12 Tools for Snapchat Marketing

12 Tools for Snapchat Marketing

Snapchat, the disappearing messages app, may have started as a novelty for millennials. But with over 150 million daily users, and innovative new ad tools like Geofilters and Sponsored Lenses, Snapchat has become an useful network for brands to connect with followers.

Here is a list of tools for marketing a brand on Snapchat. There are tools and resources from Snapchat and third-party companies to run campaigns, measure results, connect with influencers, and build a following on Snapchat.

Tools from Snapchat

Snapcode. A Snapcode is a Snapchat-styled QR code. Create a customized Snapcode for your brand. iOS and Android phones will open inside Snapchat when they scan a Snapcode with the app’s camera. Snapcodes are a fun and creative way for businesses and other sites to promote themselves and their content, beyond a standard URL.

Discover. Browse through channels from top publishers that curate content daily. Watch live stories from an event, check out local stories, and more. Press and hold on a channel icon for a quick summary of what it has to offer. To see that channel on your Stories screen every day, just tap Subscribe.

Snap Ads. Snap Ads offer mobile video ads with the choice to add interactive elements. Snap Ads begin with an up to 10-second vertical, full-screen video ad that appears in the context of other snaps. You can also give Snapchatters the choice to swipe upwards to see more, revealing extended content, such as a long-form video, article, app install ad, or mobile website.

Geofilters. Businesses and individuals can purchase on-demand Geofilters for their event, business, or a specific location. Upload your own, or use a template to get started. Pick a time and set a geofence for your Geofilter. Submit your Geofilter and have it reviewed within one business day.

Sponsored Lenses. Sponsored Lenses — here’s the PDF overview — offer a creative way for brands to make an impression, while providing interactive fun for users. Users take video selfies and overlay images. Lenses are created by Snapchat in partnership with brands, and only 100 campaigns, roughly, have been run since the ad format debuted in October 2014. As a result, Lenses are currently out of the reach of small and medium-sized businesses. But the format’s design should become more accessible to brands. And the popularity of the interactive format is a lesson for all brands. Taco Bell’s Cinco de Mayo campaign alone was viewed 224 million times.

Third-party Tools for Snapchat

Snaplytics. Snaplytics is an analytics tool for Snapchat. Learn which of your marketing efforts are working on the platform. Snaplytics has features for brand analytics, publishing and managing stories on Snapchat, and competitor analysis. Compare multiple Snapchat accounts, schedule stories ahead of time, and get actionable metrics and insights. Price: Free for one Snapchat account. Premium plans start at $29 per month.

The Ultimate Guide to Snapchat Marketing. From AdEspresso, this is a comprehensive guide for marketing on Snapchat. It’s a good resource for small businesses that are interested in launching campaigns on the platform. Get a rundown of platform features, links to tutorials, a variety of brand campaign examples, and a large list of reasons businesses should be on Snapchat.

GhostCodes. GhostCodes is a resource to help brands grow their Snapchat channel and connect with relevant Snapchat creators and influencers. Find Snapchatters through dozens of categories and thousands of interests.

Unofficial Snapchat Button. Use this generator to create a button to promote your Snapchat account. Once you’re happy with how it looks, copy and paste the generated code onto your website where you would like the button to appear.

/r/SnapchatGeofilters. For designers and businesses, /r/SnapchatGeofilters is a place for discussing, sharing, critiquing, and suggesting Snapchat Geofilters. Submit a Geofilter, get a list of Geofilter design services, and more.

Snapchatters. Snapchatters is a curated list of Snapchat users and their stories, intended for followers to add on Snapchat. Snapchatters are submitted by anyone, and the best are added to the list. Featured Snapchatters are primarily solo producers without editorial teams. Snapchatters is a good resource for examples of effective content from no-budget productions. The Snapchatters blog is on Medium.

Peek. Peek is an app to discover and follow Snapchat creators. Follow your favorite creators from Snapchat on Peek. Discover the best and most popular Snapchat Stories content. Quickly and easily add people discovered on Peek to Snapchat. View previously made snaps and videos. With Peek, Snapchat stories never expire, allowing you to re-watch and share any story.


VPN Info

VPN info

VPN Protection: Can I Hide My IP Address?
A VPN encrypts and protects your data connection online. What you do online is open for prying eyes, but you can protect and hide your IP address and data by using a VPN. A VPN secures data between you and your business, or you can obtain anonymity and protection for your personal information.

There are loads of VPNs to choose from; and quality is on the rise. Of course, the flipside is that you may feel overwhelmed, especially if you don’t know what to look out for. The process of choosing a VPN starts with a realistic assessment of your needs: if – for example – you only use Apple products, you must find the best VPN for Mac and Apple products.

How VPN Connections Benefit You
Not everyone has the same priorities, or uses the internet in the same way. If you want to improve anonymity online, VPN providers give you a way to discreetly access the Internet through a “tunnel” service. This type of access masks your communication and displays the VPN’s IP address when you connect to a website, instead of your own.

This means that your private home IP address is hidden when browsing different websites. Using a VPN service will likely impact your computer speed as well. If you are looking for a fast VPN, make sure that it also keeps your privacy through data encryption between your computer and the target server. By using a VPN, you can improve the protection of your data, and stay anonymous on the internet – all while streaming or browsing at top speeds.

Price matters – But only up to a point
Cheap and free VPNs may seem attractive on paper, but they often offer a sub-par service and may have significant privacy issues. Always keep in mind that cheap and free services are cheap or free for a reason. The best VPNs offer a balance between quality and price.

Speed and Reliability
A VPN keeps you safe online by re-routing your traffic through an encrypted server. If this process is done well, the effect on your connection should be unnoticeable. If, on the other hand, the VPN is poor quality, it may grind your internet speed down to a halt.

