September is here and that means two things for the Gulf Coast—hurricanes and football. And since hurricanes are so depressing, let’s talk football (although football has been quite depressing the last decade for Houstonians).
So I’m sitting here watching the 4th preseason game for the Houston Texans and suddenly I have this epiphany—football…SEO…they aren’t all that different. A successful football team shares quite a bit in common with a worthwhile SEO firm. Let me show you what I mean.
They have experienced management in place
Ever heard of a first year coach taking his team to the Super Bowl? Not likely. Coaching a team to the highest level of the game takes years of experience. It also takes being surrounded with the right people. Just look at Houston—Gary Kubiak seems to be a good enough coach, but his defensive coordinator sucked. Now he has Wade Phillips on his side and the preseason has looked pretty solid (besides tonight’s game).
Now let’s apply this to the world of SEO. As you probably know, rookie SEO “coaches” are popping up all over the place. But can they deliver the results of an SEO with years of experience? The fact is, you find the right guy with the right experience then you can rest assured he’s going to boost your rankings.
The underdog may be your best option
Look at the Packers last year. Who thought they’d win it all at the onset of the season? Not me. And even in the Super Bowl, most people thought Pittsburgh was going to hand their butts to them. Wrong again! It’s good business to go with the underdog (just ask Vegas).
Now let’s look at SEOs. You have the big marketing companies that you can go to for the supposed big results. And you can wind up with an even bigger hole in your wallet. Or you can choose an underdog, a smaller SEO organization, and take your chances. Hey I did it. And I’ve seen nothing but positive results.
They have multiple players producing outstanding stats
How often do you hear of a winning team only having one player putting up good stats? Not usually. Instead, the best teams usually have multiple pieces producing winning results. Compare this to SEO. The SEO company you really want isn’t going to push everything aside in hopes for a single high ranking keyword. Instead, they are going to produce results across the board. They’ll start with your highest ranking, produce quick results, and then move on to the next. And you can see proof of these reports through their free SEO report.
Here’s to a great season
I’m excited to watch some football this season. This is also my first year to play fantasy, so I have some added interest. I’m also excited to watch my SEO guy produce results and bring me more traffic.
Here’s to a great 2011 season!
Are you still struggling to regain your pre-Panda traffic levels? Then following these five steps may be just what you need to get back on track:
Understand That The Panda is a Different Kind of Animal
Many of Google’s big algorithmic changes are related to off-page elements. When a site is impacted by one of these changes, they can commonly fix it by attracting more quality links. From holding a blog contest to putting real effort into guest blogging, there are plenty of ways to tackle this challenge.
But the Panda update does not fit into this mold. This change is about the content and structure of your website. It’s also different because any changes you make may not have an immediate impact on your rankings. Although Google has rolled out at least 5 versions of Panda, it can take some time for any changes you make to be registered.
The good news is while you may have to wait for any changes you implement to sway Google’s opinion of your site, the improvements themselves don’t have to take a long time to make.
Find Where People are Leaving
Although there are shortcomings to using bounce rate as a metric, it can provide valuable insight into areas of your site that are falling short.
You should pull up your analytics data and sort your content by bounce rate. For your pages with the highest bounce rate, you need to ask yourself whether or not people should be leaving that page.
For example, a landing page that sends visitors to a third-party payment processor probably won’t have a low bounce rate. However, if it’s an article or blog post, you want people to engage with it and then continue exploring your site.
Bring in Visitors with the Right Headline
A strong headline is an extremely powerful tool. In addition to including your keyword phrase so Google knows what a page is about, you want to grab searchers’ attention when they see your listing on a SERP.
In addition to not being dull, you also want to ensure your page delivers what the headline promises. If you have a killer headline but lackluster content, people are going to hit the back button, which is not something Google wants to see.
By sharpening the headlines of your worst performers and adding any needed polish to the content of those pages, you can provide users with a top notch experience.
Add Related Links
Have you ever gone to Wikipedia to look up a single fact, only to then glance at your clock and realize you’ve been on the site for over half an hour?
The reason it’s so easy to get sucked into Wikipedia is the site does an excellent job of interlinking. You should do the same with your own content. One reason people may be quickly leaving your blog posts or articles is because you don’t give them anywhere interesting to go.
Look at your pages that are performing the worst and make them more interesting by adding relevant links in their body or at the end. If you’re using WordPress, the Related Posts plugin can help make this change extremely easy to implement.
