And for the truly advanced SEO’s out there: you can even fork it or suggest improvements via pull requests.
Business and Social Media – How Not to Manage Your Campaign
Up until recently, Yo Sushi was one of my favourite restaurants. Yes, I know, there’s better Sushi out there, but I live in Nottingham and as it goes, we’re pretty limited in choice when it comes to Japanese fare.
Unfortunately, as the dedicated Yo Sushi lover I am, I made the mistake of being roped in by Yo’s ‘Super Sumo Sunday’ all-you-can-eat deal.
I’ve always been a sucker for all-you-can-eat restaurants yet this time; I was well and truly suckered.
Yo Sushi charges £18.50 a head for their ‘Super Sumo Sunday’ deal. Sounds pretty reasonable at first, when you consider how quickly the cost of those little coloured plates adds up.
Yet this deal comes with rules. You have to finish everything on your plate (fair enough, I hate waste too), you have two hours in which to ‘enjoy the deal’ and most importantly – you can’t make orders.
So, you are stuck with what’s on the belt. And on this occasion; it wasn’t much.
Seriously, if I ever see edamame beans or fish stick rolls again it will be too soon.
Granted, you were allowed to make ‘requests’ for food to appear on the belt but seeing as I was made to feel like a naughty child for doing so, I instead waited patiently for something new and interesting to roll round.
And guess what – it didn’t. Those two hours can pass surprisingly quickly when you’re splitting your time between staring at the belt; just in-case you might miss something good, and checking the clock to see how long you have left to actually grab and eat something good.
And these tense two hours came in at just over £40 for two, with a drink each, for an evening meal on a Sunday.
Now – I’ll get to the point.
Following Yo Sushi boasting about the continuation of Super Sumo Sunday’s on their Facebook page, I took the opportunity to air my views.
I posted a not entirely impolite summary of my experience and waited patiently for their response.
And waited, and waited.
Yo Sushi kindly took the time to respond to another ‘fan’ who had posted excitedly about the opening of a new branch. They even addressed her by name. Yet I went ignored.
Yet shortly after, I wasn’t the only person expressing my dissatisfaction. Others had joined in too, so I posted again.
Finally, I got a response. And I must say; I wasn’t pleased.
Apparently they ‘appreciate my thoughts and feedback’; yet they don’t acknowledge me as a person and they don’t mention my complaint.
In fact, this is one of the most corporate, impersonal and simply insincere attempts at social media I’ve seen yet.
Anyone who knows anything about social media knows that when you place your company in the ‘social sphere’ you are setting yourself up for both good and bad publicity.
And thus, you have to handle this publicity properly.
Speak to the dishevelled customer as an individual. Demonstrate that you care about their complaint and want to ensure the company resolves the issue for the future.
Up until this point, I had always quite admired Yo’s social efforts. Yet this is the first time I have seen them tested. And they failed – badly.
I won’t lie – I did have a slight hope that my complaint might lead to the offer of a free meal. I had of course wasted over £40 on some of the cheapest food they have available.
Yet what I wanted most was a response that made it clear Yo Sushi genuinely took my complaint on board and would take steps to ensure their Super Sumo Sunday deals were more satisfactory in future.
But I got neither.
Instead, they have not only ensured that myself and my friends will never take Yo Sushi up on the offer of this ‘deal’ again, but they have left me with a sour taste in my mouth and an uneasy feeling towards Yo Sushi in general.
Businesses take note; Yo Sushi’s handling of this matter has lost them a regular customer.
Remember that this is the digital age, and people won’t just be talking about you down the local pub with friends.
It’s a tough world out there and when you want to succeed in business, it’s not purely about profit – it’s about pleasing your customers too.
And I’m sorry to say, but right now, Yo Sushi is not pleasing this one.
Yo Sushi –Yo clearly don’t care about yo customers.