If you are looking for the best VPN for streaming, for example, look out for services with 99.9% uptime and no speed or bandwidth caps. This ensures your online experience will be smooth – irrespective of how heavy your internet usage is.

How VPN Connections Benefit Your Business
Businesses big and small also benefit from setting up VPN connections. VPN allows employees who are working from home to connect to a private network over the internet while still protecting their IP addresses.

A VPN service gives protection to the business and the employee. The software is typically installed on the employee’s computer, and the employee uses the service to perform daily tasks as if the employee is logged in locally.

If you need more help choosing, read one of our VPN reviews and find the best VPN provider for your needs.

7 DIY SEO Tactics for Companies Not Ready to Hire a Consultant

7 DIY SEO Tactics for Companies Not Ready to Hire a Consultant
Simple tactics, like claiming your listings and managing social media, can increase your ranking.

Anyone who has ever registered a domain name can tell you that there is no shortage of people out there willing to sell you search engine optimization services (SEO). While I fully endorse a business’s decision to work with an SEO consultant (full disclosure: I am one), there is quite a lot that you can do on your own to help your website rank better in Google.

If your budget isn’t quite there yet, or you would rather have more control over your website’s marketing, these seven do-it-yourself SEO tactics may help you. These tactics can also help you become a better SEO consultant if you already have a couple of clients.

1. Check your onpage optimization.
Onpage optimization is basically the process of changing your website in a such a way that makes it easier for search engines like Google to read and understand. Search engines being able to read and understand your website has a direct impact of where you’ll wind up in the search results.

While it’s easy to spend hours talking about proper onpage SEO techniques, the short version is have the keyword(s) you want to rank for in the title, headline and meta description of each page of your website.

If you’re running WordPress, the free SEO Yoast plugin makes it simple to put your keywords in the right places. For other platforms, like Weebly or Squarespace, there are options to edit your website’s metadata information as well, though the simple checklist format of SEO Yoast should make using WordPress all the more tempting.

2. Claim your Google My Business listing.
This might seem a little basic for those with a bit of marketing experience, but you would be surprised how many businesses out there have an unclaimed Google My Business listing. Claiming, completing and optimizing your Google My Business listing is essential for being able to rank for local keywords. That is, keywords that focus on a specific spot — for example, “Long Island Plumber” or “Iowa City Chiropractor.”

Also, if you’ve been working out of a specific location for long enough, Google will simply create a listing for you. It’s a good idea to claim that listing so that you can modify the information there, add photos and your website, and respond to any reviews former or current customers have left for you there.

3. Complete social media profiles.
Again, this one is a little basic, but you absolutely must have your completed social media profiles for your business on at least all the major social media platforms. We recommend that, at the very least, you have a Facebook page, a Twitter profile, a Pinterest account, an Instagram account and a Google+ Profile.

Having an account on all of these platforms builds trust and shows the search engines that you’re a real business. It’s also important to make sure you have your website URL listed in the profile of each account. Even though it’s a “no-follow” link (meaning it doesn’t pass authority) it’s another trust signal that you and your business are legit.

4. Schema markup.
Over the last couple of years, Google has publicly announced its support for schema markup and the semantic web in general. This means those who add schema markup to their websites are ahead of the game when it comes to being in Google’s favor.

Without getting too complicated, schema is essentially a library of code that helps search engines better understand your website and return more relevant and informative results. For example, have you noticed those star ratings that are popping up all over the search results recently? Pretty cool right? You know what makes them happen? Yep, it’s schema markup.

Now, for those with the time and technical know-how, you can do your website’s schema markup by hand, no problem. But if you have a little bit of budget lying around, are running a WordPress website, and would rather just have the whole thing done for you, check out the Project Supremacy plugin.

For those running Weebly, Wix or Squarespace, you’ll have to add your schema in by hand. This quick start guide is pretty handy though.

5. Geotag your photos.
One of the hidden secrets of the SEO world that goes a long way towards ranking for local keywords is geotagging your photos — adding GPS coordinates to the metadata of each photo you use on your website.

Search engines can’t see photos in the same way that we can. They need a little extra help to understand what’s happening and where. Having geotagged photos on your website, with an address that matches the address of your business’s physical location, is a huge trust signal for search engines.

To do the actual geotagging, you can use a web service like geotag.online. Put in your address, upload your photos, and they’ll do the rest. Then simply upload those newly geotagged photos to your website. You should see a bump in rankings over time.

Pro tip — Upload those same geotagged photos to your Google My Business Listing for an even bigger boost in ranking.

6. Press releases.
To most of the world, press releases are things that you put out sparingly. Conventional wisdom says you should only put them out when your company is working on or announcing something big.

In the SEO world, press releases are a way to get a large number of diversified backlinks out into the world all at once. Not only do these press releases build backlinks that get you ranked, they also send your website quite a bit of traffic from hungry consumers.

Now, you might also think that press releases are insanely expensive, and inaccessible to the average business owner, but they’re actually quite reasonable. You can get press releases done for less than $100 in most cases. You just need to know where to look. One service is Web 2.0 Ranker’s press release service.

7. White label SEO services.
Did you know that a good chunk of SEO consultants out there just farm your work out to so-called “white label” fulfillment agencies? Whether you believe this is ethical or not, the fact remains that some consultants approaching you to do SEO work on your website will simply contract with another company to do the actual work, then slap their logo on the reports every month. We call this white labeling.

As a business owner who’s a little savvier than average, you can cut out the middleman and work directly with these white label providers, usually for a much cheaper price than what the so-called SEO consultant was going to charge you. As a jumping off point, check out a service like PosiRank or Links Management.

If a full-on SEO campaign isn’t something you’re interested in, you can check out The Hoth, which is another white label SEO agency, except at The Hoth, you can pick and choose one-off SEO services like a batch of links or help building directory listings.

