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Top SEO “Services” That Are Actually Spam

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lotus823-integrated You could spend a few years of your life sorting through all of the blogs, whitepapers, and videos online offering advice on search engine optimization. Yet, so many users get convinced that certain SEO strategies are worth their time and money when these companies are really just touting spam services hidden behind smoke and mirrors.

For SEO specialists like myself (I never like to use the word expert, because Google is constantly changing), these spam services put a bad taste in people’s mouth about the industry.

Specialists do educate on what SEO should be and how it is constantly evolving to a focus on social media and content marketing, but it is still easy to get trapped by outdated methods when you have someone speak to you in technical terms that are hard to understand.

Don’t fall for these SEO services that are actually spam:

Excessive, Behind-the-Scenes Link Building

Due to the changes in Google, content creators tend to move in one extreme or the other in terms of link building. Link-building can help you, but it has to be in moderation. Think of links as the paths that both users and the search engine will travel to find your content.

If you outsource this, be aware of the types of link building done outside of content such as directory link building. It should seem natural and not done all at once with a flip of a switch. If you’re concerned, ask how many directories your site is being added to each month and ask to have the Page Rank pulled for each of those sites. No link building at all (remember, social shares are link building) doesn’t allow Google to connect the dots as quickly to what your website is about. It is still a robot, after all. But you have to be smart about it.

Landing Pages for the Sake of Content

Now that you’ve sprinkled in a few links here and a few links there, you’re doing SEO, right? Not really. Circle back to the previous mention that SEO is about user and the content. This means that a link should be relevant and the page the user lands on should also be relevant. If you link on the phrase “iPhone case” it should land on a page about iPhone cases. That is how Google begins to connect all of your content and ranks it in search for a particular phrase.

Focus on strengthening the landing pages you have now, instead of adding 100 new pages every month, and make them relevant through quality content and natural link building. If you outsource this, the vendor should be more concerned with unique content that engages users rather than a report stating how many pages of content was added to the site in a given month. Beware of any company focusing on quantity instead of quality.

Also, unique and relevant content means it was written for your brand, not repurposed content from elsewhere. That type of service should be a supplement to your content strategy, not your only means of content building. Which brings us to…

Cheap Content

I’ve had many bosses, clients, and co-workers who loved the idea of cheap content. Every time someone forwards me an email that talks about x amount of words for x cents, I furiously press the delete button and then have to talk a walk around the building to cool off. Content isn’t cheap and no, not everyone can write great content. Look up how much a seasoned freelance blogger charges for a blog post and set that as your new standard for content. It’s not $10.

When outsourcing content, read everything! Many times I’ve sent content to a client for review and it was never even reviewed by them. If you’re going to outsource content, ask for writing samples from the specific writer who will be creating content for you, and read everything before it goes live. Set your standards not only by price but by quality.

Someone Else Taking Complete Control

“We’ll build you that blog, create those videos, and completely run your social networks!”

“…but if you leave us they all come down.”

Anything built on your dime should be yours. In some cases, it is industry standard for a “secret sauce” to be proprietary information (such as with paid advertising), so always read your contract carefully with any type of vendor to see what you own at the end of its terms. This goes for agreements even outside of SEO companies – when was the last time you read the terms for Instagram or Facebook posts? Stay in control of your content and understand what is yours, what is for the public to use, and what is owned by a third party vendor you just hired.

Reports That Don’t Make Sense

Many times when a client would come on board, they would send me their SEO reports or they would send over emails from a salesperson from another company. I’ve seen quite a few examples of great reports and not so great reports. The not so great report never makes much sense.

“Congratulations, client, you are ranking number 1 for a search time that we made up to make the ranking results look fantastic!”

Reports should be focused on building awareness within your target market, and that takes time. Confused? Send it to an unbiased third party to review.

Hopefully, highlighting these common “spam” services sheds some light on SEO strategies that make sense for your business and for yourself. Listen to your gut above all, you know what is right for your brand better than any “guru” out there!

Looking to do more? Stay on top of these tips and tricks each week!

