Friday, November 24, 2017

SEO 2018: 15 Rules for Dominating Online Search Results

SEO 2018: 15 Rules for Dominating Online Search Results

Seems like yesterday that I was writing about SEO in 2017. Now, 2018 is near. Are the rules changing much? Sort of. But, the fundamentals are staying the same. You still can't game the system. You can't take shortcuts or cut corners. If you want to absolutely crush the SEO game in 2018, you need to put in the work.
The truth? Understanding search engine optimization takes time. With hundreds of rules to Google's algorithm, it's no wonder it's so confusing. But, to stay ahead of the proverbial curve with SEO in 2018, you simply need to put in the time and the effort to deliver real value. Not try use shady tactics. No. Real value.
What exactly does that mean? Well, in order to properly convey the underlying rules to you, let's start with a story. Let's pretend you just opened up a new business and you walk into a bank. You sit down with the banker and explain your fantastic business model. You even show him a dazzling business plan.
You explain that you're selling the latest widget, designed to impress even the most discerning customers in the XYZ industry. Yes, it's the greatest thing since sliced bread. You tell the banker you need a loan for a million dollars. He stares at you blankly. Then, after a long and unnerving pause, he asks you for the last two to three years of financials.
Financials? What financials? We're just going into business, you think to yourself. We don't have financials. We're just starting out. This is the latest thing since sliced bread. Don't you want to be a part of it? Another blank stare. This time, he shakes his head, stares down at the piece of paper you gave him, stands up, shakes your hand and sees you to the door.
The moral of this story? Most people who are trying to gain results with SEO in 2018 are just starting out. They've recently registered a website and are attempting to rank for some big and very competitive keyword. After about six months of trying everything under the sun, they throw in the towel and turn to paid ads.
Sure. Paid ads are great. Building a sales funnel and using ads on Facebook, Google or YouTube is quite possibly the fastest way you can make money online and present your offer to droves of customers looking to buy exactly what you're selling. But, there are lots of variables and metrics involved in doing that. For most people, it feels like flushing their money down the toilet. And for good reason.
But, what if you could get that same offer in front of people for free? Test things out, then scale using paid ads. That's specifically what SEO can do for you in 2018, or, frankly, in any year for that matter. So how does this work? What are the rules for absolutely crushing the competition and dominating Google (or any other search engine's) search results?

The three Pillars of SEO

Before you get into the nitty gritty of the specific rules or strategies to use when doing SEO, you have to understand the three pillars. If we go way back to the very beginnings of Google's search algorithms, we discover something called PageRank. If you'll recall, PageRank was the original algorithm that Google's search engine was built upon.
It scoured the web by moving around from link to link. It ultimately discovered the entire internet by spidering around on the so-called virtual web. The more links going to a specific page it found, the more importance or relevance it would attribute to that specific page. More links and more relevancy meant higher rank.
Now, things have definitely changed since those days. It isn't just about links today. Sure, people will tell you it's all about links. But, before getting into the technical details, you need to understand the three pillars that make SEO tick. You can consider these to be the fundamental driving principles. I've been teaching this since 2013, and although the rules have changed, the pillars have stayed the same.

1. Authority

Authority relates to the quality and volume of links created over time. The more authority a website has, the more link juice it can pass on. You can assess authority through tools like the MozBar or SEMRush. The Domain Authority (DA) and Domain Score (DS) are two ways that these companies quantify the amount of authority a domain has. However, no score will be real-time and any changes or improvements to your SEO could potentially take weeks or months to see its results.

2. Content

The content of a site is crucial when it comes to ranking in 2018. In fact, the importance of this has increased dramatically over time. Gone are the days of spinning content and using software to generate low-quality, content-farm-esque prose. Today, your content has to be excellent. It has to add value and engage the visitor. The more engagement, the more users will share that content, and in turn, the better it will rank. Invest heavily in your content and it will pay off in spades.

3. Indexed Age

The third and final pillar of SEO is the indexed age. Age does matter. While other factors can certainly trump age, in the very beginning, it's important that you create a great track record with your domain's content and the quality of the links pointing to that content. This happens over time. You can't rush it. The indexed age simply refers to the original date that Google discovered the site or the content itself.

15 Rules for SEO in 2018

If you're looking to dominate SEO in 2018, then there are loads of rules, but 15 stand out in particular. Be sure to pay homage to these rules if you're looking to dominate the SERPs.

1. Assess your page speed and improve where necessary.

Use Google's Page Speed Insights to determine the areas of improvement required for your domain. By considerably increasing your site's page speed, you can vastly improve your potential visibility. You can also use tools like Pingdom, GTMetrix and Varvy. Here are the areas you should be looking to improve with any page speed enhancement:
  • Reduce the server's response time to requests
  • Eliminate render-blocking CSS and JavaScript above the website fold
  • Leverage browser caching to enhance speeds of page elements being served up
  • Minify your JavaScript , CSS and HTML where possible
  • Enable compressions like GZip
  • Optimize all images with loss-less image optimizers like

    2. Use a CDN for your domain and DNS when possible to quickly serve your content.

    Utilizing content-deliver networks (CDNs) like Amazon's Cloudfront is crucial to being able to quickly serve your content to users no matter where they're located. CDNs spread your content across multiple servers all around the world by mirroring it, then serving that content from the closest server to the visitor.
    You should also consider moving your DNS to a CloudFlare or similar configuration that will help with DNS propagation times. Often, DNS propagation can lag depending on who the registrar is and where their servers are located versus where the DNS request is coming from.

