SEO ROI

SEO Services For Serious ROI. Blog Posts For Serious SEOs.

Five Tools You Need To Rock The World Of Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is all the rage right now and savvy brands looking to promote their services to the public need to stay on top of the latest trends to make sure their message is being heard.

If you’ve never heard of inbound marketing, then you need to make sure you do some reading up and fast. You can get a great overview of what it’s all about by reading this presentation from Rand Fishkin of Moz, while Inbound.org is also a great resource for hints and tips.

Once you’ve caught up with what’s going on, you might want to check out these five tools to help make sure your inbound marketing goes with a bang.

1 – Moz

We’ve already touched on Moz, but the company deserves a closer look. It started out as a search engine optimisation agency, but ditched that element of its business to focus on creating top class marketing tools, and it’s made a great job of things.

Open Site Explorer is great for assessing link prospects and it also offers a whole host of tracking functions to allow you to keep an eye on how your site is doing.

More excitingly, the company is currently in the process of launching a whole new suit of reporting tools. Moz Analytics is currently in beta, so it’s not available to everyone yet, but early reports have been good so it’s certainly something content marketers should keep an eye on.

2 – Buzzstream

If outreach and link building are your aims, then Buzzstream is the tool for you. Not only can you use it to find prospects for outreach, it also helps you contact them and keeps track of the messages you send and receive as you look to contact influencers.

A range of price plans means it should be affordable for even the smallest business, while an intuitive interface and helpful tutorials mean beginners should get to grips with the tool very quickly.

It’s another must have for your marketing arsenal.

3 – Google, Bing, Youtube, Amazon Suggest

suggest

Need some help brainstorming content ideas? Then Ubersuggest is the tool for you. Give it a keyword, and it will provide you with a huge number of related suggestions. You can use these for any number of things, from titles to blog posts for search terms to help you find relevant sites through Buzzstream.

It’s a simple, free tool that has a great many potential applications, and that makes it great.

4 – Pay per click return on investment calculator

PPC is often overlooked when it comes to inbound marketing, but it’s a vital part of the mix. This handy tool from SEO Book lets you work out exactly how much you can expect to make (or lose) from your PPC campaigns. You can specify total monthly clicks, estimated cost per click, conversion rate and average profit per conversions.

It’s a great way to help decide if a particular PPC campaign is going to be worth your while.

5 – Spyfu

Another big part of inbound marketing is keeping an eye on what your competitors are doing. When it comes to link building, you can use Moz’s Opensite Explore but to track the PPC campaigns of others you need Spyfu. This tool lets you peak at your rivals’ AdWords keywords, and the ad variations they’ve used over the last six years.

It’s a great way to drum up ideas for ad copy and find out which keywords are working for your competitors.

So there you have it, five tools which should help you to run a more successful inbound marketing campaign. What tools are you using to reach your customers? Tell us in the comments below.

By Will Stevens of domain name registrar 123-reg. Will blogs about a range of internet marketing topics including PPC management, SEO and brand position.


3 WordPress Themes Marketing Managers Will Love

Marketing managers looking for highly effective WordPress themes to promote their business’ website can start with the themes below

1. UDesign Theme:

UDesign is among the most user-friendly templates WordPress offers. (more…)


Optin Skin Plugin Review

OptinSkin aka Optin Skin logoI just implemented Optin Skin from ViperChill to improve over my previously dismal sidebar optin form, so here’s a OptinSkin review if you’re considering getting it.

What is it? Optin Skin gives you some optin form templates (aka skins) and helps you split test them.

You can customize the skins with your choice of colors, text, font and a couple of other features. One that is interesting, but I’ve yet to try, is the fade-in option which will fade in the form when the visitor gets to the location on the page (ex.: end of post) where it’s meant to appear.

I bought the plugin a while ago but didn’t immediately implement as I wanted to try the form I had originally designed for my sidebar as part of my new theme. In sum, that form performed dismally, so I’m now trying Optin Skin.

Pros of OptinSkin (more…)


Broken Link Building Just Got Stupidly Easy

Two people whom I really admire for their abilities and expertise in SEO, Garrett French of Citation Labs and Russ Virante of Virante Inc, teamed up to produce the Broken Link Prospector. (more…)


Win Prizes From SEOmoz, Conversion Conference & More – The Advanced SEO Blogging Contest

Want to win amazing prizes like a 1 Year Memberships to SEOmoz or a full Conversion Conference pass?

To Win, Share The Most Creative SEO Tactic You Can Think Of!

How To Enter The Contest

Email contest2012@seoroi.com with your new tactic/idea (ideally with accompanying case study). Use the subject line CONTEST ENTRY (all caps please – makes it easy for me to pick through email and find entries).

Include links to all photos, videos, audio etc. and say where the content is meant to go in your post. Ex.: “Insert Youtube video: link—– here.”

To Win The Contest

You need to have your entry be a finalist (judged on non-bounced visitors), and then have the judges pick your entry to win.

Contest Prizes

First Place Grand Prize:

1 Full Ticket To A Conversion Conference – value: $1,995
1 Year of SEOmoz Pro membership – value: $1,188
1 Year of MixRank Professional – value: $1164
1 Year of CognitiveSEO Starter plan – value: $588
125 Credits at Feng-GUI’s predictive heatmapping tool – value: $250
1 Year of Website-Monitoring availability checking service for up to 5 URLs – value: $240

Second Place:

1 Single-Day Ticket To A Conversion Conference – value: $1,195
6 Months of SEOmoz Pro membership – value: $594
6 Months of MixRank Professional – value: $582
1 Year of Website-Monitoring service for up to 3 domains – value: $170
50 Credits at Feng-GUI – value: $100

Third Place:
1 Single-Day Ticket To A Conversion Conference – value: $1,195
3 Months of MixRank Professional – value: $291
1 Year of Website-Monitoring service for 1 domain – value: $72
25 Credits at Feng-GUI – value: $50

Finalist prizes:

1. Every finalist entry (includes grand prize, second and third) will be printed in The Advanced SEO Book’s second edition and included in the ebook version as well.
2. Every finalist (includes grand prize winners, second and third) will get mailed a copy of The Advanced SEO Book (second edition) and emailed an ebook copy (first and second editions).

Entrance prizes:

30% Discount at Website Monitoring
20% Lifetime discount at CognitiveSEO

How We’ll Determine The Contest Winners

1. Your entries are judged on two factors: the unique visitors your post attracts AND judges’ subjective opinions.

2. The top 10 entries (by unique, non-bounced visitors) will be the finalists. I (Gab Goldenberg, the contest organizer) will have veto power over posts judged to have manipulated their way into the top 10, so don’t bother with tricks or spam.

Unique non-bounced visitors are based upon Google Analytics numbers. The formula is Unique Visitors x (100% – Bounce Rate).

3. The judges and myself will review the top 10 entries and pick the winners.

Contest Rules

1. There are no minimum word counts. Cover all the details necessary for others to be able to implement your tactic, and leave it at that.

2. You’re encouraged to include pictures, but they must be royalty-free and you must have the legal right to use them.

In fact, your entire entry can be just an image (ex.: infographic, flow chart etc).

3. You can’t enter someone else’s work as your own.

4. You can’t enter previously published work.

5. Embedding content is fine, so long as it’s legal.

6. If you do a video or audio entry, please provide either a summary or transscription for ease of reference/usability. This is to your benefit as it will strongly increase your chances of winning since more people will enjoy and share your content.

