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SEO Content Marketing Roundup, Week Ending May 18th, 2011

It’s officially spring here in the Pacific Northwest!  Saw my first goldfinch, the sun is beaming, there’s no rain forecast for at least three days, and the flowers are blooming! What could possibly go wrong? Well, you could eat something less than spring-fresh at the local diner…and feel very unseasonal with flu-like symptoms. Yep. So while this week’s latest and greatest web writing news is as abbreviated and belated as this La Nina’s northwest spring, it is still as fresh as the proverbial daisy. Enjoy!

Content Marketing:

Content Marketing Institute gets all comprehensive with it:  Content Recycling from A to Z, and 50 – yes, 50 – content marketing questions answered.

Lee Odden shares the story behind TopRank Marketing as well as his insights into the future of social SEO and content marketing at SEO Copywriting.

Six Revisions: The importance of having a web content strategy

Mark Schaefer of {grow}: When did we forget about strategy?

Copyblogger put out some great stuff, including:  How the Buddha solved his marketing problem21 ways to create compelling content when you don’t have a clue, and 5 ways to quickly write high-quality content.

Fear of writing out loud: Seth Godin asks Who is making you uncomfortable? and Heather Lloyd-Martin asks Are you writing afraid?

HubSpot Notables:  60 – yes, 60  — ways that personalization is changing marketing (look out, CMI); How to begin video marketing; and Avoiding the 5 – only 5 — pitfalls of free content.

SEO & Search:

That whole Facebook underhanded smearing stuff re: Google drew much attention.  Here are a couple gems:

  • CBS News reported that “Facebook throws the first punch at Google” in the ensuing, ah, stuff.
  • Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan gives his in-depth take on the whole deal with “Examining Facebook’s smear campaign concerns about Google social circle.”

Level 343 announces its Top SEO Women 2012 finalists for votes through November, and posts this delightful “If you’re going to write about SEO, get it right.”

Search Engine Land: Matt McGee reports on “Zanran,” (a new search engine that unearths data in charts, graphics, and tables); George Aspland discusses how to increase conversions for organic keywords; and Daniel Waisberg posts how to integrate Google Analytics and YouTube.

TopRank Blog: Is your SEO program chasing unicorns?

Search Engine Journal:  Rachel Andersen posts Digging deep with internal site search part 1, and part 2.

Google:  Think “insights” with G’s new site for data lovers.  Also posted at The Next Web.

SEOmoz:  Tom Critchlow from Distilled helps SEOmoz with its analytics with the Whiteboard Friday presentation.

Social Media Marketing:

Marketing Sherpa:  Chart of the week showing the top metrics used for measuring social marketing impact (via survey).

Mashable:  LinkedIn IPO set for 5/29, and 17 Twitter tips from Mashable Connect attendees.

Social Media Examiner: 11 ways to find new content for your social strategy; and weekly news headlined with more social networking options.

Ad Age:  A breakdown of demographics among Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace and Twitter.

Danny Brown:  The difference between engaged and engaging.

Mack Collier: Most social media aren’t hacks, but a lot of them are misguided.

HubSpot:  Understanding online influence and engagement with Brian Solis.

Interview with Lee Odden, CEO of TopRank Marketing

I’ve had the pleasure of speaking on many panels with the wonderful Mr. O. Not only is Lee a nice guy, he is incredibly smart in the ways of content marketing. I’m very honored to feature his guest interview today. — Heather

So how did you come to be the CEO of TopRank Online Marketing?

After working in numerous roles from late 1996 to 2001 for a web development and marketing agency, I left as VP of Online Marketing and joined with Susan Misukanis to launch a Marketing PR consultancy. I started TopRank as a product for the agency and it grew to become the company itself. Somewhere in that transition I became the CEO.

A good portion of our client base are B2B companies like StrongMail, PRWeb, and McKesson, so the need for content to educate during longer sales cycles has always been an integral part of our SEO and Social Media consulting practice. Until a few years ago we called it “Editorial Marketing” until Joe Pulizzi helped popularized the phrase “Content Marketing.”

From your perspective, how has content marketing evolved over the past few years?

The biggest change I’ve seen is that more people are jumping on the bandwagon of creating content with the multitude of tools and publishing platforms available. While the value of great content to engage and persuade customers has always been important, I guess it took a while for a lot of online marketers to catch on.  Now content is an essential piece of any robust online marketing effort whether it’s B2C or B2B.

