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Whitehat SEO Techniques in 2013: Learning From Blackhat SEO

The phrases “white hat” and “black hat” are loaded guns, and we only use them because they’re so ubiquitous. The truth is, when you tell yourself you are a “white hat,” you can end up fooling yourself into thinking that your strategy will always work, and Google will never turn it back on you. Worse still, you can close your mind off to insights that dramatically improve business results.

Don’t misunderstand us. Ethics are crucial. If you don’t already understand why it’s absolutely vital for SEO to be crystal clear and ethical in the years going forward, take a look at what we wrote over at Search Engine Journal. (Hint: the algorithm is only a very small part of why ethics matter.)

But there’s a difference between ethics and restrictive labels, and if you aren’t learning anything from “black hats,” you’re probably missing some key insights, like these:

1. Testing is Always Better than Blind Faith

Before you head straight to the comment section and write a rage-fueled rant, let me point out the fact that these are generalized statements. They don’t apply to every single “white hat” or “black hat” out there. But here we go:

White hats are less likely to test things than black hats.

This is an unfortunate truth about our industry. While there are plenty of excellent number crunchers on the “inbound” side of SEO, like, say, Dr. Pete, your average white hat SEO is less likely to put things to the test than your average black hat SEO. There are a few reasons for this:

    • Black hats can test some theories much faster than white hats, because they can use automated software and create controlled experiments that aren’t practical with white hat tactics
    • A large portion of white hats are “reformed” black hats who couldn’t stomach tests that kept getting them penalized, and have decided to simply follow the advice of industry experts instead
  • Some confuse white hat SEO for doing exactly what Google advises, and thus don’t bother testing anything

Again, I’m not saying these statements are true for all, or even most, white hat SEOs. I’m simply saying that more white hats are guilty of this particular offense than black hats.

Things don’t have to be this way.

As we’ve said several times, it’s a bit ironic to put the word “optimizer” in your title if you aren’t doing any actual testing for optimization. Even the worst conversion rate optimizers understand this. It’s strange how few SEOs (on either side of the fence) actually test their pet theories about the algorithm, or run the numbers to see how well their cherished tactics and strategies are playing out.

We recently wrote an in depth guide for KISSmetrics on SEO testing. Here are a few of the takeaways from that post:

    • You can test quirks of the algorithm by tweaking single things and measuring how they influence traffic
    • You can put SEO strategies to the test on “real world” sites by running two different content strategies at the same time, and measuring which content group picks up the most lifetime value (note that lifetime value does not equal number of visits, subscribers, etc.)
    • You can use traditional split testing to discover which kinds of pages are most likely to pick up natural links, or links from outreach

We are living in the age of big data. There’s just no excuse to leave money on the table by relying on assumptions instead of hard facts. Intuition is crucial, but it’s most useful when you are also putting it to the test.

2. It’s Okay to Spend Money to Make Money

As we all know, black hat SEOs have no qualms spending money to make money. They will buy links, pay for inclusion in networks, pay for automated link-building tools, buy multiple IP hosting, and buy sites to set up their own private blog networks.

As all white hat SEOs already know, these tactics aren’t worth investing in if you care about long term results. For the black hats who know how to do it, these tactics can make a quick buck, but they are very far removed from the brand building that legitimate businesses need to survive. Sites that rank using these kinds of tactics are short-lived at best, and eventually get struck down by algorithm updates, manual reviews, or user spam reports.

So, what can we possibly learn from black hats on this issue?

It’s a basic lesson that marketers in every other field understand quite well: it’s okay to pay for results. Marketers buy ad space on television networks, they pay per click, they hire talent, and they invest. And there certainly are white hat SEOs who understand just how incredible results can be when you have money to invest.

Unfortunately, the whole “don’t buy links” mentality has really hurt our ability to think of SEO as a “put money in and get money out” field of marketing.

We can even learn direct lessons from some of these black hat tactics:

    • Buying links – While we can’t straight up buy links or even offer “free products and services” in exchange for links, it’s perfectly fine to hire talent from people with influence on the web. The over-emphasis on guest posts and link-begging has led some of us to believe that you just can’t offer money to people when you’re trying to establish an online presence. That’s a terrible way of looking at things. When you hire microcelebrities, influential bloggers, well-known photographers, and so on, you will attract traffic, and you will earn links. You just need to be willing to hire people who always earn natural links, no matter what they do. It’s that simple. Not to mention the fact that buying no-follow links for the referral traffic is perfectly fine, and seriously underrated.
    • Private blog networks – While setting up a private link network of sites that “pretend” not to be associated with you is a terrible idea if you care about a long-term online presence, we can take a page from the basic approach. It’s perfectly legitimate to buy blogs, redirect them to folders or subdomains on your site, and when possible, hire the blogger. This allows you to buy not just a link profile, but mindshare. Conglomerates understand the value of acquisitions. Why do so few SEOs?
    • Pay for inclusion in networks – Joining a link network, especially a publicly advertised one, is an extremely bad idea for brands. But there’s nothing ethically wrong with buying visibility on networks. Advertorials (not to mention advertisements) are an incredible way to increase exposure, when used properly. What many people don’t realize is that you can actually earn links by buying ads. Traffic turns into links, and if the content is better, it turns into more, higher quality links. That’s how Google works outside of the most competitive niches, and it’s a fact that you can use to build entirely natural links with ad exposure.
    • Pay for tools – While fully automated link building tools are an awful idea, tools like Followerwonk can make link building outreach much more effective and efficient. Reporting tools like AdvancedWebRanking make it easier to track and learn from your campaigns, and tools like KISSmetrics can teach us about our individual customer’s behavior. It’s very difficult to do any real optimization without tools in your arsenal.

SEO is business. We need to speak the language of ROI, and think about more innovative and effective ways to spend money, if we wish to be taken seriously.

