4 Tips for Creating Link Bait

Posted by Geoff Kenyon

While link bait is frequently seen as more "fun", and it’s definitely more creative, than doing things like guest blogging or emailing people asking for links, it has its challenges. I wanted to share a few things I’ve learned about creating link bait from my experiences. If you have other insights, I’d love to hear them in the comments.
 

Keep a Tight Scope

In most cases you will want to keep your content extremely focused around your target, or the person that you are going to get to link to you (Justin wrote more about this process here). While it’s tempting to try and cast as wide of a net possible, typically you will be more successful focusing on targeting one or two targets (and shaping the content around these demographics) rather than trying to create content that targets everyone.
 
While this is really important for a lot of link bait content, there will obviously be exceptions to this rule. A couple examples come to mind (if you can think of others, feel free to leave a note in the comments):
 
  • If your content or subject really is universally applicable – While this is very rare, there is some content topics that apply to almost everyone on the web. A good example of this would be Facebook; just about everyone on the internet has a Facebook account and has an interest in changes (especially when it involves privacy settings).
  • Creating exhaustive guides – Super in-depth and extensive guides and documents can receive a lot of links if they are done really well. Think about Beginners Guide has received.

Keep the scope tight especially with revisions and additions. When you want to add in more content to make it better, or the client wants additions, you need to ask: “Will adding X improve the linkability of the link bait”?

Offer Something New

There are two aspects of this: perspective and information.
 
Perspective
The internet is huge; sometimes it feels like everything has already been written about. Fortunately people tend to write the same thing. If you want to write about a topic that has already been written about a lot, come at it from a different angle. If everyone is writing about why something sucks, write about why it’s awesome. And don’t just say it’s awesome, back it up and make a case for why it’s awesome.
 
Information
Though it seems like just about everything has been written about think about what you can contribute that other people don’t know.  Here are a few types of information you can use:
 
  • Sales data – you can analyze your sales data and segment it by population, gender, or other information you collect in the sales process to contribute something new. Yes this data might not be completely accurate as it is your sales data and may not be representative of the market. That said, it is still new and typically unavailable to people.
  • User data – When users register, ask them for information. If they have profiles on their site, ask them for information. Then anonymously aggregate this information and present it with pretty charts and graphics (More on this from Dr. Pete). OK Cupid does a great job of this with most of their blog posts. Check out this one on stuff white people like (original stuff white people like).

  • Do your own research – Offering brand new data is great because no one else has it so you get to be the definite (linked) source for forthcoming references. This can be really helpful with infographics – if you are having a hard time finding research that someone has published, do the research yourself. Tools like AYTM Market Research are great for this as they provide you with a large panel so you can get quick responses and you can focus your time on creating your link bait, not doing research.
 
Publish your data from the research you did and provide excel/csv downloads for people to be able to use the data to do their own research as a way of earning links. You can even go as far as requiring attribution to use the data.

Feedback is Key

 You need to make sure that your infographic is correct and there aren’t mistakes or typos. These will get your link bait torn apart on sites like Reddit. You should minimally have people looking at:
 
  • Spelling/Proofreading – do you have typos or misspellings. It happens. A lot. Get someone who is really nitpicky and uptight to go over it.
  • Technical details – Make sure that the content is technically correct and that you aren’t wrong. Find a subject matter expert and have them verify your work.
  • Readability – While the linkbait might make complete sense to you and your cohorts, you this is your baby (and nobody thinks their baby is ugly) so some things that might seem obvious to you really aren’t obvious to everyone else. Have your mom look at this, kind of like when you were in grade school and your mom checked your homework. Get someone object who isn’t invested in the project verify that it makes sense (and that it’s cool).
 
Get subject matter experts (especially those who you would like a link from) involved in the project – reach out to them before the project launches, tell them they are awesome and ask them to review it because they know so much more than you. When it goes live tell them and thank them for their help. Then encourage them to share it. They have invested time in the project and are more likely to share.

