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Film ProjectorWhen it comes to social media, the ‘usual suspects’ jump to mind: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and even Pinterest. One that may deserve a more prominent place in your social strategy is Slideshare. Acquired by LinkedIn in 2012, it’s the largest community for sharing professional presentations in the world. What can a Slideshare presence do for you?

Slideshare: Professional Presentations

Why Slideshare? Here are a few compelling reasons you may need to get familiar with PowerPoint soon:

  • The site receives 500% more traffic from business owners than Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn. 500%!
  • Mobile views increased 223% over last year.
  • The site sees over 60 million visitors a month.
  • Anecdotal evidence suggests a high ROI and increased generation of qualified leads as a result of a strong Slideshare presence.

What Do Audiences Like?

Slideshare’s content consumers tend to have a voracious appetite for:

  • Business. The most popular topics are: business, research, trends, market, social media, and statistics. These folks are here to work!
  • Short, visual content. Fewer slides in favor of more images. Keep text to a minimum – and make sure it’s relevant.
  • Inforgraphics. These get “liked” 5 times more often than presentation and a whopping 21 times more than documents.

Over 400,000 presentations are uploaded to Slideshare each month. The top slideshows are posted on the homepage, as are featured users, recommended presentations, and more. If your presentation can land on the first page, it’s all the better. A bulk of your traffic will come directly from Google, though, so if you can attract the attention of your target audience, you can boost your ROI and see significant results. Some tips to that end:

  • Optimise. SEO rules apply just as readily to your slideshow as they do to your website. Choose strategic keywords that reflect what your audience is looking for.
  • Images. Choose compelling images that are relevant to your subject. Forget the adorable puppies – unless you’re speaking of puppies! Feel free to include animations, photos, graphics, and other images.
  • Inforgraphics. They sell like hotcakes. There are various sites online to help you generate these interactive graphics.
  • Titles. “Top Tips for Using Slideshare,” “How to…”, “5 Mistakes You’re Making…” Just as you would with a blog or article with a compelling, enticing title, make sure you draw your visitors in with compelling title.
  • Tags and description. Slideshare allows a description and up to 20 tags. Take advantage. Craft these with your carefully-selected keywords and information relevant to visitors and to search engines. Google, by the way, will rank Slideshare material over blogs.
  • Links. Google pays attention, so add high-quality links in your presentation. As with anything you do, “relevance” is the keyword.

If you’re not sharing on Slideshare, maybe it’s time! What message do you have to convey to your audience –and is this a viable medium? Likely, the answer is yes.

Seo ConceptWhile local SEO has always been important for many businesses, the incredible rise in the use of mobile devices has made it a critical part of attracting new customers and helping existing ones find the information they need. In our last post, we talked about a few tips to get your local SEO efforts started. Now we’ll dive into social media and how it can help you shine a spotlight on your business.

Get Social

Creating and managing an active social media presence allows you to reach your audiences where they are and where they turn for information. That might, depending on your target customers, be Facebook; it might be Pinterest, Twitter, or LinkedIn. In any event, do some customer research to determine where you need to concentrate your efforts. Other steps you can take:

  • Add social sharing buttons to your site. Target the ones your customers are most likely to use. Make it easy for them to share your content with others who might find it relevant and useful. It’s all about convenience: a simple button-click encourages people to take action.
  • Optimise your Facebook profile for local users. While not every audience uses Facebook (teens, for instance, are starting to veer away from the social network), it does have a tremendously wide and deep user base. It makes sense for most businesses to spend some time here. When you create a page for your business, select the “Local Business or Place” category. If you have already created a page, go back to the Admin Panel. Select Manage > Edit Page > Basic Information. In the Category box, select “Local Business or Place,” and then choose the correct subcategory to specify which type of business you operate.
  • Try Twitter. Include your location and local-optimised keyword phrase in your information. Find local users (Twitter Grader and TwitterCounter can help) and start following local discussions with Twitter Advanced Search. Become an active part of your community; people don’t want to hear sales pitches. They want to engage and have their questions answered. Doing so positions you as an authority. Participating in a conversation positions you as a real person, not a faceless entity.
  • Get Googling. Google+ may not have the mass of Facebook or even Twitter, but it does have the weight of the world’s largest search engine behind it. Google weighs this content heavily, and being active can help you appear more prominently. Make sure your profile is visible to the public and use the Google+ search to find local users that may be interested in your business. Create a dedicated circle so you can develop and disseminate targeted communications. As with Facebook and Twitter, the key is being active in the community. Answer questions – but feel free to ask them. You can be an authority without being a know-it-all! And it makes you more approachable and likeable. Why not? Those are good qualities in a business!
  • Track your efforts with Google Analytics’ Audience Demographics data. You can see bounce rates, time spent on site, and pages per visit. Are you local visitors spending more time on the site? If not, how can you optimise your content or social presence to encourage more engagement?

