How To Track WordPress Signups and Comments With Google Analytics

I’m sure you have heard of Google Analytics which enables you to track the behaviour of a site.  The key to success with Analytics is using website goals.  This allows you to conveniently measure the success of your website to criteria you dictate.  For a blog (for me), 2 goals would be a user registration – and a user posting a comment on a page or post.  For this, we need to ensure tracking is on all appropriate pages and that the goals are correctly configured.

If you haven’t already – you should be using the Google Analytics code (which looks something like the following).

<script type=”text/javascript”>

var gaJsHost = ((“https:” == document.location.protocol) ? “https://ssl.” : “http://www.”);

document.write(unescape(“%3Cscript src=’” + gaJsHost + “google-analytics.com/ga.js’

type=’text/javascript’%3E%3C/script%3E”));

</script>

<script type=”text/javascript”>

var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker(“UA-XXXXXXX-X”);

pageTracker._initData();

pageTracker._trackPageview();

</script>

Install Google Analytics

Firstly, make sure the Google Tracking Code is on all pages.  You can do this by editing your themes footer.php file.  Simply paste the Google Code before </body>.  But you’re not done yet.  You need to edit wp-login.php.  Search for </body> and before every instance add your Google code here too.  This will put tracking not only on your blog contents, but also registration and various front end forms too.

Configure Goal Tracking For Blog Registrations

You are now ready to configure Google Analytics to track goal actions on your blog.  To start with, we will setup the goal for a user registration.  Remember the additional code we added to wp-login.php?  This is where it comes into use.  Create a conversion goal based on the screenshot below.  I always give a goal conversion like this a value of 1 – due to reporting and keyphrase / traffic reports – which assigns a calculated money value field to various keywords and traffic sources to work out profitable items.

To make sure this goal is only counted when people register (and not just visit the page), add the following funnel configuration too;

There we have it.  If you leave this goal running for a while – you will be able to see exactly what keywords / traffic sources are driving registrations – and infact – whether your registrations are growing or falling…

Configure Analytics For Blog / Page Comments

The new version of Google Analytics allows us to track onclick events.  Every comments box has a submit button or image.  We can track when this button is clicked using Google Analytics.  To get your head around this concept, we setup what we call a virtual page view (a page that doesnt actually exist – the submit button) and we link this virtual page view to a goal in Analytics.

The first thing to do is edit your themes template file – namely comments.php.  Unfortunately, you will need a little bit of HTML knowledge to find the HTML code for the submit/image button.  Once you have located this, add the following code to the input object;

onclick=”javascript: pageTracker._trackPageview(’/goal/wordpress.html’);”

Thats it! Now – everytime the submit button is pressed on the comments form – analytics will log that /goal/wordpress.html has been visited.  This leaves the logical conclusion to add a goal conversion to this page.  See the screenshot below on how to do this;

 

That’s all there is too it.  You have now setup goal tracking on your WordPress blog.

 

The Importance of Scars

A Guest Post from Joel K

Dear SEO community,

I’m annoyed.

At this point we’ve all become well acquainted with Penguin and Panda, algorithms designed to unapologetically curbstomp the rankings of sites who were blatantly “doing it wrong”. And believe me, I get that this is a positive thing in the long term. The brilliance in the Penguin update, inconsistent and flawed as it was, was that it was just enough of a shock-and-awe carpet bomb to scare the living daylights out of SEO’s across the industry into embracing the wondrous golden calf we’re all calling “Content Marketing”.

Though we all lost ourselves for a little while in 2010 and 2011 while we embraced the bright shining disco ball of anchor text (which ultimately exploded in many faces in pretty twinkling shards), we’re now back to spouting the same old “create great content” lines – most of us with just as little initial clue as to how that make in the real world as we did before (be honest).

But hey, we’re getting much better. I mean it. At least now we’re trying – REALLY trying, because we’re just been scared enough to give this whole thing a real, genuine go. So we’re gloriously stumbling forward like newborns, doing our best to embrace our new roles as content creators and outreach specialists in addition to being information architects and code monkeys.

