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No Sponsored Content on Facebook Unless You Have a Verified Page by @SouthernSEJ

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Andrew Raynor Dover NH

Facebook recently made some updates to its branded content policies, which we previously covered, but we wanted to clear up some confusion and make one thing very clear. You need to have a verified Facebook Page in order to post branded content. Verified pages are those pages with the blue badge.

If you do not have a blue badge on your page, you cannot post branded content. The new changes to the branded content guidelines are as simple as that; though we realize many will not be pleaseD with this change.

Even if you have a verified Page, the branded content being published has to follow very specific guidelines, which includes tagging your sponsor and making it transparent that what you’re publishing is sponsored content. Tagging someone in a branded content post then gives them all access to the stats and insights for that post.

What This Means for Marketers

If you do not have a verified Page with a blue badge, you cannot post sponsored content advertising someone else’s products or services. What you can do is post branded content advertising your own business featuring your own logo.

For non-verified Pages, you cannot post: affiliate links, ad images, links to info about anyone else’s products or services.

If you have a verified paged, you can still post sponsored content as long as you follow Facebook’s guidelines which are written here in full.  

Andrew Raynor Dover New Hampshire

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Google Delivered Over 4 Million Manual Action Penalties Last Year by @SouthernSEJ

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Andrew Raynor Dover NH

Google highlighted on its Webmaster Central blog today some achievements the company has made in fighting web spam in 2015. In addition, some interesting stats were revealed about hacked sites, and overall quality of web content.

  • In 2015 there was a 180% increase in the number of websites being hacked, compared to the same time period last year.
  • There was an increase in the number of sites with thin, low quality content that adds little value to the web.
  • For the most part, Google’s algorithms tackled web spam and improved the quality of the search experience for users.
  • Google rolled out an algorithm update specifically for targeting hacked spam.
  • Spam not dealt with by algorithms was tackled manually; more than 4.3 million messages to webmasters notifying them of manual actions.
  • There was a 33% increase in the number of sites with successful reconsideration requests.
  • More than 400,000 spam reports sent from around the world
    • Google acted on 65% of them
    • 80% of those acted on were considered to be spam

Google will continue to improve its spam fighting technology to keep the web clean and safe for searchers. Google’s Webmaster Help Forum and office hours Hangouts are also excellent opportunities to communicate directly with Google about web spam, or any other webmaster-related topic on your mind.

Andrew Raynor Dover New Hampshire

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SEJ Wrap Up Many SEOs Are Now Actually Utilizing AMPLIFIER? Survey megcabrera

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Andrew Raynor Dover NH

This is the wrap-up of the most popular posts and announcements on SEJ over the previous week. Newsletter subscribers are the first to receive this and other updates.

The Ultimate Guide to WhatsApp Marketing

Text marketing, once yesterday’s news with SMS, is being rejuvenated by mobile messenger apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, Viber, and others. With the ubiquity of chat apps, it’s no surprise marketers are exploring ways to connect with their audiences.

But the question is, how should you jump on the WhatsApp marketing brandwagon (pun intended)? SEJ contributor Jes Stiles answers that question in this week’s top post.

SEJ Summit Chicago save 125

Only 23% of SEOs Implementing AMP, 50% Believe it Will Affect Rankings

Only 23% of SEOs Currently Implementing AMP, 50% Believe it Will Affect Rankings

In an exclusive study conducted by SEO PowerSuite, some revealing findings were uncovered as to how SEOs are responding to Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages project two months out.

The goal of the study was to identify SEOs’ awareness of the AMP launch, gauge the impact they believe it will have on mobile search results, and learn actions they plan to take as a result.

Learn the general consensus about AMP two months after launch in this week’s top news post.

How to Create a Galaxy of Content Through Repurposing

Popular Search Marketing Posts

Here is a rundown of the most popular posts on SEJ from last week:

  1. The Ultimate Guide to WhatsApp Marketing, by Jes Stiles
  2. Only 23% of SEOs Implementing AMP, 50% Believe it Will Affect Rankings, by  Matt Southern
  3. Facebook’s News Feed Algorithm Now Factors in Viewing Time, by Matt Southern
  4. 9 Google Chrome Shortcuts You Probably Didn’t Know About, by Andre Bourque
  5. Google AdWords Positions 1 and 4 Show Post Potential, by Matt Southern / [AD] How to Optimize Your Content For More Search Traffic Using Ahrefs
  6. A 15-Point Checklist to Make Sure You’re Publishing Worthwhile Content, by  Julia McCoy
  7. Marketing Automation With James Loomstein on #MarketingNerds, by Brent  Csutoras
  8. Creating a Sustainable Marketing Strategy [INFOGRAPHIC], by Aki Libo-on
  9. 83% of Local SEO Experts Say Quality of Citations More Important Than  Quantity, by Aki Libo-on
  10. 4 Tips for Successful Event Marketing, by Meg Cabrera

Ask an SEO

Download This Week’s Episode of Marketing Nerds

In this week’s episode of Marketing Nerds, WEBRIS founder Ryan Stewart joins SEJ Features Editor Danielle Antosz to talk about outreach and how to do it right. Ryan shares how to identify the best outreach opportunities and how to write the perfect pitch.

Listen to the full episode or download the MP3 here.