There is practically an endless number of things you can do for your website’s SEO, and there is no substitute for a dedicated consultant whose only job is ranking you higher in the search results. But if the budget isn’t there, or you want to be more hands on with your website’s SEO, then these steps are a great place to start.

Five Really Terrible SEO Ideas

Five Really Terrible SEO Ideas
You know the expression “a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing”? Never has it been more applicable than in the world of SEO. I can’t count the number of times I worked with a new client and one of the first things they say to me is some variation of the following:

‘I know SEO, how come we’re not focusing on Meta data?’

‘I did SEO back in the day but I forgot what my Keyword Density should be.’

or, the worst one yet:

‘Look, I know my business name is ‘House o’ Top Hats’ but I don’t want to rank for Top Hats and instead I really want to rank for tap shoes. Let’s make that happen!’

Yes, friends, a bit of old school SEO knowledge is a dangerous thing. With this type of thinking you can either destroy your online presence, get your site penalized or give you some seriously twisted expectations that will lead to a lot of sadness down the road. This week, we’re going to take a look at the top five SEO techniques that you may think still work but don’t, are completely wrong or ideas that will waste everyone’s time. Read carefully, your business and your SEO or DM team will thank you.

#5. But My Keywords, Though

This should really be higher on my list but I’m in such a fury to get this out of the way now, I’m just going to go ahead and do it.

Anyone who reads anything I write already knows how I feel about keywords but I’ll say it again because I don’t think anyone is listening. I’ll say it again:


I really hope everyone heard me this time. Just stop that line of thinking because it’s not a thing anymore, ok? It’s really not. Keyword Optimization isn’t a thing that will help you. There, you made me say it again.

Your Keyword Ranking reports are vanity metrics that have no actual meaning and there is no ‘Page One’ of Google anymore, so you can stop chasing that ghost. Exact Match keywords are a joke, keyword density isn’t a thing no matter how many ‘free tools’ or companies that make their money off of ‘keyword optimization’ say it is and meta keywords, which we’ll cover later, haven’t been in a thing in almost a decade. Deal with it.

Now, it’s all about Searcher Intent – I feel like I say that every single week in some form or another but it’s really that important.

If you want to rank, you need to be relevant. How do you become relevant? By writing things people actually want to read and answer questions people actually ask. Shocking, I know.

If you want to read more about how to write relevant, Rankbrain friendly and user-centric content, just go back to the main page of Smokehouse SEO and click literally any other article. I cover this in one way or another all the time.

Moving on to the next…

#4. Let’s Just Optimize our Meta Data!

This is the great fallback of the lazy, the people with no dev hours, the ‘drop shipper’ and the eCommerce site owner.

I get it. You don’t want to write quality on page content, you don’t have a blogger, you don’t have dev hours to do actual work so what’s quick, cheap and easy? Meta Data!

Well, you know what kind of returns you get on quick, cheap and easy work? Exactly. Nothing.

I’ll break down the four types of meta tags and why they aren’t going to help you:

Meta Keywords: These used to be a thing back like ten years ago then everyone started just cramming them all in there to the point where it was just a bunch of drivel. Search engines don’t look at these for anything. At all. Ever. I mean, I guess having some things in there might not hurt you but it definitely is not going to help you in any way.

Meta Title Tags: These are still pretty good to have done correctly but it’s not like it used to be. Back in the day, people used to just cram those keywords into a title tag but since the shift to relevancy search in Google, that’s pretty much not a thing anymore. Google’s smart enough to know what the page is about without you needing to cram the keywords in the title. Just use these to write good, short copy to let searchers know what to expect on the page and maybe you’ll drive a click but don’t expect any actual ‘SEO magic’ from even the best title tag.

Meta Descriptions: As with the Title tags, this used to be a thing Search Engines really looked at and now not so much. Again, just write good, solid marketing copy here about what your page is about to drive a click from a searcher but don’t expect Search Engines to actually care. In fact, sometimes Google will even replace your meta descriptions with its own pulled from your page if it things other content on the page is more relevant to the query.

Header Tags: These are your H tags like your H1, H2, etc. These are actually still pretty relevant to SEO, so make sure you’re using them properly as part of your overall technical SEO strategy but I’ll tell you right now, if you don’t have any good, quality on page content, even the best H tag strategy won’t help you rank or show up in the SERP. Make sure you have good content to mark up with these tags.

So basically, as you can see, in 2017, Meta Tags are basically just either useless, useless without good on-page content to back it up or just an opportunity to test out your Conversion Rate Optimization click-driving super short form content writing skills. For more information about everything and anything you could ever possibly want to know about meta tags, check out Hobo SEO’s guide to meta tags. It’s the most in depth explanation I’ve come across yet.

#3. Bolding and Italicizing My Keywords! That’s the Ticket!

I’m not even gonna dignify this with a long response about why this is dumb and doesn’t work anymore (if it ever did) and the only reason I mention it now is that apparently people seem to think this is still a thing.

It’s not.

It’s not a thing.

And it makes your page look like hot garbage and spam from a customer/UX point of view.

#2. I’m Just Way Too Important to Worry About Local Search! That’s for you Mom N’ Pop Plebs!

Of all the things in this list that get under my skin, this is by far the one I hate the most. It’s usually said by smaller businesses that have a local store but since they have an eCommerce website, all the sudden they want to be big shots and think they should be competing against Amazon.

I’ve written again and again about why this is a horrible idea so I won’t go into too much detail here and I’ll be brief.

Look, if you have a physical location, you need to be doing local search. The end.

If you’re worried about only appearing in search for your local area, just skip the Google My Business step (even though if you have a physical location, you really should have one) and instead create a good, high quality location landing page on your site that you can customize with unique and helpful local area content such as driving directions, local landmarks and other information that will help direct local and mobile searchers to your page.