7. The contest will publish entries from Monday, MixRank competitive ad tool logoober 8th, 2012 to Wednesday, November 7th, 2012, but submissions can be made from today (Sept 10). The traffic will be counted based on the whole period. For entries submitted in the last 7 days of the contest, the traffic will be calculated from the day the entry is published + 6 days (i.e. a 7 day period). Thus the traffic counting period will end at the latest November 13th (November 7th + 6 days).

Following this period, judges will pick the winners from the top-traffic getting posts.

I’ll go on to share some tips on winning the contest below, but first some thanks to our sponsors:

Sponsors

Conversion Conference - It's all about the conversion
Conversion Conference teaches attendees the latest techniques in A/B and multivariate testing, website data analysis, landing page design and layout, usability and optimization for mobile, tablets and paid search campaigns.

It’s lead by the author of the book, Landing Page Optimization, Tim Ash. Speaking personally, I’ve learnt a lot from Tim and can say definitely that this is a high-value show.

SEOmoz-Logo
SEOmoz created Linkscape and Open Site Explorer, the SEO world’s first non-Yahoo powered link index and research tools.

They offer much more of course, including their advice via pro members’ Q&A, SEO app, social media monitoring, keyword difficulty/trifecta tool, FollowerWonk, rank tracking and still more beyond that!

Cognitive SEO

Cognitive SEO is a new SEO toolset that automates something many of us do manually – link analysis and classification (guest post, blog comment etc), besides for other link tools.

Their data is sourced from SEOmoz, Majestic, AHrefs and more – so it’s extremely high quality.


Feng-GUI offer designers, advertisers and creatives, a tool that uses a scientific algorithm to predict what people will most look at. This helps you find out if you have visual clutter or visual clarity, as well as what the dominant graphic elements are.

They report results in heatmap and gaze-plot format, which helps with visual hierarchy and conversion rate optimization. I personally have an account and find it quite useful. See the #1 tip for homepage design, for an example of the reports.

Website-Monitoring.com logo Website-Monitoring by SiteImpulse constantly checks websites’ availability and validates their functions.

Each outage is reported instantly with email and SMS alerts and recorded in database for future analysis.

MixRank competitive ad tool logo MixRank offers a competitive intelligence tool for online display ads, so online marketers can find the most relevant traffic sources in their industry. SEOs can monitor what publishers your competitors are paying for clicks on and snap up that traffic for free by contacting the webmaster directly for link building.

Don’t forget that you can also plug these sites into free keyword tools to uncover new keyword ideas (based on those sites’ content) that will generate additional, relevant traffic.

Tips To Win The Contest

Content Suggestions:

+ Surprise people!

Challenge a common assumption or the “accepted” way of doing things. Can you even do the complete opposite?

+ Integrate more than one discipline.

Ex.: How can you use email to make search visitors convert higher? This post on integrating Facebook demographics into keyword research was extremely popular, partly for this reason and partly because it surprised people by showing that Facebook data could be useful for SEO.

+ Make it easy to implement.

Sharing a tactic as opposed to just an idea? The above Facebook + keyword research tactic was creative – but inaccessible for many. If your tactic requires custom-code, can you offer a standard script people can just download or copy? If it requires some particular server-side doodling, can you shoot a video showing how it’s done, step-by-step? Have you provided simple step-by-step instructions?

+ Appeal to different learning styles with audio / visual.

Some people learn best by reading, while others learn by watching or listening. If you can speak to more learning styles, then you can get more visitors.

+ Write 10 titles, then pick the best.

Have some friends rate them and give you feedback on which to use. Avoid “clever” titles since you’re probably the only one who’ll get it – speaking from my own experience as one who’s made this mistake several times.

Promotion Suggestions: Don’t just publish, promote!

+ Ask friends on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn to read the entry and share the post and/or vote it up at Inbound.org or other relevant sites. Don’t make them feel obligated – acknowledge that they have their integrity and say that they should only promote it if they like it.

+ Write a blog post sharing the link to your entry and encourage your readers to go read it, and share it themselves.

+ Got an email list? Offer a teaser with a link to read the full thing.

+ Consider some ads:

Stumbleupon Ads start at 10 cents, and getting stumbleUpon thumbs up from paid visits will generate additional free visits. Similarly, Twitter ads start around 50 cents a click but can get retweets especially from influential Tweeters.

Terms & Conditions

1. All entrants give Gabriel Goldenberg the right to publish their entry in part or in its entirety online, in book and ebook format. This includes images and any screen captures of video. The right is transferrable.

2. The contest is open to people age 18+.

3. I reserve the right not to publish any entry for any reason whatsoever, or to delete any entry for any reason whatsoever. This is unlikely to happen if you use your judgment and follow the rules and guidelines.

4. The entry must not have been previously published elsewhere online or offline.

5. I reserve the right to change the rules as necessary, at my sole discretion. (I can’t predict if the prizes will incent misbehaviour, so I have to include this to allow me to remedy the situation if there’s a problem).

The above rules, terms etc were heavily inspired by JobMob’s guidelines. Thanks Jacob!


How To Mashup Your Data And Mutate Joe Blow Campaigns Into X-Men Campaigns: New SEO/Email/CRO Tactic

SEOs building email lists (and email retargeting subscribers) just got huge help in the form of data mashup artists Rapleaf and Rapportive, two tools for gaining data on your email contacts. The impact will mutate weak little campaigns into car-throwing raging hulks.

The Incredible Hulk (more…)


You Already CAN Automate Personalized Link Outreach

Yesterday I suggested that perhaps SEOs should automate their personalized link outreach. It turns out you already can thanks to Liam Delahunty’s Online Sales tool suite. He doesn’t discuss it visibly there, I think to avoid copycats killing the technique.

Very, very interesting. Love to hear from anyone using that specifically how it’s gone for them, what kind of results they’ve seen. CC @ Garrett French, Eric Ward, Jon Cooper, Debra Mastaler, all link building pros….


My Blog Guest Growth Has Exploded in 3 Years

You know you’ve got a good product when it grows so massively in just 3 years. My friend Ann Smarty has done a massive job developing the site, and big congrats to her on the success, explained in the following infographic: (more…)


Your B2B Live Chat Lander Sounds Scratchy. Make Her Sing Like A Canary!

Passive or intrusive B2B Live Chat is sub-optimal – B2B Live Chat needs to actively and politely engage the prospect to understand their needs.

In B2B, your sales cycle is commonly longer and more education is required than with B2C products. For low-ticket B2C, the passive implementation of live chat described below is probably preferable (split test it) from both a costs-perspective and a “get out of their way and let ‘em shop” perspective. (more…)


Skip Display Retargeting / Remarketing: Start With Email ReMarketing

You can segment your email list by what page(s) they visited.

That means you can use your email marketing for “retargeting” aka “remarketing.”

Retargeting is an increasingly popular marketing tactic that targets prospects based on their having already visited your site (or a specific page, depending what pages include your retargeting-cookie-dropping code).

You know from the person’s previous visit that they’re interested in your product, so you use retargeting  to get a second chance at converting them. (more…)


New, Free WordPress Plugin For Advanced SEO: Content Marketing Cannon

Content Marketing Cannon is a new WordPress plugin.
It consolidates many ordinary posts on topic X into THE Authority Article on X, increasing longtail traffic possibilities, PageRank per post, and linkworthiness of your content.

