Best Traffic Tips how to drive more traffic to your website 2012-01-24T06:00:03Z WordPress admin <![CDATA[8 Great Apps to Make Inbound Marketing Easier [HubSpot Software]]]> 2012-01-24T06:00:03Z 2012-01-24T06:00:03Z swiss army knifeIf you’re using HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing Software, you’re probably happy to have all your core inbound marketing tools — Lead Nurturing, Lead Intelligence, Email Marketing, Blogging, Social Media, SEO, Marketing Analytics, and more — in one place.

But what about all the other stuff? All the tools that aren’t absolutely core to inbound marketing but that you use enough to care about.

Turns out many of these tools are now available in HubSpot’s growing app marketplace. Here are eight of our favorites:

8 Awesome Inbound Marketing Apps

1. Pay-Per-Click Analysis (Developer: Website Publicity) — Google AdWords can tell you a campaign’s click-through rate. And with an additional level of setup, it can tell you the conversion rate on the corresponding landing page. But you still won’t know if those conversions are turning into customers. This app gives you that data, allowing you to focus on the keywords that generate customers. Install PPC Analysis for HubSpot

2. Lead Grader (Developer: Lynton Web Solutions) — If you get any kind of lead volume, you need to make sure your sales team is focusing on the leads that are most likely to close. This app makes it easy to do that. In under five minutes, anybody can install the app and set up customer rules to grade their leads. Once the rules are set up, the app starts grading leads, and your sales team can start focusing on the ones that are most likely to close. Install Lead Grader 

3. Content Marketplace (Developer: Zerys) — Many inbound marketers have trouble keeping up with the pace of the content creation needed to be successful. The Zerys content marketplace helps solve this problem. It gives marketers access to a skilled pool of freelance writers who can help to create blog articles, ebooks, and whitepapers, all within HubSpot. Install Zerys

4. iReach Blog Distribution (Developer: PR Newswire) The iReach Blog Distribution App integrates with HubSpot’s Blog API by pulling blog posts from within your HubSpot portal and pushing that content through PR Newswire’s press release distribution network to thousands of sites. No more cutting and pasting your blog posts all over the place; the iReach app automates the work of transforming your blog posts into press releases. Install the iReach Bog Distribution

5. Marketing Contests (Developer: SnapApp) — Most marketers know that quizzes, polls, surveys, and sweepstakes are more likely than your average piece of content to be forwarded and shared with friends and family than static web pages. The SnapApp app in HubSpot allows you to create and measure all of the above from within HubSpot. No more trying to stitch together contests and surveys with a series of different apps. Install the Marketing Contests App

6. Ecommerce – Shopify (Developer: Lynton Web Solutions) – Using a Shopify Store for your ecommerce? This app will help you get more out of it by connecting the blogging, SEO, email marketing, social media, and analytics you do in HubSpot with your shopping engine. Install the Shopify Ecommerce App

7. Facebook Landing Pages (Developer: Convert Social) — Have a good following on Facebook, and trying to convert it into lead growth? This app will help, allowing you to set up landing pages and calls-to-action in Facebook. Leads collected from the landing pages will populate right into your HubSpot account! Install the Facebook Landing Pages App 

8. Vocalyze Blog Voice Widget (Developer: Vocalyze) — As an inbound marketer, you want your content to be as easy to consume as possible. This app takes your blog to the next step — making it simple for your readers to listen to your blog content created on HubSpot. Check out the app on the sidebar of this very blog for an example. Install the Vocalyze Blog Voice Widget

9. [Bonus] APIs – Is there something you’re trying to do that’s not available in the marketplace? No problem! It’s easy to build your own apps inside of HubSpot. Learn how


Connect with HubSpot:

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admin <![CDATA[SEO Monitoring Tools and Tips]]> 2012-01-24T06:00:02Z 2012-01-24T06:00:02Z Posted by willcritchlow

In the real world, things go wrong. While we might all wish that everything we did was "fix once, stay fixed", that's rarely the case.

Things that were previously "not a problem"(TM) can become "a problem"(TM) rapidly for a variety of reasons:

  • someone changes something unrelated / without realising it would impact you or just screws up (e.g. deploying a staging version of robots.txt or an old version of a server config)
  • the world changes around you (there was a Google update named after a black and white animal a while back)
  • the technical gremlins gang up on you (server downtime, DDoS etc.)

In all of these cases, you'd rather know about the issue sooner rather than later because in most of them your ability to minimise the resulting issues declines rapidly as time passes (and in the remaining cases, you still want to know before your boss / client).

While many of us have come round to the idea that we should be making recommendations in these areas, we are too often still creating spectacularly non-actionable advice like:

  • make sure you have great uptime
  • make sure your site is quick

Today, I want to give you three pieces of directly actionable advice that you can start doing for your own site and your key clients immediately that will help you spot problems early, avoid knock-on indexing issues and quickly get alerted to bad deploys that could hurt your search performance.

#1 Traffic drops

Google analytics intelligence alerts

Google Analytics has a feature that spots significant changes in traffic or traffic profile. It can also alert you. The first of these features is called "intelligence" and the second "intelligence alerts".

Rather than rehash old advice, I'll simply link to the two best posts I've read on the subject:

This is the simplest of all the recommendations to implement and is also the most holistic in the sense that it can alert you to traffic drops of all kinds. The downside of course is that you're measuring symptoms not causes so you (a) have to wait for causes to create symptoms rather than being alerted to the problem and (b) get an alert about the symptom rather than the cause and have to start detective work before paging the person who can fix it.

#2 Uptime monitoring

It doesn't take a rocket surgeon to realise that SEO is dependent on your website. And not only on how you optimise your site, but also on it being available.

While for larger clients, it shouldn't be your job to alert someone if their website goes down, it does no harm to know and for smaller clients there is every chance you'd be adding significant value by keeping an eye on these things.

I have both good and bad reasons for knowing a lot about server monitoring:

  • the good: we made a small investment in Server Density in May last year (and scored our only link from Techcrunch in the process)
  • the bad: we've been more enthusiastic users of our portfolio company's services than we might have hoped – some annoying server issues have resulted in more downtime for than I care to think about. To add insult to injury, we managed to get ourselves hit with a DDoS attack last week (see speed chart below)

There are three main elements you might want to monitor:

  1. Pure availability (including response code)
  2. Server load and performance
  3. Response speed / page load time

Website availability

There are two services I recommend here:

  • Pingdom's free service monitors the availability and response time of your site
  • Server Density's paid service provides more granular alerting and graphing as well as tying it together with your server performance monitoring

Here's what the Server Density dashboard looks like:

Server Density dashboard

And here is the response time graph from pingdom:

Pingdom website speed report

You can see the spike in response time during the DDoS attack and the lower average response time over the last few days after we implemented cloudflare

Incidentally, you may not have noticed (it had passed me by until Mike gave me the heads-up the other day) that Google rolled out site speed to all analytics accounts without the previously required change to the GA snippet so you can get some of this data from your GA account now – here's the technical breakdown from some of Distilled's pages:

Site speed in GA

#3 Robot exclusion protocols, status codes

This was the most ambitious of my ideas for SEO monitoring. It came out of a real client issue. A major client was rolling out a new website and managed to deploy an old / staging version of robots.txt on a Saturday morning (continuous integration FTW). It was essentially luck that the SEO running the project was all over it, spotted it quickly, called the key contact and got it rolled back before it did any lasting harm. We had a debrief the following week where we discussed how we could get alerted to this kind of thing automatically.

I went to David Mytton, the founder of Server Density and asked him if he could build some features in for you lot to alert when this kind of thing happens – if we accidentally noindex our live site or block it in robots.txt. He came up with this ingenious solution that uses functionality already present in their core platform:

Monitoring for any change to robots.txt

First create a service to monitor robots.txt – here's ours:

Monitor robots.txt with server density

Then create an alert to tell you if the MD5 hash of the contents of robots.txt changes (see a definition of MD5 here):

robots md5 alert

If you copy and paste the contents of your robots.txt into an MD5 generator you get a string of gobbledegook (ours is "15403cbc6e028c0ec46a5dd9fffb9196"). What this alert is doing is monitoring for any change to our robots.txt so if we deploy a new version I will get an alert by email and push notification to my phone. Wouldn't it be nice to get alerted in this way if a client or dev team pushed an update to robots.txt without telling you?

Spotting the inclusion of no-index meta tags

In much the same way, you can create alerts for specific strings of text found on specific pages – I've chosen to get an alert if the string "noindex" is found in the HTML of the Distilled homepage. If we ever deployed a staging version or flipped a setting in a wordpress plugin, I'd get a push notification:

Server Density homepage noindex monitoring

Doing this kind of monitoring is essentially free to me because we are already using Server Density to monitor the health of our servers so it's no extra effort to monitor checksums and the presence / absence of specific strings.

#4 Bonus – why stop there?

Check out all the stuff that etsy monitor and have alerts for. If you have a team that can build the platform / infrastructure, then there are almost unlimited things you could monitor for and alert about. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • status codes – 404 vs 301 vs 302 vs 500 etc.
  • changes in conversion rates / cart abandonment
  • bot behaviour – crawling patterns etc – given how disproportionately interested I was in the simple "pages crawled" visualisation available in cloudflare (see below – who'd have guessed we get crawled more by Yandex than Google?), I feel there is a lot more that could be done here:

Cloudflare crawl stats

PS – today is the last day for early bird discounts on our Linklove conferences in London and Boston at the end of March / beginning of April. (There's also a sign-up form on that page if you want to make sure you always hear about upcoming conferences and offers). I hope to see many of you there.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

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admin <![CDATA[How To Get The Equivalent Of $100K in PPC Ads For Free]]> 2012-01-22T12:00:02Z 2012-01-22T12:00:02Z Posted by scanlin

This post was originally in YouMoz, and was promoted to the main blog because it provides great value and interest to our community. The author’s views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of SEOmoz, Inc.