As more companies get into the “brand as publisher” business of creating content, I think many will burn out and turn to content curation as a way to provide value. Many of them are doing that now but will need to be aware of how Google deals with short form and duplicate information if they expect search to be a significant driver of traffic.

What would you say are the most important influences affecting content marketing today?

As far as the industry goes, there are rich information sources like Content Marketing Institute and the growing number of blogs (like this one) rich with information about marketing with content. My opinion is that anyone in a position to create content also has influence over how the organization plans, produces and promotes content.

When it comes to influences on the practice of content marketing, I’d say it’s the ability for companies to understand the people they’re trying to connect with, a.k.a. “audience,” “customers” or “community,” and then putting that understanding into an accountable content strategy. There is an accelerating quantity of content and digital information created every day and content marketing will evolve as changes in how people discover, consume and share information occurs.

What are your thoughts about the relative influences/intersections of Social Media and SEO on content marketing?

In the customer lifecycle from prospect to evangelist and everywhere in between, the information a brand publishes and exchanges with the community involves (or can involve) search-optimized content for discovery, social media for discovery, as well as content creation and sharing.  As consumers change how they find, interact and engage with digital information, marketers must anticipate what that means for their own messaging and methods of engagement.

Imagine the difference between these two scenarios:

Let’s go back a few years. Customer A needs a blender. She searches Google, is presented with results showing retail stores that sell blenders and visits several until she sees one she likes and buys it. A little simplified, but you get what I mean.

Fast forward to today. Customer B also needs a blender. She Tweets, “I need a new blender that can handle my monster smoothies, any recommendations?” (Yes, that’s under 140 characters). She might also message a few friends on Facebook asking a similar question. Some recommendations come her way and she “Googles” the brand / model names.  While she’s on the retailer website(s) there are product reviews, and some have articles and downloadable recipe books. Another links to a food/cooking community. After careful consideration she decides to buy one. Then she posts a thank you to her Facebook friends for helping pick out a new blender with photos of her first smoothie.

In the first example, our content is pretty much focused on the web pages that show up in search results. In the second example, content takes many forms including web pages, Tweets, reviews, social networks, and images. Maybe even video if margaritas we involved. Search and social increasingly drive discovery of new content. Social media facilitates sharing of that content.

The takeaway is that knowing consumer preferences should lead to making content findable, whether it’s search or social (or both), and shareable. That’s the intersection of Social SEO and Content in my book.

There’s been much discussion about content curation and creation — where are your thoughts on that?

Actually, I think it really depends on the strategy and resources of the business.  For many companies, original content is difficult and out of budget. In their search for other options, a strategy focused on becoming a single source of news and information around niche topics might be implemented through content curation. There are tools like Curata (a client) or Curation Station that provide companies with the ability to create these types of news destinations focused on specific topics. There are other tools like Amplify, Storify, and Eqentia that do similar things.

I’m a bit biased towards a mix of creation and curation. Most importantly, I think creating a content marketing strategy that is focused on providing customers with useful information and resources in a way that inspires them to buy and refer my clients’ products/services is the most effective.  In some cases that means 70% greenfield content and in others it might be 25%, with the balanced focused on being a filter of useful industry information for the community.

If there were any words of advice for the new content marketer, what would you tell him/her?

Turn around, run! Don’t look back. No, really: Study great sites like copyblogger.com and visit CMI (mentioned above) for great tips and case studies on how companies are implementing and innovating with content. Network with other content marketers and find a way to experiment. Build a base of knowledge and get wicked smart with analytics so you can demonstrate the impact of your awesome-sauce work.

Lee Odden, Founder and CEO of TopRank® Online Marketing, regularly shares his content marketing expertise at TopRank Blog.

Since 2001 TopRank® has helped Fortune 500 companies (and a few Fortune 20’s as well) increase traffic, sales and brand visibility online through a holistic internet marketing approach.

SEO Content Marketing Roundup, Week Ending May 11th, 2011

So are you all that? This week’s latest and greatest web writing news is about website speed and usability, new Panda insights and old Panda hangovers, smart branding, effective blogging, and ensuring your (optimized) content is both original and relevant…and all the while being an incredibly gracious and search-friendly social media host. To help you in being all that, this week’s SEO content marketing roundup is chock full of  resources, guides, and tips.

Content Marketing:

Marketer to marketer: Lee Odden posts his interview with Ann Handley on content marketing at Top Rank.

