ACP : Syndication

Content syndication is where you allow another site to publish your content. There are some huge sites in the game of content syndication including Business2CommunitySteamFeedSocial Media TodayForbesBusiness InsiderInc and a lot more actively publish syndicated content.

Content syndication can be a great way to get some solid spikes in traffic. You will need to pick your best content and pitch sites on republishing your posts. But, there are drawbacks…

You would think that Google would rank the original blog post before any syndicated versions. In a lot of cases – that doesn’t happen. The thinking behind this is that Google ranks the site where people prefer to read the post. So, there is potential that you could lose out on some search engine traffic.

If your blog is new then you may want to hold off using syndication until your blog is more established.

For a guide to content syndication check out these posts:

Syndicating your Content by Quicksprout
Syndicating Content Whiteboard Friday by Moz
The Ultimate Blueprint for Guest Blogging and Syndication by Buffer
500 Places to Syndicate your Content by BuzzBlogger

Self Syndication

There are a few publishing platforms popping up that allow you to “Self Syndicate” your posts onto a different platform. The biggest platforms at the moment are Medium and LinkedIn and Examiner. These platforms are more like blogging except your blog posts can gain additional distribution through the respective network of the site.

Gregory Ciotti recently wrote an awesome post on a LinkedIn publishing experiment he ran, if you are thinking about LinkedIn publishing, make sure to read it.

ACP : Submit to Social Bookmarking Sites & Directories

Social Bookmarking sites can generate a huge spike of traffic, landing the front page of a large Subreddit can yield thousands of visitors, for example. But lots of them can generate a few hundred visitors here or there. If you get a few upvotes on a range of the sites below you can easily generate over 1000 visitors to your posts, great for initial shares to your page.

Top Tier General

Digg
Stumbleupon
Reddit*

*Reddit is a bit finicky so read the below guides before you go crazy posting all your links on there.

Reddit Marketing: The Complete Guide to Using Reddit
Reddit Hates Marketing. How to Market on it Anyway

There are a number of other general social bookmarking sites, some of them get some decent traffic, all of them are good for backlink juice. To automate your social bookmarking submissions, use OnlyWire.

Onlywire will submit to 30+ social bookmarking sites at once. You can even set it up to pull your RSS feed from the blog so you don’t have to post at all.

Plus you can pay someone on Fiverr to set it all up for just $5, an effective, cheap and automated way to do social bookmarking submissions.

Click Here for a Huge List of Social Bookmarking Sites

Top Tier Niche Sites

These are community sites like Reddit and should be treated the same. Participate in the community; don’t just share your own links.

Hacker News (Startups and Technology)
Inbound.org (Marketing)
Slashdot (Startups and Technology)
Growth Hacker (Marketing)
BizSugar (Business)
Blog Engage (Blogging and Business)
Triberr (Blogging)
Blokube (Blogging)
Kingged (Internet Marketing)
ManageWP (WordPress)
Dzone (Programming & Website Development)
Sharebloc (Business)
Filmwatch (Films)
N4G (Gaming)
Techspy (Technology)
11×2.com (Sport)
DesignFloat.com (Graphic Design)
TheWebBlend.com (Web Design, Programming, WordPress, & Photography)

Blog Directories and Misc submission sites

Newsvine
Technorati
Bloghub
Regator
Icerocket
Blog Lovin

ACP : Outreach

Outreach means manually emailing, tweeting and even calling people to tell them about your content. Yes, yes, I know this sounds like hard work and truthfully it is, but sometimes you have to do things that don’t scale to get the ball rolling.

Outreach is arguably the most important thing for a new blogger. Check out how Alex Turnbull got over 1,000 subscribers to his blog from one post thanks to blogger outreach!

To start with outreach, you first need to create a list of bloggers you want to target. There are a few considerations here. First, they should be relevant to your niche. Don’t contact bloggers who blog in a completely different area to you. Secondly, as always, you content must be awesome!

Another tip here is to look for “up and comer” bloggers as they may be easier to contact and get less requests than really popular bloggers.

Tools to Find Influencers

Technorati
Search on Twitter
Facebook Graph Search for Fanpages
Google Search for Blogs
AllTop
Scoop.it
We Follow
Topsy
Twello

How to Contact Them

Email – Preferred Method
Contact Page
Whois
Twitter
Facebook Page
Google+

Tools to Manage Outreach

Buzz Stream – Specifically designed for blog outreach.
Trello is a great free organizational tool to help you track activities.
CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool will work if you already use one.

Email Templates for Outreach

Outreach Letters for Link Building [Real Examples]
Blogger Outreach Email Template
How To Write A Blogger Outreach Email
How To Create a Killer Outreach Email With 4 Quick Steps and 3 Simple Tips
10 Hand Curated Blogger Outreach Examples to Inspire Your Next Campaign

More info on Outreach:

Blogger outreach is a big topic. If you want more information on blogger outreach check out the below guides:
Advanced Guide to Content Promotion
How to Develop a Solid Blog Outreach Strategy
My Favorite Way to Get Links and Social Shares – Whiteboard Friday
5 Tips for Developing Better Blogger Outreach

ACP : Email your Subscribers

Another pretty straight forward one. You should be collecting leads on your website and you should be promoting your content to those leads.

