Why SEO Is Like An RTS Game (and why you should care)

As a fan of video games, I often compare real-life scenarios to similar elements in games. These elements offer a parallel way to approach many of the same types of challenges that we face in everyday life in a fun, unique way. After all, real life challenges shouldn’t necessarily be unpleasant; if they can be stimulating and entertaining, productivity will improve, and improved productivity usually translates to higher revenue.

Growing up, the first genre of video games I fell in love with was the RTS (real-time strategy). While RTS games usually pit warring factions against each other with an assortment of units involving infantry, armored vehicles, and air and sea-borne vessels, to me, SEO is actually a lot like an RTS; it even has its own versions of those classes of units. Let’s take a deeper look at why SEO is like an RTS game and how you can leverage this idea to benefit your SEO initiatives.

The battlefield

A basic element of any RTS game is the top-down view of the battlefield. From here, commanders have complete control over their campaign. They can devise a strategy, build a base, get real-time information and updates, upgrade technology, and take tactical control over their units to lead them into battle.


An Excel or Google Doc spreadsheet may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about a battlefield, but in essence, isn’t that what your SEO dashboard (or collection thereof) is? Many SEO professionals use dashboards to manage the various components of their SEO campaign(s), including:

  • Blog content calendar
  • Ranking and traffic monitoring
  • Competitor intelligence and monitoring
  • Guest post content calendar
  • Backlink profile monitoring
  • Brand mention and social media monitoring
  • Onsite optimization monitoring

Years ago, one of the revelations I had that led to vastly improved success as an RTS gamer was simple; increase my screen resolution so I can see more of the battlefield at a time. This change increased information flow to me, allowing me to react quicker and smarter to enemy threats, more effectively monitor my enemies, and control my units for offensive purposes more efficiently.

I had the same revelation one day when I was working in one my SEO dashboard spreadsheets. I had accidentally decreased the font and cell size of the spreadsheet, bringing more information into view at a time. I immediately started drawing new correlations that I hadn’t previously seen; that’s why this page isn’t ranking well. That’s what my competitor did that caused that page to have so much success in the rankings.

This idea extends beyond simply increasing the viewable area of your dashboards, though. Adding a second and third monitor on which you can constantly access dashboards containing information about the state of an SEO campaign, as well as those of your competitors, can allow you quickly detect opportunities for offensive strategies, weaknesses in competitors’ strategies, and tactical advancements being made by competitors.

It all comes down to this: information is intelligence, and what isn’t measured isn’t managed. Here are some of my preferred tools for measuring and monitoring my SEO campaigns:

The offensive weaponry

In RTS games, success is usually achieved by destroying your enemies completely, and battles are fought with land, air, and naval units. Things aren’t usually so brutal in the world of SEO, but offensive tactics can and do result in harm to your competitors.

For instance, moving ahead of a key competitor in the search engine rankings for a highly-trafficked search term will not only increase traffic to your website, but also decrease traffic to that competitor’s website. Repeating this across many keywords will result in significantly decreased traffic for your competitors, as you effectively consume more of the fixed “traffic pie” that exists for your niche or industry.

Similarly, while SEO battles aren’t fought with military units, they are fought with different classes of weaponry that can be compared to air, land, and sea: onsite content, inbound links, and social media signals.

Onsite content represents the foundation of any SEO initiative’s arsenal; it provides numerous benefits that strongly impact overall search visibility while supporting each of the other types of weaponry (by helping to acquire inbound links and providing discussion content for social media feeds). Onsite content is like the assortment of land units in an RTS game, and consists of text-based blog posts, press releases, infographics, video, images, responsive design, proper optimization of internal pages, and much more.

Inbound links are like the air force of an SEO campaign. They provide unparalleled power, and whomever wields the most and best of them generally has superiority on the battlefield (i.e. the best rankings and website traffic). However, getting good inbound links is time-consuming and can be expensive.

Social media signals are like the naval force of an SEO campaign; depending on the battlefield, they may not be needed or useful. However, in the right scenario they can be the force that wins the battle. Social signals currently play a significant role in search engine ranking algorithms, though I believe it’s less than that of onsite content or inbound links. Nonetheless, I expect the importance of social media signals to continue to rise, eventually overtaking or matching inbound links in terms of importance in the ranking algorithm.

Developing an SEO strategy in which you think about each of these three pillars of SEO as your offensive weaponry is key to a winning battle plan (and a successful SEO initiative). Each facet should be analyzed, actionable conclusions should be drawn, and tactical plans with clear milestones should be developed.

Just like a good battle plan, your SEO campaign needs careful and strategic thought and execution. Necessary resources should be calculated and acquired, and the campaign should be monitored and managed by a commander with an expert knowledge of the tools and weapons available (ie, an SEO professional), with a mind for strategy and an aptitude for swift tactical execution.

Follow these seven steps to ensure victory:

1. Start with keyword research

Performing good, informed keyword research is like building your base. In an RTS game, without a strong foundation from which to launch your attacks, you won’t win the battle. In the game of SEO, without proper keyword research, all your future efforts could be wasted.

2. SEO-optimize your onsite content

Optimizing your onsite content is like building your base defenses. In an RTS, your defenses are what will allow you to withstand enemy attacks. In the game of SEO, optimizing your content from an SEO-perspective will patch up any weaknesses in your strategy, making you more resilient to holding your rankings as your competitors engage in their campaigns.

3. Set up Google Authorship

Setting up Google Authorship is like enhancing the attack power of your offensive units. When Authorship is set up, your content will show up with visual representation in Google’s search results. Here’s an example:

Google Authorship

Aside from the ego-boosting appeal of getting your lovable face on Google’s search results page, this has strategic, ROI-generating impact. Since these search results include images, they stand out from normal ones, drawing the searcher’s eye and resulting in more click-throughs. Every time you get a click, that means someone else didn’t. So, as your SEO campaign benefits, your competitors suffer.

Furthermore, Google Authorship imbues your name with the ability to accrue Author Rank, which is a growing factor in the ranking algorithm. The better your Author Rank, the better your content (that you authored) will rank.

4. Create amazing content for your blog

Creating content for your blog is like building your offensive army. Every great piece of content you create is like dropping another raffle ticket into Google’s hat. The more pages of content you have, the more chances you have to show up in Google’s search results. Furthermore, more content means more linkable assets on your website, and inbound links are the strongest single factor in the ranking algorithm.

Without great content (both on and off your website), your SEO campaign won’t be able to get off the ground. But with plenty of great content, you’ll have the ammunition you need to accrue inbound links, climb the rankings, and steal market share from your competitors.

5. Get your content in front of people who will enjoy it using social media marketing

Social media marketing is a way to augment and support your “army” of content. Content that receives lots of social mentions and shares will perform much better in search results, garner more inbound links, and generate more referral traffic, brand awareness, and website traffic.

6. Start your guest blogging campaign

Your guest blogging campaign is like your special weapon or attack unit. In RTS games, each faction has its own special weapon that the enemy fears. A little later in this article, I’ll discuss one such unit, the Krogoth, from one of my personal favorite RTS games: Total Annihilation (and how that relates to SEO).

In SEO, guest blogging is a difficult, time-consuming, endeavor that requires a ton of patience, expertise, and professionalism. The barrier to entry is high, but if you can pull it off, your competitors will fear you; especially if they aren’t doing it themselves.

Guest blogging is my favorite way to build brand awareness, authority, and credibility. Best of all, it’s a great way for me to share and add value about the things I know about (like SEO, social media, and entrepreneurship). Knowing that I’m adding value to the community makes me look forward to getting out of bed and writing every morning. The referral traffic is great, too!

7. Build your personal brand

Your personal brand is what defines who you are as an individual, and this is important because people like people; not companies. If a personal brand were to be compared to an RTS game, I suppose it could be compared to your playing style. Do you like to rush your opponent quickly before they’ve had time to build their base, or do you prefer to play a long, strategic game?

