2013 has been rich in Google updates, SERP changes and other SEO news. Penguin, Hummingbird, Not Provided approaching 100%, Google Local Carousel, the evolution of Knowledge Graph - we became aware of those in 2013. Quite natural, there's a lot of great content from recognized experts to cover these SEO happenings. In this recap, I've summarized 50 SEO articles from 2013 that I believe to be the most helpful for the community. The posts have been structured according to the topics they cover.
Theory is great, but when it comes to SEO, link building and actually driving traffic, we all long for case studies and success stories we can replicate. One of these inspiring stories has been published by Brian Dean on his Backlinko blog. In his article, Brian shows us a technique that helps him get high quality links from every piece of content he produces. The author's strategy is about finding proven linkable asserts, making something even better and then reaching out to the right people.
Most of us are used to the idea that building a blog takes time. Regardless of the content you publish, visitors won't flood your board overnight, because there are certain stages a new blog should go through. In this article, Tom Ewer states that in reality you can build a blog and start attracting visitors tomorrow. And that's exactly what he did. The author shares a helpful story of how he attracted around 2k visitors to his brand new brand and what ingredients were necessary to make it happen.
Harris Schachter of OptimizePri.me shares a very helpful and unusual case study on his blog. He shows how he ran a traffic generation campaign with the help of common SEO practices and Instagram. The later was chosen as a channel because the product promoted was highly visual and locally relevant to Richmond, VA. If you promote similar types of products, you should definitely have a look at this case study and see if you can replicate it.
I love SEO experiments. Especially when people do something so creative few will dare to replicate. In his article at his personal blog, Alessio Madeyski of Digital Hothouse explains how he found his way to connect with the most influential marketer in the world and how he managed to get a link from him. According to Alessio, he did that entirely with his passion because passion is the key to many things we can do better. And SEO is not an exception.
Some SEO influencers, including PointBlankSEO's Jon Cooper, say you can get a link by the phone. Steve Morgan of SEONo.co.uk was excited to explore this opportunity for one of his clients. As a result, he was mistaken for a sales person and got trolled by an IT company. Fun good read. Along with going through a link building experiment, you’re likely to catch up on a fresh idea of how to get rid of unsolicited phone requests with style.
If you're into SEO, you could hardly escape hearing the name of Matthew Woodward. His blog is a go-to destination for many new SEOs, affiliates and internet marketers of all walks of life because what Matthew writes no-fluff helpful content he creates with his readers in mind. Many wonder what makes his blog so popular. Luckily, Matthew is generous to reveal his secret in this article in many details regarding his content strategy, site layout, setting the right tone and more.
We often hear that it's quite easy to get traffic from images because most of other sites don't use this opportunity. However, there are some common problems with image traffic: it's irrelevant and it doesn't come back. In her article, Elisa Gabbert of Wordstream shows how you can change this natural state of things and built a return audience with your visual content. The author explains how you can use images that speak to both your leads and Google and thus maximize your image organic search traffic.
All SEOs and digital marketers know that it's crucial to write helpful and engaging content that people will be willing to share. But what actually makes people want to spread the word about your new article? Can we create our content with the psychology of sharing in mind to make our content market efforts more predictable? According to Chris Dyson of TripleSEO it is what we can and should do. In his article, Chris refers to a number of solid industry studies and defines six types of sharing personas and five categories of motivations that drive social enthusiast. Check if you have all those in mind when creating your content.
According to Simon Penson of Zazzle Media, digital marketing is currently at a crucial turning point as the web mature into a fully-fledged mass media platform. In his article at his company blog, which is also a summary of his presentation at Searchlove London 2013, Simon nails the point about the importance of shifting from a few bland blog posts and a bit of guest posting to Big Content. The author shares a solid approach to persona development, i.e. creating a distinct character that will be keen on your content.
If you're like me, you love Medium. One of the few content platforms and social networks combined that's truly a stand-out. According to Mike Essex of Koozai, Medium is a fantastic opportunity to get your content seen. In his article, Mike goes through what makes Medium different and how you can see if it's a right platform to promote your brand. Though the author expresses the concern the platform might become a content dump, time has shown it doesn't seem to be the case.
