Updates & Opinions

Operating within a business area full of Cowboys, scammers and wannabees

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f5865812b190032e 640 crook 259x300 Operating within a business area full of Cowboys, scammers and wannabeesThe clients have all the right to be skeptical about Internet marketing and SEO’s companies, because we are operating within a business area that is full of Cowboys, scammers, and wannabees.

I always ask my self what differs our company from our competitors? It’s not our billing prices, or services or even our experiences in the internet marketing field. It is actually the transparency, the ethical business practices and we don’t pretend that we know everything, all this lead to the trust that builds over time and it is surely a two way road.

I can tell you many things and name you tricks, techniques, tactics and strategies about the Internet Marketing and you are really going to be impressed from what kind of knowledge I have in this field. But does this makes me a “SEO Expert” and makes others in the field “donkeys”!? Does it really mean that I’m SEO expert just because I said so, or I have the knowledge of some terms in the field, that I heard and read from here and there? Does it make me an expert just to provide SEO theories, that impresses those who don’t have the knowledge, and people just shake their heads like stupid and not dare asking me to prove it or to give a realistic example!

Almost everything of what you read about SEO and SEO techniques are not based on research or reality, but it is based on theories by the so called “experts” that have picked it up from other “experts”. They don’t actually check if their claims are true or not., Why? because they are just spreading theories.

One of the important thing I’ve learned in this business, is to never confirm that something really works in the internet marketing field, unless I tested it first, and check whether it works or not. Then I see whether the result will remain just a theory or it will become realistic and a real example that can match with the reality and not the theories.

The Cowboys, scammers, and wannabees who operate in the SEO business, are no difference than the so called “experts”. In my opinion, all of them are just spreading stupidity and ignorance.They are selling you nothing but fish in the sea water. So, you end up by not being able to decide between hehe or haha, so you just say heha!

If you are skeptical about SEO companies, there are many ways to find out whether what they claim works or not. For instance, pick a website that is no importance to you. Ask them to work on it and prove their claims. If the site goes to hell, then no harm done. If the site goes to heaven, everybody is happy.

Again you have the right to be skeptical, especially towards those Cowboys and wannabees who give you fake references and especially those who get you fast results. Fast results in SEO, means that your site might get banned from the search results. can you afford that?

My advice to you, just to be sure that you will choose the right SEO specialists, ask them to prove whatever they are claiming and there are many ways to do so. Don’t believe whatever comes out from their mouth, unless they come up with a realistic example and not just this “theory” of the so called “experts”.

Eman NabihOperating within a business area full of Cowboys, scammers and wannabees
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Why Google analytics sucks?

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I had a conversation with a possible client recently about Google analytics, and when I suggested to him to use statcounter instead of Google analytics, he asked me to explain further.

So, I explained to him that we don’t use Google Analytics. Instead, we use Statcounter because it gives us usable and actionable data. Google Analytics is a confusing mess as a tool. I’m sure it works well in the board meetings though!

Other than that, it is useless.

Statcounter and Google analytics show the same numbers of visitors in a given time period, beside other options that enables you to gather data of the traffic on your site. You trust both of them regarding the numbers of visitors in a given time period.

Google analytics presents the data in a way that you don’t find helpful, it’s too much clicking to get to the useful data and by the time you have gotten to the useful stuff, you have completely lost your way. Google analytics used to be good until they have changed the interface into what they are currently offering.

For us as SEO company, we need to have the overview and the details at the same time, so we don’t get lost. What we are working with is complicated enough, the statistical tool shouldn’t make it worse.

Google have done it like this to present nice Graphs, but we have no interest whether the data looks nice or not, we are interested in what we learn from it.

Statcounter has much simpler and cleaner interface, so analyzing what you are seeing, is much easier.

Both tools are free to use.

Get Google Analytics
Get Statcounter

What is your opinion?

Leave your comments below.