10 Brilliant Bloggers Talk About Google In-Depth Articles

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Brilliant Bloggers is a bi-weekly series here at NMX where we look at the best posts from around the web all surrounding a specific topic. Every other week, we’ll feature a brilliant blogger, along with a huge list of more resources where you can learn about the topic. You can see more Brilliant Blogger posts or learn how to submit your link for an upcoming edition here.

This Week’s Topic: Google In-Depth Articles

Google recently announced a new search feature: in-depth articles. This new feature allows your content to get found, even if it is older, when you create a top resource about a specific topic.

I wrote a little about Google in-depth articles last week. Today, I wanted to direct you to even more brilliant advice on this topic.

Brilliant Blogger of the Week:

ana hoffman Google In-Depth Articles: How to Rank for Them in Google Search Results by Ana Hoffman

This was one of the first posts I read about in-depth articles back when this feature was introduced. I think Ana does a great job of covering the topic and giving you some insight about how to rank in search results using this feature. More importantly, however, I love this idea from Ana: “I am very excited about investing in thoughtful in-depth content that will remain relevant for months or even years after publication – for my incredible Traffic Generation Café readers, not for Google.”

After reading Ana’s full post on her blog, don’t forget to follow her on Twitter at @AnaTrafficCafe.

Even More Brilliant Advice:

(Please note: There are literally hundreds if not thousands of news stories about there about in-depth articles. My intention here was to post interesting views and how-tos on this topic, rather than just announcements of the new feature.)

Did I miss your post or a post by someone you know about Google in-depth articles? Unintentional! Help me out by leaving a comment below with the link.

Next Brilliant Blogger Topic: Facebook Storybumping

I’d love to include a link to your post in our next installment– and if you head to the Brilliant Bloggers Schedule, you can see even more upcoming posts. We all have something to learn from one another, so please don’t be shy! Head to the schedule today to learn how to submit your post so I won’t miss it.

Do Bloggers Need to be on Google+?

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google plus The principle behind the founding of Google is quite simple: Some webpages are much more important others. How do they decide which are the most important? Basically, importance is given to content that Google believes answers questions users have about a particular topic better than other webpages.

The face of internet search technology was completely changed by Google webpage evaluations. They evaluate each link pointing to a particular webpage according to the quantity, as well as how much Google trusts the sites the links come from.

However, in 1998 things changed even more. That’s when Google also began judging the popularity of a webpage based on the amount of likes it receives through social media sharing. Social sharing helps to increase the search engine rankings of a particular webpage. Yet, Facebook and Twitter still aren’t exactly cooperative with Google. The webpage itself was always the focus of the story, until recently. Thanks to Google+, the writer is now a central part as well.

How to Increase Your Google+ Audience

Google+ profiles serve as verifiable identities for bloggers. Your reputation on Google+ is influenced by several factors:

  • The actual number of Google+ followers you have.
  • The actual number of reshares for your content.
  • The actual number of +1’s you receive.
  • Your Google+ activity: regular posts, comments, reshares and +1’s you’ve given others.

Thanks to Google+, your content is not the only thing users can vote for to grow your reputation. Today, when you get a +1 on your content, you, personally, are also getting a +1 vote. Many users say that Google+ profiles appear to grow much faster than on both Facebook and Twitter.

So, what are some effective ways to build your Google+ audience? Just keep in mind that G+ is a social media platform made up of groups of like-minded people, called communities. Therefore, that’s exactly how you should treat it.

  • Create a Great Bio – Effective Google+ bios include your actual name or pen name, a summary describing who you are, what your business does, why you’re using Google+ and the type of content you plan to share on G+. Make sure that there are keywords included in your places, education, employment and introduction sections of your Google+ bio.
  • Build Relationships – When you first begin, follow people you actually know. Then, simply search for more people to follow and get to know. Google has also implemented Google+ Hangouts, which gives users a more unique way to interact with other G+ users.
  • Share Content – Create original content for your blog posts. These can be video, photo or text posts. Then, share links to your content on G+. Be sure to create an attention-grabbing headline and add a brief though about the content. Also, end your post with an intriguing question to encourage user comments.
  • Comment, Comment, Comment – Leave relevant, interesting comments on photos and posts, asking thought-provoking questions. You can also refer (or tag) other users by typing “+” and their name to get a display of results to choose from.

