Monthly Archives: November 2016

Beginner’s Guide to Link Building

We could tell you all about how high-quality, authoritative links pointing to your site benefit your standing in the SERPs, but instead we’ll just copy the words straight from the proverbial horse’s mouth:

Link building is one area of SEO that has changed significantly over the last several years; some tactics that were once effective are now easily identifiable and penalized by Google. At the same time, earning links remains vital to success in search marketing: Link authority features showed the strongest correlation with higher rankings in our 2013 ranking factors survey. For that reason, it has never been more important for marketers to truly earn their links, and this guide will have you building effective campaigns in no time.


What you’ll learn

1. What is Link Building, and Why Is It Important?

This is where it all begins. If you’re brand new to link building and aren’t sure whether or not it’s a good tactic to include in your marketing repertoire, give this chapter a look. Even the more seasoned link earners among us could use a refresher from time to time, and here we cover everything from what links mean to search engines to the various ways they can help your business’s bottom line.


2. Types of Links (Both Good and Bad)

Before you dive into building links of your own, it’s important to understand the three main types of links and why you should really only be thinking about two of them. That’s what this short and sweet chapter is all about.


3. How to Start a Link Building Campaign

Okay, enough with the theory; it’s time for the nitty-gritty. This chapter takes a deep dive into every step of a link building campaign, offering examples and templates you can use to build your own foundation.


4. Link Building Tactics

Whether through ego bait or guest blogging (yes, that’s  still a viable tactic!), there are several approaches you can take to building a strong link profile. This chapter takes a detailed run through the tactics you’re most likely to employ.


5. Link Building Metrics

Now that the links are rolling in, how do you prove to ourselves and our clients that our work is paying off? The metrics outlined in this chapter, along with the tools recommended to measure them, offer a number of options for your reports.


6. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Link Building

If we’re preaching to the choir with this chapter, then we’re thrilled, because spammy links can lead to severe penalties. Google has gotten incredibly good at picking out and penalizing spammy link building techniques, and if this chapter isn’t enough to make you put your white hat on, nothing is.


7. Advanced Link Building Tips and Tricks

Mastered the rest of what the guide has to offer? Earning links faster than  John Paulson earns cash? Here are a few tips to take your link building to the next level. Caution: You may or may not find yourself throwing fireballs after mastering these techniques.

The Ideal Length of Everything Online

 Every so often when I’m tweeting or emailing, I’ll think: Should I really be writing so much?

I tend to get carried away. And for the times that I do, it sure would be nice to know if all this extra typing is hurting or helping my cause. I want to stand out on social media, but I want to do it in the right way.

Curious, I dug around and found some answers for the ideal lengths of tweets and titles and everything in between. Many of these could have been answered with “it depends,” but where’s the fun in that? Solid research exists to show the value of writing, tweeting, and posting at certain lengths. We can learn a lot fromscientific social media guidelines like these. Here’s the best of what I found.

The ideal length of a tweet is 100 characters

Whom should you trust when it comes to advice on the ideal length of a tweet? How about Twitter itself?

Twitter’s best practices reference research by Buddy Media about tweet length:100 characters is the engagement sweet spot for a tweet. 

Creativity loves constraints and simplicity is at our core. Tweets are limited to 140 characters so they can be consumed easily anywhere, even via mobile text messages. There’s no magical length for a Tweet, but a recent report by Buddy Media revealed that Tweets shorter than 100 characters get a 17% higher engagement rate.

The Buddy Media research falls in line with similar research by Track Social in a study of 100 well-known brands that are popular on Twitter. Track Social also found that the perfect Tweet length was right around 100 characters.

Their analysis saw a spike in retweets among those in the 71-100 character range—so-called “medium” length tweets. These medium tweets have enough characters for the original poster to say something of value and for the person retweeting to add commentary as well.

The ideal length of a Facebook post is less than 40 characters

Forty characters is not much at all. (The sentence I just wrote is 35 characters.)

But 40 is the magic number that Jeff Bullas found was most effective in his study of retail brands on Facebook. He measured engagement of posts, defined by “like” rate and comment rate, and the ultra-short 40-character posts received 86 percent higher engagement than others.

The 40-character group also represented the smallest statistical set in the study (only 5 percent of all posts qualified at this length), so best practices on Facebook also include the next most popular set: Posts with 80 characters or fewer received 66 percent higher engagement.

Many different studies over the years have confirmed that shorter posts are better on Facebook. One such study by BlitzLocal looked at nearly 120 billion Facebook impressions and found that performance tailed off as posts grew longer. Their particular data found significant advantages to question posts between 100 to 119 characters.

The ideal length of a Google+ headline is less than 60 characters

To maximize the readability and appearance of your posts on Google+, you may want to keep your text on one line. Demian Farnworth of Copyblogger studied the Google+ breaking point and found that headlines should not exceed 60 characters.