And damn if it isn’t an exciting challenge. There are clear thought leaders  in the “actually applicable content marketing” space now, smart guys whose names I need not drop for you to identify.  (But I’ll drop James Agate’s anyways).

And don’t get me wrong – all of this is positive. The day we can all worry less about finding ways to snap up anchor text and instead focus our efforts on turning online marketing into the act of marketing online (what a friggin’ concept!), the better.

But among all of the positives from the fallout is one enormously glaring negative: The demonization of those SEO’s who did get hit by algorithm updates.

“Hold on!” you say, “Surely you won’t defend the spammers!”

I want to make a case here not for bad tactics and shoddy SEO, but an appeal for all of us to plant a foot firmly back into reality. We seem to have this expectation that everyone around us ought to have learned to sprint before they learned to crawl.

We operate in a reality where clients want results and SEO’s want to deliver. The will to deliver is a strong one because it’s doubly motivated by cash. There are many genuinely smart, well-meaning SEO’s who can preach the rhetoric of white hat SEO just as well as you can – even know the real, tangible benefits of running pure white campaigns, but don’t have the means to do so.

We are not all sitting in the offices where the leadership “gets it”, no matter how badly we’d like to be. We can’t all fire clients who “don’t get it” either. A lot of us are already juggling so many balls (just trying to keep up on 40+ changes a month is a head spin, never mind reporting, link building, prospecting and building a business) that time becomes the enemy. A lot of us are SEO’s with small teams (sometimes teams of ONE) in agencies where enacting the change that enables that kind of SEO to happen is a genuine struggle with management and sales staff. There are SEOs who have leaned heavy and hard on gray while trying to paddle the barge of their companies around into less choppy seas out of necessity.

When SEO meets real world business, funny things happen.

Where’s our empathy? These are not the equivalents of quack doctors who sew additional limbs to patients for sport. They’re just people caught in challenging situations, trying to deliver results while simultaneously trying to turn things around. As they do so, they misstep. We pounce.

My point is not to make excuses for those who find themselves resorting to unsavory tactics or even to try and excuse taking a gamble with client money – but instead to point out what we all already know but seldom acknowledge in meaningful ways: There are genuine barriers that stand in the way of content-based SEO, and genuine people caught in these barriers.

So I’m extremely sick of hearing the audible noise of people slapping their own backs and proclaiming their own integrity. “Oh, I’ve NEVER bought a link. Oh, I’ve NEVER spammed a blog. Oh, I’ve NEVER done anything shady at all. I’m a regular patron saint of SEO.”

Honestly? Great. Good for you. And I don’t mean to diminish the fact that you’ve faced challenges of your own along that road, but to be honest, you’re not the only one I want to hear from.

You know who else I respect in this industry? The guys who played with the dark side and got burned. The people who have been mangled by algorithm updates and found ways to change and get better because of it. The people who have had to work to change an SEO firm from the inside out, starting with their processes.

No, not spammers. Just SEO’s with scars, who have endured real challenges, made mistakes and had to learn from them.

If you’ve got no scars; if you’ve never made a mistake; if you’ve never had to come back to a client and tell them “we messed up, and here’s how we’re going to fix it”, then there are things you simply cannot teach me. Scars tell a story. Scars speak of experience. Scars tell me you’re just as interested as I am in finding SEO solutions that work for real clients in real spaces with real budgets. The importance of scars in this industry is massive, and yet our propensity is to black label anyone who has them.

A little empathy. We’re all in this together.

You can follow and abuse Joel on Twitter

Building Brands and Links with Blogger Outreach

Blogger Outreach… what’s that all about? Well, I’ve asked a few link building and online PR specialists to help me explain the process and hopefully offer some solid advice from the front line.

In the Post-Penguin wilderness, the importance of editorial links from prominent web sources has increased. One of the ways in which you can obtain “high quality” links for your website is to have your content or product featured by popular bloggers.

There are over 181 million blogs out there and that simply means there are blogs for every niche, industry and topic – even the most “boring ones” like SEO ;).  Just like traditional media, bloggers can be a great resource for helping to spread the word about your business, but unlike traditional media, they generally have a more personal and influential relationship with their readership. The following statistics from Technorati’s 2011 State of the Blogosphere illustrate the reach and influence of bloggers, as well as their relationships with brands.

