How Mr. Rogers Can Improve Your Marketing (And Maybe Your Life)

I honestly never thought I’d be a father. After we were married, my wife and I had decided that we were both pretty self-centered 20 somethings and wanted to explore the world before re-evaluating that option. Let me tell you, just because you plan something doesn’t mean it’s going to turn out that way. Yeah.

noelle-and-me

Me and  my little monkey on the Nashville Bridge – Photo by: Michelle Rivera

Having our daughter changed my life in so many ways it’s impossible to count. I packed up my nauseous, pregnant wife, a cat, the dog and drove across the country to live and work in Nashville. Stoked to be working with Raven Tools, and completely unaware that I’d fall in love with this crazy town.

While I’m definitely not one of those “no screen time” parents, we pick and choose what she watches and  I’ve probably seen more children’s television than I ever thought I would. The series that seems to hold my daughter’s attention is called Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. It’s so delightful guys. And, the animated successor to my childhood staple, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. Set in the “Land of Make Believe”, once you watch it, you won’t be able to shake the little jingles  that are repeated throughout each episode that deal with issues like frustration, anger, and using the potty. The same values that Mr. Rogers focuses on, Daniel carries forward to a new generation of kids who want to spend time with their kind neighbor. Like I said, delightful.

Fred Rogers Lives On Through Daniel Tiger

The curious learning spirit of Fred Rogers lives on through Daniel Tiger.

Mr. Rogers? Daniel Tiger? WTF?

You might be wondering what the heck this has to do with SEO. Bear with me, there are some awesome core values that are often overlooked in our world of technical jargon & algorithms. Over a hot cup of semi-enjoyable coffee one morning, I found myself connecting with these concepts again. Here are some excellent ways Daniel Tiger, in the spirit of our beloved Mr. Rogers, can improve your marketing (and maybe even your life):

When Something Goes Wrong, Turn It Around and Find Something Good

Authorship has gone PING into the corner. It’s dead. As Matt Cutts once said “Stick a fork in it, it’s done”. Despite all of the the time, effort and energy put into applying proper authorship markup to our blog posts, the powers that be at Google decided it wasn’t worth it. Boo.

You can, however, still benefit from your investment into authorship. First off, not all markup was removed from the results page of the search engine. Secondly, if you’ve been developing a trusted G+ profile it will still be an authoritative source of connection.

It’s simply the nature of our industry that search engines will change the rules. We’ll be left holding the bag and we’re going to make mistakes. Just because things don’t happen the way we expected or planned (every time) doesn’t mean that we can’t make the best of it. I had the pleasure of speaking to Meg Trahan, online marketing maven, about the nature of the industry and she had this to say:

Every effort, whether it’s right or wrong, is a learning experience.

To a certain extent, all SEO work is guesswork. Yes, there are educated guesses based on extensive data and research, but the Google gods aren’t straightforward with their practices. As such, marketers are left making educated guesses. The data can inform us about what sorts of SEO practices are good, but there will always be guesses and gut feelings that come into play for us. And as we all know, with guesswork comes some margin of error. In that error, we learn.

When working with a client who was falling in rankings for key search phrases that, by all accounts, should’ve been working, it caused me to go back to the drawing board; to essentially begin at the ground level and work up, researching each step along the way. What I discovered was a lesser-known Google algorithm update that not many people picked up on because it seemed to be a regional testing of a new algorithm.

From this experience I learned a lot about regional shifts. Despite the feeling of having a global, all-access Internet, there are still strong regional elements and it helped draw my attention to how much local search is being favored.

My general rule of thumb: Look to the industry for help. Anytime I’ve done something that (by all my current knowledge) should work and it doesn’t, I immediately turn to industry news and research. There’s no way you can do that and not learn from it.

Word.

When You Do Something New – Talk It Through With Someone

It’s said that people learn more about a subject when they teach it to someone else. There is something about the process of taking the ideas that you’ve absorbed from your own  experience & putting them back out there for someone else. When implementing a Schema Review Markup or writing a blog post on an un-familiar topic it can really help to talk through the concept with a 3rd party.

