MOZ – Excerpted article was written By: Rand Fishkin
Are you guilty of living in the past? Using methods that were once tried-and-true can be alluring, but it can also prove dangerous to your search strategy. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand spells out eight old school SEO practices that you should ditch in favor of more effective and modern alternatives.
Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to chat about some old school SEO practices that just don’t work anymore and things with which we should replace them.
Let’s start with the first one — keywords before clicks.
Look, I get the appeal here. The idea is that we’ve done a bunch of keyword research, now we’re doing keyword targeting, and we can see that it might be important to target multiple keywords on the same page. So FYI, “pipe smoking,” “tobacco smoking,” “very dangerous for your health,” not recommended by me or by Moz, but I thought it was a funny throwback keyword and so there you go. I do enjoy little implements even if I never use them.
So pipes, tobacco pipes, pipe smoking, wooden pipes, this is not going to draw anyone’s click. You might think, “But it’s good SEO, Rand. It’s good to have all my keywords in my title element. I know that’s an important part of SEO.” Not anymore. It really is not anymore an important . . . well, let’s put it this way. It’s an important part of SEO, which is subsumed by wanting to draw the clicks. The user is searching, they’re looking at the page, and what are they going to think when they see pipes tobacco, pipes, pipe smoking, wooden pipes? They have associations with that — spammy, sketchy, I don’t want to click it — and we know, as SEOs, that Google is using click signals to help documents rank over time and to help websites rank over time.
So if they’re judging this, you’re going to fall in the rankings, versus a title like “Art of Piping: Studying Wooden Pipes for Every Price Range.” Now, you’re not just playing off the, “Yes, I am including some keywords in there. I have ‘wooden’ and ‘pipes.’ I have ‘art of piping,’ which is maybe my brand name.” But I’m worried more about drawing the click, which is why I’m making this part of my message of “for every price range.” I’m using the word “stunning” to draw people in. I’m saying, “Our collection is not the largest but the hand-selected best. You’ll find unique pipes available nowhere else and always free, fast shipping.”
I’m essentially trying to create a message, like I would for an AdWords ad, that is less focused on just having the raw keywords in there and more focused on drawing the click. This is a far more effective approach that we’ve seen over the last few years. It’s probably been a good six or seven years that this has been vastly superior to this other approach.
Second one, heavy use of anchor text on internal links.
This used to be a practice that could have positive impacts on rankings. But what we’ve seen lately, especially the last few years, is that Google has discounted this and has actually even punished it where they feel like it’s inappropriate or spammy, manipulative, overdone. We talked about this a little in our internal and external linking Whiteboard Friday a couple of weeks back.
In this case, my suggestion would be if the internal link is in the navigation, if it’s in the footer, if it’s in a sidebar, if it’s inside content, and it is relevant and well-written and it flows well, has high usability, you’re pretty safe. However, if it has low usability, if it looks sketchy or funny, if you’re making the font small so as to hide it because it’s really for search engines and not for searchers and users, now you’re in a sketchy place. You might count on being discounted, penalized, or hurt at some point by Google.
Number three, pages for every keyword variant.
This is an SEO tactic that many folks are still pursuing today and that had been effective for a very long time. So the idea was basically if I have any variation of a keyword, I want a single page to target that because keyword targeting is such a precise art and technical science that I want to have the maximum capacity to target each keyword individually, even if it’s only slightly different from another one. This still worked even up to four or five years ago, and in some cases, people were sacrificing usability because they saw it still worked.
Nowadays, Google has gotten so smart with upgrades like Hummingbird, obviously with RankBrain last year, that they’ve taken to a much more intent- and topic-matching model. So we don’t want to do something like have four different pages, like unique hand-carved pipes, hand-carved pipes, hand-carved tobacco pipes, and hand-carved tobacco smoking pipes. By the way, these are all real searches that you’ll find in Google Suggest or AdWords. But rather than taking all of these and having a separate page for each, I want one page targeting all of them. I might try and fit these keywords intelligently into the content, the headline, maybe the title, the meta description, those kinds of things. I’m sure I can find a good combination of these. But the intent for each of these searchers is the same, so I only want one page targeting them.
Number four — directories, paid links, etc.
Every single one of these link building, link acquisition techniques that I’m about to mention has either been directly penalized by Google or penalized as part of an update, or we’ve seen sites get hit hard for doing it. This is dangerous stuff, and you want to stay away from all of these at this point.
Directories, well, generic directories and SEO directories for sure. Article links, especially article blasts where you can push an article in and there’s no editorial review. Guest content, depending on the editorial practices, the board might be a little different. Press releases, Google you saw penalized some press release websites. Well, it didn’t penalize the press release website. Google said, “You know what? Your links don’t count anymore, or we’re going to discount them. We’re not going to treat them the same.”