3. It’s Worth Taking Advantage of What Works Today

White hat SEOs are playing the long game. They’re interested in strategies that will continue to work for years and years, because they don’t want to throw their clients under the bus, and lose their reputation virtually overnight. This is the only smart way to run an SEO agency.

And yet, it’s clear that some black hats can make a lot of money very quickly by taking advantage of loopholes in the algorithm. Sites can rank for ridiculously competitive terms like “car insurance” in 3 days using links from hacked websites. They can rank for terms with 40k monthly visits in 4 days using private link networks.

And let’s all face facts: everybody wants to make money now, not later. So is there something we can learn from the cheaters?

Long term strategy is crucial, but it shouldn’t exist in isolation.

When there’s an opportunity to make money today, you should take advantage of it, as long as it doesn’t compromise the future of your brand. There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking advantage of the way Google’s algorithm works today, as long as you can justify what you are doing as legitimate marketing, and as long as you are investing the revenue in strategies that will continue to work for the long haul.


While it can be useful for SEO agencies to distance themselves from spammers, it can also become dangerous if it limits your thinking. Ethics are crucial for the success of your business, but they shouldn’t be used as an excuse to plug your ears and cover your eyes. Open minds are a must if you want to compete in this growing market.

What other lessons can we learn from the seedy underbelly of SEO?

Building Links in 2013: Strategies & Tactics

On average, Google employs 200 points of criteria to determine website rankings. These discernible categories are segmented by popularity, relevancy and content.  As implied in the name, “popularity” is perhaps the most crucial driving force for higher rankings.  How does one achieve a recognizable website? With a little help from  effective, linkbuilding strategies.

Link building is an-ever changing discipline that must be executed correctly in order to produce  advantageous results.  What exactly is linkbuilding, you may ask? Let’s get down to brass tacks!

The objective of linkbuilding is pretty straightforward: place high-quality website links across the web pointed to your site.  The more quality websites you acquire placements from, the better your website can rank.  Seems easy enough, right? Ah, if only it were so simple!

Many people confuse “link bait” with “link building,” and there in itself lies the first problem. Link-building strategies are endeavors you personally undertake (ie. the cause-and-effect falls on your shoulders), whereas link bait is intended to go viral upon conception as a result of high share volumes.

Similar to fishing, you “bait” some amazing content to the masses and wait to reel ‘em in. The problem with this technique? Unless you’ve hired professional SEO strategists who can ensure positive ROIs, you’re likely to be waiting on that bite for a long time. You’re better off taking the plunge and implementing your own linkbuilding strategies, rather than sitting back and waiting for a catch.  It’s like that old Chinese proverb, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; teach him how to fish, and you’ll feed him for a lifetime” (but with a little more marketing jargon).

Anyway – enough about linkbait; now onto strategy building!

Link strategy is essential when blueprinting your short and long-term goals.  You first must determine what links you’re capable of creating in moderate-to-high volumes. That’s the whole point of linkbuilding strategies: driving as much traffic to your site via organic linking methods. Let’s take a look at some of them!

Link Building for High Visibility

Consider taking advantage of trending pages that generate millions of visitors each month. For a small investment, buying links from such notable websites can optimize your linkprofile with natural, nofollow links (rel=’nofollow’). While these nofollow links don’t pass pagerank to your site, they do serve as Google-friendly, natural sources.  All-followed links, even from reputable sources, can raise a red flag if misconstrued by Penguin 2.0 algorithms.

In order to proceed with this strategy, the following measures should be taken:

1. page placement (ie. location of link)
2. determining style/format of chosen link (ie. opting for image vs. widget)
3. assessing your angle (ie. consumer-appeal vs. brand name insert)
4. inventory placement (homepage link vs. deep content link)
5. cost-awareness (ie. knowing your price limit)
6. link disclosure (ie. acknowledging third-party sources )

This method calls for some patience, along with strategic planning. Pursue your networking options and employ the expertise of ad brokers and associates.

Don’t get discouraged if Google’s linking limitations pose some obstacles every now and then. There is still industry growth potential; you just have to source out your own specific medium.

Link Building for Moderate Visibility

Guest posting has emerged in recent years as an effective way to increase page rankings.  A successful guest post is one that produces valuable content for the hosting blog site(s). The following are key steps to consider when executing a search-free, link traffic endeavor:

1. frequency of contribution(s)
2. depth and structure of shared information
3. the contribution benefits of your content
4. external promotion features

Your mission is to obtain consistent visitors for each site you contribute content to, so it’s important to produce quality content to pique visitor interest. Moderate site-traffic should see an influx of 10,000+ monthly visitors. While this seems like a high number, creative, optimal content can easily pull those figures. If you are unable to appease that volume, you may be marketing insufficient content that does not appeal to visitors.

Link Building for Social Media

Even though Lady Gaga reigns the Twitter realm with her multi-million (plus) fan base, the average Joe requires a bit more strategy than a stage name and arena of adoring fans (hate to be the bearer of bad news)!

Your social media audience will increase as you dabble in the networking process; friending, accepting and/or following a target niche, or individuals with similar industry interests. Some factors to keep in mind when executing this endeavor:

1. the positive outreach support you foster vs. the generic approach of others
2. your active participation within social media communities vs. standard, link publishing spiels
3. regular guest interaction vs. communicative indifference

In this situation, your goal is to ‘persuade’ without ‘pushing’ You want to convey the right amount of enthusiasm/chutzpah, but you should also avoid overly-aggressive, networking tactics that are likely to work against you. Ultimately, you want visitors to click on your links because of legitimate interest in your services/specific niche, so be socially-forthright instead of hard-selling.