Here is an example of what we mean. The post below had a headline exceeding 60 characters and got bumped.

This post kept the title within 60 characters and stayed on one line.

Demian’s advice goes even deeper. If your Google+ headline simply can’t be contained in one line, then you can turn to Plan B. Write a superb first sentence.

In the last update, Google changed the layout of posts so that you only see three lines of the original post before you see “Read more” link. In other words, your first sentence has to be a gripping teaser to get people to click “Read More.”

Here is Demian’s killer example:

In terms of overall post length, Google+ posts average 156 characters, according to Qunitly Research. Digging further, Quintly found the largest spike in engagement at posts of 5 characters in length and the second-highest spike in posts of 442 characters. Takeaway: You can write a lot longer on Google+ and still find great results.

The ideal length of a headline is 6 words

How much of the headline for this story did you read before you clicked?

According to a post by KISSmetrics, you might not have read it all.

Writing for KISSmetrics, headline expert Bnonn cites usability research revealing we don’t only scan body copy, we also scan headlines. As such, we tend to absorb only the first three words and the last three words of a headline. If you want to maximize the chance that your entire headline gets read, keep your headline to six words.

Of course, six-word headlines are rare (and hard to write!). If you can’t cut your title down to six words, you can still be aware of how your headline might be read, and you can adjust accordingly. As the KISSmetrics post says:

Of course, that’s seldom enough to tilt the specificity-meter into the red. And I have it on good authority that some of the highest-converting headlines on the web are as long as 30 words. As a rule, if it won’t fit in a tweet it’s too long. But let me suggest that rather than worrying about length you should worry about making every word count. Especially the first and last 3.

 

The ideal length of a blog post is 7 minutes, 1,600 words

When measuring the content that performs best on their site, Medium focuses not on clicks but on attention. How long do readers stick with an article?

In this sense, an ideal blog post would be one that people read. And Medium’s research on this front says that the ideal blog post is seven minutes long.

To arrive at this number, Medium measured the average total seconds spent on each post and compared this to the post length. All Medium posts are marked with a time signature for how long the read should be. After adjusting their analysis for a glut of shorter posts (overall, 74% of posts are under 3 minutes long and 94% are under 6 minutes long), they came to their conclusion:

And there we have it: the average total seconds rises for longer posts, peaks at 7 minutes, and then declines.

And in terms of word count, a 7-minute read comes in around 1,600 words.

(A photo-heavy post could bring the average down closer to 1,000. Medium’s seven-minute story on ideal post length was filled with images and graphs and contained 980 words.)

SerpIQ examined the question of ideal post length from an SEO perspective. They looked at the top 10 results on search results pages and counted the words in each article. Their data included text in the sidebars of posts, so you can knock a few words off of the totals below.

Of course, as with any of these ideal lengths, the answers you find here could very well be taken as “it depends,” since research varies from site to site. For instance, Moz found that longer posts on their blog get linked to more often, and Upworthy found little correlation between length and attention when they tested Medium’s hypothesis for themselves. (Upworthy cited factors like type of posts and audience as a couple of possible explanations for the discrepancy.)

Perhaps the best takeaway here is this, borrowed from the conclusion of Medium’s study:

What it does mean is that it’s worth writing however much you really need. Don’t feel constrained by presumed short attention spans. If you put in the effort, so will your audience.

Advanced Guide to Google Penalty Removal

 Few things put a site owner or an SEO on edge more than the appearance of a Google penalty.

In recent years there has been a regular rollout of major algorithm updates and changes. With the Panda update in 2011, Penguin in 2012, and Hummingbird in 2013, and almost constant smaller updates and data refreshes, it’s difficult to keep up with them all.

Future updates are going to be just as stressful for those who aren’t following these trends, cutting corners with their link-building, and not keeping on top of their link profile by being aware who links to them.

We wanted to make an in-depth guide to Google penalties, what they are, how to avoid them, how to protect yourself from all future changes and mostly how to rectify the situation if your site is penalised.

You want to get your rankings back? Follow our advice and you will.

WHO IS THIS GUIDE FOR?

You might be a business owner with an online store, an employee working in the internet marketing department of a FTSE 100, or a freelance SEO whose client has just been hit. Whatever your reason for being here, it’s likely that you have a big problem to solve.

Sales used to be arriving through the search engines, and maybe that revenue source has completely dried up. It’s a scary situation to be in, but all is not lost. There is always something to be done, and no domain is ever completely burnt.

Any site can clean up its act, and when it does, it will generally be in a much better position than one that’s brand new.

If you haven’t been hit yet by a Google penalty, you’re lucky to have found this while you have! Bookmark it, downloaded, print it out, internalise the information contained in this guide and use it to protect your business (or your job!) for many years to come.