Your personal brand defines how you interact and connect with not only your community, but also your competitors. Earn the respect of your competitors and you’ll surely earn the respect of your target market. This will result in traffic, leads, and sales.

Time and effort creates value

In most RTS games, the more expensive the unit, the more effective it is in battle. I fondly remember one unit called the Krogoth (from Total Annihilation, my favorite RTS game), which was a massive and devastating offensive unit that required a huge amount of resources and time to build. However, the Krogoth could take down entire armies of enemy units. Just a few of them could march into an enemy base and wreak havoc, severely damaging the enemy if not causing their complete destruction.


In the game of SEO, extremely valuable (often expensive and/or time-consuming) content is like the Krogoth. It can attract lots of high-quality inbound links, referral traffic, and social media buzz. Neil Patel of Quicksprout has mastered this concept and represents a perfect example for how to do it correctly.

Neil invests a great deal of time and money to create and publish extremely valuable eBooks, videos, infographics, and blog posts which have helped establish him as a well-known and successful entrepreneur. Not only has Neil’s personal brand benefited from this distinction, but so have his businesses.

Similarly, SEOmoz specializes in publishing top-notch quality content. They have built their business around the success of this content, using it to build brand awareness, trust, and loyalty, which has helped grow and establish the world’s largest community of SEO professionals, to which they sell their SEO software toolset.

Just like it’s more worthwhile to build a Krogoth than an entire army of smaller units, one extremely awesome and highly-valuable piece of content is better than many low-value ones.


While SEO and RTS gaming may seem totally unrelated at first glance, learning to think like a battlefield commander can mean the difference between a good SEO professional and a masterful one (or a moderately successful SEO campaign vs. a wildly successful one).

I hope this unique look into the similarities of SEO and RTS games gives SEO professionals a new perspective with which to view our young industry; one that will breathe some life into the daily grind while yielding more successful SEO campaigns. Please share your thoughts in the comments below!


Reference:-  http://moz.com/blog/why-seo-is-like-an-rts-game







My Reading List: A Review On Marketing Fundamentals

Hello, Moz fans, I’m excited to be writing my very first post on the Moz blog. My name is Stephanie, and I manage client development for Distilled in Seattle. I have had the opportunity to talk to lots of different people about their concerns over their website, their goals for the future, how they can get more links, and how they can rank higher.

As marketers, it can be easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind, or focus on the latest buzz words, or the newest industry change. It’s nice to take a step back and revisit some marketing basics that are really the building blocks of what we do every day. Revisiting the basics of marketing is the best way to refresh your marketing skills to help your clients succeed. 

I’ve asked for recommendations from my team here at Distilled about the best books that really get at the core of what marketing is about. I spent some weeks reading through these and have reviewed my favorites below for you. Let’s dive in!

UnMarketing by Scott Stratten

In the introduction, Stratten says:

“Marketing is not a task.
Marketing is not a department.
Marketing is not a job.
Marketing happens every time you engage…”

Right out of the box, Stratten gets to the point and says, “Hey, if taking the time to be genuine and build relationships is too much work for you, don’t waste your time reading this book.” It’s so true. A loyal customer base isn’t made by spamming people’s inboxes, cold calling, or responding negatively to customer feedback. How do you like it when companies do that to you? I’ll tell you. You hate it.

Stratten really covers the “basics” of good customer service, which people often forget by focusing purely on the numbers. You might think, “500 people is more valuable than 10, but I can’t talk to 500 people a day, so I must blanket email 500 people today!” Don’t think like that. Spend the time to have a couple of actual conversations that will turn into relationships.

Stratten takes the reader through a narrative of stories of successful companies that got it, and the unfortunate companies that didn’t. The stories help to give life to his message and provided context to his theories to make his ideas stick with you.

One example in particular was my favorite. Stratten got an email from a social marketing executive at Ogilvy named Duri promoting a new Kraft product. Kraft was launching an at home coffee brewing system (called Tassimo) and Duri was in charge of figuring out how to effectively promote the product. Duri could have taken the easy route and spent money on ads or a bit of time on sending mass emails. But he wanted bigger, measurable results.

Instead, Duri decided to spend his time compiling then contacting a list of influential social media users to give away a free coffee maker. The hope was these people would love the product and then talk about it. This would spread the word about the new product by actual consumers – much more effective than paying tons of money on a forgettable advertisement.

Duri personally took the time to write an email to each recipient, and Stratten was one of the lucky recipients. Stratten was reassured he wasn’t being scammed because Duri did a bit of research before writing his email. He mentioned to Stratten that they lived in the same town and should meet to discuss social media. Stratten appreciated the authenticity of the message and that he was able to actually connect with Duri, and on top of that, he ended up loving the product. Win for Tassimo!

The results were fantastic, and Tassimo was increasingly talked about online and sales increased. Two months into Duri’s campaign, Tassimo was “mentioned almost 5,000 times online versus around 50 times before the campaign.” It’s true that this marketing effort took more time than just buying commercial space, but it worked and was measurable. I love this because we think about marketing in the same way at Distilled. Our outreach team spends their days discovering who to contact, then making these actual connections. It takes longer, but it is so much more effective than if they were to automate the process.

All in all, a great read and something I highly recommend as a refresher on how to build your company through real relationships.

(P.S. Make sure you read the notes, they are hilarious.)

Influence by Robert Cialdini

This piece isn’t a marketing book in the traditional sense, but it discusses what every good marketer should understand: what makes people do what they do. Cialdini covers how to recognize and understand these tendencies to persuade people to say “yes.”

The book is broken down into six main themes that neatly break into chapters: reciprocation, commitment and consistency, social proof, liking, authority, and scarcity. Cialdini examines each theme’s “ability to produce a distinct kind of automatic, mindless compliance from people.” Every trait (or chapter) described in the book is supported by several case studies, some Cialdini saw in the news, and some from research he (or other psychologists) completed. Let’s discuss a few chapters in more depth.

Liking: Raise your hand if you have been to a Tupperware party. You poor souls; Tupperware parties are the worst. I’ve been coerced into attending a few times, and I always leave with something I never wanted in the first place. “They made me buy it, I couldn’t say no!” I say to myself.  But how? No one actually tied me down, took my money, and forced an overpriced plastic container into my hands. True, but it was a friend who hosted the party. She will make commission off of the total amount purchased, plus she graciously invited me to her house and served me dinner and drinks. I like my friend, and therefore I feel obligated to buy. I never thought about it this way until it was described in this book, and I bet a lot of other people haven’t either.

Social Proof: I found this chapter chalk-full of intriguing examples as to why people are so easily swayed to follow the crowd.

First thing discussed: laugh tracks. I cringe when I notice them, yet I know it has caused me to occasionally laugh as if on command when something wasn’t particularly funny. Hearing the sound prompts the response to reciprocate the laughter as we are “so accustomed to taking the reactions of others as evidence of what deserves laughter.” The reaction is automatic. It is slightly unsettling to think we so easily fall victim to auto pilot that we react without thinking. 

Cialdini goes on to discuss how social proof is useful as it allows us to see what type of behavior is appropriate in a situation in which we are unfamiliar or uncomfortable. I compared this example to the first time I ever had sushi. I had no idea what to order or how to eat it, so I watched my friends and mimicked their every move. It worked; I made it through the meal without a major faux pas (except when trying to keep up with my friends, I tried a large amount of wasabi and about cried). 

The evidence presented by Cialdini describing human nature proves useful to review as both a consumer and a sales person. As a consumer, you want to be free to make independent decisions without influences from others. As a marketer, you want to persuade people to want your product. Seeing case studies from both perspectives gives us a solid understanding of when it’s appropriate to apply these principles to get our way, and when to guard against them.

These situations and warnings are peppered throughout the book. Remember the Tupperware example? I was weak, and they profited. But in the future, I will understand where my guilty feeling is coming from and make a more informed decision.

I highly recommend this book and, although it doesn’t directly talk about how to market your business, it does talk about how people react to things and how they engage. And what did we learn from Stratten? People and their engagement make or break your business. 

Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath

The pages of Made to Stick are spent exploring why some ideas stay with us and others don’t. Early on in the book, the Heath brothers follow their own model and break their book down into something easily remembered. They summarize it as, “There are two steps in making your ideas stick. Step one is to find the core, and step two is to translate the core using the SUCCESs checklist. That’s it.” 

So, what is SUCCESs?

Simplicity: Get to the heart of an idea. Once you understand this, everything else will fall into place around it. Here’s a quick example: Southwest Airlines is the Low-fare airline. Every decision is based on whether or not it will help them to uphold that motto.

Unexpectedness: How to get and keep people’s attention. Engage their curiosity, and show them something unexpected. I bonded well with the Nordstrom example used in the book. The Nordstrom brand is known for quality customer service. They established that reputation by teaching every employee that customer service comes before everything else. As a former employee, I saw my coworkers go above and beyond in their relationship with our customers. I saw seasoned employees hug their customers. I watched our lead sales person take care of her customer’s children while the woman ran and got a coffee. As a new employee, I was taken aback, thinking, “Shouldn’t she be selling?” 

How did that employee know watching those children was the right choice? Because customer service is the most important thing. She could have made a sale during that time, or spent a few minutes checking in on other clients. True, but the customer was happily surprised with the level of service and she will be back to shop at Nordstrom. Was investing ten minutes into building a relationship worth it? Absolutely. 

Concreteness: Speak in plain language everyone will understand. Have you ever been in a meeting or read an article and were just dying for an example? You just needed some way to tie down these abstract statements to something you were familiar with. In our industry, it’s easy to use our buzzwords, but that doesn’t facilitate communication. “Updating the architecture will improve the UX across the site with the aim of increasing conversions”… no. A CEO who isn’t familiar with SEO will not understand how this will help his business. Instead, try something like, “We want to make your website easier for your customers to use to help increase sales.” This the CEO will get.

Credibility: Establish a trusted source. Numbers are impersonal and easy to question. People trust people, and numbers enhance. Here’s a quick example: seeing a commercial against smoking hosted by a women dying of lung cancer is much more powerful than seeing stats from the health department on how many people die from lung cancer each year. Although the commercial host isn’t a doctor, it’s clear she knows from experience the consequences of smoking and we believe her message. 

Emotions: Associate your idea with something people care about. Do you remember those dog adoption commercials with Sarah McLachlan singing in the background? You’d probably already heard the song and felt sad from it. Combining that sound with the images of sad dogs (which are already emotional triggers for a lot of people) makes it difficult not to call the shelter and rescue a dog.

The most basic way to make people care is to form an association between something they don’t yet care about and something they do care about. Let’s take the example I used in the “concrete” section above about talking to a CEO. They aren’t going to care about updating the architecture of the site unless you can connect it to something they do care about, like increasing sales. 

Stories: Get people to act. Stories help to inspire us into action. A good example is Jared and his Subway diet. Jared, an overweight college student, ate Subway sandwiches daily and lost considerable weight. Remember his commercials? It’s a simple message I can relate to and remember. “He lost how much?” As a customer, I think to myself, “If he can do it, so can I.”

We use this idea of storytelling in everyday business. It’s the principal reason behind using case studies; they paint a clear picture about what happened and why in a way that is easy to digest and remember. Using this checklist to help frame the story is especially effective as it will ensure people don’t just hear the message, but act on it.

This checklist helps us communicate in a more effective way. We can be the smartest person in the room with the best ideas, but if we can’t communicate them well, we won’t be effective. I found this extremely helpful in refining my communication skills to maintain a successful work life and my own sanity. This book is a must-read for everyone.

UnMarketing, Influence, and Made to Stick aren’t about internet marketing in particular – or even specifically about marketing, for that matter – but they all teach us how to be more effective communicators. Preparing for this post, I created a book list and read several of the following books, but I have more to go. I’ve listed them below and I encourage you to check them out, as well.

I would love to hear other recommendations of books to add to this list in the comments below. Happy reading!


Reference:- http://moz.com/blog/my-reading-list






8 New and Underappreciated Marketing Resources from Google

We have a bit of a complicated relationship with Google In the SEO/inbound community. We are often the first, and loudest, to call them out when they get their priorities messed up or hoard data for questionable reasons.

But on the whole, we use more of Google’s wares than probably any other industry.

At Distilled, we use Google Apps for email, calendars, document collaboration, reporting, Google+ for internal sharing discussions, Hangouts for live video, chat, and webinars. Most of our clients use Google Analytics (as we do for our own websites). Our PPC specialists have core expertise in AdWords. Our keyword research work invariably turns to the AdWords Keywords Tool for search volume estimates.

While working with our Creative team to plan a data visualization project recently, I learned about a relatively new service from Google (Consumer Surveys — see below), and it got me thinking about other Google projects that have proven to be useful for our work and those that promise to be in the future.

This guide is intended for those SEOs/inbound marketers who are familiar with the fundamental Google resources (Google Analytics, Apps, the AdWords Keywords Tool) but may not be aware of what else is out there and what is coming soon.

Analytics & Tagging

1. Universal Analytics

This is not particular to inbound at all, but it affects all disciplines of web marketing. Most online marketers have some familiarity with Google Analytics. It’s the most widely-adopted analytics platform on the web, and it’s about to evolve.

Universal Analytics (in beta) is apt to change the way we use and think about marketing analytics. This successor of the Google Analytics we know will bring improved performance and, most importantly, new functionality and flexibility to your reporting.

Uses & benefits of Universal Analytics:

  • Cross device tracking of individual users: We live in a multi-device world. To date, Google Analytics has not had core functionality that allowed for tracking users across all of their devices (one user is tracked as multiple “unique visits,” one for each device). Universal Analytics creates a User ID for the individual and allows you to track their interactions with your site/app across their devices allowing for cross-device optimization.
  • The ability to push “offline” data into the system: Using the same User ID functionality, you can tie this data to a single user — across devices and interactions — over the lifetime of their relationship with your business. While passing any “Personally Identifiable Information” into GA is strictly a violation of the Terms of Service, this doesn’t mean you can’t securely keep that information together on your end and (respectfully) use it to manage your customer relationships and otherwise learn who your best customers are.
  • Performance enhancements: The current iteration of GA passes a lot of data to GA servers from multiple cookies. Universal Analytics (UA) uses a single, simple cookie and stores most data on GA servers. Faster pages = happier users.
  • 20 custom dimensions, 20 custom metrics: You can do a lot with GA’s customer variables, but this is really going to open things up. If you want to push offline and other data into your reports, these are going to come in handy.
  • Set your own session and campaign expirations: Sessions can be set up to 4 hours, campaigns up to 2 years.

Justin Cutroni, one of the most well-informed analytics gurus you’ll find publishing online, wrote a nice post about the potential of UA, using his local gardening supply store as a case study of sorts. It is highly recommended reading.

There is so much here that even if you don’t start implementing for live campaigns yet, getting your head around the possibilities of UA (if not the measurement protocol itself) is only going to benefit you as this next iteration bridges the chasm to wide adoption.

Note: before you dive in and start using Universal Analytics on your website, keep in mind there are some things still missing: AdSense, DoubleClick, Content Experiments, and Remarketing are not yet integrated. You’ll probably want to run UA tracking concurrently with your existing GA tracking. The next resource in the list will help with that.

2. Tag Manager

Again, not particular to inbound, but big enough to matter to everyone. Google Tag Manager was released in late 2012 and has seen strong growth, but many marketers are still unaware of its benefits. Google is certainly not the first entrant into the tag management space, but they may well (and quickly) become the most popular.

Mike Pantoliano wrote a solid technical overview of Tag Manager (and tag management in general) here on the Moz blog that is well worth a read.

Essentially, Tag Manager gives you central control of tracking tags firing in the <head> of any given page, without having to touch the page code itself once you’ve added the main container. The rules to trigger tag firing are flexible enough that the possibilities here are broad and powerful.