I use Mailchimp set up on an auto RSS feed to automatically email new blog posts out. Most email service providers such Aweber and Getresponse have this option too.

Here is my email template I use for Mailchimp. You can use it and modify it if you are a Mailchimp user.

Click Here to Download My Template (you may need to right-click and “Save As”)

While we’re on the topic of email, subscribe to the Process Street blog to receive new posts from us via email.

ACP : Share on Social Media

This one is fairly obvious; share across your social media channels. You can signficantly speed up this process using a social media management tool.

Sites to share on:

Facebook Profile – Status Update
Facebook Page – Post
Twitter – 3-5 post over a week, use #hashtags
Google+ – Personal and Company profile
LinkedIn – Status Update
Pinterest – Pin all images (all epic content has images)
Instagram – Post 1-2 images from the post

Ask your team members to share

Ask all your team members to share across their social media networks.

Ask friends and family to share

Ask close friends and family to share on social media.

Learn Social Media Basics

Not sure how, or what this social media thing is? Check out the below video for a great introduction to the basics of Social Media.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=Yrk5Ya25AGQ

 

ACP : Prepare your Post

This checklist will work for sharing all forms of content whether it is a blog post, eBook, video or white paper. However, if your content is some form OTHER than a blog post, you should also be writing a post about it on your blog. So, while not all content has to be blog related, you should always be blogging, no matter what your content type.

If you don’t have a blog, check out this video: How to Create a WordPress Blog in Under 5 Minutes

The next step is to prepare a summary of your content.

Make Sure your Content is Epic

There is a huge caveat to this checklist is that your content must be EPIC. If you create crap content, most of these techniques will yield little to no results and will be a huge waste of time. If you don’t know what epic content is, take a look at these guides:

Now you have your epic content, its time to prepare it for promotion. I use Evernote to do this, but you can easily use Notepad, Word etc..

Headlines

I usually prepare a number of headlines (5-10). I keep the best for myself then use the rest for posting on social media, content syndication and content re-purposing (i.e naming a slide show or .pdf etc).

Brief Description

Write a few of these, each one to three sentences long. These are needed when submitting to many sites.

Post Excerpt

Grab the first paragraph from your post or the intro.

URLs

Take the URL of your post and your blog, you can also add tracking IDs with Google Analytics to track different traffic sources.

Shortened URL

Bitly.com is the most popular

Once you’ve prepared your post, its time to start promoting! Follow the below checklist to generate a huge wave of traffic to every piece of content you create.

*Don’t forget you can get this as an interactive checklist inside Process Street, allowing you to track the promotion of multiple pieces of content, customize and hand off to your team. Sign up to Process Street for free to see it in action.

ACP : Introduction

Content marketing is not as easy as it sounds. It takes a significant amount of elbow grease to create valuable content and even more to promote it! The promotion part is something that many companies tend to miss when looking at a content marketing strategy. A general rule of thumb is you should spend 30% of your time creating content and 70% promoting it. That’s why I created this checklist you can use to promote the content you work so hard to create.

I’m writing this checklist for two purposes. Firstly, because I am interested in content promotion for my own company Process Street. Content marketing is something I’ve been experimenting with and seeing some great results with so far; writing this post is forcing me to research and learn more about content distribution. Secondly, because I want to make a template for this in Process Street so I can begin hand it off to my team. I am working towards a streamlined content marketing machine.

Eventually I want to have a ghostwriter, a blogger, a designer and a team of promoters. I will still be creating the core content, but I won’t have to polish or distribute any of it. I’m confident this checklist will help my business, and I hope it’s useful for yours too.

Note, if you’re launching a website, check out our Website Launch Checklist. There is a little overlap but it’s targeted to a new website launch vs a piece of content on an existing site.

SEO Friendly WordPress in 12 Steps

WordPress is fantastic, free, and open source. It can be installed, up and running in a matter of minutes. However, out of the box, WordPress is not as SEO friendly as you’d think.
This guide will show you the necessary steps to optimize a WordPress website, focusing on modifications that apply to SEO.

Note: These steps and screenshots were creating using WordPress version 3.5

Here are some quick links to jump to each step:

Step 1: Privacy Settings During Development

One of the last configuration settings in the infamous 5 minute install is the Privacy setting. It is preferred to uncheck this box during development. This will block your site from being indexed by the major search engines.

The last thing you want is Google to show your Sample page in the search results. When you are ready to officially launch, come back and check this box.

Search engine visibility WordPress setting

If you accidentally installed WordPress with this setting checked, don’t worry. You can adjust this setting at anytime under Settings >> Reading.