Subscribe to Marketing Nerds: iTunes | Android | RSS

Image Credits

Featured Image: Image by Paulo Bobita
In-post Photo #1: Image by Jes Stiles
In-post Photo #2: Image by Paulo Bobita
In-post Photo #3: ktsdesign via Shutterstock enhanced by Matt Southern
In-post Photo #4: Image by Paulo Bobita
In-post Photo #5: Image by Paulo Bobita

Andrew Raynor Dover New Hampshire

10 Tools That Before You Begin The Next Business You’ll Require to Make Use Of

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Andrew Raynor Dover NH

Starting a new business takes a ton of work.

Even with your initial passion, it’s never an easy undertaking.

There are a great number of things that you need to research, plan out, get created, etc. before you “launch.”

And you’ll always be wondering, “Did I forget anything?”

What I’ve put together here is a list of great tools that you’ll want to know about, and possibly use, before you start your next business.

They cover the most important and common things you’ll need to address.

These tools will help you do them faster, cheaper, and/or better than you would be able to do otherwise.

Wherever possible, I’ve given you both a free and paid version to choose from. 

Market research tools

When you have a business idea, first you need to confirm that it’s a good idea.

Basically, you need to answer two questions:

  • Is there a market for this type of product or service (if so, how big)?
  • Will that market like my product or service?

Those are the most important questions to answer. Beyond that, it’s helpful to know how the market is distributed (by location or medium) and whether it will grow in the future.

These tools will help you gain insight into your market.

1. Google Shopping Insights: You’ve probably heard of Google Trends but maybe not the Shopping Insights tool.

They do similar things, but this tool is geared much more towards business in the US.

If part of your market is in the US, you’ll want to use this tool.

It’s simple to use. Just type in a specific product (e.g., a competitor’s product) or a general type of product:

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As an example, I put in “microwave ovens,” which gave me these results:

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There are two main things you get from these results.

The first is that you learn whether there are any places that are much more interested in your type of product than others. In this example, it’s clear the the states on the East Coast buy many more microwaves than on the West Coast (who knew?).

In addition, if you look at the graph on the bottom, you can see the popularity of searches related to buying microwaves.

You don’t get absolute numbers—this is a relative scale. But you can see whether your product type is trending up or down in popularity.

A graph like the one above, where searches have more than doubled in about 2 years, is perfect to see. It shows that your market is still likely growing.

2. QWILR’s Ad spend calculator: Getting traffic for your new business from the start is tough. There won’t be much organic traffic right away, and even content marketing takes a while to get going.

That leaves you with your standard public relations and paid advertising for the most part.

This ad spend calculator is great for two reasons:

  • It makes a complicated topic simple
  • Everything is based on real numbers

The tool guides you through a few questions where you input one or two numbers about your business to find what your target CPC (cost per click) should be.

To start with, you’re asked about your average revenue per month as well as your churn rate.

Obviously, you don’t have actual data to use, but you can make a good estimate on the revenue side.

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You can also use industry standards for churn rate. I went with 5% as an example even though that’s not a good churn rate.

If you’re selling individual products and don’t have recurring income, just put 100% here.

That’s one big area down. Next up is your customer acquisition cost.

You need to answer how long you’re willing to wait until you recoup your initial cost. While patience is good, if you wait too long, you might run out of money.

The tool provides default values, which are good for most cases.

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Finally, you’re asked to estimate a conversion rate of your traffic to the site.

This will allow the tool to calculate a CPC:

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I left out one or two basic questions, but you get the point. In a quick example illustrated above, I found that my hypothetical business could pay up to $0.66 per click (visitor).

Use this tool to plan your initial advertising budget for the first few months.

3. SurveyMonkey: One thing that all good business launching guides will tell you to do is talk to your market.

The only feedback about your idea and product that you must listen to is from your potential customers.

If you know some of your potential customers in real life already, you might be able to interview them in person (or through Skype).

That’s the best option.

But when that’s not an option, consider using SurveyMonkey.

Originally, the tool was used to create surveys and collect answers, but now it can do much more.

Most importantly, you can pay a modest fee and get your survey sent to a panel of survey takers.

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While you won’t get perfect targeting, it’ll be pretty accurate, and the results you get will help you design your product and know which features to focus on.

4. Buzzsumo: I’ve mentioned Buzzsumo in many previous lists but need to include it here for anyone who doesn’t know about it. I’ll keep it brief.

Buzzsumo allows you to search for a keyword and see the most popular articles that focus on it (based on social shares):

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Immediately, you’ll be able to see which social network is most popular with your target audience.

On top of that, you can enter the URL of a competitor and find their most popular content.

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Those results will help you plan your content marketing and learn about the main problems of your market (the more popular, the bigger the problem).

Putting together your first impression

The next area of a business launch is your product and website (which may be one and the same).

The tools in this section will help you with your branding and creating a favorable first impression.

5. NameMesh: Every business and website needs a name. You probably already know that it can be difficult to find a good one that’s actually available for registration (without paying thousands of dollars for it).

Even if you’re good at coming up with names, it might take you an hour or two to do so.

NameMesh is a free tool that may be able to help you with this.

To use it, type in 2-3 words that describe main features of your business.

For example, if I were starting a business that helped others bring their product ideas to life, I could enter:

  • Product creation
  • Product life
  • Product idea creation

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Think of as many combinations as you can to improve your chances of finding a good one.

