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How to Get Higher Rankings for Your WordPress Site

Every site owner and blogger wants their content to rank highly in the search engines for key terms. A lot of that has to do with the quality of the content, how well it’s optimized and how many other well ranking sites think it’s worth linking to.

google rankings

photo credit: Ken Lund via photopin cc

But, from a WordPress technical standpoint one of the most important elements is a hardworking plugin.

The hardest working plugin in my WordPress set up is the WordPress SEO Plugin from Yoast. While there are thousands of plugins for WordPress this is one of the few that I deem a must.

This plugin does so many good things related to running a healthy site and achieving higher rankings that it’s a bit limiting to simply label it an SEO plugin.

SEO basics

The function that most might be familiar with is the ability to customize many of the elements that search engines use to determine page content on a post by post and page by page case. Instead of the default WordPress on page optimization the SEO plugin gives you the ability to change title, keyword and description meta data. Couple that with keyword friendly URLs and image descriptions and you’ve got on page factors pretty nailed. (More on page ranking factors here)

Sitemaps

What some may not know is that the SEO plugin is also your best option for producing sitemaps that make it easier for search engines to find all of your content and interact with new content in the best possible manner. For new sites this may be how your content gets discovered in the first place. For larger more established sites this is how your new content gets indexed in a matter of minutes. Another great thing about having sitemaps in the SEO plugin is that if you set a page to no index your sitemaps knows it too!

If you have not claimed your Google Webmaster and Bing Webmaster accounts and submitted your sitemaps to each this is another mandatory step. First, you’ll be sure they are receiving your updates immediately and you’ll find a lot of useful data on how they see your site along with any issues they find.

Duplicate content

One the cool thing about WordPress is that you can sort by things like date, category and tag. The net effect of all these option however is that your archives create lots of duplicate content and the search engines have grown increasingly fussy about that. It’s not that Google penalizes you for this, it just means you don’t have control over which version they throw to the top of your results. Using the Titles and Meta settings in the plugin you can choose to disable your date based archives and set subpages to no index.

Scrapers love

This is a little thing but Yoast adds a way for you to easily insert some text and links into the RSS feed for your content. This way those silly scrapers of content will have a line about where the content originated and a link leading the search engines back to your site as the original author.

Social

Since SEO and social are so thoroughly connected why not make it easy to add Google+ authorship and Facebook OGP data. This way your images show up in Facebook along with the title and description you’ve chosen instead of the default first few words when you post and once you link your author content to your Google+ profile using the SEO plugin Google will start to attribute all of your content more accurately. (I wrote about Google Authority here)

For a full explanation and tutorial check out the last word on the plugin from the author.

Are You Prepared for the Google Reader Shutdown?

As has been widely reported, Google Reader is shutting down July 1, 2013. Now, in typical Google fashion, no one really knows what will actually happen on the that date, but as I it see you have about three choices if you are to continue to consistently consume blog content.

Google ChromeScreenSnapz004

Move to a new RSS reader

There are actually many options for moving your existing RSS subscriptions to another setup that can pretty much make the change a non event and may even turn up some enhancements.

The first step is to export your current subscriptions out of Google Reader so that you have a file you can import to other services. A number of other RSS readers have built this feature in and can do it automatically once you grant access.

Here’s how to export your data from Google Reader as an OPML file.

1. Sign into Google Reader account and go to the Settings in the upper right corner. It looks like this:
Google reader settings

2. Navigate to Import/Export tab. At the bottom, under “Export your information,” click the link “Download your data through Takeout.”

Google ChromeScreenSnapz005

Some of the services getting the most buzz currently are:

  • Feedly, another popular alternative, combines bookmarking with feed reading and sharing.
  • Feedbin – this very simple and very pleasing layout to reading RSS feeds costs $2/month and it’s the one I’ve chosen to use currently
  • NewsBlur is a simple interface that includes mobile apps and ability to share stories your find on popular sites such as Evernote.

In case you’re interested, here’s what I’ve done:

  • I created accounts in Feedly and Feedbin (a little redundancy online is a good thing)
  • Right now I currently use Feedbin for daily consumption because I use an iPhone app called ReederApp that uses my Feedbin subscriptions to give me a phone version – which is where I read most of my blog content (ReederApp is working on itegration with Feedly as well)
  • The ReederApp allows me to do lots of things with individual blog posts such as submit to Buffer, add to Delicious, Tweet or email directly from within my phone – I depend on this function as I share a lot of content in social media and this makes it very easy to do so.

Use it as a do over

Another approach is to forget your past subscriptions and simply sign up for an RSS reader you fancy and start subscribing to blogs based on where you are today.

I’ll admit, even with constant housekeeping there are some blogs in my reader that I don’t give much love.

You might consider taking the time to hand pick some new ones. (Although I do hope you consider continuing to read this blog!)

If this sounds appealing you can skip the export (although you may want to do it anyway just in case) and simply pick a new reader and start subscribing.

Change the way you read blogs

An entirely different option is to think otherwise about the content altogether. Instead of subscribing to any particular blogs you could subscribe to topics or rely on trusted friends to tell you what they are reading.