DON’T FORGET TO REMOVE THIS SETTING ON GOLIVE DAY!

Step 2: Permalink Settings – Search Engine Friendly URLs

You can configure search engine friendly URLs (SEF URLs) by selecting the Custom Structure option and adding the following parameter in the text box.

Custom permalinks

Step 3: Rename the Uncategorized Category

I cannot tell you how many blogs I read an notice that the blog is carelessly categorized under Uncategorized. Let’s fix that.

Visit your Categories setting page accessible from the Posts menu. Hover over the Category and select Quick Edit. Rename this to some sort of catch-all name that will suit any blog topic if you, your clients, or guest bloggers accidentally forget to select a category for their post. By renaming the Uncategorized category, you don’t have to adjust your default category under the Writing panel.

rename-uncategorized-wordpress

Step 4: Customized Page Titles & Meta Tags With the All in One SEO Pack Plugin

By default, WordPress will use your page or post title as the HTML page title tag value and doesn’t bother to include the meta description tag or meta keywords tag. There are a few other plugins that can help you customize these tags, like the Yoast plugin, however, I like the simplicity of the All in One SEO Pack plugin.

All in One SEO plugin

After you get the All in One SEO Pack plugin installed, head to the admin page. They conveniently remind you if you haven’t configured your settings yet.

all-in-one-seo-plugin-admin-wordpress

The admin page will allow you to configure global settings for the plugin as well as define the page title, meta description, and meta keywords tag settings for your homepage specifically.

  • Enable the plugin.
  • Enter your irresistable page title. Create an enticing page title using your targeted key phrases and keep it under 50 characters. Google truncates anything past 50 characters.
  • Enter an encouraging meta description. This is your chance to get searchers to click your search result over the others in the SERP. Optimal over 50 characters and under 146 characters.
  • Enter your targeted key phrases. Google publicly stated that they ignore this tag, but Yahoo still uses it as well as other search engines.

Custom page title and meta tags

Delete “ | %blog_title%” from the following fields. If you leave the default setting, your page and post titles will end up too long and cause an error. They should look like this:

post-page-title-format-wordpress

This is a cool feature added in a recent plugin update. You can enter your Google+ profile URL and the plugin will add the rel=author tag on all of your pages and posts for Google Authorship. This is how you get your profile picture to show up in the SERPs. (Note: You must add your site to the Contributor To section of your Google+ profile in order to complete the two-way authentication.)

gplus-profile-sitewide-wordpress

The first two checkboxes below will allow you to have control over the meta keywords used for your blog posts (not pages). You will use the Tags field when creating a post to define your keywords.

Allow the search engines to index your Category pages, but not your Archives and Tag Archive pages. If you do, you end up with a bunch of low quality pages in the index.

Finally, I like to write my own meta descriptions, so I uncheck that last box, however, if you are passing this blog off to your client, or have guest bloggers posting on the site, you might want to leave the Autogenerate Description checkbox checked as they most likely will not write them on a regular basis.

no-index-categories-tags-wordpress

Now that you have the main settings customized, let me show you what the panel looks like when you are working on a Page. (Note: Ignore the character suggestions below and take a look at my pro tips referenced earlier. Not all search engines will acknowledge that many characters.)

custom-meta-tags-wordpress

Step 5: Reduce 404 Errors With the Category Pagination Fix Plugin

There is a bug with WordPress where you will end up with 404 errors when trying to access any Category page beyond the first page. If you include the Category Pagination Fix plugin as part of your install process, you can avoid Google & Bing webmaster tools from ever reporting the 404 errors. There is no additional configuration, simply activate and move on…

Step 6: Remove Unnecessary Links to Images With the Remove Link URL Plugin

remove-link-url-wordpress

By default, WordPress automatically links images you upload and insert to themselves. This is unnecessary and results in a dead end if a user clicks on an image. It will open the image leaving the user with no navigation and they are forced to click the browser’s back button.

Linking your images to themselves might be necessary if you have some sort of Lightbox pop-up feature. Let’s kill the link for now. Install and activate the Remove Link URL plugin. No additional configuration required.

Step 7: Autogenerated HTML & XML Sitemaps

google-xml-sitemaps-plugin-wordpress

You can have your web pages and blog posts included in the search index much faster if you provide the crawlers or bots access to HTML and XML Sitemaps. I recommend the Simple Sitemap plugin to generate the HTML Sitemap and the Google XML Sitemaps plugin to generate the XML Sitemap.

Just use the basic configurations on these two plugins, nothing fancy required unless you are an advanced XML Sitemap expert. After you have these two Sitemap plugins installed and you have officially launched your site, you will want to submit your XML Sitemap to Google & Bing. I have created and posted an extensive step-by-step XML Sitemap submission guide on my blog that will help you with that process.