The tool will automatically try hundreds of combinations and see whether the domains are available. You will get a final list of what you could register:

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There are tons of other free tools like this. You can find them by searching for “domain name generator.”

6. Name Geniuses: Sometimes you can find a great name with those free generators, but most of the results aren’t very good. You get what you pay for.

Name Geniuses is not free; it’s a pay-what-you-want tool with a $20 minimum that allows you to crowdsource your domain name.

Basically, you pick the amount you want to pay. A large portion of this payment is offered as a prize to a few hundred users on the site.

These users come up with domain names (that are available) and submit them to you. Then, you pick a winner whenever you want.

The good part from your perspective is that only the winner gets paid. This incentivizes users to spend a lot of effort to come up with names that are much better than those created by a free generator.

To use the tool, answer a few questions about your business idea:

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Then, your project goes on the job board once you pay for it.

Depending on what you pay, you’ll get anywhere from 50 suggestions to hundreds:

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By all means, come up with your own name, but this can save you hours of time and potentially generate an even better name.

7. DesignMantic: After the name, comes the logo. While it’s sometimes optional, you’ll likely need some sort of logo.

DesignMantic is a free tool that is very quick and simple to use.

All you do is type in your company name and then choose what industry it’s in:

image03

It will quickly generate several logos you can use, complete with your business name:

image05

They’re obviously going to be generic, but they’re fairly attractive and will work as temporary logos.

8. 99Designs: At some point, you’ll need a unique, professional logo. No free tool will do that for you.

You can cheap out on a designer from Fiverr, but that will cost you more in the long run and won’t get you a much better result than what you’ll get from the free tools.

99Designs is another crowdsourcing site/tool I really like.

You buy a package and then get tons of designs (30+) from different designers.

image06

Again, you pick the winner, and they get paid.

Just about all the designs are of great quality, so you can’t go wrong.

Payroll and accounting

The tools in this final group have varying levels of importance.

They will help you manage incoming and outgoing payments, which just about all businesses need to do.

If you’re starting really small, you can probably handle it manually, but I recommend using tools to simplify things (and keep them accurate) once you have a decent cash flow.

On top of that, if you have employees right off the bat, you need to make sure they’re paid on time and that their taxes are taken care of. Hire an accountant, or use these tools.

9. Freshbooks: If you have a service-based business that requires you to send out invoices on a regular basis, Freshbooks is a great tool to help you stay organized.

image13

The time it’ll save you on generating invoices alone is probably worth the cost. On top of that, it will also let you send payments if you work with any freelancers or buy products for your business.

You can then generate reports of all your invoices, expenses, and payments, which will make doing your taxes much easier.

How much does it cost? Not much.

Depending on whether you’re going to allow any employees to use the tool as well (you could have them handle invoicing and expensing, etc.), you’re looking at $30-40 a month:

image18

10. ZenPayroll: This is a great tool that helps you handle employees as you grow. You may not need it right away, but keep it in mind because you might in the future.

The main purpose of ZenPayroll, as the name suggests, is to make your payroll simple.

It automatically takes care of setting up taxes for new employees and paying contractors (and taking care of their tax needs), and it can even be set up to do automatic tax filings for you.

Keep in mind that this tool is made for the US. As far as I know, it won’t work as well in other countries.

As far as the pricing, it’s very simple: you pay a base fee and then an extra $6 for each person you add (all per month):

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You can then configure it so that you just have to add new employees, and it will get all their tax and payment information set up without you having to do anything:

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For small- to medium-sized companies, it’s more or less HR and accounting departments in one simple tool.

Conclusion

You have a long road in front of you.

By all means, expect to put in a lot of work. However, if you have a problem that can be solved by the tools I’ve given you, take advantage of them.

To end off, I’ve got to ask you whether I’ve left any tools off this list that you love. I know that I haven’t included every tool in the world here. Please share any of your favorites in a comment below.

Andrew Raynor Dover NH

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Why battling click-fraud that is cellular is just a waste of time

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Andrew Raynor Dover NH

Fraud prevention is heating up in mobile. But trying to fight fraudulent clicks from mobile apps is a losing battle. Instead, try these three tips.

Every week, a new industry expert or solution enters the fray to solve the billion-dollar fraud market. That’s great. Collectively, we can only combat fraud if as many parts of the mobile marketing stack embrace the techniques and implementations available.

All the same, advertisers frequently want detection and reporting on fraudulent clicks.

We refuse.

Fighting clicks from mobile apps is not only foolish, but an utter waste of focus. Permanently out-fooling such fraud prevention filters is a trivial task for the average fraudster. At best, fraud detection for cost-per-click (CPC) campaigns would be a stopgap and an ersatz pacifier for concerned marketers. At worst, it’s counterproductive snake oil.

Here’s why.

The types of fraud occurring on websites only partially matches the types of fraud in apps. They work roughly the same: some software simulates the click and the conversion or install. However, on the web, this happens in a consistent environment where ad delivery is easily monitored inside the browser.

In fact, the whole journey from impression to conversion on the target website can be seen transparently and tracked with JavaScript and cookies. This allows you to check if a website is producing background clicks for cookie dropping. On the web, we have an array of tools for interacting deeper in the value chain.

In the app world, none of this works.