Eman NabihWhy Google analytics sucks?
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How can we get more business?

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businesswoman with tablet pc 848x566 How can we get more business?When I go through the statistics from Statcounter showing what people has searched for when they came to our sites, I usually notice when there is a broad search term that is at the same time very precise in it’s wording. I just saw one like that today when I noticed a search on Baidu for “how can we get more business”. As you might know, Baidu is the biggest and the dominating search engine in China.

Enough introduction. Back to the main issue. How can we get more business?

First of all, I will list up from the top of my head the free and most obvious things you can do. Just to check if you have exhausted the possibilities that only require time, but no money.

Discussion groups

Before social media became Facebook and Twitter, it existed as discussion groups and online forums. They still do, and many people hang out in these places and lists still.

The same rule applies today as it did before: Don’t spam people with links. Be helpful and active without ever trying to push anything. You will be surprised how many client leads you can get by simply showing over time that you are both insightful and knowledgeable in your field. This is mainly how we have built up our own business. Through word of mouth and being helpful without pushing our services on anyone. This is also why we have clients that has been with us since we started the company in early 2007.

Building and maintaining trust takes time, taring it down is done in seconds.

Social media

My wife Eman has shown me that careful marketing through Facebook, Google+ and Twitter can give many leads – and it can be done without pushing your services on people a single time. Give her a follow, and ask her politely for a piece of advice about how she has managed to get a steady follower count of more than 15.000 people genuinely interested in what she has to say. Keep in mind that she has blocked more people that she actually allows to follow her, so the number is pretty impressive.

For me, I have no clue how she does it. I personally have less than a thousand followers in all social media channels combined, so there is obviously something she does right that I am not doing (oh, could it be the fact that I hardy ever say anything in social media?)

Press releases

Sending out obscure press releases about your “amazing” new product or service that nobody cares about is not gonna get you anywhere. Coming up with something completely unrelated to your business that is interesting on the other side might gain some traction and get a journalist interested enough to actually spend time on investigating what this news of yours might be though.

My point is this: Spend time and be creative about your press related activities, and you might find that the efforts is worth it. Mass-produce a “press release” that is actually just your brochure wrapped differently is waste of your, and the newspapers desks time.

Word of mouth

This is by far the most effective marketing there is – also in 2014. Why not have a calling round to your existing customers and straight out ask them if they know someone else that might want to buy your product or service?

Paid marketing

As of today, there is only one option I am positively sure is worth spending money on: Google Adwords. We, and our clients has tried using Facebook ads, Linkedin ads, Bing ads with pretty terrible results. Google ads on the other hand has performed very well for several clients. We manage their ad spending budgets, so we know pretty well what works well for them.

Your website

Oh. I almost forgot. Have you checked your own website lately? When you look at it, does it make you proud of it? If your answer is no, I suggest you have a good look at what you can do to improve the site before you even try to get people to it. Remember – your website is “you” as far as any possible client knows. If it’s not well done in all aspects, you are giving very poor signals to a possible client about what they can expect of you if they chose to become your client.

Have your say

Anything important I have forgotten to mention in this short article? Use the comment form below and tell me about it.

Bjorn

Bjørn Are SolstadHow can we get more business?
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Selling SEO services by spamming people

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tired sad woman reputation management 848x565 Selling SEO services by spamming people

I got another spam mail from a company trying to sell their SEO services by spamming people. I get these pretty frequently. So, I am going to quickly explain to this particular company and everyone like them a simple fact:

You company probably suck at SEO if you have to resort to spamming to sell your SEO services

If you as a SEO company can’t get clients because of your placements in the major search engines, how are you thinking you can help anyone with the very same thing? Let me explain something to you quickly: We get our clients through the search engines and through referrals from other clients. We never have, and never will resort to spamming or direct sales or any other method than the methods we promote to our clients.

I am totally stunned by how many SEO companies operate.