There's no doubt data-based content (whitepapers, reports, graphics, etc.) is a win. Data makes your content harder to replicate, better than the competition's and stronger than your opinion. However, creating content of this type is quite expensive, and Kane Jamison of Content Harmony investigates if we can cut costs on data-based content without cutting quality. In his presentation, Kane suggests three ways to achieve this: automating research, building a research library and the amazing "use it up, wear it out."
Did you know that it is design - not the content - that affects the site's presumed trustworthiness? So before SEOs and digital marketers dive into creating content and thinking what will people willing to share it, it's important to think design. In his guest post to Help Scout, Gregory Ciotti of Sparring Mind puts together 10 essential things to have in mind when building sites aimed at superior customer experience. The article will be of most interest for SEOs working with ecommerce projects.
This is not quite an article. Rather, it's a running list of practical UI ideas by Jakub Linowski of Linowski Interaction Design. A great content marketing idea in itself, this list is full of helpful tips on increasing your site's conversion rates by making the pages more appealing to users. As of December 17, 2013, the list consisted of 34 ideas, each supplied by a visual right and wrong example. You can sign up for updates.
In this article Nick Eubanks of SEO Nick introduces readers to the idea of keyword spread, i.e. essentially increasing your keyword opportunities while lowering your overall risk. This strategy can be successfully applied to site of all types, yet in this post Nick focuses on ecommerce intent keywords. The author shows how you can lower your risks for negative returns from search by spreading across different purchase intents. The later comes in particularly handy in relation to the recent Hummingbird update.
Trond Lyngbø of Metronet Norge has extensive experience in ecommerce SEO. The articles Trond shares at Search Engine Land are so full of helpful tips you can hardly get enough of them. This particular one sums up top tips for SEO commerce and sums up Trond's replies to most popular concern ecommerce site owners have in terms of SEO. How to deal with out-of-stock items, expired and seasonal products, product variations and more? Read the article to get the replies.
Aleyda Solis of AleydaSolis.Com is a recognized expert in international SEO, so if you're targeting users globally, Aleyda's detailed guides are your #1 destination. In this article Aleyda touches upon 5 advanced aspects related to making the versions of your projects in other languages truly helpful to local users. The part I personally enjoyed best is the one on localization. The author provides multiple examples to show that proper localization goes far beyond translating the content. Did you know there's no web design to make both the Americans and the Japanese happy?
Lots of new affiliates are looking to build small niche website that actually have some presence in Google. But is it really possible now when there's such a void to in-depth content? According to Nick LeRoy of NickLeRoy.Com, you still can rank niche 4-5 page websites if you choose right keywords. In his article, the author shows how exactly which types of keywords fit in.
AJ Kohn of Blind Five Year Old wrote this article to address the growing trend in the SEO and content marketing community to deny the importance of keywords. The logic would go as follows: with less keyword data at hand and the growing importance of proper content marketing, keyword focused strategies are a thing of the past. False, says AJ, keywords provide insight into user syntax and intent, thus they're vital to make sure the content resonates with the readers.
If you want to learn more about Google Knowledge Graph, Chris Ainsworth of High Position is your go-to person. You can start with Chris's post on Search Engine People to see why Knowledge Graph is important and how it works. In his post at his company's blog, Chris put together a timeline of Knowledge graph evolution since its launch in 2012. Very informative stuff you won't find anywhere else to help you see how the Google's trendy phenomenon is maturing to better serve the needs of users.
Have you noticed that there've been an increased number of interviews and round-ups in the blogosphere? According to Julie Joyce of Link Fish Media, a renowned link building expert and popular author at Search Engine Land, linking out to influential people is one of the best link building methods. In her article, Julie shows how to put together crowdsourced pieces the best way, from pitching the experts to making interviews and round-ups stand out.