Uses & benefits of Tag Manager:

  • Central, organized management of your tags/scripts: Targeting a given page with a rule is a lot faster than adding it via a CMS or to the source code directly.
  • Cuts dev cycle bottlenecks out of the equation: No more waiting a week for your colleagues in dev to update your tracking snippets: Tag Manager takes the work off the dev team’s plate, so everybody wins.
  • Improved performance: Flexible firing rules allow you to load resources only on the pages that require them, cleaning up code on other pages and optimizing page loads.

While Tag Manager’s benefits will be greatest for organizations with significant web operations and drawn-out dev cycles, it’ll save most web marketers some time and headache, and signup/setup is relatively painless. There’s a lot of flexibility here, and I expect more clever uses will emerge as the community gets comfortable with this tool.

3. Tag Assistant

If you are using (or intend to use) Tag Manager, Tag Assistant is a Google Chrome extension that will make double-checking your tag/rule configurations a lot easier.

Here’s how it looks:



As above, you can quickly see the details of any tag by clicking the blue arrow to the right of its status.

Uses & benefits of Tag Assistant:

  • In short, it makes checking your Tag Manager configuration a lot easier.

Market Research

4. Think Insights

Think Insights has been around for a couple of years and recently updated their site. While there is a lot of self-serving promotional material here, there is also a great deal of value.

Organized by industry, marketing objectives, and ad types, this resource includes a wealth of research studies, most of which were co-conducted with Google and partners (often research firms) to come to some data-driven conclusions on the way specific markets and demographics use the web. It also serves as an inspiration center for digital marketing campaigns, linking out to some compelling and innovative pieces.

Uses & benefits of Think Insights:

  • Free, searchable access to market research studies, organized by industry, marketing objectives, and ad type
  • Visualization of the most common multi-touch paths by industry with “The Customer Journey to Online Purchase
  • Inspiration for your next data visualization project with Chrome Experiments. The “500” home page alone is worth the time to click.
  • There’s also the Creative Sandbox gallery, showcasing creative online campaigns that “blend creative genius and digital innovation.” This is skewed toward paid channels, but there are a lot of creative approaches here from which we can learn.

5. Consumer Surveys

Consumer Surveys is the only paid service in this post, but research with surveys, if you want to step outside of your customer email list, will always require an investment. Google’s offering is relatively affordable at $.10 a response ($.50 if you need to target a specific demographic).

We are using Google Consumer Surveys for a client project currently at Distilled, and so far the straightforward pricing model and predictable timelines for turnaround are promising.

Matt Cutts ran a playful survey with this service to determine how many people have heard of “search engine optimization.” The answer: about one out of five.

Uses & benefits of Google Consumer Surveys:

  • Relatively fast turnaround
  • Accurate data
  • Affordable cost

Search History & Data

6. Trends

Trends is a relatively well-known but often overlooked source of historical search volume data.

Search behavior is fluid. If you work in SEO you probably rely heavily on the AdWords Keywords Tool for volume estimates. But if your campaigns are planned for the long term, Trends provides data that tells you something about how users will search in the future.

For example, here’s an interesting comparison:

Note: “News headlines” (at top right) can be useful for identifying the cause behind spikes/drops in search traffic. I’d take the “Forecast” option with a sizable grain of salt.

Trends is also useful for measuring client brand recognition over time (vs. competitors), and for discovering the seasonal pattern for a given keyword throughout the year.

The new Top Charts section provides an engaging visual navigation through current trending searches. Perfect for brainstorming content angles.

Also check out the new live visualization of Hot Searches. Useful? Maybe. Entertaining? Yep.

Uses & benefits of Trends:

  • View historical data for a single keyword, or compare two or more
  • Discover seasonality in search volume
  • Browse current trending searches
  • Export to CSV for your Excel/other reports

7. Zeitgeist

Zeitgeist isn’t exactly a tool or a data set but more of an interactive recap of the year in search. You select the year (and/or country), and Google walks you through the biggest search trends and the related events around the world.

The most recent Zeitgeist for the year 2012 included a well-produced video recapping what the world searched for (and therefore experienced) in 2012:


At 15 million views, not a bad example of content done well in itself

If you’re looking for a large data source for a rich visualization, this is not the place. But Zeitgeist can be useful for brainstorming historical context and content angles.

Uses & benefits of Zeitgeist:

  • Rich visual “story” experience of historical data
  • Helpful for brainstorming historical content angles
  • General nostalgia/inspiration (What? That counts.)

8. Public Data Explorer

Public Data Explorer is Google’s portal into government and institutional data sets. While you won’t find anything uniquely available here data-wise, the ability to search and browse data sets from one tool can make your research and brainstorming around data visualization concepts far more efficient.

This tool will also allow you to upload your own data sets and visualize them, which might not give you much of a share-worthy result for publishing purposes, but it is a handy way to play with the different ways to present a given data set before the dev team goes to work building the beautiful version.

Uses & benefits of Public Data Explorer:

  • Search/browse many public data sets from one interface
  • Upload your own data set
  • Quickly switch between different chart/visualization approaches for a given data set

This is not an exhaustive list; there are no doubt some other Google applications and features you use for marketing (Related Searches, Ngram Viewer, etc). I am sure I have also missed some uses and benefits of the resources included here. Please share your favorites in the comments!

Reference:-  http://moz.com/blog/8-new-underappreciated-marketing-resources-from-google





How My Mom Thinks Search Engines Work

With Mother’s Day in many countries having just passed (I learned this week that the UK celebrates Mothering Sunday earlier in the year), I thought it would be fun to have a conversation about SEO with one of the most incredible people on the entire planet: my mom. I asked her about what it is she believes our industry does on a daily basis as well as how she thinks search engines function in general.

The conversation was great; sort of similar to rubber duck debugging, except in this case the rubber duck was my mom, and instead of sitting there silently, she could comment when I started using terms she did not understand (and who can blame her; we’re pretty notorious for inventing words and phrases on whims).

Here are some of my favorite moments from the chat:

What do you think I do at work all day? “Work on your computer, fly toy helicopters, drink lattes… etc.”

Not going to lie, that’s pretty accurate; sorry, Will and Duncan!

What does SEO stand for?  “Search engine online”

Not quite, but at least she didn’t say “SEO optimization.”

Do you know what Bing is? “Bing bong?” *laughter ensues* “No, I had to look it up.”

I can appreciate the humor. I’m assuming she used Google but missed the irony; sorry, Duane.

How do search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo decide who to put at the top of a search result? “Don’t they base it mostly off of which sites are read the most?”

Not too far off, but how do they establish that list to begin with? “Test which ones people click on the most and then move them around a bunch to see what works best, right?”

Before I worked in SEO, this was how I thought it worked too; and in the grand scheme of things, this has some loose truth buried in there; partial credit.

How do search engines make money? “By putting those little ads all over the page.”

Nailed it.

If you were looking for a veterinarian close to you, what would you do? “I’d go to Google.com and type in “best veterinarian in Seattle” and look for people’s reviews. Or maybe ask a neighbor.”

Ah yes, the one thing that always thwarts a #1 ranking in the SERPs: a personalized recommendation from a friend.

If you were looking for advice on how to train a dog to stop barking, what would you search for? “How do I train my dog to stop barking, and then probably look for a website where people ask questions and then others give answers.”

I think she’s talking about Yahoo! Answers, the black hole of infinite internet wisdom…

How far down the page on the search results will you look? “Not too far, I don’t normally find what I want past the first couple listings.”

Besides being at the top of the page, what is the biggest factor on what you click on in the search results? “How many stars it has for reviews or if I recognize a company that I like.”

Ah yes, the trust factor.

If you don’t like the results for those searches, what would you do differently in your second search? “Probably give up. No, just kidding. Probably pick some different words to search for; maybe call someone depending on what I needed.”

