How to use Scrapebox for Link Building not Spamming

Scrapebox is well known in the SEO community as a Grey Hat, Black Hat, Yellow Polka Dotted Hat link building tool that is mainly used by blog commenting spammers. If you have ever spent any time reading blogs you will have seen the stereotypical comments on blogs. They usually say things such as “Great Blog Post thanks for sharing” with a keyword rich anchor text link to a site selling fake Ugg boots.

I know a lot of my regular readers will have a heart attack at the recommendation of using Scrapebox as a “White Hat” Link Building tool. A lot of people in the SEO community hate the thoughts of automated link building and the sheer mention of a tool such as Scrapebox makes their skin crawl. I can already imagine several people ready to jump down to the comments and tell me that tools like this are ruining the internet…

Well “Soapbox White Hatters” I’m going to show you a way that you can actually use Scrapebox to make the internet a better place… in fact a safer place for all!

So what is this Scrapebox Link building technique?

This link building technique utilises some of the free plugins that you can get from Scrapebox, the main tactic in this technique is to find a compromised or malware infected site and open a dialogue with the site owner in an attempt to receive a link either via a Guest Post or by suggesting the site owner replaces broken links with your own.

Scrapebox currently costs $97 (there are a few coupons on the net for $57 if you search around) and for the amount of time and money this tool will save you it is more than worth the investment. Scrapebox allows you to harvest thousands of URL’s from Google and Bing in no time at all and by entering your own custom footprints e.g. “submit * guest post” [keyword] you will find lots of guest blogging opportunities for your niche quickly. You can also import .txt files with lots of different search terms to put your harvesting on steroids.

The first free plugin you will need is the Malware and Phishing Filter once you have installed this plugin it allows you to search a list of sites from Scrapebox to find sites that have been compromised by some form of Malware. If you have Google Webmaster Tools setup on your websites then Google will normally inform you that a site has been infected by malware. Sadly many bloggers and small business owners rarely check their sites for malware and not everyone knows how to setup Google Webmaster tools.

Import your list of scraped URLs into the Malware checker and run it. This will flag up any site that has been compromised by some form of malware. You now want to export all of these bad urls and using the OSE check for PA/DA of the pages. Starting with the sites with the highest authority I then work down my list.

You can run the list through the Scrapebox Whois tool or use Scrapebox itself to check the contact page for any email addresses. You do not want to visit these sites as there is a risk that your computer maybe infected by a virus.

Now you want to send an email to the webmaster informing them of the malware issue on their site and send them a link to some helpful blog posts on how to fix malware infected sites. (If you haven’t checked out John Doherty’s blog post on SEOMoz about outreach email then make sure you do!)

You obviously do not want to ask for a link at this point. Depending on the quality of the site it might be worth using your hustle to track down alternative contact details too such as phone number, Twitter Handle, LinkedIn profile etc.

I have had a very good success rate in contacting webmasters using this technique and quite often I find that they are very grateful for you pointing out the problem on their website. Now that you have the dialogue with the site owner I will leave it to your imagination as to what approach you use next to obtain the link. But, this a good time to check the site for broken links or pitch a guest blog as the webmaster will probably have to recover the content on the site. I have even had a few webmasters offer me the chance to buy their sites for a small fee as they don’t have the time or inclination to fix their site and keep it up to date anymore!

So there you have it one way in which you can use a well regarded spam tool to speed up your link building research and to help make the web a safer place.

If you have any more Scrapebox tips and tricks drop them in the comments below.

Use Content Curation to Drive More Traffic

For the last couple of weeks I have been using a content curation service called Scoop.it to generate lots of referral traffic to my blog posts and I’ve decided to share what I have learned so far and also show how content curation can help you to grow your social network too.

What is Content Curation?

If you have a good understanding of the new social web landscape then there is no doubt that the term “content is king” comes up again and again. Content is the currency of the internet and by sharing your own great content and other people’s great content you will grow your social network and be held in high regard by your followers as the go to source or expert in your field.