This is why I think that SEOs like A.J Kohn and Matthew Barby are so widely respected. They take their knowledge and build up extremely thorough descriptions & walk-throughs of their process. Of course, doing so also generates amazing content that can then be found via search & attracts a community that will share said content and extend their influence.

This isn’t just limited to the SEO industry. When you’re doing something new, talking to others can be a great way to develop content & learn even more about the subject. This is the stuff that grows a business.

Comparing Yourself To Others

It’s really easy to look at your keywords & open up someone else’s website that you think is total crap but its ranking. You scratch your head, you dig around for hours trying to figure out why the heck this crap is still out ranking you. I mean, it feels like you’re doing doing everything right and they have to be every thing wrong. It’s easy to compare ourselves to others and feel the pang of jealousy when it comes to online marketing.

Putting things into perspective can be majorly helpful. If you feel jealous, talk about it with someone who knows what you’re experiencing and ask for a solid reality check. Seriously, some perspective is all you need. There are some great online resources including the big SEO community on reddit, just get a thread going. Chances are good you’ll get some solid input or  find out that you’re in your head. Whatevs. Ask and learn.

Using Empathy in Your Marketing

If you’re not thinking about how your potential audience’s emotions come into play, than you’re missing an opportunity to reach them effectively. Empathy, unlike sympathy, is an effective way to relate to others’ needs. Which is sorta what we do.

You need to understand not just what the product or service your companie provides but the feelings that someone who might want or need your product. For example if you’re selling coffee makers then you should understand that people don’t just drink their coffee. They love it. They photograph it. They make it more than just a beverage into an artform.

Dragon Foam Latte Art

There’s a lot of fiery passion about what makes a good cup of coffee. This can help shape the way you go about marketing.

The trick is bringing those emotions into consideration when you’re planning out your online marketing. Think about how you can share images that mesh with their love of coffee. Think about what you can create to engage that enthusiasm.

Using Community to Succeed

“If you can’t do it alone, work together! Things are better when you work together.”

Trying to tackle all of the marketing needs of a website is a daunting task, especially for a large brand. It’s important to ask for help from others to make it work. I think a lot of SEO professionals suffer from “jack-of-all-trade-itis” and don’t harness the skills of other related marketing experts. Get those killer graphics, find out how an email marketing campaign could compliment your efforts and please bee sure to talk to whoever is doing customer support/sales to prevent missed opportunities!

One of the really great things about the SEO community is that we really do understand how difficult certain aspects of our industry can be. That’s why, if you go about things the right way, you’ll find that other marketers are really happy to help you even if it doesn’t help them right then and there.

 

Google Doesn’t Think Your Title Tags are Good Enough

For several years now, Google has been changing some title tags in the SERPs. Some of these changes are to be expected, such as when a title tag is longer than what can be displayed in the results. Other changes are a result of differences in how Google views the page content vs. title tag, links pointing at the page, and the query they are displaying the result for. Something I get asked on a regular basis is “How many are actually being changed?” I decided to use our Partner API to find out.

Mining Search Results & Title Tags

I started with a list of a few random keywords, pulled the top 100-120 results for each, and looked over the data. Tori dropped the results into Excel and built a few charts to show what the initial set looked like so we could decide whether to go bigger. We continued this process a couple times to confirm that results looked the same as we added more keywords and results into the mix. The final data set for this ended up being a little over 111,000 results.

As the search result data came in, I would run each URL through our web insights queue, which can be used to crawl pages and parse them into clean, structured data. This allowed me to quickly grab title tags off each page without having to deal with potential slowness of loading each page myself through my own crawler. Our web insights queue can grab thousands of pages in parallel if needed.
More Title Tag Data…

3 Tips For Putting Worries About Google Penguin Behind You

Peguins of Madagascar

I spent most of the weekend thinking about and laughing at penguins, after seeing a promo for Dreamworks Animations’ Penguins of Madagascar (shown above), a hilarious animated comedy set to debut in November. However, on Sunday, when I saw it was confirmed that Google had launched the long-anticipated Penguin 3.0 Update, there wasn’t much laughing to be heard throughout the Internet marketing world.