Add Relevant Videos
There’s no value into pulling a bunch of random videos onto your site. However, a video that relates to the topic of a post or article can make that content much more engaging.
By browsing around YouTube for just a few minutes, you should be able to find at least a couple of videos that will increase visitors’ engagement with your content.
If you or your clients were impacted by Panda but have since recovered, let us know what change(s) were most effective!
After all of these years, I still challenge anyone and everyone to find a show that can trump Seinfeld in overall awesomeness. Smart, funny, easy to connect with and understand—Seinfeld is everything you wish your blog was. That said, I got to thinking about the characters on the show and what they’d be like as bloggers. Here are a few of the best and the worst. Which one best describes you?
- Jerry—Sure every Seinfeld character was funny in his own way. And honestly, I don’t think Jerry was the funniest character at all. However, funny was (and still is) his business and he has a knack for taking mundane topics and talking about them in a way that they haven’t yet been addressed. Of course, this sometimes led him to get hung up on issues that didn’t really matter, but let’s call that a minor character flaw. Overall, I’m thinking Jerry would make quite the blogger.
- George—Liar. Self-loather. Sloth. Largely unemployed. Completely unlikable. Yet he’s probably the most adored Seinfeld character amongst diehard fans. A George Costanza blogger would be one who BS’s his way through just about everything. He’s a good writer, but can we really trust anything he says? Whatever it takes to get someone to buy a product or click an ad.
- Kramer—Some bloggers just write about the strangest things they can come up with. Except they aren’t “trying too hard.” They’re just downright quirky. A Kramer blogger is a fun but not so deep read. And chances are, he’s going to get super lucky and win a blog contest.
- Newman—Completely unlikable, yet irreplaceable. Newman makes his sole mission to instigate at every turn. As a blogger, he would garner a large audience by pissing people off. People would love to hate and comment nonstop.
- The Soup Nazi—Some bloggers just have no patience for those who don’t share their opinions. This blogger either heavily moderate their comments or else he constantly get in fights in them. But his words command your attention, so you keep reading his blog. And if the Soup Nazi was a forum moderator, you’d be watching your every word because you’d get banned.
- David Puddy—Let’s face it—Puddy was stupid. If he was a blogger, bottom line he’d suck. If you’re a Puddy blogger, you might have a few fans like Elaine who like you for, well, some reason or another. But do yourself a favor and quit. Disclaimer: When I say Puddy is stupid, I don’t mean I don’t like his character. He was hilarious. Just dumb in a typical paint-my-body-and-go-to-a-football-game kind of way.
- The Maestro—Was there ever a Seinfeld character more pretentious than this guy? Remember how he insisted that everyone call him the Maestro, even Elaine? The Maestro made everyone around him feel like they weren’t as good as him. And who likes that guy? Certainly not blog readers.
I’d like to think I’m a Jerry blogger. But sometimes I can come off as a Maestro blogger. Which one are you? And what Seinfeld characters should I have included here that I didn’t? Tell me all about it in the comments.
On Friday, Search Engine Land confirmed that Google is testing frames for search options and results. If this becomes a permanent change, it will give searchers even more control over finding exactly what they want.
Because of Google’s push towards giving users even more control over searches and the fact that SERP CTR can influence your rankings, it’s more important than ever to ensure your SERP listings are as appealing as possible.
To accomplish this important goal, here are effective options you can implement today:
Have a page that includes reviews? What about dates? Since Google supports 5 different microformats, you should be able to incorporate this option on quite a few of your pages.
Because microformats can add rich details like stars or dates directly to your SERP listings, they can make your listings stand out from others and attract clicks from interested searchers.
SEO Effect did a study in June to determine the impact of the Google +1 button. In addition to their other findings, the study determined that “the Google +1 button saw a 20% increase in rankings which led to a corresponding lift in Clickthrough rate (CTR).”
Even though the exact measurements of this study are likely far from perfect, the bottom line is it’s well worth taking the time to install this Google feature on your blog or site.
Include a Price
While this won’t apply to every page of your website, it is relevant for listings tied to products or services. If a page is showcasing something that a visitor can purchase, include the price in your title or description tag.
Although including a price in your title tag can provide the biggest boost, there is a potential downside. According to RedFly Marketing, “if you’re not the cheapest, your CTR will suffer.” To minimize the potential for this problem, you probably want to stick with including the price in the description.
Entice Searchers to Click
Your title tag isn’t only for including a relevant keyword phrase. It’s also the perfect opportunity for you to entice searchers to click.
