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Five Tips for Earning Top-Quality Backlinks From Major Sites in Your Niche

By | Inbound Marketing, internet marketing | No Comments

In the good old days (or bad old days, depending on how you see things), Google allowed users to sell and trade links in order to boost search engine optimization (SEO). Nowadays, marketers have to do better than just dropping coin to generate precious links on prominent, well-trafficked websites linking back to their own. This in some ways levels the playing field for smaller players without the big promotional budgets, and forces the material, not the money, to earn the nods from big fish.

So why are backlinks so important? Well, for one thing, you’re SEO soars with backlinks from highly trafficked sites. You want your backlink to appear within the actual site content, not in a sidebar or a sponsored link. You also want less competition within the third-party site. Basically, the more useful your information is, the more likely you are to get backlinks. While the old method of simply buying or trading links has been terminated, here are five ways you can get your content linked from sites with high page rankings, few links, and relevance to what you are all about.

Don’t Be a Web Wallflower

Get active on online forums and blogs, by commenting on content, sharing, recommending, and liking posts from sites that you want to earn backlinks from. Find out who your target sites are and get involved in the discussions. You can link back to your own site by popping in your URL, but the more you contextualize why your site is worth visiting in relation to the topic at hand, the more authentic you’ll appear.

Find, and Carve Out, Your Niche

A backlink from a site that shares your niche is better than one that is irrelevant. Do your research to find the target sites you want to honestly acquire backlinks from. Industry leaders, those with great on and offline reputations, and any competitor or peer that appears higher in the search engine rankings than you should be on your hit list of sites to target. Then aim your backlink strategy directly at those whom you determine to be the most valuable to you in order to make the most of your time online.

Taggin’ It Plug-In Style

Paying attention to meta data means you are controlling just how your content appears when shared through social networks. You can install plugins on WordPress sites that allow you to tag your posts and images with your site URL, titles, and descriptions when shared on Facebook and Twitter. When users click through your image or share it, they will be directed back to your website. Getting lots of links back from those big social media sites is SEO gold.

Give Your Content Away. That’s Right—Guest Blog for Success

Providing content for other websites may seem counter-intuitive when what you really want is to drive traffic your way, but think about it. Are you going to capture more eyeballs with an article in a small town newspaper, or with a letter to the editor in the New York Times? Guest blogging for a larger outfit whose SEO makes you green with envy is a great way to ensure backlinks come your way, and builds not only your rapport with that site but your own reputation as a go-to expert in your field. Digg, StumbleUpon, and Squidoo are all great places to post articles, even if you’ve already used them elsewhere, because the search engines track links to these big sites with large communities, in a big way.

Be Everywhere: Social the Hell Out of Your Media

Even if you are only creating a profile, you can generate backlinks from major sites just with business listings and brief profiles. Your listings on Google Places, Foursquare, LinkedIn, and Google Profiles allow you to pepper target keywords into highly visible searchable databases.

All of this takes time and labor, but you can cut and paste keywords and phrases that you have researched as to their effectiveness. Take these steps and Google will have a far wider spectrum of sites to draw backlinks from. There’s a whack of decent backlinking tools out there, but those of us who have been around long enough to see changes in the way Google handles linking will recognize that a backlink, honestly earned, is worth dozens that may be tossed out as spam or slapped with no-follows as the sands shift beneath the SEO landscape. A free consultation with SEO Beaver can put on the path to earning top-quality backlinks. If this is you’re your business needs, fill out the form on this page, today.

3 Quick and Easy Meta Description Tricks to Boost Search Engine Traffic

By | copywriting, web development | No Comments

If you’re using search engines to drive traffic to your company’s website, then you probably already know how important search engine optimization (SEO) is to your online growth.

While SEO strategy tends to focus on increasing your presence in the search engines, optimizing your website for high search engine click-through-rates (CTR) is equally important. In the following paragraphs, you’ll learn how to do exactly that.

Enhancing Your Search Results

Google and other search engines give you a number of ways to customize your company’s listings in search results. However, for now we’ll be focusing on the two most impactful elements, which will be outlined below:

  • Page Title – Your page title is your “SEO headline” and can be found in the <title> tag of each page’s code, between the <head> tags. Currently, Google will display approximately 65 characters.
  • Meta Description – Your meta description controls the excerpt that follows your SEO headline, and should contain no more than 136-156 characters. Your meta description can be customized by editing or adding the following code between the <head> tags of a page: <meta name=”description” content=”Your Excerpt Here”/>

Most content management systems make editing these easy, without having to mess around with code.

meta-desc

An example of the page title and meta description as it would appear in Google Search results.