In fact, for SEOs and digital marketing firms, news of the update likely made for a bad weekend, as everyone prepared for a rough week ahead when they’ll certainly hear from client’s who fear their sites were nailed by what many consider the most punitive of Google’s penalties.

These Penguins Are Anything But Funny

The Penguin algorithm is Google’s way of punishing unscrupulous link builders for spammy, typically bought, links. Getting hit by the algorithm is bad enough, but the difficulty of recovering from the penalty is what makes it so dreaded.

“When you get hit by a Penguin, you are done. Toast,“ says Stone Temple Consulting’s Eric Enge. “Not only that, if you go through a link cleanup project to try and position for yourself for recovering in the next release, and you miss it, when will you get another chance?”

It’s very common for SEO and content strategists to work with clients who’ve purchased links. The links and link networks are quite easy to spot, and if the client hasn’t been hit by Penguin yet, you don’t so much count yourself lucky as much as you see yourself working against the clock to remove as many of those spammy links as possible.

It can be a scary time, especially when you’re working with a clients who are desperate for links and who, because they have yet to be nailed by Penguin, are reluctant to remove as many links as needed. The same can apply to client’s who have been hit by the update, for often they don’t truly understand the difficulty involved in getting the website back on its feet—if it happens at all.

Focus On Building The Right Links Through Quality Content And Outreach

I’ve worked with clients on both sides of the aisle, and I can say firsthand that avoiding the penalty is a hell of a lot easier than recovering from it for all but the luckiest of companies.

The sanest and most effective approach I’ve been a part of worked primarily because it entailed the SEO and content teams working closely together to right the listing ship: SEOs handling link removal, link disavowing and Reconsideration Requests; content team members working to prepare, produce and share quality content, while at the same time expanding the brand’s outreach and honest link building efforts.

Working alongside some great SEOs, and through having clients who were willing to be open-minded, forward-looking and, most of all, patient, I developed a strategic approach that’s easily replicated:

1). Identify quality sources for links: Many of the links I’ve seen get companies into trouble weren’t bought. They were crappy, low quality and totally unnatural for the brand. Take the opposite approach: Look for link building opportunities in and around your category and from high quality sources.

Let’s say you’re a lawn care company based in Fort Worth, Texas. Since the region is gripped by drought, and because of it entire communities are struggling to deal with water restrictions, why not contact the local and regional newspapers with a pitch of being interviewed for their online edition on how to smartly water lawns, the best plants to select or how to re-sod a lawn under such conditions? Better yet, ask about penning a monthly column for them. You could make a similar pitch to national websites, offering free advice to their audience while gaining a link and enhanced authority in the process.

Also, reach out to current and potential vendor partners, offering to share content, deliver presentations or be a part of sponsored activities, all of which would earn your business a link, either as part of a directory or on each vendor’s website.

The key here is looking for natural opportunities for links.

2). Step up outreach efforts: Many businesses dove into content marketing without much hesitation, but also without much instruction of how to properly build links. What that led to was a lot of content being produced without having any clear objective.

To build links effectively and sustainably for your business, you need to think of any piece of content you produce as being potentially link-worthy, in addition to being share-worthy.

If not, why create it at all?

This quote from Moz’s Rand Fishkin says it all.

To make this work for your business, use a tool like BuzzSumo to see what types of content in your vertical are (a) being shared and are (b) popular. Most important, use Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and the like to identify who is sharing the information, and what others are saying about it.

Use social media to reach out to some of the most active, engaged participants on the topic and either ask them to be a part of the content you’re in the process of creating, via interviews, or ask them if they’d help you share the content across multiple social platforms.
Those who take part in creating the content will assuredly throw you a link to their site, and the rampant promotion increases exponentially the likelihood of the content getting additional links.