First things first: content strategy before social strategy is posted at Content Marketing Institute, as are 25 content marketing tools and making content relevant to buyers.

The big brand buzz:  Apple usurps Google as the most valuable brand, reports Mashable.  And speaking of Mashable, how it evolved into a major media company is posted (via video interview) at Social Media Examiner.

Level 343’s Gabriella Sannino posts a smart article on the four layers of online brand marketing, and SEO Book discusses brand positioning using stories.

iMedia Connection discusses the advantages of many contributors to the content challenge, as well as the secrets behind successful landing pages.

Shelly Bowen asks if your content strategy considers trust at pybop, and Heidi Cohen posts the four pillars of digital marketing (hint: 4 C’s).

Kristi Hines discusses distributing your content to increase your reach at Vertical Measures, while (yet more) content tools headlines Social Media Examiner’s weekly news.

Jay Baer (video) posts using location-based services for content marketing at Convince and Convert, and iMedia Connection posts why location-based services are just getting started.

Tom Critchlow of Distilled (NY) posts a smart guide to “innovative content types” (beyond the individual blog) at SEOmoz.

Two notable case studies posted at Marketing Sherpa: one, on turning B2C online traffic into offline action and two, on landing page testing and optimization.

Much ado about blogging:

Mack Collier posts two threads on blogging: one, why your blog should be a passion project, and two, why setting realistic goals for your blog is so important.

SEO & Search:

Heading up SEO & Search news is Google’s Webmaster post providing more guidance on building high quality sites, with analyses, takes, and insights offered by: Search Engine Land, SEOmoz, HubSpot, and SEO Book (among others).

Alan Bleiweiss (guest) posts five surprisingly often-overlooked SEO tactics at Search Engine Journal.

Kristi Hines posts SEO “street smarts” at Kiss Metrics, while SEO Book shares 12 popular organization tips and tools for keywords.

On a more advanced level, Search Engine Journal posts a tutorial how-to on using advanced segments in Google Analytics to isolate SEO problems.

Speaking of Google Analytics, SEOmoz posts that it now tracks page load speed, as well as tips for optimizing page speed.

Hate link building?  SEOmoz posts on that too, with a guide to competitor analysis for linkbuilding.

Social Media Marketing:

HubSpot posts seven reasons why replacing a website with social media is “stupid,” and Search Engine Land discusses why social profiles are a matter of quality (rather than quantity).

Heidi Cohen posts 30 definitions of social media from different sources and experts, and Lee Odden suggests five books on measuring and analyzing social media ROI at Top Rank.

Marketing Sherpa’s chart of the week features CMO confidence in social media’s ability to produce ROI.

Mashable posts how to connect your brand to the right online influencers, and eMarketer explores why affluent consumers connect with brands on social networks.

Six “surprising” new findings about social media, email, and IT use are posted at Fast Company, and Stay N’ Alive posts that Twitter and Facebook are quietly killing the RSS feed, completely.

Social Media Examiner posts five ways to use Twitter to connect with local customers, and Copyblogger posts the ultimate guide to Twitter.

HubSpot’s Inbound Now features a video interview with Jay Baer on how to get people to care about your social presence, and Brian Solis shares his interview by Web Copy Plus at his site (“engage with purpose.”)

Mashable posts social media tips for PR professionals as well as a Facebook guide for PR pros.

SEO Content Marketing Roundup, Week Ending May 4th, 2011

Integrated marketing dominates this week’s latest and greatest web writing news, as content and social media marketers, SEO and search professionals alike recognize the need to incorporate other specialties into their marketing mix. Enjoy this week’s mix of hybrid picks:

Content Marketing:

Heidi Cohen posts seven ways that content marketing can reduce costs at Content Marketing Institute, and Conversation Agent posts creating demand for your content.

Lee Odden discusses the importance of social media and SEO for public relations at Top Rank, and Design Damage presents a holistic approach to marketing.

Vertical Measures posts recycling your content and extending the life of your press release online, while Level 343 suggests content curation for those challenged by the time needed for continuous content creation.

How three companies took content marketing to “the next level” is at Mashable, and how to create five content marketing “products” from one interview is at Content Marketing Institute.

Marketing Profs posts data showing how content fuels social media interaction.

eMarketer posts survey results showing that convenience trumps social features for online video viewers, and HubSpot posts how to add YouTube videos to your site or blog.

Website usability is the subject of posts at v3 Integrated Marketing (mobile-compatible site design) and at Level 343 (color, layout, and writing).