Here is the mail I got from pay4seoresults.com

[spam]

Sent from John john@pay4seoresults.com
To sales@devenia.com

Title: SEO Proposal

Dear Sir/Madam,
I hope you are doing well.

I was going through your website, I must say it’s very neatly done and designed however though I see that it’s not ranking well on search engines as it should been for its keywords. I was wondering if you would like that, I mean if you like your keywords to be ranked on the 1st page so you have, Increased Traffic + More Clients + More Sales/Business.

If so, here’s the good news we are a SEO company working on a unique pay for performance model with right practices and as per Google’s guideline. We will promote your website on global platform and get you the desired results and you don’t have to pay us either until you see the results as promised.

Pay for Performance helps you with;
1) No monthly payments due until page 1 rankings are achieved.
2) Only set-up cost to start the project and next payment due on keywords ranking.

This will enable you to;
1) Keep your costs down while the campaign is in its early stages.
2) Drive additional and high value traffic to your site before any payment is due.
3) Ensure longevity for page 1 positions to achieve the best for the site.

You don’t have to worry about Google changing algorithms and rankings going down and you paying endlessly to SEO companies to get them back. If rankings go down for any reason, we will get them back and not charging unnecessarily.

We will charge one time setup fee at the beginning of the campaign. We can assure you results that will not disappoint you.

Please let me know your thoughts and I will share the complete company profile with you along with the SEO analysis report of your website.

Thank you

Regards

John

If you wish to unsubscribe from this email, please CLICK HERE

[/spam]

John, feel free to comment below.

Bjørn Are SolstadSelling SEO services by spamming people
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Yes, I sometimes Google my patients. Is this surprising?

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The Guardian writes a very interesting article about how doctors google their patients. This shows very clearly that keeping a good reputation in the search results is crucial for any business in 2014. What people find about you in search, is a deciding factor if they will contact you or not.

From the article:

Googling and gaining further information about patients has its pitfalls. If it is used for medical purposes, can the information be relied upon? Most celebrity gossip probably couldn’t. But if people have uploaded photos and personal information to a public space, then this is what they have chosen to say about themselves. Would they want their doctor to see it, though? In a world increasingly dominated by social media, I’m surprised how freely people share personal information that could backfire if others go searching.

As you can see, the trend is clear. People google each other for all kinds or reasons. The important is to make sure that they will not find anything about you or your firm or colleagues that will make them hesitate or doubt about you or your firm. Getting googled is today a deciding factor for decisions who to contact, and who to stay away from.

Have you googled yourself lately?

If you did, and would like to change what you see, check out our reputation management service. It might save your from losing your next client. And yes. It is absolutely possible to clean up bad search results.

What is your opinion?

Do you think we are all googling each other now, or is this not so important? Use the comment form below to say your opinion. Please remember to share this post with your friends and colleagues so they can find out what people are finding out about them.

Bjørn Are SolstadYes, I sometimes Google my patients. Is this surprising?
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What advice would you give to someone trying to optimise (SEO) an e-commerce website?

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This question came up in one of the Google+ Communities where I am active, so I thought it would be  a good idea to share my advice here on the blog as well.

The question was originally asked by Lindshay Hopkins in the SEO+ – Search Engine Optimization / Website Design Community on Google+

From what we have experienced, the most important to optimize an e-commerce website is

  1. Make sure the system produces good, keyword rich URL’s and that rel=canonical is in use to make sure you don’t get problems with duplicates.
  2. Never, ever change the URL’s of the category pages. If you do, you will have to start all over again in getting a top position for the key words. This means you have to put a lot of efforts into planning the category structure of the site.
  3. Make sure the category pages are well described with relevant text. At least 200 words of text for each. No repeating texts where the keyword has just been replaced. Unique, describing texts.
  4. Build links to the category pages, not just to the front page.
  5. Make sure you have included social sharing buttons in very prominent and visible places on all pages.
  6. Be sure that the hosting is on a stable and fast server not to far away to keep the loading speed high.