By following all the latest news sources in your niche you can soon find yourself overrun with numerous RSS Feeds, Tweets, Google+ updates and Facebook shares flashing  before your eyes every day. This is where content curation comes in; quite simply content curation is the process of filtering out the best content that you find and then sharing this with your networks.

What is Scoop.it?

Scoop.it is a content curation service, but rather than have me rattle on about it you can watch this brief video below.

Scoop.it has the latest news delivered to you and allows you to re-share it with your social network. Another great aspect of Scoop.it is that other people can suggest for content to be added to your pages too. Scoop.it have a free entry profile which allows you to setup 5 pages and get used to the interface, if you want to curate information in more niches or have analytical data then you need to upgrade to a paid membership.

How to Use Scoop.it

The key to being a great content curator is by picking a niche in which to share your information and vigilantly sticking to it. The narrower the niche you decide to curate content in, the better. If you decide to setup a Scoop.it page about knitting patterns the majority of your regular followers are unlikely to be interested in your curated content on pictures of kittens.

First things first, go to Scoop.it and sign up with either your Twitter or Facebook Profile.

You will then see a screen similar to this one where you fill in the name, description and keywords for your new page.

Pro Tip: Use Google’s Keyword Tool to find keywords that people looking for your content may use. If you want to learn more you can read my blog post on using the Google Keyword Tool.

Now that your page is created you want to setup your news sources. Simply enter your keywords into the search box, these keywords will be checked regularly in Google, Digg and Youtube for the latest content in your niche. Next you want to click on Advanced Options. This is where knowing your niche comes into its own:

As you can see from the above image you can add in various personalised news sources such as RSS Feeds, Twitter accounts and lists, Google News Search, Google Blog Search and OPML files from Google Reader. You want to add all the best curators and thought leaders in your Niche to this list & the best blog feeds too.

Protip: Use a blog curator such as AllTop to grab your feed and setup a Twitter List of interesting people you can add to easily so you don’t have to keep adding them to your Scoop.it sources.

Now you are ready to start your new career as a content curator. After about an hour Scoop.it will have scraped your RSS feeds, Twitter Followers and searched Google for new content based on your keywords. Simply clicking Scoop.it will scoop the news to your page, from here you can share it with your Twitter and Facebook accounts, add tags to make the Scoop easier to find and change the text or images. If you don’t like a suggested article simply click discard and the page is removed.

Pro Tip: Install the Scoop.it App (its free) and add the Scoop.it bookmarklet to make it easier to Scoop content on the fly.

If you see a piece of content on another Scooper’s page you can “rescoop” it by clicking the arrows that look like a refresh button. It is also common etiquette to thank (thumbs up) your fellow content curator when you rescoop their find.

Generating Traffic to your Site with Scoop.it

Well there are two ways to get traffic from Scoop.it, the first is obviously to add your own blog posts & photos to your page. This will have limited results, just like running any web site, until you grow your following. Building a following takes time and may require weeks of curating and sharing great content, following other people on Scoop.it and commenting on other peoples Scoops. If you are anything like me this looks a lot like hard work, but by doing this I have noticed I am sharing lots more content with my Twitter followers and growing my followers.

So the second and quicker way, and I’m sure all the link builders have spotted this already, is to suggest your content to other users.

There are people on Scoop.it who already receive hundreds and hundreds of views per day to their pages and in one of the examples above they have had over 130k views in less than a few months. So by suggesting your own content to their page you have a chance that your post will be accepted and a good percentage of their fellow Scoopers will come flooding to your site and re-scoop your page to their followers and other social networks too.

To start you need to find who the influencers are in your niche. This is easy to do by searching for your keyword in the search bar at the top or by browsing the topics based on popularity and current trends.

You can then quickly research the curator as their profiles often contain links to their other social profiles e.g. Twitter or Facebook.

