Eliza Steely

What Google Hummingbird Really Means and What Marketers Can Do About It

Google Hummingbird

Note from Lee: You know the phrase, kill two birds with one stone? That’s what we’re doing with this post format and the topic of Hummingbird.  Our team at TopRank is known for liveblogging conferences, but this co-created blog format is something new. At the same time, we’re covering a topic (Google Hummingbird) and search + social media that I think warrants some clarity and practical advice. In this post, you’ll see insights our team members took from the SMBMSP event followed by “TopRank Tips” from Eliza and myself.

In the digital marketing world, change is inevitable. At some point in life we are all forced to adapt, change paths, learn new skills or face something we definitely weren’t expecting.

Lee Odden

What’s the Difference Between Content Marketing and Content for Links? The Wrong Answer Could Cost You

Lee Odden     Content Marketing, SEO
Chubby Spiderman

This Spiderman aims to please, but he’s just not the real thing

As someone with roots in the search marketing community it’s been amazing to see how the the phrase “content marketing” has been adopted and redefined.

Whether it’s opportunism or simply being adaptable to the times, the difference in approach to what content marketing is between digital marketing communities like Content Marketing Institute and many in the SEO and social media marketing world is striking.

For brands investing in content marketing, the difference between content for links / SEO and content for customers can be costly in terms of risk, return on investment and performance.

What’s the difference? 

Lee Odden

Why A Transition From Optimizing for Search Engines to Optimizing for Customers is Essential

optimize for customersJudging by the daily new business inquiries we get every day, there’s a groundswell of companies that have become frustrated at the lack of cause and effect data from their SEO programs.

Sure, there are workarounds for things like “not provided” keywords, but the lack of information and uncertainty about what Google will take away next is causing many marketers to diversify into other owned, earned and organic areas: social media, content marketing, online public relations, and certainly into online advertising.

At the same time, as SEO practitioners have matured as marketers, the shift from keywords as the driver for content optimization and creation have been displaced by a focus on answering customer questions along the sales cycle.

Brian Larson

Linkbuilding the Right Way #SESCHI

Linkbuilding Panel at #SESCHI

In late July, Google updated it’s stated policy on what ‘linkbuilding’ activities now constitute link schemes. While the update was clear  – heavy hyperlinking in press releases, advertorials and large scale guest-blogging are now considered link schemes – the repercussions of the update and it’s lasting impact on SEO have been far more murky.

Nobody likes murky. Not in a drink and especially not when real business outcomes are associated with search visibility and the traffic it generates.

With the session promise of sharing how to linkuild the right way, Jennifer Slegg introduces Chuck Price, Founder of Measurable SEO. Jumping off the stage to begin his presentation, Price’s goal is clearly to dispel the notions that links ‘no longer matter.’ He starts with humor and honesty, “[l]inkbuilding is NOT sexy! Nor is it fun.” But, Price asserts, links are still the number 1 factor influencing search ranking. Two thing are certain, Matt Cutts has said as recently as July in an interview with Eric Enge, that links still matter and not all linkbuilding is bad.

Eliza Steely

Navigating a Website Migration like Indiana Jones: Ensuring a Smooth SEO Transition #SESCHI

Website Migration Presentation #SESCHILet’s face it— at one point in your life you’ve probably wanted to be James Bond, Indiana Jones, Wonder Woman, or any other number of superheroes. Personally, I’ve wanted to be all of them…more than once. For some odd, and inexplicable, reason Indiana Jones was always my favorite.

If you’re like me, you gave up that life of dodging sink holes and escaping life-threatening situations in creatively unrealistic ways to work in digital marketing. But, Simon Heseltine from AOL and Dave Rohrer from Covario are giving us the chance to be channel our inner superhero again—by navigating the sinkholes created by website migrations.

In their SES session (moderated by Jim Hedger who couldn’t resist a photo-op with the speakers) these two experts addressed the sinkholes created by different migrations, as well as the ways to avoid the potential traffic decreases and reduced ROIs.

Brian Larson

New SEO Best Practices with Schema Markup #SESCHI

SEO Schema Markup

Web Developers often faint at the mere mention of ‘schema’. The mysterious term conjures up thoughts of impossible code to implement with benefits that seem difficult to pinpoint. At least, those were some of the perceptions surrounding schema markup.