Comment links, for obvious reasons, reciprocal link pages, those got penalized many years ago. Article spinners. Private link networks. You see private and network, or you see network, you should just generally run away. Private blog networks. Paid link networks. Fiverr or forum link buys.
You see advertised on all sorts of SEO forums especially the more aggressive, sketchy ones that a lot of folks are like, “Hey, for $99, we have this amazing package, and I’ll show you all the people whose rankings it’s increased, and they come from PageRank six,” never mind that Page Rank is totally defunct. Or worse, they use Moz. They’ll say like, “Domain authority 60-plus websites.” You know what, Moz is not perfect. Domain authority is not a perfect representation of the value you’re going to get from these things. Anyone who’s selling you links on a forum, you should be super skeptical. That’s somewhat like someone going up to your house and being like, “Hey, I got this Ferrari in the yard here. You want to buy this?” That’s my Jersey coming out.
Social link buys, anything like this, just say no people.
Number five, multiple microsites, separate domains, or separate domains with the same audience or topic target.
So this again used to be a very common SEO practice, where folks would say, “Hey, I’m going to split these up because I can get very micro targeted with my individual websites.” They were often keyword-rich domain names like woodenpipes.com, and I’ve got handmadepipes.net, and I’ve got pipesofmexico.co versus I just have artofpiping.com, not that “piping” is necessarily the right word. Then it includes all of the content from all of these. The benefit here is that this is going to gain domain authority much faster and much better, and in a far greater fashion than any of these will.
Let’s say that it was possible that there is no bias against the exact match domain names folks. We’re happy to link to them, and you had just as much success branding each of these and earning links to each of these, and doing content marketing on each of these as you did on this one. But you split up your efforts a third, a third, a third. Guess what would happen? These would rank about a third as well as all the content would on here, which means the content on handmadepipes.net is not benefitting from the links and content on woodenpipes.com, and that sucks. You want to combine your efforts into one domain if you possibly can. This is one of the reasons we also recommend against subdomains and microsites, because putting all of your efforts into one place has the best shot at earning you the most rankings for all of the content you create.
Number six, exact and partial keyword match domain names in general.
It’s the case like if I’m a consumer and I’m looking at domain names like woodenpipes.com, handmadepipes.net, uniquepipes.shop, hand-carved-pipes.co, the problem is that over time, over the last 15, 20 years of the Web, those types of domain names that don’t sound like real brands, that are not in our memories and don’t have positive associations with them, they’re going to draw clicks away from you and towards your competitors who sound more credible, more competent, and more branded. For that reason alone, you should avoid them.
It’s also that case that we’ve seen that these types of domains do much more poorly with link earning, with content marketing, with being able to have guest content accepted. People don’t trust it. The same is true for public relations and getting press mentions. The press doesn’t trust sites like these.
For those reasons, it’s just a barrier. Even if you thought, “Hey, there’s still keyword benefits to these,” which there is a little bit because the anchor text that comes with them, that points to the site always includes the words and phrases you’re going after. So there’s a little bit of benefit, but it’s far overwhelmed by the really frustrating speed bumps and roadblocks that you face when you have a domain like this.
Number seven — Using CPC or Adwords’ “Competition” to determine the difficulty of ranking in organic or non-paid results
A lot of folks, when they’re doing keyword research, for some reason still have this idea that using cost per click or AdWords as competition scores can help determine the difficulty of ranking in organic, non-paid results. This is totally wrong.
So see right here, I’ve got “hand-carved pipes” and “unique wooden pipes,” and they have an AdWords CPC respectively of $3.80 and $5.50, and they have AdWords competition of medium and medium. That is in no way correlated necessarily with how difficult they’ll be to rank for in the organic results. I could find, for example, that “unique wooden pipes” is actually easier or harder than “hand-carved pipes” to rank for in the organic SEO results. This really depends on: Who’s in the competition set? What types of links do they have and social mentions do they have? How robust is their content? How much are they exciting visitors and drawing them in and serving them well? That sort of stuff is really hard to calculate here.
I like the keyword difficulty score that Moz uses. Some other tools have their own versions. Doctor Pete, I think, did a wonderful job of putting together a keyword difficulty score that’s relatively comprehensive and well-thought through, uses a lot of the metrics about the domain and the page authority scores, and it compensates for a lot of other things, to look at a set of search results and say, “This is probably about how hard it’s going to be,” and whether it’s harder or easier than some other keyword.