    3. Build useful content that adds value.

    Create great content. Always. And don't try to take shortcuts when doing it. Google's ability to sniff out great content is getting better and better with each passing month. Don't try to game the system here. Actually go out of your way to make great content. When you do, it'll reflect on your site and the traffic will increase. Great content will engage visitors and will invite them to share it. Overall, focus on these elements when building your content:
  • Never write content less than 2,000 words if you can avoid it
  • Create a healthy link profile both with internal links and relevant outbound links
  • Cite all your sources and back up facts with statics and studies
  • Section off your content and make it easy to read
  • Ensure that you place relevant, high-quality images as your primary photo
  • Utilize a healthy keyword usage but don't overuse or stuff keywords
  • Build content that's instructional and helps solve a problem
  • Write your content for humans by making it sound natural and organic while also paying homage to search engines

    4. Ensure mobile responsiveness and usability across devices.

    Mobile searches are far outpacing desktop searches today. Focus on mobile responsiveness and usability. According to Search Engine Land, mobile searches were at nearly 60 percent of all searches in 2016. Take the time to ensure your site is optimized for mobile devices and can be easily used across all platforms by implementing a CSS library like Bootstrap or building out your own.

    5. Focus on enhancing the user experience.

    Create a great user experience. That means, make your site easy to use. Make it easy to navigate. Make it easy to search for and discover the right type of content. Here are a few suggestions:
  • Use breadcrumbs in your navigation
  • Implement a fast site search
  • Don't make your website too graphic-rich
  • Make the main menu easy to use
  • Categorize all your content using tags or categorizes
  • Avoid using too many pop-ups

6. Supplement content with videos, audios or podcasts to increase engagements.

Site engagement is huge. Google is acutely concerned with the amount of time that users spend on your website. Thus, when you build useful and engaging content, people want to stick around longer. Now, you clearly need to leverage words and long-form content here. But, you should also supplement that content with videos, audios and podcasts as well. This will increase your average page times and session times.

7. Utilize Latent-Semantic Indexing for keyword diversity.

Latent-Semantic Indexing (LSI) is a core technology that Google uses in its Hummingbird search, which is its current iteration of semantic-style searching. LSI allows Google to serve relevant content by understanding what the user is searching for rather than trying to return back content based specifically on the keyword itself. LSI is also just a fancy way of saying the same thing in another way.
For example, "make money online" could be said in a number of ways like "generate cash on the internet" or "earn an income on the web" and so on. Google knows it's the same keyword. Utilize this for all your content. This will allow you to create organic and natural-sounding prose without having it appear keyword-stuffed.

8. Create relevant outbound links in your content.

Outbound links are important. Don't worry about sculpting them with nofollow or dofollow links. Simply create relevant links within the content so that people can continue on in their discovery journeys. Always have at least two to three relevant outbound links within every piece of content you create.
Related: 21 Ways to Market Your Business Online

9. Focus on quality over quantity of links.

The quality of your links is far more important than the quantity of them. When building links to your content, don't go for mass numbers. Target the highest quality domains and ensure that those links are created naturally and organically. That should always be your goal and your aim. Think "white hat" and not "black hat" here.

10. Always market your content by leveraging trusted domains.

When I build content, even when I build it on trusted domains, I always market that content using other authority sites. No matter where you create that content, building content to market it is the key to winning SEO in 2018, or any other year for that matter. Simply create other useful pieces of content on authority sites like Quora, LinkedIn Publishing and Medium, for instance, with a single link pointing to the original piece of anchor content.

11. Do not overuse ads above the fold.

Be careful of how much ad usage you have above the fold. At the end of the day, you don't want the large part of the header being taken up by ads. This is going to detract from the user's experience and Google specifically doesn't like this. Also, too many ads served from too many ad platforms is going to naturally slow down your site. Keep it to a bare minimum.

12. Create ungated super-guides with clear calls-to action.

Roland Frasier, one of the most respected names in the online marketing field, says that his company, Digital Marketer, is focusing on building ungated super-guides. Super guides are simply pieces of content that are massive value posts (MVPs) and drive such an enormous amount of engagement and shares that they help to catapult a domain into the stratosphere.

13. Do not try to do anything deceptive or sneaky.

Forget about doing anything that's deceptive or sneaky and focus on adding value. Don't try to redirect users or trick search engines by cloaking content. If you're serious about winning the game of SEO, whether it's in 2018 or any other near, you have to stay away from tactics like this. You'll lose Google's trust and the trust of any visitor coming to your website if you try these shady tactics.

14. Leverage social media to build viral content that links back to your domain.

Social media can certainly drive a tremendous amount of user traffic when done right. Leverage social media to build viral content that's not business-focused, but rather adds some sort of value, whether it's entertainment value or informational value in one way or another.

15. Solicit influencers in your niche to help you supercharge your results.

Target influencers to help push your content out there. Whether it's through Instagram or Facebook, there are plenty of influencers out there who can help champion your cause. It can help you reach a large audience, especially in the very beginning, and to help you get the word out there.