Social media is an invaluable set of tools that you can use to boost your local SEO efforts and see greater results.

 

 

Black HatOne of the buzziest buzzwords in 2014 is, unfortunately, negative SEO. Recently, Forbes’ contributor Jayson DeMers chronicled how his small company was targeted by scammers. They demanded he pay them US$250 (£151.56); if he didn’t, they’d flood his website with inbound links – and not the high-quality, authoritative links that Google likes so much and which visitors trust so much either. Are schemes like this common, and, if they are, can you protect your website?

What is Negative SEO?

Prior to the Penguin update, the more links, the better. Link farms, link schemes, you couldn’t buy enough of these things.  With this major update, Google told websites in no uncertain terms that poor-quality, spammy links would not be tolerated. Infamous JC Penney and Overstock.com penalties, which caused both retailers to drop precipitously in the search engine results pages, emphasised just how serious Google was.

Now, while this was a great move for searchers – and quality, legitimate websites – it did have an unsavory consequence. It opened up a side industry in negative SEO, where “mercenaries” like those who targeted DeMers, thrive by threatening sites with spammy links.

In addition to bad links, negative SEOs can:

  • Copy your site’s content and distribute it over the internet.  Bam…duplicate content penalties for you.
  • Point links to your site using such reputable and estimable keywords as “Viagra.”
  • Developing false social media profiles in your name or that of your website or business.
  • Removing your high-quality backlinks.
  • Hacking into your website and having free run over your content and backend workings.

Should You Worry?

Yes and no. Yes, it could be devastating if your site were targeted, but no, it’s not that likely. Matt Cutts, head of Google’s webspam team, says:

In my experience, there’s a lot of people who talk about negative SEO, but very few people who actually try it, and fewer still who actually succeed. I know that there’s been a lot of people stressed about this. Whenever we dig into what’s actually going on, there’s been a lot of discussion but very little in ways of actually people trying to do attacks.

It is best to run your website, do your white hat SEO, and produce quality content as usual – but remain aware and take steps to keep your site – and your online reputation – intact. How?

  • Log into your Google Webmaster Tools account and enable email alerts. Google will let you know if your pages are not indexed, your site is attacked by malware, or if you’ve received a manual Google penalty. Simply click on Webmaster Tools Preferences. Enable email notifications for All Issues and click Save.
  • Monitor your backlink profile. See what types of sites are linking to your sites to ensure they are legitimate. You can ask a reputable SEO firm to help you develop and monitor your profile or use a tool such a Majestic SEO, Ahrefs, or Open Site Explorer.
  • Use a tool such as CopyScape to monitor for duplicate content, and keep an eye on your site speed. A sudden and marked slowdown can indicate that spammers or negative SEOs have attacked it.

If you do find bad links:

  • Contact the webmaster and request they remove the links.
  • Use Google’s Link Disavow tool. If you’ve taken every step possible to remove bad links, you can request that Google ignore them when assessing your site.

Like Matt Cutts reminds us, there is likely nothing to “stress” about. So don’t. Just be on top of your link profile and content to spot trouble before it can take root.

ThermometerTo stay healthy, it’s best to make the annual trip to the doctor, get checked out, say “Ahhh.” In the meantime, there are a host of steps you can take to maintain your health on your own – eating right, exercising, getting proper rest, etc. The health of your website is the same: once a year, you should have a professional audit, a thorough checkup to maintain optimal site performance. But in the meantime, there are steps you can take to ensure you stay healthy.

Some aspects to review during your DIY audit:

Crawling and Indexing Issues

Ensuring Google properly crawls and indexes your website is critical. Log into your Webmaster Tools. ON your dashboard, click Google Index > Index Status > Basic. This will tell you how many URLs Google has indexed. Click Advanced  for more information on how many URLs Google has ever crawled and if any have been blocked by robots. Check your robots.txt file to ensure that any blocked URLs are, indeed, blocked by your choice to enhance your strategy (such as to not have Google crawl or index duplicate content).