You should put the same amount of effort into writing a title for each page of your website as you would for writing a blog post or newspaper article title.
If you don’t have much experience writing persuasive titles, Copyblogger has a great crash course that will show you how to craft juicy ones for your SERP listings.
So we talked about BWI (for those just no joining us, that’s “blogging while intoxicated”)—but what about what follows? You know, the blogging hangover.
Everyone’s experienced it. You wake up early in the morning and force yourself out of bed. You wince as you plop down in front of your computer and turn on the screen. Forced to shield your eyes from the piercing light, you groan as you face the reality—what the hell are you going to write about this morning? And furthermore, how the hell are you going to get rid of this pounding headache?
Yep, you have it. After a night of overindulging in BWI bliss and having the best post of your life, you’re facing the blogging hangover. Now what?
Blogging Hangover Cures
- Rehydrate—Anyone who has ever drank too much knows that the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning is get a big glass of water (or as I like to do, stick my head under the faucet). Well, similarly, when you’re dealing with that blogging hangover, you need to rehydrate. In this case, that means you need to pull up your favorite blogs and pour through them. The more you refill yourself with good content, the more likely you are to suddenly have a great idea for your next post.
- Eat something greasy—The only good thing about a hangover is it gives you a great excuse to eat something terrible for you. What’s better than that giant, greasy burger to calm your twisted, churning stomach? So what does this mean for blogging hangover cures? Same thing. Take a break and go get something to eat! Give your mind a minute to clear and give your brain some fuel. It’s much harder to think of a topic for your next post if your stomach is growling. Your brain just can’t focus.
- Pour yourself another—As a last resort, or just for the true alcoholic, if all else fails you can always hit the bottle again. Another drink the day after will quench that hangover in no time. Of course it will also lead to BWI again. But hey, if the BWI leads to another hilarious, engaging post…does it really matter?
- Go back to bed—If all else fails, give up and go back to bed. Look, sometimes your hangover just isn’t going away until you sleep all the way through it. And sometimes, no matter what you do and how hard you stare at your screen, you just aren’t going to come up with anything good. If you continue to sit there, the only thing that will come of it is a really crappy post. Do yourself a favor and go sleep it off. Try again tomorrow.
I’m writing this at 5 AM. So glad I’m not dealing with a blogging hangover today. But then again, I wasn’t engaging in BWI last night. I try to keep that to the weekend as much as possible so I can get up early and get to work.
What about you guys? Anyone suffering from a blogging hangover? How do you guys handle it?
Recently, a friend asked me to take a quick look at his site. My friend wanted to know if there was any way he could speed up his site.
Before logging into his WordPress Dashboard to browse around, I used Who.is to look up what company is hosting his site. Although I discovered it’s a hosting company with a reputation for being slow, I knew he didn’t want to deal with moving to a new host.
I used WebSitePulse to run an initial speed test. After verifying his site’s response time was on the slower end of the spectrum, I logged into his WP Dashboard.
I decided to see how many plugins he was running. I was shocked to discover he had over 40 active plugins!
At first, I couldn’t even imagine how he had taken the time to install and activate this many plugins. However, a quick email to him revealed that his website had been built by a “professional WP development company.”
In reality, this company justified jacking up its price by doing a mass installation and activation of a bunch of unnecessary plugins.
Since I was helping my friend as a quick favor, it didn’t make sense for me to manually review each and every plugin. Instead, I decided to go for the low hanging fruit.
How to Use Firebug to Identify Slow WordPress Plugins
To identify the main culprits, I fired up Firebug in Firefox. I proceeded to:
- Click the Net tab
- Load his website
- Because no data showed up, I reloaded his website
Reloading the website gave me a visual breakdown of how long each element of his site took to load.
As I expected, there were several elements that took a significant amount of time to load. Specifically, I was able to match each of the three slowest elements to a plugin.
After deactivating those plugins, I ran a second speed test. The result? My friend’s site loaded twice as fast.
If you’re wondering which plugins were responsible, they were:
If you think one or more plugins are bogging down your site, you can use this method to test and resolve your issue in less than ten minutes.
I have a confession to make. I have an ice cold Shiner Bohemian Black Lager sitting next to me as I type this. Sure it’s no Shiner Bock, which happens to be my favorite beer in the world, but it’s a pretty solid beer—Shiner’s #2 selling beer, to be exact. But anyway, I’m drinking this beer as I blog in remembrance of a post I read a year ago, “Why You Should Blog Drunk.” It was part of The “Bad Ass” SEO Guest Blogging Contest. In fact, it was posted on this very blog.