Cookies and JavaScript are extremely limited, if at all available. There are no insights into ad clicks beyond the pure HTTP requests and the data attached to them. Individual networks can perform spot checks, but the type of coverage required by effective fraud prevention cannot be achieved.

The reason HTTP requests and the data attached to them are completely unreliable is because they can easily be modified by fraudsters. A fraudster can make the HTTP request look like it comes from an iPhone when it’s actually from a connected toaster, or vice versa.

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The only reason why fraudsters would hijack real devices on real networks is because they can’t fake the IP address. Server-to-server clicks even skirt that need.

Therefore, a background click from a device running a malicious app looks exactly the same as a legit click. Ever wonder why there are so many battery saver and flashlight apps?

An individual click will show up from a legit IP with real headers from actual devices, often with a legit device ID of a real user, making it even possible for one device to “click” for hundreds of other real devices. Individually, this click cannot be filtered out.

Clicks should still be placed under scrutiny in aggregate in order to prevent poaching of organic conversions via click spam. This approach, called “distribution modeling,” is a very promising approach to fix attribution rules and post-install datasets, but is not useful to detect and prevent false clicks and charges on CPC campaigns.

So what does that mean for your CPC campaigns?

Here are three pieces of advice, beyond the general recommendation not to run CPC on mobile:

1. Don’t keep CPC campaigns running forever

run-forrest-run

Turn off CPC campaigns as soon as they convert significantly lower than average, at sub-percentile click to install rates. Hundreds of people don’t decide to click your ad only to turn away at the sight of your app store page.

It’s much more likely that someone is faking a large amount of clicks, and those few conversions you are seeing are actually organic conversions that are being falsely claimed by the ad network.

2. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is

A very typical symptom of organic conversions being poached is that while the CPC certainly is expensive, the retention and downstream conversion rates look good.

This is again because the retention is being generated by organic users, that typically retain better than many paid users.

3. Place very high demands on the quality of incoming traffic

Write your quality demands into your IO precisely what platforms and countries you are targeting, if you are filtering anything like anonymous IPs, or any other measures you’re taking. Explicitly stating it in your IO places you in a much stronger position, should you ever need to return to your partners with bad news.

The oft-repeated adage is that mobile is very different from the desktop web. The techniques, methods and campaigns we can run on the desktop web don’t translate well to mobile. As a space, we have to progress from those ideas.

Paul Muller is the CTO and co-founder of adjust.

Related reading

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15 Engine Marketing Podcasts for You Have To Pay Attention To by @texasgirlerin

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Andrew Raynor Dover NH

Keeping up with search can be a struggle. Updates to best practices, new opportunities for improvement, and conflicting information on the importance of rank factors — there is a lot to sift through.

One of my favorite resources for information is podcasts. Podcasts allow you to listen to varied insights and opinions while you drive to work or do other tasks. You get information without having to take time out of your already packed schedule.

Below, I’ve compiled 15 search and digital podcasts to consider adding to your listening.

Hosts: Ross Dunn, John Carcutt

Ross and John run a “back to basics” program to help listeners improve SEO. They discuss search trends and algorithm changes and provide practical advice to help listeners understand how to handle changes and leverage SEO best practices.

Since they’ve already got more than 200 shows recorded – if you’re looking for search advice, class is in session.

Hosts: Chris Burres, Charles Lewis

Chris and Charles live by the mantra, “Don’t be a douche,” and you’ll get to hear their thoughts throughout their fast-paced podcast that includes a daily tip, trending news, and call-outs to questions from their Twitter stream #SEOPodcast. The core of the podcast consists of a review of a recently published article that addresses topics of interest for digital marketers and SEOs of all levels.

“Top position snatchers” Chris and Charles have recorded over 300 shows and up the ante in their quick-moving episodes.

Host: Rich Brooks

The Agents of Change are defined by Rich as search, social, and mobile. Through interviews with industry influencers in digital marketing, social media, and SEO, Rich offers opinions on trends and a deeper dive into industry best practices to increase online visibility.

Rich has a five-star rating on iTunes and every week Rich welcomes the “true believers” into his podcast filled with tricks and tips.

Hosts: Chris Boggs, Frank Watson

This show stars the “Sultans of Search” who comment on current articles, opinions, or trends of interest for SEOs. Unlike some of the other shows, SEO rockstars has a laser-focused on Search Engine Optimization methods.

The “Princes of PageRank” have recorded 260 episodes in a weekly episode format. If you’re looking for an SEO instructional podcast, this is probably not the conversation for you. These “Rockstars” talk about SEO from a higher, strategic level designed to be thought-provoking.

Hosts: Robert O’Haver, Caleb McKelvin

Search Talk Live is an interview format podcast with guests from the SEO and digital marketing industries. Topics range from “How to” episodes to discussions about trends and opinions in SEM, SEO, social media, and content marketing.

If you’re interested in hearing what industry influencers have to say, you can get caught up with Search Talk Live’s just over 40 episodes to date, with new shows airing every Tuesday.

Host: Erin Sparks

The Edge is a one-hour podcast hosted by Erin Sparks discussing digital marketing tactics, concepts, and industry trends. Erin infuses humor into his interview format show to educate audiences and to stay on top of trends in online strategy with leaders in internet marketing and SEO.