Look for an increase in the number of crawled and indexed pages. A decrease may mean that Google cannot properly access your content.

Sitemaps

Your sitemap is just that: a map of your content for Google. Make sure it follows the established protocol and that it is formatted correctly. Compare the URLs that Google has crawled to your sitemap and update if necessary.

Links

It is essential that you keep an eye on your link profile. Do you see any spammy or questionable links? Are there high-quality reputable links? With the rise of negative SEO, it pays to stay on top of your profile, and to cultivate great links from authoritative sources.

On-Page SEO Elements

Now you’ll want to examine your tags and metadata. Quickly:

  • Do you have unique title tags for each page? Do you have any duplicates? Are they relevant and keyword-optimised? Are they between 40 and 69 characters?
  • Do you have solid copy for your meta description tags? Is it relevant to searchers and provide the information they need? Are they 200 characters or fewer?
  • Do you have alt image tags? These help visually impaired searchers, and they play a role in your search engine visibility. Make sure they accurately describe the images.
  • Do you have H tags in the proper places? Do you have H1 for the main headline and subheaders as H2?
  • Do you have relevant, interesting content? This applies to your site copy, as well as to blogs, whitepapers, and other “long-form” pieces.

Speed

Site speed is huge this year, especially with mobile users. Make sure your site is running on all cylinders. Google’s PageSpeed tools are helpful here. When you identify issues, create a strategy to address them and boost performance.

This, of course, is not an exhaustive audit, but you should keep your eye on these types of issues continually.  A professional audit will fill in the gaps and give you a great foundation on which to build over the year.

BlogIn the search and content marketing worlds, you have to stay flexible – otherwise you’re apt to get whiplash from all the changes! Nothing is permanent, and as we’ve seen with the decreased emphasis on specific keywords and the shifting status of links, today’s tried and true techniques may be tomorrow’s black hat. Guest blogging is the latest tactic to come under question. So, what’s the answer? Yes, no? Maybe.

 

 

Why Not?

Because Matt Cutts said so! In a recent blog post:

Okay, I’m calling it: if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop. Why? Because over time it’s become a more and more spammy practice, and if you’re doing a lot of guest blogging then you’re hanging out with really bad company.

And our favorite line, “Stick a fork in it, guest blogging is done.” Cutts takes issue with unscrupulous use of guest blogging and shams set up to “automate” guest blogs or buy and sell links.

Done as in “Done”?

Guest blogging as a content strategy is not horrible practice – but with a big caveat. It has to be genuine, good, solid content. Say you are a management consultant and you help clients improve their leadership abilities. You work with a senior manager at a real, reputable company and she wants to write a post on how to improve communication skills. Or, perhaps she has done such a tremendous job improving her own skills in this area that you ask her to share her thoughts or tips with your readers.

Here’s why this guest post is different and why it’s not “done”:

  • No one’s getting paid, no one’s outsourcing guest posts, no one’s buying links. It is, as they say, on the up and up.
  • It’s content that your audience could learn from and use in their lives. The point of good content!
  • You know this person, and you can vouch for the authenticity of the post as well as its veracity.
  • It’s one post. You have (or should have!) lots of other great content on your site.
  •  You don’t spin this article or post it on more than one site.
  • You use other reputable SEO and content management techniques to bring traffic to your site. You don’t depend on guest blogging to generate all your link activity.

This type of guest post can help add value to your site. It’s genuine content, and that’s what Google – and more importantly, your audience – wants to see. If it’s not real, don’t do it. It’s a good SEO rule to live by.

Link building is important. Content marketing is important. In a world where all things are equal, which essential SEO task should get your attention?

Who Cares About Link Building?

Link building is still an essential part of any good optimisation programme. It helps to demonstrate to search engines your authority in a subject matter. After all, if everyone seems to like you enough to link back to your site, then it’s a good bet that you should be popular enough to rank well for a given set of keywords. Link building takes time. It’s a good demonstrator of your ability to work with other sites and build online relationships. It’s also one of the older ways to optimise your site.

