Why You Never Rely on Just a Single Digital Marketing Tactic

MyBlogGuest, one of the largest websites that matched guest bloggers to websites, recently got a huge penalty from Google.

There’s two sides to the issue: Google claims this website uses unnatural linking practices. The site, and any websites associated with it (thousands of them), got a nasty penalty from Google. On the other hand, owner Ann Smarty said that all participating sites meet Google’s linking guidelines because the links are “editorially reviewed.”

Regardless of what she thinks, Google has all the rule-making power, and it decided to make this happen. Many believe Google is simply using this situation as one to make an example of that they are serious about penalizing websites that abuse guest blogging.

We don’t know what the truth of the situation is, but it does demonstrate a point: never put all your digital marketing efforts into a single basket.

Unfortunately, Google Can Change the Rules Whenever It Wants

For the most part, Google has made the web a more interesting, valuable, and less spammy place. But it’s still far from perfect. Some sites (large and small) get penalized when they shouldn’t. A single algorithm change like Panda 4.0 could wipe out 80-90% of your organic traffic, literally bankrupting your business overnight.

What mix of digital marketing is right? It depends on your company. Check out a few different digital marketing methods to learn how you can diversify your digital marketing efforts:

  1. Organic SEO

This one’s still the bread and butter. And once you get it working and you start landing leads from the internet, it has an exceptional ROI. However, if you get penalized (justifiably or not), you can throw away years of work, thousands of dollars, and 90% of your business in a heartbeat.

  1. PPC

Paid search is the best way to get leads now. Just about every business should be doing it in addition to organic SEO.

However, you have to monitor costs carefully, as they can skyrocket out of control in a flash. But, PPC is a great way to get leads in the door within a few weeks, and Google never penalizes it.

  1. Social Media

Growing social profiles is tricky and time consuming. However, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are a must. And, they add a nice source of business if you aren’t already highly diversified with your online marketing efforts.

  1. E-mail List Building

This one can rise or fall with the success or failure of your organic search marketing efforts. But, if you have a nice-sized list, that’s a good hedge against a Google penalty if you get one.

So that’s why you never rely on a single digital marketing tactic. And now you have some insurance if things go wrong.

How to Increase Authority

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In our final post in the technical SEO audit series, we’ll discuss how to increase your website’s authority. You should care about this metric because the higher it is, the better your site ranks. Remember, you can check yours at http://www.opensiteexplorer.org

The top authority signals a technical SEO audit checks for include:

  1. Links. These are the number one off-site authority signal, and they will stay that way for some time. And out of all search ranking factors, links are most likely the strongest.

Over the years, Google has significantly changed how links impact your search rankings. 5-7 years ago, you could have links from any random website pointing to yours, and you would get some benefit.

But then some SEOs learned how to spam links, helping low-quality websites rank highly. This practice actually still happens.

Today, Google wants links that are not “built,” but instead require some sort of editorial review process by the other site owner. Good links come from other sites with high levels of authority. Those sites should be topically related to yours. And the text on the link should match your keywords precisely in less than 5% of all instances.

For example, a not-so-good link would come from an internet forum or article directory. A great link to your plumbing website comes from a blog post at a respected DIY website.

If you have a wide-scale effort of links with the exact same anchor text pointing to your website from a number of other websites, Google suspects you of trying to manipulate the search rankings. To you, this means you’re at high risk for a penalty.

It also matters who you link to. Google figures reputable websites link to other reputable websites. And, all valuable sites on the web would do this to some extent. So, it is a good practice to occasionally link out to other authorities in your niche.

  1. Content. Every page of content, and blog post, should include keywords relevant to your service offering. Google prefers websites that offer fresh content. You should publish at least one blog post per month. More is better, but only post when you have valuable information to offer.

Google will crawl and index your website more often, and rank it higher, if you regularly create content. Eventually, Google wants “thick” websites with 25, 50, 75, 100 pages or even more at the top of its rankings.

The figuring is that websites who publish content regularly like that are likely to be more established players in their field and more valuable to their target audiences. And Google’s probably right on that.

  1. Social shares. There’s actually some debate on this one. Matt Cutts recently released a video saying social shares are not a ranking factor. On the other hand, Moz conducted a thorough study in late summer of last year that found a high correlation between website rankings and the number of Google +1s they had. Correlation does not mean causation, but it’s enough strong evidence to make you wonder what’s really going on.

Regardless, the more followers and social shares you have, the better. Even if social shares aren’t a ranking factor, you at least have a good platform for promoting your content and getting more people linking to it.

So those are the main authority signals, and you want to get as many links, produce as much quality content, and get as many social shares as possible. A technical SEO audit checks to make sure you are doing this in a natural, Google-safe way. Just keep in mind that your overarching goal should be to contribute value to the web, and not to manipulate your search rankings.

You can do deceptive things like purchasing 1000s of Facebook followers, but that does you no good because they don’t care about your company and won’t share your content or purchase from you.