Other benefits include easier browsing of archives (due to less pagination), time savings, and innumerable supermodels chasing after you.

To download this plugin, you can (i) “pay” with a tweet or Fb-share or (ii) download from within your RSS reader (or email) when you get my latest posts, free. (You need to wait for the weekly email to if you choose the email option.)


FYI: You can edit the tweet/Fb share or cancel before it appears in Twitter/Fb.

CMC solves three problems: Pagination, PageRank Dilution, and Content Division

Blogs can only include so many posts on a category page before you need to paginate. And if you paginate, posts on page 2 etc won’t get as much link juice. Sure, you can set posts to appear that to 100 posts, but then the category page will take a while to load which isn’t ideal either.

I offered a few solutions to this problem in my advanced SEO book, one of which was:

Consolidate posts on a specific topic into a single authority article.

1) You get an in-depth authority article that is more likely to attract links than smaller bits of info.
2) The link juice from those articles consolidates onto 1 page, making it more competitive (e.g. use 301 permanent redirects).
3) There are more possible longtail combinations to hit.
4) You reduce the number of posts and thus have more PageRank flowing from the categories into posts . Also, you reduce the need for pagination.

An example scenario: Roof repair blog

In one post you talk about wooden roof frames rotting and in another about wooden roof frames warping shape and a few others on wooden frame issues.

You consolidate your wooden roof posts into the authoritative article on wooden roof damage. You 301 the subarticles (e.g. the ordinary posts now part of the authority post), and remove the 301 posts from the homepage, category pages, tag pages, search pages and sitemaps.

Thus your authority article has more PageRank than any of the subarticle ones did – and it stands a better chance to rank. Meanwhile, all the site’s remaining articles have a greater share of your PageRank, too.

Plus you now get longtail traffic you couldn’t get before because the two articles were on separate pages, like “wood roof rotting because frame warped.”

You can see a case study of the plugin at work from SEO consultant Kieran Flanagan’s SearchBrat blog. He beta tested the plugin. Here’s a screencap of what the results look like:

Content Marketing Cannon in use

The problem is this demands a fair bit of manual work…

Unless you automate it.

Oh wait! That’s what Content Marketing Cannon does:

- Include any post in another with a simple shortcode that refers to the subarticle’s post ID: writing [ spid=123 ] in the article will include the post with ID #123. 123′s title will become an h2 in the authority article. (Don’t use spaces between the “[" and "]” .)

shortcodes in use in post editor

- Adds a column to the “edit all posts” page, which column displays posts’ IDs.
subarticle Post IDs
- Add a table of contents for the post Wikipedia style with another shortcode [ toc align=left ] or [ toc align=right ] (Don’t use spaces between the “[" and "]” .)

- Adds a box to the post editor page, below the main post area, which allows you to redirect the post to any article on your site. Delete the text and save again to undo. The plugin doesn’t assume you’ll redirect because sometimes, as on Wikipedia, content is included in more than one post. So you might want to use it differently.

- Removes redirected articles from the homepage, category archives and sitemaps.

- Adds a subarticles page to the WP Dashboard so you can find all redirected articles in one convenient spot.

- Adds a settings page for CMC where you can request tech support, new features etc. There will be more settings added to it with planned features.


So how do you get the plugin?

Either pay with a tweet, Fb-share, or get my latest posts sent to your email or RSS reader.

FYI: You can edit the tweet/Fb share or cancel before it appears in Twitter/Fb.

Sponsors we’d encourage you to patronize:

Sponsors of the plugin helped develop the current set of features. They’re also helping us add an auto-redirect feature for the next version, which will automate the process even more!

Slingshot SEO
Get professional SEO services from SlingshotSEO.com.

Prohoster
Get VPS Hosting from Prohoster.gr.

Stepforth
Get search engine optimization from Stepforth.com .

Powered by Search
Get local SEO from PoweredBySearch.com .

Canadian SEO
Get link building from CanadianSEO.com.

CMC sponsor web strategy 360
Use a analytics URL builder from WebStrategy360.com.


Use link tools and other goodies from SEOTools.net .

Simply Zesty Logo
Get online PR and social media marketing services based in Ireland from Simply Zesty.

Progo
Get WordPress themes built for direct marketing performance from Progo.com.

Image of Gisele Bundchen via BobBekian.com, creative commons license.


Twit Cleaner – Really Useful Tool To Unfollow Dead, Useless, Bot Accounts

I love Twit Cleaner!
(more…)


Free Mobile Usability Testing

UserTesting has a panel of mobile device users who have high-resolution webcams on stands. So you can watch them use their mobile device–iPhone, Android, or iPad–as they visit your mobile website or use your mobile app.

The good folks at UT, amongst them Dave Garr love SEO ROI (who doesn’t? ;), and are donating 100 free mobile tests to SEO ROI’s readers. To get your free test: (more…)


Plugin Update & New Functionality for Internal Link Building – v2.1

WordPress 3.3 created a bug with my SEO plugin, Internal Link Building, such that the credits line normally found at the end of a page would appear in the middle of the post editor. Plugin developer Aaron of AahaCreative.com has coded an update that squashes the bug. The newest version is called 2.1 (I know, I had called a previous version v3, but I made a mistake then).

The ability to block automated internal linking from happening on either pages or posts is also now included, following popular demand. It’s useful to prevent traffic leaking from your sales oriented pages (e.g. a “Services” page on your SEO site) and thus increase conversions. To use this feature, simply go to the Settings page (labelled “Keywords”) and scroll past your list of keywords until you see this: (more…)


Quick Link & Relationship Building Time Savers

It’s no secret that editorial links are typically relationship driven, but who has time to build relationships? That’s why we talk at each other in ephemeral tweets that last 140 characters … if you had that kind of lasting power in your relations with your wife, a divorce would not be long in coming! (more…)


The Beginner’s Guide To Remote Usability Testing: Increase Conversion In 30 Days With No Experience

Want to learn usability testing? I promise that any complete beginner who applies the lessons in this guide thoroughly will see a higher conversion rate in 30 days, guaranteed!

Q: What is usability testing? What is remote usability testing?

A: Usability testing is the process of having people interact with a website and provide feedback on it. The purpose of this testing is to find out why users are using the site as they are.

The value in understanding why users behave a certain way is that you get actionable insight, which raw data on what users are doing doesn’t tell you. You can see what’s tripping up users and fix it!

Note: Usability testing is also used offline for testing products, but for our purposes we’ll stick to website usability testing.

Remote usability testing is a method of usability testing where the users testing the website are in a different location than the person giving the test. The test giver, known as the moderator, sets up the test and provides instructions on what to do.

For now, let’s see how usability testing works. Later we’ll address specific issues like remote vs in-person usability testing, moderated vs unmoderated testing, and what tools to use for specific tasks.

How Usability Testing Works

Photo credit sxc

ladder

There are 5 steps to running a usability test.

1. First, you decides on tasks you want people to do on your website, such as search for a product and add to cart.

2. You recruit users, ideally ones representative of the site’s audience for the test. Typically, 3-5 testers are used in each round of testing, after which changes are made and another round of testing begins.

(If you can’t recruit users, there are companies who do that and usability testing tools with panels of users you can recruit.)

3. Users attempt to do the tasks set by the site owner.

In the most popular and effective form of usability testing, test-takers record their screen and voice, while sharing their thoughts out loud as they use the site. In other types of usability testing, feedback may only be written afterwards.

