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Posted by Lindsay

There are a lot of great posts and resources about the rel canonical tag, but they can be hard to identify with a simple search. Even if you break through the clutter and find something truly useful, the current information can be hard to separate from the old. The web has been missing a current top-to-bottom resource on the rel canonical tag. In this post, I’ll do my best to cover it all and update you on the latest.

Learn why and how to use the rel canonical tag, when not to use it, the various opinions of experienced SEOs, and other bits and pieces that you need to know to use it correctly.

Let us start with the basics, then we’ll get into some more advanced ideas and issues.

What is the canonical tag?

First of all, we can’t seem to agree on what to call it. Rest assured that ‘rel canonical’, ‘rel=canonical’, ‘rel canonical tag’, ‘canonical url tag’, ‘link canonical tag’ and simply ‘canonical tag’ all refer to the same thing.

The canonical tag is a page level meta tag that is placed in the HTML header of a webpage. It tells the search engines which URL is the canonical  version of the page being displayed. It’s purpose is to keep duplicate content out of the search engine index while consolidating your page’s strength into one ‘canonical’ page.

How is the canonical tag used?

The canonical tag is a relatively quick solution to resolve duplicate content. If your website generates and displays the same (or very similar) content on multiple URLs, the canonical tag could be used to bucket them together and assign one master (canonical) version. Lets look at a list of common duplicate content URLs.

  • http://example.com/quality-wrenches.htm (the main page)
  • http://www.example.com/quality-wrenches.htm (oops! all pages also resolve with the www sub-domain)
  • http://example.com/quality-wrenches.htm?ref=crazy-blog-lady (this looks like a way to track referral sources)
  • http://example.com/quality-wrenches.htm?sort=price (how users view the products by lowest to highest price)
  • http://example.com/quality-wrenches.htm/print (the ad-free and graphic light print version)

A canonical tag that references the main page, http://example.com/quality-wrenches.htm, could be placed in the header of all of the above pages.

How is it implemented?

The canonical tag is part of the HTML header on a webpage. This is the same place where we put other fun SEO stuff like the title tag, meta description tag and the robots tag. The code, as in my example above, would look like this.

<link rel="canonical" href="http://example.com/quality-wrenches.htm"/>

 Oh look, here’s one in action!

CNN Rel Canonical Example
Source: CNN

Easy, right?! Companies with expensive development cycles love the canonical tag solution because it can be implemented relatively easily. It is often one straight-forward development project instead of dozens of more complicated ones.

This is all very exciting, I know, but there are some things you need to know.

There is usually a better solution

The canonical tag is not a replacement for a solid site architecture that doesn’t create duplicate content in the first place. There is almost always a superior solution to the canonical tag from a pure SEO best practice perspective.

Lets go through some of the URL examples I provided above, this time we’ll talk about how to fix them without the canonical tag.

Example 1: http://www.example.com/quality-wrenches.htm

This is a duplicate version because our example website resolves with both the www version and the non-www version. If the canonical tag was used to pull the www version out of the index (keeping the non-www version as the canonical one) both versions would still resolve in the browser. With both versions still resolving, both versions can still continue to generate links.

A canonical tag, as with a 301 redirect, does not pass all of the link value from one page to another. It passes most of it, but not all. We estimate that the link value loss with either of these solutions is 1-10%. In this way, a 301 redirect and a canonical tag are the same.

I’d recommend a 301 redirect instead of a canonical tag.

www 301 to non-www

Why, you ask? A 301 redirect takes the link value loss hit once. Once a 301 is in place, a user never lands on the duplicate URL version. They are redirected to the canonical version. If they decide to link to the page, they are going to provide that link to the canonical version. No link love lost. Compare that to the canonical tag solution which keeps both URLs resolving and perpetuates the link value loss.

Example 2: http://example.com/quality-wrenches.htm?ref=crazy-blog-lady

I get it. You want to know if it was worthwhile to send a sample wrench to the crazy blog lady for review. What happens when another blogger clicks through her link and then makes her own post about your products USING THE SAME URL? Your fancy tracking trick isn’t so effective anymore, is it?

You’d be much better off to record that referral and then do a 301 redirect to the canonical URL version. Other web surfers will link to and share the appropriate URL and you won’t be losing that 1-10% of your hard earned link love on an ongoing basis.

record the data, then 301

Example 3: http://example.com/quality-wrenches.htm?sort=price

URLs like these occur when a webpage allows the user to sort search results based on various elements, such as price. For the purpose of this example, I’m going to assume that this search result page is more like a high quality landing page with some search results embedded. This way I don’t have to get into the whole ‘search results in search results’ issue. :)

Rather than using the canonical tag here, I’d use the meta robots ‘noindex’ tag (which really means ‘noindex,follow’ because follow is implied as the default). This allows the search engines prioritized access to some of the most important pages linked from this one. By using the ‘noindex’ robots meta tag, the page will stay out of the search index but any link value will be passed through to the pages that are linked from this one.

Example 4: http://example.com/quality-wrenches.htm/print

If your website’s print pages include a link back to the original page, you can use the meta robots ‘noindex’ tag here too. The page stays out of the index and any link value will be passed back to the original, canonical, web version of the page.

See how that works? I challenge you to hand me any duplicate content scenario and I’ll be able to find you a solution that is better for your SEO program, at least from a pure SEO best practices standpoint, than the canonical tag.

I just know somebody is going to bring up the robots.txt file as a duplicate content solution. Before you do, remember that the robots.txt file is intended to block certain pages or directories from search engine indexing. It doesn’t consolidate link juice, basically creates a dead end. Before you even think about using the robots.txt file for anything but a place to point to your XML Sitemap, you should
check out my recent post on the topic, Serious Robots.txt Misuse & High Impact Solutions.

Still want to go with the canonical tag, because of reasons other than pure SEO? Perhaps your IT department isn’t sitting on their thumbs waiting for your next massive SEO project?

A word, or two, of caution

1. Search Engine Support is Spotty, at Best

The level of search engine support for the canonical tag varies greatly. Google supports it on both single domains and across multiple domains. Bing considers the canonical tag a ‘hint’ and I haven’t heard of any canonical tag implementations that have impacted the Bing index. Have you? Surely there has to be one…

2. There are Better Duplicate Content Fixes

Correcting the systems that generate duplicate content in the first place is the best solution. If that isn’t possible, look to other solutions like 301 redirects and the meta noindex tag instead.

3. Incorrect Implementation can be a Disaster

If you are going to implement the rel canonical tag, please, please make sure it is correct before you launch. Take a look at Dr. Pete’s recent post, Catastrophic Canonicalization, to read about his test. Not every website is as lucky as Dr. Pete in their recovery after a failed canonical tag implementation. We see examples of it all the time in Q&A.

Here are a few posts in favor of steering clear.

What Now?

The rel canonical tag has it’s place. It is a big time saver for development. The solution isn’t as solid as some of your other options but if it means being able to take action now to combat duplicate content instead of waiting until 2014, you should go for it. In other cases, your hosting solution may not allow you to implement 301 redirects at all and your hands are tied.

If you go the route of the rel canonical, please be careful with it! Test, test, test. If you have the choice and the resources to work through a more effective solution, perhaps you should go that route instead.

More Reading

If you haven’t had enough on the rel canonical tag for one day, check out these useful links. As always, watch the dates on these!

Happy Optimizing!

P.S. Keyphraseology, my SEO consulting business, is looking for a great cause to help out with a pro bono site audit and some consulting hours. If you’re a non-profit that could use some assistance with your search engine visibility, apply here.

image of the question mark fellow provided by Shutterstock

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SEOmoz Daily SEO Blog

Posted by Fryed7

What is it we SEOs do? Most of our answers probably boil down to this; we help webpages rank higher at search engines by improving each of the three cornerstones of SEO. The first aspect; technical problems – like indexable content, meta robots tags and URL structures – has been cracked by SEOmoz’s awesome web app. Suddenly we can get a complete dashboard of errors to go and sort – easy.

Then of course, then there’s the “trust” issue. Getting authoritative and relevant links; and with Open Site Explorer where advanced link analysis and data is now only a click away. And with the a huge range of link building tips, strategies, and tactics here, it’s fair to say that we’ve got the SEO ninja skills to go and create “trust-worthy” websites.

3 Cornerstones of SEO

So that leaves content…

Content is abstract. It’s irrational. It’s hard for CEOs, managers and influential decision-makers to get there heads around. It’s fantastic.

What’s the point in what you read?