You only have 65 character of flexibility with your page title, and it should contain your target keywords, which further limits your options. Your meta description, however, affords you plenty of opportunity to strike a balance between SEO-friendly and human-friendly.

By human-friendly, I mean your meta description should catch the attention of searchers, draw them in, and convey the value that awaits them on the other side of their click. Keep in mind that these should be used in conjunction with proper on-site SEO, not as a replacement.

Increase Your Search Engine Traffic with These 3 Tips

Draw attention to your listing using keywords

When someone searches for a keyword or phrase, that keyword or phrase gets highlighted in the results.

Use this to your advantage while crafting your meta descriptions, to draw attention to your listing, and easily convey that your page has what they’re looking for. But make sure you don’t overdo it.

You can see this in action by looking at my search for “SEO Beaver” in the screenshot above.

Offer value

Googlers and other search engine users are looking for solutions, so your meta description should reflect that you actually have what they’re looking for.

Sweeten the deal by making them a specific offer, even if it’s just a free estimate or white paper.

Include a call-to-action

Similarly, inviting searchers to visit your website, may result in them actually doing it. Sometimes the addition of a simple “Click here to…” can have a profound effect on your search engine CTR.

Better yet, include the number to your sales department, and invite customers to contact you, without even having to visit your website.

I recently released a checklist that helps you create a strong call-to-action, much of which can be applied to SEO and meta descriptions.

Apply these three tips when updating your meta descriptions, or have us do it for you, and watch your CTR and traffic grow.

At SEO Beaver, we excel at building upon your expertise, using sophisticated tools and analytics to drive your business to the next level. For a free online consultation, contact SEO Beaver today.

The Idiot’s Guide to Writing Sales Copy That Will Get You Noticed – and Help You Sell, Sell, Sell

By | conversion optimization, copywriting, Sales and Marketing | No Comments

If you’re a salesperson with killer instincts, you know that your mantra is “close, close, close.” The trick is knowing how to chart a course from the second you have a prospect in your crosshairs. Here’s a style guide to take you through writing copy that will build trust, quell customer objections, and gather clients around your digital campfire.

Know Your Ideal Client

You may not have the in-house resources to do thorough research into who exactly your clients and ideal prospects are. But never fear—algorithmic data sets are here! Quantcast is a helpful service that offers demographic information about customers when you type in the name of a company, product, or service. Such online tools can help you find out all kinds of data about your customers, which may quickly become the starting point for your marketing efforts.

It’s Not About Me, It’s About You

We all want to be the centre of attention. If you write about the reader, you’ll capture their interest. Phrases like “How often do you find yourself…” can get your audience nodding in agreement, which is a great way to build relationships. Build sympathy by offering praise, such as, “You work hard and play hard, everyday. You are so ready for the next level.” Once you’ve got their attention, train your lens directly on them by showing them you understand where they are coming from as a customer or client. Now you can get on with exalting just how your product is going to meet their needs. It helps to actually picture a person—what they drive, where they live, what keeps them up at night. Picturing your ideal customer will help you write with them in mind.

Start with a list of problems or challenges that your ideal client needs to solve. Then, make a list of your products’ attributes that are going to meet those challenges head-on. Sounds dry, doesn’t it? Let’s think of it in different terms: everyone wants to be understood. You can learn about what bothers customers by searching online discussion forums on topics, companies, and products. For instance, Quora allows you to enter your product or field into a search field, and will return you results that highlight different conversations around issues your customers are concerned about. Knowing the objections of your potential customers, and hitting those nerves directly, helps show that you already know what is bothering them, and are offering a way forward.

A Pyramid of Attention

Think of a piece of sales copy as an hourglass, with the sand perpetually running out. This is the attention of your reader, seeping out letter by precious letter. Your headline is there as bait for them to chomp, but from then on, you need to fight against losing their interest. Search engines operate in a similar way—if you haven’t made your point in the first couple of sentences, you’ve squandered the moment. You want to open with a value proposition that contains your target phrase. Rephrase the questions your readers have come to you with, and then offer assurances that they will find answers with you.