Link Building for Mobile Apps/Mobile-Friendly Devices

This strategy works best for those capable of creating/marketing an engaging app that drives mobile traffic to your website. Consider the app as your very own publishing medium that showcases the benefits of your site.

If creating your own app is not a possible option, try creating a mobile-friendly website that supports smartphone browsers with easy navigation. Factors to consider for this endeavor are:

  • extended platform/device usability
  • app promotion efforts/appeal to target audience
  • work/effort needed to publish + maintain app and/or mobile site
  • designing a CTA link that corresponds with mobile presentation


SEO Linkbuilding: A Dying Industry?

Contrary to what you’ve heard, there are still plenty of search-influenced methods to tap into. Linkbuilding is not a “dying” industry, so much as it is “evolving” with the times.

Like any SEO venture, there are certain risks associated with linkbuilding. The launch of analytical, algorithmic tools like Google’s Penguin 2.0 (used to weed out spammers) have posed a problem for unnatural linkprofiles that are often perceived as manipulative link tactics.

The consequences of these anchored, SEO tactics are severe enough to sway some marketing agencies from link building strategies. The following are just some of the SEO tactics that have emerged on the market in recent years as “questionable” strategies:

  • manipulating the anchor text of links
  • mass, infographic distribution for link bait
  • vendor/tradeshow promotions aka. “giving away swag”
  • journalists who use “Help A Reporter Out” service to gather immediate feedback

While some webmasters are comfortable with link spam, Google algorithms are certainly not. The anticipated launch of Penguin 2.0 is sure to tighten the reigns around anchored, SEO strategies. As many spamming tactics violate Google policies, algorithmic interception is likely to occur; tarnishing your site visibility, along with any number of associated penalties.

Regardless of some of the current hesitancies surrounding linkbuilding strategies, correctly-executed links are still capable of influencing search rankings…without detriment. Though it may seem like the entire Google conglomerate have it out for every webmaster seeking higher traffic volumes, the search engine algorithms aren’t intended to destroy the linkbuilding industry’s SEO attempts. The whole point of this Google Penguin crackdown is to single out the manipulative links that have been distributed by automated spamming sites, and fair enough. Webmasters who have effectively-employed natural, linkbuilding strategies can finally reap the benefits of their hard labors, because they’ve earned it!

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and if you find yourself considering “white hat” strategies, we strongly encourage you to weigh the pros-and-cons of this risky attempt.  Realistically, SEO tactics that sell links via white hat strategies are far more likely to encounter marketing agencies that run like the dickens from these link acquisition services. In order to succeed in the current and ompetitive marketing realm, you have to plead your case, so to speak. Demonstrate that SEO is possible through natural linkprofiles, to lower their ‘linkbuilding guard.’

Also keep in mind that substituting guest posts and infographics for paid links is a very slippery slope that you should avoid at all costs. Realistically, these manipulative linking practices have already faced backlash, penalties and long-term, critical reviews. People are very quick to sport the fancy label of “content marketer,” but those who intend to streamline the labor-intensive processes just to manipulate search results are simply link spammers with a misconstrued job title.

The most important thing to remember? Relax and approach this venture with diligence.  Avoid linkbuilding shortcuts that may save you time, but cost you much more in consequences. Haste should not be a driving force for your marketing strategies. If you’re quick to expedite the linkbuilding process, you are likely to showcase a site that conveys exactly that: rushed efforts and/or presentation and illegitimate credibility. Always keep in mind that natural linkbuilding isn’t an urban myth. With the right strategies and legwork, you can avoid manipulative linking and all its associate penalties. Sure, this endeavor requires a fair amount of effort, but with a little bit of organic effort and an extra boost of gumption, it is possible to ensure your site’s successful placement in high search rankings!

Top 5 Free Press Release Link Building Resources

In order to increase brand recognition and visibility, many businesses are promoting their services and merchandise online these days. Press releases are an effective and inexpensive way to accomplish this task. The Internet provides multiple free sources for the distribution of press releases, but I have listed the top five here in terms of popularity, visibility and general SEO worth to your site.

24-7 Press Release

Alexa Rank: 15982
Pagerank: 6

24-7 Press Release offers a free press release plan which allows you to post one press release each day. They also have numerous other options for your PR team to consider. Their resources page also has some informative tips on writing press releases.


Free Press Release

Alexa Rank: 4820
Pagerank: 5

This site is a little more functional since their free distribution option allows you to customize your press release with different font styles. They also offer the option to add up to three images to your release for one dollar, so you can really spice it up with your company logo or relevant photos.

Alexa Rank: 8892
Page Rank: 6

This press release site is different from most others in that the releases are categorized. This comes in handy when you want to target a specific audience or bring qualified traffic to your site.



Alexa Rank: 12613
Pagerank: 6

With several distribution channels, such as a ‘new site’ distribution category, RSS feed distribution and search engine distribution; i-Newswire offers users the ability to meet specific needs other PR sites don’t. These specific channels are run by their distribution partners, which are listed on their Homepage.



Alexa: 2731
Pagerank: 6

PRLog is arguably the most functional of the top five, at least with the options available for free. You are allowed to include company logos, clickable links and a host of other options at no additional cost. There is no limit to the number of posts and many of the customizable properties of their formatting are SEO friendly.


Each of these sources offer tips on making the most of your press releases. The visual appearance and quality of the release is important but so are the distribution channels — who and how many people it will reach. Your best approach is to try several sites and see which one works best for you. When submitting, don’t forget to also promote your PR’s across social media channels.