Thursday, November 23, 2017

Facebook's New Creator App Will Help Social Influencers Create More Video Content

Facebook is doing everything it can to woo influencers away from YouTube. The rollout of its Creator app might be just what the social media giant needs to get more video creators on its side.
The app is touted to make it simpler for users to create video and live streams using mobile devices. Facebook is also confident of two things that will draw users to the app – Facebook Live's new features and unified communication.
The Creator app now includes a feature that allows for the addition of custom created intros and outros to be used during live broadcasts. Specially designed video frames, interactive stickers, and various camera effects are also being introduced. The app also allows the user to shoot and edit photos and upload them to Facebook Stories and various platforms.
The app's enhanced communication features are also expected to draw in more influencers. The Creator app boasts of an incorporated inbox for all messages and comments posted on Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram. Having a unified inbox means that the user doesn't have to move through different apps just to reply. Unfortunately, the app only covers messaging within Facebook's services but who knows if this will change in the future.
Data and analytics about the video will also be made accessible to users, allowing them to regularly check any algorithm changes to their output. Knowing key details about their follower demographics can help influencers focus on the type of video content they should post and the brands that might be willing to work with them.
Facebook is also launching a website where video bloggers and creators can get more information on how to develop videos for the site, as well as receiving answers to key questions. Site members will also be given early access to any upcoming features.
The Facebook Creator app is now available on iOS. However, Android users will have to wait a few more months for the app to be launched on the system. It should be pointed out that the Creator app is not technically new. It's a rebranding of the Facebook Mentions app that was launched in 2014 and which was initially available only to verified Pages and public figures. However, the app is now open to all users.
With the Creator app, Facebook is showing just how much it wants to work with influencers and independent vloggers. And with the errors and strange changes currently happening on YouTube, the social media giant might just be able to win this influential and potentially lucrative community to its side. 


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

How to Combine SEO & Content for Bigger Wins

How to Combine SEO & Content for Bigger Wins
Companies of all sizes – from SMBs to large enterprises – need a cohesive approach to truly dominate the digital marketing front.
If you want to achieve online success, aligning your SEO and content marketing strategies is crucial.
But how exactly can it be done?
On November 15, I had the pleasure of moderating a sponsored SEJThinkTank webinar presented by ScribbleLive’s Christopher Hart and Chris Trappe. Hart and Trappe talked about how companies can make their SEO and content teams work together to score bigger marketing wins. Here is a recap of the webinar presentation.


Understanding Today’s Customer-Driven World

We live in a customer-driven world. Users are now in control of their buying decisions. Their journeys are much more dynamic and, at times, complicated.
Communication has evolved throughout the years.
  • In the 1980s, broadcast media was the main source of information and entertainment for most people.
  • The development of Internet 1.0 in the 1990s added new, interesting means for tech-savvy individuals to acquire data and communicate with others.
  • By the 2000s, mobile technology has fully grown and eventually paved the way for the development of social networks.
  • Today, it is more about great content experiences across various channels that relate to the end user. Wherever your consumers are, that’s where you need to be.

The Importance of Content Experiences

Content experiences fuel the new demands of marketing.
The more relevant your content is, the better it is for your brand. Therefore, you need to target your customers at the right time, with the appropriate content, when it matters to them.
According to a Forrester study, 71 percent of buyers begin their purchase journeys by using a search engine. This is why optimizing your brand’s web presence is essential.
On the other hand, the average B2B purchase group involves about five stakeholders – each of whom has different content needs that you need to fulfill.
When competing on content experiences, you need to be:
  • Data-driven
  • Strategic
  • Relevant
  • Engaging
  • Omnichannel
“We believe content is the fourth dimension of competition and the key differentiation opportunity for today’s enterprise,” Hart said.

Owning the Journey

You need to know which types of content to produce for your users. Prospective customers typically consume a wide array of content as they go through the buyer’s journey.
Interacting with your customers doesn’t end when they purchase your product or service. At this point, you have the opportunity to keep them loyal members of your community by providing additional content that will keep them engaged.

How to Get Bigger Marketing Wins

Breaking Down Internal Silos

Companies face internal obstacles that hamper efficient collaborations. Employees and teams may not have the right tools, structures, and systems in place to work together, leading to a poor, disjointed content marketing performance.
Likewise, brands face the challenge of keeping all content up to date, but they don’t have complete data when they need it. Long ramp times also don’t help.
The key is to increase efficiencies.
Do away with individual marketing channels being the thought process.
Instead, collaborate across different teams to take the expertise that each individual has. Break down the tribal knowledge and apply it to multiple disciplines.

Building & Monetizing Audiences Through Content

In some organizations, content creation happens in silos. The lack of transparency in teams leads to wasted budget and resources. In effect, the content distribution doesn’t have much impact.
Disconnected messaging leads to confusion among audiences. Content produced don’t speak to end users and there is no way to truly engage with the brand.
The ideal way to go about this is to incorporate a data-driven strategy and integrate the channels you use in your workflow. If you produce content that adds value to and encourages engagement with your audience, they will be able to build a relationship with your brand.
The opportunity to monetize will follow.

More Effective User Engagement

Engaging your users would not be possible if the social experience is out of context. This brings us back to the beginning stages of creating the content strategy. A lack of central strategy will leave key stakeholders out of the loop and produce limited content that doesn’t speak well to the audience.
In contrast, if you ensure that key stakeholders are all in the loop and there is an existing, data-driven central strategy that drives consistent content and messaging, you can maximize your audience reach and engagement. Your users will have consistent content experiences across all channels, consequently eliminating confusion and disconnect.

A Better Way to Create Content

Whether you have an internal content team or you’re outsourcing this process to freelancers or agencies, we all know that content development and production can take up so much time and resources.
If you’re looking for a better and more efficient way to create content, you might want to consider using a content experience platform. Software and talent are indispensable parts of the mix that will help you maximize and streamline the creative process.