Bonus question: If you were running a small flower shop, how would you try and get to the front page of Google for when people searched “fresh flowers”? “I’d name it AAA Best Fresh Flowers or something. I don’t know, probably call you, isn’t that your job?”

Phone book marketing at its finest.

OK that was fun, but why?

While those questions and subsequent answers might seem kind of silly, there is immense value in removing yourself from the SEO echo chamber and having occasional, down-to-earth conversations with someone from the 99% of search engine users who have minimal understanding of “under the hood” mechanics on results pages.

For me, working at an agency makes it pretty easy to get wrapped up in the lingo and terminology that many of us all comprehend without second thought. Phrases like WMT, dynamic urls, 301 redirects, SERPs, canonicalization, etc. are tossed around in casual conversation over morning coffee like we’re talking about the weather. But ask an outsider to translate, and I’m willing to bet we sound like toddlers speaking gibberish.

This is certainly not exclusive to SEO, as any of us who have friends in terminology-heavy industries like software, finance or medical fields can easily get lost listening in during a technical conversation. Or my personal favorite, ask someone in the US Military to spout off as many acronyms as they can remember and your head will be left spinning; it’s impressive.

Point being, it is important to understand that this gap in comprehension exists. When I was a bank teller in college, I would always find myself using terms and phrases that quickly earned perplexed looks from my customers. “It looks like the APR on your HELOC isn’t up-to-date; let’s have a PB take a look.”

I learned pretty quickly that in order to communicate effectively to my customers, it was vitally important that I spoke in a much more common language that they understood completely. Nobody likes to feel dumb; in my case, being a college kid trying to talk about personal finance to a partner at a law firm rarely ends well. “I’ll have my people take a look,” was always one of my favorite responses as the clarity in my error was bright as day.

For those of you who have been doing this whole SEO thing for a while now, think back to when you first started pitching the idea to bosses, your client list or even other marketing folks. I’m sure you can distinctly remember the looks you received during those conversations. One of my favorite responses of all time was, “Don’t most people just search for our brand name if they want to shop on our site?”

So, let’s simplify

One of most brilliant ads of the late 90s was the Apple Switch campaign.

Instead of focusing on RAM, graphics cards, processing speed and hard drive space, Apple took an approach that created a common user, the college student, the non-technical parents, the elderly, and simplified a message specifically for them:


We would all be doing ourselves a huge favor to make sure that our daily conversations with people not directly entrenched in the SEO industry use far less lingo and more conversational language. The VP of Marketing is always going to understand what more revenue means and probably cares far less about the specific details behind URL structure or anchor text distribution. Always start with the big picture then whittle your way down to the finer details only as far as your audience is willing to pay attention.

The takeaway

So how do we combat this echo chamber a bit? Here are some things that have really helped me out over the past year:

  1. Take non-SEOs out for coffee

On some recurring frequency, schedule a coffee date with friends who you’re certain have little to no grasp on SEO and get their opinion on how they search. Bonus points for diversifying the demographics along a wide gradient of technical and non-technical folks. Ask them how they search for any number of things (navigational, transactional, and informational).

You will quickly see how differently each person functions when they’re on the hunt for something. They will likely reveal some great tips to keep in mind for your future SEO projects. Keeping your ear to the ground on how the “common folk” search often offers immense value in preparing a strategy.

  1. Get active in non-SEO communities

One of my favorites is Hacker News, which has a very strong and relatively negative opinion of SEO. But these are the things that we need to read, because these are actual people’s opinions. I can hear Mike Pantoliano groaning from here, but reading through all the misconceptions a lot of these people have offers insight into what we as an industry need to continually work toward improving.

All the best work in the world amounts to nothing if the perception of the industry as a whole is negative. Folks like John Doherty, Rand Fishkin and Ross Hudgens are doing a great job defending the industry on HN, but there is plenty of work left. Besides, it’s always great to hear an opinion from the other side of the aisle.

  1. Follow lots and lots of non-SEOs on Twitter

We’re all guilty of it; take a look through the people you follow on Twitter. I’m betting the majority of those people are somehow related to SEO as well. I can appreciate you want to be up on the latest and greatest news when it comes to search, but try to diversify this list as much as possible. Take your non-search interests and look for the thought leaders in those spaces; the balance is invaluable!

What are your thoughts? I would love to hear how you talk about technical issues to non-technical clients. How do you bridge the gap?

And lastly, a very Happy Mother’s Day to all the hard working moms out there. Without you, we wouldn’t all be here!


Reference:- http://moz.com/blog/how-my-mom-thinks-search-engines-work





How to Rank: 25 Step SEO Master Blueprint

If you’re like most SEOs, you spend a lot of time reading. Over the past several years, I’ve spent 100s of hours studying blogs, guides, and Google patents. Not long ago, I realized that 90% of what I read each doesn’t change what I actually do – that is, the basic work of ranking a web page higher on Google.

For newer SEOs, the process can be overwhelming.

To simplify this process, I created this SEO blueprint. It’s meant as a framework for newer SEOs to build their own work on top of. This basic blueprint has helped, in one form or another, 100s of pages and dozens of sites to gain higher rankings.

Think of it as an intermediate SEO instruction manual, for beginners.

Level: Beginner to Intermediate

Timeframe: 2 to 10 Weeks

What you need to know: The blueprint assumes you have basic SEO knowledge: you’re not scared of title tags, can implement a rel=canonical, and you’ve built a link or two. (If this is your first time to the rodeo, we suggest reading the Beginners Guide to SEO and browsing our Learn SEO section.)

How To Rank SEO Blueprint

Table of Contents

Keyword Research

1. Working Smarter, Not Harder

Keyword research can be simple or hard, but it should always be fun. For the sake of the Blueprint, let’s do keyword research the easy way.

The biggest mistakes people make with keyword research are:

  1. Choosing keywords that are too broad
  2. Keywords with too much competition
  3. Keywords without enough traffic
  4. Keywords that don’t convert
  5. Trying to rank for one keyword at a time

The biggest mistake people make is trying to rank for a single keyword at a time. This is the hard way. It’s much easier, and much more profitable, to rank for 100s or even 1,000s of long tail keywords with the same piece of content.

Instead of ranking for a single keyword, let’s aim our project around a keyword theme.

2. Dream Your Keyword Theme

Using keyword themes solves a whole lot of problems. Instead of ranking for one Holy Grail keyword, a better goal is to rank for lots of keywords focused around a single idea. Done right, the results are amazing.

Easy Keyword Research

I assume you know enough about your business to understand what type of visitor you’re seeking and whether you’re looking for traffic, conversions, or both. Regardless, one simple rule holds true: the more specific you define your theme, the easier it is to rank.

This is basic stuff, but it bears repeating. If your topic is the football, you’ll find it hard to rank for  “Super Bowl,” but slightly easier to rank for “Super Bowl 2014” – and easier yet to rank for “Best Super Bowl Recipes of 2014.”

Don’t focus on specific words yet – all you need to know is your broad topic. The next step is to find the right keyword qualifiers.

3. Get Specific with Qualifiers

Qualifiers are words that add specificity to keywords and define intent. They take many different forms.

  • Time/Date: 2001, December, Morning
  • Price/Quality: Cheap, Best, Most Popular
  • Intent: Buy, Shop, Find
  • Location: Houston, Outdoors, Online

The idea is to find as many qualifiers as possible that fit your audience. Here’s where keyword tools enter the picture. You can use any keyword tool you like, but favorites include Wordstream, Keyword Spy, SpyFu, and Bing Keyword Tool and Übersuggest.

For speed and real-world insight, Übersuggest is an all-time SEO favorite. Run a simple query and export over 100 suggested keyword based on Google’s own Autocomplete feature – based on actual Google searches.

Did I mention it’s free?

4. Finding Diamonds in the Google Rough

At this point you have a few dozen, or a few hundred keywords to pull into Google Adwords Keyword Tool.

Pro Tip #1: While it’s possible to run over a hundred keyword phrases at once in Google’s Keyword Tool, you get more variety if you limit your searches to 5-10 at a time.