Using Google+ for Social Media Marketing

Your blog must contain interesting content that’s relevant and valuable to the lives of your target audience. Social media marketing is one of the most effective techniques for getting the word out about your blog and its great content.

Are you using Google+ to interact with your target audience? If so, what are some of the methods you use to lure readers to your blog posts using Google+?

A Hard Truth: Google Doesn’t Care About Your Awesome Content

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Recently, Google introduced a new search feature called “in-depth articles” The idea behind this feature is that mid-way down on the first page of search results for more popular keywords, you’ll find older, but extremely relevant, content that serves as a “guide” to the topic at hand.

Google wants good content, not necessarily new content. When you hear bloggers talk about “pillar” evergreen posts, this is what they mean.

Learning More about In-Depth Articles

Ana from Traffic Generation Cafe wrote a really great piece about this announcement, which you can find here. I really recommend giving it a read if you want to get started writing content for Google’s new in-depth article feature. In this post, she also points to another interesting and extremely helpful post on the topic, from Mark Traphagen. In one of the comments, he writes,

 

We tend to think of Google as being really, really smart and almost omniscient. And compared to other data retrieval systems, it is leaps and bounds ahead. But the reality is that properly indexing, evaluating, and ranking the billions upon billions of pages on the web is more enormous than most people think. And at the end of the day, even Google ends up taking easy short cuts.

We have to face the reality that Google doesn’t care about “surfacing the little guy” or “reduced access to legacy content.” Their business model is built upon getting something useful to the searcher withing the top few results or ads. They may say they want to rank the “best,” but at the end of the day, how can they even successfully judge that, and if users are happy with what they are getting in the top few positions, then it works for Google.

What really struck me about this statement was how right Mark is about Google not caring about “surfacing the little guy.” In fact, I would go as far as saying that Google doesn’t care about your content at all, even if it is awesome. They aren’t some altruistic being whose job it is to find great content and make sure the world sees it. They’re a business performing a service, and that service is giving people answers to their questions based on whatever keywords they type into that little box.

Google doesn’t care if your piece was more well-written or insightful if the search results are already full of relevant, quality content. Their aim is to consistently show good results, even great results, but they don’t care about showing the best results.

This post sounds a little bitter, but I promise it’s not. What I’m trying to get across is this:

Awesome content is not enough.

At least, it isn’t for Google, especially for their new in-depth articles. Awesome content will make readers love you, but search engines care about relevant more than awesome.

So, What Can A Blogger Do to Get Some Google In-Depth Article Love?

Actually, it isn’t as hard as it sounds. Google might always cater to large sites they know and trust, but just because you’re not The New Yorker doesn’t mean you’re doomed to live on page two or three of the search results.

I’ve never given much thought to SEO. I always thought that writing great content was always the best SEO tactic I could use. And I still think that’s the case. But recently, some SEO experts taught me a little about basic keyword research (shout-out to the team at DragonSearch!) and it has made all the difference. In addition, here are a few tips Google has given us about getting your content flagged as an in-depth article:

And ALWAYS write awesome content, even if Google doesn’t give a rat’s patootie. At the end of the day, people matter more than Google. Google will help you get found initially if you cater toward their algorithm, but people will share your in-depth content if it is the best they’ve seen.

 

32 Brilliant Bloggers Talk About Keyword Research for Bloggers

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Brilliant Bloggers is a bi-weekly series here at NMX where we look at the best posts from around the web all surrounding a specific topic. Every other week, we’ll feature a brilliant blogger, along with a huge list of more resources where you can learn about the topic. You can see more Brilliant Blogger posts or learn how to submit your link for an upcoming edition here.

This Week’s Topic: Keyword Research for Bloggers

No matter what your blogging niche, you probably get at least some of your traffic from Google and other search engines. By doing a little keyword research and implementing some good SEO practices, you can pull in even more readers from search engines.

Brilliant Blogger of the Week

Onibalusi_Headshot The Definitive Guide to Keyword Research by Bamidele Onibalusi

This post on YoungPrePro is perfect if you’re just getting started with keyword research for your blog. Bamidele writes about why keywords matter, and how to get started with your research. After doing keyword research, I also recommend checking out his post, The Ultimate SEO Guide to Dominating The Search Engine Rankings, which will help you take optimization even farther so you can reach more and more readers via Google and other search engines.