A short questionnaire typically follows screen-and-audio-recording type tests. Questions focus on problems encountered using the site, possible solutions, and how the tester would have behaved had it not been a test.

4. You review the user feedback to understand what the users were trying to do and why. Make note of the most common difficulties.

5. The site owner makes changes to the website to solve the problems discovered from the recordings.

Note: For ease of reference, I’m going to use “the moderator,” “site owner” and “you” interchangeably, but the roles can be shared between team members as you see fit.

Let’s see each step of the testing process in more depth.

Step 1: Deciding On And Writing Tasks For Users

check list

The first step is figuring out and writing what you want your users to try to do. You need to describe outcomes for users to achieve, and avoid (to the extent possible) being too explicit in how to do a task, avoid mentioning the names of particular links to click (e.g. the task reads “learn pricing,” when the site has a “Pricing” link).

A good task description is, “Get in touch with us,” not “Click ‘contact’ and fill out the form.”

Photo credit sxc

Start by asking, what is the purpose of the site? Then work backwards and ask yourself what steps are needed to get a visitor to accomplish those steps.

The following example illustrates how this works at a coarse level, but you can go more granular and test sub-elements within each step.

Ecommerce example: Let’s imagine we’re usability testing a running shoe retailer.

6 – Purpose of the site: The site’s purpose is to sell running shoes.

5- Previous step: To sell merchandise, users need to checkout.

4 – Previous step: To checkout, they need to have added something to cart.

3 – Previous step: To have added something to cart, they need to have found a product that adequately meets their needs.

2 – Previous step: To find that product, the users must sort through the site’s products easily.

1 – First step: Before sorting, visitors need to be convinced not to bounce with a credible appearance that’s relevant to their intent in visiting.

For step 1, since users are coming to your site to do the test, they won’t bounce on their own. To find out if your site is credible and relevant, use a five second test task description:

Ask people to look at the page for five seconds, look away, then share what they remember. Does “what people remember” match the landing page’s traffic sources, such as search keywords and ad copy? Is the design credible or does it make people flee?

For steps 2-6, a regular usability test with screen and voice recording would work fine.

Task description

Good: “Find a pair of Reebok running shoes and buy them. Find answers to any questions that come to mind.” This leaves discretion to users to browse for Reebok running shoes the way they naturally would. This allows them the choice to browse with search or clicks, refine their options as usual… in sum, to be themselves, which is what we want to see.

Bad: “Click the Reebok running shoes button in the lower left sidebar, click on a pair of shoes, add them to cart, and fill out the checkout forms.”

Step 2: Recruiting Users

Army Recruiting Ad: Wanted: More Men Like Mike

(image credit Vintage Military Ads)

This is where most web pros aspiring to run usability tests give up. Frankly, recruiting testers is hard.

First, it’s not always obvious who your audience is. Who are these “representative users” anyways?

To answer that, build personas (easier), and seek keyword-level demographics (harder). If you’ve never worked in the field, you can always email the owners of existing sites and ask them; if they’re competitors, look at
people offering the service in a different city or language.

Second, how do you go about soliciting people to test the site? Why would they care or bother? Where do you find them? How do you approach them?

Commonly, usability testing will pay testers for their time. With remote usability testing, paypal payments or online gift certificates (ex.: Amazon.com) are common. Others are interested in helping just to be helpful or because they’re friends.

Once you know who your representative users are, you need to find them. To do that, first try the free way and solicit amongst family, friends and contacts by email and phone.

After exhausting this pool or if your contacts just are too different from representative users (you’re starting a hispanic dating site without knowing anyone hispanic), you can run demographically or professionally targeted ads. Places to advertise include Facebook, PlentyOfFish, LinkedIn, MyAds (demographics powered by MySpace) and supposedly the Google Display Network (formerly the Content Network).

Another option that recruits directly from your users is Bolt|PetersEthnio recruiting service.

Originally, Ethnio was offered at a rate of a few hundred dollars per person because it was an offline, labour-intensive recruiting process. Today Ethnio is a software tool with a free trial that just requires you to copy-paste some code to get started. It intercepts visitors as they come to the site, asking them to participate in your test. The downside is that the test needs to consist of a survey or Usabilla click test, which helps but isn’t as useful as getting them to record their screen and voice.

Another easy way out of recruiting is buy a remote usability testing service with a panel of users.

TryMyUI logoTools in this category that will have users record their screen and spoken thoughts include TryMyUI , UserFeel -whose panel includes testers in the UK and Greece- and UserTesting.com. (UI means User Interface, such as the part of the website customers interact with by clicking and typing.)UserTesting logo

On a lower-tech level there is Feedback Army, which surveys visitors after they try using your site. While it doesn’t record audio or video, it’s also only $15 for 10 users to provide their feedback.

Note that these panels are only appropriate for sites geared towards a general audience. Sites requiring knowledge of particular jargon (e.g. SEO) won’t find representative users here, since user selection criteria are limited to demographics and tech-savvy (“technographics”), and don’t break down by vertical.

A word on “representative users”

Finally, while it’s ideal to get representative users, it’s also fine to get users who are less representative and grade on a curve, proportionately to how closely they match your audience. (Hattip Steve Krug)

Step 3: Running the Test

Once recruited, it’s up to users to follow instructions and do the test. This either happens at agreed-upon times (moderated testing), or at the user’s discretion (unmoderated usability testing).

Test Preparation

With moderated testing, the moderator either sets up a computer with screen and audio recording software before the test, or instructs users to use browser-based software to record their screens and voices.

With unmoderated testing, the user is responsible for ensuring the audio and video recording software is on and recording, at the right level.

Note: Both of these comments assume a regular usability test, as opposed to a limited or partial test aimed at discovering how users interact with particular aspects of the site. This includes mouse-movement tracking and click measurement tests, for example, as well as visual analysis tools like FiveSecondTest or predictive gazeplot-and-eye-tracking tool Feng-Gui.

A gazeplot generated on Amazon’s mobile homepage by Feng-Gui.

Tip: It’s important to make sure that both video and audio are recording at the start, and that the sound levels are high enough, to avoid wasting time and money.

What Your Instructions  Need To Cover

Once the audio and video are on and at the right level, there are three things your instructions must cover:

a. Asking the user to say what hes doing and why out loud, constantly. To quote TryMyUI:

“Clearly say exactly what you are thinking as you are thinking it. We are interested in your impressions, expectations, and the motivations for your actions. Don’t edit your thoughts as you navigate the website! Simply say exactly what you are thinking at each step.”

Steve Krug’s excellent book on usability testing, Rocket Surgery Made Easy, emphasizes that you should make clear it’s the website being tested, not the user. They can’t make mistakes here!

This serves the highly important purpose of preventing self-censorship, as alluded to in TryMyUI’s instructions.

Gab with Rocket Surgery Made Easy and Don't Make Me Think, by Steve Krug

b. Providing a starting URL for the user. With in-person testing, you’ll have this pre-loaded.

c. Provide a written list of tasks. Don’t just provide it orally, because you want to ensure the same phrasing each time.

If users get distracted and go off to do their own thing, the moderator gently encourages them back to the task at hand.

Step 4: Reviewing The Feedback

Once the tests have been run, what’s left is data – not actionable insight. To turn that information into actionable recommendations, the moderator needs to review the collected feedback.

His purpose is to look for patterns in what gave users difficulty.