Post-Penguin SEO In 2013: Foundational Strategies

According to Matt Cutts, Google’s well-known search engineer, Google’s algorithms change as frequently as once a day. On average, the algorithm changes around 500 times per year. If you think about it, keeping up with this many algorithm changes is impossible. Instead of focusing your energies on Penguin, Panda and other algorithm updates, you need to go deeper and beyond the commonly employed SEO techniques. Let’s take a look at some of them:

Share-worthy Guest Posts

We all know that guest blogging is a hotly debated topic in the SEO community. It is arguably one of the best ways to get traffic, backlinks and improve your social profile, all at the same time. But in the same way we permanently ruined article directories by stuffing our articles with keywords, many people are also misusing guest blogging. There are hundreds of thousands of blogs out there, full of useless, keyword-infused content with no real value.

The links within these so-called guest blogs never get clicked on, and the pages have abnormally high bounce-rates. However, the fact that there are tons of mediocre guest blogs out there makes it easier for you to stand out, especially if your content is unique, original and share-worthy. Truly useful content often gets passed around on social networks, and legitimate referral traffic from social networks is an indicator of human activity. Search engines look for pages with high levels of human activity, and actively measure social signals such as: facebook likes, tweets, shares and comments.

With this said, you have an even greater incentive to write useful content rather than writing content for the sake of it. Think of guest blogging as an opportunity to make an impression on the host website’s visitors. You will only get one chance, but if you write an innovative and unique post with a twist, the host might invite you to write more posts.

Author Rank

Author rank is yet another step by Google towards a better web. The idea is to rank authors based on the authority and quality of their content as determined by Google’s algorithms. So, how does one go about building author rank?

Google+ comes in handy here. Go to the “About” section of your Google+ profile and add links to the webpages you regularly contribute content to. It is important to remember that Google+ plays an integral part in building your author rank, and Google considers many factors to compute it. These factors include: the number of people in your circles; the number of people who have you in their circles; your frequency of content generation, and the level of social activity on your Google+ profile.

This is what you should do to increase your author rank:

1. Create great content regularly
2. Be active on social media
3. Share useful content with people in your network


Co-citation is yet another hotly debated topic among SEOs, and there seems to be some disagreement on what co-citation is, in addition to co-occurrence. Some theorize co-citation as a step by Google towards a more intelligent and semantic web. The concept itself is pretty simple to understand, and there are real examples in which co-citation has helped websites rank for keywords that were neither in their title, nor in their description tags.

Co-citation can best be explained with an example. Suppose Rob’s Ice Cream Parlor makes great “Blueberry Ice Cream.” In this case, search engines cannot make a connection between the keywords “Rob’s Ice Cream Parlor” and “Blueberry Ice Cream” unless they have been mentioned together on various websites. Google can now spot if there is a connection between two keywords or key-phrases, like the correlation between a company and its products.

There are numerous examples of co-citation that help websites rank for keywords they aren’t even attempting to rank. SEOmoz’s famous, Open Site Explorer ranks for the search term, “backlink analysis,” even though it isn’t mentioned in title, description or the page itself. Google picked up some other article from somewhere else on the web for use in the search snippet and that article does mention “backlink analysis” and “Open Site Explorer” together.

Press Releases

Some things never get old. Press releases are one of the oldest tricks in a SEO’s arsenal, but they still work. A well-positioned press release with useful information about your company’s products or services not only drives traffic to your website, but also helps increase awareness about your brand amongst the public. Apart from usefulness of your content, you can also insert relevant anchor texts where necessary to your home and inner pages. This helps you get backlinks and traffic, simultaneously.

How you distribute your press release is also very important. You can choose to email it to journalists and online news outlets manually, or use the services of a company like PRWeb or PR Newswire. Most of these companies guarantee syndication of your press release to hundreds of online news outlets, so if you know how to write a great press release, it can prove to be a great tool (especially when you’re launching a new product, service or campaign).

It is important to note that Matt Cutts of Google has stated that backlinks from press releases do not contribute towards page rank, but some recent tests have proven otherwise.

Social Media Signals

A couple of years ago, Matt Cutts denied the effect of social signals on rankings, but his denial has now changed into guilty admission. Not only do social signals affect rankings, but Google also made social signals an integral part of their ranking algorithm with the introduction of Google+.

So, what’s all the fuss about? It’s quite simple, really. Social signals, as we mentioned earlier, are an indicator of human activity. The number of times something gets liked, tweeted or commented on becomes an indicator of social value. The more popular something is, the more authoritative it becomes. This means social signals not only have the ability to affect rankings, but also the perceived value and authority of a website in the eyes of search engines.

Google and Bing, both major search engines, actively consider social signals to help rank websites and make SERPs more relevant to the user. Therefore, it is more important than ever to create share-worthy content, which can even go viral if you’re lucky, and focus your efforts on creating value rather than brute link building.

Understanding the Value of Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) Content

LSI content is becoming an increasingly important factor in search engine optimization (SEO). LSI stands for “latent semantic indexing” and it is a method of analyzing the concepts connected with a document or a collection of documents.

Optimizing for LSI is not replacing traditional SEO, but instead, it works together with the older techniques. LSI content will likely become more important in the future as the major search engines try to deliver web content that provides closer matches for user queries.

What is latent semantic indexing?

The word “semantics” refers to the meaning of words and LSI attempts to discover the concepts associated with web pages by analyzing how words work in combination with other words. Many terms will have different meanings depending on the context of the document.

What LSI attempts to do is to map out the relationships between words in order to help decipher the meaning of the text. While the algorithms used to rank web pages cannot “think” like humans, they can compare the words used in a particular document along with categorizing the structure of that document.

Additionally, search ranking algorithms can analyze collections of documents to help in better determining the related concepts of the collection.

How LSI can change search engine result pages (SERPs)

One of the tangible results of latent semantic indexing is that it can have marked impact in many cases on search engine listings.

Previously, a user query would only return pages that contained all the specific keywords in the query. However, with LSI that no longer is the case. While in most instances, one would find all the included keywords, there can also be results that might miss a keyword or even all the keywords in the query.