Over the last few years, Erin has recorded more than 170 shows that include a good guest roster.

Hosts: Joe Pulizzi, Robert Rose

This podcast,  produced by Content Marketing Institute, focuses solely on the issues associated with content marketing. The hour-long show begins by reviewing and discussing headlines in the news and some rants and raves by the show’s hosts. The remainder of the show is about trends in the industry and the hosts opinions about what’s working and what’s not.

This Old Marketing has been running for two years and is part of the content machine that has been created by CMI. These guys are the recognized authorities in content marketing and have a lot to say about the trends and challenges in the industry.

Host: Tim Ash

In this podcast, Tim  focuses on the landing page. He interviews experts about every aspect of landing page creation, measurement, and optimization. His guests discuss best practices and give specific tips and tricks for creating better landing pages and meeting conversion goals. The subject matter can be technical including deep dives into multivariate testing best practices.

Landing Page Optimization has been around since 2009 and is recorded twice a month. 

Hosts: Michael Helbling, Jim Cain, Tim Wilson

This show airs every other week and tackles the questions, challenges, and current trends in the analytics community. The three hosts (and an occasional guest) keep the conversation lively while addressing important issues and disseminating interesting information.

The Digital Analytics Power Hour has received several 5-star reviews and lasts less than an hour.  According to the hosts, “ due to the Canadian Exchange Rate, the Digital Analytics Power hour is only 40 minutes.” Never fear, those 40 minutes are packed with content.

Hosts: Kelsey Jones, Brent Csutoras, Danielle Antosz, Caitlin Rulien

Every week one of the hosts interviews an industry expert in the areas of SEO and digital marketing. The journalistic interview format takes an in-depth focus on one subject every week. While the spotlight is on the guest, interviewers weigh in with their experiences and opinions and keep the conversation lively.

Marketing Nerds has over 82 podcasts which can be accessed either on Itunes or on the SEJ website. The topics and flavor of the news-style podcasts mirror that of the Search Engine Journal written content.

Host: Andy White

Andy White hosts this podcast from the UK that focuses on the tools, techniques, and strategies for internet marketing. His guests are digital marketers and authors from around the globe who are solving digital and search engine marketing problems.

The 15-30 minute podcast has been airing since 2008 and professes to be, “UK’s most popular internet marketing podcast downloaded by over half a million people.” With over 330 episodes to date, you’ve got plenty to get through in this short but lively show.

Hosts: Daniel Rowles , Ciaran Rogers

Another nod to our friends and peers over the pond, Daniel and Ciaran take on all things digital marketing including SEO, search, social, content and other marketing concerns. Their episodes are single-topic shows that highlight and discuss a trend or best practice in the industry either with or without a guest.

The Digital Marketing Podcast boasts an international audience of over 120 countries worldwide. Each show is about 20 minutes, give or take, and they’ve recorded over 100 episodes to date.

Hosts: Jim Hedger, Dave Davies

Each Webcology podcast explores topics, trends, and issues around web marketing. The show generally begins with a news round-up of current events and issues for marketing and SEO. Then, expert guests are interviewed to give their perspective on the daily topic.

Webcology has been on the air since 2009, has over 300 episodes, and airs weekly to bring news and information to webmasters and internet marketers. Topics include SEO and search, Google Algorithm changes, Yahoo news, social media marketing, and other marketing subjects.

Host: Tim Paige

Conversion Cast is a 10- to 15-minute podcast that presents a new case study every other week. Each episode highlights a guest who has solved a specific problem, using a particular tactic or tool. The results of the case study are always presented as hard data regarding percentage increase in engagement, conversions, sales, and other marketing goals.

This nuts and bolts, no-nonsense podcast has been on air for two years and has over 100 episodes. If you’re looking for a solution to a specific problem, this may be the podcast for you.

Screenshot 2016-04-23 16.51.13

Hosts: Mico Yuk, Ryan Goodman

Focused on interviewing business intelligence and analytics leaders, the podcast begins with the hosts, Mico and Ryan, providing a recap of the interview. During the recap they express their opinions and take-aways from the interview which includes opinions and experiences of the professionals being interviewed. After the recap, listeners hear the actual interview.

This is a fairly new podcast with only 9 episodes aired so far. The discussions are straightforward and focused on highlighting the expertise of the guest speakers.

Hosts: Erin Robbins O’Brien, Karen Scates

This is a bonus podcast and full disclosure; I’m one of the hosts on this one. Found Friday is a weekly YouTube show and podcast where we discuss various issues, trends, and best practices for SEO and content marketing. The Q&A format covers one topic a week to discuss current challenges and offer solutions and sometimes includes guests.

Found Friday has been on the air as a YouTube episode for three years and recently became a podcast on SoundCloud.

Have recommendations for some additional search podcasts? Leave them in the comments and I’ll check them out.

Image Credits

Featured Image: Image by Erin Robbins O’Brien
All screenshots by Erin Robbins O’Brien. Taken April 2016.

Andrew Raynor Dover New Hampshire

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#AskAnSEO: Just How To Get Ready For The Google With Halasz by @jennyhalasz

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Andrew Raynor Dover NH

Want to ask Jenny an SEO question? Fill out our form or use #AskAnSEO on social media.