According to Jason Acidre of Kaiserthesage, there are two most powerful types of links: social and editorial links. In his article, Jason shows how you can use one solid approach to get both types of links. The approach is based on offering your content to specifically targeted people in the community – the linkers. Linkers are the ones who take the time and effort to personalize or even add comments on the things that they share to their circles. The author shares his own success stories of finding natural linkers on Delicious, Twitter, Google+ and Stumbleupon. Great stuff indeed!
If you thing that link building is more of a boring rather than creative task, make sure you read this post by James Norquay of Prosperity Media. In this article, James walks of us through a link building challenge he was involved in. James was to promote a USB's companies product and get links on a $100 budget. What he ended up with was an elegant solution. USB bottle openers, pitching inbound influencers the right way – this article by a famous Australian SEO will leave no one indifferent.
Did you know that many online marketers build helpful tools in Google Documents and share them publicly? In his post at Search Engine Journal, Benjamin Beck of Local Stampede shares Google Docs by his SEO peers, including Annie Cushing and Gaz Copeland. These papers summarize lists of tools for marketers, ready-made templates for analyzing data from different sources, link prospecting means and more.
This article by Wiep Knol of Wiep.net is an absolute must-read for everyone starting in link building – or having done it already for a while. One way or another, you're sure to catch a new perspective and see how creative, rewarding and common-sense routine SEO tasks can be. One of the tips suggests you should get rid of toolbars. The amount of comments, content quality and thematical relevance cannot be measured by toolbars, but are – in most cases – more important than formal scales to find truly decent targets.
Alarmed by the recent Google algorithm changes, an increasing number of website owners are looking to reduce harm from low-quality link building efforts, addressing SEO experts like Alan Bleiweiss of Alan Bleiweiss Consulting. In this article published at Search Engine Journal, Alan shares a core set of guidelines he developed for his clients to help them understand how to deal with the problem. This article is a must-read for both SEOs and less SEO-savvy website owners. The later might find themselves confident enough to deal with the problem on their own.
This article by Jon Cooper of PointBlankSEO provides a sought-by-many answer to a common ecommerce SEO problem: If I'm not Amazon or REI, and can't rely on domain authority, how do I make my product pages outrank competitors? The answer is building links to category and product pages. The author shares out-of-the-box methods that go far beyond product reviews, PR and guest blogging. Besides some ready-made methods, Jon expands on segmenting link building opportunities and understanding other market players to see all the possibilities.
27. Building links in boring industries: aka the advanced tactics of appearing interested in subjects that send you to sleep
Got SEO clients selling elevator cables, agriculture gravel and other stuff that bores the living hell out of you? One way or another, you're still supposed to build links and create exciting content for them. This problem seems to be familiar to Piers Moore-ede of Barefoot SEO who shares five creative ways to get links for these ''tricky'' clients. The SEO methods suggested are really close to marketing and PR (e.g. promote the brand with the engaging Duracell set as an example), but we're approaching 2014, aren't we?
After the Penguin updates and the related warnings from the Google webspam team, there've been a growing concern in the SEO community about whether the method is still on the legitimate web promotion side. According to Jayson DeMers of AudienceBloom and Crackerize, guest blogging can be abused, but it's up to you if you opt for abusing. In his Forbes column, Jayson provides a detailed roadmap of contributing on other people's sites the right way. The article would be of great use to site owners, who're looking to promote sites on their own and feel guest blogging might be one of the options, yet they're not sure if it's safe.
The link building approach based on replicating competitors' strategies is as old as hills in SEO. Yet, according to James Agate of SkyrocketSEO, his company's link building survey shows that 11% of respondents are not sure which links will hurt or help them, hence came up this guide. The article brings more clarity into making the competition research process repeatable, teachable and to a certain degree scalable.
If there are so many great tips on building links the right way, why there's still so much crap on the web? In her article at Search Engine Land Erin Everhart of 352 tries the opposite approach, suggesting 11 things SEOs should never ever do for link building again. The article might be slightly on a rant side, still it's a good one to give ones' own link building activities a hard look.