Ubersuggest and Google Keyword Tool

Using “Exact” search types and “Local Monthly” search volume, we’re looking for 10-15 closely related keyword phrases with decent search volume, but not too much competition.

Pro Tip #2: Be careful trusting the “Competition” column in Google Adwords Keyword Tool. This refers to bids on paid search terms, not organic search.

5. Get Strategic with the Competition

Now that we have a basic keyword set, you need to find out if you can actually rank for your phrases. You have two basic methods of ranking the competition:

  1. Automated tools like the Keyword Difficulty Tool
  2. Eyeballing the SERPs

If you have an SEOmoz PRO membership (or even a free trial) the Keyword Difficulty Tool calculates – on a 100 point scale – a difficulty score for each individual keyword phrase you enter.

Keyword Difficulty Tool

Keyword phrases in the 60-70+ range are typically competitive, while keywords in the 30-40 range might be considered low to moderately difficult.

To get a better idea of your own strengths, take the most competitive keyword you currently rank #1 or #2 for, and run it through the tool.

Even without automated tools, the best way to size up the competition is to eyeball the SERPs. Run a search query (non-personalized) for your keywords and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are the first few results optimized for the keyword?
  • Is the keyword in the title tag? In the URL? On the page?
  • What’s the Page and/or Domain Authority of the URL?
  • Are the first few results authorities on the keyword subject?
  • What’s the inbound anchor text?
  • Can you deliver a higher quality resource for this keyword?

You don’t actually have to rank #1 for any of your chosen words to earn traffic, but you should be comfortable cracking the top five.

With keyword themes, the magic often happens from keywords you never even thought about.

Case Study: Google Algo Update

When SEOmoz launched the Google Algorithm Change HIstory (run by Dr. Pete) we used a similar process for keyword research to explore the theme “Google Algorithm” and more specifically, “Google Algorithm Change.”

According to Google’s search tool, we could expect a no more than a couple thousand visits a month – best case – for these exact terms. Fortunately, because the project was well received and because we optimized around a broad keyword theme of “Google Algorithm,” the Algo Update receives lots of traffic outside our pre-defined keywords.

This is where the long tail magic happens:

Long Tail Keywords

How can you improve your chances of ranking for more long tail keywords? Let’s talk about content, architecture, on-page optimization and link building.


6. Creating Value

Want to know the truth? I hate the word content. It implies words on a page, a commodity to be produced, separated from the value it creates.

Content without value is spam.

In the Google Algorithm Update example above, we could have simply written 100 articles about Google’s Algorithm and hoped to rank. Instead, the conversation started by asking how we could create a valuable resource for webmasters.

For your keyword theme, ask first how you can create value.

Value is harder to produce than mere words, but value is rewarded 100x more. Value is future proof & algorithm proof. Value builds links by itself. Value creates loyal fans.

Value takes different forms. It’s a mix of:

  1. Utility
  2. Emotional response
  3. Point of view (positive or negative)
  4. Perceived value, including fame of the author

Your content doesn’t have to include all 4 of these characteristics, but it should excel in one or more to be successful.

A study of the New York Times found key characteristics of content to be influential in making the Most Emailed list.

New York Times Most Emailed
Source: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1528077\

7. Driving Your Content Vehicle

Here’s a preview: the Blueprint requires you create at least one type of link bait, so now is a good time to think about the structure of your content.

What’s the best way to deliver value given your theme? Perhaps it’s an

  • Infographic
  • Video series
  • A new tool
  • An interview series
  • Slide deck
  • How-to guide
  • Q&A
  • Webinar or simple blog post

Perhaps, it’s all of these combined.

The more ways you find to deliver your content and the more channels you take advantage of, the better off you’ll be.

Not all of your content has to go viral, but you want to create at least one “tent-pole” piece that’s better than anything else out there and you’re proud to hang your hat on.

If you need inspiration, check out Distilled’s guide to Viral Linkbait or QuickSprout’s Templates for Content Creation.

8. Title – Most Important Work Goes Here

Spend two hours, minimum, writing your title.

Sound ridiculous? If you’re an experienced title writer like Rand Fishkin, you can break this rule. For the rest of us, it’s difficult to underplay the value delivered by a finely crafted title.

Write 50 titles or more before choosing one.

Study the successful titles on Inbound.org, Mashable, Wired, or your favorite publication.

Headline Formulas Work

Whatever you do, read this fantastic post by Dan Shure and the headline resources at CopyBlogger.

9. Length vs. Depth – Why it Matters

How long should your content be? A better question is: How deep should it be? Word count by itself is a terrible metric to strive for, but depth of content helps you to rank in several ways.

  1. Adds uniqueness threshold to avoid duplicate content
  2. Deeper topic exploration makes your content “about” more
  3. Quality, longer content is correlated with more links and higher rankings

I. Uniqueness

At a minimum, your content needs to meet a minimum uniqueness threshold in order for it to rank. Google reps have gone on record to say a couple sentences is sometimes sufficient, but in reality a couple hundred words is much safer.

II. Long Tail Opportunities

Here’s where the real magic happens. The deeper your content and the more in-depth you can explore a particular topic, the more your content becomes “about.”

The more your content is “about”, the more search queries it can answer well.

The more search queries you can answer well, the more traffic you can earn.

Google’s crawlers continuously read your content to determine how relevant it is to search queries. They evaluate paragraphs, subject headings, photographs and more to try to understand your page. Longer, in-depth content usually send more relevancy signals than a couple short sentences.

III. Depth, Length, and Links

Numerous correlation studies have shown a positive relationship between rankings and number of words in a document.

“The length in HTML and the HTML within the <body> tag were the highest correlated factors, in fact with correlations of .12 they could be considered somewhat if not hugely significant.

While these factors probably are not implemented within the algorithm, they are good signs of what Google is looking for; quality content, which in many cases means long or at least sufficiently lengthy pages.”

– Mark Collier The Open Algorithm

This could be attributed longer, quality content earning more links. John Doherty examined the relationship between the length of blog posts on SEOmoz and the number of links each post earned, and found a strong relationship.

Links based on wordcount

10. Content Qualities You Can Bank On

If you don’t focus on word count, how do you add quality “depth” to your content?

SEOs have written volumes about how Google might define quality including metrics such as reading level, grammar, spelling, and even Author Rank. Most is speculation, but it’s clear Google does use guidelines to separate good content from bad.

My favorite source for clues comes from the set of questions Google published shortly after the first Panda update. Here are a few of my favorites.

Google Panda Questions

11. LDA, nTopic, and Words on the Page

Google is a machine. It can’t yet understand your page like a human can, but it’s getting close.

Search engines use sophisticated algorithms to model your sentences, paragraphs, blocks, and content sections. Not only do they want to understand your keywords, but also your topic, intent, and expertise as well.

How do you know if your content fits Google’s model of expectations?

For example, if your topic is “Super Bowl Recipes,” Google might expect to see content about grilling, appetizers, and guacamole. Content that addresses these topics will likely rank higher than pages that talk about what color socks you’re wearing today.

Words matter.

SEOs have discovered that using certain words around a topic associated with concepts like LDA and nTopic are correlated with higher rankings.

Virante offers an interesting stand alone keyword suggestion tool called nTopic. The tools analyzes your keywords and suggests related keywords to improve your relevancy scores.


12. Better than LDA – Poor Man’s Topic Modeling

Since we don’t have access to Google’s computers for topic modeling, there’s a far simpler way to structure your content that I find far superior to worrying about individual words:

Use the keyword themes you created at the beginning of this blueprint.

You’ve already done the research using Google’s keyword tool to find closely related keyword groups. Incorporating these topics into your content may help increase your relevancy to your given topic.

Example: Using the Google Algorithm project cited above, we found during keyword research that certain keywords related to our theme show up repeatedly, time and time again. If we conducted this research today, we would find phrases like “Penguin SEO” and “Panda Updates” frequently in our results.