Real talk: If you’re a guy selling T Shirts or Dryer Parts in Muskogee that has a physical store and an eCommerce website, you’re probably going to get the most bang for your buck with local search anyway. There’s simply far too many other people out there selling exactly what it is you sell and they’ve been doing it way longer than you and they have probably a ton more backlinks, domain and topical authority and other factors. Can you compete and beat them? Yes. Realistically, though, unless you want to do almost nothing else with your day but SEO, Content Marketing, Social Media Marketing and Link building, you’re not going to compete. The end.

Get off your high horse and make your local store rank instead of trying to be Mr. Big Shot off the bat because if you don’t, you’re going to have a really bad time.

#1. I Want to Rank for Things that Literally Have Nothing to Do with My Business!

This is so stupid, I really don’t know where to begin with this but this happens. It happens a lot.

I didn’t understand this at all the first time it hit me so I bet that you don’t either. I’ll explain:

Let’s say you’re a happy SEO going about your daily life and you get a message from your sales team saying you have a new client called “Only Swimsuits Ltd.”

You get on your first call with the contact from there, and the first thing your client says is “I know we’re called ‘Only Swimsuits’ but we actually don’t want to rank for swimsuits. Can you make us rank for shirts and ties? What about Baseball uniforms? We started selling Golf Clubs last week, too, how about some of that?”

Yeah. This has happened SO MANY TIMES I’VE LOST COUNT.

I’ve even had one client actually get mad at me when we increased their traffic and ranking around keywords and topics for an industry niche THAT WAS IN THEIR ACTUAL BUSINESS NAME AND DOMAIN. Why? Because they really wanted to increase their ‘keyword ranking’ for things that were the complete opposite of what they actually did.

OK, first of all. WHY?

Why would you do this? You don’t want to rank for what you already have the name, URL, topical trust and probably other high quality signals to Google? You want to just throw that away on something that you don’t specialize in, don’t have any authority on and compete with businesses that probably only focus on this niche?


Look, just don’t do this.

YES, it can be done and it isn’t that hard to do, it’s just going to take far more work writing quality content and effort focusing on SEO and other multichannel campaigns than I’ve seen nearly any eCommerce client willing to put in to do it.

That being said, if you must do this, only do this after you’ve gotten the rest of your site (eg: the stuff your business was actually built to DO) done first. Get your quick and easy wins before you go trying to give yourself an ‘SEO DOESN’T WORK!!!!!! ITS ALL A SCAM!!!’ headache.

The Bottom Line

So now you know what doesn’t work so let’s focus on what does. Google’s said it. I’ve said it. Everyone’s said it. It’s all about Content, Links and Rankbrain. Yes, there are tons of other things that go into how your site gets ranked and shown for queries but those are the big three and it isn’t like its that hard to do. At the end of the day, its not what do YOU think your business should rank for, it’s what GOOGLE thinks your business should rank for and if you don’t like what they think about you, there are ways to change it – though as we’ve discussed above, some are much harder to do than others.

Be relevant, build your backlinks in a natural way (yeah, good luck with that, though), and have a great user experience and you’ll see positive changes.

6 ways to grow your podcast audience with SEO

6 ways to grow your podcast audience with SEO

Columnist Stephan Spencer explains the benefits of podcasting, as well as how to optimize your podcast for visibility in search engines, YouTube and platforms like iTunes or Google Play.

Traditional content strategies use blog posts, articles, images, and sometimes video as the main sources of content. And while those can be awesome for driving traffic and supporting your SEO efforts, podcasts are an often overlooked and underestimated medium. Podcasts can build your brand and drive direct traffic, while at the same time adding rich content to your site and supporting your link-building efforts.

Of course, you not only need to know how to leverage your podcasts for SEO, but also how to rank well on the platforms specific to podcasts. So whether you’re starting out or are an established podcaster, read on for specific tips on how to SEO your podcast.

1. It’s all in the title
What does it take for your podcast to be found on iTunes and Google Play? It’s all in the title. The iTunes ranking algorithm for podcasts places a heavy emphasis on the title of the podcast, in addition to factors like total number of subscribers and the total number of reviews for the podcast.

What this means is that, while you want to have a title for your podcast which is compelling and interesting, you shouldn’t have a title which is so obscure or non-intuitive that it doesn’t explain in clear language what your podcast is about. Make sure to include your most important keywords in the title of your podcast. If your show is already established, you can do this by adding a subtitle. For example, if your show title is “A 5th Race Podcast,” and your show is about Stargate, you can make sure that you’re found by adding a subtitle such as “An Unofficial Stargate Podcast.”

That said, a generically keyword-rich title that is not distinctive or memorable is also a non-starter. The title of your podcast should be something you are proud of. (Note that with branded podcast names, it would be good to incorporate keyword-rich subtitles.) And while you do want to include keywords in your title and/or subtitle, don’t try to stuff your author tag with keywords. Apple will catch on and send you a note stating that your author tag isn’t representative of what your show is about.

Keep it clean, use the right keywords where it counts, and you should show up for relevant search queries. On Google Play, your show’s description (not individual episode descriptions) is searchable as well, so make sure you optimize it, while still keeping the copy interesting and compelling. (Speaking of keeping it clean, if your show has swear words and is thus labeled as explicit in iTunes, your podcast will not be reaching the very large Indian market.)

2. Optimizing your RSS feed
While the average user doesn’t use RSS nearly as much as in the past, your RSS feed syndicates your podcast on iTunes, Google Play Music and most other podcast platforms out there. Essentially, your RSS feed is what people are subscribing to when they subscribe to your podcast on any of these platforms.

Your feed is also what provides all your podcast information to these platforms. So when you want to update your show’s title or description, you have to update it in your RSS feed. It can take up to 24 hours for any of the fields to update on iTunes or other directories.