Such results would be more common with queries that contain multiple keywords that the search algorithm recognizes as LSI content. The algorithm can make a probabilistic guess on the concepts that the user wants, and then look for pages that best match those concepts even if they do not contain all the query keywords.

For example, if a user searches using the query “fast Italian cars,” a specific page may match the general concept of the query precisely. However, that page may not use any of the keywords contained in the query. For example, it might not use the words “car” or “cars,” but instead, replaces them with other words like “automobile,” “vehicle” and “roadster.” Words like “powerful” and “speedy” might appear instead of “fast.” Rather than the keyword “Italian,” the text would simply mention popular Italian sports car brands like Ferrari and Lamborghini.

Why good writing is important for LSI content

One of important features of latent semantic indexing is its ability to recognize what types of words to expect when dealing with specific concepts. In this way, it can detect, to some extent, the “meaning” of a particular document or collection of documents.

One of the main techniques of traditional SEO is to place a certain density range of keywords and related keywords throughout the text and particularly in certain parts of the text like the first sentence and the last paragraph.

While such techniques may still be important, they are not sufficient to give a document or collection of documents a high semantic score. That is because latent semantic indexing recognizes the types of words used in high quality documents for specific concepts.

An SEO specialist is unlikely to be able to guess these word combinations or to figure them out well using the Google Keyword Tool or other applications. These words along with the desired ratios tend to come out when a knowledgeable writer creates a well-written document.

Site structure and links

LSI does not just analyze single web pages, as was mostly the case with the old algorithms. The methodology places more emphasis on analyzing collections of documents.

Just how search ranking algorithms determine what constitutes a document collection is an important question. Many SEO specialists use the “silo” method to create a file structure on the site server that organizes web pages in “collections.”

For example, on a car site there may be a particular folder or silo that deals only with Italian sports cars. All the important topics on that car site will have their own silos, i.e., British cars, American cars, Japanese cars, etc.

In this way, the SEO team hopes the algorithm will recognize the structure and analyze the documents in the folders as collections. Of course, it is very important to ensure that all web pages and other documents in these folders are directly on topic.

Another way that algorithms may detect document collections is through links. For this reason, it is important to include links to other documents that deal with the same specific sub-topic. If you do have links that diverge from the particular focus of the collection, it is best to create these as no-follow links.

How to create LSI content

Most SEO experts use applications like the Google Keyword Tool to find related semantic terms. Obviously, it would seem best to use keywords that people search for commonly.

At the same time, though, it is good not to overuse related keywords in a way that is unnatural. The algorithms pay close attention to densities and positioning of words and, in most cases, it will be able to detect excessive keyword stuffing.

The best idea is to create content that reads well and covers the important concepts related to the targeted keyword.

Remember that search engines are constantly trying to provide higher quality results to their users. They do not want to deliver results from spammy, poorly written pages. LSI is part of the effort to analyze content that reads like other highly regarded documents for the same concepts.

One thing to ask yourself when analyzing LSI content is: does it explain the topic well or answer a specific question? If the content leaves you better informed after reading it, then it will likely past the LSI test.

However, if the content leaves you confused or unsatisfied, then it probably will need more work.

Twitter vs. Facebook: Why Twitter Trumps Facebook For Online Brand Management

It’s old news that in today’s world you can’t market a business without using at least one social media platform. The big players are Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram. Of those popular platforms, Facebook and Twitter are the leading forces. While Facebook’s been on the map for quite some time now, Twitter is actually coming out in first place as the leader for small business marketing. Twitter has more than 140 million active users and that number grows every single day. Every three days, Twitter sees upwards of one billion Tweets. Whether you already realize that Twitter is more important than Facebook for small business marketing or not, do not ignore Twitter altogether. Here’s why Twitter is the winner when it comes to small business marketing.


Business-Minded Twitter Users and Twitter Ads

Twitter attracts users who want to engage with other professionals. As much as Facebook has become business-friendly, people primarily use the platform to stay connected with friends and family. Twitter users, on the other hand, are signing on daily to keep up with their favorite people in distinct industries. This is why advertising on Twitter makes sense – other users are actually interested in promoted Tweets and promoted profiles, unlike many Facebook users, who try to click away from ads as fast as possible.

Instantaneous Customer Service

Businesses are now using Twitter to offer immediate customer service. As a small business, you can be connected to your consumers around-the-clock, which means that you can deal with problems as they arise. This is a huge benefit for a business of any size, but particularly a small business that may be trying to build a solid reputation for quality products or services. If you can afford the manpower, hire someone who’s specific job is to monitor your customer service Twitter profile and resolve customer problems.

User-Friendliness Means More Engagement

Twitter is, undoubtedly, super fool proof and simple to use. It takes less than a second to mark someone else’s Tweet as a “Favorite,” to reply to a Tweet or to re-Tweet one. As with any type of communication, the more you show that you’re interested in somebody else, the more you’ll be liked. The same rule applies to social media and Twitter is one of the best ways to engage consumers and start a conversation. Follow the 12:1 rule, which says that if you help others twelve times and promote yourself only once, you’ll get much more back than what you give.

All in all, Twitter is simply easier to use than Facebook, probably because there a less options. That’s not a bad thing, though. Twitter seems to have the best part of Facebook: the news feed. However, on Twitter, it’s not nearly as lengthy and time consuming to sort through everyone’s updates. There’s a word limit, which keeps posts super short and easy to read – you’ll never feel like one user is clogging up the timeline with never-ending posts.

Twitter App for Smartphones

Both Facebook and Twitter have smartphone apps, but Twitter’s mobile app is much more reliable and easier to use than Facebook’s. Looking at the entire Facebook platform on a mobile phone can be difficult – there’s so much to check and see that the app usually doesn’t run as efficiently as users would like. Twitter, on the other hand, is so simple to begin with that it doesn’t lose any usability with its mobile version. This means that consumers can easily stay connected on-the-go, which most people are for a majority of their day.