Number eight — Unfocused, non-strategic “linkbait”
Last one, some folks are still engaging in this, I think because content strategy, content marketing, and content as a whole has become a very hot topic and a point of investment. Many SEOs still invest in what I call “nonstrategic and unfocused link bait.” The idea being if I can draw links to my website, it doesn’t really matter if the content doesn’t make people very happy or if it doesn’t match and gel well with what’s on my site. So you see a lot of these types of practices on sites that have nothing to do with it. Like, “Here are seven actors who one time wore too little clothing.” That’s an extreme example, but you get the idea if you ever look at the bottom ads for a lot of content stuff. It feels like pretty much all of them say that.
Versus on topic link bait or what I’d call high quality content that is likely to draw in links and attention, and create a positive branding association like, “Here’s the popularity of pipes, cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, and cigars in the U.S. from 1950 to today.” We’ve got the data over time and we’ve mapped that out. This is likely to earn a lot of links, press attention. People would check it out. They’d go, “Oh, when was it that electronic cigarettes started getting popular? Have pipes really fallen off? It feels like no one uses them anymore. I don’t see them in public. When was that? Why was that? Can I go over time and see that dataset?” It’s fundamentally interesting, and data journalism is, obviously, very hot right now.
Laughter is a universal language and one of our first communication methods. Before we had spoken or written language, humans used laughter to express our enjoyment or accession with a certain situation. It’s also a form of communication that bridges the gap between various languages, cultures, ages and demographics. So it’s no wonder that funny memes and witty hashtags are such a hit on social media. In fact, according to one study, “humor was employed at near unanimous levels for all viral advertisements. Consequently, this study identified humor as the universal appeal for making content viral.”
So, humorous content gets shared more on social media channels. That’s an obvious benefit for your brand. But what other benefits can you gain by making your audience laugh? Following are four other advantages to using humorous content.
1. It creates unity.
Laughter is social. We laugh 30 times more when we’re with other people than when we’re alone, according to Robert R. Provine, professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Laughter eases tension and forms a sense of unity through groups. Get your Facebook fans or Twitter followers laughing, and you’ll be helping to establish a sense of community and building connections with your brand and amongst your fans and followers.
2. It triggers emotional responses.
Humor creates positive feelings. Laughing releases endorphins, relaxes the body, boosts the immune system, helps to relieve stress and overall just makes us feel good. These physiological and chemical responses are unconscious, and create a pleasant emotional response. By using humor in your content on social media, you help to associate pleasant feelings with your brand.
3. It makes your brand memorable.
Positive feelings create memories. Research has shown that just 42% of positive experiences were forgotten, while 60% of negative experiences faded from memory. No one remembers a dull Facebook post or boring YouTube video, but we all remember Kmart’s “I Shipped My Pants” commercials, even if we’d forgotten that Kmart was around. Making your audience feel good through humorous content will help them to remember your brand in the short- and long-term.
4. It provides audience insights.
Peter McGraw, director of the Humor Research Lab and author of the Humor Code, states that “funny” is the intersection of benign and violation. If something is benign — a everyday observation — it’s not going to be funny. If something is a violation — a gross or offensive view of the world — it’s also not going to be funny. But that sweet spot between everyday and offensive, that’s where funny happens.
Learning where that sweet spot is for your audience can tell you a lot about their mindset, values and desires. To find this perfect junction, you may have to test things you think are too benign or too offensive, which does create some risks. But the insights you gain into your audience’s mentality can be well worth the uncertainty.
Being funny helps to create stronger emotional ties with your audience, creates better brand recall and builds a closer knit community. Humor may not come naturally for your brand, and may not always be the right approach. Luckily, social media allows you to test and iterate quickly to find the best humorous tone for your brand and audience.
ClickZ is a Mashable publishing partner that provides marketing news and expert advice.
NEW YORK, NY / ACCESSWIRE / April 24, 2017 / 4AutoInsuranceQuote, a company that offers free auto insurance rate comparisons, has just posted an interesting article on their website that may inspire people to be more careful about what they post on Facebook and other social media websites. Titled “Social Media Being Used For Insurance Investigations,” the article explains how certain posts could possibly get people into trouble with their insurance companies.
According to the new article, insurers and law enforcement officials are monitoring social media posts to check for insurance fraud. As the article notes, people sometimes file a police report, contact their insurance company to let them know about the accident and then make posts about it on Facebook, Twitter and other sites. Unfortunately, the article says, if people reveal incorrect details about the accident, the insurance claim could end up being denied.