By focusing on problems common to more than one user, you ensure that you get the most bang for your buck in making changes and fixing the site. This is also why running a test with one user is insufficient.

Conversely, to save time and money, you shouldn’t test with more than 5 users per round of testing. By the fourth or fifth user you’ll already know the main issues the site has and having the same problems highlighted another half dozen times isn’t productive.

The problems the moderator will discover can usually be categorized by WiderFunnel’s classic LIFT model of conversion optimization:

LIFT Model of CRO

  • Value Proposition: What’s in it for the user. This is the core which the other factors act upon.
  • Anxiety: How design -security reassurances, layout- and content -answering questions, social proof- affect trustworthiness. Reduce anxiety to lift the conversion plane.

  • Distraction: The page features too many eye-catching elements. Focus is drawn away from the page’s main purpose. Reduce distraction for more lift.

  • Relevance: The degree to which the page matches users’ expectations before arriving. Increase relevance for more lift.

  • Clarity: Do the design and content work in synergy to explain the value proposition?

  • Urgency: Do users have a reason to act now?

To return to our earlier example of the online running shoe retailer, here are some things you would look for in your analysis.

First, as mentioned earlier, is the landing page’s credibility and relevance to traffic sources. Is the site secure? Is the graphic design professional? For relevance, you can show the traffic source (ad, link or search listing) briefly before taking users to the landing page. Within the five second test, you can ask if the landing page matches the expectations the traffic source created.  – Relevance, Anxiety, Clarity -

Visitors need to drill down and find a product that suits their needs. Can they browse and search their way through your categories to find an adequate fit? How effective are your refinement options? When clicking through to a subcategory or product detail page, does the content there match expectations? – Relevance, Clarity -

Third, visitors need to get sufficient information from the product detail page. Does the information answer visitors’ questions? Does it convey benefits? How scannable is the information – bullet points or paragraphs? Where’s the refunds policy? Are the shoes in stock? How much is shipping? – Value Proposition, Urgency, Anxiety-

Users also need to be able to add to cart easily, and then modify the contents of the cart. Is the add to cart button noticeable and clearly a button? Are the cart buttons clearly labelled and laid out in a hierarchy reflecting their importance? Does the site need all this information the checkout requests? – Clarity, Distraction, Urgency, Anxiety -

Step 5: Implement The Changes

Again, follow Steve Krug’s excellent advice: Change the least possible to solve the problems.

For example, instead of redesigning a page’s graphics to reduce distraction, comment out some of the graphics. Test again and see if that solves things. To save time on such visual makeovers, you can just use a visual testing tool like Feng-Gui or Five Second Test, mentioned earlier.

And don’t wait for the “upcoming redesign”… 99% of the time it’ll go live months after promised. In the meantime, you’ve wasted loads of traffic.

Miscellaneous Testing Tips and FAQ

How do I test…

… information architecture (aka the organization of content on a site into logical groups)? Use card sorting. Do users look for content where you expected? Do they click the right links to drill down to the content you want them to find? (Image credit Revium.)

… where people would click next? Look at click based tools like CrazyEgg or Usabilla.

… how people make their way through a model of the site? Try wireframe creation software that (i) lets you interact with the wireframe by clicking the navigation and going to the wireframes for the relevant pages and (ii) allows you to share your wireframes online, so testers can access them. Some wireframe tools are designed to only be used in a desktop environment, so read carefully to avoid that.

See

Remote Testing vs In-Person Testing Pros and Cons

Remote testing is

- Cheaper: Don’t need to pay for travel, premises, computer equipment, food
- Less work to organize
- Easier to recruit for because there’s no geographic restriction
- Commonly paid for via Paypal or gift certificates

In-Person testing is

- More personal, you can get body language
- A more compelling opportunity for the whole team to witness the testing simultaneously and debrief, which can get things moving faster
- Commonly paid for in cash
- Instantaneous feedback; you view the data as it comes in, instead of waiting until later

“Moderated Testing” vs “Unmoderated Testing” Pros and Cons

Moderated testing:

- Is significantly less likely to encounter errors requiring retakes, such as setup issues with hardware or software, or testers veering off topic
- Yields richer, more useful data
- Tends to have representative users

Unmoderated testing:

- Sometimes yields obnoxious or useless responses, like FiveSecondTest and Feedback Army testers more interested in accumulating credits or micropayments than being helpful.
- Costs less on an individual test basis, because there is no moderator, or because it typically involves testing narrow interaction aspects such as click tests or visual feedback
- Is commonly associated with narrow aspects of interaction
- Tests of particular aspects may or may not have representative users
- Can save time when run through a service with a panel of testers, such that recruitment effort is negligible. This advantage makes it an easy entry-point/stepping stone for beginners to enter the world of usability testing.

Additional testing tools references:

There are many tools available for usability testing specific aspects of a website, or the whole shebang.

Kyle Soucy of Usable Interface put together a helpful, comprehensive overview of these varied tools.

Concluding Tip: Start as early in the web design process as possible

- Talk about the idea with friends and family and see what are the most common questions/objections raised, so you can answer them.

- Create user interface mockups in Photoshop and do the 5 second test (with or without the site): namely, ask people to look for a few seconds, then look away and ask what they recall.

- Put early design mockups through Feng-GUI as a sanity check – are there too many visually ‘loud’ areas?

- Imperfect testing is better than none. As the French say, “the best is the enemy of the good [enough].”

Further reading:

Review of testing service UserTesting.com
Sensible – Steve Krug’s site
Usability Post
RemoteUsability.com/tools

http://okcancel.com/archives/article/2006/07/guide-to-remote-usability-testing.html

http://www.boxesandarrows.com/view/remote_online_usability_testing_why_how_and_when_to_use_it


6 WP Plugins That Automate Your SEO

When it comes to the often-overlooked art of internal website optimization, too many people stick with the standard methods such as being mindful of keyword use within content and relevant tags. (more…)


Want To Sponsor Development Of A New WP Plugin For OutWikipediaing Wikipedia’s SEO?

I’m looking for feature sponsors to help cover the programming costs of a new WP plugin I’ve been working on. It’s not a competitor to All In One SEO Pack or Yoast’s WP SEO, but provides new functionality that so far hasn’t existed. It will be given away free to the web community once completed.

Read on for details on the plugin.

To sponsor, contact me. Cost is $150 per sponsorship (one-time, obviously; it’s for programming costs) and we’ve already got 6/15 sponsorships taken. You’ll get a credit on the plugin page including your logo and a link to wherever you choose, as well as advanced access to current and future betas. (Yes, the link is dofollow, no, you’re not buying a link. You’re covering programming costs. )

The SEO problem this tackles: Blogs can only include so many posts on a category page before you need to paginate. And if you paginate, posts on page 2 etc won’t get as much link juice. Sure, you can set posts to appear that to 100 posts, but then the category page will take a while to load which isn’t ideal either.

I offered a few solutions to this problem in my advanced SEO book, one of which was:

Consolidate posts on a specific topic into a single authority article.

1) You get an in-depth authority article that is more likely to attract links than smaller bits of info.
2) The link juice from those articles consolidates onto 1 page, making it more competitive.
3) There are more possible longtail combinations to hit, effectively outWikipediaing Wikipedia…
4) You reduce the number of posts and thus have more PageRank flowing from the categories into posts . Also, you reduce the need for pagination.

Problem is this demands a fair bit of manual work…

Unless you automated it.