The best way to have SEO control over your podcast is by creating your RSS feed using the one that Libsyn provides you or the feed you get from the PowerPress plugin for WordPress (a free plugin).

Make sure you have a good, compatible RSS feed that won’t break or be too slow by using either castfeedvalidator.com or podba.se to validate your feed.

3. Leveraging your website
Yes, your podcast is an audio file, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t score SEO points by leveraging your website and making it a worthwhile destination for Google to send traffic to. As SEO practitioners, we are always trying to attract more trusted links to our sites. A great podcast is just one more type of content you can use to attract those links.

If a writer is looking at your site and considering linking to your podcast content, showing them other authoritative sites where your content has been featured can act as a “social proof” that your content is authoritative, high-quality and trustworthy, and thus worth linking to. For instance, you can show an “as seen on” section on at least your home page, but preferably on every episode page — the way I do on my biohacking/lifehacking podcast, “The Optimized Geek.”

Another easy way to boost your reach is to create supporting content that you want to expose search engines to. Some examples of content you can create are:

episode description or recap
show notes with timestamps
key takeaways
episode art
The transcript will be a particularly text-rich piece of content to post to your site. Don’t just bury the transcript, feature it and present it nicely, so that users are more inclined to interact with it.

Each episode should have unique episode art so visitors have something to pin on Pinterest. Have a look at my wife’s show, “Stellar Life,” for an awesome example of the use of episode art:

Broken link building made easy

Broken link building made easy
Broken link building is a great tactic, but prospecting for broken links in your niche can be time-consuming and inefficient. Luckily, columnist Patrick Stox has a handy method for identifying relevant broken linking opportunities.

What is broken link building?
Broken link building is a tactic that involves finding resources in your niche that are no longer live, recreating a version of the content and reaching out to webmasters who link to that content asking them to replace the broken link with a link to your newly created resource. You’re providing value to the webmaster, helping them clean up their website and the web in general, while also building links to your website.

Broken link building isn’t a new tactic, but with the explosive growth of the web in recent years and new website technologies and redesigns, the number of broken links is increasing. I’m surprised this type of link building doesn’t seem to be in favor anymore. I hear horrible tales of tremendous amounts of time invested in research and low response rates to the outreach. When effectiveness decreases, it’s time to figure out why and to look at the whole process to make it better and faster.

What’s involved in broken link building?
I won’t pretend for a second that this article covers the topic as well as Russ Jones did in The Broken Link Building Bible and Broken Link Building Bible: The New Testament. Russ broke out three main steps: Prospecting, Content Creation and Outreach. It sounds simple enough, until you realize prospecting alone requires a lot of time and knowledge of search queries and crawls or scrapes of the web and Google search results.

How do we make broken link building easier?
Let’s face it, link building is hard and confusing, especially for newer people in the industry. I believe it’s a lot easier to fix a link to your website that’s broken than it is to go get new links, and I have advocated for fixing links to your old pages not once, but twice in past articles on this site.

I still believe this is one of the easiest wins for a website that’s been around a while, but today I want to show you an even easier way to prioritize these redirects rather than redirecting everything. Instead of gathering all pages, let’s use Ahrefs database and see the broken links to our website. It’s as simple as putting in your domain and clicking a link.

With this, I have information on where links are coming from and what pages they link to on my website. I can prioritize redirects based on which pages had the most equity lost or which are the most important for me to improve.

While I’d call this process link reclamation instead of broken link building, the two have a lot of similarities. After all, link reclamation saves people from finding links to broken pages on your website and using broken link building against you.

Using link reclamation on competitors to perform broken link building
If we extend this process a bit and look at our competitors’ broken links instead, that’s where we hit the jackpot on time saving.

Take Apple as an example. As you can see in the screen shot below, they have nearly 8 million links to their domain that currently lead to pages that 404.

If we export these and group them by the pages they link to, that’s a lot of opportunities for a competitor to pursue with broken link building. We just cut out all the advanced queries, scraping, crawling and so on in the data-gathering phase of broken link building.

The next step was to create content, right? Being a competitor, it’s likely that we have content similar to what our competitors had on their website already. This won’t be the case all the time, of course, but if we do have a similar resource, then we just cut out another large chunk of time in the broken link building process.

What’s left will be to gather the contact information of the website owners linking to these pages and reach out to them. We have cut hours upon hours out of the broken link building process by simply using data Ahrefs has already gathered — and have likely cut out time from the content creation process as well using this method.

Outreach isn’t my strength, so I’ll refer you to some of the articles from Julie Joyce and Andrew Dennis for tips such as Manual link building’s 7 worst outreach offenses and Link building outreach: preparation meets persuasion.

Make broken link building faster by using the broken links report in Ahrefs to find broken pages on your competitors’ websites and that you already have content for.

Google Doesn’t Crawl to See What is On 404 Pages; No SEO Benefit

Google Doesn’t Crawl to See What is On 404 Pages; No SEO Benefit

When you have a 404, regardless of whether it is a default 404 or a custom 404, Google doesn’t crawl the content of the 404 once it sees the response is a server 404. Why is this important? Many have been creating custom 404s for SEO specific reasons.

So if we see a 404, then we see a 404 and don’t look at the content. We don’t look to see what is visible on your 404 pages, on your server error pages, we essentially assume that something that the user can look at and kind of deal with, we don’t follow the content on pages that return any of these error response codes.

So why did custom 404s become a SEO thing as opposed to a user thing? While custom 404s are important from a user perspective – they help get lost visitors to your site on either the page they wanted to go to, or just to other pages on the site they feel are interesting.

What makes this interesting is that in the Google Quality Rater Guidelines, they ask raters to look at what is on the 404 page, whether it is useful, and to rate it accordingly. And since the rater guidelines essentially are guidelines for what Google wants to see on a high quality site, the fact that Google is just seeing the 404 being served, but not crawling to see what is on that 404 means that the value of the 404 page, in Google’s eyes, isn’t as high as previously thought.