We launched our site in July 2010. By the end of 2011 we ranked on page one organic results for 108 relevant phrases. During 2011 we went from four phrases in the top three results to 44 phrases in the top three. Here are the SEO tactics we used to get the equivalent of $100K in PPC ads in 2011 for free.

Starting in early 2009, we took 18 months to build a subscription-based information service for investors. Half way through that process we started thinking about marketing and joined SEOmoz to learn about SEO. (First and foremost, thanks to the SEOMoz team and community for educating us on how to do SEO, as we were total novices!) Based on what we learned we made changes to our site architecture, URL naming conventions, image naming conventions, and content strategy before we launched.

Because we are a self-funded startup we knew we wouldn't have a big (or any, really) PPC budget. In our sector (financial services) many of the phrases we wanted are $10/click because we are bidding against well funded competitors (online brokers mostly). Given our conversion rates and lifetime customer value we can't make money by buying visitors at $10/click. We had to rely on organic traffic and SEO.

SEO Results

We made solid progress with our SEO in 2011. We are analytical types and like to graph the number of phrases we have in Top 3 and Page 1 organic results each week.

For Page 1 results we went from 14 phrases at the beginning of 2011 to 108 phrases at the end of 2011:

For Top 3 organic rankings in 2011 we went from four at the start of the year to 44 at the end of the year:

The impact of these ranking improvements was significant. We quadrupled our Google referred organic traffic during the year. At the start of the year we were getting 2000 visitors per month from Google organic visits. By the end of 2011 we were getting 8000 visitors per month from Google organic visits:

For us, this increase in organic search traffic helped us grow our business nicely during 2011.

Over $100,000 Of PPC Ads Equivalent

We wanted to know how much that organic traffic was worth to us in terms of equivalent PPC ad spend. So we went to the Google Keyword Tool and looked up the Exact Match estimated CPC for each phrase where we ranked. Then we multiplied that number by the actual visits we received for that Exact Match phrase.

For example, we rank for "call option" which has an estimated CPC (for Exact Match) of $13.66. We got 286 clicks from that phrase in 2011, which would have cost us 286 x $13.66 or $3907 if we had purchased those clicks via PPC. Do that same exercise for all of the phrases that sent us organic traffic during 2011 and you get a number in excess of $100,000. Those are visits we got for free because of our SEO. (Did I mention how much we appreciate our training from SEOmoz yet?)

Cool. So How Did You Get Those Rankings?

Ah, yes. The secret sauce. Because we are grateful to the community here, we are going to share our tactics. None of this is rocket science or breaking new ground. But rather than vague assurances, we can say for certain these tactics worked for us.

On-page optimization. We created an Excel file and mapped our site so we knew which phrase was mapped to which URL. We limited ourselves to one phrase per URL (okay, maybe two phrases if one was the plural of the other). Then we used the Report Card feature of the On Page tools here until we got an 'A' grade for every phrase/URL pair. We did this for about 200 phrases we care about. Yes, it took a while (a little bit of time each day spread over six months).

Internal linking. If a blog article on one concept mentions a concept we have another blog article for then we make sure the first points to the second with appropriate anchor text. We also interlink our Tutorial with our Blog. We actually repeat this process about once every 90 days, so to make sure that older content is referring to newer content (and vice versa) as we add more content pages.

New content. We add at least one page of unique content per week to the site (300-500 words written by us and relevant to our audience). We have a list of phrases we'd like to rank for that we don't currently rank for and tend to create content around one of those phrases each week.

Link building. We build deep links to every page. For some pages, optimized for long tail phrases, it only takes 1 or 2 links with appropriate anchor text to get a decent ranking. But for most of our phrases it requires many more links than that. We wrote a ton of guest blog articles and article marketing articles (non-spun, non-spammy) and posted them on themed (investment related) blogs and sites. An example is this guest post on a PR5 site.

BLU. Blogger Link Up is a free email list where people post requests for articles every day (there are a few of these kinds of sites). If you write something they will give you a link back. Before spending time creating new content for someone else we always check their traffic stats and look at their site. If their site is spammy looking then forget it. But many of them are quality, well-curated sites that will provide a decent link in exchange for quality content.

HARO. If you aren't using HARO you should be. It stands for Help A Reporter Out. You sign up (free) and then get a daily email from journalists looking for sources on articles. If you are relevant to the article they are working on and offer them some expert answers or content they may cite you in their article (and give you a link back). Major publications use HARO and we have successfully gotten links on sites like American Express's OpenForum (PR6 site) through this process. It's not the same as having an expensive PR firm, but it will give you at least some access to the same kind of publications a PR firm would.

Press releases. Never underestimate the links you will get if you issue a press release. We use PRWeb but there are others. Make sure the release is SEO optimized (put in a few links to deep pages on your site). Seems like no matter what you issue at PRWeb there are dozens of sites that will republish your release, creating dozens of new links. Yes, you have to pay for the releases. Do it a couple times a year, minimum.

Forum participation. This does not mean posting spam in forums. This means find where your audience hangs out and provide meaningful participation. After you've established yourself as credible (posted a certain number of non-spam postings) then most forums will let you have a do-follow link in your signature line for each post. Yes, it takes time to read and participate in the forums. You will not only get some link love (for the bots) but eventually but you will also get human visitors who just like what you're saying in the forums and come check you out.

YouTube videos. We weren't sure about this one until we did it, but it's totally worth it. Create a channel on YouTube (which will get you one do-follow link from a PR9 site) and post some videos. We saw a noticeable increase in rankings once we did this. We think that PR9 link really helped.

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+: Set up profiles and every time you write a blog entry post it to these outlets.

You Had Better Like To Write

The bottom line is we spend a ton of time writing. Writing for our own site, writing guest blogs and articles for other sites, writing to answer HARO requests, answering questions in forums, etc. We probably spend half our time on new content creation and writing in general. Yes, you can outsource the writing but (1) it costs money, and (2) much of what you get back won't be of high enough quality to use (at least, within our financial niche that has been our experience). Better to write it yourself.

We've definitely come to realize that SEO is not a sprint; it's a marathon. Even though we made good progress in 2011 we have another hundred phrases we want to rank for in 2012. That's over eight per month. Time to get back to writing!

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

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admin <![CDATA[How Customer-Centric Analytics Will Change the Future of Marketing]]> 2012-01-21T06:00:03Z 2012-01-21T06:00:03Z arrows pointing to manWe have no qualms about beating the following concept into the ground, which is why you’ve likely heard us say it before: Analytics are critically important to inbound marketing success. Measuring and analyzing the performance of every inbound marketing channel you use to drive traffic, generate leads, and convert those leads into customers—then making adjustments to your marketing strategy and tactics based on the insights you glean from them—is what separates good inbound marketing from truly remarkable inbound marketing.

So if you’re leaning toward the side of remarkable inbound marketing, you likely have some type of marketing analytics tool in place to track and measure how your marketing programs are performing. And that’s all well and good, but there’s a deficiency in many of these analytics platforms.

So exactly what is missing from most analytics tools these days? A canonical identity.

Putting the Person at the Heart of Analytics 

The biggest thing missing from many present-day analytics solutions is the customer. While it’s great to have aggregate data—like overall number of page views, leads, etc.—it’s also important to remember that an individual view or lead represents an actual person. When you take this person-centric approach, you can go back in time and look at every interaction that an individual person took.

hubspot analytics resized 600

The Role of Cohort Analytics

It’s easy to see why person-centric analytics are a huge advantage, especially for companies whose marketing and sales teams are very closely tied together. However, to make truly useful strategic decisions, what businesses really need are cohort analytics.

This is not to be confused with aggregate data or basic segmentation. Cohort analytics let you focus on a group of people who shared a particular experience at a specific point in time. In other words, you can then compare your visitors who saw Campaign A in January to those who saw it in February, all while ignoring those who saw Campaign B or C.

Even better, with person-level analytics, you can identify customer personas to help you find out what marketing tactics work well for each persona. For instance, you’ll be able to see that people like Robbie respond better to email campaigns, while people like Joe convert better through social media.

The Future of Analytics Is Integrated

The two concepts above are patterns that other analytics products are likely to follow very soon. Kissmetrics has already started to adopt the canonical identity stuff, and Google is making headway on cohorts. However, an analytics product, on its own, isn’t going to be enough to give you all the answers you want. For example neither Kissmetrics nor Google can give you good conversion data on the entire history of an A/B tested landing page, which will have variations starting and stopping at different times. As that gets more complex, it’ll become nearly impossible for those analytics products to keep track of your cohorts without being deeply integrated with your CMS.

Things get even more complicated if you want to integrate your email analytics, browser data, error logging data, usage tracking, etc. Once you start going down that road, be ready with an army of engineers and a fat checkbook.

In order to create a truly powerful analytics system, all of a marketer’s analytics need to live in one place, and they need to talk to each other. The HubSpot software currently offers this capability. Marketers should be hopeful that other solutions will also follow suit.

Having an all-in-one solution is valuable for marketers not just because it’s “convenient” to have everything in one place, but also because the richest insights come from the intersection between different channels. Once marketers have these insights at their fingertips, they’ll be able to make their marketing even more tailored to suit the individual needs and behaviors of their prospects and leads.


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admin <![CDATA[What to Do When You Need Boring Content to Rank Well in Competitive SERPs – Whiteboard Friday]]> 2012-01-21T06:00:02Z 2012-01-21T06:00:02Z Posted by randfish

What happens when you have a page that ranks very well, but it isn't the page that pulls in the sales that you need? Often times the page that does convert very well is "boring" and subsequently ranks poorly.

In this weeks Whiteboard Friday, we are going to go over some strategies you can use to get those classically "boring" pages to rank well. Don't forget to leave your comments below. Enjoy!