Step 8: Google Analytics for WordPress

google-analytics-for-wordpress-plugin

There are a ton of ways to add Google Analytics website tracking code to your website; I personally like the Google Analytics for WordPress plugin because it has the option ignore Administrators.

Configuring this option allows Administrators to work on the site without skewing your reports. (Note: If you are developing your site on a testing server, you will want to wait until you launch the site before activating this plugin.)

Either use the button or manually enter your UA code to authenticate with Google

google-analytics-for-wordpress

Click the checkbox to show advanced settings

show-advanced-settings

Use the drop down list to select Administrators

ignore-administrators-wordpress

Step 9: Responsive Theme

When you are selecting a premium theme from ThemeForest.net, ElegantThemes.com, TemplateMonster.com, or any of the other hundreds of theme directories, consider selecting a theme with a “responsive” design. A responsive theme will automatically adjust the layout, menu items, and images to render nicely on desktops, laptops, tablets, and mobile devices.

Google suggests a responsive design to encourage a better online experience (and they’ll give you a boost in the SERPs if you do so). Google has also been testing out an addition to the SERPs. When users are searching on mobile devices, Google will show a mobile icon indicating to the searcher that those sites are mobile friendly. Make sure your website is as accessible as possible.

responsive-wordpress-theme

Step 10: Review & Optimize Your Theme Code

After you have selected your WordPress theme, you will want to analyze the theme’s code for technical optimization errors. I like to use the SEO Doctor Firefox add-on to get a quick look at my pages.

With this Firefox tool, you can quickly get a review website optimization opportunities. We cannot expect awesome web designers who create amazing themes to be SEO experts. A common flaw in WordPress themes are logos wrapped in an H1 tag. This causes multiple H1 tags to be present on every page.

Here is an example of what the SEO Doctor add-on will show you:

seo-doctor-wordpress

Step 11: Optimizing Your .htaccess file

The .htaccess file is the first set of code the server reads before it loads any web pages. Here you can define a set of rules. This file is very powerful and can also crash your site in a split second if you have any errors in the file, so be careful, backup and test.

Canonicalization: Force the www or non-www Version of Your URL

Make sure that your website is not able to load both the www and the non-www version of your URL. Google will count each web page, even though they are technically the same, as two different pages and give your site a duplicate content penalty. You can force one version over the other by adding a few lines of code to your .htaccess file. The redirect must be a 301 permanent redirect. A simple meta tag or javascript redirect will not work.

I personally like to use the non-www version because it’s shorter. The example code below can be added to your .htaccess file and will force the non-www version. If you want the www version, here is a link to example code.

htaccess-301-non-www-wordpress

Increase the Speed of Your Site by Caching Your Website Files

mod-pagespeed-wordpress

mod_pagespeed speeds up your site and reduces page load time. This open-source Apache HTTP server module automatically applies web performance best practices to pages, and associated assets (CSS, JavaScript, images) without requiring that you modify your existing content or workflow.

Check with your hosting provider to ensure mod_pagespeed is supported and if it is, activate it. Then add the following code to your .htaccess file.

mod-pagespeed-htaccess-wordpress

Force Trailing Slash on URLs

Another trick to avoiding a duplicate content penalty is to force a trailing slash on all of your URLs. You can do so by adding the following code to your .htaccess file.

force-trailing-slash-wordpress

301 Redirect URLs

Often times, WordPress is replacing a static HTML website as an upgrade. You will need to properly 301 redirect all of the old URLs to the new ones so you don’t end up with a bunch of 404 page not found errors. A quick way to get a list of URLs already indexed by Google is to search “site:yourdomain.com”. And sometimes you just need to redirect a broken link.

Here is sample code to properly redirect URLs using a 301. (Note: Notice the first part of the code does not include the full URL, but the second part does.)

htaccess-301-redirect-wordpress

Step 12: Optimizing your robots.txt file

Crawlers or bots will scan web pages on your site for inclusion in the search index, but they will check your robots.txt file first for any instructions. The User-agent: * specifies that all crawlers are welcome.

You can help the crawlers learn about all of the pages on your site by telling them where your Sitemap is located. You can also tell the crawlers which pages and directories you do not want included in the search index.

I like to Disallow a few directories that are standard in every WordPress install. There is no need for any content within those directories to ever show up in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Block them using the example code below.

Optimize robots txt file

Final Thoughts

These WordPress website optimization tips only scratch the surface. There are hundreds of amazing plugins to further optimize your site. Additionally, each website is unique and might require different SEO strategies.

I’d be curious to see what SEO tips you might have to offer to optimize WordPress. Use the comments section below to share your suggestions. If you have any WordPress or SEO questions enter them below and I’ll respond as soon as possible.

Viral video basics

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, the gold standard of marketing was to have an ad during the Super Bowl that people would talk about around the water cooler when they got to work the next day.