Hope this clears up the muddy waters of technical SEO audits for you!

The New Facebook Advertising Changes and What they Mean to You

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Facebook has a complex algorithm just like Google.  Did you know that even though it started out as a social network, Facebook is trying to even overtake Google as our world’s search leader?

It’s true, but even though Facebook’s the clear social leader, it’s still far from seriously competing with Google as a search leader.  It’s a publicly traded corporation too, so they’re constantly making new changes to keep their position as the leading social network and continue to increase their profitability.

Facebook’s been up to a lot lately – check out what they’ve been doing to their algorithm:

1.  Removal of spam posts.  Facebook’s users have indicated they want to see more relevant, less “spammy” posts.  In response, the company has removed posts designed intentionally to get large numbers of likes, which are generally not too relevant to Facebook users.  And posts that contain links to spammy websites loaded with ads and no real substantive content are also getting the boot.

2.  Ever heard of the law of unintended consequences?  Or maybe they are intended.  While all these changes have helped improve the Facebook experience for users to some degree, they have hurt the amount of traffic legitimate brands get from the site.  Adweek reports sites like Upworthy, Elite Daily, and Distractify have lost up to 84% of their traffic from Facebook.  Some marketers are in an uproar, and if you have a company page on Facebook, you definitely have to watch the news carefully going forward.

3.  Facebook ads are now more important for businesses.  Take this how you want, but the fact that Facebook makes it harder for company pages to get free content in your newsfeed now forces them to use more paid advertising.  Basically, they’re saying there’s so much free content become available, the best way to get seen at Facebook these days is to pay to have your content shown.

4.  Say goodbye to sponsored stories.  A class-action lawsuit was the straw that broke the camel’s back on this one.  Facebook first got sued for using user’s images in sponsored stories.  Then they got whacked again recently for not doing enough to remedy the situation.  Thank Jo Batman of Corpus Christi for bringing the most recent lawsuit to the forefront.

5.  Smaller changes.  And here’s a list of many of the smaller changes made in recent months:

  • Ability to target audiences with custom audiences in the power editor
  • Larger photos in the newsfeed
  • More autoplay videos
  • High quality news stories in the news feed
  • The same high quality content shown twice, just to make sure you saw it
  • Fewer meme photos

Well, that’s quite a lot.  And if you notice from a big-picture perspective, Facebook is going in the direction of quality content and paid advertising.

To some degree that’s what Google’s doing too.

Now, at least you’re prepared for the future.

Facebook’s on the Move Again with New Company Pages Changes

So these changes haven’t officially rolled out to every Company Page yet, but whenever Facebook makes any change, you can bet there’s going to be lots of attention.  One thing Facebook does well is test, innovate, and continue to change along with the market.  Partly due to this, even though it’s only been publicly traded for under a year, its stock value has more than tripled – rising from 22.90 in June 2013 to around 71.0 here in March (don’t take this as a stock tip to buy though!).

If you don’t already know, its ultimate goal is to be more dominant on the web than Google, and even take away as much search traffic as possible.  But, these changes don’t have much to do with search.

So What’s Going On?

Nothing too dramatic, actually, but a few noticeable things:

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  1. Company pages now display all posts in a single right hand column.  You know how the posts are split between two columns, and it’s kind of hard to figure out what’s the latest thing going on with a company from their Facebook page?  Facebook has made company pages easier to view by condensing all posts to a single column on the right side of the screen.  Much easier for users to view!
  2. New competitive report – “Pages to Watch.”  Simply go to the “Overview” tab as an administrator, under the “Page Insights” tab on Facebook.  You can add other company pages you want to watch, so you can see how their likes and engagement have been changing in the past week. The information is fairly high-level, but it does alert you to what your competitors are doing that works, and what doesn’t.
  3. Custom tabs have gone away from the front of the page. Those tabs just below your cover image are now gone.  No one’s sure where they moved to yet.  Some digital marketers are getting annoyed with this, but you can easily work around it by offering relevant calls-to-action every so often.

So, like we said, they’re not dramatic changes, but they are noticeable.  Comments on websites like Mashable, one of the first sites to break the story, have been mostly negative, but some reaction like this is to be expected.

Will this significantly hamper your digital marketing efforts? Probably not.  And as always, everyone will learn to adapt and innovate.

 

How to Optimize Google+ Local without Trashing Your Rankings

The title says it all – that’s what everyone’s afraid of. Work your butt off for hours and then find out you ticked off the king of the search world by accident, seriously damaging your business in the process.

If you’re not already familiar, Google+ Local replaces Google Places, combining both Places and Plus. It provides both search and map results as people search the web.
Here’s what you’ll need to do in order to make yourself as effective as possible on Google+ Local:Continue Reading

Worth 1000 Words: Visual Content Marketing

 

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With the increasing popularity of photo and video driven social networks such as Pinterest, Instagram and evolution of Facebook and Google+, visual content has become one of the most important aspects of marketing.

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