  1. 38% of bloggers blog about brands that they love or hate
  2. 65% of bloggers follow brands on social media
  3. The majority of bloggers feel that bloggers are treated less professionally by brand reps compared to traditional media

As you can imagine the value of a mention from a popular blogger goes beyond the obvious link metrics and referral traffic but has a greater value in building up the recognition of your brand as an authority.  The sad thing is that all too often link builders and PR’s are just sending out unsolicited emails and press releases to bloggers. They are simply playing a numbers game in the hope that some poor blogger is scratching around for something to write about that week and might write about their client, which just plain and simply means you are F#$&ing doing it wrong.

What techniques work well with Blogger Outreach?

Earlier this year John Doherty was mentioned in an article by Wired but they did not link to his site, a quick email to the blogger resulted in a website with a high domain authority linking back to John. This goes to show you how important it is to use tools such as Google Alerts to monitor mentions of your brand online so you can rectify errors and continue to build relationships with online influencers.

Start out by finding which bloggers are following you on Social Media and reach out to them. Have they re-tweeted your latest blog post or wrote about you and not linked back to your site?

I have personally had success with lots of different methods in getting my clients featured in popular blogs online – there is no secret sauce but it’s quite simple make friends and offer something valuable. Techniques I have used recently include guest blogging, competitions, infographics, product reviews and offering technical assistance such as malware reporting or broken link building.

Blogger Outreach Q&A with the Experts

Rather than me just writing up all my favourite tips in which to get bloggers to feature your content I decided to invite some awesome folks to answer a few commonly asked outreach questions on my blog for you my lovely readers.

Jason Acidre is the author of Kaiserthesage and Marketing Consultant for Affilorama.
Tadeusz Szewczyk is a Freelance SEO Consultant and experienced blogger at SEO 2.0.
James Agate is a Guest Blogging Expert and writes online at Sky Rocket SEO
Peter Attia is an internet marketing specialist and link builder specialising in Blogger Outreach.
Rae Alton is the Head of Content for Link Fish Media
Wayne Barker works for Boom Online and is a regular contributor to the SEO community
Aimee Carmichael is a freelance PR and Social Media Consultant.

1.  What are your essential “pre-qualifiers” to look out for before reaching out to a blogger?

Aimee: For B2B clients I make sure the blog’s topic is relevant to the company’s (brand) readership/customers. I make sure the blog content is in line with the buyer personas outlined and their marketing journey, usually ask or look for statistics on readership, unique visitors and SERP positioning for relevant keywords, occasionally I will look at Page Rank but this is not usually the highest determinant. In the past where data is not available I have told clients to use Alexa as a very rough indicator on blog readership and performance (not to be trusted too much though).  Other things to consider – the size of the blogs social media community – perhaps use something like Klout as an indicator. I mainly look at profile reach and visibility on FB and Twitter.

I also look for partnership opportunities - i.e. can we access their email list and social media community as part of the agreement.


Peter:I try to keep this process short and quick, because I think it’s important to manually outreach to every blog; however, you still have to maximize the number of blogs you outreach to.

First off, I absolutely refuse to work with Mommy Bloggers :) They always ask for compensation and their blogs are riddled with ads. Other than that, I mainly care about relevancy. I really do very little “pre-qualification” before outreach. I usually do it after I get a response. The response rate from bloggers can be very low for some niches; however closing an agreement is easy after the initial response. Because of this I do my sifting later on. I judge my qualifications based on the number of response I receive. My “requirements” are lower when I only receive a few responses; however it’s mainly based off of frequency of posts, legitimacy, blog followers, and social presence.


James: It depends on the campaign I am working on. For example if the client is looking to secure some high-end links (to build the trust of their domain) then we may be really selective and put in place all sorts of pre-qualifiers however if a client is looking to blanket an industry in a short space of time and be really visible then we may drop the criteria a little (maintaining a certain standard) so as to cover all bases.