Limited Characters Per Tweet

The mistake that a lot of businesses make on Facebook is overloading their followers with information. Long-winded messages barely get read. People want shorter snippets of information that get to the point, whether you’re talking about a change with your company or making a funny joke just to get a laugh. The 140-character limit on Twitter helps small business owners figure out how they’re going to say what they need to in a limited space. A perk to this is that most people end up learning how to write better and more efficiently.

Twitter Has a Built-In Search Engine

Possibly one of the biggest ways that Twitter sets itself apart from Facebook is by having it’s very own built-in search engine. This is a huge gain for small business owners, because they can target people who are interested in whatever industry the business is in. For example, a boutique writing business that wants to find wedding vendors who need written content can search for keywords like “wedding” and “bride” to target people in their niche. The search feature helps on an even larger scale, though. Most small business owners know that the best way to get customers is to start local. With the search feature, you can look for people who are interested in what’s going on in your area, engage with them and hopefully gain followers who will eventually turn into consumers. On Facebook, you’re limited to people you’re already connected with, friends of friends and the ability to only search for names, not what people are talking about. This feature works the other way, too. By putting keywords and hashtags in your Tweets, users can find your business.

Lack of Security Settings

Facebook’s security settings are great if you’re afraid that your boss is going to see a picture from your crazy weekend in Vegas. Unfortunately, having too many options for keeping your information private can be a drawback when you’re trying to promote a business. Twitter, however, doesn’t have nearly as many privacy settings, which is a good thing if you’re a business. You have two choices: make everything public or don’t make anything public. That’s it. Since you want the public to see your business, no holds barred, Twitter ensures that your Tweets are accessible to everyone. Plus, just about everyone you engage with will have unblocked accounts, too.

How To Measure Social Media ROI: Tools & Recommendations

Measuring social media’s return on investment may seem impossible to some. It is more complex than the traditional return on investment calculation that entrepreneurs have been using for years. However, knowing what to look for and using the right social media management tools will help companies in determining how much the platform has helped the business’ revenue.


Online Tools for Measuring Social Media Traffic and Return on Investment

These online programs show reports on the traffic and feedback that social media accounts get from their audience. The tools also provide companies with a baseline in determining their social media return on investment. In addition, users are able to identify their technique’s effectiveness and how it affects the company’s revenue.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is the leading tool in monitoring web traffic and social media management. It provides users with reports and graphs on daily visits and traffic based on locations and viewer types. Google understands that companies want to know how much their social media accounts have affected their business. This is why Google Analytics provides entrepreneurs with detailed reports and metrics.

Google Analytics Features

o Multi Channel Identification

Users will not be able to identify their post’s effectiveness or return on investment through analyzing simple clicks or views. This is why Google Analytics provides users with reports on channels opened after visitors have viewed their post. The information helps companies in identifying if the post has positively influenced their visitors and if it has directed them to the desired channel or site.

o Custom Analysis and Reports

This social media tool lets companies determine their traffic and feedback from visitors. It also allows users to set custom reports and analysis on certain posts or topics. Google Analytics gives users reports that are ready for presentation and evaluation.

o Traffic Analytics

Google Analytics also allows users to test and improve their accounts by determining the effective tactics from posts that do not bring more traffic. It also gives visitors the advantage of browsing faster through site search reporting. In addition, the online tool lets users monitor their visitors to find out how they navigate and what information they usually look for.

o Ad Posting

AdSense is another feature from Google Analytics that lets users post advertisements on websites or blogs. The tool evaluates the ad and location where it will be placed in order to determine what is most suitable. With AdSense, companies are able to advertise their business to their target audience effectively.


Omniture is an online marketing and web analytics tool. The program provides companies and individual users with a range of services and features. This tool is used by a number of large companies all over the world.

Omniture Products and Features

o SiteCatalyst

SiteCatalyst is a program from Omniture. This allows users to view web analytics in order to identify traffic and social media effectiveness. SiteCatalyst provides a client-side form of analytics.

o SearchCenter

Omniture’s SearchCenter provides companies with content network optimization. The software also helps users with paid searches from visitors. It covers online tools such as Facebook Ads, Microsoft Ad Center, Yahoo Search Marketing and Google AdWords.

o Data Warehouse

Data Warehouse is a tool that is used along with SiteCatalyst. The online program allows users to store and archive important data. The information can then be used for reporting and analysis.

o Discover

Discover is an online tool that provides users with real time insight and web traffic. The tool allows companies to determine new visitors and find out about trends. It lets them improve their social media accounts through reports and analytics.

o Insight

Insight is another online tool from Omniture that provides users with detailed reports and analytics. The software allows them to collect data from multiple preset sources. Insight also lets people extract information for auditing and validation.

o Genesis

Genesis is a third party tool that features online reports on campaigns and posts. The program allows users to manage and listen to the conversations on a number of social media sources. It provides them with detailed reports on web traffic and visitor feedback.

o Vista

Vista is another online tool that is used along with SiteCatalyst. The program lets users add visitors through careful filtering. It identifies them through information such as their location, age and interests. Vista then uses the data given in directing visitors to respective channels.

Steps in Measuring Social Media Return on Investment

After determining the important data from the online tools, entrepreneurs can measure their social media return on investment. This process does not provide an exact figure. However, the results taken from measuring and calculating the return on investment is suitable for ad campaigns and in determining effectiveness.

Identify How Much is Spent on the Social Media Account

Entrepreneurs should first identify the amount that is spent on their social media accounts. This includes expenses on online and desktop applications. The costs from purchasing devices used for the platform should also be included. Lastly, entrepreneurs should include their expenses and the amount of time invested or the revenue lost from assigning an employee to manage the account.