Oh wait! That’s what the plugin does. Help you create authority articles from your smaller pieces and consolidate the content like Wikipedia, creating authority articles instead of stubs.

Some key features:

- Include any post in another with a simple shortcode.

- 301 redirect a post

- Add a right or left aligned table of contents, Wikipedia style

- Removes redirected articles from the homepage, category archives and sitemaps: PageRank concentrates across fewer links

If interested, contact me.


Site Hacked? Try Vaultpress – Excellent And Affordable Security From WP’s Creators

My site was hacked for a few months now, in what was mostly a benign, but nevertheless annoying way. The hacker injected spam pages onto SEOROI.com about debt and financial products, which you can still see in Google’s cache. Only Vaultpress was able to remove the hack…

(To be 100% clear: there was no malware. Google detected none, McAffee detected none, CodeGuard detected none and so you weren’t at risk by visiting my site.)

The backstory… (more…)


Why Your WordPress Contact Plugin Sucks For Conversion

Two reasons:

1) Some of the most popular contact form plugins, including Contact Form 7, don’t provide a thankyou page. That means that you can’t easily set up a simple ab-test in Google Website Optimizer (GWO) to increase conversions, because GWO requires a thankyou page. Doh! (I realize I’m running that plugin, but I’m not actively seeking new consulting clients, so it’s not a priority to fix that.)

2) Typically, the contact button says submit by default. It’s well known that you want to match the button to your headline, and people didn’t come to your contact page with servitude in mind and/or kinky S&M messaging. They came to contact you. So the default button should read “Contact Us” or “Send Contact Message” … Submit isn’t clear and cuts conversions.

Like this post on conversion rate optimization (CRO) and usability? Get a free chapter from my advanced SEO book, which offers tactics covering the overlap between CRO and SEO.


Tools I Want

I’ve been digging into online marketing tools and to my chagrin, most want an annual fee (or one time payment usually roughly equivalent). It’s the rise of SAAS…

Email: (more…)


A/B Testing WP With Google Website Optimizer: The Easiest, Cheapest Method

Want to a/b test your WordPress (WP) website without the cranky, unreliable Google Website Optimizer (GWO) plugins?

Google Website Optimizer

The problem with using Google Website Optimizer with WordPress:

1. Google Website Optimizer was designed with static html pages in mind, as opposed to pages created by a content management system like WordPress.

Each post on a WordPress-powered website relies on multiple different files, such as header.php, sidebar.php, post.php etc. Google Website Optimizer requires you to place code on the page you’re going to test, which is made more difficult because of the dynamic inclusion of the header, sidebar, body of the post etc.

2. Various WP plugins supposedly resolve the difficulty. In fact, they don’t solve it for two reasons:

  • These plugins limit what you can test to the content of the post, and not the title, layout, navigation and other very important aspects of the page.
  • They don’t work with custom themes – which is likely your case if you’re putting money into A/B testing or multivariate (MVT) testing. I’ve failed to make GWO work on this WordPress site despite numerous efforts and following instructions to the letter.

In short, what you need is for your WordPress pages to be static html …

How to a/b test any WP page/post, free using Google Website Optimizer…

1) Navigate to the WordPress page you want to test, in your browser.

2) Click File -> Save File As and download the page. With Firefox, this downloads two things: i) a folder including all the graphics, CSS and backend voodoo that makes the page pretty and ii) the final html that is sent to the browser to display on your screen.

3) Upload the folder and html file from step 2 to your server. This is your control version of the page.

4) Create one or more copies of the folder and html file, and edit as needed for your test. This is your experimental version of the page.

5) Upload the copy/ies to your server. Important: Don’t upload to a folder in which WordPress is installed, because doing so will cause the newly uploaded page will take forever to load (in my case, 30 seconds+). This means that if WordPress powers your whole site (e.g. it’s installed in the root folder), you’ll need to test on a subdomain or another domain. I suspect this may also be true of trying to upload the file to a page where other CMSes are installed

Filezilla Upload

6) Edit both the control and experimental pages to include the Google Website Optimizer code.

7) Optional: Use a 302 Temporary Redirect on the existing page to send the traffic to your control page and let GWO split the traffic between the “A” (control) version and “B” (experimental) version of the test page. You want to use a temporary redirect because you’re only doing this until you find a better version of the page.

Alternately, you can use a 301 permanent redirect if you don’t want to be bothered keeping the WP version of the page later.

8) Optional: If you tested layout or something graphical besides content, have a dev create a special “page template” that you can select when creating a new WP page. That way you’ll be able to keep the new version within the control of WordPress, while getting the higher conversion rate of your new version.

A summary of this approach’s benefits:

- It’s easier than breaking your head trying to install GWO on a custom theme and never succeeding at having it validate.
- It provides more flexibility in what you can test than the existing plugins out there.
- You’re still using GWO, so it’s free.

Liked this workaround to a/b testing using GWO and WordPress? Add my rss feed to your reader for more tips on conversion and usability and advanced SEO.


Useful Tools For ScreenCasting & Usability Testing

Have you been paying $29 and now $39 a head for usertesting.com?

Mashable has a list of free and commercial screencasting tools, including web-based/online ones.

(New to remote usability testing? – Read my user testing guide .)

The Screencasting Handbook has another list with certain other ones listed and describing relevant feature differences.

Finally, some generous soul gave Wikipedia a really comprehensive list of such tools, but without much detail on features.

You can use this plus the methodology in Rocket Science Made Easy (Steve Krug’s guide to usability testing) for really cheap tests, or even free ones.


Can SEOs Automatically Analyze Backlink Profiles?

In a thought-provoking article, Russ Virante of Virante SEO asks whether, instead of manually checking through competitors’ backlink profiles, it’s perhaps possible to automate the analysis, at least to dig for paid links. He suggests that by using SEOmoz’s link index, and comparing the numbers on some backlink profile metrics against those of Wikipedia [which has never manipulated its backlink profile], it’s possible to get an idea o how natural a site’s backlink profile is. (more…)


SEO Software Startup Story: The Usability Testing & Social Integrations Of BuzzStream

Paul May co-founded BuzzStream, a CRM for link building and PR/social media that allows online marketers to manage relationships and be more effective in getting results, be they links or press. He gave me the following two-part interview about the software creation and startup process.

I’d already interviewed Ann Smarty before about her creation of MyBlogGuest and her insights on iteration, usability and the startup process.

Have you used usability testing along the way? If so, what role has it played (share examples)?

I talk to at least two customers every day, so I’m always getting feedback…we conduct formal usability testing any time we launch a major feature. Our testing approach is based on Steve Krug’s usability testing methodology – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QckIzHC99Xc.

Here’s how we did it when we launched the new prospecting tool:

  • We had ten people test the product. Four of these were people at agencies dedicated to link building, two were at large SEO agencies, and four were in-house link builders.
  • We break testing up into two phases.

    In our first phase we have the testers walk through a series of linked balsamiq mockups. The thing I love about using balsamiq mockups is that it’s great for identifying features you can cut before you get into code…when you see all the things that people stumble over and when they tell you which things they really care about, it makes it much easier to figure out the minimum viable feature-set.

    The downside to balsamiq mockups is that they force the user through a specific workflow, so your visibility into the true user experience is limited. Given this, we use mockups with three or four testers and then move to working code.