3). Focus on creating quality content. One of the best ways to ensure sure spammy links are a thing of the past is to make quality content a frequent arrow in your quiver. Content quality is synonymous with link-worthy content, and a sizable percentage of the content you produce should fall under both umbrellas

If your business creates four blog posts per month, make one of them a long-form, meaty piece that tackles a hot topic in your vertical. For example, a realtor might do a simple Google search for the “biggest concerns for first-time homeowners,” then peruse the top three pieces of content in the SERPS.

She could then set about creating a more thorough, nuanced piece of content than those she found, taking the time to add visuals and to massage the text until it’s as polished as it can be. Once the content is posted to the site, she could begin the outreach process, including sharing the information with magazines and websites in the vertical, in addition to reaching out to engaged active communities on social media to enlist their help with sharing the content. (Hopefully, she’s already a member of these communities.)

And because she’ll have at least one of these meaty pieces per month, it increases the likelihood that link building becomes a part of her mindset and the frequency of links to her site should continue to increase over time.

I’ve seen these techniques work firsthand.

What I’ve come to love about this strategy is it forces business owners to think of links as an outgrowth of delivering quality to prospects and existing customers, which results in more shares and links, but fewer Penguin visits.

Plus, once a business owner adopts the quality content-links mindset, it’s far less likely that they’ll fall back into the old habits of buying links or attaining crappy, low quality links

How does your business keep Penguins away?

Image courtesy of MoviePilot.com

Now Provided Report From AuthorityLabs Quickly Finds You More Keyword Opportunities

With the majority of keywords being “not provided” these days, solid information on which ones are driving traffic to your site has been hard to come by. As a keyword rank tracking tool, we see how important it can be for people to understand which keywords are the most important to focus on when planning an SEO campaign. That’s why we created our new Now Provided reports.

These new reports are pulling together our ranking data, Google Analytics data, and a few other data points to show you how many pages are receiving organic traffic and a list of the keywords that those pages rank for. The initial report gathers a full year of data, so it can take some time to generate, but once it’s set up you’re going to love the insights.

Landing Page Report

Once we have the ranking and landing page data, we start looking for keyword opportunities. These are keywords where you’re not already ranking at the top but there is potential for traffic and lower competition. We use that data to generate a list of top keyword opportunities. If there is anything in the list that you aren’t yet focused on, and those terms could drive valuable traffic, start tracking them and put efforts toward improving those rankings.

Keyword Opportunities

Individual Landing Pages

After you’ve checked out the possible quick wins that are available in the keyword opportunities list, you can start digging into individual landing pages. Any landing page in the report that we have keyword data for will be linked and can be expanded for deeper insights. Click on the landing page you want to view details for and you will see a list of keywords, current ranking position, and several other metrics that will help you determine the best keywords to spend time on. If a keyword has high search volume and low competition, it is probably worth moving up your list of priorities. Keep in mind that you want to focus on terms that convert to leads or sales, so if you’re comparing keywords that are close together in volume and competition, take a look at the CPC data to see which ones are likely more valuable.

Landing Page Drilldown

As of today, everyone with an active AuthorityLabs account has access to this new report. If you don’t yet have an account or haven’t checked out our interface in a while, sign up now and start your free 30 day trial. If you already have an account, login now and follow these instructions for getting set up.

Friday Humor: Videos You Can’t Miss

It is Friday, thank God. It has been a long week of work and unpleasant news. So, I thought we should share some videos that might bring you some enjoyment and relaxation today, because honestly, you deserve it! Everyone at AuthorityLabs wishes you a happy Friday and a relaxing weekend.

Grasshopper.com Videos

Earlier this week Zapier had a blog post on viral videos and I feel in love with Grasshopper’s video strategy and wanted to share the humor with you.

Jimmy Fallon – on Ello, #ThatWasStupid and The Walking Dead

Great Music – New Dork

Jimmy Kimmel – This is Sad- Who Is Joe Biden

How To Build Relationships And Links For Your Business

julie-joyceLink building is one of the most talked about but most poorly understood areas of online marketing and SEO. Everyone recognizes the value assigned to links; not enough people understand the best means of acquiring links or the role links play in making their business stick out from the crowd.