Google suggests these terms via the keyword tool because they consider them closely related. So any content that explored “Google Algorithm Change” might likely include a discussion of these ideas.

Poor Man's Topic Modeling

Note: This isn’t real LDA, simply a way of adding relevant topics to your content that Google might associate with your subject matter.

13. Design Is 50% of the Battle

If you have any money in your budget, spend it on design. A small investment with a designer typically pays outsized dividends down the road. Good design can:

  • Lower bounce rate
  • Increase page views
  • Increase time on site
  • Earn more links
  • Establish trust

… All of which can help earn higher rankings.

“Design doesn’t just matter, it’s 50% of the battle.”
-Rand Fishkin


Dribbble.com is one of our favorite source of design inspiration.


Here’s the special secret of the SEO Blueprint: you’re not making a single page to rank; you’re making several.

14. Content Hubs

Very few successful websites consist of a single page. Google determines context and relevancy not only by what’s on your page, but also by the pages around it and linking to it.

The truth is, it’s far easier to rank when you create Content Hubs exploring several topics in depth focused around a central theme.

Using our “Super Bowl Recipes” example, we might create a complete section of pages, each exploring a different recipe in depth.

Content Hub for SEO

15. Linking the Hub Together

Because your pages now explore different aspects of the same broad topic, it makes sense to link them together.

  • Your page about guacamole relates to your page about nachos.
  • Your page about link building relates to your page about infographics.
  • Your page about Winston Churchill relates to major figures of World War II.

Linking Your Content Hub

It also helps them to rank by distributing PageRank, anchor text, and other relevancy signals.

16. Find Your Center

Content Hubs work best with a “hub” or center. Think of the center as the master document that acts as an overview or gateway to all of your individual content pages.

The hub is the authority page. Often, the hub is a link bait page or a category level page. It’s typically the page with the most inbound links and often as a landing page for other sections of your site.

Center of the SEO  Content Hub

For great example of Hub Pages, check out:

On-Page Optimization

17. Master the Basics

You could write an entire book about on-page optimization. If you’re new to SEO, one of the best ways to learn is by using SEOmoz’s On-page Report Card (free, registration required) The tool grades 36 separate on-page SEO elements, gives you a report and suggestions on how to fix each element. Working your way through these issues is an excellent way to learn (and often used by agencies and companies as a way to teach SEO principals)

On-Page Tool

Beyond the basics, let’s address a few slightly more advanced tactics to take advantage of your unique keyword themes and hub pages, in addition to areas where beginners often make mistakes.

18. Linking Internally for the Reasonable Surfer

Not all links are created equal (One of the greatest SEO blog posts ever written!) So, when you interlink your internal pages within your content hub together, keep in mind a few important points.

  1. Links from inside unique content pass more value than navigation links.
  2. Links higher up the page pass more value than links further down.
  3. Links in HTML text pass more weight than image links.

When interlinking your content, it’s best to keep links prominent and “editorial” – naturally link to your most important content pages higher up in the HTML text.

19. Diversify Your Anchor Text – Naturally

If Google’s Penguin update taught us anything, it’s that over-thinking anchor text is bound to get us in trouble.

When you link naturally and editorially to other places on the web, you naturally diversify your anchor text. The same should hold true when you link internally.

Don’t choose your anchor text to fit your keywords; choose your anchor text to fit the content around it.

Practically speaking, this means linking internally with a mix of partial match keyword and related phrases. Don’t be scared to link occasionally without good keywords in the anchor – the link can still pass relevancy signals. When it comes to linking, it’s safer to under-do it than over-do it.

Choose Descriptive Anchor Text

Source: Google’s SEO Starter Guide

20. Title Tags – Two Quick Tips

We assume you know how to write a compelling title tag. Even today, keyword usage in the title tag is one of the most highly correlated on-page ranking factors that we know.

That said, Google is getting strict about over-optimizing title tags, and appears to be further cracking down on titles “written for SEO.” Keep this in mind when crafting your title tags

I. Avoid Boilerplates

It used to be common to tack on your business phrase or main keywords to the end of every title tag, like so:

  • Plumbing Supplies – Chicago Plumbing and Fixtures
  • Pipes & Fittings – Chicago Plumbing and Fixtures
  • Toilet Seat Covers – Chicago Plumbing and Fixtures

While we don’t have much solid data, many SEOs are now asserting that “boilerplate” titles tacked on to the end of every tag are no longer a good idea. Brand names and unique descriptive information is okay, but making every title as unique as possible is the rule of the day.

II. Avoid Unnecessary Repetition

Google also appears (at least to many SEOs) to be cracking down on what’s considered the lower threshold of “keyword stuffing.”

In years past it was a common rule of thumb never to repeat your keyword more than twice in the title. Today, to be on the safe side, you might be best to consider not repeating your keywords more than once.

21. Over-Optimization: Titles, URLs, and Links

Writing for humans not only gets you more clicks (which can lead to higher rankings), but hardly ever gets you in trouble with search engines.

As SEOs we’re often tempted to get a “perfect score” which means exactly matching our title tags, URLs, inbound anchor text, and more. unfortunately, this isn’t natural in the real world, and Google recognizes this.

Diversify. Don’t over-optimize.

22. Structured Data

Short and simple: Make structured data part of every webpage. While structured data hasn’t yet proven to be a large ranking factor, it’s future-facing value can be seen today in rich snippet SERPs and social media sharing. In some verticals, it’s an absolute necessity.

rich snippets

There’s no rule of thumb about what structured data to include, but the essentials are:

  • Facebook Open Graph tags
  • Twitter Cards
  • Authorship
  • Publisher
  • Business information
  • Reviews
  • Events

To be honest, if you’re not creating pages with structured data, you’re probably behind the times.

For an excellent guide about Micro Data and Schema.org, check out this fantastic resource from SEOGadget.

Building Links

23. The 90/10 Rule of Link Building

This blueprint contains 25 steps to rank your content, but only the last three address link building. Why so few? Because 90% of your effort should go into creating great content, and 10% into link building.

If you have a hard time building links, it may be because you have these numbers reversed.

Creating great content first solves a ton of problems down the line:

  1. Good content makes link building easier
  2. Attracts higher quality links in less time
  3. Builds links on its own even when sleeping or on vacation

If you’re new to marketing or relatively unknown, you may need to spend more than 10% of your time building relationships, but don’t let that distract you from crafting the type of content that folks find so valuable they link to you without you even asking.

90-10 Rule of Link Building

24. All Link Building is Relationships – Good & Bad

This blueprint doesn’t go into link building specifics, as there are 100’s of ways to build quality links to every good project. That said, a few of my must have link building resources:

  1. Jon Cooper’s Complete List of Link Building Strategies
  2. StumbleUpon Paid Discovery
  3. Citation Labs
  4. Promoted Tweets
  5. Ontolo
  6. eReleases – Press releases not for links, but for exposer
  7. BuzzStream
  8. Paddy Moogan’s excellent Link Building Book

These resources give you the basic tools and tactics for a successful link building campaign, but keep in mind that all good link building is relationship building.

Successful link builders understand this and foster each relationship and connection. Even a simple outreach letter can be elevated to an advanced form of relationship building with a little effort, as this Whiteboard Friday by Rand so graciously illustrates.

25. Tier Your Link Building… Forever

The truth is, for professionals, link building never ends. Each content and link building campaign layers on top of previous content and the web as a whole like layers of fine Greek baklava.

For example, this post could be considered linkbait for SEOmoz, but it also links generously to several other content pieces within the Moz family and externally as well; spreading both the link love and the relationship building as far as possible at the same time.

SEOmoz links generously to other sites: the link building experience is not just about search engines, but the people experience, as well. We link to great resources and build links for the best user experience possible. When done right, the search engines reward exactly this type of experience with higher rankings.

For an excellent explanation as to why you should link out to external sites when warranted, read AJ Kohns excellent work, Time to Long Click.