Key Takeaways

  • Competing on content experiences entails being data-driven, strategic, relevant, engaging, and omnichannel.
  • You don’t have to create more content, you just have to create better content. Better content is focused and relevant to your end users.
  • Having a data-driven central strategy is crucial to maximizing your audience reach and engagement. The goal is to implement cohesive content and messaging across various marketing channels so that your end users have a consistent and engaging content experiences.
  • Using a content experience platform can streamline your content creation process. If you want a better way to develop and produce content, look for a software provider that has powerful features and can help your company be efficient, scale and get results.


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Blockchain: How Will it Impact Digital Marketing?

The marketing industry generates billions of dollars every year. After all, every company needs ads and various marketing strategies in order to reach their target consumers.
Forrester, a leading market research company, even said that by 2021, digital marketing costs will reach $120 billion. Unfortunately, about half of ad traffic is created by bots. It's a decidedly dishonest practice, especially when you consider how much money companies put out just to reach prospective clients. But this practice might soon come to an end once businesses have a greater capacity to focus on specific customers.
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Graphic via
It's a good thing then that digital marketing is very dynamic and open to change. It easily adapts to new technology and the shifting perceptions of customers. At the moment, there's one tech advancement that has the potential to change digital marketing (and the world) like never before – the blockchain.

What is Blockchain?

Blockchain might seem too technical for most people to fully grasp, but it's a fairly simple concept. The technology is essentially a public ledger that stores and distributes data. More importantly, everyone that uses blockchain can see and share all its data and by doing so, each user plays a role in keeping it updated and transparent.
The system works by keeping data stored in a chain-like pattern and the transaction history is stored in “blocks.” Information stored in a blockchain can only be added to. It can't be changed or copied. If someone were to attempt to change the history or hack the system, the ledger would have to be updated on all the users' computers. Considering the number of users in a blockchain, this would be almost impossible to do, making the service very secure.

How Will it Impact Digital Marketing?

Blockchain is often linked to cryptocurrency. It's decentralized nature, the freedom it offers, and heightened cybersecurity features makes it perfect storage for virtual money. However, blockchain also has a major impact on digital marketing.

It Will Take Out the Middleman

There's always a middleman in digital marketing which means businesses only get half the value of what they have paid. Blockchain can do away with these intermediaries and help create better value for marketing campaigns.
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Graphic via
With a blockchain, companies can forego the ad buy process and just target their prospective customers directly by paying them to view the ads. Businesses can use “microcurrencies” that customers can avail of once they've proven that they have watched the ad. The Brave browser has already started this, using their Basic Attention Token (BAT) to ensure that companies only pay for the ads that have been viewed by a real person.

Trust is Built With Transparency

One concern that companies have with online advertising is that it's virtually impossible to know if the stats provided are accurate. There's no way to check if the counted site clicks or followers are real customers, or even real people, for that matter. After all, ad companies can hire “clickers” or use bots to boost ad stats so distributors can charge higher fees.
Blockchain will definitely have a significant impact here. Since the system is encrypted and transparent, companies can easily check if those viewing their ads are part of their target audience or not.

Improves Accountability

There's nothing more disheartening than spending your hard earned cash on a counterfeit product. Blockchain can lessen the odds of this happening by improving merchants' accountability in every step of the supply chain.
Blockchain's vaunted digital ledger system enables transparency that cannot be tampered with. Customers can check details like where the product came from, if it's legit or fake, whether it's bought from a physical store or an online action. Simply put, blockchain empowers the customer and improves their buying experience.
There's no question that the idea behind blockchain is a powerful one. The technology has the potential to impact cryptocurrency, digital marketing, and customer experience. The system is still in its infancy but is expected to see significant growth in the coming year.  


Monday, November 20, 2017

3 Cloud Trends to Watch Out for in 2018

Cloud computing has dominated the business world this year, and the trend will only continue into 2018.
Thanks to the many benefits cloud computing provides, private cloud solutions, cloud data centers, platforms, and infrastructure as a service has come into its own. Startups and small and medium enterprises have been quick to take advantage of this.
But as the year winds down, companies are starting to turn their thoughts on how they can further take advantage of cloud technology next year. To that end, here are cloud trends to watch out for in 2018.
Cloud Computing Will Push the Internet of Everything to the Forefront Image result for cloud computing internet of everything This year saw artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT) taking center stage as using mobile devices for business transactions and communications became ubiquitous. The IoT is expected to remain strong next year, but the continued development of cloud computing and real-time data analytics will also see the Internet of Everything (IoE) pushed to the forefront.
Since the IoE depends on data processes, machine to machine communications and people's own interaction with their environment, improvements in cloud computing could result in significant developments with IoE as the complex system tries to simplify all interactions. This means that people will enjoy more intelligent interactions with devices connected to a network. It will also pave the way for richer communications between people. One prime example is Google's Pixel Buds. The ear piece's capacity to recognize and translate around 40 languages in real-time will surely open doors to tourists and students.
Demand for Enhanced Cloud Storage Containers Will Continue
Since cloud services are fast becoming a crucial aspect of running a business, the demand for data storage in 2018 
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will increase. Cloud storage has made operations more flexible and efficient for a lot of enterprises. The flexibility of the system and the option to just pay for the storage space used also contributed to the necessity and demand for cloud containers. In fact, Microsoft, which ranks as one of the leading providers of cloud services, expects to see its cloud revenue go up 33 percent by the end of 2018.
The rise in demand means that service providers will be utilizing more online data centers that are equipped with higher storage capabilities. According to a Cisco survey, the total data stored in these centers in 2017 are at 370 exabytes (EB), with global storage capacity expected to hit 600 EB. The demand for cloud storage is expected to reach new heights next year, with insiders estimating that storage capacity would reach as much as 1.1 zettabytes (ZB). That's about double the space available this year.
The expectation is that the increased demand for containers would make it possible for more real-world problems to be resolved efficiently and more securely. Businesses that use big data can use expanded storage space to store data, conduct analytics and derive valuable insights into areas like key financial investments, human systems, and customer behavior. Meanwhile, small business can benefit from the fact that increased storage could mean deeply customized or cheaper storage options.
Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence Will Go Mainstream
The two main factors affecting cloud computing these days are artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).
Image result for IBM introduced an AI-powered cloud-based system
 As a matter of fact, the four main tech companies – Amazon Web Services, Google, IBM, and Microsoft – are already taking advantage of both to provide cloud services geared to increase company growth.
IBM introduced an AI-powered cloud-based system that facilitates decision-making in 2016. Meanwhile, Microsoft's Azure can now deliver about 20 cognitive cloud services. The proliferation of services that run on AI will definitely push for increased cloud storage just to meet the need for shorter data processing, analysis and feedback.
As companies brace themselves to say goodbye to 2017, business owners are also looking forward to 2018 and what it will bring. In this light, knowing the upcoming trends in cloud computing will help companies achieve their business goals.