This can be a great way to stay laser focused on just the stuff that interests you and start building some “reading networks” in favor of reading destinations.

One service in particular that I think excels in this area is Newsle.

Newlse allows you to follow the reading activity of people in your social networks. It will identify influential people and what it calls famous people, but essentially you can follow anyone you want and create alerts. One might consider, for example, creating a list of major clients or important journalists and keeping tabs on what they are writing and tagging.

Frankly, I’m doing both – continuing to read RSS feeds and following curated lists on Newsle.

The 10-Step Road Map To Promoting Webinars

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Samuel Faith – Enjoy!

7552515652_5fb8fa48ba_zWhen it comes to content marketing, nothing is better than a good webinar. You can educate, inform, engage and convert your target market – all at once. Independent reports from inbound marketing experts indicate that webinars can significantly boost your expert status, build meaningful and engaging relationships with your customers, and turn your audience into high converting prospects.

But creating webinars is just one part of the equation. Promoting them is equally important too to maximize so here is a comprehensive 10-step roadmap for you to effectively promote your webinars.

1. Define Proper and Measurable Objectives

Having specific objectives help you to measure your success and ROI. Most of us don’t plan properly, and having specific objectives happen to be an afterthought for most of them. Without any objectives to help you measure, you won’t know how well your webinar performs and thus you can’t improve anything.

Your objectives will vary depending on your business needs, but most of them will fall into the following categories:

  1. To educate and inform
  2. To generate qualified leads
  3. To gather market response and feedback

Clearly defining your objects will also help you when you promote your webinar, as well as planning the presentation delivery. What you do for each objective categories will be different.

2. Set Realistic Expectations

Expectations are not quite same as goals. Usually, we might have unrealistic expectations or too vague ones that we don’t even know what we should measure using the objectives. Knowing and having realistic expectations also help us in follow-up plans. Whatever your expectations are, keep in mind that webinars are not for massive immediate boost in sales, but rather to build relationships and generate new leads.

3. Estimate Audience Response

There is no easy way to estimate audience response, for there are many influencing factors. However, here are a few factors that you can consider to estimate your audience response.

  1. Your current blog and email subscribers. Look at the numbers such as usual response rates. Check out how many percentage of subscribers are active in engaging with you. These are the same people that are likely to have an interest in your webinar.
  2. Targeting metrics. If you have specific targeting metrics, then you will have a lot closer chance to estimate your response from that target group.
  3. Your content and offer. If your webinar content sucks, then nobody will come. You can’t lie to audience with just promotional materials. t will also depends on the offer you are going to give as an incentive.
  4. Your web traffic. This is seasonal as it depends on other marketing efforts too. The traffic can spike. So if your webinar is promoted on your site during the time of traffic spike, then your webinar will receive a lot of responses.

4. Determine and Set Your Cost Per Lead

Cost per lead is basically your cost for hosting and promoting a webinar for each participant. Sum up everything and divided by the number of participants you get. Knowing your cost per lead can help you out in determining your cost per acquisition for each customers. It is always good to keep this cost low, and if you have your own email list or partnering with someone with a good list, then this cost will go down too. If your promotional efforts pay off and you gain a lot of participants and interests, then your cost per lead will be low as well.

5. Maximize Your Attendance Rate

Statistics show that actual turn-out rate from all webinar registrants is between 40% to 60%. The rest will flake or just forget about your webinar, unless it is paid. Maximizing attendance rate is not really hard. You can use a good reminder sequence via email, and SMS reminder just a couple hours before webinar starts. Offering good incentives can compel them to attend your event too.

6. Conversion Matters

Conversion is all about maths and you can easily figure it out once you know the industry’s standard conversion rates, click-through rates and open rates, as well as your own data. If you already have an email list, then you definitely have all those data.

A well-articulated offer on a well-managed email list, with good email subject can get you around 10% to 15% click-through rate. Average will be 5% to 10%. If your webinar topic is highly relevant and timely, then you can expect even better.

Your landing page is important too. A well-optimized page with good copy, minimal form fields (ideal is just name and email) and good incentives for visitors to sign up can convert convert as low as 25% of visitors. Hopeful rate will be 40%. However, it is not unheard of to convert 70% to 80% with well-optimized landing pages.

7. Ask For An Expert To Be Guest Speaker

Even if you are an established expert, your webinar event will reap more benefits if you partner up with another expert. He will have his own list and blog readers. Besides, it will also deliver more value to your audience as well as his. In fact, it is known that you can get as many as 200% to 300% boost in webinar sign-up rate. This is especially helpful if you and your business are not well-known players yet. Your visibility will also shoot up when you have a high-profile guest speaker.

8. Build An Optimized Registration Page

Landing pages are important, but so are registration pages. They should not be an afterthought at all. For some, they may separate landing page from emails and registration page as two entities, or they may use only one page for both purpose. Here are a few critical things you should not have on a registration page.