Video Transcription

Howdy, SEOmoz fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we're talking about a particularly vexing problem that plagues many folks in the inbound marketing industry, and that is the challenge of having a different sort of content that you want to rank to help you earn sales, to help you sell your product or your service, your idea, versus the content you create that performs well in the link and social sharing graph of the web, the one that everyone's tweeting about, the one that everyone's putting on Facebook and Google+, the one that everyone's linking to. This is a big frustration because the problem becomes that you don't really want to see this, especially those of you who are very conversion focused don't want to see this, where you Google some particular keyword and then maybe some other guy's ranking number one and you're ranking number two, but you're ranking number two with some link-worthy content, maybe something from your blog, a cool infographic you did, a nifty tool you built, something that you thought would perform well on the web of ideas and the content web, but is not pulling in the sales that you want.

If you've got a page like this that the issue can be, yeah, it's awesome charts and it's graphs and cool images and information and maybe some great opinions, some video, whatever it is, but it's not getting people to take the next step that you want them to which is buy. "I want to collect your e- mail address. I want to get some information from you. I want you to fill out this form. I want to get in touch with you so my salespeople can get in touch. I want to have you click 'buy' right here and go through a shopping cart process," whatever that is, it tends to be on a very different page, a boring, classically boring, not necessarily boring, but a classically boring product or sales-focused page, and oftentimes, that's ranking way down here, number 27.

So, there's a number of strategies that you can use to work around this. I think that this challenge is actually one of the things that draws people away from inbound marketing and makes them focus on sometimes black hat activities or purely paid search activities. Remember with paid search I can go, "Well, you know what? I can just put this in an ad up here and, yeah, the click-through rate isn't going to be nearly as good. I'm not going to capture as many of those leads, but it's fine. I'll get some of them, and that will be a way that I can earn those visits." But what you really want to do is have the ability to rank number one, number two with your boring product or sales page. There's a bunch of ways to do this.

Number one, one of my favorites, it is the simplest one – combine and conquer. This doesn't always work, but there are many times when I've seen folks who, for one reason or another, they have this great page with all this information that people link to and people like and people have checked out and shared, and they have this other page that's boring, but they never think to combine these into one and it's very possible. So, what you can do is take the, whatever it is, the technical specifications of the product, the idea you're trying to present, the sales stuff of it and mix it together with stuff that you know has performed well, the opinion part, the content piece. This doesn't always work, but it can work very well, and one of the things that you can do is if you find content that works tremendously well to attract links and shares and those kinds of things and then you have this boring page, you can put them together and then redirect, 301 redirect one of these to the other one, whichever the new canonical version is or rel=canonical it over, assuming the content's going to be the same, and you can earn that same position, essentially killing this one that's ranking 27th, x'ing this guy out and putting him up here. Then this page, which has the e-mail capture, the lead capture form, the "buy this product" whatever it is, can start to get that traffic, earn that traffic. Granted, this doesn't always work and that's why there's a bunch of other strategies.

One of the ones that we use all the time here at SEOmoz is to leverage the authority that you earn by producing great content to get links to the sales page. What do I mean here? What I'm saying is, what happens if you put out one of these is that this page gets links and interesting stuff and that's great. But if you write a blog that every week has great content that people in your industry care about, eventually, you will find that other great things happen. People will start asking, "Can I translate your content?" When they ask for translation privileges, you say, "Sure. We ask that you provide these links, including the links that we've got on this page, which by the way, link over to this one." So that gives you some nice links right there. People will ask you to guest blog for them. They'll ask you to contribute to questions, to surveys, to industry conferences and events, all sorts of things. Your bio, your profile will fly around the web.

When that stuff happens, you have the opportunity to embed that link that points back to the content that you want to rank, and very often you'll get a chance to capture the indented double listing. Many of you have probably seen this in the Google search results, but when there's a second listing from the same domain, it goes in here if it's on the same page. So, for example, you could be ranking number 10, and you will automatically be popped into a sub-spot number 3, which can be great for traffic, particularly because this can help to get the right intents to the right places, right? If this guy over here says, "Hmm? I'm not sure which one I want to go to." He's even got some little thought bubbles there. He's not sure which of these he's trying to get to. Well, he can take a look at both of them and go, "Oh, yeah, you know what? I've read this piece from them. That's not what I'm interested in. I'm actually interested in the product." Now that's going to be a very high value click, high likelihood of transaction person.

Number three, a lot of the time, if you can't truly combine these, or you feel like it's disingenuous or it doesn't work well or it would be not really the same content to put these two together, you can still have a sales message in here. All sorts of great content on the web has advertising embedded in it. When you advertise for your own stuff, this works even better. You can see this on the SEOmoz blog, where we'll sort of ask, "Hey, have you taken a free trial yet? Do you want to sign up for a comment?" Then you'll put in your e-mail address and you'll say is it okay if we e-mail you, and we'll shoot you an e-mail in your first week of free membership and say, "Hey, do you want to give Pro a try?" So we're sort of capturing you, and that sales message that can pop over on this type of content, that could be something that comes up after the page has loaded. It could be embedded right in there. You can test all sorts of different formats. It could be on the sidebar. It could be at the bottom of the page. It could be only when they try and take action on the page. Whatever it is that you think works best, that's a great way to send the relevant portions of this traffic over to these sales pages and potentially capture those leads as well.

Then the last one I'll mention here, number four, is using content marketing, in general, all forms of content marketing, which would include things like SEO and social media and however your content is being distributed, to earn the permission to do marketing and get that follow-up. And what I mean in here is, if people start subscribing to your blog, if people are following you on Twitter, if people are connecting with your Facebook fan page, they're liking your stuff, they're encircling you on Google+, this essentially says, "Hey, I am open to being part of your community and part of your world. I'm interested in what you're doing," and now you have a relationship and that relationship allows for this kind of permission marketing, which means you can say, "Hey, would you like to subscribe to this e-mail newsletter? Could we contact you about our products? Would you like to watch this webinar about some of the things that we're doing? Does this particular individual product, which is timed with a season or an event match up for you?" Those are things that all sorts of folks do. You can see great examples of this all over the search world where industry blogs that are connected with events like an SMX or a SES or a Pubcon will essentially say to people who are in those communities, "Hey, now it's time for this event. Would you like to follow up?"

You can see this inside the SEOmoz community where we essentially gather a lot of people who subscribe to things like the Moz Top 10, and then there will be one marketing or sales-focused message and link somewhere in the Top 10, usually in paragraphs below, those kinds of things.

These tactics, these strategies, these ways of mixing the two of these are incredibly powerful because what it lets you do is to say, "Hey, inbound marketing and content marketing can be forms of sales," and that's an incredible power to have because the ability of these to attract a huge audience versus these, which tend to have a much tinier and more focused audience, is really impressive, and, over time, this audience actually grows as a part of this. So if you're attracting all these people, yeah, it could only be that a tiny dot starts out as a relevant part of who's going to buy, but over time, it grows and grows and grows. It's a great thing.

All right, everyone, I hope you've enjoyed this edition of Whiteboard Friday. I hope you'll try some of these strategies, and I hope we'll see you again next week. Take care.

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admin <![CDATA[How to Expose the Best Leads to Your Sales Team]]> 2012-01-20T00:00:03Z 2012-01-20T00:00:03Z GoldFewer leads can actually generate more revenue for your business. It sounds crazy, right? For many businesses, Marketing is responsible for generating as many leads as possible in order for Sales to sell to more and more customers. So if you were to cut back on the number of leads you fed to Sales, then you would probably assume that Sales wouldn’t be able to sell as many deals. But what marketers fail to realize is that sending more and more leads to Sales can actually make them less productive. A portion of the leads marketers generate are usually either not yet ready for a sale or not a great fit for the product. And it takes time for your sales team to sort through this junk in order to identify the gold nuggets (AKA potential sales). And when you increase the number of leads Marketing generates for Sales, you increase both the number of gold nuggets and the junk, and you can actually make Sales less productive, since it will take them more time to pinpoint the leads that are actually ripe for a sale.

What is a Marketing Qualified Lead?

Implementing a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) strategy can help improve the efficiency and productivity of your Sales organization by feeding them fewer, higher quality leads. An MQL is a lead that is more likely to become a customer compared to other leads based on their activity before converting. As a marketing organization, if you only serve up the MQLs, then Sales spends less time searching for those MQLs in their typical process and more time selling to the golden nuggets you supply, thus closing more deals.

How to Define an MQL for Your Business

An MQL at one company may be completely different than an MQL at another company. It’s important to do your own internal analysis of your leads and customers to create your business’ definition of an MQL. Here’s how to get started defining an MQL for your business.

Step 1: Analyze the Data

sources chartThe first step to defining an MQL is to dig into the data. Start by creating a list of all the activities a lead can complete before becoming a customer, such as requesting a demo or a trial of your product, visiting certain pages of your website, or downloading certain pieces of content. When analyzing these activities, you want to look for items with the highest close rates. Closed-loop marketing analytics will really help to do this complicated analysis for you! For example, if you are looking at the close rate of leads that request a trial, you’ll want to take all the leads took a trial and became customers, divided by the total number of leads that took a trial. This will give a close rate for the trial activity.

Step 2: Compare Close Rates, and Determine a Threshold

Once you determine all the close rates for your conversion events, compare them against one another. At this point, you’ll want to focus on the top events with the highest close rates. From this, try to eyeball a threshold close rate that separates the men from the boys. Most of your close rates may be close to 1%, but there may be 3-5 that are closer to 5%. These top-closing events will define your MQL. Every lead that converts on one of these events now qualifies as an MQL for your business. 

Step 3: Implement Your MQL strategy

Once you’ve determined what an MQL looks like for your company, then you can start to analyze the volume of leads that complete these MQL activities. If the volume of MQLs is sustainable for the number of sales reps in your organization, then only deliver those leads to Sales. They should be able to close more deals with these leads than from the entire lead flow.