Friday, November 17, 2017

Mozilla Launches Firefox Quantum, Poses Real Threat to Google Chrome

Mozilla has been quietly sitting on the sidelines for a while now, content to slowly work on improving Firefox. But the release of the Firefox Quantum shows that the company is now ready to join the big league once again and take on Google's Chrome.
Mozilla unveiled the new and improved version 57 of Firefox on Tuesday, claiming that the browser is now twice as fast as before. The company also revealed a new user interface (UI) that looks decidedly minimalist.
According to Mozilla executive Mark Mayo, the latest update is the biggest one they've rolled out since the company launched Firefox 1.0 in 2004. It's also the apex of six years worth of research and development, as well as engineering work that ran for about a year and a half.
The Firefox Quantum touts a revamped rendering engine along with a new CSS layout engine. The engine and other components are written in Rust, a programming language developed by Mozilla's own research group with the goal of increasing speed. Mozilla also claims that Quantum uses 30% less memory than Chrome and that it has been designed to meet the needs of people who surf the internet by switching from various tabs. 

Firefox's release notes also listed changes in active tab prioritization, a switch-over from legacy add-ons to those developed via the WebAssembly API, and Pocket integration. The reworked browser is also sporting a new UI, its first redesign since Firefox 4. The changes in the browser's UI and UX (user experience) puts significant emphasis on giving it a speed boost.

It's clear that the new UI compliments the austere look that rivals Edge and Chrome sport. Firefox Quantum integrates the search and address bars in a bid to reduce the clutter usually found on top of the window. A revamped new tab page was also revealed.  
Users in Canada, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the U.S, also quickly noticed that Mozilla has foregone using Yahoo as its default search engine. Instead, the company has reverted back to using Google, its partner and main financier before the two companies had a falling out in 2014. However, Firefox will continue using its default search engine in other countries. For instance, China will still be using Baidu while Belarus and Russia will continue using Yandex.
Mozilla is hoping that the changes Firefox Quantum carries will be more than enough to challenge Chrome and other browsers. But it's admittedly an uphill battle at the moment. However, Firefox's stance to be tech neutral and the groundwork it has laid down can make Mozilla's bid to return to the top easier.


Thursday, November 16, 2017

7 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I Was New to SEO

7 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I Was New to SEO

Google doesn’t provide us with an instructional manual on how to master and understand their ranking algorithm. Sure, we have Google’s webmaster guidelines and blogs, but most of what we learn along the way is through experience, experimentation and our own learning.
One of my first experiences in SEO was to diagnose a penalty that was impacting one of the agency’s largest clients. That was back in the day when Google didn’t provide any manual action messages. Talk about falling head first into SEO.
Looking back over the last 10+ years, there are a few things I wish I had been told about SEO before I started.

1. There Are a Ton of Opinions

Going back to what I said in the introduction, there is no specific instructional manual provided to us by Google that tells us everything we need to know. That leads to the many opinions.
You can get a panel of five SEO professionals together and ask a question. You will likely get five different answers and opinions.
That is confusing when someone is new to SEO, because they don’t know which opinion to trust. It comes down to the person’s experience and track record.
There are some great SEO books out there written by experts that provide some good opinions and advice. Read more in the article, The 11 Best SEO Books You Should Read.

2. You’re Aiming for a Moving Target

Just when you think you have it all figured out, something changes.
There are many statistics thrown around regarding how many times Google updates their algorithm each year. At the very least, we know it is hundreds of times annually.
How do you account for that? I learned the hard way through diagnosing the penalty early on in my SEO career that you have to start with an understanding of search engine guidelines. There are certain fundamentals that exist.
Then, you need to constantly read Google blogs and follow key Google employees on Twitter to stay up on the latest. Here are a couple who you should follow: Gary Illyes and John Mueller.
John Mueller tweet

3. Tools Exist to Help You, But Don’t Constantly Chase the ‘New Shiny Object’

You can’t do SEO without tools to track, monitor, analyze and report. I am not going to get into which tool is best, because that is subjective.
When I first started in SEO, I was constantly looking at tools, but I would spend so much time learning new ones, that I was taking away from the actual SEO work.
Eventually, I created a spreadsheet of the tools I was currently using and had columns that reflected what each tool was able to do. If there are holes in the data and capabilities within your existing set of tools, then look at what else is out there.