We consume content to solve problems, be entertained and to satisfy curiosity. Based on where you are in a decision making process, you can divide ‘content’ into four different categories. This post is all about defining each category.

In an age of tweetdeck, rss, five sentence emails and the internet making us stupid, supposedly, who on earth is hanging around to read meaningful stuff? I mean, it’s a bit over-rated when you’ve got to be checking your inbox every five minutes, keeping current with Twitter, and all these feeds, and then some…

IMAGE via: Geek and Poke

The reason such technology exists is so we can be on the edge of stuff.

We can see and read the latest ideas, news and commentary. We can connect with people who share common interests and start a conversation. That kind of ‘content’ is a) meaningless to those who aren’t in the know and b) not particularly relevant a week or so down the line.

This is what is making the web at the moment – current conversation. Everyone can chip-in on what other people have to say. We all have our own circles of influence where we can share and spread ideas. We’re all wittering away with our own little thoughts – it’s not cohesive and it’s unlikely to be useful to an outsider trying to figure it all out – at least on it’s own. I call this Blurb.

Blurb Content is conversation.

It’s two way. Blurb is exclusive in that it’s meaningless to those who don’t understand the community, who don’t know the secret handshake and who aren’t clued up on the topic – but for those who are “in the know”, blurb is where discussion, debates and drama define opinions and leads to decision making. Within the club, blurb is awesome.

We’re lucky on blogs like this to have really great conversations, fleshing out theories and the results from experiments; it attracts intelligent two-way conversation. It’s why you might tweet about it more, because there’s so much value in the conversation. It’s why you’re more likely to take action, because you’ve heard it thrashed out by a handful of the industry brains. It’s why you’re more likely to come back for more conversation.

Equally, there’s pretty useless blurb. “Great post” “really enjoyed it” or “tldr” which has no real value to other visitors, and therefore no real value to search engines either. The real power of blurb and UGC is things like this (YOUmoz), Threadless and – dare I say it? – Wikipedia. People have been empowered to go and create their own awesome corner of the web.

The Rule of Blurb – Culture Valuable two-way Conversation.

Conversation is the fuel of the web; and with hundreds of millions of us online, that’s the potential for a big conversation. The problem we face, both as SEOs and marketers in general is initiating that conversation.
 

Who’s Gonna Break the Ice?

IMAGE: UrologyOnline


 

We can do this two ways:


1) Create content and ask for conversation (tweet this, leave a comment, let’s connect on facebook)

2) Create a system where you encourage other people to initiate conversation

Which way do you think is harder to replicate, will be more scaleable and have more influence across the web in the long term? You said two, right? The question is – how. Let’s go back to the SEOmoz model (because most of us have had a good look around this site and know it well, so it’s doubly relevant):

What got you to the point of chipping into the conversation on here? What qualified you to know what you were talking about, and pitch in with something valuable? I bet that this blog post hasn’t taught you everything you know about SEO (and if it did, you’d probably reside to saying: “great post. really interesting stuff” anyways).

The reason why is because at some point in your SEO education, you’ve stumbled across someone or something with “the answers”. Something that answers your questions fully. Where somebody has simply communicated the concepts behind SEO to you in one or more pieces of content.

  • A good book…
  • An awesome video…
  • A seminar…

The fundamental difference is it’s a one-way conversation.

Consider this scenario; your lost in an foreign city – you were supposed to be in an office meeting fifteen minutes ago. What do you do? You ask a local. They tell you h
ow to get there. You listen and do what they say. They’re the expert, so you listen.

Example two. You have a medical problem. You go to your doctor. Your doctor examines you and tells you your problem, and prescribes a cure. Sometimes you might be reluctant, but you trust their skills and expertise so you do exactly what they say.

You watch a talent show on TV and want to take up the guitar. You find a teacher and hang on their every word whilst trying to work out how to play chords. You may ask them to go over something again, but it’s still a one-way conversation.

This behaviour is typical of “newbies”. You’re mind is like a sponge, you’re being entirely receptive to someone else’s ideas and explanations and because of this you’ll be able to understand and talk about the problem and solution – i.e. you can engage in the conversation on the web. This kind of content focuses and concentrates attention on one specific problem.

This is called Definitive Content.

This brings up three things:

Definitive book1) Definitive content cultures conversation and decision-making

Definitive Content educates people so, with their expanded knowledge can engage in conversation and make informed decisions. This content is educational. People who are searching for information have already identified that they’re not comfortable making uninformed decisions. They’re looking for “the answer”

2) Definitive content must be remarkable + awesome + white-paper-worthy.

In a world where attention is a scarce resource, your definitive content needs to stand out from the crowd and be worth the time spent consuming it. It must be remarkable in order to have conversation about it. It must also be jaw-droppingly awesome so reactions and remarks are positive. And it must be white-paper-worthy in order to address the problem fully without “selling” (that comes later).

3) Blurb is frustrating for learners becuase it isn’t definitive

That’s why bloggers teaching stuff bitterly frustrates me. Back to basics, a ‘web log’ was originally meant for journalism, commentary and personal tales, and yet the platform has been stretched over other uses. So people now create niche blogs and post about something specific, perhaps offering tips. So far, harmless blurb…

Then they try writing something “definitive”…

This doesn’t work for three main reasons:

  • Bloggers are afraid of completing the article – they thrive from the conversations that evolve from a good blog post which doesn’t quite close all the doors.
  • Bloggers are afraid of forcing their readers to spend too much time reading for fear they’ll get bored. Bloggers are dependent on ‘little and often’ readership.
  • Bloggers are possibly even afraid of spending extra time on “definitive content” for fear that they won’t be able to produce enough posts so readers will lose interest.

And what’s sad, is that after the first few days after the post is published, the traffic will drop down to a mere fraction of what it was, since your readership has simply “been there, done that”. Congratulations; you’re now in a business where your ‘product’ becomes worthless practically overnight.

Blogging is about the person, not the problem.

Blogging has it’s place creating blurb content, not definitive content (when you confuse the two, you have a personal problem). In fact, blogging could be considered a response to definitive content; it’s the ultimate example of user-generated content, or rather… user-generated conversation. The early days of SEOmoz saw Rand posting his commentary to SEO news.

Now, that’s not a stab at blogging – more a criticism of how people blog. Some of the best blogs about blogging use definitive content in order to bring newbies up to speed so their regular blurb is both relevant and newbies can talk about it. Darren Rowse’s Problogger is one of the biggest and best blogs about blogging, and even so Darren suggests buying the ProBlogger book in order to get all the details on starting up all in one place. And that makes sense, doesn’t it?

Everyone’s blogging like sheep, churning out loads of mediocre content. The world doesn’t need more content. It needs more remarkable, definitive content. Suddenly, those creating Definitive Content become somebody. Blogging has it’s place in it’s roots; a platform for commentary on news, personal affairs and creating conversation – not being manipulated out of place creating definitive pieces.

(There was a really interesting article about the Death of the Boring Blog Post which essentially outlines this problem from a design perspective. Apparently the answer is ‘blogazines’ – but this doesn’t solve the fundamental problem of answering the problem people are typing in. Pretty is impressive but doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best.)

Definitive content is the stuff which you reference, re-read, remember and in some cases – recite! Ever been in a position where you’ve been telling someone about an awesome book, or video that you’ve gotten a bit obsessed with? And what’s interesting, is even if it isn’t necessarily “current” or trending on Twitter, you’ll still reference it ‘cause it’s awesome. Hence, Definitive Content is evergreen – which means in the long run it’s a high effort-reward strategy.

Definitive Content Strategy

Step 1) Find an in-demand niche within a niche.
Step 2) Go be king.

In emerging industries, rarely have people launched with awesome definitive content. Instead, as the industry matures and begins to fragment – then the niche players can identify and distinguish themselves. A great example is looking at the search marketing industry:

  1. Cindy Krum created Rank-Mobile.com ~2007; a website selling her mobile marketing consultancy services. She’s established herself by being the go to girl for all things to do with mobile. She’s enforced this by literally writing the book on Mobile Marketing, and then supplementing this with her blog commentary on industry news- her blurb.
  2. David Mihm is ‘local search guy’. His collaboration to create the Local Search Ranking Factors (currently in it’s third volume) with other top brains in the industry helps not only define the fundamentals of search but also positions him and his website as experts. On top of this, he blurbs about local search all around the SEO s
    pace.
  3. Perry Marshall wrote the book on Google Adwords in 2006 as businesses began to wake up to Adwords and the program really began to take off. He offer expensive consulting-based direct marketing products to his email list which he’s also built up by offering freebie definitive content for signing up (email courses, PDFs, mp3s etc.)
  4. SEOmoz! Countless Definitive Content pieces like the Beginners Guide to SEO or the Search Engine Ranking Factors articles which get referenced by hundreds of SEO blogs and professionals. This is then supplemented with an the SEOmoz and YOUmoz blogs with the weekly Definitive ‘Whiteboard Friday’ videos fueling the fire.
clockTiming is important with creating Definitive Content – I think there are two important factors:

  • Be the first.
  • Do it yesterday

All three of these people followed these two principles and suddenly you’ve got four excellent examples where ‘content is king’. No one’s anointed these people as experts – instead they’ve written their way to the top and they were first to do it.