If you don’t think your lead volume of MQLs is able to support your entire Sales team, then it’s time to start focusing on how you, as a marketer, can start generating more MQLs. To do this, try incorporating more calls-to-action on your website and in your content that direct leads to your high-converting events, or make it easier for leads to navigate to the high converting pages of your website. While you do this, you should find ways to highlight these MQLs for your sales team. It’s important to communicate that these leads close at a higher rate and should be worked before any other type of lead. Even if you can’t feed your sales team only MQLs, helping them prioritize and focus on these types of leads will improve your company’s bottom line. 

Have you implemented a MQL strategy for your business? What results have you experienced?


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admin <![CDATA[Never Worry About an Algorithm Update Again, a History]]> 2012-01-20T00:00:02Z 2012-01-20T00:00:02Z Posted by wilreynolds

A few months ago at a keynote I asked people to embrace the HARD work of building a business [video]. We all fall in love with the concept of the four hour work week, don’t we…how can I make money and work less, right?  Who wouldn't. It’s natural.

The hard part is that almost every SEO I know who has a natural focus on scale has burned a more than their fair share of sites or clients in their career. There is just a mentality that comes along with the "scalable SEO", and it brings risks and baggage to many projects. I want to start getting people to think differently. If you can check out Bob Rains’ presentation from Distilled’s Search Love conference – (yes you have to pay, it's worth it) on why he’s turning white hat, you’ll get it. Scalable SEO is becoming HARDER work than you think and he's turning from Blackhat to White-ish. :)

Embracing the hard work, the time consuming, foundational building blocks needed to build almost any sustainable business (notice I am not saying a sustainable SEO strategy, I am talking about a sustainable business) is the key to long-term success. So copy this, print it out and tack this up in your cube…

There is no algorithmic update coming to correct rankings for tactics that are "doing hard work & connecting with customers".

Algorithmic updates are often targeted at those large-scale low quality SEO strategies, so lets just stop doing them. Let’s start with a historical view… 

PHASE I – It starts with cloaking…

Anyone around doing SEO pre-2000 did this, and especially scalable SEOs loved cloaking because they could create some page full of garbage text, and just insert keywords to hit a target keyword density, and boom page 1 of Excite, Lycos, or whatever.

Then came PageRank – Google realized that their search engine would be most successful if people had to "EARN it" by getting links from quality sources that had anchor text in those links. Google realized that too much money was at stake to just "trust" people to not keyword stuff, use white text on white backgrounds, and cloak (and they were right).

PHASE II – Scalable SEOs turned to reciprocal linking

Reciprocal linking sites sprung up quick to provide relief for the scalable SEOs hit by cloaking that was becoming less and less effective.

Reciprocal linking sites were not about finding sites to reciprocate with, who were quality, the strategy was all about scale…there were tools & scripts that were built PURELY to run reciprocal link exchanges. There is no added value or hard work associated with a script that lets anyone post a link to your "links page" and constantly checks to see if they have their link up to you still. Scalable SEO's loved it… run the script, get rankings. No real hard work required. Cash the checks.

Eventually Google updated the algorithm to hit sites who got most of their links in this scalable pattern. Leading to our next scalable exploitation… directory links.

PHASE III – Directory linking on a tragic scale

It wasn't long before scalable SEO's came in again this time with one-way links in the form of directories.

Awesome, now people are getting links in directories for rankings, but many of those directories don't really quality control the links either, pay to play. Remember, there are 230 quality directories for the taking.

As if that wasn't bad enough another cottage industry sprung up, you know the kinds of companies that will submit you to hundreds or thousands of directories for a very low cost.  This allows the 4 hour workweek loving SEOs to just pay some company to do all of their directory linking, sure clients might be at risk the day it stops working, but the scalable SEO doesn't worry about that, they'll just find the next exploit.  I believe that anchor text is going to be on the way out, maybe not in 2012, but soon I hope.

When that does happen, expect several sites to take hits because they have their eggs in too much of one basket, if directories are working for you now, start balancing you link portfolio.

PHASE IV – One-way bought links

Once directory links started working somewhat less (I believe they still work more than they should) next up were link networks. You know the ones that created the golden brick road for SEO's. Pay us, we put your one way, non directory links up on pretty quality sites. Instead of making legitimate relationships with bloggers, authors, site owners and journalists or doing things that are newsworthy, creating awards, badges, etc to get your links, you could just pay. So the scalable SEO once again rubs her hands together in utter joy…because creating relationships with bloggers is hard work, buying links on those blogs through a link broker is so much easier, all I have to do is charge enough, and get back to my 4 hour work week.

PHASE V – Panda smackdown, did you wake up??

I LOVE the fact that none of our existing clients were hit by panda, we (like many of you) picked up new clients, and we learned a ton in the process.

You know what we learned more than anything?

People who made tons of money mashing up databases of info into extremely low quality pages got a major hit. Well let's think, again, that scalable strategy worked for a while, but eventually caused a lot of (much deserved) pain to a bunch of web sites, who saw major drops in traffic. Most SEOs who embraced the hard work of adding value, saw no hits.

Let me give you a peek into what caused a consulting client to get hit by panda. We had a client that we were training, in an emerging international market, the company has hundreds of properties and millions of web pages.  It’s a HUGE task to manage this.  As we interviewed different members of their team, you could just sense in your gut that the goal was drop everything into a database and create pages from the database. This is not always a red flag, obviously large sites run this way.  The issue was that there was no focus on making these pages quality, I mean NONE.  When we would ask why does this page exist, how does it help the user…we were told not to worry about it, we pushed back, but ultimately the client didn't take the advice. 

That was almost 2 years ago, but at that time we knew that without any bloggers, no outreach, no unique content, nothing, just making pages from databases and aggressive interlinking was going to be a recipe for disaster. We knew that deep down Google & Bing don’t want this in their index. One day they got hit, why? Because they fell in love with what was easy and didn't invest in the hard work of adding value.

Scalable SEO's – Zappos is going to eat your lunch 

Are you in the clothing / retail business?  Here's an example:

Zappos is producing 60-100 videos a day according to this video! There is no way to scale that, it’s just hard work. Building studios and making the investment, and their rankings will convert better than your rankings due to that hard work!! They have proof of the conversion increases when videos are on product pages. Eventually video could become a barrier to entry / ranking signal to the search engines, and if they do, you are WAY behind. So are you waiting for that to be the case to start the investment or are you doing it NOW? 

I have been working more and more on evaluating real connections my clients have in social media, and in real life, looking at top forum posters, evaluating their top community members, or heck even looking at their LinkedIn connections as ways to build links.

Final thoughts

Many years have passed since our beloved first search engines have gotten acquired or went out of business, you know Excite, AltaVista, Lycos – even though they never became Google, they all worked towards the same goal Google and Bing do every day…reward the websites who create real businesses, good content, connect with the community and earn links with high rankings. Unlike my buddy Eric Ward, I am not 100% sold that 2012 is the year when all of this comes together, but even if it is 2013 or 2014, he is right in the fact that its coming. It’s been coming since the inception of the first search engine, I've been watching it for 13 of those years…search engines will figure it out. The question is do you want to always stay just one step ahead and have that stress or do you want to start adding value?  

Disclaimer: Every SEO (including us at SEER) has to seek out efficiencies and opportunities that scale to some extent, so I am obviously all for that. But you know when you meet someone if the core of their view of the world is more about scale and less about embracing the hard work. That is when I get worried.

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admin <![CDATA[10 Taboo Topics to Take Off Your Social Media Account]]> 2012-01-17T12:00:02Z 2012-01-17T12:00:02Z social media updatesMarketers and business owners rely on social media to communicate many things about their brand. But there are also some dangers inherent in communicating with a large, diverse audience who you don’t know on a personal level. Oh, and by the way, you are limited to getting your point across in only a few sentences (or characters!), and must achieve a tone that simultaneously entertains but does not offend.

Needless to say, the opportunities for misunderstandings and miscommunications abound. And I’m sorry to say that no matter how hard you try, you will inevitably encounter some negative social media experiences along the way. But you can greatly reduce the number of mishaps you experiece — be it trolls, unfollows/unfans, or PR nightmares — by simply avoiding certain topics of conversation.

Before you publish your next status update or 140-character nugget of social media gold, consider whether it’s definitely the right thing to post to your brand’s account. If you’re unsure, make sure this list of social media update no-nos is nearby. By avoiding these topics, you can avoid most of the worst problems faced by brands active on social media.

10 Things A Business Should Never Publish on Social Media

1.) Off-topic subject matters. Staying on-topic when publishing social media updates is crucial for encouraging engagement and growing a sustainable base of followers. People subscribe to your account for a specific set of reasons, and every time you go off topic, it makes your account less valuable. If you’re finding that there’s a subject matter that really needs to be covered, but your account simply is not the right channel to do it, it may be time to consider starting a new social media account to achieve that purpose.

2.) Smack talk your competition. Say what you will about your competition behind closed doors (come on, they’re not that bad), but don’t ever let your feelings make it to your social media networks. Even if they’re embroiled in a PR disaster, rise above and don’t comment on it; doing so make you look worse, not them. You should, however, use marketing automation to track mentions of your competitors. This lets you speak with your prospects when they are in the research and comparison phase of the sales cycle, see if your customers are shopping around, and identify opportunities to close business with leads that weren’t even in your pipeline.

3.) Smack talk your prospects and customers. Have you ever had a particularly frustrating customer service problem tweeted at you? Or did you have someone attack you on your Facebook wall? It’s really, really frustrating. Your first instinct is probably to give them a piece of your mind, or post something passive aggressive about their sour attitude. Step away from the keyboard, calm down, and construct a more measured response that’s focused on solving the problem at hand, not perpetuating it. Even if they’re wrong, you can’t bad mouth them. But if you’re solution-oriented and don’t give in to their negative attitude, your social media spat will soon blow over. And sometimes, your community even comes to your defense!