  • When we’re testing, we give the tester control over our screen and ask them to complete specific tasks to see how easily they can accomplish them. For the prospecting tool, our scenarios were:
    1) Find prospects,
    2) Evaluate prospects,
    3) Add prospects to your account.

    As they go through each step, we have them say everything that they’re thinking. This helps us identify spots where our language is confusing, our workflow is cumbersome, etc.

Two of the big takeaways from the usability testing for the prospecting tool:

1. Using language like “keywords” confused people and led to poor selection of prospecting phrases (people thought they should just enter the same keywords they’re trying to rank on).

Just changing the language to “prospecting searches” significantly changed the way people used the product.

More reading on usability you might like:

Beginner’s guide to remote usability testing
My review of trying UserTesting.com

2. For the first release, people didn’t want or need a tool that automatically creates the prospecting phrases for them…
They just wanted to enter prospecting queries on their own and then let BuzzStream de-duplicate results and collect the data. This cut out a ton of development that we thought we needed in order to deliver a v1 product.

What lead you guys to integrate Twitter so tightly?

Initially because it scratched an itch that we had…we were engaging with people on twitter and people were talking about us there, but we had no way to leverage this. All these great things were happening there and if we had a history of it at our fingertips, we could build better outreach lists and engage more effectively…but it was as though the second after you tweeted someone or they tweeted about your company, the information would just scatter to the wind.


Do you have plans to integrate other social websites in the future? Digg? StumbleUpon? Facebook?

We’ve built a prototype for automatic discovery of blog comments, but we haven’t integrated it into the product yet….the truism with software is that you have to support anything you deliver and it’s much easier to add a feature than kill it, so we’re being careful here.

The next few months will be heavily weighted towards usability and UI features, and we’ll use that time to conduct some market research on social discovery features like this. I would love to hear thoughts from you and your readers about this. [Ed: I think this is valuable for the same reason as the Twitter integration, but also because it allows you to know who to work with when you need to promote something on those sites.]


Do you have grandfathered pricing?

Yes. We haven’t raised our prices, but we did change our pricing model.

In the past, each plan included a large number of users and a relatively small number of contacts and links. The overwhelming feedback we’ve gotten is that people needed more contacts and links. To meet the need we raised the number of contacts and links in each plan, but we also reduced the number of users in each plan.

For the vast majority of our current customers, this meant they got more links for the same price, but there were some customers that would have had to move to a more expensive plan to keep the same number of users. For them, we’ve grandfathered them into their current plan, but if they want to move to the new model, they’re able to do this at a significant discount.

Liked it? Check out Buzzstream today!


Are You Buying Skewed Panel Data?

In yet another fascinating case study, Mr Green’s blog shares a mobile marketing campaign aimed at recruiting panel members for a demographic research service. (more…)


Dealing With Panda? Try A Readability Tool

If you’ve read about Panda, you’ll know that the quality of your writing and editing is a key notion targeted by Google’s update. (more…)


3 Cheap Tools to Attack the Panda Update Head-On

This is a guest post by Brian Patterson, a partner at SEO consulting firm Go Fish Digital.

The Google Panda Update hit many webmasters like a freight train, leaving a long line of quality websites as collateral damage.  While the Panda update did have the noble cause of weakening the grip that content farms had on the SERPs, many high-quality, content-rich websites were cleaned from Google in one fail swoop.  To address the outrage found across the blogosphere, Google has provided a list of questions to ask yourself if you want your rankings to return.

From the list of questions Google provided, I’d like to propose 3 cheap solutions that could help get you back in Google’s favor.

1.  Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?

I think it is a little ridiculous of Google to even consider this as something to base rankings on, but I won’t get very far arguing with them (I’ll leave that to Aaron Wall).

The question is, what could we possibly do to have Google think the answer for this is ‘yes’ for our website?   Remember, they are doing this via algorithm, so it’d be pretty hard for them to analyze our design or look for other superficial indicators of trust.

However, there are ‘tangible’ items that they can check for to indicate trust, and  what makes the most sense to me is for Google to check for the ‘Verisign Verified’ seal.  It’d be pretty easy for Google to look for this, and if it is there, the website gets the box checked on this question.  At ~$19/month, its a minimal investment if your website was previously making a great deal of money but took a big Panda hit.

Verisign verification image

2.  Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?

This question does have merit, but I really doubt Google’s sophistication to check for deep stylistic and grammar errors. While the built-in Microsoft Word grammar check is ok and probably on par with what Google would be able to do (my speculation), Apple’s built in grammar check is atrocious.

Rather than rely on these built-in tools, my preference of late has become a very comprehensive ‘cloud’ grammar check tool called Grammarly.  This tool grades the grammar of an article, performs comprehensive content reviews, and offers rich suggestions for improving the quality of an article.  At around $10/month, it is well worth the investment and I’m pretty confident it’s much more comprehensive in reviewing content than Google could ever be (because grammar isn’t the space Google operates in full-time).

grammar-check-logo

3.  Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?

The recent ranking correlation data gathered and analyzed by SEOmoz is nothing short of shocking. Of all of the metrics they track, Facebook Shares (not ‘Likes’) have the highest correlation to rankings.  Google’s question on ‘sharing’ here, plus this corellation data, leads me to believe that Facebook and other social shares could be a critical signal in the Panda algorithm.  There are hundreds of tools to help in this space, but I’d like to point out a few of my favorites… and the best part is, these are free!

  • ShareThis – Put this button at the end of your article.  It’ll give people an opportunity to easily share your content across a number of social and bookmarking sites.
  • fbShare.me –  Facebook is making it more difficult to do ‘sharing’ and instead favors their ‘Like’ button.  Sharing on Facebook means that it can show up in another users ‘Top News’, whereas just ‘Liking’ a piece of content will not show up in one of your friend’s ‘Top News’. This handy little widget does all of the work for you to get ‘Share’ on your site.

In addition to these two tools, increasing your overall engagement in social media will ensure that your content constantly stays in people’s various social streams.

So there you have it, 3 tools that can help you beat the Panda update.  Matt Cutts has indicated that the Panda algorithm is not run daily, so it could take some time to bounce back after implementing all of the various changes being suggested.

This is one of the most sweeping updates Google has performed, and sites caught in the cross-fire can expect numerous tweaks and adjustments by Google as time goes by. By focusing on what Google is saying publicly about the update, we can attempt to make educated guesses on how to satisfy the various pieces of the algorithm.

Learn more about Brian Patterson and his ORM work here.


BuzzStream Does It Again

It seems whenever BuzzStream send out an email with new product features for their link building CRM software, I’m highly impressed with the value they’ve added to their product. It’s a great competitive differentiation they’re building, and in my eyes, highly worth it for any link builder regularly building links manually. (more…)


2 Facebook Ad Creation Programs For SMBs – Replacement for FB Ad Manager

The Problem With Facebook Ads

People buying Facebook ads have been getting progressively more sophisticated and large-scale. The problem with scaling is that the web interface is clunky and that the Bulk Uploader is only available for high rollers spending $1000/day + on Facebook ads. (more…)


3 Cheap Web Robots & Screen Scrapers for SEO Data Collection

This is a guest post by Jeffrey Russo, a Boston-area SEO at a boutique search agency. Jeff is particularly interested in the intersection of search and social, and regularly covers SEO related topics on his personal blog at jeffreyrusso.com.

This post exemplifies the creative and critical thinking I discuss in depth in my book

One of my favorite things about SEO is that I regularly get to sit down and dig into a massive data set, searching for the non-intuitive insights that have the power to truly move the needle.