After checking out this brilliant blogger, don’t forget to follow him on Twitter at @YoungPrePro.

Even More Brilliant Advice:

  1. 5 Best Ways Bloggers Can Do Keyword Research by Nida Zaidi (@NidaXaidi)
  2. 5 Unexpected Keyword Research Sources by Sujan Patel (@sujanpatel)
  3. 7 Most Powerful Best Free Keyword Research Tools by Rakesh Kumar (@notebinary)
  4. 10 Free Keyword Tools for Your Blog Title Tag Research by John Saddington (@saddington)
  5. 16 Killer Keyword Research Resources For Total Niche Domination by Tommy Walker (@tommyismyname)
  6. A Beginners Guide to Keyword Research by Bill Germino (@BillGermino)
  7. An Introduction to Keyword Research Using Free Tools by Adam Whittles
  8. Blogging for SEO Part 1: Keyword Research by Claire Atwell (@claire_atwell)
  9. Headsmacking Tip #3: Run Your Blog Post Titles Through Keyword Research Before You Hit Publish by Rand Fishkin (@randfish)
  10. How to Do Basic Keyword Research by Marion Jacobson (@searchqueen)
  11. How to Do Keyword Research for a WordPress Site by Karol (@carlosinho)
  12. How To Do Keyword Research For Your Website, Find Hidden Keyword Gems by Maria Calanchini
  13. How to Do Keyword Research in 10 Minutes by Aviva Blumstein (@AvivaBlumstein)
  14. How to Do Keyword Research, On-Page SEO Your Blog Posts by Julian Wong (@julianhwong)
  15. How to Find the Keywords that Work for Your Content Marketing Goals by Beth Hayden (@bethjhayden)
  16. How to Improve Your Keyword Research with the Help of Google Trends by Amrit Hallan
  17. How to Research Keywords: Tips, Competition and Squirrels by Andy Crestodina (@crestodina)
  18. How To Use Keyword Research The RIGHT Way – Are You Doing It Wrong? by Andrew Wang
  19. How to Use Keyword Research to Supercharge Your Blogging Strategy by Frank Dickinson (@FrankDickinson)
  20. Importance of Conducting Keyword Research for Your Blog Posts by Chris Melfi
  21. Keyword Research for Web Writers and Content Producers by Brian Clark (@copyblogger)
  22. Keyword Research For Your Blog Content – Use People’s Problems For Your Market Research by Michaelangelo Flores (@mflores87)
  23. Keyword Research: How to Find Long Tail Keywords by Philip Alex (@philipalex08)
  24. Keyword Research is Critical to Your Success with Niche Sites by Sunil (@extramoneyblog)
  25. Keyword Research to Optimize Your Blog Posts by Matthew Allen (@matt76allen)
  26. Performing Keyword Research for Blog Posts by Blog Hands (@bloghandsseo)
  27. The Expert’s Guide to Keyword Research for SEO Copywriting by Elisa Gabbert (@egabbert)
  28. The Value of Keyword Research for Blogging by Chad Goulde
  29. Top 5 Keyword Research Tips by Charles Dovbish
  30. Using Google Keyword Research for SEO by Lisa (@wealthmission)
  31. What Metrics You Need to Understand For Keyword Research by Kyle

Did I miss your post or a post by someone you know about keyword research for bloggers? Unintentional! Help me out by leaving a comment below with the link.

Next Brilliant Blogger Topic: Landing Pages

I’d love to include a link to your post in our next installment– and if you head to the Brilliant Bloggers Schedule, you can see even more upcoming posts. We all have something to learn from one another, so please don’t be shy! Head to the schedule today to learn how to submit your post so I won’t miss it.

Working with Guest Bloggers: The Secret to Your Success

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Guest bloggers? Isn’t your blog supposed to be your voice, representing your view and perspective on business, life, parenting, family matters, your hobby, or even products you’re selling? Well, yes, it is. But it can be more…

Actually, there are lots of reasons why inviting people to write guest posts on your blog can be a great idea, including adding a bit of variety for your readers, gaining visibility through more popular writers, offering slightly different perspectives on your topical area and giving you a bit of a break from the daily grind of blogging. There’s also this thing called SEO and people who are willing to publish guest articles might just find themselves more frequently invited to write guest posts on other people’s blogs. Those guest posts you write that include a link back to your own site are great for your own site’s visibility. A win-win!

