Articles written in August, 2012

August 28 2012

Link Building through Academic Websites


When you’re working on a link building campaign, there are two approaches you can take: creating original content for your site that people will want to link to or reaching out to other relevant websites to request a link. Generally, the latter practice has been falling out of style due to its difficulty. If you want to pursue this method, you’ll need to make your efforts worthwhile by getting links from high-ranking, authoritative sites. Depending on your business and location, links from college and university websites can yield excellent results.

In search results, academic websites receive high-rankings either by virtue of their sponsored top-level .edu domain (Google and Bing have not confirmed whether top-level domain type contributes to a site’s ranking in search, but some SEO professionals believe it does), and/or because they have a robust profile of back-links. Why so many back links? Because, .edu sites are large and full of authoritative content — which naturally attracts lots of links from other sites. As such, links from .edu sites have a lot of value.

Even though your website may have nothing to do with academia, links from .edu domains can be beneficial for your link building. On top of that, there are many avenues of approach you take when requesting a link:

The Local Approach: .edu sites often provide users with links to nearby businesses. This helps the site show prospective and current students all available off-campus resources while drumming up some sales for local retailers or service providers. Contact your local schools or universities to see if your business can be included in such listings.

The Career Approach: If your company is hiring, inform the career services office at universities that specialize in your field. By maintaining a career page on your website, you can ensure that career services offices link back to it.

Along similar lines, you can also contact your alma mater about your own personal career success. The alumni organizations and academic departments may be delighted to showcase your success and link back to your company site.

The Research Approach: As academic institutions, most colleges and universities maintain an active library staff. As gurus of information, University librarians consistently produce research guides for online audiences on nearly every topic imaginable. Are they writing about you? Try an “inurl” command search in Google using “libguide” or “libraryguide” and a keyword related to your business. Here’s an example for “real estate.”

As you can see, university libraries across the nation are covering it. Find some guides where you think a link back to your website would be relevant, and then reach out to the library or author of the guide.

As you can see, links from .edu sites not only provide link building value, but are rife with multiple opportunities for many types of companies. Going after .edu links might be just the boost your link building program needs!

August 21 2012

Using Natural Language in SEO Copywriting


This week Google announced that changes to their algorithm were coming soon in the form of further Penguin and Panda “adjustments.” But if you’re creating good content — onsite and offsite — you have nothing to worry about. That’s because these adjustments are all about devaluing sites that use artificial means in order to rank well in the search engine results.

When we say “artificial,” we mean poor-quality content created in order to manipulate search engines. This is done mainly by keyword stuffing — onsite and off — and using unnatural language in order to rank for a particular keyphrase.

Remember that Google’s primary goal (as far as search is concerned) is to deliver the best possible user experience. To achieve that, they want to rank content that also delivers the best possible user experience. Content that is thin, overly simplified, or that uses unnatural language in order to achieve rankings, is out. Content that is original, helpful, and written for humans is in.

The best thing that you can do for your site — beyond creating excellent, search engine optimized, content — is to make sure that you don’t appear as a spammer to the search engine bots. Because Google is changing the definition of “spammer” all the time, there is a certain art to this.

We will still — and probably, always — have to target keywords. And that’s a good thing. Keywords and phrases help guide content creators to the best possible ways to reach their audience. If you didn’t do keyword research, you might never know that potential customers are searching for a particular product, a particular way.

It’s what we do with those keywords that’s important.

As of now, overusing the same phrase — without variations — is out. Using natural language is in. Go ahead and use your keyphrase in your title tags, description tags, and in your H1. From there, vary your language — sometimes using your target phase, sometimes using a variation. Write the way you wrote before you wrote for the internet, varying your language and using synonyms, with the primary goal of communicating an idea — not landing on page one.

Do this and you have a good chance of creating content that will survive any algorithm update.

Posted in: Advanced SEO

August 20 2012

Generate New Ideas for Blog Posts


When many businesses first start a blog, it seems like the possibilities are endless. Finally! You’ve found a place to address all the other content that speaks to your target audience, but didn’t necessarily fit into your business’ website. But, although the topic ideas are plentiful at first, after writing new blog posts a few times a week for several months, you inevitably hit a wall. Or you want to hit your head against the wall. Either way, you’ve run out of ideas and now your head hurts, too. So how do you get past the writer’s block to generate new ideas? Follow these five steps to get the creative juices–and new blog post ideas–flowing freely again.

  1. Read other blogs. Start with a competitor’s blog or a blog from a business in a similar industry. Then branch out to a few blogs that are outside of your industry, but that have great content. Sometimes taking a step back from a project you’re close to can be the breath of fresh air you needed to get creative again.
  2. Utilize social media channels to see what your target audience is talking about. If your business’ blog is about women’s fitness, what better place to look for new ideas then the Facebook page for Women’s Health magazine or the New York Marathon? What types of questions are they posting on their Facebook page that people are “Liking” or commenting on? Follow other brands with complementary services to your own on Facebook, Twitter or other social media platforms to see what people are buzzing about.
  3. Set up a Google Alert. Choose five to ten words you feel are relevant to the types of content you want to cover within your blog. Then set up a Google Alert to receive emails in your inbox of news, blogs or other content that mentioned these keywords. This is not only a great way to come up with new blog post ideas, but also a way to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s going on elsewhere that could be relevant to your target audience.
  4. Look back at what worked in the past. If you use any measurement tools to track blog post traffic (we recommend Google Analytics), look back over the last several months to see which posts received the most views on the blog or interaction through comments or social media shares. Then brainstorm three to five new posts you could cover that fall within the same category as the well-received post. For example, if you created a quiz titled, “How Creative Are You?” you could springboard off of that idea and write a post on “What Type of Creative Are You?” Sometimes, being creative isn’t about reinventing the wheel. It’s about finding different ways to use it.
  5. Bounce ideas off of others. If your office is set up anything like ours (i.e. it has people who work within it), chances are, there’s someone nearby who would be happy to take a couple minutes out of their day to hear some of your ideas, and maybe even suggest a few of their own. Even if it’s someone in a completely different department or role, sometimes being creative is all about getting a fresh perspective. It’s much easier for someone who hasn’t worked on the same project day-in and day-out to look at it from the outside and say, “Hey, did you think about [insert grand idea here]?” A great idea is a great idea, and it can come from anywhere. You just have to ask.
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