Have a Killer Hook

You can have great data but if you don’t have a hook, then it is significantly less likely to succeed. Todd Malicoat has a great overview of link baiting hooks here that you should take a read through. I will list them here quickly for you though – to get the full explanation you’ll have to read the post ;):
 
  • News hook
  • Contrary hook
  • Attack hook
  • Resource hook
  • Humor hook
  • Ego hook
  • Incentive hook
 
While each of these hooks are effective, you should choose the hook based on who you are ultimately targeting and who you want to link to you. While a humor hook may work well for broad appeal, if you want to increase topically relevant links you might want to go with something like a resource hook or contrary hook.
 
If you have a strong community you can often use the ego hook to scale your link building and get your community to build links for you.
Likewise Copy Blogger has a crash course on magnetic headlines that you should read through. Having really strong headlines will not only help improve the number of people reading your content but can have a big impact on how well-shared your link bait is. As such make sure your title contains a hook.
 

 

What insights do you guys have? I’d love to hear what’s worked for you when you’ve been working on creating link bait.

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Spotify Opens Music Catalogue to iOS App Makers

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Spotify is releasing its API for iOS Wednesday.

The red hot music streaming service, which recently made its U.S. debut, will open its catalogue of more than 15 million tracks to third-party iPhone and iPad app developers.

The application package, Libspotify for iOS, is available to Spotify Premium users. It rounds out Spotify’s API suite, also available for Windows, Mac OS and Linux.

“We hope this will enable a new category of iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch applications with Spotify inside and allow for more immersive music experiences within iOS apps,” Director of Platform Sten Garmark says.

The API release is important considering the bevy of music subscription services competing for end user attention. Now, Spotify has the opportunity to piggyback on the popularity of Apple’s iOS platform to reach an even greater audience.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Andreas Blixt

More About: api, iOS, spotify

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Let’s Kill the “Bad Inbound Links Can Get Your Site Penalized” Myth

The Loch Ness monster is a myth. Despite concerted and scientific efforts, the only signs of Nessie are a few grainy photographs…yet the myth continues. In the SEO community, we have a similar mythical monster lurking, and it’s called “inbound links from bad sites can earn your site a Google penalty.”

Let’s put this myth to bed once and for all.

Let’s assume that an evil webmaster – defined as someone who engages in all sorts of black hat behavior specifically designed to manipulate Google search results – comes along and links to our site. Because this person is evil, they will at some point earn a penalty from Google. So the question is, when the penalty comes, will it also affect our site?

The answer: Of course not, because we have no relationship with the linking party. We can’t control who links to us, so we can’t be penalized when someone who links to us does something evil.

This ought to be enough to put the myth to rest. Yet some junior SEO rangers are getting ready to unload in the comments section, saying that they’ve actually seen this happen to a site they manage or control. Baloney. What they’ve seen is a loss of ranking brought on by a loss of link value.

Evil webmasters, you see, are often times brilliant. They find methods of abusing Google’s system, and for a time these methods help their websites achieve powerful rankings. When an evil website links to you, it’s likely that their link will carry some weight and help your site.

Yet that also means that when Google penalizes the evil site, your website loses a valuable inbound link, which can impact rankings. But let’s not mistake that loss of rankings for a penalty.

Penalties can only occur when there is an obvious relationship – Google has to be 100% certain that you and your website were somehow involved with the evil party in order for you to be penalized. This relationship is demonstrated when you link to bad neighborhoods. See Google’s Webmaster Guidelines:

“…some webmasters engage in link exchange schemes and build partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking, disregarding the quality of the links, the sources, and the long-term impact it will have on their sites. This is in violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and can negatively impact your site’s ranking in search results.”

The key word here is exchange. If evil doers link to your site, that’s one thing. But if you link back? Your odds of being penalized are much, much higher. Links are votes, so be careful who you link to. If you can’t vouch for the quality of a specific link (say a link provided in a comment signature), then use the rel=nofollow attribute.

If, despite my explanation, you still believe that a link from an evil webmaster could earn your site a penalty, consider this: If it was indeed possible to hurt a website by linking to it, what would stop a competitor from buying a bunch of links and pointing them your way?