I collated a lot of the factors I/we as a company look at in my recent SEOmoz post http://www.seomoz.org/blog/how-to-evaluate-guest-post-opportunities


Tadeusz: Whenever I reach out to bloggers I try to behave like a reader would do. So I try to forget that I’m an SEO or doing the outreach for SEO reasons. So I look at the actual blog asking myself a few questions:
- Would I like to read it or do my eyes already hurt from looking at it?
- Are real people behind this or is this an anonymous content mill run by a company which publishes everything as “admin”?
- Is this blog around for a while aka established and does it publish fresh content regularly/recently?
- Has the blogger actually covered exactly what I look after, not only the broad topic?
- Is the post genuine or only written in order to generate affiliate revenue?
- Is this blogger actually competing with my client directly?


Rae: The language that a blogger frequently uses is elemental to how I’m going to approach them. Obviously, jargon varies from niche to niche, and it shows authenticity if you are not only speaking in perfect English, but are speaking “their language”. When possible, I look for character clues. Is this blogger very conservative? Do they seem relaxed and laid back? Do they appreciate humor? You have to take their cues. One of my co-workers wrote a post about the psychology of online interaction to this effect. It’s simply more time-efficient than sending out a bunch of white-bread form letters no one’s going to pay any mind to.


Jason: We usually look out for blogs that can help achieve the campaign’s both short and long term objectives, in terms of link building and brand marketing perspectives, which we can easily evaluate through this blog prospecting method(as the list generated by this method includes domain-level and link metrics).

In identifying blogs/bloggers to reach out to, we mostly look out for these aspects of the blog:

  • Readership/Community – which can be determined through the site/blog’s number of subscribers, social follower base, engagement (number of comments on each post), traffic value (can be measured through Alexa, Compete.com or SEMRush) and the consistency in publishing content.
  • Visuals/Web Design – we highly prioritize this part of prospect assessment, as it’s a great indicator of longevity of the value of the link/brand exposure that will be acquired, given that blogs that invest on their site’s web design are the ones who will most likely be around for a while and have the potential to continuously grow their readership. So even they don’t have the desired metrics (PR/DA) you’re looking for link building purposes, you can still somehow be assured that your link will not go to waste (you’ll just have to wait for it to age).

Wayne:I suppose it comes down to what you are reaching out for – for links, for product giveaways, for reviews, just for links?? I take a whole bunch of factors into consideration and to be honest the more you collect the better for in the future. What I mean by this is that you may find a prospect but decide not to use them for this project because they don’t match the criteria you have set for this particular client or website. That doesn’t mean that you won’t need them in the future though…

In no particular order (because priorities change based on the project)…

Link metrics – Although they aren’t as important as they were a few years ago you cannot afford to ignore PR and mozRank. Apart they both have issues but together they paint a fuller picture of importance, popularity and trust. I also quite like the new metrics from Majestic but have yet to figure these in to my process.

Number of incoming links is important – but needs a little more investigation in the post Penguin world.

Social validation of a blog – this tends to be a note on the file – have they been featured in major publication? Do they write for big blogs in the niche. These are signals of trust and signals of trust (generally) equate to a great blogger to consider.

Social activity - depends on the blog but this could be number of followers on twitter, fans on Facebook (these are going to more important if you are looking for reviews or product giveaways). You may want to count +1′s and one of my favourites is comments on the blog posts – these are indicators of an active audience – one that will spread your message further than a site with a PR of 5 but with no social activity. Think beyond the SEO metrics for bigger impact – how many subscribers do they have for their RSS feed?

If you set up a system for capturing as much information as possible you can create yourself a database of prospects that can be used over different projects – the more detail you have will help you on different outreach projects in the future.


2. Popular Bloggers are very busy people and receive lots of emails every day, what have you done in order to make your pitch standout from the crowd?

Aimee: I have a small list of bloggers across a few key sectors digital, tech, health, lifestyle and fitness that I work with regularly. I keep in touch with them outside of campaigns and find out how I can help them. I also actively converse with them on social media twitter/FB etc outside of campaigns. If pitching a story I always consider the benefit to their readership or blog. For example offering them a like for like partnership with the brand I am working with.


Peter: Popular bloggers require a much different approach than other bloggers. This requires some sort of relationship building. It could be having a small conversation with them on twitter, commenting on their blog, or even asking them a question over email instead of pitching to them.