Content, Content, Content

If you read any search engine news at all, you know that content has become increasingly important over the past several years. Nothing is more preached these days than the importance of solid content. It’s good for your rankings. It’s good for your customers. It’s even good for you because it directly demonstrates your ability to know your customers, know what they want, and offer them a bit of virtual value. Whether you’re getting it out there on your blog, on your site, or through your social media channels, it’s the one way you have to directly interface with your customers day after day, and that alone makes it important, not to mention the rankings boost it will offer you these days.

So, which of the two is more valuable? The bottom line here is that both of these tasks are important. There may be times when link building seems to be more important to your strategy than content marketing. The reverse might be true a week, a month, or even a year later. Look carefully at your analytical data, and go where the trends, and your company goals, take you.

Link Building Expectations and You

Link building is an essential part of any optimisation strategy. When you get started, though, your eyes may be a bit bigger than your results. Exactly what should your initial link building expectations look like?

  • Stay Small: Many people think “If I can just reach out to ten websites every single day. . .” Either you’re reaching out to every site that may have something to do with your keywords or you’re going to offer a course in speed reading on late night television. You cannot reach out to ten relevant sites every single day. Each potential link needs to be carefully evaluated, then you have to reach out to them in the right manner, not just in a self-serving way.
  • Stay Relevant: Keep in mind that you shouldn’t simply go for any and every site. Google will frown on it, the linked blog’s readers aren’t likely to actually visit your site, and you’re going to waste your time. Go only for sites that may be somehow relevant to yours.
  • Stay Analytical: You have to be able to measure your link building efforts to understand whether or not they’re truly paying off. Look at the data, then decide whether your efforts are actually working for you.

Remember that there are ways to create a successful link building campaign. If you’re just getting started, your best bet is to contact an SEO agency that handles link building campaigns regularly for the right help. It’s the only way to get high quality links and the relationships you actually want for your site.

Get Your Guest Post Accepted Now

If you’re like many site owners, guest posts are already an essential part of your marketing strategy. Most, though, struggle to find the right posting opportunities, then to actually get their posts accepted by blog owners. Some even resort to paying for those rare posting opportunities. Looking to overcome the conundrum? These tips can help.

  • Offer a Unique Connection: If it’s possible, draw a unique connection that others haven’t yet been able to establish. In some cases, that may mean using proprietary data, but it’s one way to offer a fresh post or take on a subject matter no one else is covering currently.
  • Use Research: You have to actually prove what you’re saying in your guest post, so if you’re going to cite facts and figures, it’s time to break out your best research skills. Use only solid sources with reliable rankings. The last thing you want to do is cite an unknown source that turns out to be too shaky to publish.
  • Write Well: Above almost every other concern, make sure you write well before you start offering guest posts. You simply can’t produce second rate content and accept others to accept it as an authoritative guest post. If you don’t write well but you have a good idea for a guest post, contact a professional copywriter to develop it for you.

Don’t overlook the simple strategies, too, Just choosing the right blog for your submissions can go a long way toward getting the level of acceptance you want.

AnchorThe SEO and search landscape is changing so rapidly that once-valuable and completely white hat techniques are now targets for penalties. Your anchor text is one of them. This used to be a major ranking factor, but given the ease of manipulating anchor text, Google’s Penguin update downgraded its importance and even penalises sites that utilise exact match anchor text. What do you need to know before you “name” your links?

First, the basics: anchor text is the text that you use to indicate a link to another page, whether internal or external. “Click here” has gone out of fashion because it simply does not give your website users – or search engines – any real information. Websites then started to use targeted, exact match keywords in their anchor text. That is, they use the exact keyword they’re trying to target. What’s the problem?

From both a Google and user perspective, exact match anchor text looks spammy. A natural link, on the other hand, is placed to offer the user more information. For instance, we could link to an article on the Penguin update. This would be completely natural and would provide the user with additional, helpful information. It is not placed here so we rank for “Penguin Update.”  Natural links get more clicks: it is that simple.

Google may look at exact match anchor text as an attempt at link building, and they penalise sites that use the technique too much. So if you happen to use an exact match for your link, will it bring down the wrath of Google? If you did it because it leads to a page that gives the reader useful information, and if you do it sparingly, then, no. You should be fine. Google looks at different factors when judging whether it thinks you’re trying to game the system.

When crafting text for your links, follow the same principles that you do for content creation. Just write for your audience. If you want to point them towards more information, do so naturally.