Even on the most personal of blogs, embedding a dialog with someone else that perhaps started out as an email exchange can be a powerful entry to write, or you can even frame a guest article by introducing it to your readers in the opening paragraphs and then add your own concluding paragraph after, reacting to the main piece and ensuring that your own voice isn’t lost in the process.

To have your guest bloggers be successful and to make the process as easy as possible, here are my hard-learned tips:

Agree on a theme or topic in advance — This saves a lot of hassles and misunderstandings, when the guest blogger sends you an article that’s just not relevant to your audience. Rejections are never appreciated, even if they’re appropriate, so sidestep it by asking them for a sentence or two summary of what they want to talk about.

Specify your writing style — Do you like publishing obscenities? Do you want long, complicated sentences that are suitable for your audience of research scientists, or short, easily understood grammatical constructs perfect for a busy parent to understand? It’s your site, I encourage you to ask the guest writer to try and match your own writing style while still honoring their own voice in the process.

Long or short? Give ‘em a target word count — This is one that always seems to be a challenge, but if your audience is used to substantial articles of 400 words or longer, a guest post of 135 words will seem insubstantial and pointless. Avoid that by specifying “target word count: 400 words” or, in the opposite situation, “please don’t exceed 250 words.”

Pictures? Video? — Just about all blog posts are enhanced by including some sort of media content. Are they responsible for this content? If so, make sure you tell them, and also ensure that they obtain the rights to the content (easily done if it’s their own photo or graphic, of course) so that they don’t put you in potential legal hot water due to rights violations. Your blog, your problem, even if the original was sent by a guest author.

Those are the key factors to ensure success working with guest bloggers. It’s easy and it’s fun!

I also asked a few other popular bloggers what their parameters are with accepting guest blog articles, and here’s what they had to say:

Jenny Ford: I have contributors and accept guest posts. it’s one of the only ways you won’t get stuck writing every single recipe!! (and getting grossly over-weight on my site! HA!). My tip – have a format, give clear details and expectations, let people know your deadline, make sure they have terrific photography.

Mary-Frances Main: I only take local “voices” and then they have to be relevant to the topic (which seems like a no brainer, but you’d be amazed!). Personally I like people I know – but will accept a recommendation of another connection.

Elizabeth C. Lewis: Make sure that before you ask for a guest blogger, you have read some of what they write! You don’t want to ask someone to write something to find out that they are terrible at writing and have to find a reason that you can’t use it.

Amy Gahran: Have a process: offer clear guidance on length, format, topic. Tell them how to submit a draft: text file? Word doc? HTML doc? Only do this for evergreen topics that can run anytime. Guest posts often don’t happen on deadline.

So there you have it. Not just my enthusiasm for guest bloggers showing up on one of my blogs — and I have four that I publish, ranging from my AskDaveTaylor tech support site to DaveOnFilm, where I share film reviews and the popular GoFatherhood site where I write about my experiences as a single dad — but the view of some other savvy bloggers who also invite submissions from friends and colleagues to mix things up.

Now, what are your thoughts on this? Do you accept guest submissions and, if so, what are your parameters?

Editor’s Note: For those who want to learn more from Dave, check out his session at NMX called “Quick and Dirty Video Production Workshop for Your First YouTube Video.”

Technical SEO Considerations For Websites

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seo There is a fine balance in SEO between focusing on user experience at the same time as search engines. Once a sweet spot is found, the balancing act has to be ongoing because both are interdependent of each other. Users understand that a great deal goes on behind the scenes of a website to make it amazing, but a certain amount of respect must be earned before they are willing to engage with it. Broken links, malware, slow loading pages and unresponsive designs are just a fraction of issues that can badly affect the usability and reputation of a website. The same can also be said for brick and mortar stores. If a store is untidy and hazardous or the staff are rude and ignorant there is very little chance that a customer will buy anything or go back to that place. One of Google’s own philosophies is to “Focus on the user and all else will follow.” For webmasters they advise a similar ethos by favoring websites that provide engaging, as opposed to thin, content.