It's widely known that user reviews are of utter importance for local SEO. Given that, there are cases of manipulative use of user reviews in pursuit of high rankings. To make matters worse, Google's current ways of detecting fake reviews are far from perfect. In his article, Dan Petrovic of Dejan SEO suggests a way out and illustrates three simple elements which would make a world of difference to business owners. The article can be summarised in one simple statement: Google should allow managers of verified business listings to view all reviews including suspended ones and include a reconsideration function to restore falsely suspended listings.
Many small local businesses are puzzled about how Google Places is different from Google+ Local. Google hasn't made it easy for small local businesses to understand if they need one, both or neither, and it's left many confused. In her article at Search Engine watch, Amanda DiSilvestro of Higher Visibility clears up the confusion. According to the author, it is crucial for local businesses to be involved in both to be in control of your brand and gain increased visibility.
As many of you know, lots of web promotion experts are involved into citation building as a standalone activity compared to link building. One of these experts is Darren Shaw of WhiteSpark . According to Darren, not all citation sources are created equal, i.e. some are going to help your rankings, while others could hurt them. To help readers differentiate between the two, the author provides a 9-point checklist, and though there's no simple formula to determine the citation source quality for sure, these tips will let you get a better judgment.
When figuring out the structure of their pages, many site owners working on the local market resort to general tips on building landing pages. Yet onpage optimization for local SEO has rules of its own, and we're lucky to have Matthew Hunt of Small Business Online Coach to have them summarized for us. In his article Matthew shares an infographic, which goes into many details and includes a well-thought-out structure of an ideally optimized local page.
Google has been generous in changing SERPS structure in 2013 (check out a detailed recap here), one of the most notable definitely being the local carousel. How about you? Do you personally feel the carousel has improved your experience as a user of Google search? If you're curious to check out what others think, turn to this article written by Mike Ramsey of Nifty Marketing. What's most valuable, Mike's article includes videos, capturing reactions of people viewing carousel results. It’s a powerful insight indeed into how average non-technical searchers interact with Google results.
Penguin, Hummingbird and Not Provided
In September 2013, Google announced they're encrypting even more users' searches, meaning that SEOs will find it even harder to understand whether a particular keyword resulted in search traffic. One of the best articles that explains the ins and outs of the Not Provided problem is the one by Joel Klettke written for the iAcquire blog. The author explains how you can still get vital data. For example, while we no longer see which phrases brought people in, we can still mash up data to get an idea.
When Penguin 2.0 was announced in May 2013, many SEOs became aware they should get rif of unnatural links. However it turned out to be easier said than done because it was not quite clear what steps in particular one had to take to get rid of unnatural links. In her article at Search Engine Journal, Alesia Krush of Link-Assistant.Com provides insights into spotting low-quality backlinks and investigates the possible actions to take depending on the link warnings received.
In October 2013 when the SEO world was all ears about the ''not provided'' and Hummingbird, John Doherty of JohnDoherty.Com was one of SEO experts to share his viewpoint on the state of SEO things. John explains why Hummingbird's effect should be relatively small and the types of searches it has influence on. As for not provided, the author's experience as an SEO consultant suggests that most clients (decision-makers in particular) don't care about individual keywords. They look at the overall revenue coming from the organic traffic. Thus, the future is bright!
In this article David Leonhardt of The Happy Guy Marketing describes five metrics you can use to identify the worthwhile backlinks and the dangerous backlinks you might have or might have the opportunity to acquire. While there are other guides to help you avoid a questionable backlink profile, I like this one in particular for its simplicity – and the fairy tale inside.
Most web promoters these days think content marketing, social media marketing – anything that helps creating linkable asserts and make people actually link to those. But how about good old PR methods? Ross Hudgens recalls them in this article on Siege Media. According to Ross, there are several extremely talented companies that do an incredible job of getting pickups for their clients through big publishers. The author provides a breakdown of what exactly these PR-savvy SEOs do to get attention of journalists, thus securing press mentions and links.