Of course, worth reminding again, from a user experience perspective, high quality 404 pages ARE important since it can help lead those users who somehow end up on a 404 page to another page on the site, rather than clicking the back button.

And oftentimes, many sites that do create custom 404 experiences tend to be higher quality since they want to help their users. And it is something that they ask their Quality Raters to look for – and rate – when they are doing their ratings. But from a strictly SEO perspective, if your 404 page returns a 404, Google isn’t looking at what you have on that 404 page.

It is also worth noting that links to your 404s do not help a site – so linking to other pages on your site from a 404 page which might have links to it won’t help from a ranking benefit either. Lastly, 404 errors themselves do not cause any kind of Google penalty, as Google has noted the majority of 404s aren’t the fault of the site owner.

Bottom line, keep creating custom 404s because they are good for the user… but the suspected SEO value isn’t there.


SEO Checklist for Content Marketers: 21 Common Mistakes to Avoid

SEO Checklist for Content Marketers: 21 Common Mistakes to Avoid
Caitlin Burgess

With so much content being created, published and promoted online every second—as well as consumers becoming increasingly self-directed in their quest for answers—competition to capture your audience’s attention has never been more fierce.

As a result, quality and strategic SEO has probably never been more important for helping you be the best answer whenever and wherever your audience is searching.

But as seasoned marketers know, SEO has gone through a tremendous evolution since its early days of keyword-focused content. With more than 2 trillion searches happening on Google every year, today’s SEO is about finding the perfect balance between user-centric content and convincing search engine crawlers that your content is supreme.

Of course, on the journey to creating the perfect content for both humans and search, you may make some mistakes. But the good news is that may are easily avoidable.

Below we dive into some of the most common SEO mistakes, as well as tips for helping you avoid or remedy them.1

#1 – Optimizing content around one keyword.
In the “old days” of SEO, it was common practice to optimize web pages with a specific keyword that you wanted to rank for. Today, that practice not only provides a poor user experience for your audience, but it’s simply ineffective since search engines are becoming increasingly better at determining search intent.

Tip: Simply put: Do not optimize any pages for just one keyword. Instead, think bigger about the need your content can fill and hone in on keyword topics that include a variety of relevant and related search terms.

#2 – Neglecting dated content.
Let’s face it. You’ve probably created a ton of content in the last couple years that you haven’t touched since it first published. But you could be leaving opportunity on the table if you’re not regularly looking for ways to refresh it and keep it relevant for searchers.

Tip: Dig into your analytics to find your top and worst performing pages and blog posts, paying special attention to evergreen topics. Then conduct some keyword research to discover new opportunities for updating that existing content to continue or improve ranking momentum.

#3 – Forgetting mobile users.
Whether you’re a B2C or B2B brand, much of your audience is likely using a mobile device to find good content. If your content isn’t mobile friendly, the user experience will be negatively impacted.

Tip: Take steps to ensure that your website and its content is mobile friendly and responsive. Also, focus on creating content for users that would typically use a mobile device.

#4 – Not optimizing for site speed.
This one is pretty simple. Faster sites have a better crawl rate and provide a better user experience.

Tip: Use site speed tools like Google PageSpeed Insights, Pingdom, or WebPageTest to analyze your site speed score. Some of the most helpful tips to improve site speed include leveraging browser caching, optimizing images and minifying JavaScript.

#5 – Failing to include relevant and helpful internal links.
If you’ve attracted people to your content, you have a captive audience that’s interested and probably looking for more. As a result, internal links are critical to keeping people engaged and signaling that you have more to offer.

Tip: Always be on the lookout for opportunities to link to other content on your website. In addition, use keyword variations for anchor text to expand visibility for the keyword topic that content represents.

#6 – Failing to include relevant and helpful external links.
Just like internal links, external links have the ability to provide your users with more helpful and relevant content. In addition, quality external sources can also signal credibility to search engines and users.

Tip: Make sure that all external links open in new windows to allow users to venture to other content, but also make it easy for them to go back and stay engaged with your content.

#7 – Serving up hard-to-read blocks of content.
Users are often looking to find and absorb content quickly, and move on if they are unable to easily see the value in the content they’ve clicked on. In addition, studies show that people read online content in an “F” pattern. As a result, large blocks of text can be a big turn-off for many, especially those using mobile devices.

Tip: Utilize headline tags to break up content. This will not only make it easy for users to scan content, but also send a positive signal to search engines.

8. Forgetting about image optimization.
The images on your website or blog add an important visual element that can positively impact user experience. But they can also help you tell your story to search engines.

Tip: Cover all your bases by making sure image filenames and alt text contain relevant keywords. Also, to ensure your page loads quickly, optimize the image size for each screen size and/or lazy load the images.

9. Not having unique content.
While it can be tempting to reuse some of that great content you’ve already created, be careful. Search engines will not be fooled, and you could be penalized if you duplicate content across pages.

Tip: Don’t publish duplicate or similar content to your site, including title tags and meta descriptions. When it comes to the technical stuff such as title tags and meta descriptions, just take the little bit of extra time it takes to create something unique. When it comes to full pages of content, if you have existing content that fits, take a repurposing approach to make it personalized and different.

10. Focusing on quantity over quality.
In today’s competitive world of content, it can be tempting to try to out-create your competition. But publishing more content than the next guy doesn’t guarantee results, especially if that content isn’t a quality piece that actually helps your audience.

Tip: Create a content strategy that includes audience and keyword topic research. In addition, study the other content that is already out there and look at what your competitors are doing. This will allow you to identify content gaps and help you create content that fills them. In addition, shoot for writing longer pieces (600 to 1,000+ words), that are optimized for scanability and include visual elements.