This is precisely why inbound links can’t hurt your site, regardless of where they come from. Google and Bing know that if their algorithms penalized sites for poor quality inbound links, it wouldn’t be long before SEOs added sabotage to their list of services.

There are few certainties in SEO, but you can stamp this one in steel: An inbound link from an evil or spammy website cannot hurt you, unless you’re dumb enough to link back.

UPDATE: After careful consideration of disagreeing comments – some of which have come from SEO industry heavyweights – I’d like to adjust my conclusion. It appears that Google may automatically penalize sites that receive bad links without regard for relationship, However, no one can explain how or when this occurs with any sort of confidence, nor can they explain how long a penalty will last.
Furthermore, there are no concrete examples of this occurring being offered, and all of the practitioners of so-called “negative SEO” refuse to elaborate on the how or why of their service in all but the most general terms. Rishi Lakhani, who took the time to talk to me at length about his experience with bad links hurting sites, indicated that this type of situation is not common. I would agree with that assessment, perhaps even going as far as to say “extremely rare.” Yet, “not common” or “extremely rare” is proof that I am indeed wrong. 
Further proof that I am wrong can be found in Google’s form letter to webmasters suspected of link manipulation. In the closing paragraph, Google refers to the possibility that bad links were directed at your site without your knowledge. Therefore, I must humbly admit an error on my part. I shouldn’t have said bad links can’t hurt you – only that bad links can’t hurt you in all but rare occasions.
Personally, I’m not going to lose a minute of sleep over bad links pointing to my site, and I don’t think anyone else should either. I’d also like to say that this article should in no way be viewed as encouragement to go out and buy spammy links. Finally I’d also like to apologize for calling detractors “junior SEO rangers.” That was uncalled for.

Check out the SEO Tools guide at Search Engine Journal.

Let’s Kill the “Bad Inbound Links Can Get Your Site Penalized” Myth


Tips for Managing High Spend, High Volume PPC Accounts

Many strategies for managing Pay-per-click or PPC accounts translate across all sizes of PPC accounts. Keeping your ad text fresh, not over using broad match and other tips can be easily implemented across accounts of any size. But any PPC manager who has managed an account that spends a couple hundred thousand dollars a month can tell you it’s quite different than managing an account that spends a few thousand a month.

When managing a smaller PPC campaign, you may have to stay away from certain strategies because your budget is limited. With larger clients, due to the increased budget, you have the opportunity to employ many strategies in order to drive leads. The client may not care how they get the leads, as long as they’re getting them at an acceptable cost per acquisition or a positive ROI on the campaign. Whether it’s branded keywords, competitor brand names, it doesn’t matter, as long as you’re driving leads. If you’re currently managing a campaign of this size or are looking to get a job at a large agency, the following tips can help you succeed.

Make Friends with Adwords Editor:

With large accounts that house hundreds if not thousands of keywords, using Adwords Editor is essential. Adwords Editor enables you to easily create and alter parts of your campaign in Excel. Editor is extremely helpful when you’re in the midst of creating a campaign or making major changes to the structure of your campaign. Using Excel functions such as concatenate, lens, sub and others can also help you become more time efficient.

Know Where You’re Spending Your Money:

With thousands of keywords and ads, and many campaigns and ad groups, knowing where you’re spending your budget isn’t always easy. While smaller campaigns may have a few campaigns, if you have a client who offers many products and services you could end up with a significant amount of campaigns. Creating saved filters within Adwords or your PPC management tool is an easy way to see where you budget is going and how it’s performing. By creating a performance based filter that filters your keywords by things such as spend, clicks or conversion, you can easily log in and see how keywords are performing.

Break Out Account Structure:

This tactic can be employed to take advantage of how your account is performing. It also can be combined with how off line factors affect your conversion performance. For example – if you tend to convert in certain states better than others due to factors with state laws, taxes or other factors, breaking out your campaign through geo-targeting will allow you to alter your strategy for certain states or locations. You’ll be able to bid up or bid down your keywords based on performance and it will also allow you to create state or location specific ad copy to attract potential customers.