I love crowdsourced content. There are easy to browse through and it's like a stroke of luck that instead of having to read tons of posts on different blogs you get the answer to a very specific question from multiple experts in one place. In my opinion, one of the best round-ups of 2013 is the one on link building tips by Venchito Tampon of Digital Philippines. If you're looking to find out what the web's best link builders do as a routine, check out this article.
This article by Steve Webb of WebGnomes is a great example of a round-up post, in which 47 (!) experts answer one and the same question: What is your absolute best, most actionable SEO tip? The author categorizes the responses into 8 areas of SEO: content marketing, keyword research, link building, community building, technical SEO, strategic SEO, user experience and conversion rate optimization and local SEO. Definitely a must-read!
SEO as a career
SEO is an interesting industry where one rarely becomes an SEO on purpose. Search marketers are composed of several different interests and come from a multitude of backgrounds. That's one of the things that makes the community so lively. In his article, Peter Attia of Cucumber Nebula portrays 8 popular personalities that can be found within the industry. The gamer, the artist, the nerd, the chef, the bartender, the musician, the geek, the math punk – what kind of personality are you so that you're so comfortable with being an SEO?
In this article at his blog, Paddy Moogan of PaddyMoogan.Com provides a fresh perspective on blackhat vs. whitehat problem. Surprising as it may sound to many, Paddy makes a confession that he learnt SEO through black / greyhat tactics, which was ok since he was taking risks with his own websites. According to Paddy, here's where comes the borderline between the blackhat and whitehat: SEOs can apply questionable tactics only on behalf of themselves, not on behalf of their clients. Still, SEO is to a great extent about experimenting and testing stuff, so SEOs should test for themselves (on their sites!) and don't take the word of others.
In this engaging and highly personal article Bill Sebald of Greenlane SEO walks us thorugh the way his SEO outlook matured during his 13 years in the industry. Bill confesses in morphing from doing strictly keyword focused stuff to promoting bigger picture ideas, SEO marketing as he puts it. The author touches upon how this approach relates to the recent Hummingbird update and the ''not provided'' issue. And what kind of SEO do you want to be?
SEO and Social
Though social shares don't improve rankings directly, social media still actively impacts SEO. According to A.J. Ghergich of Chergich and Co., both SEO and social are all about relationships. To get links, you need quality content and robust outreach practices. In his article, A.J. shows 3 ways of using social media to assist SEO. In particular, the author shows how to target the right press on Facebook, how to choose best headlines with Twitter adds and nails the point about the importance of Google authorship.
If you're unfamiliar with the concept of paid-organic amplification, be sure to read this article by Marty Weintraub of aimClear. The concept is about buying organic looking ads in social media to drive traffic, increase shares and get natural links. In this particular article, Marty looks into the possibilities of blending networks, i.e. his team is curious if there are social networks that would let you buy ads pointing at other social networks and organic search results. The findings are fascinating!
Web scraping is a vast part of every SEO's life. For a lot of new SEOs web scraping and data collection can be complicated and intimidating. In this article, John-Henry Scherck of SEOgadget shows how managers can create efficient systems and names four types of waste that cause inefficiency. Beyond that, the author shares some ready-made excel templates, case studies and directions on using various API data.
In this post Eric Enge of Stone Sample Consulting reviews the data his team has assembled to see if Facebook activity impacts rankings. They ran two tests. One drove a large number of likes to brand new pages on established domains. The other shared brand new pages on established domains via Facebook. In both cases, the liked and shared pages had no links to them, so there was no way other than Facebook for Google to discover them. Eric's net conclusion based on multiple data sets is that Google doesn't use Facebook as a discovery, indexing or ranking factor.
We all hear about the importance of rdfa, schema.org and other types of semantic markup. Still, this stuff is a bit on the techy SEO side, and many site promoters are reluctant to apply it. And even if they do apply semantic markup there are not sure if it's to improve their online presence. In her article at Search Engine Land, Carrie Hill of Ignitor Digital shows how you can measure if semantic markup resulted in traffic, revenue and ranking gains and if there were any changes in mobile/tablet vs. desktop traffic.
Over to you now. What SEO post that went live in 2013 you liked most? Share you ideas in the comments below!
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