HOW TO USE THIS GUIDE?

If you know nothing about SEO or Google’s misleadingly-fluffily named updates, don’t worry. By the end of this guide you’ll know more about recovering from a penalty than the guy you considered hiring to do it for you. We’re going to walk you through every little step, from identifying the penalty, to figuring out where it came from, from discovering the root cause, to fixing the problem, and finally, to recovering your much needed search engine rankings.

You might only need one chapter. It’s a reference guide, not a novel, so read through the descriptions below and navigate to the one you need.

CHAPTER
01

HOW TO IDENTIFYA GOOGLE PENALTY

In the first chapter, we’ll illuminate the dingy world of Google penalties, and show you the fastest ways to see where you stand with the world’s biggest search engine. You’ll learn how to identify which type of penalty you’ve received, and exactly how extensive the damage is, which makes a big difference in how you should proceed.

CHAPTER
02

WHAT CAUSED YOUR PENALTY(and How to Fix it)

In the second chapter, we’ll show you each and every possible reason for a Google penalty, starting with the most likely and highlighting the quickest results. You’ll discover what the different updates actually meant for your site, what they didn’t mean, and what you really need to be paying attention to.

CHAPTER
03

GATHERINGTHE CRITICAL DATA

In this chapter, you’ll learn how to gather your link data quickly and cheaply. This is the all important first step in the process of revoking your site’s penalty. There are a plethora of tools we can use, and we break down the best ones for the job, and how to use them to get a full panoramic view of your site’s current situation.

CHAPTER
04

HOW TO READYOUR DATA

In chapter four, we see that analysing your data can be the most interesting part of this process. If you understand what you’re doing, and know which tools are best for the job, you can breeze through the relevant metrics, pull the right numbers together, and see what they all mean. We’ll also cover how crucial your records of this stage are when getting a manual penalty revoked.

CHAPTER
05

CLEANING UP YOUR WEBSITEFOR LONG-TERM RANKINGS

Chapter five is where we do the work of removing all the signals that tipped Google off to shady activity in the first place. We’ll see how to make sure the links pointing to your site are squeaky clean, and how to make content that is excellent for visitors. While some will say that a good link is one you didn’t encourage, and good content is, well, just good content, we’ll take the time to see what Google is actually looking for, quantify it, and use it to our advantage.

CHAPTER
06

SUBMITTING A REINCLUSION REQUESTTHAT’S SURE TO BE APPROVED

In chapter six we’ll get into the heads of the Google employees who will be reading your reinclusion request and making the decision as to whether or not you will be allowed back into their index. There’s a right way and a wrong way to do everything, and when a denial can put your progress back by months, we’re going to take every measure to ensure this is done the right way.

CHAPTER
07

RECOVERY:WHERE TO GO FROM HERE

Finally, in chapter seven you’ll learn what to expect from the reconsideration process, how long rankings usually take to resurface, why they might not for some time, what to do about it. You want your rankings back quickly, and while removing a penalty lifts the cap on what rankings you can achieve, the process of clean-up and removal can leave your SEO a little worse for wear. We’ll show you how to rectify that and lead you into the promised land of sustainable page 1 rankings.

Tips to Create a Winning Content Promotion Plan

 Planning

A good promotion plan begins with audience research and the development of targeted messaging.

Audience Research

If you have the time and budget, doing research like survey analysis is really helpful. At BuzzStream, we’re a bit more informal. Our planning stage usually involves a discussion of who we’re creating the content for and what their needs are. We use analytics data from previous pieces, information about what we’ve seen performing well on Twitter, and insight from conversations we’ve had with customers.

We segment our audiences based on the value they’ll get from the content. For example, one group might be new to online marketing and would use the guide to level up their skills. Another group might be people in charge of outreach teams who could incorporate our guide into their training materials. A third group might be influencers who don’t really need to learn anything new but who appreciate good outreach content to share with their followers. These segments become the foundation for influencer lists and outreach messaging.

Messaging

Before beginning content creation, you should spend some time thinking about what you want to communicate to each of your audience segments. (Developing personas can be really helpful here.) Think about what benefit each segment will get from consuming your content. Ask yourself what will motivate people to share it, and then spend some time thinking about reasons why people might choose not to share.

If you’re a team of one, this process can be more of a mental exercise than a physical document. If you have a team, creating a shared doc that everyone can refer back to is extremely useful.

Here’s an example of some of the questions you’ll want to ask during this stage:

Once you nail your audience segments and messaging, you can be more confident about content creation. You’ll know exactly how and why you’re benefitting the groups of people who are most important to your business, and that knowledge can guide you as you make important decisions about the piece.

