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20 essential link-building tips for SEO and your bottom line 2

Posted on March 08, 2014 by Rob Petersen



Link Building Strategies

Links (also referred to as inbound links and backlinks) are hyperlinks from another web page that contains a reference to your website. It points people to your business.

Links are fundamental to being found on the internet. They prove “authority.” They are a primary criteria to search engines in determining page rank.

Links demonstrate truths about business: People like to do business with people they know. What you say about yourself is not as important as what others say about you.

To see who links to your site, there are a number of online tools.

Like anything that has value, people try to game the system. Spammers have been known to load the back end of their websites with back links. Recent search algorithm have reportedly cracked down and take into account those who genuinely earn links and discredit ones who try to trick the search engines.

How do you use links so they have enduring value? Here are 20 essential tips on link building for SEO and your bottom link.

  1. BEGIN BY CREATING A LIST OF HIGH VALUE LINKS: A simple way to begin is to search keywords that matter for your business; Note the websites that appears in top positions.
  2. CONDUCT AN INTERVIEW ON YOUR WEBSITE: An interview with a thought leader in your industry is likely to attract attention. It’s also likely to be shared by others in your field creating links with relevant sites.
  3. GUEST BLOG: When you write a blog for other sites in your category, you receive a link as the author. For example, I write blogs for colleagues: Mark Schaefer and his Grow blog, Mike Moran on Biznology and Rutgers CMD as part of their MBA faculty where we all teach.
  4. REVERSE GUEST BLOG: Ask others in your field if they would write blogs for you in return. This taps into all of their links and points them to your site.
  5. PARTICIPATE ON NETWORKS THAT SHARE CONTENT: Put your slideshows on Slideshare, or videos on Youtube—to promote your site’s linkable assets to sites that have big “authority.”
  6. GET MORE SHARES FROM GOOGLE+: Google+ posts pass link equity (because the links within Google+ posts are followed). This means the more your Google+ posts are being shared within their social platform, the more high-value links you are able to get
  7. REPUBLISH VIRAL CONTENT RELATED TO YOUR NICHE: Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are also good places to go for content you can link from your site and expect it to be shared. Reposting is always ethical if you’re giving attribution to the original source.
  8. FIND QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR INDUSTRY AND ANSWER THEM: Participate in already existing discussions related to your content (forum threads, Q&As, other blogs, and online communities like Facebook groups and LinkedIn groups). Use your content as a reference to your contributions on these discussions.
  9. GIVE OUTBOUND LINKS TO GET INBOUND LINKS: Get in the practice of using links in your content. Often, you’ll finds those you mention in your content will offer a shout out to your business from their content.
  10. LEARN FROM COMPETITORS’ LINKS: Use any of the services mentioned above; use them to track links for competitive sites. You’ll get idea on other links to consider.
  11. CREATE CASE STUDIES ABOUT RESULTS FOR CLIENTS: If you make your clients look good in case studies about their business, they’ll be linking to your site. Referrals from clients are great business builders.
  12. SPEAK AT AN EVENT. Events usually give their speakers and sponsors great website publicity. You can also negotiate inbound links into your terms to be sure your time and resources yield beneficial inbound links.
  13.  INCORPORATE “TWEET THIS” INTO YOUR CONTENT. Get inbound links by getting your content out to the masses. Including “Tweet This” links into “tweetable” content and get people sharing your content socially more often.
  14. PUT SOCIAL WIDGETS INTO YOUR CONTENT: Just like “Tweet This” links get your content out there, so do social sharing buttons and widgets. Put them into content like case studies, ebooks, and blog posts.
  15. REVIEW BOOKS, PRODUCTS AND SERVICES IN YOUR FIELD: Invite other to share their reviews and ratings and build links as well as industry authority.
  16. CHECK FOR BROKEN LINKS: It’s frustrating if people are linking to your site but it is to a page that is not accessible. So check for “broken” links. Google offers a browser plug-in for Chrome that does this called Link Checker.
  17. REGISTER IN DIRECTORIES FOR YOUR FIELD: There are reliable directories for any field that can list your business as a credible resource. As an example, this site in included in the Alltop directory of top blogs for digital and social media marketing.
  18. BE DISRUPTIVE: Publish articles that are likely to create create controversy and a dialogue. Mark Schaefer does this well and is doing it now with “Content Shock.”
  19. CROWDSOURCE IDEAS: Whether it’s a survey, request or forum, ask people for their input, ideas and opinions. It’s always a great way to create link value. It’s not only a good to elevate your “authority” in a particular field but to generate leads.
  20. PRODUCE VALUABLE CONTENT ON A REGULAR BASIS: Publishing valuable, useful, relevant, helpful content on a regular basis is the most reliable and fastest strategy there is to earn links back to your website. Content isn’t just king, it’s good business.

