Ken Lyons's blog
I've been blogging now for a little over three years now, and one of the important lessons I've learned during that time is that, to have a successful blog, you need to build relationships with other bloggers. Now, smart link builders have long understood that "link building is relationship building," and you will get more links by forging friendships than you will cold emailing strangers and begging for links.
The same holds true for "blog building," and developing relationships with your contemporaries is something that should be part of every bloggers' strategy. Networking with other bloggers in your niche allows you to: Develop mutually beneficial connections Generate more awareness for your own blog Establish credibility and cache for you and your blog (via a recommendation from an ... > Read more
It appears that Google is testing a new sitelinks format in the SERPs. I haven't seen this mentioned before in the blogosphere and it's the first time I've seen this new format so it's new to me. Anyway, I'm only seeing the new format with branded/navigational queries. With the new sitelinks format, Google has rolled up paired listings along with multiple domain and subdomain listings for a brand into a new expanded sitelinks format.
Here's one for "WordStream" And here's one for "Compete" At first blush, I'm a little torn as to whether I like it or not. It's definitely better for user experience and someone running a navigational query. However, from a SERP management standpoint, rolling up my paired listings and subdomain listings into one big sitelinks section all... > Read more
The link building game changed today with the launch of Ontolo's V2 Link Building Toolset that, according to the Ontolo boys, makes link building "ridiculously easy." They dropped by our offices today (ok, via email) to answer some questions about how they're revolutionizing the link building tool space.
.. These guys are on fire lately so it's a real treat to have them "on our blog" today. BTW, we've reviewed their V1 launch and had the pleasure of interviewing Ben Wills and Garrett French before. Ken: Guys, welcome back! Talk to me about how the Ontolo tool makes link building "ridiculously easy." Ben: Thanks Ken! The Ontolo Link Building Toolset makes link building ridiculously easy in the following ways: We find and measure link prospects based on your SEO keywords as well as your targ... > Read more
I've created dozens of websites using WordPress, both for my own personal use and also for clients. When I create a blog in WordPress, one of the first things I do is install plugins to turn the off the shelf version into a highly-functional, feature driven machine. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of WordPress plugins, but I stick to a stable of 11 tried and true essential plugins to power my new blogs.
Here they are. WordPress Automatic Upgrade: WordPress updates pretty frequently, and older versions are vulnerable to hackers. WordPress Automatic Upgrade automatically updates you to the latest version of WordPress so you're site is secure and up-to-date. And believe me, the last thing you want is to find out your site is infected with malware. Ultimate Google Analytics:... > Read more
I wanted to share an experience I've been going through after one of my sites was infected with malware. I've been involved in search marketing for the past six years and have been lucky enough to have never had a site hacked. But, alas, all good things must come to an end. About two weeks ago, one of my sites was the target of malevolent hackers.
I became aware of the security breach when I visited the SERPs and saw that Google was displaying the toxic "This site may harm your computer" warning, which looks like this (NOTE: this is NOT my website listing...it's just an example): When users click on "This site may harm your computer" link, it leads them to a Google support page. If you miss the warning and click on the actual site listing, you're redirected to an inte... > Read more
Influence Finder is one of the latest link profiling tools to hit the market. I would classify the Influence Finder software as a "link target tool," giving users the ability to "spy on" the backlink profile of a competitor or multiple competitors to discover link opportunities. Influence Finder also lets you evaluate your own site's link profile as well, to perform some self-assessment and find out who's linking to you and what's driving your site's SERP performance.
Where Does Influence Finder Get Its Link Data? Influence Finder grabs all of its link data from the massive Majestic SEO API, so you know it's robust and accurate. But Influence Finder takes Majestic's link data a step further by re-crawling the Majestic link data and filtering out any dead links, so the data you're getting i... > Read more
As any link wonk will tell you, link building is hard work. So for efficiency's sake, I’m a big fan of harvesting the low hanging fruit in link building. Why kill yourself trying to acquire links from super domains, like CNN.com or The New York Times, when you can grab some quick wins just by tending your own garden?One of the ways I snag some easy link wins is by turning citations into links.
Of all the daily link building tactics I engage in, this is probably one of the best ROI producers. You see, at WordStream, we get cited dozens of times each day across the Web. Most of these mentions (I'd say about 70%) contain links back to our site. But roughly 30% are linkless. And therein lies the opportunity to build a link.Now when it comes to local SEO, I know that citations are like links.... > Read more
Google Analytics (GA) is undoubtedly the most popular web analytics tool on the planet. If you're a search marketer, blogger or online business owner, you likely use Google Analytics on a daily basis to do some basic traffic and performance analysis. But like many, you're probably not harnessing the full power of Google Analytics.