  1. Too many form fields. Did you know that every extra form fields required to fill out will lose 5% of your prospects? If you have 3 fields, then that is already 15%. Name and email are enough. Follow up the rest later.
  2. Having links leading to other pages. If your registration page or landing page is hosted on your main website, make sure that the page is standalone and none of your navigation links are there. In fact, don’t put ANY links that will lead people away to any other pages.
  3. Not having social proof. People will trust you more if you show social proof. Things like testimonials from previous webinars, information about your high-profile guest speaker, and mainstream media coverage on you – all of them can give you massive boost in social proof.

9. Do Split Tests Again & Again, Then Improve

It is absolutely critical to test our message in the promotional contents to know which ones works the best. For emails, test different subjects. For landing pages, do A/B split tests. You might not get it right at the first time but after a few times, you will get enough data to know that what works, and what doesn’t. Then you can improve for future events. If you want to get good examples, subscribe to Obama’s email campaigns. He has some of the most talented copywriters and email marketers.

10. Don’t Forget To Remind And Follow-up

Not every registrants will remember that they have an awesome webinar to attend. What you should do is send out well-timed reminder emails and SMS. Always remind your registrants one week ahead, then 1 day ahead, and 1 hours before the event. Don’t keep sending SMS reminders all the time though, and it is best to send out an SMS reminder together with the final reminder email.

After your webinar event ends, send out a thank you email to all those attend. And make sure you keep your word and give them access to your giveaways, as well as follow-up your audience. You may want to send a survey, or a special offer. It all depends on what’s your end-goal is. You can also send recording of your webinar to everybody, including those who didn’t show up.

profile_picSamuel Faith is a content marketing specialist with a focus on technology, marketing and entrepreneurship. He is a big believer of the role of webinars in content marketing and currently running http://www.bestWebinar.com, a website where he reviews and talks about webinars.

Winning the Game of Search with Tools

Winning the game of organic search comes down to three essential activities.

1. Figuring out what to write about in order to rank well for your key terms – Keyword research
2. Figuring out what others are doing that currently rank above you – Competitive research
3. Figuring out how to build authority for your content in the eyes of search engines – Link and networking research

While there are potentially dozens of elements that go into each of the points above for the most part this is the game. This also explains why content and social are foundational aspects of SEO today.

In an effort to do all that figuring out above you must employ a toolset that makes it easy to do keyword research, optimize every bit of content, spy on competitors and network to increase links and authority for your content.

Below is a list of tools I use for these activities. I wonder if you might add or share your favorites.

SEO Tools for Small Business

SEO Tools for Small Business

List of the best SEO tools for small business marketing.

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    15 Voting...
    BoostSuite - Website Marketing Optimization for Small Businesses

    BoostSuite - Website Marketing Optimization for Small Businesses

    BoostSuite is a web marketing optimization product for small businesses. Unlike current web marketing optimization products that bewilder and discourage small business users, BoostSuite allows novice web marketers to build more website traffic and convert more online visitors into customers and leads for their businesses. BoostSuite takes only three minutes to set up, is easy to learn, and can be used by anyone.

  2. 2
    1 Voting...
    SEMrush: service for competitors research, shows organic and Ads keywords for any site or domain

    SEMrush: service for competitors research, shows organic and Ads keywords for any site or domain

    SEMrush is created by SEO/SEM professionals for SEO/SEM professionals. We have the knowledge, expertise, and data to help you take your projects to the next level. We collect massive amounts of SERP data for more than 95 million keywords and 45 million domains, including: AdWords ad copies and positions, organic positions for domains and landing URLs, search volumes, CPC, competition, number of results, and so much more.

  3. 3
    1 Voting...
    InBoundio - Simple Inbound Marketing Software

    InBoundio - Simple Inbound Marketing Software

    InBoundio is a simple inbound marketing software targeted towards individuals and small businesses

  4. 4
    0 Voting...
    Scribe: Content Optimization Software for Online Marketing

    Scribe: Content Optimization Software for Online Marketing

    Tina Marie Hilton My skepticism of Scribe was short lived. Not only has the traffic to my site increased when using Scribe, but the content I've created using it continued to get better traffic than when I was creating without it.

  5. 5
    0 Voting...
    WordPress SEO Plugin

    WordPress SEO Plugin

    Get more visitors to your WordPress site! WordPress SEO is the most complete WordPress SEO plugin that exists today for WordPress.org users. It incorporates everything from a snippet preview and page analysis functionality that helps you optimize your pages content, images titles, meta descriptions and more to XML sitemaps, and loads of optimization options in between.

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    GetListed.org: See how your business is listed on Google, Bing, and other local search engines. | GetListed.org
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    MOZ: Try out PRO: The Web's Most Popular SEO and Social Monitoring Software - Moz

    MOZ: Try out PRO: The Web's Most Popular SEO and Social Monitoring Software - Moz

    The Help Hub - Everything you need to know about Moz.