That last sentence is sort of like that old kid’s game “How many things can you find wrong in this picture?” Let’s see:

People don’t really talk around a water cooler that much anymore.
People also don’t wait a day to talk about a hot subject either. Instead, they discuss it as it happens on Facebook chat, or text, or email, or. …
More than a few people don’t go to work from 9 to 5 anymore, instead relying on mobile technology to allow them to work at home, on the road, inside a Starbucks, or. …
People also don’t wait until the actual game to view the commercials, as many such ads are “leaked” online well before the game to create buzz.

So, yes, the rules of marketing have changed, and radically. Why? It’s the same thing that has changed everything from how books are sold to how health care is delivered: the Internet.

As a result, the gold standard of marketing today isn’t the funny Super Bowl ad, but rather the viral video. Create one of those and you’ve struck Internet oil.

All of which, of course, begs the question: Can you make a viral video on purpose, or is it something that just happens naturally — sort of like taking a video of your sons and posting it online with the title “Charlie Bit My Finger.” Can you capture that magic and disseminate it on purpose?

Yes, it turns out you can.

Or maybe a more accurate analysis is that you can create the context for a video to go viral, give it your best shot, and then cross your fingers and hope your video is sprinkled with fairy dust.

Here’s how:

Create the right sort of video

Why don’t my small-business videos go viral? Because I didn’t create them that way, nor did I intend for them to be viral videos. They are simple business how-tos on my site TheSelfEmployed. They serve their purpose.

Viral videos are different. Viral videos tend to fall into a few different categories. So if you want to create a video that might get spread around the Internet like the Ebola virus, the first thing to do is make sure yours fits one of these categories:

Funny: A video begins to go viral when people not only watch it, but tell their pals about it, too — sharing it via email, Facebook, YouTube, text, Twitter, whatever. And what causes people to want to share a three-minute clip? It’s because they think their friends will like it/laugh at it/be amazed by it too, or they think they will get some street cred by sharing it or discovering it first.
The first way to make that happen is by posting a video that cracks people up. How do you do that? That’s your job, amigo — I’m just sharing the process.

Weird/quirky: When I first saw “PSY – Gangnam Style,” I, like many, couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. It was just so … different. Weird works. Quirky kills. Posting an odd video ups the chances of yours going viral because odd is memorable — and especially in this e-world, you have to do something different to get noticed.
By the same token, larger companies have been able to get their videos to go viral because they have a budget to create a special effect that amazes at first sight, like an outfielder scaling a wall to catch a ball.

Cute: Kitten videos are all the rage because kittens are just so damn cute.
Outrageous: That a stupid movie about the Prophet Muhammad could cause rioting half a world away shows the power of posting something outrageous online. Now, if you are in the small-business world, outrageous is probably not what you want. But it does need to be noted that outrageous is a viral player.
Poignant/insightful: A professor’s last lecture. Steve Jobs speaking at graduation. Sincere insight is another tried-and-true way to position a video for virality.
Post it right
Once you have the video, the trick is to choose a thumbnail that’s captivating and a title that’s intriguing.

Distribution
As indicated, having the right video is only a small part of the viral video game. There are tons of great videos out there that no one sees. So how do you get people to see yours? There are strategies large and small:

Begin with your network: Once posted, share your video with those in your extended network and ask them to share it with theirs. Tweet it. Post it. Blog it. Email it.
 
Share it with influencers: There are bloggers out there with huge audiences. Writers with many readers. Sites with millions of visitors. Your job is to get your video in front of them and get them to share it with their followers and fans.
Finally, remember that viral videos tend to be short (three minutes or so) and make people feel something — they laugh, they cry, they get mad, they worry. 

And then they share.

What is online authority?

Google is quickly learning how to mirror offline authority.

In the offline world how often we talk is less important than what we have to say. Offline authority is based on your ability to influence, to change people’s mind-set, to inspire people to take action, and to change the world.

The AuthorRank algorithm will likely help Google to reflect offline authority better in the future because an online article’s status will also be influenced by its author’s standing.

What can make you influential? A few examples:

  • Discovering the God particle or a cure for malaria;
  • Sharing details of your dysfunctional life that speak strongly to your audience;
  • Being insanely helpful and inspire your audience to change their mind or to take action.

The last example is — of course — a content marketer’s territory. An influential content marketer is both incredibly helpful and persuasive. He’s passionate about his field and generously shares his knowledge. But he might be divisive, too. He might speak strongly to a certain tribe of people, while others may not like his writing. His writing has personality and a recognizable voice.

How can you become an influential content marketer?

Steal ideas from different sources

All creative work builds on what came before.
~ Austin Kleon

The web feels like a giant echo chamber. Everything has been said, right?

It may feel impossible to create original content, but you can certainly do it. You can stop regurgitating the same information; and create unique content.

How?

Create your own mix of sources. Don’t steal all your ideas from one or two bloggers. Steal from sources inside and outside your niche. Steal from writers, philosophers, scientists, musicians, and everyone else who inspires you.