Trust Us: We’re Human, Not Robots

Many readers are jaded from a lifetime of being advertised to. Most people can sense a formula in ad copy the same way they can predict the ending of a lousy TV show. Your customers don’t trust you—at least, leads that have yet to buy from you don’t. Doing something unexpected, witty, or personal can take readers by surprise and move them from their skepticism (oh, yawn, another pitch) to suspended disbelief. That momentary openness and curiosity is golden. It can be achieved by throwing in some quirky details. Use story to make statistics sing. Insert yourself into the copy when it works; if you are an app developer working in partnership with your wife, speak from “I” and “we” to build rapport and trust.

Your style is another hook that can keep readers engaged. Brevity is the soul of wit. Keep your sentences short, sharp, and snappy. Avoid using the passive voice; use “investors have been flocking to the table,” instead of the lukewarm, passive version, “the attention of investors has been attracted.” Don’t hedge—if you have a claim to make, come out trumpeting. Be bold but calm, clever but sincere, confident yet kind read the full info here.

Writing copy that turns heads is a delicate game. Wrapped up in those simple-sounding sentences are complex concepts, carefully researched keywords and phrases optimized for search engines, all executed with a conjuror’s flair. Knowing who your customers are and what they care about is key to letting them know just how right for them your product is. The trick, from then on, is to speak their language and sustain their interest.

At SEO Beaver, we excel at building upon your expertise, using sophisticated tools and analytics to drive your business to the next level. For a free online consultation, contact SEO Beaver today.

Lead Capture Cartoon

Lead Generation 101: How to Properly Use Forms to Get Prospect Data for Follow-Up

By | conversion optimization, copywriting, Inbound Marketing, internet marketing, landing page conversion optimization checklist, Landing Pages | No Comments

Too many online marketers assume that their dynamic content will keep users engaged enough that they’ll make the move to contact, comment, or buy. But it’s up to you, dear seller, to initiate contact for lead generation. Using forms with sensitivity to user needs and objections will land you rich prospect data. Here’s how you can properly use forms to get prospect data for follow-up.

Whatever Doesn’t Work: Get It Right Before You Launch

First and foremost, your form has to function on every platform, every time. It also has to be secure, and your customers need to be aware of how secure it is. A security seal from a reputable company like McAfee or Verisign helps build user confidence, as does the application of Captcha codes. You can use Autocomplete to speed user progress, but beware of auto-suggest on mobile devices, as an intelligent device can quickly become quite the opposite when it offers auto-correct on email addresses.

Don’t Make Them Go Hunting

Your lead form has to be prominent. Hiding it in the margins of the page will result in frustration for both users and sellers. Visibly display the form once a user has spent a set amount of time on the site, as a popup, or have forms appear at the end of articles inviting users who “want more content like this” to subscribe. Basing visibility on users’ behavior works: be conspicuous, make it simple yet rich enough in data that you’ll be able to target your response, and always provide an alternative to simply saying “no” with a toll-free number, “like” option on Facebook, or other social media share prompt gabapentin generic. Forms in and of themselves can be foregrounded as a kind of call to action. If your end goal is to funnel leads into your customer relationship management (CRM) system, inviting people to fill out a form in order to receive a discount, get a free quote, or enter a contest becomes the central ask of the page. Bundling forms with enticing offers does two things: it incentivizes the form completion, and, by dint of having engaged users in an offline conversation, boosts conversion rates. You want to be in their inbox, knocking, in an active sales role rather than waiting for them to come to you.

Navigate Objections With Clear Communication

You are walking a tightrope between gathering useful information and seeming too acquisitive. Users are beginning to understand that if they are getting something for nothing (i.e. information or apps), then the data they give is a form of payment. They may be cheap with data until trust has been built, and you have shown your site and services to be indispensible. Grade your forms accordingly—the less information you demand up-front, the more likely people will be willing to offer it. Being perfectly clear about what happens when a user submits a form is also critical. A button that says “Click Here to Contact Us” is more trustworthy than one that says “Submit User Data.” Use friendly language and make your buttons look like buttons, placed where users expect to find them. If you are asking for data that may not seem strictly necessary to users, add a line explaining why you want it. For instance, if you are asking for birthdate, add a line telling users that your company sends out special offers for customers on their birthdays.

Reap What You Sow: Get Ready to Respond

Of course, once you have that precious form data, ensure that you have a solid offline team to respond personally and at lightning speed to the contact request. Your analytic data will tell you about user behavior (how often they have visited your site, duration of stay, etc.). Your responses should be tailored according to the quality of the prospect. Keep to these guidelines to build and make use of online forms that drive your business. Ensure that you have functionality and security, communicate clearly to users how to use forms and why you are gathering information, and make sure that forms are easily accessible, if not outright in-your-face. Finally, make sure that you are ready for the flow of information once you launch your forms, with a team of responders and a system to grade users into categories for customized responses. If you’d like to learn more about lead generation with a free consultation, fill out the form on this page to contact us today.