Consumer Lifetime Value

The consumer lifetime value is determined when a follower or audience member shares the brand or company with their social media group. This increases when the traffic or analytics show the number of times a post from the company is shared online. The values given will also help entrepreneurs in making good decisions with their social media strategies.

Determine New Visitors

Different online tools such as Google Analytics allow users to monitor new visitors to the social media account. These online programs also let users view conversations in order to determine if their strategies are effective. New visitors or followers also mean effective techniques.

Impression Value

Another piece of data is the social media account’s impression value. This includes shares and active conversations about the product or company on Facebook, Twitter or other social media accounts. Views on Youtube, online traffic, Google Analytics and other online sources should also be included in the impression value.

The information provided should then be used to identify an estimate of a company’s social media return on investment. The number of new customers from the social media account should be added to its consumer value. The figure should then be added to the account’s impression value. The information is finally calculated against the time and money spent on the social media account.

Best Social Media Management Tools For Brands

Using the right social media management tool will help a company in reaching their target population. This provides business owners with the ability to engage their desired audience to gain clients or business partners. Social media management tools for multiple brands or accounts also helps a business owner in properly organizing and monitoring traffic and feedback.

However, choosing the social media management tool that best suits the company requires thorough evaluation. Companies should first assess and focus on their desired market. This involves properly analyzing the business or brands’ target market and setting precise objectives and goals. There are social media management programs that are ideal for individual accounts in addition to others that have proven useful for many companies.


Sproutsocial is a social media management program that allows users to control multiple accounts and brands. This tool provides companies with reports that are ready for presentation. It also lets them listen to their audience and view the trending topics or keywords. Sproutsocial is being used by a number of large companies around the world.

SproutSocial Features

Publishing of Messages to Multiple Accounts

Sproutsocial lets companies publish messages to different social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. Users can post messages to many different accounts at the same time with the use of one program. Sproutsocial also provides a detailed review of messages for the user to approve. This helps in avoiding unnecessary posts while keeping the audience updated on the company’s latest programs and events.

Detailed Reports

Sproutsocial provides users with detailed reports for any package chosen. This feature is unlimited and allows the users to view the reports and have it ready for presentations. It provides information on the traffic and feedback from the audience per message posted to help users identify the effective topics or posts. These reports and documents can even be downloaded through CSV and PDF exports.

Scheduled Messages

The social media management program allows users to plan and schedule messages and their time of delivery. Users can also determine the date for posts scheduled for the whole week or month. The information is saved on the Sprout Queue and will be delivered precisely as scheduled. It can also be published to multiple accounts or social media networking sites simultaneously.

SproutSocial is currently offering a 30-day trial of their service.



Sysomos is another social media management tool that allows companies to monitor and control multiple accounts in real time. The program lets users listen to trending topics and news from different online sources including social media networking sites, blogs and other websites. It allows companies to monitor social media sites, engage and connect with their audience, analyze data and manage their accounts all in one program.

Sysomos Features

Wide Range of Social Media Sites

Sysomos is among the leading social media management tools that allow users to view reports and traffic from multiple useful sources. This includes forums, news sites, blogs and social networking platforms. The program provides users with real-time updates on popular topics and posts from all the given sources. It give has access 100 billion posts from around the world that can be useful to the company’s evaluation and analysis.

Facebook and Twitter Account Management

Sysomos allows users to monitor and manage their Facebook and Twitter accounts in order to identify analytics and traffic. They can view competitors and other similar companies through the reports. Users can also monitor multiple Facebook accounts with different brands all in a single dashboard.

Sysomos provides companies with detailed reports on trending news and topics from billions of Facebook and Twitter users. It allows them to schedule messages and posts depending on the most active hours and days. The program also provides necessary information on the users such as their location, gender and posts. This helps companies in identifying future business partners and clients.

Automated Sentiment Analysis

This feature from Sysomos provides users with timely reports that can help them distinguish useful topics from the ones with low audience feedback. The program has an automated sentiment analysis engine that can be used in several languages to let the company reach users in specific locations. This feature lets companies discern positive sentiments from negative ones in order to monitor their strategies’ impact on their audience.

Customer Support

Sysomos has a team of experts who are willing to help users with their concerns. They also aid companies in producing the best social media marketing strategy for their business. These experts have years of experience that can provide guidance for companies.

Brand Monitor

Brand Monitor is a program that lets users manage their social media accounts with multiple brands. The program provides users with a number of features and benefits essential in starting with social media monitoring and engagement. It can be accessed through a paid or a free account depending on the user’s requirements.

Brand Monitor Features

Audience Engagement

Brand Monitor lets companies engage themselves with several social media conversations in one dashboard. It allows them to post messages to Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts simultaneously. The interactions with clients and other followers can be shared or emailed to team members in order to collaborate and decide on actions without having to be physically present in the office.

Brand Monitor allows companies to control their social media accounts right through the program’s dashboard. Users can reply, send tweets or follow other users without having to leave the program. Posts can also be scheduled per day or month, and previous ones can be viewed through the archives.

Real-Time Listening to Conversations and Posts

Companies can actively listen to certain social media sites to find useful topics or keywords. They can view positive and negative sentiments from their followers or audience and have it evaluated. Users also have a customized dashboard that provides information on trends, posts, graphs and sentiment meters.

Social Media Filtering

Brand Monitor has a feature that filters social sites, date ranges or audience sentiments depending on the company’s needs. The tool also allows companies to compare their accounts and find the brands with the most traffic. This helps them improve the other accounts to invite more people to follow and become clients. Band Monitor also provides important information on competitors and other brands that can help companies enhance their services or products.

Reliable Analytics and Reports

The program gives companies accurate data on their reports and analytics. It carefully evaluates issues and posts that are useful to the company. The tool also helps users in determining the important trends and focus on essential conversations.