From the this example you can clearly see links to this Scoop.it users Linked.in, Twitter and Facebook Accounts.

As any experienced linkbuilder will tell you its important to build a relationship with a Social Media Influencer first rather than just bombard them with requests out of the blue. By engaging with them on other social networks and where possible find their website and contact information you can then begin to approach them with suggestions for their Scoop.it accounts.

My favourite tool at the moment to research potential link targets is Follower Wonk. It is a great way to learn more about who your influencer influences. It will also help you discover if they have any “Thought leaders” within their network, so you can gauge whether or not your suggested content will go Viral if it is shared by them too.

My last blog post on Automating Google+ with your other Social Media Accounts was curated on a very popular Google+ Scoop.it page. Over the next 48 hours I received about two hundred visitors from this page and two other pages that re-scooped my blog post. I also received a 10% increase in traffic from Twitter and Facebook than normal during this period too.

But, isn’t Content Curation Bad for my SEO?

In a post Panda World I can understand why people might worry about “duplicated content” but the thing about content curation services such as Scoop.it is that you never republish the whole web page. The web page is also linked back to from Scoop.it providing confirmation of the contents origins and although most of links on Scoop.it are no-followed, to prevent spamming, a link is still a link.

Many businesses forget that SEO is not just about links or chasing the number one spot in the SERP’s but by growing and diversifying the traffic to your website. By having diverse traffic sources you will be able to continue to grow your business online for a long time to come no matter what happens with the next big “algo” change.

If you have had any positive or negative experiences with curation services such as Scoop.it please leave a comment below.

How To Post To Your Social Media Accounts From Google+

There are some updates troubleshooting some issues people had while implementing some of the actions in this post within the comments.

Google+ is here to stay, the launch of Google’s “Search+ your World” feature now means it is critical to make sure that as a marketer you are using Google+ to share your and other people’s content and grow your network with their service.

If you haven’t already started to use Google’s new social media service then below is a link to video from Rand Fishkin, the founder of SEOMoz, who explains the importance of utilising Google+ quite eloquently:

I’m sure if you are anything like me being active on yet another Social Media platform is something you just don’t have a lot of time to do. So this blog post is just to show you a few quick tools you can use to update your other Social Media services notably Twitter, Facebook and WordPress from your Google+ account.

Using IFTTT and RSS Feeds

IFTTT, If This Then That, is a great tool to automate your life on the internet. I mentioned it in my previous Social Media automation blog post and more features are being added every single day to the service. By reusing some of the recipes I have created you can easily post to your all your social media accounts from Google+.

The first recipe to use is Google Plus RSS Feed to Twitter this allows you to automatically post to your Twitter account when your Google Plus is updated. There maybe a slight delay between the two as Google are still only allowing developers to use RSS and haven’t released an API for developers yet. Simply authorise IFTTT to post to your Twitter account and follow the simple instructions.

The next recipe you need to setup is Google Plus to Facebook this does a very similar thing to the Twitter recipe above, simply authorise IFTTT to post to your Facebook wall and add your Google Plus RSS Feed too.

Using an Email from Google+ to Update a WordPress Blog

OK this is slightly more technical than just using IFTTT but if you can setup a POP3 email account then you should be able to do this.

  1. Firstly you want to create a unique email address, something like [email protected] it needs to be an email address no one will be able to guess. I don’t recommend using a free service such as Gmail or Yahoo.
  2. Now login to WordPress and scroll down to your Settings > Writing and fill in the name of the mail server and port number your web hosting provider uses.
  3. Next, enter the login name and password for your new e-mail account and select the default category that your Google Plus emails will be posted to.
  4. Now you need to add the following HTML into your WordPress theme footer:
    <iframe src="http://yourblogdomain/wordpressinstalldir/wp-mail.php" name="mailiframe" 
    width="0" height="0" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title=""></iframe>
  5. Finally go to Google+ and create a new Circle. You can call it blog, WordPress, or whatever you want. Go to add the email address that you just created and tied to your blog, to the new circle.
  6. Now when ever you want to share a Google+ post on your blog, just add your new “blog” circle to the list of users you are sharing with. Make sure that “Also email 1 person not yet using Google+” is checked, and hit Share.