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    0 Voting...
    Raven Tools: SEO Software, Social Media, PPC & Marketing Tools by Raven

    Raven Tools: SEO Software, Social Media, PPC & Marketing Tools by Raven

    I've never seen it in a rule book, but I'm pretty sure a good community manager is never supposed to be in a bad mood. Not publicly, at least. So it surprised me when I had a bad day, shared this photo on Raven's Facebook ...

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    SpyFu: Search Marketing Research & Tracking | SpyFu SEM Tools

    SpyFu: Search Marketing Research & Tracking | SpyFu SEM Tools

    SpyFu exposes the search marketing secret formula of your most successful competitors. Search for any domain and see every place they've shown up on Google: every keyword they've bought on Adwords, every organic rank, and every ad variation in the last 6 years.

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    0 Voting...
    Google Keyword Tool:
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    WordTracker: Free Keyword Research Tool

    WordTracker: Free Keyword Research Tool

    SEO your site with Wordtracker's free keywords tool and training videos

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    0 Voting...
    Ubersuggest: Keyword suggestion tool - Google suggest scraper - Übersuggest

    Ubersuggest: Keyword suggestion tool - Google suggest scraper - Übersuggest

    Get thousands keywords ideas in a minute with this amazing keyword suggestion tool: Übersuggest is Google Suggest on steroids!

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    0 Voting...
    Ahrefs: Site Explorer & Backlink Checker

    Ahrefs: Site Explorer & Backlink Checker

    Site Explorer & Backlink Checker Huge index of links, data updates every 15 minutes, friendly interface and rich data analysis have made Site Explorer the world's most strong tool for checking links. The tool can show links (including new and internal), linking domains, anchors, and best pages of a domain.

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    0 Voting...
    Positionly

    Positionly

    SEO Software that tracks search engine rankings, analyze competitors and check backlinks with simplicity by Positionly

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    0 Voting...
    SEO and Site Architecture Tool

    SEO and Site Architecture Tool

    SEO and Site Architecture Tool, designed for SEO's, developers and website managers.

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    0 Voting...
    IT Valley Pakistan

    IT Valley Pakistan

    Investing in the IT sector of Pakistan is the most wise decision anyone can take, surprised, don't be, in the last few years IT is the only sector that has boomed in the country, where it takes billions of Rs to startup a company or a factory, a software house can be started as low as 1 million Rs and the outcome of that company is 100 times more than the investment.

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    SEO

    SEO

    Tools For Optimization

View more lists from John Jantsch

7 Practical and Powerful Tips To Accelerate Online Networking

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Porter Gale – author of Your Network is Your Net Worth.

Your Network is Your Net WorthTechnology has redefined how we prospect for jobs, meet business contacts, and interview. Whereas I got my first job because the receptionist at the courthouse where my mother worked was on maternity leave, today your recruitment involves analysis of your personal profiles on Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn, group lunches, video chats, and other approaches, as well as the formal interview.  Every day people are making connections online via Skype, in Google + Hangouts, through email and more.

How we meet and network has dramatically changed.   The days of getting a job through a series of one-on-one interviews where you wear your blue suit aren’t as common. T. J. Sassani, the CEO and founder of ZOZI.com, shared a story that demonstrates the new model of networking, “One of my most recent hires was a new public relations person named Tian Lee. She found my profile on LinkedIn and sent me an email that was so passionate I realized she could sell the company better than I could. I hired her on the spot.” If you want to accelerate your networking with online tools, seven practical and powerful steps to help you make Your Network Your Net Worth follow.

  1. Have a Concrete Goal. Set a networking goal (i.e. seek employment, build friendships), determine your message”and define the types of people you’d like to meet (i.e. at specific companies, industries etc.).
  2. Build Your Online Profile. Consider developing a web page. Many open source applications (i.e. WordPress, Magento, spree) and fully hosted website options (SquareSpace, Wix, Virb, WordPress.com) are available. Also try using Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter and other online tools and sites to spread your message. If you’re looking to build your online business profile, do not overlook the power and reach of LinkedIn. If your story or networking goal has a visual component use Instagram and Pinterest to share images, photos and pins that reinforce your message.
  3. Know The Blogging Basics. If you’re blogging to build your network or profile, remember attention spans have decreased and multitasking has increased, so keep your content short and concise. Make your headline memorable but not clichéd. Enable social sharing on all posts and post not only on your blog but also on your social media channels. Include your Twitter handle and URL in your byline. Consider blogs with easy-to-digest “top tips” lists or question-and-answer formats.
  4. Understand the Power of Keywords & Links. If you do build a site or start generating content, know the power of keywords, the basic principles of search engine optimization and the power of links. What words should you build into your content to reinforce your networking goals and objectives? Are there back links or inbound links that can be added to your site for increased traffic?  Have you submitted your website to the major search engines and Internet directories?
  5. Share, Connect & Nurture Relationships. If you want to build a relationship with a contact online, it’s important to share, communicate, and connect in the same way that brand fans and companies nurture their relationships. Actions as simple as a retweet (RT) or mention in a #Follow Friday (#FF) list on Twitter, a “like” on Facebook or an endorsement on LinkedIn can signal your interest in connecting.
  6. Partner With Publications.  When I left my post at VP of Marketing at Virgin America, I made a conscious effort to raise my profile and to build my network by blogging for online publications. I wrote a sample post and pitched several editors. After a quick back-and-forth, two editors agreed that I could blog for them on a regular basis. This is where it gets tricky. I agreed to write content and was not hired as an on-staff writer. So blogging is a bit like sweat equity: you need to make sure you can glean a return in ways that are not directly deposited in your bank account. For me, the exposure kept my name in the forefront, and I included in my bio that I do public speaking. With every post, I gained Twitter followers and usually received a speaking engagement inquiry. So the return on investment wasn’t a direct payment from a publication but came quickly via a larger network and reach and more consulting opportunities. Partnering with or blogging for publications with built-in reach is a faster way to find an audience and build a network than starting from ground zero with your own blog or website.
  7. Think Like A Marketer. Get creative with your copy. What is memorable about your email, post or tweet? Are you being clear and direct? Is the subject line header of your email catchy enough to grab someone’s attention? Think creatively, and keep your objective in mind when you use online tools to communicate. A mistake that people often make is not being specific. For example, have you ever sent a long email to a new contact without details on a proposed follow-up, request, or action item? If you are looking for an interview, are you clear with your request? Make sure your writing is concise, memorable, and typo-free. If you don’t get an answer to your email, do not give up. You might need to be more creative.