So to help you get even more out of GA, we reached out to 17 Google Analytics experts to create The Power User's Guide to Google Analytics Hacks, Tips and Tricks. The guide features a variety of advanced user features from our all star lineup of Google Analytics Hacks Panelists, including Aaron Wall, Vanessa Fox, Joost de Valk, David Harry, Will Critchlow, Brian Clifton, Justin Cutroni, Bryan Eisenberg, Bas van den Beld and many more analytics experts. Hope ... > Read more
Unless you've been living in a cave, you know the flavor of the month for link baiting is INFOGRAPHICS!!! They're everywhere, and many major online publications (Huff Post, Fast Company, BoingBoing, Mashable, etc) make it a habit of running cool infographics each day. What's more, infographics hit the front pages of social giants like Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon on a regular basis.
Infographic Workflow:Bait CreationInfographic PromotionEvaluate ROICase Study SummaryNow even though we may be a bit late to the infographic link bait and social traffic bonanza party, we still wanted an invite. So we decided it was time to roll out our own infographics link bait campaign. After sitting on the sidelines and seeing what works (and what doesn’t), we felt we had a pretty good idea how to create some... > Read more
Link Juice Guide: Link Juice Draining Process Find Internal Prospects Add Keyword Links Record Results Case Study Bonus Link Juice Pages One of the biggest, missed opportunities I see in SEO is wasted link juice. SEOs and link builders alike are in relentless pursuit of high value links and the equity and semantic relevance that those coveted links carry.
However, the irony is they often overlook vast, untapped reservoirs of concentrated link juice on the very Web properties these SEO link builders control: their own or their client's sites. So when I visit a site and see page after page of equity-rich pages that haven't been "milked" of their juice properly, I get a little glum :(. So if you are sitting on lagoons of link juice, how do you drain these equity reservoirs? That's pretty ea... > Read more
[See More: How Much Should You Earn As An SEM?] Determining what your salary range should be for any position is a dilemma many job hunters face (especially in today's economic environment). "How much am I worth in this market? How much should I ask for in salary negotiations? How much do my positional peers earn?" are all common questions.
It's no different for SEOs. Search marketers wonder about salary expectations and inquire on message boards, forums and online SEO communities about how much they should expect to earn. The thing is there are so many factors that come into play that it’s difficult for anyone to say with certainty how much YOU should be earning as an SEO. Take for instance: Location – Cost of living varies depending on where you live. Salaries differ from coun... > Read more
Since launching WordStream in late 2008, the most common question we get asked from clients is "how do I improve my Quality Score?" This really doesn't come as a surprise given that maintaining a healthy AdWords Quality Score is critical to driving down click spend and driving up ROI. To help PPC marketers better navigate the murky waters of Quality Score, we've put together The Ultimate Guide to Quality Score.
The guide features in-depth, comprehensive insights into the nuts and bolts of Google AdWords Quality Score from some of the top minds in pay-per-click advertising, including Brad Geddes, Andrew Goodman, George Michie, Dave Davis, Marty Weintraub, Larry Kim and many, many more. So for anyone who's ever wondered what you can do to improve your Quality Score in Google AdWords... ... > Read more
Spying is all the rage in SEO. Search marketers love to secretly spy on their competitors to try and decode their winning tactics. The logic (and hope) is that if they can determine why a particular site is ranking so well, then they can apply the same strategy to their own websites to best the competition.
The inherent flaw in this logic is that it is impossible to duplicate a site's link profile, even with all their link data. Bottom line is there are some links you will never be able to obtain, no matter how crafty you are or how hard you beg (which speaks to the importance of building quality backlinks so your competitor's can't easily turn the tables and duplicate your link profile). But that's okay. Your goal shouldn't be to replicate a competitor's link profile, link for link. You g... > Read more
There's been a lot of talk recently about how "SEO is dead." The claim is based largely on the specter of mounting algorithmic complexities, rising barriers to entry, the advent of personalized search, integration of social usage data signals, global warming, the Tea Party movement, blah, blah, blah, (insert your own fatalistic theory).
There was one post in particular that I read a few months back where a blogger used a pretty compelling graph from Google Trends to make the case that SEO is on life support due to a steady decline in query popularity juxtaposed against a meteoric rise in social media query activity. Going by this graph, it appears that SEO is in fact "on the back nine." So if you make your living as an SEO, or if, like us, you just launched a line of ... > Read more
At WordStream we get asked a lot of questions about search engine marketing. These questions come from emails, blog comments and Webinar participants who want to know our take on tips and tricks for better SEO and PPC marketing. The questions range from the budding noob (just starting out) to advanced SEM practices.