11. Not optimizing URLs or site structure.
Many marketers leave the title of the page or the post as the URL, which can lead to long URLs that do nothing to help your search rankings.

Tip: Keep URLs short, concise and optimized with keywords. In addition, make sure that your URL structure is consistent throughout your site to make it easier to crawl.

12. Neglecting broken or redirecting links.
During our technical crawls and site evaluations, TopRank Marketing often finds that many sites have broken links or links that redirect instead of linking directly to the target page.

Tip: Conduct a technical audit to identify all broken links and internal links that redirect to a different page. Then update with links that connect directly to a target page. This will help search engines crawl your site more efficiently.

13. Not auditing the redirect rules for a site.
For websites with multiple redirect rules, there’s an opportunity to remove redirect chains and errors that make it more difficult for search engines to crawl.

Tip: Audit the redirect rules to make sure you’re properly using 301 or 302 redirects and remove any redirect chains you might have.

14. Focusing on meta keywords.
Meta keywords are not used by Google and can be a sign of spam from Bing.

Tip: There typically isn’t a reason to add meta keywords to your site. If you choose to utilize the meta keywords field, make sure you limit the amount of keywords to less than five.

15. Forgetting analytics or misusing metrics.
Data is an incredible tool to not only measure the impact of our marketing efforts, but also help inform those efforts. So, neglecting our analytics reports outright or not using the right metrics can have a costly impact.

Tip: Use the right metrics to inform your content and SEO strategy, and decrease the importance you put on vanity metrics. In addition, leverage Google Search Console or Bing Webmaster Tools to get a better understanding of what people are actually searching for.

16. Not allowing your site to be crawled
This one is pretty obvious. If you’re site is blocking search engines, your content will not be found in search results.

Tip: It’s simple. Don’t block your site from search engines in your robots.txt file or a “noindex” meta tag.

17. Not taking advantage of Local SEO.
All businesses have an opportunity to take advantage of local SEO and visibility. At the very least, your business should claim and optimize your Google My Business listing.

Tip: At the very least, focus on getting local citations by using tools like Moz Local or Whitespark.

18. Incorporating too many PDFs.
While PDFs are a great way to provide users with information that can be easily downloaded, it’s not ideal for search. First of all, most websites don’t track PDF views in Google Analytics, making it difficult to see if that content is having an impact on users. In addition, PDFs don’t allow you to create a custom experience for users easily.

Tip: Change PDFs to HTML format to be able to create a consistent experience and get the most search benefit from each content asset on your site.

19. Not optimizing for other search engines.
While Google is pretty much the King of Search, other search engines—including those within social media channels—deserve your attention, too.

Tip: Take steps to optimize your content for other search engines such as Bing and Yahoo. In addition, optimize the content you’re putting out on social media sites such as LinkedIn and YouTube.

20. Not focusing on getting quality backlinks.
While link building and link earning gets a bad rap sometimes, the number of quality backlinks a website has is still an important ranking factor for search engines and links deliver interested users to your content.

Tip: Conduct outreach to relevant influencers and websites to earn quality links back to your quality content.

21. Having too many blog categories or tags.
When you create a blog category or tag, you’re essentially creating a new page on your website that can be indexed by crawl bots. However, if those categories or tags don’t have a decent amount of content associated with them, you could be signaling thin content to search engines and it could potentially hurt your crawl budget.

Tip: Remove categories or tags that contain orphaned content, and retag or recategorize that content within a relevant and more robust category.

How to Build the Best Marketing Strategy You Can Using Only Free Tools

How to Build the Best Marketing Strategy You Can Using Only Free Tools – With what is available for free, there has never been a better time to bootstrap a startup.

As an entrepreneur, it is more important than ever for you to create an efficient marketing strategy. Because startups often have low budgets, finding the right marketing stack that covers the variety of different sectors within a marketing strategy is crucial. Today, it is possible for you to access these tools without spending a dime.

Below, I’ve put together a list of the top free digital marketing resources that will help you maximize your marketing efforts to achieve success.

Wincher allows you to track how your website is performing. From there, you can run these through SEMrush or Google Adwords Keyword Planner for a more thorough analysis of your chosen keywords. Both offer free digital marketing resources such as keyword search volumes, relating keywords, competitor analysis for chosen keywords, and projected costs for any future Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaigns. However, unlike SEMrush, the Keyword Planner allows you to search for a group of keywords at a time, and gives accurate suggestions for alternative keywords that may perform better for startups.

Google’s Analytical Tools

Tracking traffic and analyzing visitor behaviour on your site is crucial to understanding what attracts your target audience and what needs improving. Google Analytics gives you a monstrous amount of information on users that visit your website. With these tools you can track where your traffic is coming from, how long visitors are staying on your page, and even see who is on your page in real-time.

Internet entrepreneur and digital strategist, Abhilash Patel, says that, “Google Analytics is more than just a free tool, it is an essential part of your marketing strategy. If you aren’t using it to track your web traffic, you are missing out on some of the most important insights into your campaign.”

Other free analytics tools include Google Search Console and Google Trends, who offer slightly different features. All of these are based on analyzing different aspects of the traffic that reaches your website, where it’s coming from, and how deep it’s going into your page.

Content Marketing: Grammarly, Hemingway, and Co Schedule Headline Analyser

Human editors and spell checkers are still required, but are not enough from a marketing point of view. Grammarly automatically spell checks anything you write or publish in an internet browser. The application can be downloaded as an extension on your web browser and be used everywhere apart from Google Docs.

Social Media Marketing: Buffer, Hootsuite, and TweetDeck

Staying “live” on social media to keep your audience engaged is key. But, as this is a full time job in itself, Buffer allows you to batch the social media marketing process by allowing you to do all your composing in one go, and schedule it for a later date. Users can also create campaigns and analyze their success.