After you’ve built at least some sort of relationship with them, it’s much easier to approach them with your request. However, when doing this you should make the content more focused on that bloggers readers and not on SEO value.


James:When we pitch popular bloggers or publishers of big name websites, we try hard to “speak the language” of the individual by researching around them to try and understand what motivates them, what they like to write about and just try to get an idea about the individual based on their social network interactions. For example if it is clear that they have been overworked recently following a well-earned holiday or something like that, we would try to use this information (without appearing like a stalker) to explain how we might be able to lighten their load this week and give them a day off blogging.

So we don’t really do anything crazy or standout-ish but rather just focus on the solid value that we (and the client) can offer.


Tadeusz: I try not to contact the “stars” who don’t have the time to react but in case I do I simply focus on being as concise and to the point as possible while adding my value proposition to the e-mail subject line. Sometimes it can also help to find out which medium is the favourite channel for a particular person: e-mail, Facebook, Twitter? Then approach the person right where s/he prefers to get contacted.


Rae: Subject lines are certainly the best, briefest way to intrigue a blogger into reading your email, but they can be tricky. A lot of spammers go overboard with subject lines. As Ron Forseth of Outreach Media Group said, “the subject line is to email as the envelope is to direct mail.” His post about subject lines summarizes why focused subject lines are more effective.


Jason: Have a valid reason for contact. The most important thing that should always be on the top of mind when it comes to outreach is the valuebeing offered to the receiving end, because having something of high value is the reason why they’ll respond to it in the first place. Start by asking yourself first: are you really offering something valuable, useful or unique to them or to their followers/readers?

A few months ago, I published a post that lists other alternative approaches for blogger outreach, I guess that list can help people think more out-of-the-box in innovating their outreach methods.  


Wayne:I went on a PR training day a few years back and one of things that was discussed in detail (and answered by two very active journalists) was what makes them open certain emails. What the journalists were speaking about was what made them open certain emails and just trash others without even bothering to look at them. It turns out that one of the journalists like subject lines that are descriptive, whilst the other liked subject lines that were a little abstract and teased him.

So what do we take away from this? The fact that no matter how much data we have you can’t say “including XX in a subject line will improve your chances” or “taking XX approach will work better”.

What makes the most sense (and it has been written about tons of times before) is that they are more likely to open the initial email if they know or have heard of you – take the time to craft a relationship before jumping in head first. I have also found that if you create relationships with bloggers in quite general niches then you can use them for multiple projects – mommy bloggers are a good example.

Oh, and if you have time to take a course in Psychology you should do that because it will increase the chances of your pitch being successful - if you didn’t know Derren Brown kicks ass at blogger outreach.


3. Which tools do you like to use to manage or assist you with your outreach projects?

Peter: I actually use a very minimal amount of tools. I like to limit automation as much as possible, because it liquidates the personal “feel” to your approach. However, I’ve been very impressed by BuzzStream. I haven’t gotten a chance to fully embrace it yet, but being able to find and manage a vast amount of bloggers is incredibly helpful.  It also keeps track of communication done through various channels to each blogger. This is a life saver if you’re doing large scale outreach.

Another tool I find incredibly helpful is Boomerang. Boomerang will give you a reminder if someone didn’t respond to an email you sent out, which gives you a chance to follow up. Another feature is being able to schedule your outgoing emails. This is especially useful if you’re doing outreach overseas, allowing you to send an email out during their business hours.


James:  I don’t use many tools mainly Raven Tools, Google Docs and Boomerang


Tadeusz: I’m very old school so I try to use as simple “tools” as possible. So I will use text files for a start. LinkedIn may be of help. I sometimes use Twitter lists. For bigger and long term projects I’d recommend a social CRM tool like NimbleCRM. Lately I’ve been also playing around with Engag.io
It’s not about the tools though. Finding the blogs is easy, you just need Google. E-mail is still the way of choice to contact strangers.