How to write good viral headlines

Hey You, Pay Attention!: How to Write a Headline That Really Packs a Punch

By | conversion optimization, copywriting, Inbound Marketing | No Comments

Ip Man, the legendary martial artist and teacher of Bruce Lee, said “Don’t recite mantra. Hit your target.”

A good web headline hits its target. Whether you call it conversion, click-through or meeting a goal, the target in writing a headline is the same: To appeal to a human being. Readers, being human, all want the same basic things — to avoid boredom, frustration, disappointment, embarrassment, and work. The good news for writers is that those things are never going to change. Here’s how you can make your web headlines stand out.

Always Remember: Your Reader is Powerful

Online readers are the most empowered readers around. They won’t tolerate their time being wasted. Since online content is usually free, readers have no reason to stay with content that isn’t giving them what they want, and fast. The moment they start to feel bored, confused, or annoyed, they can click away from you, possibly forever. That’s why it’s critical that you put yourself in the reader’s shoes when you are writing online content. This goes double for a headline, which is the first thing to be judged (and, if judged to be inferior, the only thing that your readers will see).

Know Your Audience and Write Accordingly

While there are some rules of thumb for writing headlines, first you have to know who your target reader is, and write to that person. Is he interested in fashion and celebrity gossip? Then your headlines can be light and slangy (“Brangelina Head Down Under for Epic Australian Circus”). Is she a no-nonsense professional in a serious field? Don’t annoy her by getting cute – stick with straightforward headlines (“Researchers Find Causal Link Between Caffeine Intake and Memory”). In general, it’s a good idea to keep the headlines as interesting as possible without sacrificing clarity and professionalism.

Methods for Crafting a Good Headline

Headline structures can vary greatly, and there is no magic formula for perfection beyond ensuring your spelling and grammar are correct. Here are just a few ideas for writing a headline that will capturing the hearts and minds of your readers, and get them clicking on your post.

1) Just Tell the Whole Story

Example: A Soldier Went Overseas to Fight, Never Dreaming he Would Adopt an Orphaned Girl

This type of headline is very effective. Its strength is in giving away the whole story up front. On a deep level, the reader will appreciate being trusted with it right out of the gate. You are showing confidence that this story is worth going deeper to get the details, and your reader will probably agree with you.

2) Move From General to Specific

Example: California Dreaming: How to Plan Your Perfect Napa Valley Vineyard Tour

This is a tried-and-tested classic headline structure.  Its beauty is that the first half can be pretty impressionistic, because the second half will drive the subject home. In this example, “California Dreaming” taps into the power of a highly recognizable phrase and song title. You draw the reader in and give them a hint – this will be something about California, and it will be something pleasant. The second half confirms this hint, giving the reader both a feeling of satisfaction and more specific information.

3) Paint with Words

Example: A Polar Bear in the Cathedral

This method is pretty tricky, so don’t try it at home unless you know that you can pull it off. It will only work if your reader is creative and not easily frightened. Also, you need strong words to work with. In this example, the writer was talking about a piece of music based on the composer’s visit to the Arctic, which premiered in a massive cathedral. Rather than write a headline about a “new choral work premiering this November” (boring), she grabbed her readers with the most powerful words at her disposal: polar bear and cathedral.

4) Lead with Love

Example:  Stylish Vancouver Oyster Bars you will Love

This is pretty straightforward. People are interested in the idea there is something out there that they might love. The industries of food, art and film criticism are  built on this fact. Love feels good, no matter what form it takes, and we all want a piece of it. Boldly make a claim that the readers will “love” something, and chances are they will investigate to find out if you’re right.

5) Cash in on Shock Value

Example: Small-Town Mayor Caught in Bizarre Love Triangle

Humans love to be shocked. If you have an article about anything shocking, make sure your headline conveys this up front.  Don’t bury shocking content deep in the piece – put in the front window. There’s a reason it’s called shock value – it’s valuable.

6) Make Time for a Rhyme

 Example: Flirty Shirtsleeves: A Gentleman’s Guide to Spring Fashion

Rhyming is powerful – witness centuries of poetry and decades of pop music, ad jingles and Dr. Seuss. Why? Because rhyme is extremely memorable, and it asserts a subconscious claim that whatever rhymes must be true. Tap into this power by including rhyme in the headline.