That’s the most important ones that we have seen are repeating problems with our clients. Especially the first one repeats often.

What are your thoughts?

Use the comment form below. We will try our very best to give you a good answer. You can also circle us at Google+

Bjørn Are SolstadWhat advice would you give to someone trying to optimise (SEO) an e-commerce website?
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How important are the social signals for your rankings?

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After Penguin 2.0 was introduced in May 2013, the social networks plays a much bigger role in getting you that high ranking page in the search results.

The background supporting my claim, is that when Penguin 2.0 was rolled out, we had some serious drops in the placements for several of our clients sites, and I followed my usual routine to analyze what might have caused the drops. I was of course worried that our link building strategy had caused the drops, and was very relieved when I knew for sure that the drops in placements could not be caused by links hurting the rankings.

What I found was that Google has finally rolled out an update that uses social signals directly to determine the placements of a page, and that the actual content of the page plays a much bigger role in the rankings than before.

You can see an example of a page that supports this claim here, and here is an english translation of that page.

Let me try to explain what the above example shows

When a page is naturally being shared in the social networks, it skyrockets in the search results. It keeps the placements over time, meaning that this phenomena is not just a temporary fluctuation.

When a page is being shared in the social networks, the need for built links is very limited. This means that you don’t need to “build links” to rank well for a page that the users have a genuine interest for.

In the example above, the search word is a Norwegian single word called myggfelle. This word means mosquito trap in english. Make a test search in Google.no, and you will see that the page ranks on the first place for this term. Of course we have a number of high rankings for a lot of other terms for this site, but I will not reveal those here to protect us from competition.

The recipe for getting placed high in the search results after Penguin 2.0

Write genuine, usable copy. The text has to be good enough for someone to actually want to share it with their friends. This means that traditional, technical seo is dead. Forget key word density, header 1 to 5 or any other technical details. Concentrate your efforts on one thing: making an article that is so good that the reader wants to share it, simply because it’s worth sharing.

What I have found through my analysis so far is that themed links means close to nothing any more. Inbound links still plays a major part though . Besides getting other people to link to your content, it’s all about getting shares in the social networks.

What I predict, is that advertising agencies that are able to come up with great ideas for an article will have a bright future in the search market from now on. The traditional advertising agency is back in 2013.

Here is an example that might give you an idea about what to do:

Think through what you might know that can be useful to someone else. Then make a do-it-yourself article describing accurately how to do this. In my case above, I was lucky enough to stumble by a very good recipe of how to make a mosquito trap from a plastic bottle. So, the article had nothing to do with the rest of the content of the site.

Write the article with readability and usefulness in mind. Include a picture that illustrates your point well, and remember to name the picture with something relevant to the article. In my case, I name the picture mosquito-trap-that-works.jpg. Because of the picture getting a lot of traffic from image searches, the sharing of the article in the social networks skyrocketed.

What is your experience?

Use the comment field below to share with us, and remember to share this article with your friends.

Bjørn Are SolstadHow important are the social signals for your rankings?
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Review of Pay With A Like for WordPress

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I have been using a plugin for WordPress called Pay With A Like for a while now on one of my personal websites. So far, the results have been stunning. Never before have I seen such an enormous amount of likes on that site’s pages.

And, best of all is that the more likes I get to the different pages, the faster the traffic builds from both search engines and the social networks. WPMU that has released this plugin, has done a fantastic job with it – even if it does have some glitches (I’m currently in the process of figuring this out with their support). Update! It turns out that the plugin had no glitches at all. It was a widget on the site that caused the trouble. As soon as the widget was deactivated, it was all smooth sailing.

pay with a like wordpress screenshot 300x133 Review of Pay With A Like for Wordpress

The screenshot shows how Pay With A Like looks like on a live site I have running. I have set it to show the first 100 words of the article before it cuts the rest. The search engines sees the full text according to how I have configured the WordPress plugin.