If you get stuck with syncing your email to your blog follow these more detailed instructions by WordPress
.

There’s an App for That

Finally, if you are out and about and want to post to Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus simultaneously there is an iPhone app that will allow you to do so. iStatus+ is a great little app that any social media junkie would be happy to have in their toolkit. It’s as simple as adding all your account information into the app and off you go. For a bargain basement price of 69p ($0.99) then you can’t go wrong.

iStatus - Google plus App

As this app also allows you to post to Twitter, the app is probably better for shorter updates as Twitter as a limit of just 140 characters, but you can easily exclude Twitter from longer updates by just tapping its icon above the keyboard.

I hope that’s helped you keep on top of updating all of your social media profiles, please leave your comments below if you have any more great tips.

Choose the Right Weight Class – Keyword Research with the Google Keyword Tool

So many people go wrong when it comes to keyword research. I find all too often people struggle to get keyword research right. They try to rank for keywords that don’t bring traffic or they are so competitive they will really struggle to ever compete with the big players.

The first problem I want to cover is aiming for keywords which are far too competitive to ever seriously rank your website for. The sites you are going up against have a lot of domain authority generated from years of high quality links pointing to them.

The second issue is you want to rank for keywords that will send you traffic, and if you rely solely on the Google Keyword tool you soon realise it can lead you to false expectations. The main flaw with the Google keyword tool is you can’t always find long tail keywords with traffic. Earlier this year SEOmoz wrote an article on the “hidden data” in Google’s adword Keyword Tool.

As you can see below Rand highlighted a number of search terms that were bringing the site hundreds of visitors every month to the site but were not suggested by Google when you research the keyword phrase “Blog Traffic”.

From the table above it is evident that Google is not showing any data for keywords that are bringing in 800+ visitors every month to the SEOmoz blog.

What types of Keywords do you want to aim for?

When you are starting out on your keyword research journey you really want to understand your business and the market you are operating in. In other words you want to find out what “weight class” you are positioning your website in.

If you think about this in a common sense way, when you are starting out you want to target the “easy keywords” that you can rank well for quickly and easily. It’s better to start small, fight in your weight class, develop the content you need to target them and over time you will begin to learn what it takes to rank for the harder and more competitive keywords.

You need traffic to serve the purpose that you need. Early in my career I made the mistake of simply chasing keywords that would just send me traffic. What I should have being doing was focus the following key areas:

  1. Keywords that bring in buyers who will spend money with you
  2. Create keyword targeted content that will bring traffic where people are looking for free information or news and ultimately these people may sign up to your RSS Feed or email list
  3. You want to target a piece of content that’s a little more fun or entertaining and even though this may not be appealing to your target market. The great thing here is that people will seed your content on social media because they enjoyed it even if they don’t believe in the product or service you are promoting

As I highlighted above the best keywords are the one’s which get people who are going to spend money to your site. Often people will suggest you target a particular brand name but all too often these types of keywords are more difficult to rank for as Google often will return large ecommerce providers such as Amazon or the main brand website for these terms.

I find the best way to do this is to help buyers to answer the pre buyer questions they might have. These are people who already know that they want to buy a product i.e. TV, Laptop but are not sure which is best for their needs & budget. So by targeting phrases such as “Product A review” or “Product A vs. Product B” you can often rank for these keywords quite easily with good on page SEO and little need for additional link building to the new pages you create.

Beware of the Panda

But you don’t want to just create one page for every keyword you aim for… Amit Singhal gave us a list of questions to ask ourselves about the types of sites that the Google Panda Update was designed to target.

The question I feel has the most impact for keyword research and site architecture is:

“Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?”