7) The Almighty List Post

Example: Nine Early Signs Your Date is a Dud

The strength of the list post – and the headline that announces it – is that nice, concrete number. The reader knows exactly how many fragments there will be to read, giving them a handle on how much attention will be expected of them. The very fact that they know the article’s length going in will often spur them to read – whether the list has four items or 78.

The ability to write a good headline for the web is critical. Unlike with print media, where the eye of the reader might scan down into the article and keep them reading, online headlines often appear all on their own. The reader must often decide purely from the headline alone whether to click through to the article. After you’ve nailed down your technique with a few of these structural ideas, put away the mantras and just hit your target. After all, they’re only human.

Email Marketing Errors to Avoid

Avoid These Email Marketing Campaign Errors at All Costs! (Or Die a Very Low Conversion Rate Death)

By | email marketing, internet marketing | No Comments

Though targeted online advertising is leaping and bounding ahead of mass marketing to become a conversion-rate ace in the hole, email marketing remains a strong contender to elicit responses to your calls-to-action. For many businesses, email marketing is a preferred way to generate brand awareness, nurture new prospects, increase website visits, and generate sales, according to chief marketing officers surveyed by iContact. However, the low rate of click-through, at 5%, can be driven further downward if advertisers don’t pay heed to these three email marketing campaign errors.

 No-No #1: Sending Without Permission

The golden rule of email marketing is “get permission, not from most, but from every single user.” Email marketing might be effective, but it’s also the only form of online marketing whose abuse has generated its own word (spam). When asking customers to opt-in to receive emails from you, post clearly just what you are planning to send forward, be it exclusive offers, coupons, or information updates. When done well, email marketing can deliver a $44 return for every $1 spent. However, email is very expensive indeed when its irrelevance drives customers away.

 

Whoops! No Images: Never Send Without Testing

There are so many different platforms, from mobile devices to a mish-mash of different web-based email servers. There is NO WAY, and the shouting is intentional, that you will achieve a flawless result on every platform with your first draft. Sending out an incomprehensible, image-poor, or partial email is worse than sending out nothing. After all, if you can’t get an email right, how are you going to deliver a flawless product? You need to check for renderability, deliverability, click-through functionality, conversions between platforms, and programming languages. A recent study published by email service provider Silverpop revealed that customers receive email in HTML format up to 50% of the time. HTML is notoriously fickle under varying circumstances, which is why the database-driven site builders like WordPress are so popular. Unless you have a lab with a complete array of email clients, it’s best to have your service provider perform this function, or check out some of the newer software apps that test your message on up to 100 different possible configurations medication gabapentin.

 

And You Want Me to Do…What? No Call to Action Means No Response

The best thing about email marketing is not that it’s cheap (though it is). It’s that you can get results quickly and optimize your pitch accordingly. Obviously, measuring click-throughs and open rates are one way to measure success, but a really hard-nosed seller isn’t going to paste on any gold stars until adding up sales. If you’ve crafted a great campaign with lovely images and compelling copy, you would be a fool not to have a prominent, and often repeated, call to action. Whether you want people to donate a set amount, shop online, or redeem their coupon, clicking through via a call to action will up your conversion rate significantly and lead people who may have happily grazed your offering and moved on right up to the gate. Make it easy to click through to the deal with a clear, well-marked button, and do yourself a favour by repeating it in both the subject line and in the body of the text.

Email marketing is here to stay, partly because people rarely unsubscribe once they’ve signed on, giving you regular access to their inboxes. The more you learn about a customer, the more you can then customize your messages, testing every time to ensure you’ve got the look and functionality you’re going for on multiple platforms. Critically, your email is there to spur a response: be clear on what you want your users to do, then spell it out, repeatedly, in your message. If you’d like to increase your business’s revenue and learn more about lead generation, take the first step and fill out the form on this page.

How I create laser targeted online ads

By | conversion optimization, internet marketing | No Comments

By now, we have all heard that print is a dying format.  While that may or may not be true – and we will probably know how accurate this sentiment is soon enough – it is pretty much a given that if you want to have an effective marketing campaign, you better have a stellar online ad campaign lined up and ready to go.  If you don’t, you stand to hide yourself from scores of potential young or tech savvy eyeballs whose concept of reading something that isn’t pulled up on a computer, tablet, or mobile device is a distant memory.