4. Your Friends & Family Won’t Understand What You Do

I am going to get in trouble for this one with my family, but 10 years later, there is still confusion about what exactly I do.
In the beginning, I was excited and would explain the technical aspects of websites, search engine algorithms and optimization. No one grasped what I was talking about.
At one point, by 89-year-old grandmother asked if I could provide her with a book to better understand my career choice. I gave her Bruce Clay’s Search Engine Optimization All-in-One for Dummies. She read the entire thing.
If you are new to SEO, be prepared for the many conversations of explaining what you do for a living. One woman told me at a conference that her mother thought her SEO work was illegal – after explaining it to her.

5. You Have to Overcome Skepticism

Because SEO is hard to “see” many companies are skeptical of how and if it works.
My experience working with various businesses is that you have to overcome skepticism among executives in order to start the project. However, you also have to overcome it when working with the IT or development team.
Both obstacles often involve explaining the why behind the proposed SEO work, along with examples of past successes.
It’s about proving the value of SEO through data, but even more importantly, with results that relate to the business’ bottom line.

6. Clients Want Transparency

This one piggybacks on overcoming skepticism. Throughout my SEO journey, I have always worked for agencies, so I am not coming from the in-house perspective.
From an agency point of view, I have learned that clients need transparency. As soon as you stop providing it, the project becomes at risk, even if you are doing a lot of great work.
Deliverables and deadlines have been the key for me, meaning I tell the client what we are working on and when to expect it. Even if the deliverable is not something that requires client feedback, we send it anyway. That way, there is full transparency, and really also accountability.
Transparency also involves monthly reporting, but not just a report that is auto-generated. There needs to be context and explanation to the data. That could mean a simple bullet point list explaining the wins throughout the month or highlighting the significant work completed.

7. Never Stop Learning

Referencing the second point in this list, SEO means you are aiming for a moving target. Consequently, you can never stop learning.
First, start with the basics, such as the SEO 101 Guide, which is an excellent resource for beginners. But don’t stop there.
Read industry publications on a regular basis. Some experts I know in the industry set aside one to two hours a day to read the latest news. They are part of Facebook and LinkedIn groups that discuss SEO. They are also connected with numerous other experts on Twitter, so they know right away when something big hits.
Plus, it is important to attend at least one to two conferences a year. View the list of the upcoming 2018 conferences and start planning now. These conferences are the opportunity to network with other industry professionals and hear the latest in search.


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

5 Steps to Finding the Most Profitable Keyword

These quick steps can help you put together a first draft of your keyword list.
5 Steps to Finding the Most Profitable Keyword
Nearly everything we do online begins with a search. And that involves thinking up the best phrase that represents the problem we’re trying to solve or the question we’re trying to answer. This is why keyword research is a step in PPC strategy that you cannot skip. 
Let’s say you run a website that sells the latest tablet computers. Imagine yourself in the shoes of someone who’s about to search for tablets and places to buy them. What keywords would they type in? Too many business owners try to create a conversation in the mind of their customers when what they should really be doing is figuring out the conversation that’s already there. Stepping in to help customers get where they already want to go and do what they already want to do is where true PPC magic happens.

How to find the most profitable keywords

By now, you’ve likely figured out that once you start trying to predict the keywords your customers are using, you’re going to end up with a very, very long list.
Not to worry. The longer your list of keywords, the wider the array of customers you’ll reach. Let’s start by narrowing things down a little bit. You can find the audience that’s most interested in your product or service by understanding the three major groups of online searchers:
1. Informational searchers are looking for general information on a topic. It’s usually hard to tell exactly what each person is looking for. One person might be doing research for a term paper. Another person might be killing time wait­ing for a bus. The vast majority of this group aren’t ready to buy and probably never will be.
2. Comparison searchers are definitely interested in your product, but they’re still at the research stage, checking out reviews and comparing prices. Some folks from this group will be ready to buy in a matter of days or even hours, but for others, it may be weeks, months or possibly never.
3. Buyers know exactly what they want, and the only barrier to making a purchase is finding the right place and the right deal.
So how do you tell which of these three groups a person is in? By studying the keywords they enter into the search bar. As a general rule of thumb, the more specific the search, the closer they are to the “Buyer” group.
Take, for instance, the three different types of people searching for televisions:
An information seeker will generally search for keywords containing just one or two words with no modifiers:
  • TV
  • 66-inch TV
  • Flat screen TV
A comparison shopper is a bit more specific, using modifiers for a greater depth of information:
  • Samsung TV reviews
  • 4K TVs
  • Compare OLED TVs
  • Alternatives to LG 66-inch TV
Finally, the buyer is very specific, often using the results of his previous research in the keywords:
  • Order 42-inch LG TV
  • Buy LG 4K online
  • VIZIO M series 2017 buy online
  • LG OLED B6P best price
If you’re just getting started with your AdWords campaigns and budget is your biggest concern, it makes sense to target only the buyer group. These folks are the easiest to convert to customers. Let’s start with a group of buyers and put together a first draft of our keyword list.

Step 1: Scour your website.