If you go back and read the post, it wasn’t actually advocating drunken blogging. Instead, it was a metaphor for how the no B.S. in-your-face-who-cares-what-you-think attitude you get after two too many drinks would serve you well as you blog.
But what can I say? I tend to take things quite literally. Excuse me a minute while I go grab another beer.
An Idea That Sticks with You
However, the fact that I’m actually drinking as I blog about a post based on drinking and blogging isn’t really the main theme here (albeit it is certainly an interesting little side thread).
What I’d really like to focus on here is why I still remember that post a year later. And I bet I’m not the only one that remembers it.
Now I haven’t actually spoken to Gerald about how much traffic that post got, but it did get well over 100 tweets. So I’m going to guess it was pretty successful. The question is—why? What did Jennifer Van Iderstyne, the author of the post, do to make it so memorable?
To be honest with you, I haven’t really thought it out yet. But as soon as I get another beer I’m going to dive into it and figure it all out. Excuse me for a second.
Why “Why You Should Blog Drunk” Was Such an Awesome Post
Okay, where was I? Oh yes, what was so good about that post… okay let’s start from the beginning:
- The Title Caught My Attention There are lots of good titles out there. And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the catchier the title, the more people will want to read it. But in this case, the title isn’t just catchy. It’s different. And not only is it different, but the whole “Why You SHOULD Blog Drunk Thing” made me think Wow, how in the world are they going to argue in favor of this?! See, if the title had been “Why You Should NOT Blog Drunk,” then I wouldn’t have been as intrigued. Of course you shouldn’t blog drunk. Any rational human being would agree. Instead, she took the opposite of the obvious answer and made it work. That’s skillzzz.
- The Metaphor Wasn’t Forced or Trite Metaphors are hit or miss. And when it comes to blogging, a field that is flooded with a few really good writers, a lot of decent or average writers, and a BLEEP LOAD of really terrible writers…well let’s just say you get a lot of crappy metaphors. And these crappy metaphors can be broken into two categories. Either they are really forced and try to compare two things that are absolutely not related (I’m trying to write a post comparing the Houston Texans to copywriting on my personal blog but haven’t figured out how to avoid this pitfall yet). Or the metaphor will be so overused that I want to kill myself halfway through the post. Example? Eh, don’t want to call anyone out. You know what I mean. But this post… comparing blogging to drinking. Wow. And not just the act of drinking, but the mindsets you run through as you progress through a drunken night. I’m serious—it’s genius.
- It gave me something I could use that I hadn’t already read or thought about How often do you feel like you’re reading the same old crap over and over and over. Seriously, go to one of those sites like SERPd.com and come back and try and tell me that half the stuff isn’t just the same BLEEP, different BLEEPhole. Hey, even I myself am guilty of this. You are too. After all, it’s difficult to come up with completely original themes every time you blog.
But those posts we all do from time to time that don’t really offer anything new—they don’t resonate with people. They don’t stick with you. They’re just filler to meet a quota. You know, getting that link you want so bad.
Don’t shout me down because I’m telling the truth.
How Would You Grade This Post?
Okay, I’d say that about covers it. Now let’s take what I’ve determined makes a sticky post and apply it to what I just wrote. Did I succeed in creating a memorable post? Or did I feed you the same ol’ BLEEP?
Comment and let me know while I go grab another Shiner.
Among other things, I do business blogging (ghost blogging). And it never ceases to amaze me how many peers and potential clients and just random people have never even heard of ghost blogging. In fact, a recent client asked me “can you even do that?” when I told her I could take over her blogs for her and build her reputation as an expert by tagging her name on each of them.
It gets funnier. I was contacted a while back by a writer who wanted to do some work for my agency. While I’m not actively looking for writers, I did talk with them about what sort of work I do, and what kind I might consider using another writer for. Read more >>
So I subscribe to lots of email lists. And I mean lots. Do I ever buy anything from them? Nope. So why do I do it? To get ideas. All sorts of them. Marketing ideas, ideas on what NOT to do, product offering ideas, even article and blog ideas. In fact, I got the idea for this post from another I just read.
Now before we go any further, understand this: I don’t mean to say you should rip off someone else’s content by any means. Instead, you should look for something that strikes a chord with you and use that as a spring board for your post. And that’s exactly what’s happening here.
Last night I was going through email and clicked a link that took me to a post entitled Google Thinks Article Marketing SUCKS. Since one of the key pieces of my business is writing articles for article syndicators, the author had my full attention.