Pretty Link Pro Review

An affiliate marketer’s dream, Pretty Link Pro is a WordPress affiliate link management plugin that helps you manage your links. This handy plug is all-in-one solution for link management.

Pretty Link Pro is easy to use and comes with a wide array of useful functionality: advanced reporting, multiple redirect types, link grouping, referrer hiding, multivariate testing, etc.


Cost: $37 single-site “blogger” edition, $97 unlimited-site “developer” edition

Looking for other plugins? View our recommendations for the best WordPress plugins.


  • You can create simple and neat URLs on your blog or website, which you can redirect to any other URL.
  • It gives you the option to create and name a custom slug for the URL, or it can create a random simple slug all by itself.
  • Tracking the number of hits per every link.
  • Tracking the number of unique clicks per link.
  • You can freely rewrite the custom parameters before you forward the target URL.
  • You can choose whether you want to have a temporary or permanent redirection for your affiliate links.
  • Tracking can be turned on and off on each and every link.
  • Nofollow and noindex links can be created also.
  • You can search through all the links you’ve made so you can easily find them.
  • Automatically replacing any keyword in your posts with links.
  • The Pretty Bar offers many more social media share buttons, and the old ones from the Lite version are still here, but improved.
  • The ability to automatically share any of your posts to your Twitter account.
  • Protecting your Affiliate Earnings by masking cloak links.
  • Displaying the look of your website by configuring the PrettyBar.
  • Pretty Links can be setup as tracking pixels so you can track the impressions.
  • You can keep the users on your own site even when they are redirected simply by using the handy PrettyBar which always stays at the top of the selected page.
Not a one.

Social Media Marketing Strategies: Why Google+ Communities Is Essential for SEOs

As any business owner with an online presence knows, social media is a key component of increasing your search engine rankings. Unlike some services, social media channels act as a low-cost or free opportunity to increase your visibility to the general Internet public. The goal of using social media is to get people talking about your company, product or services. The more Likes, Shares and +1s you can get on social media, as well as the more people begin talking about your website, products or services, the better your search engine optimization and the higher ranking you can achieve on various search engines, Google in particular.

Google+, Google’s social media answer, recently rolled out Google+ Communities. The initial buzz is positive, and the service can definitely have uses in search engine optimization. The main purpose for Google+ Communities is to allow conversations to be started with people who are interested in what you have to offer. This has the effect of bringing customers, and potential customers, closer to you than ever before. And, similar to Facebook Groups, these communities can be hyper-targeted towards nearly any niche regardless of how small it might be. Best of all, Google+Communities can be used to increase your search engine rankings if used properly.

Google+ Communities allows you the opportunity to grow your market by targeting people who are actually interested in what you have to offer. It’s safe to assume, since people have to opt-in to join the community, this gives you a great opportunity to raise your brand awareness to those who would be interested in your services or products but aren’t necessarily aware of your brand. The potential for mining new leads and contacts through posting information about your services or products, website links and just generally having open dialogues with potential new customers. To get the most out of your Google+ Community, you will definitely want to pair it up with your Google+ Business page.

In addition to attracting new potential clients ore opening the lines of communication better with existing clients, posts to a Google+ Community are a great way to get people talking about your company. As people respond to posts and create new posts your presence on Google+ and, by default your SEO with Google, increases. Furthermore, when a Community member shares a post to his or her Circles and those people share with their Circles and so on, this can increase your exposure and your SEO efforts exponentially.

Google Hangouts, which are integrated right into your Google+ Community page, is another way to interact with your customers and potential clients. It allows you to start up a video chat which will allow you to present your company with a “face,” allowing it to feel like more than another faceless company. By taking advantage of a Hangout, you can get people talking even more about your company, product or service. Additionally, you can broadcast your Hangout on your public profile. This also can allow you to answer questions potential clients and customers might have on a real-time basis, fostering good will and showing that you actually care about what their questions or concerns are. This can create a feeling of goodwill that is difficult to duplicate on other social media channels, which can lead to more discussion in general of what you have to offer among Google+ users.

One of the most common uses for Google+ Communities is the ability to use it as a sort of question and answer platform. This gives you the ability to show that you are an expert on a specific topic. You can use this opportunity to link back to your website or blog, and to have friendly social intercourse with customers and potential customers. You can also use Communities as a way to gauge interest in what sorts of topics you should be talking about on your website or blog, giving you a great opportunity to learn what interests people directly from the members of the Community. From what you learn about the questions people ask, you can plan to create a future blog post addressing questions that have been brought up on your Community. In the future, if those questions are brought up again, you can simply point to the appropriate blog post.

Because Google+ Community content is made public by default this means an increase in indexing by by Google’s organic results. The end result is several great chances to improve on your search engine optimization. These benefits are especially visible when combined with +1s provided by Community members and can definitely have a quickly visible effect on your organic growth. Furthermore, it helps Google find and index your new content with greater speed than before. It shouldn’t be long before you begin to see real, quantifiable growth in your search engine optimization efforts.

Google+ Communities are also a great place to connect with others in your field or industry. Many of these potential contacts are going to be tech-savvy individuals, and they will most likely be active with their own websites and profiles or groups on various social media sites. As you begin to get familiar with people in your Community, you will be able to tell who the truly influential members are. Those people can then be asked to write guest posts on your blog or perhaps you might get invited to create guest posts on their blog. Make a point to share quality content, and you may very well find that the influential followers in your Community will share that content with others. Aside from the potential SEO opportunities, this will provide a great chance for you to network with other industry professionals and networking is rarely a bad thing.

Although there was some criticism of Google+ when it first released the service has come a long way since it’s initial opening to the public. Google has released several features since the service’s inception, and many of those features provide excellent opportunities for business to interact with their customers.

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