However, for Julie Joyce, links are her bread and butter. Joyce, one of the most-recognized names in link building, is a prolific writer and speaker, in addition to being the director of operations for Link Fish Media, a Greensboro, N.C.-based link building company.

She agreed to let me pick her brain and provide my readers with some fantastic tips.

Q&A

RS: There is so much confusion and misinformation associated with link building. “Yes, you should do it.” “No, concentrate your efforts elsewhere.” “It’s a shady enterprise,” etc. Where do you see link building as fitting on the pyramid with all the other areas at play in online marketing?

JJ: It’s definitely a shady enterprise. Haha! OK, seriously, it can be [shady] and that’s why so many people hate it. It doesn’t have to be though, not if it’s done well, and that’s what everyone forgets. Doing it well is painful and incredibly time-consuming, and in this crazy attention-deficit decade no one wants to do anything that doesn’t have an immediate payoff. I don’t think links are the only answer, but I think it’s difficult to do well online without good links unless you have amazing social media in place. Link building should not be the main focus of marketing any site, though, and sometimes it is and webmasters ignore everything else and that’s never good.

For someone new to link building, what are some of the first things they need to know? That bad links can completely ruin anything good you do.

They need to understand how to look at a site like a human being and think “Will this really be a good link?” instead of getting caught up in the metrics. They need to know why we build links, which is so basic but you’d be surprised at how many link builders couldn’t explain that well.

RS: Many times, the owner of a new site realizes she needs links but worries about where to put her time and energy (e.g., blogging, offline PR/branding, etc.). Where should link building fit on her list of marketing priorities?

JJ: I actually almost never work with brand new sites because some of our tactics are risky, and it’s not a good idea. I’d probably say get your ducks in order everywhere else and then start trying to get some good links, whether it’s by pursuing them or attracting them with your content. I’d probably opt for starting out with social media rather than diving into link building.

RS: How should a business define relevance when looking to attain links from other sites? Dominant site? Dominant site in their vertical? A site that should attract conversions? Easiest opportunities?

JJ: Never go with easy opportunities. A site that should attract conversions is my pick here. I don’t care if it’s a dominant site, if it’s a good site and I think doing a link there is beneficial to both parties [I say go for it].

RS: A lot of chatter now centers on link building vs. content marketing, as if you cannot do both simultaneously. We know that’s not true, but for the business owner who feels she cannot do “everything” at once, what’s your counsel to them?

JJ: Hire someone else? Honestly if you have the time, I think that link building is really not that tricky unless you’re a complete idiot. I don’t think that it should be conducted by someone who doesn’t have the proper time to focus on it, though, because that’s when all the bad links happen.

I’d say the same for content marketing. I think that it’s easier to just build links than it is to develop and properly promote amazing content. They’re both hard work, so I’d seriously recommend hiring a pro if you don’t have the time to do things well.

RS: I’ve written about the importance of working offline to grease the skids for links. What are a few tips you can share along these lines?

JJ: I want to say “be nice, open, and helpful,” but that sounds so simplistic. However, it’s true in many cases. I’ve been asked to do things that led to links because I helped someone out with something as simple as answering a question that was emailed to me after the person didn’t understand a point I made in an article.

That’s not offline, of course, but it’s also not directly online in the way we think of it in terms of getting a link. It’s hard to tell you that you need to connect with people but you do.

I met Lisa Myers ages ago at a London SEO function, and we decided to start the SEO Chicks blog. My writing there ended up getting me a spot somewhere else, and that gig got me a spot somewhere else, and it kept going.

Get out there and nicely network but don’t do it expecting anything. Do it because it’s appreciated by other people and doing something offline can be quite lovely if you spend all day staring at a screen.

RS: Finish this sentence for me: “Businesses that commit to link building can expect to _____________”

 JJ: “[B]roaden their reach and traffic sources.”