In today’s social economy, technology has transformed how we network, connect and prospect for jobs. If you want to make Your Network Is Your Net Worth, don’t let your social capital lay dormant. Set an objective, build your online profile, develop partnerships to extend your reach and understand the basics of blogging. Get out there and use technology to accelerate and amplify your connecting efforts.

2011-04-07-Porter_GalePorter Gale is a start-up advisor, public speaker and former VP of Marketing at Virgin America. She is the author of Your Network Is Your Net Wortha clear guide on how to bring value yourself and others through the powerful currency of relationships.

7 Ways to Attract Lots of High Quality Links in the Age of Authority

Links back to your site from other sites give Google a potentially important signal – “Hey, I’m a human being and I think this is good stuff.” – that’s something Google can’t do with a spider and even better if the site in question is already known to Google as a trusted source.

Google

photo credit: dolescum via photopin cc

Links have always been important, but in the past it was just about getting lots of them. The “more is more” approach led to gaming and buying and other unnatural types of acts.

There was a time when SEO folks and site owners seemed more concerned about getting links than producing anything worth actually linking to and visiting.

Recent changes in the Google algorithm addressed this aspect of their ranking system in dramatic fashion.

Links still matter, but the emphasis has been placed squarely on the quality and authority of links and not on numbers of links. You could see this coming with every new tweak and pronouncement from Google folks like Matt Cutts.

Link building in the age of authority has more in common with effective networking than some sort of magic SEO art.

Below are eight tactics I’ve employed to effectively build and continue to build high quality, relevant links.

One word of caution – none of these tactics supplant the need to be link worthy and none involve tricks of any kind. You draw high quality, relevant links the same way you develop networking relationships – by focusing on the needs of your link partners and your readers.

1) Snack size influence

One of the best ways to get some very high authority links (and this includes RT’s +1s and Likes from high authority folks as deemed by Google) is to publish quotes, advice and answers from influencers in your industry.

The above statement is pretty obvious of course, but the key to getting said content from influencers is to make it as easy as possible for them to provide it. Ask one question, for example, of a dozen people, publish the answers in a thought-provoking and link to each participant’s site.

Many times this approach can produce a very high quality, or at least interesting, piece of content that others, including your influential guests, may think worthy of linking to and socializing.

 

Here’s an example of this approach that produced multiple high quality links – How I Write and How I Decide What To Write

2) Guest content

I know you’ve heard lots of people talking about guest blogging and with reason – one of the highest quality links you can get is a link back to some page on your site from the body of a blog post on an influential blog. So, get over to Topsy and do a search on your key terms + guest and find yourself some great opportunities to draw links from your guest content

But, don’t forget two other potent variations on this theme – a) Ask others to write a post on your site. You can get some tremendous content and likely as not they will link to that content once it’s published. Here’s a guest post written by my friend Chris Brogan. He linked to this post from his various profiles.

 

b) Interview guests for a podcast – Authors love to do this around new book launches and many influential folks in your industry may want to do the same. Not always, but more often than not, your guest will link to this content. Last week my friend Lee Odden linked to the podcast interview he recently gave for the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast.

3) Promote an event

Events are another great way to draw links. If you host an in person workshop or even online seminar you can likely attract links by listing your event on local event pages, MeetUp and Eventful.

In some cases you can get some pretty terrific links from the event space – I hosted a free talk at the public library in my community and got some terrific high domain authority links from local media calendars and the library .org link

4) Repackage across mediums

I write lots of blog posts and speak frequently for organizations. Just about every word I write or speak is fair game to be repackaged into eBooks, turned into videos and pitched to media outlets in one form or another.

The net effect is that one piece of content might be a source of link generation in many ways. For example, here’s my library talk from above posted to YouTube.