Rae:Some people I work with use spreadsheets as vast and wide as a fjord, I swear. I have nothing against spreadsheets; I rather adore them, but I prefer to write down the names of sites I’ve contacted. Something about that action, rather than hitting ctr+c ctr+v, helps me remember sites I’ve already reached out to, so I don’t step all over myself. I’m not comfortable if I don’t have a notebook and pen in front of me while I work (or anywhere, really.) Silly, huh?

I’m incredibly fond of Rapportive in social prospecting. I’ve been using it for a couple of years and it really makes the communications feel more real. You can only be so personal in text and from behind a screen, but seeing a bloggers’ profile image, their recent tweets, and their other works makes them so much more 3D. Outreach is all about “the conversation” (such a cliché, I’m sorry I even brought it up!) and Rapportive brings so much to the table.


Jason: Our team is not that big on tools, but here are some that we use:

  • Google Docs – to organize the phases of outreach and level of priorities in real-time, especially for projects that will require more than 2 outreach specialists (to lessen the chances of contacting a prospect twice).
  • Boomerang and Rapportive for Gmail
  • Ahrefs.com – which can be used to find more prospects from competitors or from the site itself (as it’s easier to contact blogs who have already linked to you in the past).
  • SEOQuakewe use the SERP overlay feature to scrape Google’s search results for blog prospects (you’ll just need to be smart with your queries to get the most out of your prospecting efforts)

Aimee: I mainly use media databases / Twitter / Radian 6 / Gorkana / Google blog search and Klout.


Wayne:There are a number of tools that I use but I guess you have to do what suits your budget and your processes.

  • Prospecting - advanced operators, Link Prospector, Blogdash, MyBlogGuest, Blogger LinkUp, followerwonk, Buzzstream prospector, Raven Link Finder
  • Collecting the ‘pre-qualifiers’ – Buzzstream does most of this for me with a bit of interference and and customisation
  • Organising – Buzzstream, Excel
  • Outreach – Buzzstream, Rapportive, Boomerang
  • Reporting it all back to the client – Raven Tools

4. What is the most important piece of advice you could ever give to someone starting out with a blogger outreach campaign?

Aimee: Be smart and you can get links and great PR coverage! I used to work within digital and with SEO campaigns,where the focus was on link building and not quality content – bloggers will hate you for taking this approach and you will not only risk damaging the brand reputation but it is actually an ineffective use of your company resources.

Bloggers are savvy and don’t want to detriment their own blog by giving away free links. If you want links then be smart – for example offer the blogger access to an exclusive competition on your website where there will need to be a link included, or host a competition on their site which requires the user to visit your site to find information/download a voucher etc. The key is integration.


Peter: Don’t mention your client or company in the first email and always be as nice as possible. Lately, the word “SEO” has been leaving a bad taste in some bloggers mouths and they can get unreasonably upset when they think you’re reaching out with “SEO intent”. If you happen to contact one of these bloggers and they know what company you’re working for, they can end up ranting about it on their blog. This can be a reputation nightmare if that blogger is influential in your industry.


James: Try to avoid getting overwhelmed… start small and branch out. Yes, there are so many opportunities out there but there’s no rush. Having said that, try to maintain some momentum to try and make sure people remember you and so as to maximise the impact of your efforts.


Tadeusz:It’s crucial to approach people like human beings, personally, emotionally and without pushing anything. Give to get even if it’s just attention and appreciation. “Dear Sir/Madam” mass mailings are not blogger outreach, they are SPAM.

To achieve this you have to do research first: Who is this person, what does s/he like? Why do you think would that person link out to you or write about you? Often just browsing the blog and reading a few posts may already suffice. You don’t need to stalk either.


Rae: The single most important lesson I ever learned about outreach – and probably the hardest one – was brevity. Be brutal with your form letter, if you use one. Chop it down! Be concise, skip the life story, skip the campaign goals, and for Pete’s sake, please don’t copy your about page. There really is something to the term “short and sweet.” Maybe not Twitter-short, and this may vary a little depending on your vertical, but one paragraph is most likely all you need. If you absolutely must lengthen your email, use bullet points to make your information as quick of a read as possible. (Obviously this was a tough lesson for me to learn – I just wrote seven sentences about it.)