Here is a hypothetical scenario. With everything above in mind, a web developer goes away and comes up with the most innovative, jaw dropping, responsive website that has ever existed. It attracts heaps of links, social shares and citations across the web and has even won awards for being so stupidly great. The website owners search for themselves in Google and are shocked to see that they don’t even rank for their own URL. After a closer inspection it is found that search engine bots are being blocked from crawling the website, there 40 products, it takes 15 seconds to load and it’s hosted in North Korea. For the sake of this example, that is actually possible. It is unbelievable that such simple issues can completely hold back a website. Without a basic understanding of SEO there is no way that a person would know what is wrong.

The problems above can be diagnosed and fixed in the following ways:

Firstly, install Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster. This is very important unless you have the time and patience to trawl through access logs. Although using Splunk to view access logs makes life easier.

Check robots.txt

Search for the following www.yourdomain.com/robots.txt to see what is blocking search engines from crawling your website. The most common mistake webmasters make is this:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /

This will stop all robots from crawling your website, although Google will list your website in the search results, it won’t show any content. To fix this problem change the robots.txt or add a new one like this:

User-agent: *
Disallow:

Check Meta NoIndex

Unlike blocking with robots.txt the html meta tag, noindex stops your site from being indexed completely. This can be useful when applied to certain pages that you don’t want to be indexed at all. It usually appears at in the header of a page and looks like this:

<META NAME=”robots” CONTENT=”noindex, nofollow”>

If the website title is not even showing in the search results then this could be why.

Check for sitewide rel=canonical

In 2009 Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft acknowledged the use of rel=canonical. This tag gives webmasters the option to remedy duplicate content issues by stating which version of a page is the most important. This in turn signals to a search engine that it should disregard the lower priority page in favor of the most important one. However if the tag is inserted into a global header it can cause a major problem. All of the pages on a website will be regarded as duplicates of whatever page is in the tag. This is how it looks in the of a source code:

<link rel=”canonical” href=”http://www.example.com/about/” />

Google only takes the preference into account and should not be substituted for permanent redirects. 301 redirects affect both the search engine bot and user experience in that a URL automatically switches to a new one, specified by the webmaster. They also pass some strength from one page to another which is another reason why they should be a first option. Problems arise when these redirects become chained. This occurs when a page goes from A to B to C to D to E at once. For the user this could go from A to E without any indication of the URLs in between. However this could cause search engine bots to give up crawling which stops your content from being indexed. For more information about duplicate content and canonicalisation take a look at this post.

Check for faceted navigation problems

A common issue that arises a lot with larger websites has to do with faceted navigation. This is where users are able to filter content based on facets such as color, size, price, language. It mostly occurs in eCommerce websites but can also affect other sites where each of these parameters can be changed to serve different content to a user. In some cases this can waste a search engine bot’s time and will cause it to leave your website. Every search engine bot has a budget for each website and it crawls them based on factors related to the underlying strength of that site. Once that budget is depleted it finishes and moves onto another website. If bots are being sent on wild goose chases because of hundreds of irrelevant variations of one item or product then the other, more important pages, are missing out. For example, if a page can be ordered alphabetically there is no need to index it twice because it is the same content in reverse.

This can be fixed in the Configuration > URL Parameters section of Google Webmaster Tools and Index > URL Normalization in Bing Webmaster. Here you can find a video of how to configure them for Google.

Check page load time

PageSpeed Insights by Google is an extension that allows you to test the speed of a website. It gives you a score out of 100 and pointers on how to improve your score. In 2010, Google incorporated page load time into its ranking signals which helps both usability and visibility in Google.

Check the current hosting provider

Another reason why a website is running slow could be due to the hosting provider. Search for the domain name in Netcraft to see where in the world it is hosted and which other websites on or the server. Hosting providers with full servers can slow a website down by making it queue up to serve content to a user. Servers that go down a lot also have a serious impact on rankings and usability. Signing up an account with Pingdom allows you to set up regular checks which notify you about the health of a server as an when an event occurs. If you run a busy blog website it would be important to know if it goes down. Pingdom can alert you by SMS if something does happen.