One of my favorite posts on SEOmoz was 10 Ugly SEO Tools that Actually Rock. Not only was the first link on the page directed to our own SEO tools, but we linked and praised our competitors as well.

Linkbait at its finest.



Reference:- http://moz.com/blog/how-to-rank




The Top 4 Ways to Use Social Media to Earn Links – Whiteboard Friday

Web marketers are increasingly turning to social media as a great source of high-quality links. Deciding to utilize social is a good first step, but earning the attention of others is easier said than done.

In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand covers four of his favorite tactics for squeezing the most link juice out of social media.

For reference, here’s a still image of this week’s whiteboard.

Video Transcription

“Howdy Moz fans and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Today we’re going to talk a little bit about social media and using social to earn links. Now link building is still an important process, an important part of SEO, and it also drives traffic. Because links are so critical and yet link building classic link building stuff, like directories or comment spam or buying links, a lot of those old-school link methodologies and black hat link methodologies are out of there, social is actually one of the big focus areas for link builders. But it’s a tough thing to do, and so I want to try and walk you through some tactics to get started with this.

These are four of my favorites, and I use them all the time. This is in fact one of the primary methodologies that I use and that Moz uses to earn a great majority of the links that we’ve earned over the last five years. First off, number one, interactions that are in links. This is kind of the classic, “I’m going to engage with a community, with a person, with a brand, and I’m going to hope that through those interactions I can earn links back.” If you do this right, you almost always can.

First off, I highly recommend interacting early and often. Early because a lot of times, especially if you’re trying to get links from a popular site or a popular brand that’s got a strong social presence, being in the first five or ten comments, interactions, engagements when they post to their Facebook page, when they make a Google+ post, when they launch a new blog post, when they put up a new video, really helps you to be seen by the editors who are almost always watching. Whoever is producing the content is keeping a careful eye on those.

Although I know I don’t always respond directly to Whiteboard Friday comments, for example, I’m almost always reading or someone else here at Moz is, and you can almost always see us in the comments engaging and interacting.

When you do that interaction, make sure you’re adding value. Please. What I mean by this is you might think it’s great to say, “Hey. If I say, ‘That was a really great post. I learned a lot. Thank you so much for publishing it. You’re an inspiration to me.” You haven’t added any value. It’s not that I don’t love seeing comments like that, trust me. It makes me feel great. Makes me feel like a million bucks, but it doesn’t add value. It’s not memorable. It doesn’t strike a person as, “Oh wait. Who is that? I need to learn more about them. I want to figure out their point of view,” all those kinds of things.

By adding value to the conversation, you make yourself stand out in the comments. This person, if they add value by doing a little bit of detailed research, by referencing some other content, by making the conversation more interesting, when you see a post that has great comments, you look at who made those great comments. You often click to that person’s profile. Those will latently earn you some links. I’ll talk about those in a sec, but it’s also a great way to get on the radar of those editors.

Once you’re on people’s radar, that’s when you should offer to help. Offer to help out. Oftentimes, the people that I’ve seen have the most success with this tactic are those who help without being asked to do anything. For example, I write a blog post with some statistics labeling some stuff, and someone else goes and does additional research and produces a new graphic based on it and says, “Hey, Rand, would you like to use this in your post too? I think this is a great visual representation of the data you collected here.”

Oh my god. Not only am I going to put that in my post, I’m going to want to high five that person, and I’m definitely going to want to give them link credit back to their site. Those offers to help without being asked are a great way to use the interactions in a community to drive links back to your own site, and you can do this, not just on blog posts, but on Facebook pages, on Google+ posts, on YouTube comments, all that kind of stuff.

Number two, searching for link likely outreach targets. Chances are that if you’re doing any kind of link building campaign specifically, you’re looking for the right kinds of people who will be likely to link to you if you ask them or if you engage with them, if you offer them something, if you guest post for them, if you do some work for them, whatever it is.

Using some tools, find people on Plus, Followerwonk, Google site colon searches, particularly helpful for sites like Pinterest or YouTube or Tumblr, those kinds of things where you can do a site colon query and you can add lots of parameters in there. For example, I only want bio pages. So I’m going to do a site colon, LinkedIn/in to find people who have this particular characteristic. Actually LinkedIn’s own site search and people search works pretty darn well. I’d add them in here, LinkedIn as well.

Fresh Web Explorer, by they way, also very handy for this, particularly for the blogosphere and finding blogs. Google blog search is pretty good, but it’s a little random at times. I’m not quite sure I get the relevancy. Fresh Web Explorer is nice because you can order by feed authority, which generally correlates very well to the number of readers that a particular feed has. So that’s great for finding popular blogs.

Using a service like Followerwonk or any of these, you can also do more advanced things. With Wonk in particular, I can find the intersection of, for example, people who follow me and also follow Moz. Then I can say, “Boy, these people in here who follow both of us on Twitter, oh my god, they’re fantastic link targets.” Now I can take that list, I can export it directly, and I can start going through and saying, “Hey, now give me the domain authority of these sites and let me order this.” Wil Reynolds from SEER Interactive uses this tactic and blogged about it. I think he was one of the first to do that. This type of stuff is excellent for that identification process. Who is going to be a link likely target?

Number three, post content that will capture a target’s attention and then ping them or cc them. For example, let’s say I have a travel blog or a travel website and I tweet something. I analyze @Hipmunk and @Kayak in my latest blog post, here’s the URL. You know what’s going to happen as soon as I do this, right? The people who are monitoring, who are doing the social monitoring for Hipmunk and Kayak, they are going to go to this URL. They’re going to check it out, and they’re going to want to see who does better in the rankings.

If one of them wins and one of them is clearly better for certain kinds of things, they’re likely to put that on their press page. They’re likely to tweet that. They’re likely to endorse it. They might even reach out and ask, “Hey, here’s some methodology stuff. Did you consider doing it this way or that way,” blah, blah, blah. It’s starting that conversation, getting the engagement and potentially getting that endorsement to give you a link right back to your site, which is fantastic. That’s exactly what you’re looking for.

Don’t pander. Do not just go outright and say, “Oh, I’m going to go gush about this brand.” It’s very transparent, and it doesn’t work well. It’s inauthentic. It’s easy to spot that.

Do make content that the target won’t just want to retweet or repost through social, but might actually want to reference and link to. This is why endorsements and recommendations work very well, particularly if you have a brand or if you happen to be someone that they want an endorsement from. Do any type of research, data, studies, graphics, videos, content that they would want to post on their site, that they would want to reference when they create content. That type of stuff can be invaluable.

Number four, finally, when you’re doing social engagements and you have built up a big community, a big following, you’re posting lots of stuff that’s getting lots of interactions, retweets, plus ones, shares, likes, etc., what happens is that you actually earn latent links, and many people in the SEO field believe that this is actually what’s causing Google to have such a high correlation between things that rank well and social metrics. This is what happens.

I post a graphic to Pinterest. It takes off. Lots of people repin it. People on Tumblr pick it up and reblog it. It gets a lot of automated republishing. There are services like Topsy that pick up popular content from all over the social web, Pinterest included, and then republish that, and that is often what you’ll see if you go to Open Site Explorer and look at Just Discovered Links. You’ll see all these kind of republishers who are linking to social stuff, anything that’s been posted socially. You get included in people’s blog posts editorially, and that leads to links. No surprise.

So this process, just doing this social stuff gets you these latent links, and that’s one of the reasons that social is such a powerful channel, because it can be used in all of these direct ways. But even indirectly it’s earning you links through the content and the interactions that you’re posting.

This week you might notice I’m using this fancy new Moz pen which apparently has my signature on it. Please no one forge me handing over my mortgage. I don’t actually have a mortgage, and I hope that they’ll be making these available for some folks because they’re super cool. I just found them in the Whiteboard room.

With that, everyone, I look forward to your comments. We’ll see you next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.”

Reference:- http://moz.com/blog/the-top-4-ways-to-use-social-media-to-earn-links-whiteboard-friday