Jason: Start with your own territory, your product, content, brand, story or whatever it is that you’ll want your target prospects to see, because it will be easier to scale things up once you’re sure that you are promoting something really worth promoting.


Wayne: Persevere and don’t get disillusioned – you will get rejections, you will get ignored, you will get the odd email that accuses you of being a spamming weirdo. Don’t take anything personal and keep on trucking…


Further Reading:

Link Building by Blogger Outreach by Paddy Moogan

Blogger Outreach: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly by Blueglass

Practical Guide to Blogger Outreach (SlideShare) by Yomego

Blah at Best: Not-for-Bedtime Blogger Outreach Horror Stories by Nicola Balkind


I think you’ll agree this post has provided you with a lot of great ideas to help you get started and improve the impact of your blogger outreach campaigns.

TL;DR – A bunch of great marketers give top class advice on utilising Blogger Outreach as  part of your Link Building and Online PR strategy.

What other suggestions would you add to this great blogger outreach advice? What has been your experiences of utilising blogger outreach for your campaigns? I’d love to share some experiences (Good/Bad) in the comments below.

Are You S[e]o Serious?

This a guest post by Anthony Pensabene

Hi.  I’ve been watching online marketing festivities, making observations from an in-circus and out-of-industry perspective.  As a comical observer, I can’t help but relay some ideas to play upon the minds of both clients and SEO practitioners.

I must begin with a question.  Are you s[e]o serious?  The answer to the question is contingent on the person/brand; and, the tragedy of the story is the reality of particular brands may be a comedy, savvy?
How serious are you about your brand, its reputation, and future direction?  Lately, I’ve seen some committing the following online felonies.

Chasing the Money

All dogs become hungry dogs.  Every dog’s gotta eat.  And the race ensues…  I need to chase the money too.  The Joker stated in The Dark Knight, “If you’re good at something, never do it for free.”  I’ve found a way to make money, to get fed, by doing what I love.  If the need for money perished, my love for what I do remains.   Is true happiness in the essence of deed or strictly the ends?

The love of craft compensates for ‘get-rich-now’ impatience.  Even in best-case scenarios, money-generation takes time and relies on a number of factors; patience is essential regarding a product/service you believe in.

How many out there truly believe in their products/services?  How many are proud and love what you do?  In gutting through some brands via razor-like inspection, I’ve come to suspect some of you don’t really believe in what you’re providing.  Would you like to know who is who?

Resources:
Content Marketing Manifesto
Friction and Inertia

Reliant on Others

You shouldn’t build your business heavily on one marketing vehicle (which doubles as another company *cough Google*). Furthermore, do not make your brand side-blind susceptible to the scruples of outsourced services… like marketing agencies.  You’re buying too much into the ‘illusion’ of stability…

All it takes is for one. Little.Panda.or.Penguin to appear…then, all of a sudden, your business revenue is contingent on Google and those who engineer SEO initiatives for YOUR business.  All it takes is a little rupture of that oh-so-illusory every-day status quo…

For one, ensure you know exactly what your SEO agency is doing. Outsourcing should allow additional resources to host your well-understood initiatives.  A lack of in-house resources should not mean a lack of understanding of how your business is being operated and represented.  No tactics should seem foreign or incomprehensible to you.

Secondly, and I hear this too often these days, it’s a bad business strategy to place all eggs in one business-lead basket.  That’s what Google is essentially, yes?  If you’re business’ future is reliant on the maneuvers of another business (you have no direct control over), then (you may want to) revisit your business model.

Resources:
Change the Way You Think
Stop Buying It (Snake Oil SEO)
Link Building from Scratch

Unfaithful to ‘Gotham’

Do you know why it may take so little to make big trouble in particular brands’ ‘cities’?  Some brands are not faithful to respective ‘citizens.’  That creates an opportunity for…chaos.

The customer is king and your marketing needs to be built for your target market.  How faithful are you to your brand’s respective, ‘Gotham’?  Are you ‘building awesome things’?  Otherwise, it won’t take much to upset their faith in you and bring your kingdom down.