4.) Resolutions to complicated customer service issues. Using social media to solve customer service issues is one of the best developments since sliced bread. But not all questions come with a one sentence answer. If someone has presented a complicated question to you on one of your social networks, don’t try to solve it publicly. It clogs up everyone else’s feed, and unless it’s a question that applies to your entire fan base, it’s not valuable content. Instead, publicly ask them to privately message, email, or call you to work out the complicated kinks.

5.) Confidential customer information. Another potential pitfall when using social media for customer service is leaking private customer information. If you are troubleshooting via social media, be sure you don’t accidentally leak information that legally shouldn’t be shared. To you it may seem trivial, but it’s actually quite common for people to not want to publicly discuss pricing, location, or other seemingly benign topics.

6.) Surprise pictures and tagging. Just because you’re a social media super star doesn’t mean your staff and customers are comfortable being in the public eye. Don’t publish photos of them, use location based tagging, or even tag their names in public updates without their permission. Some people have stringest personal privacy rules of which you must be respectful.

7.) Misinformed updates. Whoever monitors your brand’s social media accounts is responsible for knowing a lot about…well, everything. He or she will come up against questions spanning from product information, to billing questions, to industry insights, to support issues. And one of the worst things you can do is answer those questions without first getting all the facts. It makes your organization look confused, ill prepared, and untrustworthy. Remember that there are a lot of people you work alongside that deal with the issues you’re facing on a daily basis; tap your internal resources before giving out incorrect information in cyber space.

8.) Apathetic updates. Everyone has *those* days. But one of the hard parts about being a social media manager (or any public figure, for that matter) is putting on a happy face. Please don’t let apathy shine through in your social media updates. If you’re not excited about your brand, how can you expect anyone else to be?

9.) Proprietary company information. This one is a tip specifically for the social media and community managers out there. Leaking proprietary information may not upset your network, but it will upset your boss. Keep your job safe, and remember that what is common knowledge to you is probably big news to a lot of people…namely, your competitors. If you have any doubt before hitting the “Enter” key, that’s a good indication that you probably shouldn’t post it. Or at the very least, check with your CMO!

10.) Personal rants and diatribes. If you manage a social media account, you may feel like you have your own soapbox off of which to rant and rave. In fact, you do not. Sure, you obviously shouldn’t wax poetic on your religious and political opinion, but you also shouldn’t opine about the horrible customer service from the sandwich shop down the street. Not only does it make you look petty, but remember point #1 (in my opinion, the most important one) from this post: It is not relevant to your audience.

What other updates do you think businesses should never, ever share on their social media accounts? Which of these points do you think does the most damage to a brand’s social presence?

Image credit: ijafri


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admin <![CDATA[21 Tactics to Increase Blog Traffic (Updated 2012)]]> 2012-01-17T12:00:02Z 2012-01-17T12:00:02Z Posted by randfish

It's easy to build a blog, but hard to build a successful blog with significant traffic. Over the years, we've grown the Moz blog to nearly a million visits each month and helped lots of other blogs, too. I launched a personal blog late last year and was amazed to see how quickly it gained thousands of visits to each post. There's an art to increasing a blog's traffic, and given that we seem to have stumbled on some of that knowledge, I felt it compulsory to give back by sharing what we've observed.

NOTE: This post replaces a popular one I wrote on the same topic in 2007. This post is intended to be useful to all forms of bloggers – independent folks, those seeking to monetize, and marketing professionals working an in-house blog from tiny startups to huge companies. Not all of the tactics will work for everyone, but at least some of these should be applicable and useful.

#1 – Target Your Content to an Audience Likely to Share

When strategizing about who you're writiing for, consider that audience's ability to help spread the word. Some readers will naturally be more or less active in evangelizing the work you do, but particular communities, topics, writing styles and content types regularly play better than others on the web. For example, great infographics that strike a chord (like this one), beautiful videos that tell a story (like this one) and remarkable collections of facts that challenge common assumptions (like this one) are all targeted at audiences likely to share (geeks with facial hair, those interested in weight loss and those with political thoughts about macroeconomics respectively).

A Blog's Target Audience

If you can identify groups that have high concentrations of the blue and orange circles in the diagram above, you dramatically improve the chances of reaching larger audiences and growing your traffic numbers. Targeting blog content at less-share-likely groups may not be a terrible decision (particularly if that's where you passion or your target audience lies), but it will decrease the propensity for your blog's work to spread like wildfire across the web.

#2 – Participate in the Communities Where Your Audience Already Gathers

Advertisers on Madison Avenue have spent billions researching and determing where consumers with various characteristics gather and what they spend their time doing so they can better target their messages. They do it because reaching a group of 65+ year old women with commercials for extreme sports equipment is known to be a waste of money, while reaching an 18-30 year old male demographic that attends rock-climbing gyms is likely to have a much higher ROI.

Thankfully, you don't need to spend a dime to figure out where a large portion of your audience can be found on the web. In fact, you probably already know a few blogs, forums, websites and social media communities where discussions and content are being posted on your topic (and if you don't a Google search will take you much of the way). From that list, you can do some easy expansion using a web-based tool like DoubleClick's Ad Planner:

Sites Also Visited via DoubleClick

Once you've determined the communities where your soon-to-be-readers gather, you can start participating. Create an account, read what others have written and don't jump in the conversation until you've got a good feel for what's appropriate and what's not. I've written a post here about rules for comment marketing, and all of them apply. Be a good web citizen and you'll be rewarded with traffic, trust and fans. Link-drop, spam or troll and you'll get a quick boot, or worse, a reputation as a blogger no one wants to associate with.

#3 – Make Your Blog's Content SEO-Friendly

Search engines are a massive opportunity for traffic, yet many bloggers ignore this channel for a variety of reasons that usually have more to do with fear and misunderstanding than true problems. As I've written before, "SEO, when done right, should never interfere with great writing." In 2011, Google received over 3 billion daily searches from around the world, and that number is only growing:

Daily Google Searches 2004-2011
sources: Comscore + Google

Taking advantage of this massive traffic opportunity is of tremendous value to bloggers, who often find that much of the business side of blogging, from inquiries for advertising to guest posting opportunities to press and discovery by major media entities comes via search.

SEO for blogs is both simple and easy to set up, particularly if you're using an SEO-friendly platform like WordPress, Drupal or Joomla. For more information on how to execute on great SEO for blogs, check out the following resources:

Don't let bad press or poor experiences with spammers (spam is not SEO) taint the amazing power and valuable contributions SEO can make to your blog's traffic and overall success. 20% of the effort and tactics to make your content optimized for search engines will yield 80% of the value possible; embrace it and thousands of visitors seeking exactly what you've posted will be the reward.

#4 – Use Twitter, Facebook and Google+ to Share Your Posts & Find New Connections

Twitter just topped 465 million registered accounts. Facebook has over 850 million active users. Google+ has nearly 100 million. LinkedIn is over 130 million.  Together, these networks are attracting vast amounts of time and interest from Internet users around the world, and those that participate on these services fit into the "content distributors" description above, meaning they're likely to help spread the word about your blog.

Leveraging these networks to attract traffic requires patience, study, attention to changes by the social sites and consideration in what content to share and how to do it. My advice is to use the following process:

  • If you haven't already, register a personal account and a brand account at each of the following – Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn (those links will take you directly to the registration pages for brand pages). For example, my friend Dharmesh has a personal account for Twitter and a brand account for OnStartups (one of his blog projects). He also maintains brand pages on Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+.
  • Fill out each of those profiles to the fullest possible extent – use photos, write compelling descriptions and make each one as useful and credible as possible. Research shows that profiles with more information have a signifcant correlation with more successful accounts (and there's a lot of common sense here, too, given that spammy profiles frequently feature little to no profile work).
  • Connect with users on those sites with whom you already share a personal or professional relationships, and start following industry  luminaries, influencers and connectors. Services like FollowerWonk and FindPeopleonPlus can be incredible for this:

Followerwonk Search for "Seattle Chef"

  • Start sharing content – your own blog posts, those of peers in your industry who've impressed you and anything that you feel has a chance to go "viral" and earn sharing from others.
  • Interact with the community – use hash tags, searches and those you follow to find interesting conversations and content and jump in! Social networks are amazing environment for building a brand, familiarizing yourself with a topic and the people around it, and earning the trust of others through high quality, authentic participation and sharing

If you consistenly employ a strategy of participation, share great stuff and make a positive, memorable impression on those who see your interactions on these sites, your followers and fans will grow and your ability to drive traffic back to your blog by sharing content will be tremendous. For many bloggers, social media is the single largest source of traffic, particularly in the early months after launch, when SEO is a less consistent driver.

#5 – Install Analytics and Pay Attention to the Results

At the very least, I'd recommend most bloggers install Google Analytics (which is free), and watch to see where visits orignate, which sources drive quality traffic and what others might be saying about you and your content when they link over. If you want to get more advanced, check out this post on 18 Steps to Successful Metrics and Marketing.

Here's a screenshot from the analytics of my wife's travel blog, the Everywhereist:

Traffic Sources to Everywhereist from Google Analytics

As you can see, there's all sorts of great insights to be gleaned by looking at where visits orirginate, analyzing how they were earned and trying to repeat the successes, focus on the high quality and high traffic sources and put less effort into marketing paths that may not be effective. In this example, it's pretty clear that Facebook and Twitter are both excellent channels. StumbleUpon sends a lot of traffic, but they don't stay very long (averaging only 36 seconds vs. the general average of 4 minutes!).

Employing analytics is critical to knowing where you're succeeding, and where you have more opportunity. Don't ignore it, or you'll be doomed to never learn from mistakes or execute on potential. 

#6 – Add Graphics, Photos and Illustrations (with link-back licensing)

If you're someone who can produce graphics, take photos, illustrate or even just create funny doodles in MS Paint, you should leverage that talent on your blog. By uploading and hosting images (or using a third-party service like Flickr to embed your images with licensing requirements on that site), you create another traffic source for yourself via Image Search, and often massively improve the engagement and enjoyment of your visitors.