The only problem with this is, since online advertising is still somewhat in its infancy, a lot of us haven’t quite figured out how to maximize the medium’s potential.  We may know how to put ads online, but we may not know how to get those ads in front of the people we want.  In order to solve this critical piece of the puzzle, you need to understand the mindset and the personality of the potential customers you desire most.  Fortunately, this task isn’t as daunting as you might think.

Quality over Quantity

 In order to build a successful ultra targeted ad campaign online, you need to realize that getting your ad in front of people just for the sake of generating attractive CTR numbers is an empty pursuit.  It’s far more important that your online ad campaign attracts people that would want to buy your product as opposed to a bunch of people that click your ad out of curiosity.  This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try and get your CTR as high as possible; it just means that you need to make sure the lion’s share of those clicks have actual purpose behind them.

Why are they on the Web?

 Since your quest to create ultra targeted ads online should focus on reeling in potential customers that will buy your product, you should first realize why they may be looking your way in the first place.  Essentially, your potential customer is going to be in one of three mindsets:

  • Surfing Mode – This person is going to be looking for information regarding your product in generalized terms.  In this stage, the person who ends up buying an eight-cup food processor with an extra large feed tube and a stainless steel slicing disc will merely do a search for “Food Processor” to start figuring out what they want.
  • Comparison/Review Mode – This person has a general idea of what they want, and is now in the process of performing due diligence.  This would include things like checking out product reviews, customer opinions, and taking a closer look at a product’s whistles and bells.
  • Buying Mode – This person knows what they’re going to purchase, and is looking for the best deal possible.  Because an online component is involved, this not only includes the price tag, but other benefits than can be offered, like shipping.

 You can figure out what kind of mode your target audience is in by tracking the kind of words that brings them to your site in the first place.  If people come your way via basic terms, they’re just window shopping.   If they drop in through hyper-focused searches, they are ready to reach for their credit card.

 A Matter of Personality

The rules of ultra targeted online ads don’t stop at where a person is at in the buying process.  Their personality plays a big factor into their buying habits, which is something that any online ad campaign worth its salt should be mindful of.

There are four types of buyer personalities that you have to deal with.  The first personality is the methodical buyer, and they are marked by a lack of speed.  They will dig through all of a product’s specs and get familiar with every last detail before they actually pull the trigger on a deal.  On the other end of the spectrum is the spontaneous buyer.  This buyer is driven by immediacy in more ways than one.  Things that drive expediency like free overnight shipping or discounts will lure this type of shopper in, but so will visuals that will suggest a positive experience with the product, such as a large number of on-site reviews.   In between these two personalities lay the humanistic and the competitive shopper; the former tends to carry a slower pace based on researching other customer experiences, while the latter appreciates reviewing product data, just as long as they don’t have to dig too deeply for the info.

Putting it All Together

Of course, it is entirely up to you in order to figure out what type of mindset and personality will be most attracted to your ad – and subsequently, your product.  Some of this detective work can be pretty obvious, solely based on the demographic that your product is typically associated with.  If you are in the business of selling home security systems, you won’t exactly make a mint by targeting your ad toward the spontaneous crowd.  Apart from that, the best course of action is to test the waters.  You can accomplish this by creating four different ad campaigns designed to target the four different personalities, with each campaign containing unique ads that hone in on a person’s various mindsets.  Once they’re created, let them run, collect the resultant data, and make a final determination as to what works best.

It may seem a bit labor intensive, but it’s worth it for two reasons.  First off, it will help you figure out exactly what your target audience should be.  Secondly, it will allow that target audience that you desire to instantly see what you want them to see in a way that they want it to be packaged.  And ultimately, that’s the whole point of putting together an ad campaign.  It was true when the alleged dinosaur that is print media ruled the scene, and it is arguably even truer in this day of online marketing.

Are Categories The Heroes They Are Made Out to Be? #BluMihmShaw

By | Data/Research | No Comments

It should come as no surprise that your category choices in your local listing say a lot of about who you are. More importantly, as a top local ranking factor, they tell Google where they should place you. With that said, where are they hiding? Why is it that when I look at any given listing, many that I am sure are taking full advantage of the 5+ categories, Google only displays 1, or sometimes 2? Does this mean that those other categories you so carefully chose are not contributing to your businesses story? Or does it matter less what appears on the front end (what everyone sees) vs. what is found on the back end (in Google Places dashboard)? I tend to believe the latter. If you believe the former, have you tried contacting Google, and asking them to properly display your category choices? Did it help?