What the plugin does, is to not allow the visitor to a page before he has liked it in one of the supported social networks. Currently the plugin supports Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. I am sure they will update it with other networks as they become major players in the social networking sphere.

The plugin gives a very high degree of control of how it works. You can let the plugin automatically add the social paywall to post and pages, or it let’s you make the choice on a per post or page basis.

I had the plugin running here on devenia.com, and you had to click on one of the social networks to see the content at all, but right now I have turned it off. I’m basically waiting for the developers to look into technical difficulties several have experienced with it.

When you combine this plugin with a killer article that really draw attention with it’s headline and the first 100 words, you have a combination that is pretty much unbeatable. I have not seen any better way of generating traffic lately than this plugin, and we are now in the process of implementing this paywall solution on a number of sites.

A couple years ago, I would never have taken the risk of running a paywall like this simply because there was not enough people being logged in to any social networks on a daily basis, but now, when a billion people are members of the major networks like Facebook and Google+, the loss that might occur from someone not being a member of one of the 4 major networks is so marginal, that it’s really worth the risk.

So, if you are running a website based on WordPress, this plugin will definitely change the number of likes from social networks, and it might very well become your main source of traffic to your site.

What is your experience with Pay With A Like?

Have you had any technical problems with the plugin? If so, please describe it in the comment field below.

Bjørn Are SolstadReview of Pay With A Like for WordPress
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Penguin 2.0 is out

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Working on close to 4000 search phrases in a broad array of areas, I obviously get nervous when Google rolls out a new update of it’s search algorithm. This update dubbed Penguin 2.0 is no exception. So far it has not been many days since it became active, but I can already see placements repositioning and changing.

Right now, it looks like the impact on this Google update is smaller then what we expected when Matt Cutts spoke about it in the below video.

In the video, I get the clear impression that this would be a major shift in the search results, but I can’t really say I see this happening. Making a lot of test searches also shows that the spammy search results are definitely present still. For many searches it is virtually imopossible to get any relevant results.

I will post another piece on this when I get some more statistical data to look at. I guess in a few days.

What is your observations? Have you seen anything remarkable about Penguin 2.0?

Bjørn Are SolstadPenguin 2.0 is out
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How Content Marketing Helps Your SEO

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3d word seo inside zero one blocks 300x228 How Content Marketing Helps Your SEOYou might be hearing the new, latest buzzword to float around the search engine optimization industry – “content marketing.”  Content is king, as they say, but in order to really make it work, you have to think about it strategically.  There are several reasons the interest level in content marketing has skyrocketed recently:

  1. Google’s Panda update (and 20+ subsequent revisions of that update) lowered the rankings of websites with low-quality, thin content
  2. The Fresh update gives preference in the search rankings to sites with new, regularly-updated content
  3. People searching the web want fresh, relevant, high-quality content
  4. It helps you attract free links, improve your search rankings, and get higher-quality leads

What Exactly is Content Marketing?  

In the past, you know how advertising used to work:  shout as loudly as you can, encouraging (commanding?) people to purchase from you as quickly as possible before your offer runs out.  Do this on every type of media available – television, radio, and the web, and make it so loud it’s impossible for your competitor’s voices to be heard.

That’s how marketing USED to work, but you still see it from some companies because they don’t understand the marketplace isn’t reacting as well to the traditional form of advertising yet.  Experts refer to the old form of marketing as “push” marketing because the idea was to push your idea onto people and get them to believe what you wanted them to believe.

But now, the entire world of marketing/sales is changing.  People don’t want to be sold anymore.  They don’t want to do business with gigantic, faceless corporations who provide customer service much like robots – mindlessly reciting whatever the computer monitor instructs.

Instead, the general marketplace wants to buy from people they know, like, and trust.  Corporations still exist and always will, but those that humanize themselves and form a personal connection with their audience will succeed in the long run.