This time, we got a ton of great questions from our readers, so we’re going to do a rapid-fire style Q&A. No theme this time. Many of the questions were similar, so we’ve paraphrased some as well as broken some into multiple parts. Please keep those questions coming!

I have a conundrum with a client. They are a trade organization which represents many vendors and manufacturers, however we can’t (mostly) list specific clients or products on their site, which means I end up with a ton of “thin content.” – Ron D.

This is a great opportunity for very “thick” content! As a trade organization, the group is probably responsible for advocating for their members in certain ways, including political, social, and maybe even environmental. If you’re able to take a stand on issues such as these, use this great opportunity to develop editorial content that supports your members’ initiatives.

Have a stand on climate change? Write about it. What about the upcoming elections? Do you have particular candidates your TO will endorse? Do an announcement about it and explain the reasons why.

Even if you can’t get involved politically, you can write informative content about the industry without naming any specific companies. You can educate people outside the industry about industry terms or jargon, explain best practices, or even use white label case studies that don’t mention specific companies. Since you don’t have a specific product to sell, you’re a great resource for anyone looking for generalized information – the type of keywords your member organizations are probably going to shy away from because it’s not purchase- or lead-driven intent.

I have a series of sites that connect to each other, but they refuse to let me IP block their cross-traffic. This makes analytics tracking very difficult. – Ron D.

First, I would try again to educate the client on why you want to do this. Be sure to clarify – do you want to filter out visits from people who work at other connected sites, or do you want to make sure all traffic from referrals across the sites is bucketed separately?

If you want to filter out visits from people who work at sites and thus access them frequently, you’re right that IP blocking is the best way to do that. Rather than filter out the IP addresses at the account level (so that they’re not tracked at all), you have another option.

You can create a separate profile, or “view” (Google defaults to “All Web Site Data” as the main view) that filters out these IP addresses. To do this, select the column under “View” and select “View Settings”. Click on the top right link to “Copy View”, name it something like “JLH Marketing – Filtered” and then click “Copy View” again. When you go back to your admin dashboard, it will have defaulted to your new view.

Now set up your filter. To do this, select the column under “View” and click on “Filters”:

Then select “Add Filter” and create a new filter with the IP address(es) you want to filter out. This way your client can continue to access things as they always have, but you’ll get the real picture of how much traffic is “friendly-fire”.

If your goal is to track cross-domain traffic, there are two ways to do this. The first, and most accurate, is to tag all cross-domain referrals with a specific identifier like a UTM code. But that can create a lot of SEO hassles unless you’re also going to unfollow the links. If you choose to go that route, hire an SEO to help you.

The better way, in my opinion, is to take advantage of a new beta feature within Google Analytics called “Custom Channel Grouping”. What you can do is set up all referral traffic between the domains as “Cross-Domain” or something similar and GA will bucket it the same way they do Organic or Paid traffic. To do this, go to the View you want to set it up in, and click “Custom Channel Groupings” near the bottom of the list. Set it up to include channel Referral and then use OR statements to include all the cross-domain sites. Below is an example:

channel-grouping

Once you have this setup, you can use the “Default Channel Grouping” option on any report where things are grouped by channel to toggle back and forth – see below:

change-channel-grouping

A couple of caveats if you choose this option: First, this isn’t a retroactive report. Google will only bucket things into this grouping going forward from the time you create it. Second, it’s not exclusive. The totals are shown in the main “Default Channel Grouping” will still count all referrals. So while the “Cross-Domain” grouping will filter out only the cross-domain traffic, it won’t be filtered out of the main data. So don’t make a mistake like adding conversions from both together. For more on custom channel grouping, see Google’s article: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1250116

Hey there, my team member is telling me that alt title is more important than alt tag which I disagree. From what I have read, alt title is optional. I am trying to look for good references on proving my point. – Zohair A. , Houston, Texas

Technically, neither the alt tag nor the alt title exists, so you’re both incorrect. The item commonly referred to as the ALT “tag” is actually the ALT attribute on the IMG (image) tag. The ALT attribute is designed to offer alternative text that can be used in the event the image does not load or the user is visually impaired and using a screen reader. Search engines discovered that this could provide some clue as to what the image was about and started using it to help determine the relevance of a page. SEOs started stuffing keywords into the ALT attribute, and the “ALT tag” was born.

The proper use of the ALT attribute is to describe the image. An ALT attribute on an image of a woman using a laptop like “Woman using Sony Vaio laptop” is appropriate. One like “laptops, notebooks, tablets, notebooks for women” is not appropriate.The “title” as your colleague is using it refers to the title attribute of an href (or link) tag. The title attribute is sometimes referred to as a “tooltip” because it is designed to provide additional context to what the user will find on the link destination page. A title attribute can be used correctly on a linked image, but if the image is not linked, the title attribute is invalid.

What’s the best preparation for the upcoming Google Penguin 4.0? – Lloyd B. , Philippines

Do a link audit. Make sure that everything that links to you is appropriate. If you haven’t been actively seeking links that are outside of Google’s guidelines, chances are you are just fine and the upcoming Penguin update (if it ever happens) will not affect you.