Interestingly, 4AutoInsuranceQuote is not the only website that has posted an article about the connection between social media posts and possible denials of insurance; the CBS News website also ran a story on the same topic, claiming that because so many people are on social media, the sites are routinely monitored for evidence of fraud. An article on the Claims Journal website agrees with this premise, stating that investigation and social networking research are “a required tool.”
As the new article on 4AutoInsuranceQuote noted, insurance companies could also possibly check a driver’s social media account for photos of what the vehicle looked like prior to the accident. And if the driver was injured during the accident, adjusters could possibly look at current photos to see if and how the incident has impacted the person’s life.
“There are currently no laws or restrictions on an insurance adjuster’s ability to scour social media sites for information to aid their investigation,” the new article noted, adding that in the law’s eyes, any information listed on public websites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and others is fair game.
“Often times, the first step in a claims investigation is to run a simple Google search on the claimant to reveal all of their social media profiles.”
4AutoInsuranceQuote is a car insurance rate comparison engine located in New York City. Since 2008, 4AutoInsuranceQuote has provided more and one million free car insurance quotes to Americans. Please visit http://www.4autoinsurancequote.com for a free insurance quote today.
NEW YORK, N.Y. – Got hundreds of Facebook friends you hardly know?
By Anick Jesdanun
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Now is a good time to do some digital cleanup, while the year is still fresh. Review your security and privacy settings, and make sure those casual acquaintances you met at a bar eons ago aren’t still getting the most intimate details of your life. Get rid of games and apps that might have latched onto your account years ago, but that you no longer use.
Here are six cleanup tips:
SECURE YOUR ACCOUNT
You’ve doubtless heard you should have a strong password. It’s especially important for email and social-networking accounts because so much of your digital life revolves around them. Plus, many other services let you log on using your Facebook account, so if that gets compromised, so will your other accounts.
Because passwords are tough to manage, it’s best not to rely solely on them. Turn on what Facebook calls Login Approvals. It’s in the account settings under “Security.” After you do so, you’re asked for confirmation — entering a special number sent to your phone — when signing on from a new device.
Unless you switch devices often, this is something you set up once and forget about. And no one else can log in with your password unless they also have your phone and that special number.
REVIEW YOUR PRIVACY SETTINGS
Facebook offers a series of quick privacy “shortcuts.” On desktops and laptops, look for the small padlock on the upper right corner of the browser. On Apple and Android devices, access shortcuts through the menu — the three horizontal bars.
The key shortcut is “Who can see my stuff ?” See whether you’ve been inadvertently broadcasting your musings to the entire Facebook community. You’ll probably want to at least limit sharing to “Friends” rather than “Public,” though you can customize that further to exclude certain individuals or groups — such as co-workers, acquaintances or grandparents. When sharing, remember that less is more.
While you’re at it, check “Timeline and Tagging” in your account settings from a PC or mobile. You can insist on approving posts that people tag you in. Note that this is limited to what appears on your personal timeline; if Mary tags you in a post, Mary’s friends will still see it regardless of your settings. That includes friends you may have in common with her.
If you’re on a desktop or laptop, Facebook has a Privacy Checkup tool to review your settings. Look for that padlock. This tool is coming soon to mobile.
MAKE ENEMIES … OR AT LEAST UNFRIEND SOME
Purge friends you’re no longer in touch with. If you think “unfriending” is too mean, add them to an “Acquaintances” or “Restricted” list instead. “Acquaintances” means they won’t show up in your news feed as often, though they’ll still have full access to any posts you distribute to your friends. “Restricted” means they’ll only see posts you mark as public. Either is effectively a way to unfriend someone without dropping any clues you’ve done so.
You can also create custom lists, such as “college friends” or “family.” This is great for oversharing with those who’ll appreciate it, while not annoying everyone else you know and putting yourself in danger of becoming an “acquaintance” yourself. You can create lists on a traditional PC by hitting “More” next to “Friends” to the left of your news feed. Individuals can be in multiple groups. Capabilities are limited on mobile devices, although changes you make on the PC will appear on your phone or tablet.
WATCH THOSE APPS
Perhaps someone invited you to play a game a few years ago. You tried it a few weeks and moved on, yet the app is still getting access to your data. Or perhaps you’ve used Facebook to log onto a service you no longer use, such as one to track the 2014 Winter Olympics. It’s time to sign out. If you’re not sure you still use it, drop it anyway. You can always sign on again.
The Privacy Checkup tool on PCs will review apps for you automatically. On mobile devices, look for “Apps” in the account settings (not “Apps” in the main menu).