Definitive content is all well and good, but if no one know’s about you and it, then it’s not going to be of much benefit. This is where my earlier question of creating content asking for conversation vs. creating a system that asks for conversation comes into play.

You’ve created your Definitive Content; now you’ve got to use your network, your social sphere of influence, your ‘leverage’ to promote it. Naturally, they use content – perhaps a review post, video, google ad – or even just a tweet – to introduce your Definitive Content. This is called Manifesto Content and this in itself is a behaviour search engines are also looking for.

Manifesto Content does the simple job of introducing the problem, introducing you, and introducing your way of answering that problem

It pre-sells your Definitive Content. Think about the weight of links in this context; the origin of your inbound links will contain content of some sort (at least to provide value to a visitor) – that content is Manifesto Content. It’s kinda like a CV for the Definitive Content, and the better the Manifesto Content, the better your first impression – and first impressions count.

IMAGE: CartoonStock.com

first impressions

Manifesto Content distribution is a better way to consider link building. Link building is a game about numbers; Manifesto Content distribution is about building unmeasurable things like trust and credibility – which shows up to search engines as “link getting”.

  • Do link directories offer great introductory content to you and your website with just a title, few lines of text and dozens of other pieces of similar content around them?
  • Do guest posts or interviews for relevant related blogs offer great introductory content to you and your website?
  • Does a Twitter ‘win a widget’ competition asking for retweets offer great introductory content?

As I said at the beginning, content is abstract, hence the philosophical-esque questions! However, this thinking is essential if you’re to come up with your own Manifesto Content   marketing strategy. Here’s a handful articles on getting your Manifesto Content shared:

The size, strength and distribution of your manifesto content will determine the overall strength of your web content, and of course good SEO practices of ensuring it gets indexed, it targets specific problem keywords and is “technically tidy” to ensure your Manifesto Content gets targeted traffic and click-throughs.

Great. Now Show Me the Money.

Now, you’ve been introduced as a credible source of information, you’ve educated them and cultured conversation-making abilities so they can engage in blurb. They’re now in an informed discussion about their problem, and likely, your solution if you target your blurb correctly – and all the while, you’ve been earning trust and credibility as someone who know’s what they’re talking about…

Why wouldn’t they consider your solution you’re selling?

This removes the need to “hard sell”. You don’t need to be a copywriting jedi because you’ve already built a level of equity that can’t be copied, even by the best copywriters – they’ve already know you and trust you. To hard sell would simply be a sign of insecurity and stupidity. That said, you need to be able to write sales copy with confidence so you don’t fudge the important bit! Luckily, the brains at Copyblogger will teach you how to ‘sell without selling’ – here’s their best definitive article on writing sales letters (with part 2 and part 3)

Roundup

That’s rather a lot to take in; so a quick roundup. The best way to illustrate how content strategy works is by comparing it to a jet engine.

A what…?!

Bare with me on this. A jet engine, at it’s most basic, has four parts. A front fan, a compressor, an ignition stage and the back turbine with a nozel – or very simply; suck, squeeze, bang, blow (excuse the innuendoes) – and these exactly map onto our four-part content funnel.

It’s essential that they all work together in order to produce results, like this:

tribal seo jet engine

  • Manifesto content is the Suck. It draws people into your content funnel.
  • Definitive content is the Squeeze. It focuses attention and educates prospects.
  • Blurb is the Bang. It’s where conversation and the magic happens.
  • Copy is the Blow. It’s where decisions become actions and the whole thing moves forwards.

What I like particularly about this analogy, is that the actual physics matches the real life SEO analogy:

  • Most of the power of the engine comes from the front fa
    n – the size, strength and distribution of your Manifesto Content will correlate to the overall output of your web content strategy
  • Without the compression stage, air doesn’t have nearly as much pressure for when it’s ignited – without Definitive Content, your content funnel doesn’t have nearly as much focus and attention to culture conversation
  • The burning reaction releases energy – conversation leads to decisions being made, opinions being formed and CHANGE.
  • In a jet engine, “exploding” gas is only going to go backwards – highly targeted, focused prospects with a problem, who are educated about their options and are engaging in conversation about their problem – are likely to make decisions (and buy).
  • The flow of fuel keeps the engine going round – the flow of conversation keeps the content funnel functioning and growing.

What this also helps explain is why guerilla-content SEO is so much better than ‘traditional’ advertising which is more like a rocket. Create a reaction of advertising bucks and “targeted” prospects and point it in some direction is complicated (it’s rocket science) and not sustainable without continued effort.

This compares to the Manifesto > Definitive > Blurb > Copy content strategy which is “evergreen” once you’ve created it. A ‘definitive’ piece of content will always be there, as will the articles linking to it. What it means is your web content strategy (including search) is dependent on how you culture conversation. Let me introduce the concept of Tribes –  Tribes are created when you connect people around a cause

Seth’s talk on TED explains…

(If you haven’t come across Seth Godin before, you’re in for a treat Everyone who I’ve worked with who I’ve asked to watch this video has viewed it all the way through said it was awesome. Net result? We’ve both gotten more done.

So take just 17 minutes out and watch Seth’s talk to understand why Tribes will shape our future. If you really don’t have time now, keep this tab open and watch it over lunch or something.)

Finished the video?

This is what I see SEO as – getting in the problem solving business… and not just solving your problems. “I’m not ranking number 1 – I’ll go and build some links”. Put that in context on Tribal SEO. “I’m not ranking number 1 – I’ll go and promote manifesto content”. Creating a tribe will drive your content. Tribes need to connect via blogs, online communities, social networks – in any case you need to be at the helm and leading.

We have the responsibility to create awesomeness.

Morgan Freeman

You’ve heard the ‘Voice of Google’, Matt Cutts, bangs on and on about creating content for visitors vs. creating content for search engines. He’s absolutely right – if you’re trying to make crummy content and webpages rank, just like trying to sell crummy products and services, then shame on you!

I’m gonna end with a couple of questions and an apology. I’ve broken one of the cardinal unwritten rules of blogging (keep it short, stupid!) and you’ve probably spent waaaay too much time reading and watching all this. Whoops…

But then again, does Defintive Content need a cap on the length. Shouldn’t it be as long as it needs to be? Which begs the question, how would you classify this post based on the scale I’ve talked about?

  • Is it Manifesto Content? Does it introduce you to new problems, people and answers?
  • Is it Definitive Content? Sure, I introduce a few ideas and articulate them in a way you’ve perhaps not seen before – but I haven’t “written the book” on Tribal SEO so to speak. Heck, I’m just a kid – why would you share and bookmark this? So far this is just a hypothesis – I need to enlist help in defining and proving these principles, which leads me to…
  • Blurb. Is this merely a topic for discussion, something that’ll be todays topic of conversation and yet will be forgotten by this time tomorrow?
  • Or is it copy? Me, shamelessly trying to promote myself or the Mozzers in a bid for private gain!

Secondly, how do you see this Manifesto > Definitive > Blurb > Copy content cycle fit in with this Whiteboard Friday concept of ‘The Path to Conversion’ and your business?

And finally, do you think that ‘Tribes’ make an effective long-term SEO strategy in your business, or any other business that springs to mind?

Let’s chat.

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SEOmoz Daily SEO Blog

Posted by scott.mclay

A lot has changed since I got into link building a few years ago – link exchange is dead, ad banners are no longer all about gaining referral traffic, and buying links is more dangerous than ever before. Because of the changes mentioned and a whole load of others the majority of link builders don’t like to give away their secrets to sourcing links, even though it’s all pretty much the same at most agencies.

Most of the advice I will be giving throughout this post is most likely available from a large number of sources including SEOmoz but I felt it would be great to bring everything together under one simple guide.

Creating your link building strategy
Before building any links to a website it is important to ask yourself a few questions like:

  • What kind of links do you need?
  • Do you need nofollow and branded links?
  • Do you have a wide enough range of anchor text and landing pages?