But as much as I enjoy uncovering an obscure keyword space or a fantastic link opportunity from deep within an Excel file, the slow and painful process of actually collecting the data to work with can get in the way of doing this kind of detailed analysis. (more…)


Yahoo Term Extraction Tool

I dunno why this is the first time I ever saw this, but this tool essentially enables automated long-tail exploration and discovery. And while a similar valuable tool is available via SEOmoz Pro, this one is free (for now) via Yahoo. (Though obviously, SEOmoz has a lot of other tools Yahoo does not.) (more…)


Internal Link Building v3 – More Natural Anchor Text and New Tabs

Internal Link Building is a plugin I created to help SEOs by letting them auto-link internally like Wikipedia does, so you can rank like Wikipedia.

It’s since been adopted by affiliates to auto-link to affiliate products and by bloggers looking to auto-link to their RSS feeds and popular posts, as well.
(Read on for details on new functionality, FAQ etc. For those who just want the latest version, add my RSS feed to your reader and download it from there.

If you like this plugin, please link to this page or stumble it.)

I recently sent people interested in my advanced SEO book a second free sample chapter about more natural anchor text. The updates to ILB do just that. In the words of the programmer

New functionality:

Words Between means that more words can be in the anchor text. So, you can match “google search” to “google cat search” if this is set 1 or “google the best engine to use for search” if set higher. The setting is the maximum not the minimum. (more…)


SpyFu Tutorial & Case Study: See More Data In Domain Ad History

I recently took my own endorsement advice and bought access to Spyfu for a PPC campaign I’m managing, which is having CTR trouble on some keywords.

Besides my use for my own campaign, the Spyfu membership – especially Domain Ad History tool – was useful in critically appraising this post from Epiphany, which discusses how Lego are apparently not buying keywords they’re targeting for SEO, an apparently obvious mistake. (more…)


When Will 4Q Switch To An Exit PopOver?

Here are comments taken from my 4Q visitor surveys during the past 6 months, regarding how annoying these visitors find the immediate appearance of 4Q’s visitor survey. An exit popover would be a much better way of doing this, and here’s proof. (more…)


SEO FAQ: Can Overusing Internal Link Building Cause A Penalty?

Jimmy writes,

“I saw someone write to be careful or use the ilb in moderation to avoid getting penalized or something like that.

What are your thoughts on best practices?” (more…)


13 Resources For Mobile Landing Pages And Website Design

Guides

http://articles.sitepoint.com/article/designing-for-mobile-web
http://mashable.com/2009/11/26/mobile-web-design/
http://abduzeedo.com/mobile-web-design
http://www.scribd.com/doc/20946338/Great-Mobile-Landing-Pages – A useful presentation for beginners. The authors created Movitas, which has the most affordable WYSIWYG mobile page creator I found. (Besides the free, uber-basic Movylo.)


Mobile Web Design Galleries

http://www.mobileawesomeness.com/mobile-web-resources/ – A blog and design gallery with useful resources linked
http://www.mobisitegalore.com/index.html – Another gallery

WYSIWYGs

https://movitas.com/Movitas/pricingComparison.aspx
http://www.tekora.com/en/ – Another mobile WYSIWYG
Very basic: http://www.movylo.com/
Really pricey: http://mobify.me/features/

Slice Shops Turn PSD and AI Graphics Into XHTML, WML etc

http://www.mobilizetoday.com/xhtml-conversion – Seemed to have pretty affordable pricing for slicing up graphics into mobile landers, but it wasn’t clear if they’d do WML either…
https://w3-markup.com/ – A site that will slice your graphics into a working lander, but they don’t do WML. Use them if your target is newer devices that can support 320px wide graphics etc.
http://www.zestadz.com/help/help_landing_page_tool – Unclear if you need to use Zestadz to get their tool, however.

If you liked this post on mobile tools and resources, add my rss feed to your reader!


Protected: Content Marketing: Why You Suck At It And The Final Guide To Getting It Right

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How BuzzStream Made Itself Waaaay More Valuable

I was reading this post by Ann Smarty on SalesForce’s brilliant WP plugin, and it reminded of recent news from BuzzStream. BuzzStream are like a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, but for link prospects. And they just added Twitter functionality.

Any link builder worth his salt knows that the best links are about repeatability.
And relationships are a big part of making links repeatable.
Twitter builds relationships.
Ergo, Twitter makes repeatable links possible.

It used to be the case that you had to copy-paste or do manual data entry if you were building relationships for clients on Twitter and using BuzzStream as your link prospect manager.
Now you can just synchronize Twitter and BuzzStream and your efforts will be pulled in directly.

Win!

Longtime readers will recall that human resource managers should be measuring social media for your company. This also ties in to using Twitter as a community, which imho is more efficient than seeing it as a broadcast platform.

If you like this post on tools/social/link building, check out my advanced SEO book and get a free chapter.


Usabilla Review at SEL

Read my latest usability column for Search Engine Land, a review of usability testing tool Usabilla.

On a related note, I published a review of UserTesting.com not long ago. Before that, (more…)


Tying Adwords Into Analytics

(We’re continuing our SphinnCon deadblogging, this time with coverage of the web analytics panel. Previously we’d been discussing analytics with a internal search case study from Adi Reguev, and PPC with material from Naomi Sela on the content network, ad writing and split testing with Ophir Cohen and Dan Perach, and mixed link building / ppc notes from my panel/ Dan Sumeruck.)

Michal Neufeld – Google Analytics – Tying Adwords Into Analytics

Some pros of tying the two together:
- Understand the whole funnel, from search to site exit
- Instant and granular view of ROI on AdWords (more…)


Protected: Brighter Option’s Social Ads Manager (SAM) Review

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UserTesting.com Review: Check Out This Usability Testing Tool

I knew for a while that I wanted to try out UserTesting.com, based on the referrals from my friends at Closed Loop Marketing and various blogs on usability I read (Future Now, Usability Post), but I never really had the opportunity to go ahead and get on it. (more…)


Update To The Popular Internal Link Building

My friend Marios Alexandrou, an advanced SEO who loves to test ranking factors, worked with my programmer to update the popular WordPress plugin I had built, Internal Link Building. (more…)


New SEO Plugin for WordPress: Internal Link Building

Note: If you download this, please link to this page from your blog or Tweet it. Also, you’ll probably like a free chapter from my advanced SEO book.

Update 1 : The plugin has been downloaded 22,000 + times! And many webmasters use it on multiple sites, so it’s probably being used on closer to 25-30,000 sites!

22,000 downloads of Internal Link Building

(Click to enlarge)

Update 2 : To download the plugin, you need to add my RSS feed to your reader. The download link is now in my RSS feed’s footer . That is to say you can find a link to download below any post, but only if you read via RSS.

Some folks have complained about the need to subscribe. And I understand where you’re coming from – it feels a little pushy and you probably already have a bunch of subscriptions.

But there are good reasons to subscribe to my rss feed (besides it being free):

1) To hear about updates to the plugin or new plugins and SEO tools I release.

2) To learn new SEO techniques. If you like my plugin, aren’t my other SEO ideas worth your attention?

Key info on Internal Link Building:

Internal Link Building gives you an admin panel to assign keywords to given destination URLs. The point being that your website will link within itself a la Wikipedia – every time a keyword occurs, it links to the page you defined. (more…)