Ad Text Testing:

Testing ad text across a large account isn’t easy. The time it takes to check how ad copy is performing in each of the ad groups you’ve created can be daunting. In order to combat this, you can easily implement a standard ad testing procedure that’s effective and doesn’t take up ridiculous amounts of hours. To start the test, create 3 ads per ad group. One branded, one keyword specific and additional ads that uses both. By usually similar wording through the three different types of ads, you can use filtering options to lump statistics together to get an idea of how ads are performing. This tactic can be employed when you have a very granular structure, and you may not have a large amount of impressions per ad.

Streamline Reporting for Client:

Create the report your client wants. Work with your client to establish your KPI’s (Key performance indicators). Chances are if you’re running a campaign that spends millions of dollars over the course of a year, the higher ups within your client’s organization may not want granular reporting. They’ll most likely want number related to conversion volume, cost, cost per conversion and how these fluctuate week over week.

Create Reports to Help You Manage:

While you may be taking a few hours each week to create reports for your client, don’t forget to create reports that help you manage the account. Taking advantage of the ability to export data from Adwords with multiple segments enabled can help you create reports that in turn, help you manage the account better. More granular reporting can also help inform your client if they want to dig deeper into why performance shifted from previous weeks.

Check out the SEO Tools guide at Search Engine Journal.

Tips for Managing High Spend, High Volume PPC Accounts


eCommerce Syndicated Content: How to Win

Posted by Kate Morris

There is a ton of talk right now about Panda recovery. SEOmoz is no exception to this: questions in Q&A, webmasters cleaning up their content, and so much more. Webmasters are taking control of their sites, building some awesome original content, and ensuring that content can be found by letting users (and bots) know about it.

So it surprised me when a large client asked for help to combat an internal project that would place duplicate content on their site. They are in the ecommerce space and have the issue of selling products that many other companies sell. Duplicated content runs rampant here in the form of product descriptions. The manufacturer creates a description for resellers and that is what everyone uses. It’s sanctioned from the source and no writers are needed. Sounds awesome until the product is carried by hundreds of websites and everyone has the same content. Who should rank then?

Like most big companies (as is my client), this decision was made by someone else and the SEO team screamed in defiance. So they asked me for proof that having unique content was as necessary as everyone keeps saying.

Done. And guess what? Google backed me up (in at least 3 examples). So I thought I’d share my best example and my take aways to help other ecommerce sites deal with this situation now and in the future. 

Bodum Fyrkat Nipper

Bodum Fyrkat Nipper

There is no disclaimer needed in this case as I chose this product at total random from Amazon. I had purchased a personal grill recently from the same manufacturer and knew that there were many sellers for that product. I wanted something that was cool but also common place. Therefore, I used the grill tongs and went searching for examples of other sellers. My point here was to show that duplicated content in the form of product descriptions doesn’t help rank the product page, so the first step was to find multiple sellers of the product. 

Find Seller Information

To identify the sellers, I used searches for the product name, product number, a snippet of the product description from the seller (and once identified, the manufacturer supplied description), and some reviews that kept popping up. I noticed that many of the pages that had the standard product description had the same two reviews as well. Easy way to identify a page with no unique content. The identified product pages (check for the canonical URL) were then checked for page and domain authority. 

When the pages are checked, you’ll see a trend in descriptions and be able to identify the manufacturer’s feed for the description. Note which sites write their own and which use the same as everyone else. Below is a list of our competitors and their domain (DA) and page authority (PA) in order of strength, grouped by content type. From this, we would assume based on strength that Amazon, Zappos, Cooking.com, or Epicurious would have a strong shot at ranking.

Original Content

  • Amazon.com – 97 DA, 1 PA
  • Zappos – 90 DA, 46 PA
  • Bodum – 62 DA, 35 PA
  • Maple Run Emporiums – 18 DA, 20 PA

Duplicated Content

  • Epicurious – 89 DA, 1 PA
  • Cooking.com – 78 DA, 42 PA
  • Betty Crocker – 72 DA, 1 PA
  • CSNStore.com – 70 DA, 1 PA
  • Food Network Stores – 64 DA, 1 PA
  • Buzzillions – 61 DA, 1 PA

Find the Key Phrase and Rankings

But what are we ranking? Typically I would use a variation of the product name, but Amazon threw me a curve ball: they renamed the product to help with internal search. Instead of Fyrkat Grill Nipper, they use the name Fyrkat Grill Tongs. This decision makes more sense to me, and I’m assuming it helps with searching internally as well. But I didn’t want to take Amazon’s word for it. Always check for which term is better according to actual searches. 