This is very interesting, and what you need to be careful of here is if your web pages target keywords that are very similar, e.g. “How to get blog traffic” and “How to Increase Blog Traffic” then you might be in trouble with the big G. If you do want to target more than one keyword, you are better to target them on the same page, by structuring your content in a way that allows for these different keywords to be covered.

If you follow these tips then you will be choosing the right “weight class” of keywords to target and start to see organic traffic increase over time.

One of the most common tools that people use when carrying out keyword research for their website or blog is the free keyword tool provided by Google. In no way is this blog post meant to act as a fully comprehensive account of all the features and uses for the keyword tool but hopefully there will be a few useful hints and tips you didn’t know about that could improve the way you perform keyword research for pay per click or SEO campaigns.

The first thing you want to do is make sure that you are signed in to Google. The 2 reasons that you want to do this that instead of returning just 100 keyword ideas you can get access to 800. The second reason that you want to make sure you are signed in to the Google Keyword tool is that you have access to so many more features such as Local search trends, Approximate CPC (Cost per Click) and Google search network which shows the number of user searches for the keyword on the Google Search Network per month, based on an approximate 12-month average. This statistic is specific to your targeted country and language, and is only available for exact match type.

Extracting Google Keyword Tool Data

In the below example I have searched for data on the keyword term Protein Shakes (after all everyone is trying to get in shape in January). I have selected the Exact Match types (this is best practice when performing keyword research) & I am using the UK and English for my location and language settings.

Google Keyword Tool

As you can see because I am logged in I have the column Local Search Trends available. It produces some nice little green data bars.

Some of the information presented by the Google keyword tool is not very useful in the format in which it is presented within and I find it is better to download the results into a spreadsheet so that you can work with them. Simply select download as CSV for Excel and open the results.

From the results I have downloaded you can now see the searches per month for the keywords we are researching, this allows us to see where there are seasonal fluctuations in search volumes and also to determine if there is a rising or declining trend for a product we are optimising our sites for.

As you can clearly see there is a significant drop in search traffic in August this common across most niches in the UK simply because it is a popular time for us Brits to bring our unique culture to our European neighbours.

Use High Ranking Sites for Keyword Ideas

A pretty cool feature you can use is the find keywords by website feature, this allows you to insert a URL and get keyword ideas for content that is not already featured on that web page. The top ranking website in the UK is proteinshakes.org.uk (who says exact match domains are dead, eh?) I have simply copy and pasted the homepage url into the Google keyword research tool and it has returned lots of results that Google feels this page is relevant for.

By sorting the results by competition we can find some highly competitive keywords with good traffic that with a little on-page optimisation and a few relevant links this page could rank well for too. In the example below Protein Supplements and Protein Shakes for Weight loss have some great search volumes and as they have a high competition it means that these keywords have a high commercial value attached to them that will probably have a good conversion rate too.

Filtering Keywords

On the left hand side of the Google keyword tool are two boxes Include terms and Exclude terms. These do exactly what they say on the tin and allow you to remove keywords that are not relevant to your site’s content.

This a feature that I see many experienced internet marketers ignoring when performing keyword research for their clients especially if the client has advised they don’t offer a particular product or service.

Finding Mobile Browser Search Traffic

With the bumper growth of mobile search and the recent news story just a few days ago on the BBC that mobile devices saw 1.2 billion app downloads in a week. It is very important that you also check mobile search data as part of your keyword research. I’d say the number 1 thing you need to invest your web design budget on this year is a mobile friendly website.

You may have spotted where to change the device data in a previous screenshot (bonus points if you did) if not here it is.

The drop down box “Show Ideas and Statistics for” in advanced settings allows you to easily change the type of device your potential site visitors are using. This is very useful for businesses in the Food and Entertainment industry where mobile traffic is growing rapidly.

Finally, don’t expect that the data in the Google keyword tool is highly accurate; the search volumes are estimates and quite often they are over-estimated.