Though I have yet to attract the attention of two of our titled local SEO busy bees, Phil Rozek of Local Visibility System expressed some interest in BluMihmShaw Day, and has given us this month’s topic. You guessed it, categories. Even though I always recognized that proper category choice will make or break your local campaign, never once did I think to hold a microscope to this meat and potato ranking factor. Shame! And so I have, and am. Starting with a couple interesting observations that I haven’t yet sorted out:

listing front 1

Here we have your typical listing, not merged, and showing two cats. Pretty standard stuff right?

listing back 1

Not. I pull up the source, search “category” (no avail) and then “categories” and find three cats. Where did the third run off to? Why doesn’t it appear like the other two? Could it be that there just wasn’t enough room? Hm….

listing back 2

Next up, this is a client listing source code, one of which I know I uses 5 categories, and 1 shows up. Not even one I chose for that matter. Though, not a mystery, this may have been scraped off a directory or some such thing. What did strike me as strange though, is if you compare the two source code examples, you will notice differences in the coding. Both unmerged, neither appearing to be any different than the other, aesthetically at least. If I had to guess, I would say one uses the new dashboard, and the other the old. Maybe.

So what do these categories, those that show up on the visible part of a listing tell us? Do how many show up make any difference rankings wise? Could you believe that in some of our preliminary scraping results we saw as many as 5 or 6 appearing? We are going to dredge on and see if we can’t get these categories to tell us something. My thinking is that first we scrape 100k+ pages worth of categories, take a long hard look at the results, and see if any interesting patterns can be found. Next, I am curious if page 1 listings have more cats showing that those of page 3. Sure, this may just suggest that those on page 1 are promoting themselves more heavily, and as a result of such, more cats show up. But it also might suggest, if you can find a way to get more cats to show up, then maybe you will rank better? Stretch maybe. Finally, I want to compare the cats we dig up to those that Google gives us stock and see what percentage of those that show Google’s. How many are custom? Or perhaps scraped from other properties?

What do you think? Will I find anything valuable? Or is this just another flimsy look into something that can’t possibly explained. Let Phil and I know below.

[UPDATE] Protip from Thor, aka Darren Shaw, “The G+ page doesn’t show you all the categories BUT click the report a problem link and it will shoot you over to Map Maker where the full glory of their categories will be revealed.” A tip he picked up from Iron Man, aka the professor, aka Mike Blumenthal. HUGE! And will prove valuable in how we go about scraping the data. I imagine now we will add another column to the research, and will look at Map Maker as well. Thank you both!

Inbound Marketing vs. Outbound Marketing

By | Inbound Marketing | No Comments

So what exactly is Inbound Marketing?

And why is it better than outbound marketing?

The shift from outbound to inbound marketing can be summed up in three words: Times have changed. A huge behavioral shift on the part of the consumer has taken place. This shift from offline to online is a revenue hungry company’s wet dream. We have more data now than ever and can quickly test, deploy, write, engage and scale massive online marketing campaigns. All that reach can be had for a fraction of the cost of offline marketing. Welcome to inbound marketing. Times are good.

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The Best Review Citation Sources in Canada and the UK

By | Data | No Comments

Hot Dang! It has been 6 months since I published my list of the best US review citation sources – 6 months it took me to get to this. Crazy.

You may remember, in January I caught the data bug, and put together a list of review sources based on these buggers:

scraped citations

These are sources where one’s business data has appeared, and Goog has matched the data up to this Google+ Local listing. Note: while I will call them review sources, in many cases, there were NO reviews to be found. So, we know, when it comes to local data Google finds valuable, the don’t discriminate at the review level, NOR at the type of site level. In fact, some sites they scraped were just plain shady. You’d almost think Google likes spam… 😉

A quick review of how we arrived at this data/list, we, in this order, AND NOT MANUALLY (thank god!):

  1. Pushed a button, did a jig (possibly several), and watched our scraper do…
  2. Applied, where possible, a close to as, city specific proxy
  3. Opened up maps.google.ca (or .co.uk)
  4. Conducted a search for [cityname, state/province/etc] + [category] ie. Vancouver, BC plumbers
  5. Opened up the top ten ranked listings on the first 3 pages (30 listings per query)
  6. scraped occurrences of properties appearing in “reviews from around the web.”
  7. Ranked ‘em like a boss

Note, this, like our previous study, was based on the category list found in David Mihm and Darren Shaw’s study. These guys are an endless source of inspiration. Follow them here and here.