Organizations love to share free eBooks. Here’s a very high influence link from PRWeb.com to one of my free eBooks.

5) Your partners

Yet another reason to work hard at establishing a formal strategic partner network. Last week I wrote about ways to use content for referrals and many of these ways involved linking opportunities.

In a way this is the updated version of the linking networks that were in vogue before Google slapped them down. The big difference is these should be, by virtue of how you build them, far more natural.

Over the years I’ve acquired links from HP, Dell, Microsoft and Sage Software through partnering efforts.

6) Build something useful

Want to know the easiest, fastest, more productive way to draw tons of links? Create a highly useful free tool and tell people about it. People love to find and share stuff that’s useful and, of course, even better if it’s free.

One of the most linked to pages on my site is for a free press release generator called Instant Press Release that I created years ago. The tool also generates hundreds of newsletter sign up each month even though I never do anything to promote it and you can’t even find it without searching for it.

And I wonder how many millions of people have shared tools like Hubspot’s Marketing Grader?

I know this one might be easier said than done, but this is so powerful it is worth investing in having something built.

7) Real world networks

What organizations do you belong to? What alumni directories publish links? What business groups? What non-profit committees?

These may not seem like great places to get high traffic links, but they can often be terribly industry relevant and carry high authority signals for Google. They still like .org and .edu domains.

Most of the options above require real work, I realize that, but Google has said loud and clear that the days of buying links in farms are over. Keep creating great content, sharing great content, working on building your own authority and networking and links, the kind that won’t ever go out of fashion, will come.

Writing for the Web: Tips, Tricks and Standards

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Andy Crestodina – Enjoy!

Best practice pinned on noticeboardIt’s the dawn of a new day in content marketing and there’s rain in the forecast. We’re about to see a downpour of web copy.

More than ever, PR firms, social media marketers, and search optimizers are rushing to push out more web content for clients. The number of marketers who are writing for the web is exploding. Thus, so is the need for each article and blog post to stand out from the competition. And the best copy will win.

Copying and pasting a great piece of writing into your CMS doesn’t instantly a make it great page. Writing for the web is different, but it’s not hard. Even if you’re a self-publishing business owner, there are some simple techniques you can use to make your content stand out and be useful to your customers.

Here’s a quick guide with seven tips for writing web content:

1. Brevity

Keep it short. Use short sentences to break up the rhythm, and avoid long, blocky paragraphs at all costs. Ideally, no paragraphs are longer than four lines. Designers know the value of white space. Writers need to understand this, too.

Each visitor is paying you with their attention. If your copy is any longer than it needs to be to convey the meaning of a page, you’re charging your visitors more than necessary. Just like a product, you can lower the price of your content and make it more accessible to more readers.

But yes, there’s a time and a place for 2000-word, epic blog posts (like this one).

2. Align Pages with Phrases

This may be the single greatest factor in how many people will read the page. A search-friendly page, aligned with a good key phrase, may be read hundreds of times more than a page written without search in mind.

There are two skills required for basic SEO: researching key phrases and on-page SEO. There are step-by-step instructions for each in these two articles:

Follow the instructions on those posts. You’ll see a lot more visits in the long run.

3. Formatting

Hook them with your headline, then keep them hooked with subheaders and more formatting down the page. Visitors are more likely to scan than read (just keep your own reading habits in mind and write for them. Others are likely the same). The visual prominence of text formatting helps them scan your writing easily.

  • Headers and subheaders
  • Bullet lists and numbered lists
  • Bolding and italics
  • Short paragraphs
  • Internal links
  • Images -  especially charts, graphs and icons

Yes, we’re writing for the web, but we’re doing it with formatting in mind.

4. Use an image

Great pages have great images. Especially if it’s a blog post, you must have an image. If there is no image, the post will not be visually prominent when shared in the social networks. The best images are interesting enough to stand on their own.

5. Internal links

Internal linking between pages is a great way to help visitors find related content. It also helps search engines learn what your site is about. When the text within a link includes the target keyphrase of the page it links to, it helps indicate the page’s relevance to Google.

Make sure your web copy doesn’t miss an opportunity to create an internal link.

6. Calls to action

The visitor on your site is having an experience. And user experience is about creating a path for these visitors. Don’t make the page a dead end. Set links at the end of pages to take the visitor to pages with more services and more evidence of your capabilities. Or guide them straight to the contact page to start the conversation.

7. Remember: Digital Ink is Never Dry.

Remember, it’s the Internet, so you can go back and change things anytime. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. It’s better to post something that’s 90% finished today than wait three months to post the final-final-final version.

Web copy is often posted very late, way past deadline. This hurts ROI, and it’s usually unnecessary. If your brand team, HR department, and uncle Murray want to review that paragraph one more time, they can read it once it’s live. If they see a problem, everyone will feel a bit of urgency to fix it.

Set your Standards

All great posts meet certain blogging criteria. Adapt this list to meet your own standards for topics, length, tone, frequency and quality. Share those standards with others within your organization.