To test, I looked at the SEOmoz Keyword Difficulty Tool and ran three keywords. None of them had traffic numbers from Google, but the difficulty of Fyrkat Grill Nipper was higher. That made sense as more sites used that name for the product, so the competition is more fierce. The impact this has is that the Amazon page is most likely going to show lower than normal because they name the product differently. 

Working in the Keyword Difficulty Tool also give you a look at the ranking sites for the keyword, which is the next step. 

Results

Results

The top three results are Zappos, Bodum, and Maple Run Emporium; the rest are videos or aggregators. These three are the sites with original content, taking out Amazon due to their shifted targeting. The product manufacturer is third and my theory is that is due to the fact that their content is duplicated across the Internet, but they are the original and should be up there. 

All other major brands and their product pages didn’t show on the first page, with CSN being the only one to show on the second page. Search engines want to show users the best content for their time, so it makes sense that aggregators (who show where the product is sold across the web) and video content is intermixed with the sellers who took time to describe the product on their own. 

Winning in eCommerce

What I want you to take away from this post is this: Even a tiny original bit of content can set the page apart from competitors.

Maple Run Emporium, check out their domain and page strength. They are paltry next to bigger sites like Betty Crocker and Epicurious. Yet with a small hand written description of the product that is a sentence long, they are ranking above all the other major sellers! Their page, below, is simple and direct. 

Fyrkat Grill Nipper

Winning Tips

  1. Feel free to use syndicated content to enhance your own content and reviews.
    1. Make it know that it is from the manufacturer.
    2. Place it at the end of the text on your page.
  2. Write your own descriptions of the products. We aren’t talking a novel, but something unique. 
    1. Give the product to someone in the office and have them write what they think.
    2. Use the words from a customer’s review (ask them if they are cool with that via email).
    3. Don’t just rewrite the content you are given from the manufacturer, really write what you think about the product.
    4. Have fun with it. See examples at Amazon and Zappos.  
  3. Entice users to review your products. Email them a week after they receive the product and give them a link to the product page with a request to review it. See the example from Modcloth below:

 

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Mozilla Previews Firefox for Tablets [PICS]

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Mozilla has offered a first glimpse of its Firefox for Tablets web browser.

The company described the new product as “an evolution of its phone based predecessor, with some added enhancements that take advantage of a tablet’s larger screen size,” in a blog post.

From what we can see (which is admittedly not much at this point), that seems to be a pretty good description. The tablet version has room for more UI elements, such as a row of tabs, unlike Firefox for mobile. A tab menu appears on the left side of the screen in landscape mode or on the top of the screen in portrait mode.

Theme-wise, the browser heavily borrows from Honeycomb, Android’s operating system for tablets. But you’ll still find familiar Firefox elements, including a big back button and Firefox’s signature “Awesomebar” — a URL field that also searches bookmarks, history and synched desktop activity.

Mozilla has still not announced a release date.

Firefox for Tablets — Tabs

Firefox for Tablets — Awesomebar

Firefox for Tablets — Theming

More About: Firefox, firefox for tablets, mozilla

The Greatest Attribution Ever Graphed

Posted by Slingshot SEO

Step-by-Step Instructions for Non-Branded Custom Segmentation
in GA’s new Multi Channel Funnels Section

Multi Channel attribution is amazing, to say the least. In the immortal words of Avinash Kaushik, “You will have an orgasm!” If you weren’t there for Mozcon, I’m sorry. Don’t let it happen again, but you can always get the video of his presentation when it comes out.

Much like the way I felt on Christmas day 1996, I couldn’t wait to play with a brand new system whose inner workings I knew almost nothing about: the Nintendo 64. Rand will corroborate my story. Today, it’s the new Multi Channel Funnels segmentations in Google Analytics, Version 5 (trumpets please, Avinash).