Resources:
How to Make Emails Better
Are You Missing This Main Ingredient?
Consider This Job Offer

Not SEO Serious

You know why a number of the Joker’s plots were successful?  He was a keen psychologist.  He understood the ‘why’ of people.  The Joker would make an insane marketer, figuratively and literally.
The way I see it, SEO is a two-part process.  It communicates with engines; but, by and largely, it seeks to ultimately ‘speak’ to people through inherent-marketing knowhow.  Otherwise, I really couldn’t say it is optimized SEO, you know what I mean?  Some brands deem themselves experts, but ‘experts’ according to whom?

So while a number of some link-building, social media, and other online-tasks can adopt an automated pace, achieving the “engine” part of online marketing, you essentially need to charm the smiles on the faces of those who are making the actual purchases.  Do you wanna know how the most successful companies’ customers got those ‘scars’?  The companies always had their customers on their minds, not just engines or automated processes.

Resources:
Rapid-Fire Link Building
The Character of the Author is Relevant

Anthony writes professionally for WebiMax and gets down on his personal blog, Content Muse.  He champions the ‘people’ aspect of marketing and can be found roaming the mountains of Colorado with a smile and sandals on.

Why you F*%$ing Suck at Link Building

I wanted to write this blog post as a response to some posts from people on internet marketing blogs and forums who feel that the Penguin Update has ruined their easy link building efforts. Well guess what it has. The barrier to entry for link builders was lowered with the simplicity of cheap blog networks and automated tools such as Xrumer and Scrapebox which can build thousands of links per day with very little user interaction. IM Forums are littered with SEO’s crying that it’s just too hard to obtain editorial/contextual links from webmasters or bloggers and guess what I’m happy. A skill set I’ve worked at over the past few years to develop has just become even more in demand.

Well I’m going to tell you why YOU suck as a link builder.

It’s all about YOU YOU YOU – I’ve seen your outreach emails, I get them every day in my spam folder and the ones that slip through are pure narcissistic egotistical waffle. Nowhere in your outreach efforts do you offer any form of benefit to the webmaster to link to your site. It doesn’t have to be an exceptionally long piece of prose but a few bullet points to explain why a link to your site would be of interest to their community would probably increase your response rates 10 fold.

Pay it Forward – Your responsibility as a link builder grown adult is to establish some sort of relationship and invest in it before expecting someone you’ve never met to do you a favour? Come on, grow up and welcome to the real world. Subscribe to your prospects blog or Twitter Feed. Comment on their blog posts, share their stuff on your social media accounts and answer their questions on Quora. If you have anything about you the first email you send to them won’t be a begging letter for a link but actually offering them some feedback, advice or technical assistance. Just remember when you are link building you are dealing with a REAL person with REAL emotions and not a website.

Put the hours in – there was a reason you were paying a few dollars per link to BMR. You haven’t worked a single day in your life. The best link builders hard working, they get into the office early just to Skype with a blogger in a different time zone. Their mobile devices are buzzing day and night with emails to let them know their prospects are checking in nearby on Foursquare or have Tweeted a question. If you want to succeed at link building you need to work hard…

 

What do you say to a failed Link Builder?

 

Y U NO Tenacity? – Wait a minute you just sent someone who probably receives hundreds of emails every day, one email? Do yourself a favour and if you haven’t received a reply in a few days send another. What you didn’t get a response the second time? Pick up the phone, dial in their telephone number and speak to them. A good link builder won’t fall at the first hurdle and if after all this effort they still don’t link to your infographic on kittehs, make sure you keep their information for future link opportunities.

You’re just playing a numbers game – you scrape a bunch of contact info from Google and then just blindly fire out emails. Guess what, you’ve probably got more chance of winning the lottery than getting a link from an authority website in your niche with that method. Research and find the right people by asking yourself a few questions:How many social followers do they have?

  • How many RSS Subscribers do they have in a search with Google Reader?
  • Who are they connected to by checking with tools such as Mentionmapp or Klout?
  • Will they link to me? Have they linked to anything similar before?

If you follow the advice I give above you’ll start #winning at Link building. We all reach points in our projects where we would rather blame a bunch of external factors than actually look at the things we can have an effect on. Just like any marketing effort link building doesn’t just magically happen, we need to plan, measure, execute and refine our processes.