Do you think these link building strategies would build your SEO and business? Will you use any of them to build your bottom line?




11 reasons SEO is a science; 15 reasons it’s an art 2

Posted on January 27, 2014 by Rob Petersen



Web visits from search engines

If your brand has a website, more people are likely to come to it from search engines than anyplace else according to Forrester.

That means Search Engine Optimization (SEO), a methodology of strategies, techniques and tactics used to secure a high-ranking placement in the search results pages, is as essential means of marketing for anybody doing business on the internet.

Is SEO a science? Or an art? Science is facts or truths systematically arranged showing the operation of general laws. Art is the conscious use of skill and creative imagination.

Here are 11 reasons SEO is a science; 15 reasons it’s an art.

SEO is a science because it operates according to mathematical laws that are statistically reliable and predictive of human behavior.

  1. #1 reason people come to a website is: It showed up on a search engine page when they were looking for something (source: Forrester)
  2. 80% of people click on a website that is on the natural or organic side of the search engine page (source: Search Engine Watch)
  3. 35% click through to the website that is in the #1 position (source: SEO Book)
  4. 90% click through on a website that is on the 1st page (source: Search Engine Watch)
  5. Algorithms that comprise hundreds of criteria determine how websites rise or fall in rank for specific keywords
  6. Volume of search for any keyword and key phrase can be easily known with tools the the Google Keyword Planner and Wordtracker.
  7. Demand for those keywords, if is increasing or decreasing over time, is measurable through Google Trends. So, you can even predict the value both now and in the future.
  8. Search rank of your domain or your competitors’  can be tracked for any keyword or key phrase to help understand the rise or fall in rank by Ispionage or Rank Checker.
  9. Number of  links that increase or decrease your authority in a particular area and also influences search rank can be found through Majestic SEO or Alexa.
  10. Value of the links, whether they are high or low value authority, can be determined by SEO Majestic and Marketing Grader.
  11. Machines, or  search bots, that do the searches on Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines are programmed to even identify the underlying meanings behind by keywords to returns the most meaningful results. The is called Semantic Search; it is predicted to play a more important role with the Google “Hummingbird” algorithm.

SEO is an art because mathematical models don’t establish business goals, know why your audience buys your product or how to convince them. You do.

  1. Search bot don’t buy your product; people do.
  2. It is impossible to model an algorithm on the needs of human being.
  3. Machines can’t study your niche, know your audience’s Internet surfing habit or their shopping behavior.
  4. Keyword research takes creativity to know what is best for your audience and where there is an opportunity.
  5. People read good content before the read good keywords.
  6. A top rank doesn’t mean people take the action you want unless you’re clear with them on your website.
  7. Good, relevant, quality content is what readers (and algorithms) want. If you focus on this, search visibility follows.
  8. SEO is thinking about how marketing can encompass social, graphic design, link building, content generation, and PR to drive toward a common goal.
  9. SEO and marketing is creating social buzz (especially with Google+).
  10. High value links have to be placed where they are going to be most relevant and cause the most desirable actions
  11. Keywords that flow them seamlessly into your copy are more convincing.
  12. Machines are incapable of storytelling
  13. Titles that convince people have clarity, creativity and imagination. The right keywords and key phrases just happen to be in them.
  14. If you view SEO as a byproduct of good content, high search rank generally follows.
  15. SEO can’t make your business a success, only you can.