Below, you’ll find some Michelangelo-esque screenshots of how we (the Slingshot R&D guys) broke down some custom segmentation and compared them to show differences between:

  • Non-branded, organic, first interaction
  • All non-branded organic interactions
  • All conversions

To create a custom Conversion Segment, simply click the link, as shown in this screenshot:

To create the First Interaction Organic, Non-Branded Segment, select the following:

  • Include [First Interaction] [Medium] [Containing] [Organic]
  • Next, select [Add a conversion path option]

And for the love of all that is Mozzy, go to the “and” section to add this piece. Use “or” and you won’t know North from a Bear-o-dactyl.

  • Exclude [Any Interaction] [Keyword] [Matching RegExp] [fill in your branded terms here]

Done? Awesome. Next.

To create the All Organic, Non-Branded segment, select the following:

  • Include [Any Interaction] [Medium] [Containing] [Organic]
  • Next, use “add” not the “or” option [Add a conversion path option]

  • Exclude [Any Interaction] [Keyword] [Matching RegExp] [fill in your branded terms here]

Done? You’re the best. Now grab your chopsticks, eat some Cheetos, and enjoy the graph!

Delicious… the graph, I mean. If at some point you decide you’re tired of looking at all those conversions (what is wrong with you? Oh right, you’re a Mozzer), you can pick and choose the specific conversions you’d like to see.

Gratuitous screenshot for your enjoyment.

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The Growth of Social Media: An Infographic

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Embed this on your site

Say what you will about the tidal wave that is social media: it’s over-hyped, a fad halfway through its 15 minutes, that <insert social network, platform, app> surely won’t be around in a few years’ time.

But take a look below at the steep curve of the user growth rate in all age ranges and demographics, and the continuing pervasiveness of social networking into every facet of work, play and life in general. It’s hard to argue that social media hasn’t changed forever how we interact and connect online. See for yourself: (click image to enlarge)

Check out the SEO Tools guide at Search Engine Journal.

The Growth of Social Media: An Infographic

Embed this on your site


Content is King But the User is the Emperor

Many years ago, Google stated ten points on their Corporate Philosophy page – they were as follows:

  • Focus on the user and all else will follow.
  • It’s best to do one thing really, really well.
  • Fast is better than slow.
  • Democracy on the web works.
  • You don’t need to be at your desk to need an answer.
  • You can make money without doing evil.
  • There’s always more information out there.
  • The need for information crosses all borders.
  • You can be serious without a suit.
  • Great just isn’t good enough.

They are still applicable with a constant endeavor by Google to follow the stated norms and also with constant improvements in the implementation procedures.  This was reflected in the Scientific Evaluation, recently discussed by Amit  Singhal at the discussion hosted by Church Hill Club where he openly explained the testing procedure of every algorithmic update at Google.  He says that the focus has always been “DO What Is Best For The User”

All search activity starts and ends with the user.

  • The user types in the query in the search box
  • The results are displayed for the user by the search engine
  • The user decides which results to click on

It seems so simple, but there are scientific and psychological principles which this whole activity revolves around.

The three parties involved in this activity are the user (always #1), the websites which get ranked, the search engines and the search algorithms which execute this result.

The search engines want to give quality search results to their users. The website owners want their websites to be ranked as high as possible so that their website can be found by the user. And the user wants to find relevant content as fast as possible. Hence, the user is the focus at every step of the search activity.

Amit Singhal also stated that there are approx. 500 changes to the Google algorithm every year, and Google runs around 20,000 tests every year.

The answers to the following questions are considered before moving forward with the new algorithm. They are:

  • Is it good for the web eco system at large?
  • Would it benefit authors?
  • Would it benefit high quality content?
  • Would it keep the Google system simple so that it can be maintained much longer?