When using images, I highly recommend creating a way for others to use them on their own sites legally and with permission, but in such a way that benefits you as the content creator. For example, you could have a consistent notice under your images indicating that re-using is fine, but that those who do should link back to this post. You can also post that as a sidebar link, include it in your terms of use, or note it however you think will get the most adoption.

Some people will use your images without linking back, which sucks. However, you can find them by employing the Image Search function of "similar images," shown below:

Google's "Visually Similar" Search

Clicking the "similar" link on any given image will show you other images that Google thinks look alike, which can often uncover new sources of traffic. Just reach out and ask if you can get a link, nicely. Much of the time, you'll not only get your link, but make a valuable contact or new friend, too!

#7 – Conduct Keyword Research While Writing Your Posts

Not surprisingly, a big part of showing up in search engines is targeting the terms and phrases your audience are actually typing into a search engine. It's hard to know what these words will be unless you do some research, and luckily, there's a free tool from Google to help called the AdWords Keyword Tool.

Type some words at the top, hit search and AdWords will show you phrases that match the intent and/or terms you've employed. There's lots to play around with here, but watch out in particular for the "match types" options I've highlighted below:

Google AdWords Tool

When you choose "exact match" AdWords will show you only the quantity of searches estimated for that precise phrase. If you use broad match, they'll include any search phrases that use related/similar words in a pattern they think could have overlap with your keyword intent (which can get pretty darn broad). "Phrase match" will give you only those phrases that include the word or words in your search – still fairly wide-ranging, but between "exact" and "broad."

When you're writing a blog post, keyword research is best utilized for the title and headline of the post. For example, if I wanted to write a post here on Moz about how to generate good ideas for bloggers, I might craft something that uses the phrase "blog post ideas" or "blogging ideas" near the front of my title and headline, as in "Blog Post Ideas for When You're Truly Stuck," or "Blogging Ideas that Will Help You Clear Writer's Block."

Optimizing a post to target a specific keyword isn't nearly as hard as it sounds. 80% of the value comes from merely using the phrase effectively in the title of the blog post, and writing high quality content about the subject. If you're interested in more, read Perfecting Keyword Targeting and On-Page Optimization (a slightly older resource, but just as relevant today as when it was written).

#8 – Frequently Reference Your Own Posts and Those of Others

The web was not made for static, text-only content! Readers appreciate links, as do other bloggers, site owners and even search engines. When you reference your own material in-context and in a way that's not manipulative (watch out for over-optimizing by linking to a category, post or page every time a phrase is used – this is almost certainly discounted by search engines and looks terrible to those who want to read your posts), you potentially draw visitors to your other content AND give search engines a nice signal about those previous posts.

Perhaps even more valuable is referencing the content of others. The biblical expression "give and ye shall receive," perfectly applies on the web. Other site owners will often receive Google Alerts or look through their incoming referrers (as I showed above in tip #5) to see who's talking about them and what they're saying. Linking out is a direct line to earning links, social mentions, friendly emails and new relationships with those you reference. In its early days, this tactic was one of the best ways we earned recognition and traffic with the SEOmoz blog and the power continues to this day.

#9 – Participate in Social Sharing Communities Like Reddit + StumbleUpon

The major social networking sites aren't alone in their power to send traffic to a blog. Social community sites like Reddit (which now receives more than 2 billion! with a "B"! views each month), StumbleUpon, Pinterest, TumblrCare2 (for nonprofits and causes), GoodReads (books), Ravelry (knitting), Newsvine (news/politics) and many, many more (Wikipedia maintains a decent, though not comprehensive list here).

Each of these sites have different rules, formats and ways of participating and sharing content. As with participation in blog or forum communities described above in tactic #2, you need to add value to these communities to see value back. Simply drive-by spamming or leaving your link won't get you very far, and could even cause a backlash. Instead, learn the ropes, engage authentically and you'll find that fans, links and traffic can develop.

These communities are also excellent sources of inspiration for posts on your blog. By observing what performs well and earns recognition, you can tailor your content to meet those guidelines and reap the rewards in visits and awareness. My top recommendation for most bloggers is to at least check whether there's an appropriate subreddit in which you should be participating. Subreddits and their search function can help with that.

#10 – Guest Blog (and Accept the Guest Posts of Others)

When you're first starting out, it can be tough to convince other bloggers to allow you to post on their sites OR have an audience large enough to inspire others to want to contribute to your site. This is when friends and professional connections are critical. When you don't have a compelling marketing message, leverage your relationships – find the folks who know you, like you and trust you and ask those who have blog to let you take a shot at authoring something, then ask them to return the favor.

Guest blogging is a fantastic way to spread your brand to new folks who've never seen your work before, and it can be useful in earning early links and references back to your site, which will drive direct traffic and help your search rankings (diverse, external links are a key part of how search engines rank sites and pages). Several recommendations for those who engage in guest blogging:

  • Find sites that have a relevant audience – it sucks to pour your time into writing a post, only to see it fizzle because the readers weren't interested. Spend a bit more time researching the posts that succeed on your target site, the makeup of the audience, what types of comments they leave and you'll earn a much higher return with each post.
  • Don't be discouraged if you ask and get a "no" or a "no response." As your profile grows in your niche, you'll have more opportunities, requests and an easier time getting a "yes," so don't take early rejections too hard and watch out – in many marketing practices, persistence pays, but pestering a blogger to write for them is not one of these (and may get your email address permanently banned from their inbox).
  • When pitching your guest post make it as easy as possible for the other party. When requesting to post, have a phenomenal piece of writing all set to publish that's never been shared before and give them the ability to read it. These requests get far more "yes" replies than asking for the chance to write with no evidence of what you'll contribute. At the very least, make an outline and write a title + snippet.
  • Likewise, when requesting a contribution, especially from someone with a significant industry profile, asking for a very specific piece of writing is much easier than getting them to write an entire piece from scratch of their own design. You should also present statistics that highlight the value of posting on your site – traffic data, social followers, RSS subscribers, etc. can all be very persuasive to a skeptical writer.

A great tool for frequent guest bloggers is Ann Smarty's MyBlogGuest, which offers the ability to connect writers with those seeking guest contributions (and the reverse).


Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ are also great places to find guest blogging opportunities. In particular, check out the profiles of those you're connected with to see if they run blogs of their own that might be a good fit. Google's Blog Search function and Google Reader's Search are also solid tools for discovery.

#11 – Incorporate Great Design Into Your Site

The power of beautiful, usable, professional design can't be overstated. When readers look at a blog, the first thing they judge is how it "feels" from a design and UX perspective. Sites that use default templates or have horrifying, 1990's design will receive less trust, a lower time-on-page, fewer pages per visit and a lower liklihood of being shared. Those that feature stunning design that clearly indicates quality work will experience the reverse – and reap amazing benefits.

Blog Design Inspiration
These threads - 1, 2, 3 and 4 - feature some remarkable blog designs for inspiration

If you're looking for a designer to help upgrade the quality of your blog, there's a few resources I recommend:

  • Dribbble – great for finding high quality professional designers
  • Forrst – another excellent design profile community
  • Behance – featuring galleries from a wide range of visual professionals
  • Sortfolio – an awesome tool to ID designers by region, skill and budget
  • 99 Designs – a controversial site that provides designs on spec via contests (I have mixed feelings on this one, but many people find it useful, particularly for budget-conscious projects)

This is one area where budgeting a couple thousand dollars (if you can afford it) or even a few hundred (if you're low on cash) can make a big difference in the traffic, sharing and viral-impact of every post you write.

#12 – Interact on Other Blogs' Comments

As bloggers, we see a lot of comments. Many are spam, only a few add real value, and even fewer are truly fascinating and remarkable. If you can be in this final category consistently, in ways that make a blogger sit up and think "man, I wish that person commented here more often!" you can achieve great things for your own site's visibility through participation in the comments of other blogs.

Combine the tools presented in #10 (particularly Google Reader/Blog Search) and #4 (especially FollowerWonk) for discovery. The feed subscriber counts in Google Reader can be particularly helpful for identifying good blogs for participation. Then apply the principles covered in this post on comment marketing

Google Reader Subscriber Counts

Do be conscious of the name you use when commenting and the URL(s) you point back to. Consistency matters, particularly on naming, and linking to internal pages or using a name that's clearly made for keyword-spamming rather than true conversation will kill your efforts before they begin.

#13 – Participate in Q+A Sites

Every day, thousands of people ask questions on the web. Popular services like Yahoo! Answers,, Quora, StackExchange, Formspring and more serve those hungry for information whose web searches couldn't track down the responses they needed.

The best strategy I've seen for engaging on Q+A sites isn't to answer every question that comes along, but rather, to strategically provide high value to a Q+A community by engaging in those places where:

  • The question quality is high, and responses thus far have been thin
  • The question receives high visibility (either by ranking well for search queries, being featured on the site or getting social traffic/referrals). Most of the Q+A sites will show some stats around the traffic of a question
  • The question is something you can answer in a way that provides remarkable value to anyone who's curious and drops by

I also find great value in answering a few questions in-depth by producing an actual blog post to tackle them, then linking back. This is also a way I personally find blog post topics – if people are interested in the answer on a Q+A site, chances are good that lots of folks would want to read it on my blog, too!

Just be authentic in your answer, particularly if you're linking. If you'd like to see some examples, I answer a lot of questions at Quora, frequently include relevant links, but am rarely accused of spamming or link dropping because it's clearly about providing relevant value, not just getting a link for SEO (links on most user-contributed sites are "nofollow" anyway, meaning they shouldn't pass search-engine value). There's a dangerous line to walk here, but if you do so with tact and candor, you can earn a great audience from your participation.

#14 - Enable Subscriptions via Feed + Email (and track them!)