Of course, the topic is nothing new. SEO guys have been arguing back and forth about the value of article syndication for quite some time. But since the whole PANDA deal (debacle?), the debate seems to have heated up a few degrees. Read more >>
The world is positively buzzing with talk of the latest and greatest ‘Cloud Based’ offerings from the tech giants, but what is it they are really after?
A lot of hype surrounds vaporous services such as Apple’s iCloud, Google’s Chromebook, Cloud Music and multitude of web-apps, the Amazon Cloud and even poor old Microsoft’s Office 365.
We could be forgiven for thinking something innovative was afoot.
But what’s new, really? The act of using a search engine was one of the first manifestations of cloud computing. Rather than every internet user needing 5 million Terabytes of data storage in their basement, we sensibly share the resources of servers in remote data centres. Without needing a name for it consumers have been enthusiastically embracing other ‘cloud computing’ concepts – and feeding the data collectors – since the early days of webmail in the 1990’s.
Google was the first company to realise the full potential of storing and indexing our data when it successfully monetised the nominally ‘free’ function of search provision.
Through Gmail, Google Analytics, the verging-on-compulsory nature of various Google accounts, YouTube accounts, blogging services, Google Apps and even News distribution, most web users can’t really live or do their jobs without feeding Google enormous amounts of invaluable data about themselves. The towering technological achievements of Google Earth, Streetview, book-scanning projects, self-driving cars – and who knows what else – are all part of this data feast. Even where the end-use of data is not yet clear, Google collects it anyway.
Of course, it’s definitely not all doom and gloom. Providing open, global access to much of this information is to be applauded as real libertarian progress, and the attempts of oppressive regimes to cut people off from web resources are a testament to their social power. The more idealistic among us can still argue that ‘the Google plan’ might actually amount to an empowering, egalitarian information philosophy of share and share alike which benefits us all.
But hang on – scrape away all the insubstantial talk of ‘cloud-based innovation’ drifting gently across the technological horizon and witness the big players competing to own even more of your data.
What do you mean your music?
With iTunes, software, and the iPod series, Apple has succeeded in taking the lion’s share of the global music market. What I’ve always hated about these services is the way Apple makes me feel like they own my music collection. Half the fun of music has always been the sense of discovery; that rare 45 in a charity shop record box, an awesome mix-tape from a friend, or things like the unknown Jimi Hendrix tapes discovered in a New York rubbish skip. Aficionados of any style are still happiest hanging out, listening, learning and buying with a like-minded and knowledgeable friend in the local record shop and taking a physical object home. If we let the tech giants have their way, all this will be impossible in the near future.
If Apple’s iCloud takes off, you won’t actually have music on any of your devices and ‘buying’ an album will be reduced to owning the right to stream it. Apple will effectively still own and control the data you have paid for, so any issue with hardware or internet connection and there’s no music for you, dear customer. How long until they charge extra to ‘distribute’ your music through loudspeakers instead of headphones?
As many observant journalists, bloggers and media pundits have been quick to point out, another very odd thing about the cloud storage offering is that there really is absolutely no point for most of us. I can buy a Terabyte of storage round the corner for less than fifty pounds. Even the most voracious video downloader or digital content producer can now afford to store and backup their data across multiple locations. What I need to share is easily emailed, drop-boxed or just transferred wherever via FTP.
Everything I do, I do it for you
Google’s Chromebook concept takes all this data-grabbing even further and looks like a premature and probably doomed attempt to absorb information from every computer interaction you perform.
The Chromebook isn’t a computer in the traditional sense, but what has been known in IT virtualisation circles for years as a thin client. The Chromebook is less than a computer, less even than the iPad; nothing more than an interface which allows you to interact with websites and online apps. Pre-loaded with the Chrome browser ‘OS’, loaded with bookmarks to Google web apps, devices like the Chromebook probably could replace your desktop, laptop and smart-phone. But imagine not storing anything locally, and handing everything to Google on a plate.
Everything you type, every document you create, every email you send, every search you make, every video chat, phone call or IM, every film you stream, every TV show you watch, literally every single computing, social, working or leisure action in your day will be captured, stored, analysed, and eventually monetised by Google – or whoever they sell the data to.
Even if you don’t see a problem with the philosophical implications of data control, see it in practical terms;
Most people stand to gain nothing from these services, while the companies launching them will be in the enviable position of being paid to gain the data they want.