Six ways to manage your online reputation are posted at Content Marketing Institute, and six common slip-ups that make your blog look bad are posted at Copyblogger.

Incredibly simple tips to spice up your blog are posted at Kikolani, and two blogging “myths” are challenged at Problogger.

Dirty little secrets: Search Engine Guide posts the dirty little secret of conversions, and Copyblogger posts the dirty little secrets to seducing your readers.

The online anatomy of a spreading story is posted at HubSpot.

Finally, Seth Godin addresses changing personas at his blog.

SEO & Search:

Panda 3.0?  Maybe…maybe not…this from Barry Schwartz in posting Search Engine Roundtable’s May 2011 Google Webmaster Report.

An interesting read on what Google’s Panda update has taught the SEO industry is posted at SEO Theory.

Google has been named the most reputable company in the U.S. by a Harris Interactive poll, reports Mashable, while SEO Book posts how Google creates black hats.

eMarketer reports that marketers are relying more heavily on SEO to increase their web traffic, and Lee Odden discusses SEO as a standalone vs. an augmented core marketing strategy at Top Rank.

Ian Lurie (guest) posts fixing SEO content strategies at Search Engine Land, and Todd Mintz (guest) posts his interview with Marshall Simmonds on enterprise SEO at Search Engine Journal.

Brian Massey (The Conversion Scientist) is interviewed on the art of conversion copywriting at SEO Copywriting, and Ross Hudgens pens an in-depth article on “static” marketing at SEOmoz’s YOUmoz.

A hint of what Google’s social networking might look like in terms of a social hub, based on a recent patent filed by the big G, is posted at SEO by the Sea.

Meanwhile, Google’s quiet addition of Quora, Gowalla, and more to its realtime search is noted by posts at TechCrunch and Search Engine Land.

Google’s search result localization initiatives are discussed at SEO Book, and optimizing your Google Places page is posted at SEOmoz,

No less than 14 differences between smartphone search and desktop search results are posted at Search Engine Land.

Sam Crocker follows up on Tom Critchlow’s presentation on how to make SEO happen with a great post on improving reporting efficiency and relevance at SEOmoz.

Social Media Marketing:

eMarketer reports that for the first time, Facebook has overtaken Google as the top choice for social sign-in to websites to share content. It also posts optimizing social media pages for search.

Facebook’s send button headlines Social Media Examiner’s weekly news.

Business Insider posts the top 15 brands on Facebook, and Jeff Bullas reports on the latest hot Facebook marketing trend.

Ron Jones enumerates six steps for developing a social media strategy at ClickZ, while Joe Pulizzi posts three social media steps for CEO’s at Open View Labs.

For those just venturing into social media, Shelly Kramer suggests a starting point with a great graph at v3 Integrated Marketing.

HubSpot features Mari Smith on Facebook Fan Page best practices in its Inbound Now video post, and Lauren Litwinka posts a very clever “triage” of Facebook “do’s and do not do’s” for Community Managers at aimClear.

Mashable reports on the launch of a new social site, XYDO, which will prioritize and organize online news shared on Facebook and Twitter according to users’ social graphs and interests.

HubSpot’s Marketing Cast (with David Meerman Scott) looks at which social networks you should be on, and Danny Iny addresses whether you should even be blogging at Problogger.

Jay Baer posts his video conversation with Mark W. Schaefer of {grow}, in which they debate the future of social media management at Convince and Convert.

The global pulse of social media is posted by Jeff Esposito.

Finally, Mark Schaefer looks at what success on the social web ultimately boils down to at {grow}.

3 Ways to Save Money on SEO Copywriting

Greetings! In today’s Q&A video post, Heather addresses the question: how can I save money on SEO copywriting services? You may have noticed that professional SEO copywriting isn’t cheap. You do get what you pay for. So the challenge is if you want to build out really good content for your site, you’re looking at either:  A) learning how to do it yourself, which is an investment in time, or B) outsourcing your SEO copywriting to a professional, which will cost you money.

Sorry, but there’s no way around this one. If you want great SEO copywriting that gets results, you’ll have to pay for it one way or another. But there are ways you can save money on SEO copywriting services, right now!

Heather explains, focusing on saving money on your SEO content generation:

1) Repurpose Existing Content

There are very powerful ways you can leverage existing content: for instance, maybe someone on your staff has written a book, or possibly a “meaty” white paper: you can take these raw materials and repurpose some of the content into FAQ pages, blog posts, and tweets.