I hope this blog post has shown you a few features of the Google keyword tool you aren’t already using and if you have any more tips feel free to leave a comment below.

Social Media on Autopilot for Busy People

Anyone who’s anyone is talking about Social Media and how it is the new way to find new customers and interact with your old ones.  I can understand that many busy business owners probably struggle to find enough hours in the day to remember to eat, let alone Tweet. I rarely write about Social Media on this blog but I thought I would share this tactic I recently used for a new client. My client was a very busy local business owner who didn’t have a single Social Media account let alone a Social Media strategy, and I certainly didn’t have the time to look after another account too so I went about finding ways to save time for us both.

Everyday my Twitter and Google+ streams are full of people in my niche sharing other people’s great content and by doing so getting more and more followers, they become “Thought Leaders” or subject matter experts. You see the Social Media is just that “Social” if you want to be popular on Twitter you need to do just 3 things… that’s right 3 things!

  1. Engage with other people
  2. Share & Reshare other peoples great content
  3. Share your own content

I have put these things in their order of importance and as you can see talking about yourself is the last thing to do. By  sharing really good content you will get more followers and not just any old followers, engaged followers  & people who think you are the person with their finger on the pulse in your industry.

But, I don’t have time to sit on Twitter or LinkedIn all day looking for Infographics, Videos or blogs to share with my followers.

Well this is why I am going to show you a great tool & a couple of tips which will allow you to do this on autopilot!

Find the Content Specialists

Firstly you need to find the top bloggers  in your industry. You probably already know who a few of these are, but you can either do a quick search on Google or use a blog directory; Alltop is a superb place to start and so is Technorati

You want to make a list of the RSS feeds of all the blogs you like in a text file. If you don’t know what an RSS Feed is read this

Automatically Post to Social Media

The RSS to Twitter service dlvr.it is the go to service here, it’s dead easy to setup and allows you to post to a number of social accounts at the same time including Twitter, LinkedIn  and Facebook. All you have to do is paste in the feeds and add your social profiles.

If you want you can also add more rules to your feeds so that only posts containing or not containing particular words, this allows you to have some editorial control over what updates are shared with your audience. You can also add extra text to the update such as hashtags or an intro or call to action such as “Read this Great Article…”  will help get your updates noticed.

dlvr.it provides metrics such as the number of clicks and retweets you receive and it will show you your most popular content for the past 7 days… did I mention it was free?

Another great feature I use with dlvr.it is their schedule a post. This allows you to setup announcements in advance in case you are away or you could reshare some of your popular content from the past to your new followers or people who may have missed it.

Engaging With Followers on Autopilot

Remember rule number 1?

That’s right engage with other people on Social Media, well there is a great service that I discovered only a few weeks ago called ifttt , pronounced ift as in lift.

IFTTT stands for “If This Then That”, it allows you to automate tasks online such as you can back up your Instagram photos to Dropbox automatically or you can receive an alert if someone tags you on Facebook.

The automated tasks or “recipes” I use the most are:

  1. Thank someone on Twitter if they RT me
  2. Greet New Twitter Follower
  3. Post Tweets with #FB to Facebook
  4. Email me when someone mentions me on Twitter
  5. Send an SMS when a particular person sends out a Tweet (I’m not stalker honest)

The tasks above are great especially if you send a tweet to someone who might mention you with the hashtag #FF (Follow Friday) or you can jump online if you receive an SMS as one of your friends has mentioned you or tagged you on Facebook.

ifttt is growing rapidly and more and more services are being added to improve your automation online, it really is very easy to use and I recommend you go setup a few recipes now, at the moment I am setting up a task to send me a Google Calendar update to “Remember an Umbrella” if tomorrows weather report is predicting rain.

By using tools such as ifttt and dlvr.it it means you don’t have to spend hours online everyday and can start to get more out of social media.

If you have any more great Social Media automation tips please feel free to leave a comment below or send me a tweet @rootswebsol

+Chris Dyson