Okay, so let me elaborate on the last item (Ranked ‘em like a boss), as it brings everything together. We ranked our UK and Canadian data by assigning 1 point to a property every time it showed up in the first 3 pages of places results. We did this to get a baseline for how popular each property is with the search engines. This is how we did it in our previous research.

Okay, you’re bored stiff. Without further ado, after having analysed nearly 250,000 listings, I give you our lists:

Best Canadian Review Citation Sources

directory
points
urbanspoon.com 2413
tripadvisor.com 2379
tripadvisor.ca 1811
canpages.ca 1226
monavis.ca 1121
booking.com 908
yellowpages.ca 804
yahoo.com 760
foursquare.com 671
n49.ca 594
homestars.com 557
hotels.com 458
tripadvisor.co.uk 448
hotelscombined.com 446
superpages.com 446
weblocal.ca 439
giftly.com 386
pageinsider.com 383
theblurb.ca 350
insiderpages.com 344
merchantcircle.com 320
411.ca 282
destinia.com 265
restaurantica.com 259
dealerrater.ca 240
pagespan.com 233
goldbook.ca 222
pageglimpse.com 213
ourfaves.com 209
venere.com 183
demandforce.com 183
vetratingz.com 176
tripadvisor.in 162
citysearch.com 151
foodpages.ca 143
restaurant.ca 142
opentable.com 126
virtualtourist.com 117
expedia.com 116
dexknows.com 106
tastegenius.com 102
priceline.com 102
dine.com 101
aol.com 97
greatschools.org 97
dealerrater.com 97
yellowpages.com 97
giftrocket.com 93
canadianhotelguide.com 91
tripadvisor.com.au 90

This list didn’t surprise me much at all, and overall, I think it is a pretty well balanced list. Tripadvisor is always a big one. Qype too, but it didn’t make the top 50 in this case. Things get a bit more interesting in the top 100, and even beyond. Like my US research, there are tons of outliers you’d NEVER think to submit to – nor would your competitors 😉

Want 500+ more killer, Canadian review citation sources?

[contact-form-7]

Top UK Review Citation Review Sources

directory
points
thomsonlocal.com 11417
qype.co.uk 7218
tripadvisor.com 3290
booking.com 2585
tripadvisor.ca 2473
tripadvisor.co.uk 2055
yell.com 1948
laterooms.com 1678
allagents.co.uk 964
destinia.com 896
enjoyengland click resources.com 870
foursquare.com 851
toptable.com 837
freeindex.co.uk 770
fancyapint.com 721
bizwiki.co.uk 686
urbanspoon.com 668
cylex-uk.co.uk 642
beerintheevening.com 636
tripadvisor.in 636
venere.com 616
londontown.com 549
viewlondon.co.uk 509
qype.ie 351
pageinsider.com 345
thebestof.co.uk 343
pageglimpse.com 322
restaurant-guide.com 308
allinlondon.co.uk 306
1golf.eu 306
tilllate.com 290
tripadvisor.com.au 273
here.com 261
yahoo.com 249
hotels.com 237
referenceline.com 233
hotelscombined.com 226
pagespan.com 226
cosmotourist.com 225
whatsonhere.co.uk 208
touchnottingham.com 198
wahanda.com 188
touchlondon.co.uk 187
viewmanchester.co.uk 167
trivago.co.uk 157
timeout.com 157
whatclinic.com 150
viewbirmingham.co.uk 150
hardens.com 146
scotsman.com 142

Looking back on this, I think I would try and categorize the types of properties. For example, break up all the hotel related ones, all the restaurant related ones. I think in my next iteration I will. For the time being, you are going to have to do a bit of digging yourself. Fortunately, I have laid it out fairly simply for you, so it shouldn’t be too hard to identify which are specific to you. Finally, it’s worth mentioning, that even if you don’t quite “fit in” on a property, that doesn’t mean you won’t get reviews there, and it certainly doesn’t mean it isn’t a valuable citation source.

Want 500+ more killer, UK review citation sources?

[contact-form-7]

What the heck would I want UK or CAN data for? Give me US data! Get, get, GET IT!

QUESTION: Suppose we opened up our tool to you, so you could perform these searches and uncover the best review citation sources in your area/niche…Is that something you’d be interested in? Let us know! If we get a good response, we may just pick you as our beta tester : )