Smart content marketers have a swipe file with inspirational quotes, fascinating ideas, and other stuff they like. Don’t use your swipe file to imitate. Don’t outright copy. Give credit to your sources, and let yourself be inspired by a multitude of ideas.

Develop your own voice

When I first started out in cartooning, I used to copy Hagar the Horrible. And my work was a replica of Hagar the Horrible. But then I added other cartoons, like Dennis the Menace, Calvin and Hobbes etc. And my work became my own.
~ Sean D’Souza

Who are your heroes? Which writers or bloggers speak directly to your soul?

To create your own voice, analyze the writing styles and techniques of your favorite writers:

  • Why do their headlines grab your attention?
  • How do they draw you into their blog post?
  • How do they structure their posts?
  • How do they inspire you with their closing paragraphs?
  • How do they use copywriting techniques like analogies, trigger words, and cliffhangers?
  • How do stories make their articles memorable?
  • How do they bond with their readers?
  • Why are they fascinating?

You craft your own voice by studying your heroes and stealing their techniques. Don’t slavishly copy but learn from them. Pick the techniques you like from each of your heroes to create your own personal style; and let your passion shine through.

Become a better writer

The easiest way to create new content is recycling existing information.

Change a how-to article into a how-not-to article. Turn a how-to into a list post. Turn your list post into an infographic. Combine two (or three) posts into a new post.

Recycling provides a quick way to create loads of content, but it won’t make you a better writer; and it probably limits your potential to be influential. You need to push yourself to get better each time you write. You need to try new writing techniques, tackle more challenging topics, and link different ideas together.

To become a better writer you need deliberate practice. You need to step up the quality of your content; and fully engage your brain when writing. Introduce new analogies. Tell different stories. Try another angle or structure. Take your time to experiment. Quality content requires time.

You need to get out of your comfort zone to become a better writer.

Write crappy first drafts

Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts.
~ Anne Lamott

Combining new ideas and writing original content is hard; it requires writing, rewriting, and rethinking.

Of course, exceptions exist, but for most of us, writing original content is difficult. You might be beating yourself up because you’re not writing fast enough; and because you’re not producing enough content. But this idea that you need to speed up your writing could be killing your creativity.

Writing crappy first drafts is normal — especially if you’re pushing yourself outside your comfort zone. But how do you deal with crappy first drafts? Look for these issues:

  • Your best idea is often buried. Try and find it, and move it to the beginning of your article.
  • Your draft is heading in myriad directions. There’s too much is going on. Go back to your one big idea: How do you want to inspire people? Cut everything that’s irrelevant.
  • Bad grammar, spelling mistakes, and redundant sentences. Don’t worry about this until you’ve sorted out the flow of your content.

Writing a crappy first draft may feel pointless. Why write something you’re going to change or delete? Don’t worry. Crappy first drafts can lead to something magical.

Create inspirational conclusions

How can you influence people?

Stop thinking you’re merely sharing information. You’re creating content to inspire people.

Too often online articles fizzle out, because the author gets tired and lacks inspiration. Rather than write your conclusion last, why not write it first?

Writing inspirational paragraphs that teach is one of the most important skills a persuasive content marketer can develop. Study how your heroes inspire you, and steal their techniques.

The truth about building authority

Writing influential content is tough. It requires hard work, creative thinking, and original writing. And most of all it requires passion for your subject.

Don’t just echo what others are saying. Have your own voice. Dare to be different. Research like crazy. Speak up. Share your opinion. Back up your opinion with studies and statistics. Let your personality shine through.

Remember: one epic post can have more impact than one hundred recycled posts. Stop acting like a blogging machine. Quit guest posting like a mediocre maniac. Instead, take your time to rethink and rewrite your posts.

Write less. Read more.
Talk less. Listen more.

Quick SEO Wins – What Can You Do With an Hour?

In many ways, 2012 was the year search engine optimization (SEO) really grew up. Google left us with little choice. But we evolved as an industry, striving to build high-quality content and focus on adding as much value as possible for our users, readers, and customers.

There was a lot of pain along the way throughout this growth process, and many are still cleaning up from the aftermath. For example, the gaps in Google’s algorithm have been closed to the point that any quick SEO tactic is likely to be just that — a short-term fix at best, a potential cause of long-term damage at worst.

If you want to win in 2013, you must commit to a solid long-term strategy. However, that’s not to say you can’t build small wins into your long-term strategy to assist in developing brand strength.

The only real way to beat the well-known online brands is to become one yourself. But just because the more traditional SEO tactics from previous years are now areas to avoid in 2013, doesn’t mean there aren’t any quick wins out there.