Sadly every strategy is different and people can’t answer these questions for you but hopefully you can use the following information to help answer the questions.

Link Placement
In recent times Google has started placing value in link placement, in-content links passing the most value and footer links passing the least, although a good link profile should make good use of every link type as going out and sourcing only in-content links would be a very big sign of an unnatural link profile.

Nofollow & Dofollow
A lot of people go out and source dofollow links, but in doing this they do more harm to their link profile. Every website should have a good balance of nofollow links – there have been cases where sites with a very low number of nofollow links have not ranked as highly as others who keep a good balance.

Branded Links
I believe Domain Authority and Domain Trust make up a fairly large chunk of the ranking algorithm. Even though there are loads of factors in measuring these attributes, one good sign of both is having a good number of brand based anchor text pointing to your website. Some people make the mistake of only building branded terms to the homepage, when in fact there is more value in building links using these terms to landing pages throughout your website.

Anchor Text & Landing Page Distribution
When working on a link building campaign, it is important to work on a wide range of landing pages, using a variety of anchor text for each. Working on a small keyword / landing page set can upset the balance of a website and can have a very negative impact long term.

Content Relevancy
Since the Google May Day update this year, relevancy seems to play a larger role in the ranking factors. Even though the days of keyword stuffing are over, there is still a need to reference your keywords within your content, header tags, URI structure and title tags. Content may not be king but it is one of the keys to a successful link building campaign.

Sourcing Links
Once you have your link building strategy done and dusted the next step is to find suitable websites to source links from. There are many techniques that can be used for this job, some of which rely on tools and others that use manual search queries.

Link Building Tools
If you plan to use link building tools then chances are you will be looking at links going to competitors’ websites. This is one of the best ways to start a link building campaign and can lead to positive results, some of the best tools for this job are:

Manual Search Queries
It is said that it’s not the links your competitors have that will give you the edge but the links the competitors don’t have. To find these you will need to find link opportunities using manual search queries – the best way to do this is by using advanced search operators.

Advanced search operators are not as complicated as they sound but if used correctly they can provide a very nice set of search results. An introduction to advanced search operators can be found here and a short introduction can also be found on my personal blog under the post finding the links that matter.

One search string I would recommend when looking for suitable blogs for most niches is:

[search term] -site:Wikipedia.org -site:blogspot.com -site:telegraph.co.uk -site:wordpress.com -site:about.com -site:nationalgeographic.com -site:guardian.co.uk -"directory" -"add link" -"advertising"

Depending on your niche other domains can also be stripped from the results.

Directory Submissions
Directory submission is the most boring and repetitive job, but sadly it is an important task in any link building campaign. These links make up the numbers when it comes to branded links. Submit to the right directories and they will improve your overall domain authority.

Blog and Forum Commenting
Blog and forum commenting for links is seen as spam due to many people taking advantage of unprotected blogs and forums. If blog and forum commenting is part of your outlined strategy then some effort should be put into them.

The best way to act on this kind of link building is by using Google’s blog search to find the most recent articles published within your niche then make a genuine comment based on the content of the article, using the Name field for branded anchor text. This type of link building is best for increasing the number of nofollow links to your website.

Guest Blogging Communities
Guest blogging is a great place to find blogs within your niche, but instead of offering to do a guest post why not offer to write a few pages (I say pages as they are linked to via the top navigation) of content for them? After all these people want content and being able to source multiple pages not only saves time but can also lead to Google seeing the links as trustworthy, just remember to link out to authority sites within your niche as well.

Widgets & Theme Designs
There has been a lot of talk about creating widgets to increase the number of natural user generated links, which does work, but
the widget you create does have to be unique and worth having so there isn’t a gap for this in every niche.

Another way to increase the number of user generated links is by creating a WordPress theme, a lot of people have said there is low value in this but if the theme is good enough it can generate 40k+ links (from previous experience). If you wish to go down this route the best way to market it is via your monthly newsletters, just put in a small section about it and wait for results, but remember to also submit it to theme hubs around the web for additional exposure.

Link to Us Pages
Link to us pages are not only great for increasing the number of user generated links but great for masking other link building activities. I would suggest having a link to us page displaying all the branded terms used within your campaign and have different types of links for each (Banner Ad, Contextual Ad, Text Link).

Competitions
If you client is running competitions contact bloggers in your niche and ask politely if they would blog about it. Although getting targeted anchor text through this tactic is harder it can help build the number of generic keywords linking to your domain.

Contacting Webmasters
Making contact with webmasters is one of the most difficult jobs – just about every email sent out needs to be personalised and in some cases contact is needed via social media before an email has been sent.

When sending an email to a webmaster, remember they are a real person just like you, so ask yourself a few simple questions before drafting:

  • If you were the webmaster what would persuade you to link out?
  • Would you rather a relationship was formed before receiving a link request?
  • Should the email be from an SEO’s point of view or would it be better keeping it simple and to the point? 

Tracking Progress
Tracking the progress of your link building campaign is something that needs to be done. This can be done in a variety of ways but the best solutions I have found is using Raven Tools for overall tracking of performance and using an Excel document to keep a list of links built containing metrics such as Page Rank, mozRank and Domain Authority.

Having a list of metrics for each link enables you to display a variety of information relating to your link building campaign which helps when generating reports for your clients.

Conclusion
Although link building is a tough task in itself if you plan your strategy properly, build the correct links and track the progress of your strategy the job will become easier over time and you will begin to see what works and what doesn’t for your client.

Just remember every link building campaign is different, even if you deal with clients within the same niche as each website has a different infrastructure and domain history.

If you enjoyed this post then why not visit my Blog or follow me on Twitter.

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SEOmoz Daily SEO Blog

Posted by timsoulo

Howdy Seomoz fans! It is an overused practice to start from some "shocking" stats and dissertate on how FaceBook is powerful and important for business. So, I will just consider you all know what is FaceBook and how cool it is.

What you’re about to read is a step-by-step SMM strategy for promoting your business on FaceBook. I’ve gathered all the best practices and tips that I have used myself, together with some advice that I haven’t tried but am confident will work well. Ok. That’s enough for the intro, let’s go!

Where To Start?

1. Brand Ambassador.

First of all, don’t use your personal account to promote your business, unless you want your customers to see your childhood pictures and lulz from the recent party. You can create another (purely business oriented) instance of yourself or hire someone to become your brand ambassador. This will be the person who represents your business online and handles all communications, so the info on the profile should be brief and clear and all the pictures neat and professional. Remember that users will associate your business with this guy.

Power Tip: Create a separate e-mail account in Gmail and import all the e-mail addresses of your clients there. Now when you use this account to create a new FaceBook profile – the system will automatically find all of your clients in your address book and suggest to add them as your friends on FaceBook! What a great start!

2. Creating a FaceBook page.

Promotion on FaceBook is all about having a page for your business. To create one, go to http://www.facebook.com/pages/ and click the "+ Create a Page" button.

Power Tip: "Page Name" is one of the the strongest ranking factors on FaceBook search. Don’t miss the opportunity to add some keywords you wish to rank for as you are not allowed to change your page name later.

Configuring Your FaceBook Page

1. Profile picture & avatar.

Profile picture is one of the few things in the design of your page that you can actually customize, so be sure to make the most of it. Here are two great articles that will help you: "5 Creative Ways to Hack Your Profile Photo"; "Making the Most of Your FaceBook Profile Picture". 

2. Page info.

The next important thing to do is fill your FaceBook page with information about your business. Most of it is stored under the "Info" tab, which you cannot remove or hide. Lots of people visit it, so work hard to make your info as brief and engaging as you can. "Think SEO" and use your keywords, as each of the tabs is indexable by the search engines.

Power Tip: if you type a URL starting from http:// in the info box under your profile picture, FaceBook will turn it into a clickable link. So you can easily refer your visitors to your website, blog or twitter account.

3. Applications.

  • Static FBML (FaceBook Markup Language) – allows you to create 10 additional tabs, which can contain HTML/CSS, Flash, FBML, iframes and FBJS
  • NetworkedBlogs – allows you to post your RSS and Atom feeds directly to your wall; 
  • Twitter Tab – posts your twitter updates to a separate tab; 
  • Extended Info – adds an additional box which supports html/fbml, images, video and music to the left sidebar of your page; 
  • Fan Appz & Promotions – helps you handle all kinds of contests, sweepstakes & give aways.

Tip: you’ll probably end up with lots of tabs by adding various applications. However you can easily drag them around if you think that some of them are more important.