Google says that every algorithmic update is rigorously and scientifically tested before finalized. The website owners optimize their sites by investing time and money to be found by the user on the search engines. Each click on the search listings proves the user found something relevant and useful. Other metrics like the bounce rate, the click thru rate, time on site, pageviews, and the execution of the call for action, prove the result served the purpose of the user’s search and was considered relevant or irrelevant by the user.

Usually the first focus is on what search engines want followed by the user or potential visitor. However, the web developer and SEO’s flow of focus by should be the other way round. Construct content, design, colour combo and content options – like images, videos, and texts, from the user’s perspective and then focus on the search engine bots.

SEO is not rocket science (yes an old and overused statement). It’s all very simple but still demands a lot of patience and perseverance.

  • Cater to the user by offering quality information on site
  • Make the site easy for the bots to crawl and index
  • Use the Webmaster Tools Effectively by adding and offering the right information about the site
  • Analyze the Google Analytics Data For The Metrics That Matter
  • Take corrective steps to modify the site accordingly serving the user and the bot constantly

Search is fundamental to all and is constantly evolving so SEO cannot be a one time job. As search engines keep on working on their algorithms for quality results, an SEO needs to monitor, measure and tweak the site constantly as per the user’s evolving search behavior and the changing algorithms for attaining stability for the site in search rankings and visibility.

Check out the SEO Tools guide at Search Engine Journal.

Content is King But the User is the Emperor


YouTube is Useless

YouTube is useless at boosting traffic if you’re not using it to its fullest potential. YouTube is home to 490 million users, and offers the possibility of sending interested users to your website, but only if you know how to use it. If your video isn’t up to snuff, it’ll only gather cobwebs and be forgotten about. Everyone wants their video to go viral, right? So, how do we go about it?

Two factors make up a viral video: the video itself and how well the video is optimized. An example is the infamous ‘Rick Roll’. For those who lucky enough to be spared from the Rick Roll, it’s the Rick Astley song “Never Gonna Give You Up” played as a prank and displayed as something that you was searching for (but obviously is not). Yes it’s irritating, but it shows how well optimized the video was for you to have actually seen it. There’s no relevant content, but by following the algorithms of YouTube, the video has managed to show up in your results. On the other end of the scale, you could have an informative, helpful video, but if it isn’t optimized, no one will see it. It’s the balance of the two elements that leads to your video receiving a lot of viewers – interested viewers, which is what we all want.

Finding Your Keywords

Now, I would say that this would be a first step for all users looking to optimize their videos. It’s essential you decide who you’re targeting and find out what they’re searching for.

A good tool for this would be https://ads.youtube.com/keyword_tool – this tool suggests keywords to you that are similar to those you entered. It also shows the number of searches per month. Experiment and come up with a list of keywords that are relevant and searched for by a sufficient amount of users.

The Algorithm

To optimize our videos, we must know what the search results are based on. For those of you who don’t know, YouTube is owned by Google, so the algorithms will have some similarities.

When you create your video, there are only three parts that you can control: the Title, Description, and the video’s Tags. These are all vital for your video to be seen and make sure that they’re of the best standard, keyword AND quality wise. These are factors you have control over, but there’s other things you can’t change, such as the amount of views, the amount of likes, and the comments. The basic rule of thumb is the more uncontrolled factors the better, although there are a few variables, which will be explained shortly.

Title

For all of you SEOs out there, treat your YouTube video title as you would a Meta title. Your YouTube title is what shows above the video, but it’s also the first thing that shows in the search results. So, it’s important that you get this right, otherwise users will pass over it if it does not match their needs. First, you need to find your keywords. Once you’ve decided upon them, figure out what terms are the most important and most searched for. It’s vital that the title doesn’t look too spammy and is short and to the point.

Let me give you an example – if your video was a tutorial, showing how to create backlinks from your site to another, simply name it “How to Create Backlinks” and possibly include your company name if it’s relevant.  Bear in mind that search engines don’t pick up words like ‘and’, ‘to’ and ‘for’, so keep these to an absolute minimum. If you’re using YouTube to help develop your branding, I suggest putting in your company name religiously because if someone’s to search the name of the company then all of your videos are easily shown.