This post comes out of a dialogue from Hollis Thomases, Augustine Fou, Mike Moran and Mark Schaefer which was inspiring and worth building upon.

What do you think SEO is more of: science or art?


Google says keywords [not provided]. 10 SEO resources to find them 1

Posted on October 14, 2013 by Rob Petersen



Keywords are the currency of the internet. Most people find a website by first typing keywords in the query box of a search engine. This information is telling for words that should be on your site; it is rich with insights about the unmet needs of your audience; it is the foundation for SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

Google Analytics is the most widely used tool for understanding consumer behavior on a website. It is rich with insights. It is the GPS for a site but keywords are no longer one of the things Google Analytics gives.

Google has always [not provided] some keywords but it is now encrypting all keyword search activity — except for clicks on Google ads. Google says this has been done to provide “extra protection” for searchers, and the company may be aiming to block NSA spying activity. Possibly, it’s a move to increase ad sales. Or both according to Search Engine Land.

He that giveth can taketh away. Google gave us Google Analytics for free but 96% of Google revenue is from ads. Obviously, Google can do what that want.

But what are the rest of us? What do we do? Here are 10 other SEO resources now that Google has taken away our keywords.

  1. BING WEBMASTER TOOLS: Contain an organic keyword research tool. The keyword tool measures up to six months of historical data and is ideal for long tail keyword research, since the data is based completely off of organic information and not paid data. Look for some of the fall out from Google to migrate offer to Bing for organic keyword data.
  2. ALEXA: A subsidiary of Amazon, has a user base of over 1,000,000 people and is a vast repository of information about the traffic and structure of the website. Among the information they report is top keywords for your site as well as your competitors. Alexa also trends this information if you go to their subscription service.
  3. KEYROW: How would you to see the top keywords for your site and track those changes without even registering? How would you also like to see a side-by-side comparison of those keywords to your competitors? KeyRow does all this just by typing your site, your keywords or your competitor’s site in the KewRow query boxes.
  4. TRELLIAN KEYWORD TOOL: While it won’t give you the keywords for your site, it will give you the keywords for your industry or your type of business. Trellian Keyword Tool also gives you keyword searches, seasonality and density. Trellian Keyword Tool has been around for awhile and has always been a valuable keyword resource.
  5. KEYWORD EYE:  is a cool little tool to help you conduct keyword research. With a unique visual approach that uses a “Keyword Cloud.” Keyword Eye makes keyword research creative, fast, simple and even fun–adding a new twist to keyword brainstorming.
  6. MOZ TERM EXTRACTOR: Register for a free account at MOZ.com, a great resource. You will then have access to this tool as well as a variety of their other free SEO tools. Enter the URL of your site or your competitor to receive one word, two words, and three word phrases.
  7. MOZ OPEN SITE EXPLORER: also falls under the MOZ tools umbrella. To use this tool for keyword ideas, enter your or your competitor’s URL and go to the Anchor Text Distribution tab. This will show you up to 20 of the keywords that you or your competitor uses for anchor text when link building.
  8. COMPETE: is a subscription, not free, resource but a great one. Like Alexa or some of the other tools listed, it gives you keyword information for your site or a competitors. It has a panel of over 2,000,000 and is considered by many to be the gold standard for competitive analytics and business intelligence.
  9. GOOGLE ANALYTICS (CONTENT): While Google has taken away keywords, they haven’t taken away the ranking of what your write. If you have Google Analytics on your site, go into the Content tab, this will list the most viewed pages in sequence. Think about the keywords on them and you’ll have a good idea of rhw keywords people use to find your site. If your site has a blog, it will also give you a very good idea of the topics your readers value most.
  10. GOOGLE KEYWORD PLANNER: If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Google Keyword Planner won’t tell you the top keywords for your site, but it is perhaps the best tool for estimating search volume for specific keywords as well as giving ideas for other words that are similar and worth considering.

This is to give you alternatives. While none of them do exactly what Google Analytics used to, they reveal how valuable keywords are the the insights and ideaa they offer.

Were these resource valuable to you? Do you have any to add?