4. Vanity URL.

To be able to convert your ugly "326727833086?ref=sgm&ajaxpipe=1&__a=7" URL into something fancy-looking, like "http://facebook.com/mybusinesspage" you need to have at least 25 fans. Once you do – go to http://www.facebook.com/username/ and click the "Set a username for your Pages" link at the bottom.

5. Custom landing page.

You need an attractive landing page, which will convert your visitors into fans. Here is when the FBML application comes into play. Using HTML, CSS, FBJS and even flash you can create awesome landing pages that people will not only "like", but link to, and suggest to friends.

Tip: If you’ve got no development skills you can find some nice facebook FBML page templates that have just started to appear around the template stores.

What To Expect?

Before we start reviewing various FaceBook promotion techniques, I’d like to clear things up a little bit. Essentially when someone "Likes" your FaceBook page, they will be notified every time you update its status, it’s almost the same as following someone on Twitter. To have your message spread on Twitter you need to have your followers retweet your post so that their followers could see it and retweet in turn. On FaceBook, the principle is a bit more sophisticated: when someone likes or comments your status update, this fact is being reflected in his profile. And when your status update gets a decent amount of "likes" and comments it is promoted to the Top News section of a user’s News Feed, so that more people could see it.

 Now let’s refer to a famous "90:9:1 Social Behaviors Rule" to understand what it takes for your message to become visible.

Let’s consider that "Heavy Contributors" are those ready to comment on
your update, "Intermittent" ones will probably "like" it, and "Lurkers" will read it or just scroll through. Say your page has 100 fans. Knowing the fact that only 12%-20% of all your "Fans" will see your status update in their Live Feed, we can see that:

I hope this delivers a clear understanding that FaceBook promotion takes an enormous amount of effort to become successful.

Promoting Your FaceBook Page Internally.

1. Using your Brand Ambassador.

  • Add to friends any people that may be your potential customers or somehow relate to your business. Recently, FaceBook has added Skype integration, which can suggest you some FaceBook friends from the list of your Skype contacts. Once you have a decent amount of friends use the "Suggest to friends" and "Share" buttons to promote your FaceBook page to them;
  • Use FaceBook Search to discover relevant pages, groups, events, people and even messages. With Search you can easily track any mentions of your brand and provide feedback – people really love that;
  • Once you join pages, groups and events, you are able to participate in the conversation, which is a great way of direct promotion. Moreover you can see the list of the group members and easily add them to friends;
  • Communicate. Once someone comments on your new status, a photo, or anything else – answer back. Moreover you need to make people love your brand and become active contributors and then brand ambassadors. 1/4 of search results on each big brand is UGC (User Generated Content).

Power Tip: When composing a message put the @ symbol and start typing the name of your business page to mention it, just like you mention someone on Twitter. This can be used as a signature to your updates.

2. Keep the page fresh and interesting.

People join your page hoping to receive some interesting stuff from you, so do not disappoint them. FaceBookers usually prefer pictures, videos and links to plain text updates. Here is a comprehensive list of things that you should keep in mind to avoid losing your fans: don’t post too many updates; don’t automate your content; don’t be a duplicate of your website and don’t be boring. Your page wall is your social proof and a signal for people to get involved.

3. Cheat a bit.

Ask fellow staff & your team members to post "likes" and comments on each of your status updates to boost its rankings. Only status updates with 5 or more "likes" and comments show up in the Top News section. This will also make your wall look "alive", which will inspire your fans to be more active on your page and participate in the conversation.

4. Fill in your page with media content. 

  • Upload pictures of your products/services, your office and your team at work to make your company easier to relate to;
  • Encourage your fans to post  pictures of how they use your product;
  • Upload pictures from each event you host and tag your fans there;
  • Post videos of your team members talks;
  • Show your products/services in action;
  • Use video to respond to your fans (Bill Clinton frequently does video responses on his page).

5. Treat your fans.

You need to offer your fans something special and reward them. For instance 1-800-FLOWER FaceBook page shows the discount code only when you click the "Like" button.

You can make some special offers, which are available to your FaceBook fans only and are not announced outside of FaceBook. It’s dead easy to reward your loyal fans by promoting them to the admins of your page, which will most likely turn them into enthusiastic brand ambassadors. Anyway, if there is some prominent fan – he should be publicly rewarded.

6. Send an update to Fans.

Direct messaging is a very powerful tool, but do not misuse it. Think twice before sending a message to all of your fans – it should be really valuable if you don’t want everyone to ignore it or get irritated.

Tip: FaceBook allows you to send targeted updates. Think of a way you could use that feature for your business.

7. Ask your fans for help.

Now and then you can post a status update asking your fans to help build the community by suggesting your page to their friends. Just refer them to "Suggest to Friends" and "Share" links on your page and measure their response.

8. Build partnerships with other pages.

Notice that each page on FaceBook has an "Add to my Page’s Favorites" button. When you do this, the logo of this page appears in a special "Favorite Pages" box on your own page. People see it and they might click the link to find out more about this page.

Your aim here is to build partnerships within your niche and be "favourited" as much as possible. Add to favorites pages that you like or that your business is related to and inform their owners about it with a wall post or a private message. Most likely you will be "favorited" back.

9. Use the applications.

There are a lot of crazy apps that you can use to promote yourself. You can even develop one of your own if your budget allows that. But how do the viral applications work in common?

You need something that people would willingly launch. This might be a game or a quiz or any other kind of dynamic content that most people love. Once a person has his score, bagde, vitual gift or any other result – the application publishes it to his wall so that all his friends could see it. The application should have a clear call to action, so that new people could easily get engaged. If the application has some kind of a High Score – people will play it again and again till they outrank their friends. You can (should) use the apps for sweepstakes and giveaways – people love them a lot.

10. Spy!

Yes! Always keep an eye on your competitors, especially on those outranking you. Check what they do and if you consider it to be a successful strategy – do the same. When they fail – try to avoid their mistakes. Anyway, you should always be informed on what others are doing to promote themselves.

11. Ads?

Indeed the most common way to promote your page. But before you use it, check out these stats:

 

Promoting Your FaceBook Page Externally.

 1. FaceBook for webites.

The FaceBook team has come a long way toward making your website more personalized and social. There is a list of great social plugins that can be easily embedded into your website and drive lots of new visitors: "Like Button" plugin, which is almost everywhere now, "Like Box", which let’s you become a fan of the website without leaving the page, &q
uot;Live Stream" which is often used while broadcasting some event. Try them on your website and see what happens next.

2. "Like" and "Share" buttons.

These two are so powerful that they require a separate paragraph. Once you own an online store – those buttons are of exceptional value. Whenever you find something that appeals to you in an online store – you no longer need to copy the URL and send it to your friends to ask for their opinion. Just press the "Like" button. They will see that and comment on it. This applies to photos, videos, games, blog posts, reviews – literally anything that can be found on the web.

3. Put a link everywhere.

Once you have a website, you put its address everywhere – e-mail signatures, forum signatures, twitter info, author bio section, LinkedIn profile, links section of your blog. Do exactly the same with your FaceBook page. Highlight your FaceBook presence at offline events, print it on your business card, use every opportunity you have.

Power Tip: Take some twitter auto follow script that follows a person whenever he has specific keywords in his tweet. Some percent of the people you’ve followed will follow you back. Write an engaging request to join your FaceBook page and set it as an automatic direct message to people, who have just followed you. Being launched, this system will drive some new fans to your FaceBook page on a regular basis.

4. Using video.

Almost every video sharing service allows you to annotate your videos with links. This is a great way to drive some new fans onto your FaceBook page. You can make viral videos, funny videos, tutorials, explanations, presentations etc. and include a link to your FaceBook page with a request to join. Works perfectly!

5. Other services.

There are a lot of websites where you can get some targeted audience. For instance, upon writing this guide I’ve gone though dozens of presentations at SlideShare and Scribd. There I’ve seen many referrals to join FaceBook pages specialized on marketing, and I did join some of them truthfully as I enjoyed their presentations. Examine carefully all the websites where you post information or showcase your services and think of the way you could refer people to your FaceBook page.

Power Tip: In case you have some kind of a digital product – create a torrent with some demos, name it with trending keywords and upload to all torrent trackers you can find. In the info or in the comments section add a link to your FaceBook page. Then go to your analytics and watch your numbers grow.

Wheew… That’s the end of my guide. Sure there’s a lot more to add, but I tried to keep my tactics brief, to leave some space for your imagination. I’m sure each of you can invent lots of fantastic ways to use FaceBook for SMM. I am open for any questions, shoot!