Browse your site and your entire product range, and make a list of everything you sell. You probably know your product line pretty well. Step into your customer’s shoes, and assume they don’t know your products by heart. Think of synonyms they might use. Then combine these with some of the common buyer and comparison keywords.
Sticking with our TV example, if one of your products is a LG OLED TV, then you might come up with these keyword combinations:
  • Buy LG OLED TV
  • Best LG OLED TV
  • Compare LG OLED TV

Step 2: Sniff out your competition.

Take a look at your top competitors’ websites. You’ll almost certainly find a few phrases and expressions you hadn’t thought of. Add these to your list as well.

Step 3: Ask your customers.

Do a survey. Have a casual phone chat with a few of your most recent buyers. Ask them specifically how they found your site and, if they can remember, the keywords they searched on. At this stage, you won’t hear a huge amount that surprises you, but you’ll definitely pick up a handful of new keywords or modifiers to add to your list.

Step 4: Ask your staff, family and friends.

This is an extension of Step 3. At this stage, you may feel like you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel. But that’s the point -- it’s all about compiling as exhaustive a list as you can.

Step 5: Dive into keyword tools.

For the most part, Google’s keyword resource is good enough. As you gain experience, however, third-party tools will allow you to dig even deeper. Most keyword tools of this type work by figuring out what your competitors are bidding on and feeding the data back to you. There are limits to how accurate this supply of information can be. But they will give you keyword ideas you would otherwise have missed.


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Should You Outsource Digital Marketing for Your Business?

For most companies, digital marketing is essential to growing and retaining their customer base. Unfortunately, a lot of businesses are in the dark when it comes to implementing and managing this type of marketing strategy. As a matter of fact, an informal poll conducted by Smart Insights revealed that half of the businesses that use digital marketing don't have a working marketing plan to go on.
But before you hash out the details on when and where to launch your digital campaigns, you'll first need to figure out who will get the job done for you. There are two approaches to tackling this problem: go in-house or outsource.
The Case for In-House Digital Marketing
A lot of companies take advantage of the abundant resources, current online technology and available information on strategies and techniques to manage an in-house digital marketing group. After all, there are several advantages to going this route, most important of which is saving money. Hiring a third-party marketing agency can be relatively expensive considering you'll need to cover their costs as well as their "markups". Another advantage would be having a dedicated team who knows the company's specific goals and are working on a documented digital marketing plan. 
However, one major problem that an in-house team often encounters is the steep learning curve employees without the relevant skill set face. More often than not, this would cause a slower ramp-up time for marketing campaigns. It's also a sad fact that more than half of in-house digital marketers are ineffective because they learned about the system on-the-job, and did not undergo any official training.
Choosing to Outsource Digital Marketing
Outsourcing your digital marketing needs can be very beneficial, particularly if this task is not your forte. Tapping the services of a digital marketing group can give you several advantages, like having a team of experts readily available. This means that you won't have to worry about a marketer going on a vacation or taking a sick leave. Your marketing needs will always come first, regardless of whether there's a holiday or not.
One big advantage of using a digital marketing agency is the insight it can give your business. Employers are often so consumed by the day-to-day running of the company that they don't have time to understand the business more deeply, like studying what brings prospective clients to the site or how to optimize the company's online presence. An unbiased set of eyes will give you a new outlook on how to handle your marketing needs. These marketing experts are also likely to be more up-to-date on the latest techniques and strategies being utilized in digital marketing circles.
Perhaps the most important benefit outsourcing your digital needs give is that you get to focus on what's crucial to your company. Businesses who opt to outsource do so in order to keep the marketing process separate from the company's core operations. By being distinct, the marketers have more freedom to develop and execute winning marketing strategies and keep up with changing business needs.

Should You Outsource Your Digital Marketing Needs?
Before you make a decision on whether to outsource your digital marketing needs, take the time to determine what you really need in terms of marketing. You should also consider the following when you begin your search for an outside marketing agency:
  • Your Company's Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Knowing what your KPIs are will help narrow down what you need help with and what the marketing agency can do for you. KPIs will influence the strategy the agency will suggest, as conversions, traffic, cost and revenue per lead are key KPIs for businesses. Which means this is the first question any reputable digital marketing company would ask. Consider it a red flag if the agency doesn't inquire about it. Conversely, you should also ask digital marketing specialists what they think about your KPIs and how to optimize it. A good company would help you pinpoint weaknesses in your current marketing strategy and introduce new ideas and strategies to help you get the best results for your business.
  • The Digital Agency's Track Record: Don't take recommendations at face value. Do your due diligence and check the marketing company's track record. Ask what types of clients they have handled before and their success record. Most agencies would have case studies and a portfolio on hand. But bear in mind that some clients do ask for non-disclosure agreements (NDAs). However, agencies that can't provide a single client to show or refer should not be taken seriously.
While there are other factors to consider, the bottom line is that outsourcing your digital marketing needs would depend on what you actually need. If you want to hit targets consistently and predictably then maybe an in-house team is the way to go. But if you want to focus all your energy on the core aspects of your business, then a digital marketing agency can save you time and offer more flexiblity.