What is social media optimization? 12 tips to make it happen 6

Posted on August 10, 2013 by Rob Petersen



Social Media Optimization

You can’t be good or bad at social media; you can only be yourself.

Social Media Optimization (SMO) is the method of social activity that attract visitors to a website through an elevated search rank. It proves there is a science to social media just like  Search Engine Optimization (SEO), the process of maximizing visitors to a web site by achieving a top rank on search engines around specific keywords.

Both work hand in glove.

But there is a fundamental difference. SEO is based on keywords; SMO on contents (words, videos, images). When integrated, they are a brand’s most powerful combination for raising visibility and generating business on the web.

Just remember search engine don’t buy products, people do. So be yourself.

How do you make Social Media Optimization (SMO) happen? Here are 12 tips.

  1. DEFINE OBJECTIVES AND SET GOALS: Know your desired outcome at you start – for example, reputation, sales, influence, credibility, charity, traffic/page views – Lee Odden
  2. MAKE PEOPLE SMARTER: If a piece of content makes people seem smart, they’re more likely to share it with their friends. And people like being the first to share information because it makes them seem cool and in-the-know – Mashable
  3. INCREASE LINKABILITY: To optimize a site for social media, we need to increase the linkability of the content.  Adding a blog is a great step, however there are many other ways such as creating white papers and thought pieces, or even simply aggregating content that exists elsewhere into a useful format – Rohit Bhargava
  4. TAG CONTENT SO IT TRAVELS FASTER:Make sure pages include a list of relevant tags, suggested notes for a link (which come up automatically when you go to tag a site) – Rohit Bhargava
  5. MAKE ACCESS TO CONTENT EASY: Content that is easy to view through short links (PDFs, video files and audio files), travels further and is more trackable in proving it is driving visitors ultimately to your site – Rohit Bhrargava
  6. USE PERMALINKS IN BLOGS FOR KEYWORDS AND SHARING: When you blog, permalinks automatically capture keywords in the URL titles that search engine look for when the crawl your site; at the bottom of your blog, they make it easy for readers to copy and share – BarnRaisers
  7. REWARD HELPFUL AND VALUABLE INFLUENCERS: Share the content of the people who are sharing your content. It is both a sincere and smart way to raise visibility - Jeremiah Owyang
  8. BE A USEFUL RESOURCE, EVEN IF IT DOESN’T HELP YOU: Add outbound links to areas that could help others. Folks will link to your social site and tag is as helpful or the ‘ultimate’ guide in that space. As this adds up, it will become more and more relevant in search engine results – Jeremiah Owyang
  9. DON’T FORGET YOUR ROOTS; BE HUMBLE: Sometimes it can be easy to get carried away being a BlogStar or industry talking head. Remember those who helped you along the way, and that respect will help all involved – Loren Baker
  10.  LET GO OF AN IDEA AND LET OTHERS OWN IT: In the spirit of social media principles, the idea of Social Media Optimization is now out there and belongs to the marketing and PR community.  I strongly believe the future definition of this emerging marketing practice will come from the group – Rohit Bhargava
  11. KNOW WHO AND HOW TO TARGET: On the internet as in life, there is always going to be a certain audience you can appeal to and others that you can’t. Listen to who is engaging with you and take the learning to build your audience – Cameron Olthius
  12. STAY FRESH : Social Media is changing and morphing by the minute, keep up on new tools, products and challenges in your social sphere – Loren Baker

Do these tips explain Social Media Optimization to you? Do they prove the value of SEO and SMO working together? Can SMO happen for your business?



12 tips that make or break great websites (with examples) 0

Posted on June 24, 2013 by Rob Petersen



good website design

Why do people like or dislike a website? The research says it’s all about the experience.

KISSmetrics says, when people leave a website, the most common reasons are:

  • Bad navigation
  • Bad content structure
  • Obtrusive use of ads and sign up forms
  • Bad design and content
  • Poor legibility

The business term for a great experience is web personalization. It means the website matches content and experience to a specific user’s instructions or preferences.

What makes or breaks great websites? Here are 12 tips.