Occasionally, we select one to highlight that addresses some of the more common or intriguing issues that many struggle with to give a direct response on our blog.Today's question comes from Dawn Barson at Think Creative Group. Dawn asks:"How many pages and how much content do you need on your site to have a chance at ranking highly in Google? Will a small, 5 to 10 page website, with only a few paragraphs of text have any chance of ranking highly?"So like answers to most questi... > Read more
Today Garrett and Ben over at Ontolo launched their Link Building Toolset to the world. We got a chance to catch up with them and get a sense of what their tool does and how it's different from the industry standard for backlink prospecting: competitor backlinks. Note: To thank early adopters during the launch of their new Link Building Toolset, Ontolo is offering a 25% discount that ends today (4/27/2010) at 9 p.
m. PST. They've let us know that they will never offering this service at this low of a price again, and that the pricing is good through all future upgrades, price changes, etc. First off, here's what it does, in their words: "We start with your targeted SEO Keywords. Using these we deliver, each and every week, new link prospects to you that have been crawled and analyzed by ove... > Read more
I thought I'd post the presentation for the Webinar we hosted yesterday, which was titled "How to Organize and Create Content for SEO." The presentation was a step by step process detailing how you can create an SEO-friendly information architecture for better Google rankings, and how to create and organize content geared for search engines, which includes some tips on keyword research and integrating specific SEO best practice page elements.
This post includes both the slide presentation and the script I used for the Webinar. SLIDE 1 – INTRODUCTION Hi, everyone. Thanks for joining us for today’s webinar: How to Organize & Create Content for SEO. My name’s Ken Lyons and I’m the Senior Online Acquisition Marketing Manager for WordStream. Today I’... > Read more
One of the biggest pain points for bloggers is trying to come up with fresh blog topic ideas. It's not easy to generate new ideas for content on a regular basis, week in, week out. Some bloggers get their inspiration from trending topics, hot news stories or even seeing what people are blogging about.
While others tap into an internal, creative spark to discover topics. Whatever your method, the brainstorming process is a hard slog at times and many bloggers can hit a creative wall. This week, WordStream launched a new software suite "WordStream for SEO," which features a set of powerful keyword analysis and content authoring tools. One of the key benefits of WordStream for SEO is that it helps anyone who writes and publishes Web content on a regular basis avoid writers block by serving u... > Read more
Just wanted to let everyone know that today our Director of Marketing Tom Demers and his wife Kendal welcomed a brand new baby boy (and future SEO guru) into the world: Tommy Demers. Lil' Tommy D weighed in at 7 lbs 9 oz. Mom and baby are doing great. Here's a pic of Baby Tommy, fresh from the oven.
If you want to leave a congratulatory note for Mom, Tom, Big Sister Kierra and Baby Tommy, feel free to drop something in the comments. Congrats to the Demers Family! ... > Read more
Keyword optimization (also known as keyword research) is the act of researching, analyzing and selecting the best keywords to target to drive qualified traffic from search engines to your website.Keyword search optimization is a critical step in initial stages of search engine marketing, for both paid and organic search.
If you do a bad job at selecting your target keywords, all your subsequent efforts will be in vain. So it’s vital to get keyword optimization right.But optimizing keywords isn't something you do ONLY at the outset of a search marketing campaign. Ongoing keyword optimization is necessary to keep uncovering new keyword opportunities and to expand your reach into various keyword verticals. So keyword optimization isn't a set it and forget it process. By continuously perform... > Read more
So looks like the ongoing rumors of Toolbar PageRank's demise have been greatly exaggerated. Amid rampant speculation that the lil' green pixel bar would soon be extinct, Google has once again updated their Tool Bar PageRank (TBPR) metrics. I can hear the collective groans of SEOs across the globe on this one.
The Google PageRank update is occurring as I write, at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 3, 2010. If you're keeping score at home, this is the first PageRank update of 2010. It coincides with previous year's changes, which have all occurred in April the last three years. Maybe this is Google's way of heralding the advent of Spring. Who knows... I noticed the changes occurring while doing some client work this morning. As I was editing text on the client site's home page, I watched in deligh... > Read more
Go to any SEO forum and you’ll find the obligatory post from a confused, link building noob wondering, "How do I create amazing backlinks?"In the post, the frustrated linker claims they’ve tried everything to build quality backlinks: free directories, profile links, article submissions, comment spamming, etc.