Research and Analysis Wins

Research and Analysis Wins

  1. Make a cup of tea and read through Google’s patents to figure out where they’re going next!
  2. Not a fan of tea? Take your client for a beer instead. Find out what else they’re working on outside of your campaign. There’s a good chance you’ll find information that can be of great assistance.
  3. Spend time with your dev team. Get to know them and figure out their difficulties and bottlenecks.
  4. Build a checklist scorecard of how well you know outreach targets, and map out stages of how you you can get to know them better.
  5. Find the top bloggers in your local city or region. Figure out where they hang out so that you can meet them (events, don’t stalk them on the way home).
  6. Even better, arrange your own meetup and invite key bloggers and journalists.
  7. Run an industry survey to collect data, which can then be used for content production.

Google+ and Authorship Wins

Google+ and Authorship Wins

  1. Set up Google Authorship for your site, or if you have already, verify that it’s working.
  2. Arrange a seminar to demonstrate how your team can link up their Google+ author profiles.
  3. Encourage your team to build up their Google+ profiles and share other content.
  4. Have a blog? Find orphaned posts from ‘guest bloggers’ and move them under the relevant author profiles where you can map them up – same for ex-staff members.

Events and Sponsorship Wins

Events and Sponsorship Wins

  1. Find local sports teams and events you can sponsor.
  2. Submit a speaker pitch for an industry event.
  3. Create a content plan around liveblogging an industry event.

 

Content Strategy and Planning Wins

Content Strategy and Planning Wins

  1. Be creative – brainstorm new product ideas to make them link-worthy.
  2. Acquire a company!
  3. Get sued! (Ok, maybe don’t.)
  4. Open new content angles by relating your niche to a different topic.
  5. Dig into your data – look over old company reports, white papers, etc. for key statistics.
  6. Schedule a team brainstorm to develop new content ideas.
  7. Share a Google Calendar mapping out your website content plan with auto-send reminders to the people involved with different areas of content creation.
  8. Aim to split opinions with your content and promote this to both audiences for a reaction. It doesn’t have to be controversial, just as long as you have no right or wrong answer.

 

Relationship-Building Wins

Relationship Building Wins

  1. Follow up! Make the effort to stay in touch with key contacts via social, email, phone, and face-to-face.
  2. Become friends with key influencers and meet them in person – invite them to lunch or arrange a meetup.
  3. Reuse great outreach connections and build on-going relationships.
  4. Provide customer testimonials for your software, product, and service providers.
  5. Ask influencers to add you to their partner pages.
  6. Get your users involved. Build relationships and brand interaction by rewarding loyal fans.
  7. Ask your friends and family to link to you if they have personal websites.

 

Content Production Wins

Content Production Wins

  1. Take photos and make them available under a Creative Commons license.
  2. Write topical content about a trend from that day.
  3. Interview experts within your niche (ego bait).
  4. Craft an exclusive content pitch for a leading authority website.
  5. Focus on one piece of great content, instead of four average ones.
  6. Develop a content ideation plan for an infographic using data from within your company.
  7. Answer common questions asked within your industry. This can be a great method for brainstorming content ideas.
  8. Set up Google Alerts for these questions so when these are asked on blogs or forums you can reply with your opinion (and link to your content).
  9. Create and syndicate video content to target new audiences.
  10. Offer a discount promotion to get people talking, and so they are picked up on promo-code websites.
  11. Create a great 404 error page. Your users will love it, and it might get you some links for creativity!

 

Comment Marketing Wins

Comment Marketing Wins

  1. Make the effort to reply to comments on all of your content (posts on your blog, guest posts, news coverage, etc.) to help build relationships.
  2. Find an active forum within your niche to start contributing and building profiles.
  3. Find two targeted blogs; comment where you can add value, and subscribe or follow them and their key writers on Twitter.

 

Local SEO Wins

Local Wins

  1. Take photos of your office, or store and upload a minimum of six high-quality photos to help your local listing stand out.
  2. Ensure all of your company addresses are registered and up to date on Google+ Local.
  3. Design business cards that encourage customers to review your brand on Google, TripAdvisor, Yelp!, etc. Offer them a next-time discount incentive.
  4. Create landing pages with local intent. Submit them to Google Local if you have multiple addresses.
  5. Take a visit to your local library and dig deep into historical information about your local town or city. You might find a gem that hasn’t been written about online, which is great for picking up local citations and links. Michael Dorausch has some great tips in a local review of Tampa.
  6. Create a list of power reviewers within your sector and look to get on their radar.
  7. Make sure you’re listed on the key local providers, such as Yell, ThomsonLocal, ReachLocal, etc.

 

Blogger Outreach Wins

Blogger Outreach Wins

  1. Find two of the most authoritative bloggers in your niche and figure out the best way to connect. In all likelihood, they’ve added that to their “About” page.
  2. Pick up the phone and speak to top influencers.
  3. Hire writers within your niche and leverage their contacts for outreach.
  4. Spend your hour carefully crafting a great content pitch and make it personal and original.
  5. Give bloggers and journalists a product they can use or test in exchange for a review (use with caution, and make this well-targeted and selective).
  6. Write for authority sites within your niche. Build strong relationships and strengthen your reputation by leveraging the audiences of well-respected industry blogs.
  7. Get your client to create a company email address for you with their domain so it’s clearer when you’re sending emails out on their behalf.