If someone drops by your site, has a good experience and thinks "I should come back here and check this out again when they have more posts," chances are pretty high (I'd estimate 90%+) that you'll never see them again. That sucks! It shouldn't be the case, but we have busy lives and the Internet's filled with animated gifs of cats.

In order to pull back some of these would-be fans, I highly recommend creating an RSS feed using Feedburner and putting visible buttons on the sidebar, top or bottom of your blog posts encouraging those who enjoy your content to sign up (either via feed, or via email, both of which are popular options).

RSS Feeds with Feedburner

If you're using WordPress, there's some easy plugins for this, too.

Once you've set things up, visit every few weeks and check on your subscribers – are they clicking on posts? If so, which ones? Learning what plays well for those who subscribe to your content can help make you a better blogger, and earn more visits from RSS, too.

#15 – Attend and Host Events

Despite the immense power of the web to connect us all regardless of geography, in-person meetings are still remarkably useful for bloggers seeking to grow their traffic and influence. The people you meet and connect with in real-world settings are far more likely to naturally lead to discussions about your blog and ways you can help each other. This yields guest posts, links, tweets, shares, blogroll inclusion and general business development like nothing else.

Lanyrd Suggested Events

I'm a big advocate of Lanyrd, an event directory service that connects with your social networks to see who among your contacts will be at which events in which geographies. This can be phenomenally useful for identifying which meetups, conferences or gatherings are worth attending (and who you can carpool with).

The founder of Lanyrd also contributed this great answer on Quora about other search engines/directories for events (which makes me like them even more).

#16 – Use Your Email Connections (and Signature) to Promote Your Blog

As a blogger, you're likely to be sending a lot of email out to others who use the web and have the power to help spread your work. Make sure you're not ignoring email as a channel, one-to-one though it may be. When given an opporunity in a conversation that's relevant, feel free to bring up your blog, a specific post or a topic you've written about. I find myself using blogging as a way to scalably answer questions – if I receive the same question many times, I'll try to make a blog post that answers it so I can simply link to that in the future.

Email Footer Link

I also like to use my email signature to promote the content I share online. If I was really sharp, I'd do link tracking using a service like so I could see how many clicks email footers really earn. I suspect it's not high, but it's also not 0.

#17 – Survey Your Readers

Web surveys are easy to run and often produce high engagement and great topics for conversation. If there's a subject or discussion that's particularly contested, or where you suspect showing the distribution of beliefs, usage or opinions can be revealing, check out a tool like SurveyMonkey (they have a small free version) or PollDaddy. Google Docs also offers a survey tool that's totally free, but not yet great in my view.

#18 – Add Value to a Popular Conversation

Numerous niches in the blogosphere have a few "big sites" where key issues arise, get discussed and spawn conversations on other blogs and sites. Getting into the fray can be a great way to present your point-of-view, earn attention from those interested in the discussion and potentially get links and traffic from the industry leaders as part of the process.

You can see me trying this out with Fred Wilson's AVC blog last year (an incredibly popular and well-respected blog in the VC world). Fred wrote a post about Marketing that I disagreed with strongly and publicly and a day later, he wrote a follow-up where he included a graphic I made AND a link to my post.

If you're seeking sources to find these "popular conversations," Alltop, Topsy, Techmeme (in the tech world) and their sister sites MediaGazer, Memeorandum and WeSmirch, as well as PopURLs can all be useful.

#19 – Aggregate the Best of Your Niche

Bloggers, publishers and site owners of every variety in the web world love and hate to be compared and ranked against one another. It incites endless intrigue, discussion, methodology arguments and competitive behavior – but, it's amazing for earning attention. When a blogger publishes a list of "the best X" or "the top X" in their field, most everyone who's ranked highly praises the list, shares it and links to it. Here's an example from the world of marketing itself:

AdAge Power 150

That's a screenshot of the AdAge Power 150, a list that's been maintained for years in the marketing world and receives an endless amount of discussion by those listed (and not listed). For example, why is SEOmoz's Twitter score only a "13" when we have so many more followers, interactions and retweets than many of those with higher scores? Who knows. But I know it's good for AdAge. :-)

Now, obviously, I would encourage anyone building something like this to be as transparent, accurate and authentic as possible. A high quality resource that lists a "best and brightest" in your niche – be they blogs, Twitter accounts, Facebook pages, individual posts, people, conferences or whatever else you can think to rank – is an excellent piece of content for earning traffic and becoming a known quantity in your field.

Oh, and once you do produce it – make sure to let those featured know they've been listed. Tweeting at them with a link is a good way to do this, but if you have email addresses, by all means, reach out. It can often be the start of a great relationship!

#20 – Connect Your Web Profiles and Content to Your Blog

Many of you likely have profiles on services like YouTube, Slideshare, Yahoo!, DeviantArt and dozens of other social and Web 1.0 sites. You might be uploading content to Flickr, to Facebook, to Picasa or even something more esoteric like Prezi. Whatever you're producing on the web and wherever you're doing it, tie it back to your blog.

Including your blog's link on your actual profile pages is among the most obvious, but it's also incredibly valuable. On any service where interaction takes place, those interested in who you are and what you have to share will follow those links, and if they lead back to your blog, they become opportunities for capturing a loyal visitor or earning a share (or both!). But don't just do this with profiles – do it with content, too! If you've created a video for YouTube, make your blog's URL appear at the start or end of the video. Include it in the description of the video and on the uploading profile's page. If you're sharing photos on any of the dozens of photo services, use a watermark or even just some text with your domain name so interested users can find you.

If you're having trouble finding and updating all those old profiles (or figuring out where you might want to create/share some new ones), KnowEm is a great tool for discovering your own profiles (by searching for your name or pseudonyms you've used) and claiming profiles on sites you may not yet have participated in.

I'd also strongly recommend leveraging Google's relatively new protocol for rel=author. AJ Kohn wrote a great post on how to set it up here, and Yoast has another good one on building it into WordPress sites. The benefit for bloggers who do build large enough audiences to gain Google's trust is earning your profile photo next to all the content you author – a powerful markup advantage that likely drives extra clicks from the search results and creates great, memorable branding, too.

#21 – Uncover the Links of Your Fellow Bloggers (and Nab 'em!)

If other blogs in your niche have earned references from sites around the web, there's a decent chance that they'll link to you as well. Conducting competitive link research can also show you what content from your competition has performed well and the strategies they may be using to market their work. To uncover these links, you'll need to use some tools.

OpenSiteExplorer is my favorite, but I'm biased (it's made by Moz). However, it is free to use – if you create a registered account here, you can get unlimited use of the tool showing up to 1,000 links per page or site in perpetuity.

OpenSiteExplorer from Moz

There are other good tools for link research as well, including Blekko, Majestic, Ahrefs and, I've heard that in the near-future, SearchMetrics.

Finding a link is great, but it's through the exhaustive research of looking through dozens or hundreds that you can identify patterns and strategies. You're also likely to find a lot of guest blogging opportunities and other chances for outreach. If you maintain a great persona and brand in your niche, your ability to earn these will rise dramatically. 

Bonus #22 – Be Consistent and Don't Give Up

If there's one piece of advice I wish I could share with every blogger, it's this:

Why Bloggers Give Up Traffic Graph

The above image comes from Everywhereist's analytics. Geraldine could have given up 18 months into her daily blogging. After all, she was putting in 3-5 hours each day writing content, taking photos, visiting sites, coming up with topics, trying to guest blog and grow her Twitter followers and never doing any SEO (don't ask, it's a running joke between us). And then, almost two years after her blog began, and more than 500 posts in, things finally got going. She got some nice guest blogging gigs, had some posts of hers go "hot" in the social sphere, earned mentions on some bigger sites, then got really big press from Time's Best Blogs of 2011.

I'd guess there's hundreds of new bloggers on the web each day who have all the opportunity Geraldine had, but after months (maybe only weeks) of slogging away, they give up.

When I started the SEOmoz blog in 2004, I had some advantages (mostly a good deal of marketing and SEO knowledge), but it was nearly 2 years before the blog could be called anything like a success. Earning traffic isn't rocket science, but it does take time, perseverance and consistency. Don't give up. Stick to your schedule. Remember that everyone has a few posts that suck, and it's only by writing and publishing those sucky posts that you get into the habit necessary to eventually transform your blog into something remarkable.

Good luck and good blogging from all of us at Moz!

Feel free to copy and re-post this content or the graphics, but please do link back (or reference SEOmoz if using the images offline). Thanks!

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admin <![CDATA[A Linkbuilder’s Gmail Productivity Setup (with Outreach Emails from 4 Industry Linkbuilders)]]> 2012-01-16T06:00:03Z 2012-01-16T06:00:03Z Posted by dohertyjf

Because linkbuilding is hard, we all look for ways to make the process less painful and our outreach more effective. I constantly struggled with how to make my job more effective when working in-house, and since coming to Distilled I have had to become even more of a productivity ninja in order to keep up with the fast pace of an agency.

The goal of today's post is to teach you some ninja ways that will markedly increase the speed of sending linkbuilding emails, as well as help you provide context to them with the goal of increasing your response rate.

A quick note: These tips I am showing today apply to people who use Gmail as their email provider. There are probably similar tools available for other programs like Outlook. So take the principles applied here, suit them to your needs, and then share the knowledge!

Gmail Tools and Tips

Let's look at some Gmail tools, tips, and tricks that can improve your productivity.

Gmail Shortcuts

Gmail shortcuts are a linkbuilder or email productivity ninja's best friend. Once enabled in Labs, you have a whole wealth of shortcuts to use so that you never have to touch your mouse, unless you need to edit text or do something like inserting a canned response (see below). You'll find that shortcuts tend to eliminate many superfluous steps, and when used in combination with the other tools mentioned, you can drastically speed up your email processing time.