Now everything that passes through your workflow will be of higher quality. Soon, you’ll be writing for the web like a pro, and your editorial calendar will be filled with web content that outperforms the competition.

Andy Andy Crestodina is the Strategic Director of Orbit Media, a  Chicago ecommerce company.  He’s also the author of  Content Chemistry, An Illustrated Guide to Content Marketing. You can find Andy on Google+ and Twitter.

The 6 Metrics That Determine Your Success On Facebook

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Emeric Ernoult – Enjoy!

Feeling a bit lost with your Facebook Page insights?  Good.  Facebook Insights terminology (https://www.facebook.com/help/336143376466063/) was not built for humans, and now that we know you are not a killer robot from Mars, we’ll help you measure your Facebook Page’s performance without drowning in all that robotic Martian muck.

What can be measured can be managed (and improved).  These are the first six key metrics non-robots must track to understand Facebook Page performance, why you need them and where to find them.

#1: Fan Reach

Ok, human.  Here’s the scoop-

Organic reach (views) consists only of posts viewed directly in the Newsfeed or on your page.  (fans and non-fans alike)

Viral reach (views) consists of posts viewed as a result of a friend’s actions (sharing, liking, commenting)

Fan Reach simply shows the number of your page’s fans (clicked your page’s ‘like’ button) who have seen any given post.

Got it?  Here’s the fun part-

The fan reach metric is not available in the Facebook statistics interface; that would be way too easy for hard working marketers like us, right?  It’s only available in an Excel file available for download.

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To access fan reach data, you first need to export post level data to Excel.

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Choose the format, the date range and select “post level data.

You’ll find it under the very robot’ish label titled “Lifetime Post reach by people who like your Page.”

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Within the Key Metrics tab, look for the column labeled “Lifetime Post reach by people who like your Page.

Important- Fan Reach is a part of “organic” reach, so it only records the views that occurred directly (newsfeed or on your page), and not through the action of a friend (share, like, comment).

Why your fan reach metrics are likely the most important

Per-post fan reach helps you measure the quality of your audience and the appeal of your content to them.  If you bought thousands of fans from a website, or sponsored a contest with an eye-catching prize unrelated to your brand , many of these uninterested ‘fans’ have probably unsubscribed from viewing your posts.  If they haven’t, Facebook’s EdgeRank feature will effectively do this for them, and this can severely disrupt your ability to reach your real fans.

Publishing interesting and valuable content to a genuine audience is the best way to ensure your message is worth the effort.  Start gauging your efforts and your page’s health with Fan Reach.

#2: Organic Reach

Good news humans!  This one is simple!  And, it’s much easier to find! Organic Reach simply adds views from users who have not liked your page to Fan Reach (direct views of a given post on the newsfeed or on your page).

Just go to your Insights, scroll down to your list of posts, click on the Reach number for each post and hover your mouse on the bar chart for “Organic”.

This metric will also appear under each post if you’re logged into your Page.

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From the Insights interface, click on the number of people reached for the post in question and hover your mouse over the “Organic” bar chart.

So, if you don’t want to go through the hassle of downloading an Excel file to get your fan reach, you can check your organic reach metrics much more easily. Just keep in mind there’s an important difference between the two.

The example below shows the differences between Fan Reach and Organic Reach on two compared pages.

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Fan Reach and Organic Reach can vary significantly from one Page to another. These figures are extracted from the Agorapulse Facebook Page Barometer (http://barometer.agorapulse.com/).

Before relying solely on organic reach, check to see if there’s a big difference between these two metrics on your Page.  If Organic Reach is very close to Fan Reach, it usually means that people cannot be exposed to your content if they are not already fans.  So, try promoting your page on other channels.  Efforts made on your website, blog, or newsletter can significantly increase your organic post views.

#3: Engagement

The killer Martian robots at Facebook say, engagement is “the number of people who clicked anywhere in your post” (https://www.facebook.com/help/336143376466063/)

So, liking, commenting, liking a comment, sharing, viewing a video, clicking on your links and photos, clicking on a commenter’s name, clicking on your page name, hiding, or reporting you as spam, from anywhere, all qualify.

Reach tells you how many people have potentially seen your content; engagement is the number of people who have interacted with your content.

Luckily, this is another one that is pretty easy for us human types to find.  To see number of people who engaged with your content for each post, look for the “Engaged Users” column within your Insights (close to where you found your organic reach).

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The Engaged Users metric is easy to see on your Facebook Insights page.

While a lot of views can be great, successful Facebook marketing depends on making sure the content you offer your audience triggers some kind of interest. This is how your engagement metrics will help you sharpen your message.

Raw numbers can be misleading, though.  If you rely solely on the number of engaged users, you’ll never know if good engagement on a specific post is due to the quality of your content, or if it was simply shown to more people. So, always compare the number of users reached with the number of users who engaged for each post.

Now, compare your post engagement metrics with your other posts by creating a percentage.

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Use this formula for each post to compare one post’s performance against another.

This formula will give you a percentage that takes the exposure of each post into account while allowing for comparison between posts.