Description

Again, for the SEO experts out there, treat your YouTube description how you would a Meta description. The principles are very similar. Addressing users lacking SEO knowledge, the main thing is to include a lot of your keywords in this section. Don’t end up keyword stuffing, though, as this is a black hat method, which is frowned upon by the search engines and could get you banned.

Moving on, the description needs to actually describe your video in a readable format, but make a conscious effort to include your keywords. If you have a website, it’s essential that you include it within the first line of your description, this way your site is always available and always visible. The same thing goes for telephone numbers or email addresses. If you’d like people to contact you then make your contact information clear and visible. Remember people do actually read the descriptions, so format them accordingly.

Tags

Now this is the area where you’re supposed to keyword stuff. Anything you think your viewers could potentially search and be looking for in a video similar to yours, put it in. It’s much better to have more tags than less. In addition, make sure you have every variation you can think of with phrases and words; you want your video as visible and available as possible.

There’s a 500 character limit; you’re unlikely to run over that, but make sure you prioritize your keywords in correlation to how many people are searching for them. It’s important that these keywords are 100% relevant to what your video is actually about; otherwise, your video might as well join the Rick Roll.

Likes and Comments

Likes and comments are basically the same thing. With regards to optimization, the more you get the better. If a lot of comments are placed on your video, this means the video impacted the viewer enough for them to make a comment, regardless of whether it was good or bad.

Similarly, the more likes you have the better, but negative likes will affect the search results. Obviously you’ll show lower in YouTube’s results if you have more dislikes than likes. There’s not much you can do to control this, although in regards to comments make sure you engage your audience… maybe ask their opinion, but most importantly, get them involved and encourage them to comment, like and subscribe.

Views

Finally, I come to the views, they have an effect and the more the better. Although, details of the view effects it to some extent, if someone stops watching your video halfway through, then that individual view won’t be as beneficial as a full view.

However, even if you click off the video halfway through watching, it still counts – YouTube just takes note that it wasn’t a full view. The only way you can influence that is by making sure the content of the video is of a high quality throughout and keeps the viewer entertained!

Video Creation

Now, a lot of different elements come into creating a brilliant video, but the ones that have always been the most popular are as follows: How to’s or Tutorials, Comedy, Product or Service Reviews. Cute animals and sexy women will always have a high amount of views, but try not to take advantage of the easy options just remember they’re always there for those who really need them.

When you’ve decided on the type of video, know what it needs to set it apart from the rest. A good opening is essential, it needs to be snappy, capture the attention of its audience, and retain interest. Once you have their full attention, don’t let it go… Make your video consistent throughout. Production of the video is also important, it must be well edited and not slapped together. It needs to be as good as possible otherwise your viewers will just find something else.

Getting Your Video Noticed

There are many methods to get your video noticed and some people just stick to one. If you want your video as viewed as much as possible, make it available as possible. I suggest trying and using all of the following methods.

Join a forum that relates to the videos you’re creating, become an active member and when the opportunity arises, direct potentially interested forum users to your video. For example, if you joined a mobile phone forum someone is likely to be discussing and asking for opinions about the iPhone4. If you’ve actually done a review of that, mention your work and provide a link.

This method also works with YouTube. Look for similar videos and say something along the lines of “I’ve actually created a similar video and I have a different point of view”. Also, post your video in the video responses section; this gives your video as much opportunity as possible in the sense of YouTube.

If you’re an active Twitter, Facebook, or any other social media platform user, then write a short post and a link about your video. Upload the video only to your YouTube account, this way all of your traffic is put into one place and will benefit you more as opposed to uploading on separate sites.

An exception to this is to upload the video onto your own site, possibly in your blog. Use the embed code provided by YouTube and put it onto your site with a short description about the video, similar to the YouTube description page.

Conclusion

It essential you carry out the video’s production and distribution to the best standard if you want great results from YouTube. You’ll notice the effect it has on your business once you utilize YouTube’s potential. Remember, just one factor on its own won’t provide the results you’re looking for, unless you are a “Rick Roller”, so put effort in all the different elements that add up to a useful YouTube video.

Check out the SEO Tools guide at Search Engine Journal.

YouTube is Useless