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SEOmoz Daily SEO Blog

Posted by Melissa at Distilled

So you want to get links, but don’t know how to start creating linkable content? Well, don’t worry; I’m going to take you through my process for creating awesome linkbait.

1. Identify your target niche.

Start by looking at your competitors’ links.

They are probably more edible than Vienna sausages.

They are probably more edible than these links.

This is a basic step for SEO, so really it’s something you should have on file already. Look back over your competitors’ links. Have they done anything that was particularly link-worthy? Look at deeper pages. What sort of things are people linking to in these pages? This should start to give you some idea of what sort of niches are interested in what you do.

2. Identify your angle.

When you look at your competitors’ links, you’ll see which bloggers and websites linked to them.

What did they link to and in what context? What else are they linking to? And what’s going to make them link to your stuff? That is, what can you add?

Well, have you ever asked? Obviously, you won’t get an answer from all of your target bloggers and websites, but the ones you get a positive answer from will already be interested in your content before you begin creating it. And people with a vested interest in your content will only be a good thing.

3. Create your content.

There’s not much I can say here. Just create something that answers the above questions. If infographics do well, do that. Photo essays? Well, get your camera out – or get a freelancer to do it if you’re not confident in your own photography skills.

If they want creepy monkeys, they may not be worth targeting.

If they want creepy monkeys, well, maybe they’re not worth targeting…

 

4. Promote your content.

Start with the bloggers you’ve already talked to. As I said above, they helped out with your content, so they have a vested interest. Be sure to point out which bit of their suggestion was used in the content. That way, they can brag about how awesome they are. And let’s face it: the best way to get people to link to you is to massage their egos.

After you’ve got a few links from the people you’ve talked to, then you can go to other bloggers and websites, saying that buzz is building for this content. When you can show that people are interested in your content, it creates a desire within other people to join in. No one wants to miss the boat, after all.

In my own experience, I find less explicit requests are better, that is, saying "I think you and your readers would like this", rather than simply asking for a link, is more effective. I find that it’s better to suggest you’re doing someone a favor instead of asking them to do one for you.

So I’ve done all that. What next?

Let’s say you’re targeting ‘tents’. You’ve already done some linkbait based on what has been successful for your competitors. But there are loads of people who use tents besides hardcore camping bloggers, so how would you go about targeting them?

Well, camping has undergone a bit of a resurgence in loads of markets thanks to the recession, so maybe you can target women who aren’t super into camping. What to these women link to online? Well, loads of things, but there is a bit community of knitters online, and coincidentally, one of your employees loves knitting (isn’t that handy?) Why not create patterns for knitted tent sculptures or other camping-related stuff? Whatever it is, just make sure it’s interesting enough to get attention and useful enough to be worth sharing.

But don’t forget: at this point, you don’t know that knitters are going to link to content like that.

 

But if they like knitted cake, they probably will like knitted flashlights.

You don’t want to waste your time creating and promoting content that won’t work. Check that the knitting bloggers link to outside sources. Make sure knitting websites include content from outside sources.

 

Make sure the niche you are targeting will not only like what you do, but will LINK to what you do.

At the end of the day, that’s what this is all about.

Image credits

Vienna sausages – Changlc on Wikimedia Commons

Creepy monkey – kevsunblush on Flickr

Knitted cake – freeform by prudence on Flickr

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SEOmoz Daily SEO Blog

Posted by Danny Dover

 This weeks Whiteboard Friday is a little bit different than normal but a lot more awesome. I took the lead this week and am sharing 5 tips that beginners can use to get links from bloggers. This educational video is full to the brim with helpful tips, odd tangents and one very poor impression of a news anchor.

 


 

The Beginner’s Guide to Getting Links from Bloggers

Try all of the following tactics and focus on building upon whichever one works best for your situation.

Check BoxMake Lists of Niche Linkers (and post them) – Most bloggers are by nature marketers. Take of advantage of this by writing material that helps them market themselves. For example, if you wanted to get a link from a blog in the car space, you might make a list of the top 3 Honda Civic blogs. Remember to go niche and avoid stating the obvious (I.E. Techcrunch is the number one tech blog). "The obvious" doesn’t attract links.

Check BoxDo Interviews – This tactic has two main benefits. First, by conducting interviews you get interesting content to write about. What could be more interesting than what the industry experts are talking about? (Clever interviewers will realize the answer is the stuff the experts don’t want to talk about). Secondly, by getting your name/brand in the head of an expert, you have more chances of getting links from them in the future.

Check BoxBe Virtually Social – Being virtually social is easy and can provide higher short term ROI than talking to people face to face. (e.g. It is easier to get a link from someone who is in the process of writing something online than it is to get a link from someone who is not at a computer.) I use the following three avenues to do this:

  • Facebook – Since Facebook replaced "Fan" with "Like", it is now easier than ever to promote your work via Facebook without being too "salesy". This won’t get you links per say (as the entire process exists within Facebook’s ecosystem) but it can help drive traffic.
  • Twitter – Like Facebook, Twitter won’t necessarily help you build followed links but it does help you spread your brand/product/idea around the net. This makes it a good long term strategy.
  • Blogs – One great way to get links is to find supporting evidence for a given blog post and letting it’s author know about it. If they use it, they are likely to cite you as the source.

funny pictures of cats with captions

In addition to promoting my work on Twitter, I use the platform to spread Internet awesomeness. (Thus the image above)

Check BoxMake In-Person Connections – This is the best long term way to get links. When bloggers are trying to come up with supporting evidence for a point they are trying to make, they are much more likely to use a example that is already in their head than they are to go out and search for it. The best way to get into someones head (other than a chisel) is to meet them and spend time with them. (Wait a chisel? Did anyone else read that?)

Check BoxSend Linkers Demos of Things (Websites, New Products, Games, Etc…) That You Want Links To and Include the Linkers Stuff In It. – This tactic is newer and has been proving to work very well. If you want coverage from a specific blogger, try including their blog in the product demo and sending it to them. This way they can promote themselves while promoting your work.


Danny Dover Twitter

If you have any other advice that you think is worth sharing, feel free to post it in the comments. This post is very much a work in progress. As always, feel free to e-mail me if you have any suggestions on how I can make my posts more useful. All of my contact information is available on my SEOmoz profile under Danny. Thanks!

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SEOmoz Daily SEO Blog
Post image for The Webmaster, Programmer, Developer and Blogger’s Guide to Getting Things Done on an iPad

When I got my iPad, some of the things I wanted to know were how much could I actually get done on an iPad and in what situations could it replace my laptop. Here are the programs and apps that I use to help me get things done.

Here’s a screen shot of the programs I use

Google Apps for Domains Email and Calendar
I use the built-in mail and calendar functions, but each has its own problems. The mail function doesn’t handle multiple threaded messages well and doesn’t archive, so I only use that when I need to. Currently the iPad only syncs with one calendar (the iPhone syncs with more than one), so if I need to see something not on my default calendar, I use it here. It webpages bookmarks saved to the home screen. Here are instructions about how to do that if you’re interested.

Analytics app

This gives me the ability to see my analytics without needing to be in front of a laptop. I did a much more extensive review of the app when it first came out. I was part of the beta program. You can read more about it.

WordPress App

The Worpress app allows you to write new posts and to edit existing drafts and posts right from your iPad. You can connect it to multiple blogs as long as you have xmlrpc enabled. In fact this post was written using the app while I was waiting in a car dealership waiting room. The app isn’t perfect: the features for inserting links, placing images, and editing either don’t work or are so hard to do it’s not worth trying. If you have special plugins like Scribe SEO those aren’t accessible either. Don’t try and use safari and log into your admin panel: all the Ajax that WordPress uses makes that impossible. The best solution is to use the iPad to write drafts, note where links go, upload, and hire an editor–or add the link yourself later when you are in front of a computer.

Goodreader


Goodreader lets you connect to multiple places, download files, and upload them to a server ( see How to FTP Files From Email Using an iPad, for more details on how to do this). Its a lot less user friendly than other programs, but it has functionality they don’t and is the only one that lets you upload and download a wide variety of file types.

Readle docs


Lets you tie in with services like box.net and dropbox to access different files. You can also pull in documents from your mail account. You can view and read them and move them to other services, but you can’t FTP to a server using this program or edit them.

Markup


Need to log into a sever and edit a file? This is the program to help you do it. Editing files on a live server is a dangerous thing, but sometimes it needs to be done. My suggestion: don’t plan on doing a lot of big edits using this program. It’s best suited for small minor changes.