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Percentages help benchmark posts against each another. This screenshot is extracted from the content performance heatmap of the Agorapulse Statistics feature (http://www.agorapulse.com/features/facebook-statistics).

#4: People Talking About This (or Storytellers)

This is one of Facebook’s least understood metrics.  Partially due to it’s dual label. “People Talking About This” data in Facebook Insights is also referred to as “Storytellers” in many different places, including the Excel download.

The “people talking about this” metric only measures three types of actions: likes, comments or shares. These actions are already included in the wider array of your Engagement metrics, PTAT (as the robots call it ;) just narrows it down a bit more by highlighting the number of engaged users who showed their engagement with you to their friends.

So, back to your Insights interface where you found your organic reach and engagement stats, and look at the “Talking About This” column. Way too easy.

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Click on the “People Talking About This” number for each post to see a breakdown of the action taken on each post.

The “people talking about this” metric is essential for measuring how many people are willing to spread the word about you to their friends. It’s the “viral” metric, touching on one of your primary motivations for creating a Facebook Page-  connecting with the friends of your existing fans for free!

Facebook is evolving, and has been limiting the reach of these stories since mid 2012, so don’t expect too much from this metric. Virality is still a reality on Facebook, but it is not the viral Eldorado it used to be in the early days.

#5: Click-Through Rate

Ok, you know this one. CTR has been measuring the effectiveness of email marketing, banner advertising, landing page quality, and search engine ads such as Adwords campaigns since… yeah.

Nothing’s changed here. Click-through rates tell you the number of people who have clicked on a link in your content, watched your video or viewed a larger version of your photo.  I like to think of CTR as the ‘Really Really Engaged’ metric.

Click on the Engaged Users number within you rPage Insights interface, and you’ll find your CTR.  If the content is a link, it will be named “Link Clicks;” if it is a video, it will be labeled “Video Plays;” if it is a photo, it’ll read “Photo Views.”  Pretty straightforward.  Thank you, killer robots.

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Depending on the type of content you are reviewing, you’ll find click-through rates shown as “Photos Views,” “Video Plays” and “Link Clicks.”

The click-through metric is at the bottom of your content quality funnel. Keep a close eye on it.

#6: Negative Feedback

Some people just don’t like your content showing up in their newsfeed.  When they take an action by hiding your post, hiding all of your posts, or reporting you as spam, this is called Negative Feedback.

Click on the Engaged Users number in your Page Insights to see the number of users who gave negative feedback at the bottom of that window.  You’ll have to download the Excel export as mentioned in the fan reach section above to get a breakdown.

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Click on the Engaged Users number for each post and you’ll see the “negative feedback” number in small print.

Facebook has given more weight to the negative feedback metric since September, 2012. Posts with a high negative feedback number will have much less exposure through EdgeRank and Pages with an average negative feedback that remains high will see their overall reach decay over time.

Again, the raw digits fed to us by Martians can be tricky.  This is where so many marketers go wrong.  You can’t see the truth behind your page’s negative feedback without taking exposure into account. So, never rely solely on the number you see on your Insights dashboard.  Always compare the number of users reached with the number of users who gave negative feedback before judging the quality of each post.

Then, create a percentage score of this comparison to compare results from different posts.

Looking back at negative feedback in percentages, I’ve found the average negative feedback is 0.1% of the users reached, but some Pages go as high as 0.7%!

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Use percentages when analyzing your negative feedback and engagement scores. These averages are extracted from the Agorapulse Facebook Page Barometer (http://barometer.agorapulse.com/).

Use These Six Metrics to Improve Your Facebook Marketing

Most Facebook data can be misleading or gamed to your disadvantage, but it’s very hard to trick individual post metrics.  These means will help you understand the truth of your page’s performance.  And, they’re free! If you consider your time free.  ;-)

Once you’re solid in understanding this data and analyzing it in the most productive way, you may want to use third-party tools to save time. There are many.

These free tools are a great place to start: the Agorapulse Barometer (http://barometer.agorapulse.com/), or Simply Measured (http://simplymeasured.com/free-social-media-tools)

You may also decide to invest in paid tools such as Agorapulse (http://www.agorapulse.com/) Quintly (http://www.quintly.com/)  or Wisemetrics (http://wisemetrics.com).

Your turn! What metrics are you paying attention to and why? Do you analyze your data directly on Facebook or do you use a tool? Please leave your comments and questions below.

Photo portrait Emeric profil FBEmeric Ernoult is the founder of AgoraPulse (www.agorapulse.com), a Facebook Marketing Technology  that has been featured on AllFacebook as the “Low Cost Facebook CRM alternative”. AgoraPulse is currently being used by more than 10,000 brands and agencies across 57 countries. Clients include McDonald’s, Playstation, Microsoft, Fiat, Mini, and dozens of leading Digital & Social Media Agencies).

Emeric is a regular speaker at International  conferences such as the AllFAcebook Marketing Conference,  Social media Examiner Facebook Success Summit and Facebook Marketing Conference (London), iStrategy, Digital Paris and eMarketing Paris.