What are the changes to “Supplementary Content”? Are they still so important even today? – Seo-4ever, Italy

I think what you’re referring to is the section on Supplementary Content in the Google Quality Rater’s Guidelines. Jen Slegg did a great job of breaking this down back in 2014. In a nutshell, supplementary content offered on a site should be useful and helpful; relevant to the searcher’s intent. In the new version of the Quality Rater’s Guidelines, this section was completely removed. In my opinion, this doesn’t mean that supplementary content is now irrelevant, just that it’s not as important to the definition of quality as it once was. As Jen Slegg says, and I agree,: “I am fairly certain Google removed this to make the mobile experience inline with the desktop one, so the same site isn’t getting vastly different ratings when supplemental content comes into play with desktop versus mobile ratings.”

Is rich answer (not only rich snippet, I mean) now available in every country? Is it available in Italy too? – Makkie, Italy

Rich snippet capability is supported in all countries, since it’s an addition to a basic codebase that is supported globally. Rich answer (meaning the knowledge graph and the occasional instant answer in search results) is technically supported in all countries where Google has a site on that country’s top level domain (TLD). In reality, we see it happening far less frequently in some countries than others, but it’s unclear whether that is because the algorithm is less focused on rich answer style SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) or because there is less information on websites to draw from in those countries. And yes, Italy is included with Google.it. I was not able to make a result happen “in the wild”, but when I used Google’s examples for Italy, I was able to produce this result.

italian-rich-answer

Is link building still a good idea for improved organic search on Google? – Jogesh S., India

Yes. How websites are linked together will remain a key part of Google’s algorithm for the foreseeable future. Developing good links is the same as developing good press. You should continue to find opportunities to expose your company’s products and services to others. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself if you would still want the link if it didn’t have any value to Google.

For example, a link in yellowpages.com for a local business? Sure, it helps people find you. Do you need links in every no-name directory that has nothing to do with your business? Probably not. A link in an editorial article where someone is writing about the best xyz widgets when you sell xyz widgets? Awesome. A link in an article you paid someone to write about why your xyz widgets are the best over all others? Probably not. Use common sense and seek links for the traffic and new customers they will provide, not the benefit to Google organic ranking.

Got a rapid fire question, or even a complex one? Submit it and maybe you’ll see it in a future article.

Image Credits

Featured Image: Image by Paulo Bobita
All screenshots by Jenny Halasz. Taken April 2016.

Andrew Raynor Dover New Hampshire

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This Month In #ContentMarketing: May 2016 by dantosz

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Andrew Raynor Dover NH

The life cycle of a marketing practice (by this I mean SEO, content marketing, social media marketing, etc.) tends to look something like this:

  • “This is a new thing! You should do it! All the cool kids are doing it!”
  • “Do ALL THE THINGS in this practice. This is the next Facebook/SEO/super cool thing.”
  • “Well…that was a thing. I think it is dying now. Read five other articles about how this practice doesn’t work.”
  • “This has been around for a while, but we’ve been doing it all wrong.”
  • “Things keep changing. Here’s what you need to know.”

Content marketing as a medium has grown in the last few years, as marketing practices are wont to. No real big surprise. But it is finally starting to mature. We’re no longer floundering around in the dark churning out mountains of content to see what Google will hate the least.

At this point we’ve learned, as Joe Pulizzi of Content Marketing Institute put it, “Activity doesn’t mean performance.” According to Joe, it is time to dive in and actually create useful content on a consistent basis. That is where content marketing is right now.

It might not sound exciting, but it does work. If this isn’t what you are doing, then you are doing content marketing wrong. Period.

That being said, there are tons of new articles being published each and every month, and  a lot of them are filled with really useful information on how you can improve your strategy. So, every month I round up the best of the best so you can get your content marketing education all in one spot.

Here are five articles about content marketing published in the last 30 days that you should read if you want to stay up to date in the field.

1. How Kindness Makes Your Content More Successful by Sara Wachter-Boettcher

This article on Content Marketing Institute’s blog explains why writing kinder content matters and offers six ways you can create more compassionate content.

As content marketing continues to grow into one of the most effective forms of marketing, we need to learn how to spend less time selling and more time caring about our audience and helping them. This is a distinction that many marketers struggle with, and it results in content that misses the mark and alienates our readers.

Three of Sara’s tips include getting to really know your readers, treating them with respect, and letting your ego go. Each tip includes an example and a well-thought out explanation about why it matters.

Read this if: You are looking to truly connect with your readers to build real relationships.

2. What I Learned From Really Long Form Content Production by Pete Wailes

The long form versus short form content battle wages on, but in this article on builtvisible, Pete Wailes took the time to build and test the results of a long-form piece of content in great detail.

In addition to trying to determine if a truly long-form content is viable in today’s world of decreased attention spans, Pete also looks at what works to keep users engaged in a 30,000+ word article —both on mobile and on desk top.

Read this if: You are struggling to decide if your brand should create long form content or wondering how to implement it successfully.

3. What 300+ Content Marketing Campaigns Can Teach You About Earning Links by Kelsey Libert

If you’ve been involved in the content marketing field for a while, you know it takes a lot to produce an effective piece of content. And not every piece of content you create is going to have that winning combination of value, intrigue, and emotional hook.

In this article on Moz, Kelsey Libert looks at the data for more than 300 content marketing campaigns and shows us what works and why.

Read this if: you want to learn what works in content marketing — without having to make the same mistakes that have already been made.