FTP on the Go


Need to FTP or upload images from your iPad? This is the program ( see how to FTP files from your iPad). If you need to move files from one server to another, this program lets you do it. Download the files to a temporary holding bin, then reupload them somewhere else. It’s a shame you can’t use this program to move email attachments. You still need good reader from above to get that done.

SEO Review


This is the iPhone companion to SEO Automatic. See the full SEO Automatic Plugin Review.

Linkjuice
Want a quick snapshot of a Website’s link profile? Linkjuice will do it on the spot. It also links to SEOMoz(aft link), majestic SEO link tools(link), and SEM rush (aff link) to give you more in depth information (note some of those services are paid services).

Odesk


If you use odesk to outsource some of your work, this tool lets you tie into the system, get status updates, or see screen shots from your remote team’s previous work sessions. Pretty handy when you have multiple people working for you and need to correct any mistakes before they get too far.

Office2 HD


Office 2 HD lets you create and edit documents and spreadsheets. It lets you work with services like box.net, drop box and Google documents (even the Google apps for domains version). Additionally Office2 HD is the only iPad app that let’s you edit Google documents. I’m sure others will come soon but as of right now this is it. It’s a huge productivity boost to be able to edit shared Google documents while you are poolside … err… slaving away at an undisclosed location :-)

Photo pad


Need to edit pictures or screenshots? Then photo pad is the app for you. You can crop, resize, rotate, and do some basic color correction all while on the iPad. You can then upload using one of the FTP programs from above or email them to yourself and upload when you edit/format later.

RDM+

Sometimes you’ll need to remote log into your home computer or file server. RDM+ lets you do it. You won’t be able to work like you are sitting in front of the machine but you can log in and do that quick thing you need or get that file you forgot to share … As long as you left that machine on before you walked out the door …

Airsharing


If you want to share files from your iPad over a wifi connection, this program lets you do it. It’s not super secure so don’t use it for really confidential documents. Emailing files is usually easier, but sometimes you’ll need to move files to a computer that has wifi but no email (like a presentation laptop at a conference). At times like that, it’s good to have this option.

Basecamp
Like most Internet centric companies with remote workers I use Basecamp for project management. There are some Basecamp apps but IMHO they don’t work as well as the Basecamp website. I saved it as a bookmark to my start screen and then moved it to my home bar .

Pageonce
Pageonce ties all my bank accounts, credit cards, stock market, Tripit travel plans, cell phone, insurance, cable, and utility bills together in one spot. It’s sort of a virtual overview of the financial and travel details of my life all on one page, which is extremely helpful. Again this is a bookmark saved to the start screen. As of this writing, they only have an iPhone app not an iPad app.

That’s a list of all of the programs I use on my iPad to help me get my work done.

Thanks to Michelle Robbins who helped with this list of programs
Creative Commons License photo credit: Rego – twitter.com/w3bdesign

This post originally came from Michael Gray who is an SEO Consultant. Be sure not to miss the Thesis WordPress Theme review.

The Webmaster, Programmer, Developer and Blogger’s Guide to Getting Things Done on an iPad


tla starter kit

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Michael Gray – Graywolf’s SEO Blog

Posted by Danny Dover

 Today, I am proud to announce the new and improved Beginner’s Guide to SEO. This free tutorial covers everything you need to know to get started improving your search engine rankings in the major search engines. Put simply, this is the resource I would have kicked a fool in order to get my hands on when I was first diving into the wild world of SEO.

Roger mozBot
Start Learning SEO Today!

 

The New Beginner’s Guide to SEO


 

Free


The Beginner’s Guide to SEO won’t cost you a dime. It is free to read, download and otherwise devour. (Be careful about paper cuts! E-paper cuts are the worst kind of paper cuts.)

 

Comprehensive


This guide is the result of hundreds of hours of research and includes chapters on all of the following topics:

  1. How Search Engines Operate
  2. How People Interact With Search Engines
  3. Why Search Engine Marketing is Necessary
  4. The Basics of Search Engine Friendly Design & Development
  5. Keyword Research
  6. How Usability, Experience, & Content Affect Rankings
  7. Growing Popularity and Links
  8. Search Engine’s Tools for Webmasters Intro
  9. Myths & Misconceptions About Search Engines
  10. Measuring and Tracking Success

 

Awesome


Moz scientists have measured spikes in the awesomeness level of the Beginners Guide to SEO that have been equivalent to:

  • Getting lick attacked by seven puppies
  • The feeling of putting on new socks
  • Being in a hot tub when it is snowing
  • Finding a Popsicle in the freezer
  • The chocolate at the bottom of Drumstick ice cream cones
  • An unicorn flying over a pack of exploding ninjas with lazer dinosaurs with beer for eyes
  • Finding 10 dollars in your pocket
  • Bowties on scientists
  • David Bowie

I look forward to hearing your feedback about the new guide in the comments. Your input in these comments will serve as the official feedback form for this guide. I will use your recommendations to help improve and update the guide over time.

Start Learning SEO Today!

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SEOmoz Daily SEO Blog

Posted by randfish

Conversion rate optmization – the practice of improving the quantity of visitors who take a desired action on your site – has been a hot topic this year. There’s both an art and a science to the process of turning browsers into buyers and drive-by readers into email subscribers, Facebook fans and Twitter followers. In my opinion, no marketer should be engaging in this work without having read Robert Cialdini’s seminal work – Influence: Science & Practice.  I agree wholeheartedly with Guy Kawasaki’s assessment on the subject:

Guy Kawasaki Recommends Persuasion

The problem is, not every marketer will read the book, and that leaves a lot of head-shaped holes in a lot of walls. Thus, this post is here to help do the next best thing – explain, through illustrations and descriptions, the broad concepts of persuasion. The book covers six major "weapons of influence." For each, I’m going to illustrate the concept then give tips (and some examples) on how you can apply them to marketing and conversion on the web.

#1 – Reciprocation

Hold open a door and you receive a "thank you" and a smile. Send a birthday present to a friend and you’re almost certain to get one in return. Pay for a co-worker’s coffee and she’ll pick up the next one. As Cialdini painstakinly details in the book, there is no culture on Earth without this unspoken, yet powerful rule of reciprocation.

Reciprocation in Action

The power of reciprocation relies on several conventions. The request must be "in-kind," which is to say, commensurate with the initial offering. The power is increased if the give-and-take happens in a short time frame. Reciprocity’s influence increases with closer relationships, too – it’s much harder to resist/refuse to reciprocate a favor to a friend who’s down the street than to an anonymous site on the web.

Leveraging reciprocity through web marketing:

  • Give away free data and analysis through tools, but ask for permission to send an email marketing message in exchange
  • Tweet or blog about a prominent person or business in a positive fashion, then email them asking if they’d help spread the message
  • Email a site owner about a problem on their site and offer a solution/fix; they’ll often follow up by asking how they can return the favor
  • Provide exemplary answers to questions posted in online forums with a signature or final note asking that if they found your answer valuable, to consider visiting your site and sharing it with friends
  • Share great information on your blog and ask your readers to subscribe to your feed (see what I did there? :-) Pretty meta, eh?)

#2 – Commitment & Consistency

As humans, we have an insatiable desire for consistency in our behavior. It’s why we abhor hypocrisy and embrace leaders, politicians and beliefs that "stick to their guns," sometimes to the point of foolishness. This consistency can be observed through the effectiveness of political tactics like push polling, wherein a paid "surveyer" will call numbers and ask voters whether they’d cast a ballot for "a man who refused to say the pledge of allegiance," thus getting a response and commitment verbally that will transfer into votes come election day after the follow-on ad campaign alludes to precisely that inaction from an opposition candidate.

A case study from the book illustrates this principle quite elegantly. Researchers on a New York City beach staged thefts to see if onlookers would risk personal harm to stop the "criminal." A research accomplice would listen to music on a blanket near their "test subjects" and after several minutes, stand up and stroll away, leaving a personal radio on the blanket. A "thief" would then approach, grab the radio, and attempt to hurry away with it. On average, only 4 in 20 bystanders would intervene.

However, when the experiment was changed slightly, the results altered dramatically. In this second scenario, before strolling away, the research accomplice would ask the test subject to "watch my things." Now, under the influence of consistency and commitment, 19 of 20 subjects became "virtual vigilantes, running after and stopping the thief, demanding an explanation, often restraining the thief physically or snatching the radio away."

Commitment & Consistency in Action

Commitment and consistency can’t happen without that initial action of a reponse or promise. Cialdini notes that this power increases tremendously if the agreement is written, rather than merely verbal. E.g. last week, you told us you wanted XYZ… Guess what? Here it is!