  • CLEARLY COMMUNICATE WHAT YOU DO AND MAKE IT EASY TO BEGIN A RELATIONSHIP: State or, better yet, visualize the benefit and take immediate advantage of potential interest. A company like Feed Stitch, for example, has a difficult communication challenge. They take many different data feeds and integrate them to have a common purpose. They use an effective metaphor, simple descriptions and a visible invitation to “get started.”

Good homepage design

  •  KEEP KEY INFORMATION AND ACTIONS “ABOVE THE FOLD;” Visitors to a website spend 80% of their time “above the fold” according to Nielsen. So don’t lose the majority of prospects. Dollar Shave Club gives viewers a video to explain what they do and registration form to take advantage of its audience – all “above the fold.”

above the fold example

  • HAVE A CLEAR CALL-TO-ACTION: These days, visitors’ experience to a website can come for any page. Don’t miss the opportunity to have them take action. Amazon always shows a clear call-to-action next to a motivating offers with their landing pages.

Good Call-to-Action

  • DEFINE THE ROLES OF YOUR AUDIENCE: Visitors to a web site have different “roles” or potential relationships. Speak to them. Sermo is a physician’s network that recognizes through roles the different types of doctors who visit Sermo for a variety of reasons.

website roles

  • RECOGNIZE DIFFERENT TYPES OF READERS: For each role, there are three types of readers: 1) Researchers, who expect to be educated, 2) Shoppers, who want comparisons and 3) Buyers, who are ready to take action. They are not mutually exclusive. For example, a Researcher can become a Shopper who turns into a Buyer. Design content and web pages so you can captivate all three.
  • ESTABLISH TASKS: The best way to establish if people who visit your site are doing what you want is to identify task. Here are some examples: 1) For an Insurance Comparison Site (Researcher): Find three, 1 million term life insurance quotes for healthy 30 year living in CA: 2) for an E-commerce (Shopper), Determine cost of XYZ laptop with optional DVD drive: for a Mobile App your Website (Buyer), Set up free trial account and go through steps to create app to publish
  • DON’T PARALYZE WITH TOO MANY CHOICES: It’s normal to imagine, when someone visits your website, they might be interested in lots that you have to offer, but they rarely are. If you went to this page looking for a certain kind of shirt, would this page help or confuse you? Don’t lose visitors by giving too many choices.

too many choices on a website

  • …OR TOO MUCH TEXT:  There is probably a great deal of meaning behind this text for the people who created this page. But, to the people who visit, not so much.

too much text on a website

  • CONSIDER POP-UP CAREFULLY: I know lots of people who are believers in “Entry” (Welcome) and “Exit” (Wait…Before you go) pop-ups. I’m not one of them. Why? Many sources say it costs 6 to 7 times more to acquire a new customer than keep a current customer. That’s a lot to put at risk when you think about the inconvenience you may be costing your best customers who have to skip pop-ups to get where they want to go. If you use pop-ups, just make sure the risk is worth the rewards.


  • ESTABLISH TRUST AND CREDIBILITY: According to Reevoo stats, 50 or more reviews per product can mean a 4.6% increase in conversion rates. So think about the addition of trust and credibility features like reviews, client testimonials, client lists and case studies on your website.

 client testimonials

  • OPTIMIZE FOR SEARCH: 80% of visitors find a web site by typing their unmet need in the query box of a search engine. 80% of those people click on an “organic” or “natural” listing. The subject of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is fundamental to creating a great website. Here are tips on how to write for your audience and the search engines.
  • BE SOCIAL AND ENGAGE: Your audience and the search engine send more traffic your way if they know content on the site is always being refreshed. The best way to do that is integrate a blog and your social networks into your site. Make sure when you set up your blog the URL tracks back to your website like it shown below.

blog domain

Everyone who has a website wants to be loved and giving visitors a great experience is the way to get there.

If you’re interested in knowing more about Website Optimization and Personalization, I’ll be teaching an online course on this subject at UCal Irvine with Mike Moran this summer. Or you can contact me through this website.

Are these tips helpful to you for creating a great website?

  • About

    BarnRaisers is a full service digital marketing consultancy and agency. We build brands with proven relationship principles and ROI for big results that scale.

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