2+ Weeks Before Launch

As you’re developing the actual content, you should also develop a list of people and websites that you want to share it. The earlier work you did on audience development can is your foundation here. For each segment, create a list of top-tier and mid-tier influencers.

As you go, make note of what medium you want to use to reach each of the influencers (email, social, etc.) You should also figure out whether a cold pitch will work or if you’ll need a relationship first.

List Size

To figure out how big your influencer lists should be, think about what your coverage or sharing goals are. How many people do you expect to write about you? Take that number and divide it by your usual outreach response rate. That’s how many people you’ll need to send outreach to.

Good content marketers often begin with long lists influencers and then narrow them down to only the most relevant, targeted prospects for outreach. It’s a time-consuming but worthwhile process. If you want to work this way, your initial list length should be about 5X the length of your ideal outreach list.

Engaging Before Launch

Next, take your influencer lists and make a goal to engage with each person or website on that list at least once before you pitch your content.

For those influencers that you think would be okay with a cold pitch, you can do something simple like a tweet a post and @ mention them. This will at least get your name on their radar.

Influencers who you want more of a relationship with will require more involved engagement. Begin monitoring them via Twitter lists or Feed.ly and look for opportunities to provide commentary on something they’ve written or shared. A single @ mention on Twitter isn’t enough. Try to reply to a tweet and spark a conversation or consider leaving a thoughtful comment on one of their blog posts. If you have the time and resources, look for opportunities to meet them in real life at conferences and events.

Week Before Launch

The week before your content goes live should be a very busy one. This is when you’ll need to draft all of your social media posts, outreach emails, and customer messages. You may want to queue up social media ads and plan targeting, as well.

Pretest Content

One of the best things you can do before your content goes live is pretest it with influencers. You get the benefit of their buy-in and their good advice about ways to improve your content or messaging before you share it with the world.

You can be really strategic and send your content to a subset of influencers who you want to target, but we’ve honestly seen a lot of success just by asking for volunteers.

However you go about it, be sure to give the influencers enough time to actually look over your content and provide feedback.

Outreach Emails

You should plan to write at least two email templates for each of your audience segments. (If you have three segments, that’s at least six templates total.) The template variations should test elements like subject line or CTA. They should also leave room for personalization.

Your most important influencers (the top 5 or 10 people and websites on your list) should get completely custom messages. To save yourself time on the day of launch, write them in advance. Hopefully by this point you’ve chatted or engaged at least a few times, so that personalization can refer back to previous conversations you’ve had.

Day of Launch

The day your post goes live, your goal is to share it as much as you can. This means post it to social media, put your ads live, and begin outreach.

Outreach

As you work through your outreach list and begin sending messages you’ll start to see patterns in the results. Certain templates will perform better than others. When this happens, kill the bad ones, go with the good ones, and then maybe even create a new variation to try.

You’ll also often find that you’re connecting with some groups better than others. If this is the case, invest more deeply in the segment that’s working. Expand your influencer lists and try more outreach to that group.

Moderate & Respond

Make yourself available to moderate comments on what you’ve shared, retweet the nice things other people have said, and reply to any questions that come up. This will help you build stronger relationships with the audiences you care about and give you opportunity to further amplify your content.

Week of Launch

The initial buzz your content created will likely begin to fade out as the week continues. Use this time to do more of what’s working and claim some of the easy victories.

Paid Social

Look to see which of your paid social media campaigns performed the best on day one. Invest more heavily in those channels and that messaging. If you find that everything has flopped, try again with a different headline or different targeting criteria.

Social Media

Continue to share and retweet the nice things people have said about your content. Pay special attention to major influencers who say nice things during off-peak hours. A well-timed retweet could provide a nice traffic spike.

Easy Wins

Make sure you take the time to submit your articles to email newsletters and weekly roundups. Be sure it’s been shared within relevant subreddits and social bookmarking sites. These are simple things to do that can bring nice, qualified traffic to your content.

Reclaim Links

If your content went even a little bit viral, there’s a good chance people shared it without crediting you. Use reverse image search, tools like Fresh Web Explorer, and other link reclamation tactics to find all of those instances and secure the link.

On-going Opportunities

As things wind down, don’t close the door on your content. Keep a Tweetdeck search running in the background so you’ll catch when people share it. Be sure to send a genuine thank you when they do.

Use the twitter and feedly lists you created to continue to engage with influencers. Odds are that if they were important to this campaign, they’ll be important in the future, too. The more you can do to build relationships, the better.

Monitor social media, email services like HARO, and the web in general for opportunities to repurpose or reshare your content. You may find opportunities to turn it into a case study or suggest it as a resource.

You could also use tools like BuzzStream to schedule regular site prospecting and get a batch of fresh contacts delivered to your inbox on a weekly basis. Scroll through these sites for opportunities to place your content.