Leveraging commitment and consistency through web marketing:

  • Asking users to answer online questions about their habits/preferences, then marketing to them based on the answers they’ve given
  • Getting visitors to a site to sign an online pledge to take a certain action and then email/message them at a specified day/time (example – the "Quit Facebook Day" movement)
  • Asking your users/members/fans to commit to taking an action if a certain event occurs (like a charity pledge for a marathon runner). For example, you could say that your startup is up for an award and if you win it, you’d like them to commit to emailing a friend about their service. If/when you do win, send members who commited an email requesting the action.
  • Using a landing page / funnel process that asks a question where users must choose to define themself in a set number of ways, then crafting sales messaging that speaks to how your product/service is the right choice for people like them.

#3 – Social Proof

If you’re walking along a street and see a crowd gathered around watching something, it’s nearly impossible to resist the urge to go over and investigate yourself. If you’re at a party and everyone is drinking, the pressure to have a drink yourself rises dramatically. We all hate the horrifyingly over-the-top laugh tracks on TV sitcoms, but TV producers know that the social signal of laughter makes us laugh along, too.

This same phenomenon applies when we judge exceptionally important life decisions – who should we date or marry, where should we go to school, where should we work. The influence of our peers is a powerful influencer and one that can’t be overlooked in the sphere of marketing.

Social Proof in Action

Social proof becomes more powerful when the numbers increase and when the action-takers become more relevant and, especially more like the target. In other words, if you’re selling games to rebelling teenagers, don’t show testimonials from middle-aged parents who loved it, show other teens.

Leveraging social proof in web marketing:

  • Services like MyBlogLog that display the picture and username of recent visitors to the site
  • Facebook-leveraging visit tracking software that shows recent friends of yours who’ve engaged with the site you’re visiting (even more relevant and social proofy)
  • Testimonials on landing pages and in sales copy. Those that feature photos, have titles and full names and relate to the visitor work best
  • Network-effect services like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn touting their fast-growing and far-reaching memberships and usage

#4 – Liking

We’ve heard the phrase a thousand times – "People do business with people they know, like and trust." It turns out, there’s quite a bit of science to support this. Research confirms that things like physical attractiveness (we like good-looking people), familiarity (we trust people we know), similarity (we like people like us) and compliments (we like people who say nice things about us) all factor into to the principle of "liking."

Liking in Action

It’s hard to argue with the power "liking" has on us as consumers. When Will Critchlow (whom I like a lot, despite constantly losing presentation-off battles to him) recommends that I read a book or try a service, it’s practically a guarantee I’ll do it (note to Will: please don’t abuse this power). Similarly, movie executives realize that asking Tom Hanks to go on the late-night circuit is a great way to drive viewership of a film, while sending Tom Cruise on a similar mission may have the opposite result.

Leveraging liking in web marketing:

  • Start a blog, twitter account or email list and share your thoughts in a personable, personal and friendly way.
  • Employ the power of celebrity, in microcosms. If Seth Godin wrote a blog post saying that SEOmoz was a valuable resource, that would likely drive many people who like Seth to take commensurate actions.
  • Join in conversations on the web (on forums, in blog comments, on Twitter, via other social services) in ways that engender you positively to those community members. Follow up personally with community leaders and organizers to help spread the liking effect in a more scalable way.

#5 – Authority

A story from the book illustrates this principle so well, I couldn’t resist sharing:

Professors of pharmacy Michael Cohen and Neil Davis attribute much of the problem to the mindless deference given to the "boss" of a patient’s case: the attending physician. According to Cohen, "in case after case, patients, nurses, pharmacists, and other physicians do not question the prescription." Take, for example, the strange case of the "rectal earache" reported by Cohen and Davis. A physician ordered ear drops to be administered to the right ear of a patient suffering pain and infection there. Instead of writing out completely the location "Right ear" on the prescription, the doctor abbreviated it so that the instructions read "place in R ear." Upon receiving the prescription, the duty nurse promptly put the required number of ear drops into the patient’s anus.

Obviously, rectal treatment of an earache made no sense, but neither the patient nor the nurse questioned it. The important lesson of this story is that in many situations in which a legitimate authority has spoken, what would otherwise make sense is irrelevant. In these instances, we don’t consider the situation as a whole but attend and respond to only one aspect of it.

The power of authority can come from a variety of sources – clothes (think of the movie "Catch Me if You Can" in which Leonardo DiCaprio becomes a doctor or pilot simply through attire), titles and prefix/suffixes (Dr., Senator, President, C-level executive), and context (the famous Milgram study in which ordinary people commit horrifying acts simply because they are told to do so).

Authority in Action

Authority only influences when the target believes in the power and authenticity of that authority. The stronger the authority association, the more powerful the impact, but not all authorities work on all people.  

Leveraging authority in web marketing:

  • Has a well respected individual or organization endorsed your product/company? Make that a prominent feature when you request an action from your visitors.
  • In a product or software service that provides information users rely upon, the product itself can influence actions by recommending them and showing the data to back it up.
  • Experts in your field can make for great testimonials and endorsements. They need not be recognizable or even speak to social proof elements if they carry credentials and weight that will make your target audience respond.

#6 – Scarcity

Ever notice that some shops seem to be perpetually running "going out of business" sales? It’s no mistake – the power of potential loss is a remarkable influencer. The Rolling Stones’ "last ever" tour, the final can of Crystal Pepsi, the limited edition collectors keepsake (only 70 ever released!). All are examples of scarcity principles at work.

As Cialdini notes:

The feeling of being in competition for scarce resources has powerful motivating properties. The ardor of an indifferent lover surges with the appearance of often for reasons of strategy, therefore, that romantic partners reveal (or invent) the attentions of a new admirer. Salespeople are taught to play the same game with indecisive customers. For example, a realtor who is trying to sell a house to a "fencesitting" prospect sometimes will call the prospect with news of another potential buyer who has seen the house, liked it, and is scheduled to return the following day to talk about terms. When wholly fabricated, the new bidder is commonly described as an outsider with plenty of money: "an out-of-state investor buying for tax purposes" and "a physician and his wife moving into town" are favorites. The tactic, called in some circles "goosing ‘em off the fence," can work devastatingly well. The thought of losing out to a rival frequently turns a buyer from hesitant to zealous.

 Scarcity in Action

Scarcity becomes more powerful when it’s clear that the resource is finite (houses are great for this reason) and when immediacy is added to the scarcity (as in the case of another buyer on the horizon). Auction sites like eBay combine the powers of these persuasion tactics with remarkable results.

Leveraging scarcity in web marketing:

  • Offer a special version of your product for a limited time in limited quantities
  • Feature messages like Expedia’s – "only 2 tickets left at this price" – or Zappos’ – "only 3 pairs left in this size" – next to results/products to help encourage timely conversion
  • Create an incentive for the first X visitors who take an action; you’ll likely get many more
  • Show the number of people viewing an item right on the product page (e.g. "6 others currently on this page") to help create excitement and a feeling of immediacy (particularly for one-of-a-kind or limited quantity products)

Individually, these are powerful instruments of persuasion. Together, they’re a marketing force to be reckoned with. Let’s try an experiment and see if I can effectively employ the six principles as they related to SEOmoz (please note, I’m not normally this self-promotional, and this is meant somewhat tongue-in-cheek):

  1. This blog post is the result of many hours of studying, writing and illustrating. If it’s helped your business in some way, we hope you’ll say thanks by sharing it through tweets, links or an email to someone you think would appreciate the reference.
  2. Are you the kind of SEO who bases their decisions on data or gut feeling? Close your eyes for a minute and think. If you said "data," I’d urge you to check out the new Keyword Difficulty tool. It will help make decisions about where and how to compete from a much more data driven perspective.
  3. 2,426 search marketers on Facebook have become fans of SEOmoz. Won’t you join them?
  4. Danny Dover is impossible not to like. Make Danny happy by following him on Twitter.
  5. The Search & Social Awards named SEOmoz the best SEO Blog, top SEO community and favorite SEO tool suite this year.
  6. This summer we’re launching a new software suite and SEOmoz PRO prices are going up to 0, 0 and ,000 per month (respectively). There’s less than 60 days to get PRO at the current rates.

The next time you make a landing page or try to drive actions on the web, think about how you might leverage these principles of influence to improve your conversion rate.

As always, looking forward to your thoughts in the comments – I’d particularly love to see examples of the principles in action at on the web. It’s something I wanted to do when authoring this post, but simply ran out of time.

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