A related option is the Security Checkup tool. It’s an easy way to log out of Facebook on devices you rarely use. You can also enable alerts when someone tries to sign on from a new device or browser. To run this, go to http://Facebook.com/securitycheckup on a PC. On the Android app, you can search for “security checkup” in the Help Center. On iPhones and iPads, you’ll have to find the options individually in the account settings under “Security.”
CONTROL YOUR DATA
You can exert some influence over whose posts you see more or less often by going to “News Feeds Preferences.” The setting is on the top right on browsers and Android apps and on the lower right on iPhones. Here, you can select friends who’ll always show up on top, or hide someone’s posts completely.
Finally, if you’re worried about data usage, you can stop videos in your news feeds from playing automatically. On Android, go to “Autoplay” in the “App Settings.” On iPhones, it’s in the account settings under “Videos and Photos.”
Two settings might eliminate grief later in life … or death.
In the security settings, you can designate certain friends as trusted contacts. They’ll have power to help you if you get locked out of your account for some reason. You can also designate a “Legacy Contact” — a family member or close friend who’d serve as your administrator should you, um, make your last status update (as in, ever). They won’t be able to post on your behalf or see your messages, but they’ll be able to respond to new friend requests and take a few additional actions on your deceased behalf.
Excerpted article was written By Glenn Leibowitz | Inc.com
The folks at content marketing firm Contently in New York City believe in the power of storytelling so much, they’ve adopted a Hopi Indian proverb that reflects their mission to create a better media world:
Those who tell the stories rule the world
They’ve even painted it on the wall of their office.
I’ve never been to Contently’s office, but I did have the chance to chat with Shane Snow, Contently’s co-founder and Chief Creative Officer, about the elements of a good story.
Shane knows a lot about storytelling. In addition to co-founding Contently, he’s an award-winning journalist who writes for publications such as Wired and The New Yorker. He’s also the author of the recent book, Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success.
For Shane, there are at least three things that comprise a good story:
Fluency : Can you get through the story quickly? Or are you bogged down in the sentences rather than the ideas?
Relatability : Is the story something you can personally connect to in some way?
Novelty : Is there something about the story that is surprising or new –even if it is something that is rooted in ancient storytelling templates, themes, or morals that haven’t changed in a long time?
These storytelling concepts work in novels and movies. But I asked Shane whether the elements of good storytelling can be applied to shorter form content such as blog posts on LinkedIn.
His answer? Absolutely.
As a LinkedIn Influencer, he’s written a lot on the platform and has attracted a large following. He shared two tips for writing posts that will resonate with readers and encourage them to share:
1. Tell a personal story to connect with readers–and convince them to stick around.
“One way people will remember and connect with what you’ve written is through the utility of your content. Linkedin is a place where a lot of tips and education are being shared. That’s where relatability, novelty and fluency come in. Can you get the message across quickly in a way that’s relatable? Is it information that actually matters to me? And is it new, something I don’t already know?
Either that, or you need to try for memorability by telling a good story. A lot of posts I write start out with a story — not all, but a lot of them. I do this because of what Linked is as a community and social network.
I recently saw Guy Kawasaki, the author of 12 books, give a presentation about giving good presentations. Every presentation he does starts with a custom slide of a picture of something from his life– a picture of his kids, his bookshelf, or something like that.
I like to do that specifically on LinkedIn to connect with the audience, because they can be a great source of stories that persuade people to stick around and read to the end, and they might make them more likely to share.”
2. Find your “set” of people and write something that will be irresistible to them — and ignore everyone else.
“In order to stand out on LinkedIn, you need to publish consistently and slowly build an audience. But you also need to aim for hits.
And that’s about finding the right audience. A lot of the lessons that you can learn from Buzzfeed are pretty apt here. They’ve figured out how to do that in their own listicle format , which is not necessarily the format that you need to apply this lesson. But in their own format, they’ve discovered a way to make things that are more likely to be spread among certain groups.
They find a small niche group and write something that everyone who belongs to that group and relates to that identity will share if they see it. They don’t write posts on ’10 things that everyone in the world will love’, because that’s a lot less likely to be shared.
Instead, they write pieces like the one a friend forwarded to me recently: ’15 things that happened to you if you grew up in America with an Asian Mother’. There’s a relatively small group of people that has experienced this, but if it has happened to them, they can all relate to the funny things Buzzfeed writes in that article, and they’ll share it with others.
They slice out a tiny segment of the market and write something that you can’t not click on, you can’t not share if you belong to that group. And everyone who is connected to you will share it around with their friends too.
So that’s the advice I’d give on LinkedIn: Find your ‘set’ of people who really need what you’re writing and write something that is irresistible to them –and ignore the broader audience. And that’s the way to eventually generate hits and build up on these platforms.”