4. 10 Writing Tips You Absolutely Won’t Have Heard Anywhere Else Before by Ali Luke

First, I absolutely love the title of this article on Smart Blogger. I often see article titles and think “Oh, those are going to be all the same old tips.” This one tells me right from the start that it isn’t the same old stuff. A few of the tips are pretty closely related to tips you’ve likely heard before, but have a different enough twist to make them really useful.

Read this if: You ever struggle with coming up with ideas to write about or actually getting words on paper.

5. Authority Content: Build an Audience that Builds Your Business by Demian Farnworth

This article on Copyblogger breaks down what authority content is, why we should try to create it, and the power it holds. The best way to build an audience that builds your business is by showing people you are an authority in a certain field, not just telling them. Demian also breaks down how to create really in-depth, authority content.

Read this if: You want to create a content marketing strategy that positions you as an authority in your selected field.

Bonus Pick:

I had the pleasure of chatting with Joe Pulizzi of Content Marketing Institute about the report about titled B2B Technology Content Trends. We had a really interesting discussion and I even got to ask him where he sees the future of content marketing going.

You can listen to our Marketing Nerds podcast below!

http://media.blubrry.com/marketingnerds/p/content.blubrry.com/marketingnerds/joe-pulizzi-content-marketing-2016.mp3

Image Credits

Featured Image: Image by Paulo Bobita
In-post Image: Gonzalo Aragon/Shutterstock.com

Andrew Raynor Dover New Hampshire

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The Best Photographs Are therefore Essential For Your Site

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Andrew Raynor Dover NH

From an SEO perspective, the text on your blog is most important. However, images for blogs are really important in getting your audience to read your post. A post with a nice photo or illustration will receive lots more attention on social media. In this post, I’ll explain the importance of photos and illustrations and give practical tips on how to find images for blogs on your own.

Choose Images That Fit Your Blog Post

If you choose a photo or an illustration for your post, make sure the image fits the topic of your blog. A picture should make people want to read your blog or explain something you’ve written about in your blog. Text and picture should be about the same topic, and they should reinforce one another.

Tips on How to Find Images for Blogs

You cannot just use any picture or photo you find on the internet. Illustrations have copyright (just like text, software or any other creation of someone) and should not be used without consent of the creator. No worries, though, because there are plenty of databases containing pictures you can either buy or even use freely.

Photos

Take Your Own Pictures

If you really want original pictures that fit your post, you should take your own photos. Taking your own photos ensures that you’ll show an original picture, one that will never be found on another blog. On top of that, this allows you to shoot a photo that really fits the content of your post.

If you’re blogging about your day-to-day life, taking your own pictures is definitely the way to go. That also goes for food blogs. For a company blog or a technical blog, or for Yoast.com for that matter, it’s much harder to take pictures that actually fit the content of the posts you’re writing.

Use Photos From Platforms

If the content of your blog is somewhat abstract, taking your own pictures just isn’t doable. You could then buy or download pictures from a platform. You could use many platforms to download free or paid images: Yayimages, Shutterstock, Librestock, Unsplash. There are many more out there. Just make sure your stock photo isn’t a photo that is used by everyone, though.

Illustrations

Hire an Illustrator

If you have specific ideas about what illustrations for your blog should look like, but you’re not able to create or buy them yourself, you could also work with a professional illustrator (as we do at Yoast). We would like to emphasize that you really need a budget for that, but that it could pay off.

Working with a professional illustrator will get you original and on-topic content. Above that, if you work with the same illustrator for multiple blogs, you will also get come continuity between posts and within your blog. People will recognize your posts just by looking at the illustration.

If you see illustrations you like (e.g. on Facebook), make sure to check out who the artist is. Googling the name will probably lead you to their portfolio (if they did their SEO well!). Lots of illustrators and artists work freelance. On Facebook, you can also find collectives of artists offering their services.

Conclusion

Photos and illustrations can make your blog post much more appealing. Especially when you share your post on social media, a nice image could increase the exposure enormously. Make sure to pick or create original images for blog posts that make you stand out from all the others!

This post originally appeared on Yoast, and is re-published with permission.

Featured Image: Image by Yoast. Used with permission.

Andrew Raynor Dover New Hampshire

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Google Honors 10 Goals During Ten Years of Read by SouthernSEJ

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Andrew Raynor Dover NH

Google Translate is now 10 years old. When it first launched it supported only two languages and has now gone on to support over 100 languages. In addition, the user base grew from just hundreds, to hundreds of millions.

In celebration of this achievement, the company took to the official Google blog to highlight 10 milestones Translate has reached since its launch 10 years ago. Here is a recap of each.

10 Google Translate Milestones in 10 Years

  1. Translate breaks down barriers. An example given is how a community in Canada is using Translate to communicate with a refugee.
  2. Over 500 million people now use Google Translate.
  3. Over 100 billion words are translated each day.
  4. Trending searches also correlate to trending searches in Translate. A big spike last year was a translation for the word “Selfie”.
  5. The translation community has grown to 3.5 million people making 90 million contributions.
  6. Brazil uses Translate more than any other country; 92% of searches come from outside the US.
  7. Word Lens lets you translate images of text in 28 languages.
  8. In 2011, Google introduced the ability to have a bilingual conversation on Google Translate.
  9. Translate can be used without an Internet connection.
  10. Google looks forward to what the future holds for Translate.

Andrew Raynor Dover New Hampshire