Monday, November 13, 2017

Cloud-Based Startups Face Tough Marketing Challenges

Digital marketers work to be ranked high on the results page. In the future, they will have to work even harder.
Cloud-Based Startups Face Tough Marketing Challenges
More than a decade after the dotcom bubble collapsed, the world has entered an emerging post-dotcom era known as “dotcloud.” Doing business now requires a higher level of entrepreneurial skills and strategies, and today’s new class of born-in-the-cloud startups are driven by an imperative for speed, convenience and personalization. What worked a few years ago is now irrelevant. Marketing in this aggressive startup environment requires a new approach.
My book, “Born in the Cloud Marketing: Transformative Strategies for the Next Generation of Cloud-Based Businesses,” tackles how new, born-in-the-cloud startups have to pivot on marketing, address new realities and experiment with new marketing strategies to succeed in this agile marketplace. Following is an excerpt from my book.
The first wave of dotcom technology made a critical error in deploying an overly mechanized and automated customer service approach. Customers would dial into the call center only to be greeted by a voicemail tree -- otherwise known as “voicemail hell” -- with no option to talk to a human, and sometimes with options that were limited to only the most common problems. Callers with an issue that was out of the ordinary would be at a loss.
“Digital marketing will become more attuned to consumers’ lives,” said Deepa Miglani, senior vice-president of U.S. marketing at Babbel, a language learning app. “With a bounty of data and smarter analytics, marketing will better understand what we like, what we don’t like and what we want. This trend to make content more personal and more relevant will shape digital marketing to be less product-driven and more emotionally driven.”
In a report from Autopilot that surveyed more than 500 U.S. marketers, it was predicted that scalable personalization would be big in 2017. “Netflix and Amazon are paving the way for contextualized content. Eighty-one percent of marketers today personalize marketing, but only 13 percent take things a step further by leveraging app and service context. Expect to see more behavior-based personalization come into focus next year.”
Craig Bloem, founder and CEO of, expands on this school of thought. “Personalization will be taken to a whole new level in both small and large businesses, in that marketing will be personalized to the individual,” he said. “Personalization will continue to develop for businesses that do not have personalized product offerings as well. Digital marketing will progress so that all emails include personal information about a customer, such as their name, as well as personalized promotional offers based on products in which they have previously shown interest.”

Chatbots and personalized automation.

“Very soon, maybe even by the end of next year, a lot of online transactions and ordering products and services will be done online through chatbots,” said Alex Bar, owner of Third Temple Digital. “Progress made in natural language processing now makes it available for people to literally chat to the IM bots in the same way they would to a shop assistant or a waiter and inquire about goods and services. This kind of chatbot is already available at Messenger, and it makes all the sense in the world that businesses and customers alike will opt more for them in the future. Especially, as the current way of ordering goods and services online (constantly confirming card numbers, typing confirmation codes and trying to fathom endless captchas) is slow and simply not user-friendly enough.”
Chris Hall, founder and CEO of Bynder, a cloud-based marketing platform, said that “nothing will be off the table in terms of what can be automated or synced, especially for businesses that exist in the cloud from the start. The key component will be implementing tactics that bring agility to the forefront of digital marketing. We know consumers want personal interactions with brands, but they also want them in real time.”
At the end of the day, Hall said, consumers want to feel like they’re always interacting with something natural and real. "This is a tremendous challenge for marketers and something that marketing technology and SaaS will continue to help address over the next several years. Technology will, of course, continue to get smarter, and as a result, consumers will get savvier in what they consider a great digital experience. Brands must take this with a grain of salt, realizing they are allowed to become more automated in their process, so long as they stay authentic and original in their approach.”

Market to customers, not to audiences.

Today’s cloud technology allows retailers and online businesses to target at a much more granular and personal level, while still retaining a great deal of automation. “The number one shift will be the transition from marketing to audiences to marketing to customers,” said Ed Haslam, chief marketing officer at Conviva. “The traditional digital marketing world was based on the cookie or anonymous ID associated with a visitor that evolved from the traditional non-digital world of print and broadcast TV media companies."
Digital marketers and media companies must transition from the panel-based audience and segment-based world of targeting to one of very personalized observed or census-based customer targeting, Haslam said. "Stop marketing to audiences and instead market to customers at scale.”

Getting Siri on your side.

Much of digital marketing has revolved around getting found by search engines and coming up within the first page of the SERPs. In the future, this will be even more difficult, as search moves from a text-based search engine to a voice-based one. “The future of marketing lays in the use of virtual assistants like Siri, Alexa and Google Home,” said John Leo Weber, director of digital marketing at Geek Powered Studios. “These semantic voice search technologies signal a shift away from blanket online marketing tactics that help boost visibility online, and represent a move towards zero sum marketing. On a desktop computer if you search 'best coffee shop in Austin,' you will see approximately 10 organic Google results plus three map listings and three to seven AdWords ads. That gives a coffee shop 20 possible ways to be found. But, with semantic voice search you might ask your virtual assistant, 'what’s the best coffee shop near me?' She might respond 'I found a coffee shop with five-star reviews one block away. Would you like directions?' In this scenario, the same search yields a singular result for one coffee shop, as opposed to the 20 in the previous example. With one result, marketers will need to fight for a smaller window of visibility.”
Danny Watkinson, SEO consultant at Dijitul, a UK-based digital marketing and training provider, said one of the biggest technological talking points in the second half of 2016 was the growth of personal assistants and voice-activated tools such as Google Home and Amazon Echo. The growth of this technology could have a significant effect on digital marketing, particularly SEO, in 2017. The clear majority of websites gear their SEO strategy toward traditional search engine keyword searches carried out by typing. However, typing is slowly being replaced by spoken voice search.
People don't speak the same way they type, and therefore search is becoming more conversational and long tail. For example, someone may type "Japanese restaurant London," but when voice searching, they would be more likely to say, "where can I get Japanese food in London?" Brands -- and SEO professionals -- are going to have to adjust to this to ensure that organic traffic levels stay up.