But nothing works. Despite all their low value efforts, they can't leapfrog their competitors in the SERPs, so they're pleading with others to share their secrets to building amazing, stupendous, superfantastic backlinks.Trouble is, those secrets don't exist.There are no magic shortcuts, no highly classified insider hacks to getting quality links for your website. Building amazing backlinks takes work. But that's the last thing the forum vagrants want to hear. They want a quick fi... > Read more
The following post is from a recent email discussion thread I was having with one of our guest bloggers Richard Kraneis. The topic we were discussing was affiliate marketing, in particular, how to find profitable affiliate niches to target. This is a question many ask when starting out in affiliate marketing.
It was a question I had too when I was learning about affiliate marketing. So I thought it would be valuable to share the conversation we had about getting started in affiliate marketing and which niches to target using SEO. I’ve pulled out specific references to my affiliate sites to protect my competitive edge ;). Now, by no means do I consider myself to be an expert on affiliate marketing and these are not hard and fast rules. These are just my opinions and my advice to Richa... > Read more
A few months ago, I published an article about the Best SEO Rank Checkers. In it, I wrote a quick review of a keyword rank checking tool called Rank Tracker, by Link-Assistant.com. Of all the paid rank checkers I featured in that article, Rank Tracker was one that intrigued me the most. So recently, I decided to do some more extensive work with Rank Tracker to get a real taste for the tool's full capabilities.
And I'll tell you, after using this keyword SERP tracker for the past few weeks, I'm hooked. So let's take a closer look at Rank Tracker, so I can explain my newfound enthusiasm for this tool. Rank Tracker: Key Benefits There are a lot of keyword SERP trackers on the market, but they have their share of issues. First, they can be agonizingly slow. Some can only run checks on groups o... > Read more
Keyword research isn't just for search marketing. It's also a highly effective method for social media marketing. Whether your target audience is on YouTube or Twitter, your social media marketing efforts should start with determining which keywords they're using. That way you can match your message to their interests.
With that, I've put together The Experts' Guide to Keyword Research for Social Media. In this comprehensive guide, I give detailed instructions on how (and why) to conduct keyword research for social media, and I break it down with tips and techniques for research keywords on four of the most popular social media platforms: Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Facebook. Enjoy! READ: The Experts' Guide to Keyword Research for Social Media ... > Read more
Recently at WordStream, we launched our first link bait campaign. By our standards, the campaign was successful, and we thought we'd share the details on how to build a linkbait campaign. How to Get Links from New York Times: A Case Study In a nutshell, we attribute the campaign's success to setting clear objectives, creating killer content and aggressive marketing.
What resulted from our hard work, planning and execution was a link from one of the most trusted sources on the planet: The New York Times. Case Study Contents: Planning Phase Goal Setting Link Bait Creation Link Bait Promotion Campaign Results How did we do it? Read on and find out how to get a link from the New York Times. Link Bait Campaign Intro: Before You Start, Have a Plan! You may be wondering how to start link baitin... > Read more
Despite a global recession, budget investments for search engine marketing continue to grow year after year. Many experts predict that spend on search engine marketing (SEM) activities will double in the U.S. from $13 billion in 2009 to $26 billion by the year 2014. With more and more marketing dollars flowing into paid and organic inbound marketing efforts, we wanted to poll our readers to see if their organizations are following the same trend.
We conducted an extensive survey of industry professionals and business owners to get an idea where budgets for search engine marketing are headed this year. We wanted to find out if spend on search marketing activities will rise, fall or remain the same in 2010. Here are the results. 2010 SEM Spending Trend Survey Results Survey Acronym Key SEO ... > Read more
It's an age-old question that many in search engine marketing struggle with: "How do I judge competition for keywords?" Do it wrong and you could waste countless hours and dollars chasing after an impenetrable market. Do it right and you could uncover a very profitable keyword vertical. Given the importance competitive keyword analysis, we reached out to 35 of the world's top search marketers and asked them a single question: “What is your best tip/trick for determining how competitive a keyword is?” We've collected the answers and compiled them into the Web's first comprehensive guide to analyzing keyword competition.
The Ultimate Guide to Keyword Competition features advanced tips and tactics from such search gurus as Aaron Wall, Rand Fishkin, Michael Gray, Todd Malicoat, David Harry... > Read more
Search engine marketing (SEM) spend is expected to rise in the U.S. from $13 billion in 2009 to $26 billion by the year 2014. With more and more marketing dollars predicted to flow into paid and organic search marketing efforts, we wanted to poll our readers to see if their organizations are following the same trend.
We're conducting a brief, 10 question survey on search marketing budget trends in 2010. We want to know: will your spend on SEO, PPC and SEM-related activities in general rise, fall or remain the same in the coming year? The Poll is now closed. To view the results of our survey, go to 2010 Search Marketing Spend Trend Survey Results ... > Read more