The most important shortcuts are, in my opinion:

  • C – compose a new message
  • E – archive a message
  • G then I – return to inbox from a message
  • R – reply to a message
  • A – reply all to a message
  • F – forward the message
  • J – when in your inbox, move to the next message
  • K – when in your inbox, move to the previous message
  • X – when in your inbox, mark an email. Most useful when processing out emails that don't require any attention (such as daily emails).

You should think about shortcuts as "recipes" of sorts. Use them in combination, like Tab+Enter for sending, J+X+E for archiving messages in your inbox, or R+message+tab+enter for responding to a message. String them together, and you'll be more awesome.

For a complete list of Gmail shortcuts, go here

Pro tip: Combine this with Send and Archive (mentioned below) to take your processing to the next level.

Canned Responses

Canned responses are something that our New York Sales Exec Ron Garrett recently introduced me to. Another Labs tool, it allows you to save email templates to use so that you are not constantly copying and pasting from one source to another, risking making a mistake.

As you can see in the image below, it installs a "Canned Responses" button right under the Subject field. This is where you can save drafts of canned responses for quick access.

Here is how a canned email might look if I was sending an email to Tom Critchlow:

Pro tip: Highlight the text to change in yellow so that you make sure to insert all relevant information.

Also, make sure you check out some example linkbuilding emails from some industry experts at the bottom of this post.


Rapportive is a Gmail plugin that I've been hyping recently, because it's so freakin awesome. The idea is simple, but the outcome is powerful.

After you download it from and install into Gmail, the box will appear on the right side of your screen when you go to compose a new email. The Rapportive feature that makes it so powerful for linkbuilding and connecting with others is the social features.

You can see many different ways for you to connect with, or build rapport with (see what I did there?), your email contact. You can even connect with them, such as sending a LinkedIn invitation, directly from within Rapportive.


Check out all the options I get when I go to email Ross:

Pro tip: Use Rapportive to help you find contact emails. If you are not sure of the combination of their company's email (john.doherty, john-doherty, jdoherty, dohertyj, for example), try different combinations. When you hit the right one, their information will appear :-)


Boomerang is a Gmail plugin that I found via Napoleon Suarez. After you install, a little "Boomerang" icon will appear in your Gmail screen and a Send Later button will appear on every email you go to send. When expanded, it looks like this:

The really powerful features of Boomerang are:

  • Send emails at a designated time (ie you write an email at 2am on Saturday night. Set it to send at 9am on Monday so it doesn't look like you are working at 2am on Saturday night)
  • Send an email back to the top of your inbox at a later point in the day (I do this with emails that I want to respond to at a designated email time later in the day).
  • Send the message back to you if you don't hear back within a set amount of time (great for recontacting people you emailed about links).

I'd love to hear other ways you find to use Boomerang as well!

FYI – Boomerang is also available for Outlook! Also, you receive a certain number of Boomerangs per month, and then it moves to a paid service. If I was doing more link outreach, I definitely think the paid service would be worth the money, but at this point I have never hit my max.

Undo Send

Another awesome Labs tool that is handy to have around is Undo Send. What it does is allow you a time buffer (I believe 5 seconds) to recall an email before it sends.

Once you send the email, you will be returned to your email but this little box will show up:

Pro tip: To avoid sending an email early, even with this tool, don't put the recipient's name in the To: field until you're done. After you've completed your email, use the Shift+tab combination twice to return to the To: field. Insert the email, tab three times, and Send and Archive.

Send and Archive

The final Gmail productivity ninja tip I have for you is the Send and Archive Labs tool. Once installed, a Send and Archive button appears on your Compose screen. If you're an InboxZero nut (like most of Distilled), then you're already excited by this.

Here's a screenshot of the button:

Now, when you have finished composing an email and you are ready to send it, simply Tab from your message and press Enter.

Boom! Email sent and the message is now out of your inbox. You've just eliminated the step of archiving the message after the fact. Go and do something awesome.

Pro tip: Just install and use it. Nothing more to be said.

Linkbuilding Email Templates from Industry Linkbuilders

I emailed some friends to ask for some examples of actual link request emails that they have sent to prospective link partners. The following are those examples. Please note that these are drafts, and emails should always be as customized as possible to the recipient.

Broken Linkbuilding

Ross Hudgens is the SEO Manager at Full Beaker, a lead-gen focused SEO company outside Seattle. Ross responded to my email with this gem of a broken link email that he sends to people when asking to be included on their list, but wants to provide them value by helping them out with some links broken on their site. Here's the email:

Hello NAME, I was browsing through your site/links as a NICHE SPECIFIC DESCRIPTION myself, and they're great. ONE/TWO SENTENCES TAILORED TO SAID WEBSITE.

I'm contacting you specifically because I was looking through your links and I noticed a few broken ones – specifically to BROKEN LINK1, BROKENLINK2. Other than that you've got a great list!

I have two more suggestions for sites that were extremely helpful to me as a NICHE SPECIFIC DESCRIPTION might make good additions to your list – GREATRESOURCE and MYWEBSITE. GREATRESOURCE is a comprehenshive and entertaining resource and MYWEBSITE has some great tips for NICHESPECIFIC DETAIL. Just a thought.

Anyways, just wanted to let you know and say thanks – have a great new year!



Notice how he has put information to change in CAPS so as not to forget to change a field. Boom!

Guest Posting

This email comes from Distilled SEO Geoff Kenyon, who works in our Seattle office. Geoff has been killing it for his clients for a while now, so I asked him for an example of what he sends to people. He came back with this example of a templated email sent to people for guest posts.


I saw that you're the THEIR POSITION over at THEIR COMPANY and I wanted to get in touch. I've seen guest contributions before on the TOPIC blog and wanted to know if you were open to any more guest contributions. I am looking to write about something related to NICHE and thought that the topics I had in mind may go well on the TOPIC blog.

I was thinking about the following subjects:

  • IDEA 1
  • IDEA 2
  • IDEA 3

What do you think about these? If you're interested, I am happy to get something written up and sent over to you – or if you have another topic you'd like to see covered, I am more than happy to write on that.



Note: Do not mass email a ton of people your content ideas, but customize them per person. Also, don't mass email. Send emails one at a time. It doesn't scale easily, but it's more effective. Also, don't send emails like this to high-level contacts. Those MUST be totally personalized.


This next example comes from Paul May over at Buzzstream, which is a linkbuilding CRM tool that we use and love at Distilled. Paul sent me this example of an email they sent out during their most recent launch. I think it's a great mix of professional and personal with a lot of detail.

I especially love the "Pick your poison ;) " part!

Hi ,

Don't know if you remember me, but I've commented on a number of your blog posts and we've written a couple of posts on the (YOUR COMPANY) blog that continued discussions you'd started (I think the TOPIC post was the most recent one). I wanted to reach out to you about YOUR COMPANY, the PR/SEO startup I co-founded.

We're now preparing to launch (DATE) and I wanted to see if we could setup a time to brief you on it. QUICK BACKGROUND ABOUT YOUR COMPANY. WHY YOUR COMPANY IS GREAT.

Here’s the gist. You can:


Launch is happening DATE. We’d love to find some time to show the thing to you. Are you comfortable with an embargo until TIME a.m. ET on DAY, DATE (i.e. late Monday night PT)? If so, here are some suggested times…pick your poison ;)


Thanks in advance.

Regards, NAME

Push Content

This final example comes from Mike Essex at Koozai in the UK. Mike shared this example email that he sends to people when they are pushing out content that they have created, to help generate a buzz. In Mike's own words: "The first method I use is to find content that we have, which could be relevant to other websites and then I get in touch with them to ask them to link or continue to debate the issue. This works well as it gives them a reason to link, and an opportunity to add new content to their websites." Here's the example:



The guide can be found at LINK and I’d love if you could share this with your readers and help make them aware of THE POINT OF THE RESOURCE, and how they can help. If you need any further information please let me know.


Exchange for a link (but not a link exchange)

This next email comes from Allie Brown at SEER Interactive. Linkbuilding used to be all about link exchanges. I give you a link, you give me a link, everyone's happy. Those days are over, so we either have to create content for people to link to, or you offer someone something in return (but not a link). That's what I like about this email from Allie.


My name is Allie and I work with [Client] online marketing team.

First, I have to thank you for repeatedly featuring [Client] on [your blog name]. The [client] team truly loves it when their customers share their favorite looks with others on their personal blogs.

Secondly, I wanted to see if you would be interested in linking to [Client] the next time you feature one of their products. I noticed that you often mention us in your "XYZ" posts and I want to propose an idea that I think we could both benefit from.

In exchange for linking to [Client], we'd like to post a Tweet about your blog sometime within the next week. As you may know, we have over x followers, so the opportunity for exposure is pretty grand. You'd also be helping our team out by sending your readers directly to our site when they see a product they like.

Let me know if you're interested in this idea, and hopefully we can find some way to work together!

Thanks again for all your support and Happy New Year!

Incentivized Reviews for Ecommerce

This email template comes from Abbott Shea, also from SEER. This email proposes some free product in exchange for someone leaving a review. It provides a lot of detail and adds value to the recipient.

Subject: Merrrrrrry Christmas! Wait, too early….?


Hi [Name],

My name is Abbott, and I work with [client] web promotions team. I came across [blog name] and wanted to see if you were interested in working with us. Our site, [client] has over 48,000 custom [product] designs across 113 categories. We were inspired by [something about their site], and seeing as how you love the holidays just as much as we do we'd like to provide you with 5 free Christmas cards for a product review on [URL].

You can either design these cards yourself with your own photos and text or select one from our already pre-designed cards – regardless we'll be crediting you with free shipping. Please let me know if you are interested in this idea or if you have any suggestions of how we can collaborate on something else. I look forward to hearing from you!

Take care,


I hope this post has been helpful to you! I'd love to hear any more email productivity tips that you have, especially for people using Outlook as that has not been talked about much in this post.

Also, don't forget that Distilled is running our annual linkbuilding conference called Linklove in London and Boston in March and April. Don't miss it!


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