Experts call content marketing “pull” marketing because you don’t push your message on your market.  Instead, you give your market something it wants, knowing that the more value you offer for free, the more likely your market is to purchase from you when they are in fact ready to make a purchase.

The entire landscape of marketing is changing because of the rapid innovations occurring in the digital world.

“Content marketing” is the pinnacle of the way marketing now works and the way it will work for years into the future.

How Does Content Marketing Work?

So now that you know why content marketing works and why it’s important to be a part of for the coming years, you’re probably wondering how you do it.  Very generally, it’s a merger of these three digital facets:

  1. Search engine optimization
  2. Quality, relevant, useful content
  3. Social promotion

More specifically, here are the common categories of content marketing:

  • Blogging – Timely, educational, interesting, or related to industry news.  Your best content should always go on your blog because you want people coming to your site so you can build relationships with them and eventually convert them into paying customers.
  • General/static web content – Product descriptions, company information, or a FAQ.  This content doesn’t change over time, but it gives your visitors the most powerful reasons to work with your company when they have the need.
  • Downloadable content – A white paper, eBook, case study, brochure or checklist.  With one of these marketing materials, you show the customer everything you know about their problems, and then provide concrete evidence of how your services can help them.  You offer these materials as a free download in exchange for your customer’s contact information (usually an e-mail address, but can include a phone number or physical address).
  • Social content – Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, & Google+.  Social signals (number of followers, number of social shares) are playing a larger role in Google’s search rankings.  Also, Google is increasing its focus on “personal results.”  These results are ones that someone in your social networks created, and at this time, that means Google+.  If you’re signed in as a Google user while searching, personal results are much easier to find and appear much higher in the search rankings.
  • PR materials – Think press releases or blog posts that reach a big-time blog like Mashable or Huffington Post.  Unfortunately, press releases are misused exclusively for link building by many SEO companies today.  They do build links and should be used for that purpose, but more importantly, they should tell a great story.  The greater the story, the more interest, and it’s possible a journalist actually calls you for an interview.  An interesting story builds more links that an exclusively-SEO-focused press release.

So, for a very basic content marketing strategy, for example, this is how you would use SEO, content, and social media for marketing your company:

  • SEO – conduct keyword research to determine where the best opportunities for conversions lie/optimize the content for that keyword, and ensure off-page links are being built to grow rankings for that keyword, and finally, make sure all opportunities for off-site links/anchor text include the keyword or variations of it
  • Content – develop a blog post around the topic with an attractive headline that offers valuable information to the target audience
  • Social – promote the content across all of your existing social channels, and offer to write guest posts for other leading blogs similar to the topic

The Hub-And-Spoke Model of Content Marketing

One way to think of content marketing that most experts swear by is the hub-and-spoke.  Basically, it looks like this:

content marketing hub spoke 300x289 How Content Marketing Helps Your SEO

The hub, as you can see, would be your website, and your blog makes up for about 90% of your website, so really your blog makes up your hub.  Each of these “spokes” – contains links back to your website.

The hub-and-spoke model you’re looking at to the left here is more appropriate for a corporation.  For a smaller business, you might not use nearly as many channels for promoting your content.

The most important thing to keep in mind while you build your hub and the spokes is to determine where most of your qualified traffic comes from, and where it doesn’t come from.  Then, focus your time and efforts on those spokes from where you generate the most qualified leads.

If you serve a female demographic, for example, you would spend much of your time working on Pinterest and Facebook, while spending less time on LinkedIn and Twitter.  The same idea applies for businesses where visual, rather than written content, does most of the selling.

And then, to complicate the whole matter of content marketing, there’s new social networks being created every day.  The spokes are always changing.  Did you know anything about Slideshare just a few years ago?

When you work with a SEO company, keeping up on all these trends and performing the research to learn what works and what doesn’t is what you are paying for.

Dan StelterHow Content Marketing Helps Your SEO
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