 

Penguin and Panda Penalty Review Wins

Penguin and Panda Penalty Review Wins

  1. Perform a content performance ratio analysis to figure out how much content you need to clean up.
  2. Build a list of top sites you want to remove links from.
  3. Clean up your own internal anchor text from over-optimisation.
  4. Reduce cross-linking from other sites you own. Link from partner pages, rather than sitewide.
  5. Clean up any links from your social profiles and author bios.

 

On-Site Optimisation Wins

On-Site Optimisation Wins

  1. Prioritise a list of key actions, and assign responsibilities and deadlines.
  2. Install SEO WordPress plugins to optimise your blog.
  3. Optimise page title tags. It’s the oldest quick SEO win in the book, but it still works!
  4. Test pay-per-click (PPC) ad copy as title/meta description to lift organic click-through rate.
  5. Review navigation structure such as breadcrumbs and internal linking.

 

Productivity Wins

Productivity Wins

  1. Use tools. I could fill another 96 points here, but I suggest discovering which two or three make you more efficient. Then spend the time to really get to know how to use them fully.
  2. Start to document your delivery process. This will save you a lot of time in the future when training your team.
  3. Run a knowledge share session with your internal team and/or client. Try to make sure they know what you do, then you don’t have to do it all yourself!
  4. Learn how to get things done. Watching this video takes 45 minutes — you’ve still got 15 minutes left. So you’re instantly more productive!

 

Link Removal Wins

Link Removal Wins

  1. Analyse your backlinks to find off-topic, poor anchor text links.
  2. Analyse the market to find the percentage of exact-match anchor text for key competitors.
  3. Clean up any obvious paid or over-optimised links.

 

Link Reclamation Wins

Link Reclamation Wins

  1. Google Operator Query “Brand Name” “Key Person Within Organisation Name.” Then ask to be credited with a link within article if not already given.
  2. Google Image search for your infographics or photos. Ask for link credits where these are not provided.
  3. Find broken links pointing out of site with this tool. This is another easy fix to clean up and makes your site look good.

 

Competitive Analysis Wins

Competitive Analysis Wins

  1. Research competitors’ top pages in OpenSiteExplorer to get content ideas.
  2. Review brand traffic history in analytics to measure the impact of offline brand signals.
  3. Think of creative ways you can get more people searching for your brand by joining up with offline advertising.

 

Public Relations Wins

Public Relations Wins

  1. Bring your PR and social teams together to understand what they are doing and how they can help each other by working more closely together.
  2. Sign up for PR service HARO (Help a Reporter Out) to become a link source for news articles.
  3. Build a list of key journalists and media contacts you want to influence.
  4. Enter relevant industry and local awards competitions.
  5. Brainstorm ideas to connect offline with online tactics. How can you get more people searching for you (sending brand signals to Google)?

 

Technical Wins

Technical Wins

  1. Create and submit an XML Sitemap to keep this up to date in Google Webmaster Tools.
  2. Check how your website displays on mobile and tablet devices, and plan to create platform-specific sites if you don’t already have them.
  3. Fix duplicate content homepage: www vs non-www.
  4. Check for external duplicate content.
  5. Make sure the geo-targeting for your international site is set up correctly in Google Webmaster Tools.
  6. Optimise your site for mobile. Do it in less than an hour with a plugin.

 

Analytics and Measurement Wins

Analytics and Measurement Wins

  1. Start developing a strategy around your top 20 PPC spend/converting keywords.
  2. Find your top converting landing pages. Optimise them and update the content to attract new links.
  3. Ensure all your analytic goals are in place to measure both micro and macro conversions so you can report on revenue, leads, and ROI to your boss and/or client.
  4. Talk to your clients and learn about their main business.
  5. Finally…spend your hour writing a report making a business case for the value of SEO to get extra resources allocated. Because really — an hour’s just not enough!

Fun Quiz

robots.txt

SEO Master I

First instalment of the master series of SEO training questions.

Ultimate SEO Course

In order to move you into the front seat of internet marketing we have constructed this course in a number of video, image and text formats to best equip you to answer the hard questions regarding search marketing.

On every page of this site we have a BIG BLUE PENCIL that will link you back to this page. This page will have the latest industry updates and information.

At the end of this course you will be required to write a short test multiple choice test to validate your newly acquired SEO skills.

SEO Cheat Sheets

Colours and Consumers
Load Speed
Content is King
History of Search and SEO
Link Building Cheatsheet
Google Panda Cheatsheet
Top Web Directories
How to Kill Your SEO Rankings
Advanced Link Building Techniques
SEO Course
Glossary
Google Basics
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

How to Rank #1 on Google and Impress Nerdy Chicks!

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