Anne F. Kennedy, the sessions first speaker and member of the SES Advisory Board, wants to reduce that fear among the SEO community surrounding schema markup and explain the benefits derived from their usage. Kennedy polls the office and asks ‘how many currently use schema markup?’ With what appears to be a little over half raising their hands, a little step back is needed.

So Kennedy starts us with the basics: What is a ‘schema’ anyways?

Lee Odden

Not Provided – What Google’s Omission of Organic Keyword Data Means for Online Marketers

Not Provided Keywords

Something is missing! Can we fix it?

We started this week off with a bang – at least in the search world, with Google now redirecting all traffic to https, i.e. encrypted search.

What that means is, if you were wondering what keyword phrases people use on Google organic search to find your website, you’re out of luck.  While keywords are an important answer to the relevance of your website to buyers, now those answers are simply listed as (not provided).

Google has been masking keyword data for logged in users for about 2 years, so dealing with omitted keyword data is nothing new to agencies like yours truly at TopRank Online Marketing.

Alexis Hall

How to Dominate Search Results With Your Brand – Brian Clark Tells All

Brian Clark - copybloggerIf you create content and no one can find it, then what is the point?

On TopRank’s Online Marketing Blog we know that SEO is a crucial step in the amplification of content.  As Lee likes to say, “Content isn’t really great until someone finds, consumes and acts on it.”  Yet, I know from working with clients ranging from enterprise to small business, SEO is not always part of the content development process.

Whether it’s a lack of SEO know-how or a fear of old fashioned ideas like keyword stuffing, Brian Clark, CEO of Copyblogger Media aimed to break down those walls and show online marketers how to dominate search results with content.

Jesse Pickrain

5 Creative SEO Copywriting Methods for Boring Topics

Jesse Pickrain     Content Marketing, SEO

Creative Content for Boring TopicsIf Alan Shumway doesn’t read your blog, he’s as good as fired.

We’re about two months into Q3 and Alan already blazed through 90% of his annual budget. It’s only his second year as IT director for a small staffing company, and the bosses are breathing down his neck to make things right. Q4 looks even worse.

Now imagine your business provides a solution that will not only allow Alan to make his budget this year, but also project future costs with laser-like precision. It’s an ideal fit. The problem is reaching him.

There are thousands of other blogs trying to do the exact same thing – get the attention of IT decision makers like Alan – not to mention all the other internet noise. According to Mashable, over 2 million blog posts are written every day.

Lee Odden

Google Did Not Just Kill PR Agencies

Google Kill PR AgenciesGoogle updated their content guidelines for links recently causing a bit of buzz amongst the SEO community, mostly from those looking for clarification. I’ll get to that shortly, but something else popped up that’s worth debunking.

The link scheme clarifications directed at webmasters also attracted a post from ZDNet via Tom Foremski’s sensationally titled article, “Did Google just kill PR agencies?”.

In case you didn’t know, PR agencies do a lot more that create press releases, let alone over-optimize them for search.

Companies rely on PR firms for a variety of services and consulting ranging from strategy and message development to media relations and social media outreach to monitoring and reporting.  Product launches, press conferences, event management and promotion, reputation and crisis management, media training, investor relations and of course content creation are all services provided by different PR agencies.

Evan Prokop

Does SEO Still Matter?

Evan Prokop     Online Marketing, SEO

SEOWe’ve all heard “SEO is Dead” from alarmists, the uninformed, and in countless link bait articles (irony?). But is there any truth to it?

While Search Engine Optimization may look completely different than it did even a year ago, I firmly believe that SEO is not only alive, but thriving. Here’s why:

Some of SEO is Dead

Many tactics that have fallen under the SEO umbrella can safely be considered dead, either because they don’t work anymore, never worked, or still work but are in violation of Google’s guidelines. I’m not going to spend time discussing why they don’t work or are risky, because that’s not what this article is about, and there has been plenty written about the topic.

Lee Odden

What Content Marketers Really Need to Know About SEO – A Twitter Chat With @JoePulizzi #CMWorld

Content SEOCompanies large and small are investing in content creation now, more than ever. Whether the investment in content marketing supports branding, sales, customer service, PR or recruiting, there are specific audiences and brand messages involved.

Kudos to companies making the effort to create more useful content to help answer customer questions. But what good is investing in all that content if it’s not easy to find and share?

Search is a direct expression of intent and what better time for your useful content to be available than at your customers’ moment of need? It’s the perfect time of course, so companies pumping out content without amplification are literally throwing money away.