Hootsuite and TweetDeck also offer free social media management plans, with slightly different options to Buffer.

Email Marketing: GetResponce

Email marketing offers a more personalized interaction with your audience. This form of marketing gives you more control over moving your customers through the sales funnel naturally. The free GetResponce plan is one of the most prominent email marketing tools allowing you to try for one month free, scheduling them according to your past performance. You can then build tailored campaigns to help turn prospects to leads, and eventually, leads to sales.

CRM: Zoho

CRM tools make it easy to grow and track your sales funnel. The software automatically manages your sales pipeline, documents all points of contact with your prospects and current clients, logs sales, and allows you to see everything about each lead in one place. This tells your sales team at what point of the buyer’s journey your leads are at, which in turn enables them to focus their efforts appropriately.

From developing a website or blog, to managing your leads, and connecting your entire team, there are a number of free digital marketing resources that make every aspect of creating an efficient strategy easier. By making the most of these free tools, you will be able to catapult your startup to success.


3 local SEO tips that deliver business results

3 local SEO tips that deliver business results

Looking to optimize your business website for local search, but not sure where to start? Columnist Ryan Shelley provides some tips for beginners.

When it comes to marketing your local business online, search is a great place to start. Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with a number of small to mid-size local businesses, helping them grow their reach and their revenue using SEO.

One of the biggest hurdles we face when working with local clients is that they’ve been burned in the past by so-called “experts.” They’ve invested their hard-earned money only to see little, if any, return. This has led many local businesses to believe SEO is a scam or doesn’t work.

My goal is to share a few local SEO tips that actually work — and how you can start using them today to grow your business’s online reach.

Why local SEO?
Before we get into the tips, let me lay the groundwork for why you need to invest in local SEO. People use search engines to find local businesses they want to buy from. This is not just my own opinion; Google’s own research proves it. Here are a few stats the make the point.

Four in five consumers use search engines to find local information.
Fifty percent of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphone visited a store within a day, and 34 percent who searched on a computer or tablet did the same.
Local searches lead to more purchases than non-local searches. Eighteen percent of local searches on smartphones lead to a purchase within a day vs. 7 percent of non-local searches.
What does this mean for your business? Not only are people searching locally, they’re taking action when they do! Building a strategy that promotes your business locally will do more than drive website traffic — it will drive sales. So let’s get into the some tried-and-true tips to help you rank better and convert more local searchers.

1. Locally focused content
When we talk about local SEO, often much of the focus is on citations, local directories and maps. All of these components are important, of course; but to really give yourself an edge, you need to create quality localized content.

What do I mean by localized content? Here, I’m referring to content that is based on or around your local area and educates readers on the specific issues/problems/wants they have. Local businesses can benefit a ton by sharing the purpose and passion behind what they do.

Here’s what I recommend: Start a blog (if you don’t already have one), and create content specific to your niche and town. Share why your community is special and how your products or services align with the community’s values. You started your business for a reason; tell your audience and let them connect.

Be sure to use location modifiers in your content, too. For instance, if you are a bakery in Palm Bay, Florida, share how your bakery serves that town.

A great place to get inspiration for local content is your customers. Interview them, share stories about interactions you’ve had, the possibilities are endless. Localized content creates a personal connection and serves your end user. It also gives other local sites a reason to connect and link to you!

2. Maps, directories & citations
For local businesses, it’s important to ensure that your business is present (and optimized) on Google Maps. After all, if people can’t get directions to you, then you’re out of luck!

It still amazes me that so many businesses have yet to claim their map listings through Google My Business. This is a simple and easy step that gives you more exposure and allows you to manage how your business appears on Google Maps. Here are Google’s instructions on how to add or claim your listing.

Google My Business is just one of hundreds of listing sites for local companies. The goal is to claim and update your business listing in as many relevant, legitimate business directories and maps services as you can, and optimize those listings with correct business information. (It’s especially important to ensure that your name, address and phone number are consistent across the web.)

The big directory and map sites you definitely need to get on are Google, Yelp, Yahoo Business, Bing, MapQuest, Super Pages, Yellow Pages and Facebook. To see some of the other main directories, check this out.

Now, one thing to note. When you start claiming these, expect to get calls from bots or emails from the sites themselves telling you they can grow your business for a small fee. Ignore them. They will go away. Claiming your listing, ensuring your address and phone number are correct, then adding the correct categories, social profiles, website URL and a good description should be enough to get you going.

If you want to really be on top of things, I recommend looking into Moz Local or Yext. They’ll help you streamline the process and alert you if something needs to be fixed. They won’t catch everything, but they can provide a good starting point, and they can help you monitor and maintain any listings you have claimed.

3. Local link building
Link building is perhaps the most important factor when it comes to SEO. But not all links are equal. The directory links we talked about above are great, but they don’t carry the same weight as organic backlinks.

Just like any other backlink strategy, local backlinking begins with good research. City-run sites are a great place for local businesses to start. Many of these local sites have “local directories” on them. Most of the time, all you need to do is email the website admin and request to be added.

Another great place to find local backlinks is with local clubs and outreach organizations. Joining a local Rotary Club or business group will often land you a nice quality backlink. These links are important because they show how connected you are to the community. I’ve seen this work over and over again for clients.

The key is to only link to, or get links from, sites you want to be associated with. Make sure that the link makes sense contextually, and never pay to play. Link building is really, at its core, about building relationships. When it comes to local SEO and business, relationships are huge.

Final thoughts
These simple tips will help you rank better and drive more quality and localized leads to your business. Whether you’re a new local business looking to grow or you’ve been burned in the past, you can start to gain some traction by creating quality local content, claiming your listings and building relationships that lead to good links. So what are you waiting for? Go grow your business!