With these bare bones laid out, you can be search engine friendly and focus on creating great content for your users.

Guest Posting isn’t Dead (…Yet)

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Early this month, I was having a conversation about guest posting with a friend of mine. This is a topic I have personally been examining over the last year, so when he asserted that “guest posting is dead,” I had to voice my opposition.

I do, however, think that guest posting expectations bloggers have are sometimes a bit out of whack. Guest posting isn’t dead any more than blogging itself is dead, but the way some bloggers go about guest posting is certainly putting it on life support.

(If you’re new to guest posting, you might want to check out our five-part series on guest posting, which will help you write better posts and place these posts on great blogs, as well as our beginner’s guide to guest posting.)

Guest Posting the Wrong Way

Guest posting started as a simple theory: if you write a free post for another blogger and his/her readers like it, they’ll come back to your blog via the link at the end of your post and become a member of your community as well.

I can tell you from tons of personal experience that this doesn’t usually happen, at least, not at a rate that makes your hard work worthwhile.

Even if you write a guest post for a well-known, popular blogger, that traffic isn’t going to translate. Readers are fans of certain blogs because they like that specific blogger. You’re someone new, unknown, not to be trusted. A small percentage of people who read your post – even if they like it – will actually click the link in your bio, and an even smaller percentage will actually become long-term readers on your blog.

If you go into guest posting with the expectation that you’re going to get tons of traffic and new readers to your own blog, you’re likely going to be sorely disappointed.

Guest Posting = Branding, Not Immediate Traffic

I still recommend guest posting, however, because if you do it properly, you can end up with tons of new readers. It’s about being strategic.

Guest posting is about branding. You want your name to suddenly start popping up everywhere so people start to recognize it. If you write a one-time guest post on another site, you might get a few curious readers coming to your own blog, but if the same readers start to see your name everywhere, they’re going to start to wonder who you are, and if they like your content, they’re going to end up on your blog sooner or later.

So, think about guest posts in terms of groups of posts going out over the course of a week, not just single posts here or there. Immediate traffic shouldn’t be the goal; you’ll see traffic over time as name recognition builds.

Guest Posting for SEO

Guest posts are also great for SEO purposes. You do have to be careful about putting too much stock into a single type of link-building, since Google is constantly changing, but having your link without a post on a popular blog can help your search engine standings. Even better than linking back to your homepage in the bio is to link to specific posts relevant about the topic within the guest post you write. Don’t overdo it or your host will likely turn down the post, but definitely link to posts on your blog when relevant and helpful to the reader.

Relationship Building with Guest Posts

My favorite reason to guest post is to build relationships with other bloggers. If you offer a well-written, interesting guest post for another blogger, you’re giving them free content that they can’t get anywhere else. It’s a great way to get on someone’s radar. Often, I’ve guest posted for someone and they’ve gone on to become a long-term reader of my blog, even though they had previously never heard of me (or just knew me as one of the bajillon commenters on their site). Relationships with other bloggers in your niche are invaluable.

Managing Expectations

At the end of the day, guest posting is simply about managing your expectations. If you are looking for massive traffic numbers, especially right away, this is not an technique worth your time. If you’re taking a more “slow and steady wins the race” approach to blogging and interested in benefits other than traffic, guest posting is definitely a great blog-building technique to add to your promotional activities.

Interested in getting the most out of a guest post – or really any post you write on any blog? Jon Morrow is coming to NMX Las Vegas this January to present a session on the Anatomy of a 100,000 Visitor Post. You don’t want to miss this one!

The Monsters of the SEO World [Infographic]

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For every good SEO out there, you’ll find an evil twin – and SEO who uses black hat techniques to manipulate search engines. Google will never be able to keep up. I suspect that somewhere out there, there’s a creepy, dark castle headquarters where SEOs with waxed mustaches and monocles evilly laugh as they come up with new ways to game the system.

In this infographic from SmugGecko via Visual.ly, you’ll find an overview of today’s most common SEO “monsters.” In your pursuit to get to the top of Google’s results, make sure you’re not turning into any of these monsters yourself.

If you want to learn how to do SEO the right way, join us for NMX in Las Vegas! Every year, we feature sessions from leaders in SEO who can teach you white hat techniques for dominating Google.

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