This is an especially smart strategy if your company has been around for awhile and you’ve archived content handy to revise and repurpose.

2) Get Trained in SEO Copywriting Best Practices

This applies to larger companies that have been outsourcing their SEO copywriting for all this time, as well as to those smaller to mid-sized businesses (SMB’s) that have talented writers on staff.

  • For larger companies: It can pay off in a big way to have everyone involved with content and content marketing trained in SEO copywriting best practices, be it marketing, branding, or even I.T. personnel: it’s important that they understand why SEO copywriters write the way they do, and how SEO copywriting fits into the whole web development process.
  • For SMB’s: It can be extremely cost-efficient to train those talented writers on your staff in SEO copywriting best practices, rather than relying on an outsourced SEO copywriter to create content.

3) Consider Guest Blog Posts from Loyal Customers or Readers

It can prove to be a costly investment of time and effort trying to figure out fresh, quality content for your blog. Having one of your loyal readers or customers write about their perception of your products or services via a guest blog post can help to pull in other readers/customers.

  • This will not only save you money, but will also serve to fill out some of those content “holes” in your editorial calendar, and serve your readers by highlighting fresh perspectives from others.

The main thing to consider is that whatever you do, think Quality. Make sure the content on your website, blog, or social media site is something you’re proud of, and want to share with others.

What Mad Men Can Teach You About Online Writing

Mad Men is more than a brilliant show about the 1960’s advertising world. It’s chock-full of tidbits that can help you improve your online copy, drive more traffic to your website and make you more money.

Here are five quotes from the show that will change the way you look at your online writing:

“Advertising is based on one thing: Happiness. And you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car” It’s freedom from fear. It’s a billboard on the side of the road that screams with reassurance that whatever you’re doing is okay. You are okay.”-Don Draper

Ask yourself: How does my product or service make people happy? For example, people don’t care typically about skin care ingredients. What they do care about is, “Will this product help me feel better about myself?” Accountants do more than push numbers around and send in our tax forms. They give us peace-of-mind knowing that we’re paying our taxes correctly, and we won’t get a nastygram from Uncle Sam. People go to personal trainers because they want to feel younger, better and stronger – not because they love to sweat 60 minutes a day.

Takeaway: Look at your current website copy. Are you selling a product, or are you selling the happiness your product brings?

“They have no sense of humor about their product.” – Pete Campbell about Secor Laxative.

You sit down to write for your Website, and it’s like you’re suddenly channeling your middle school composition teacher. Your writing doesn’t sound like “you” anymore. It sounds stilted, weird-sounding and boring. You aren’t happy with it, but what you can do? Doesn’t all online copywriting – especially SEO copywriting –  have to sound this way?

Takeaway: Inject some personality into your writing. You don’t have to tell a joke a minute, but you do have to tell your story in a way that will help folks click with your business. Write for your Website like you’re talking to someone who gave you a call or came into your office.  The more you can write like a real-life person rather than sounding like a corporate automaton, the easier it will be for folks to trust you.

“I hate to break it to you but there is no big lie. There is no system. The universe is indifferent.” – Don Draper

Substitute “Google” for “The universe” and you have an excellent definition of SEO. The search engines don’t care if you’re a big brand, or a mom and pop business. What they “want” to see is – what is this site about? Is the site a trusted resource? Are there quality links pointing to the site? Is there any content, or is the site one big image with little pockets of duplicate product copy.

Takeaway: Don’t ignore your online writing campaign because you don’t “get” SEO copywriting or search engine marketing. I’ve seen many smaller businesses take on a big-brand search engine competitor and snag better search rankings. Yes, it takes effort. Yes, it takes work. Yes, it’s worth it.

“I don’t think anyone wants to be one of a hundred colors in a box.” – Peggy Olson

Are you giving your prospects too many choices? Some product pages are completely overwhelming, with 50 listed products (and every product flagged as a “featured product.”) Too many choices isn’t a good thing – it can actually overwhelm your prospect. In “Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive,” Robert Cialdini advises, “By saturating the market with a large number of unnecessary varieties of their products, they could well be inadvertently harming their sales and…diminishing their profits.”

Takeaway: Review your existing Web pages. If you’re listing every possible product variation on one page, reduce the choices and see if you make more sales. If your sales page lists everything you can possible think of about your product, consider if you can split the information into multiple pages.

“Just think about it. Deeply. Then forget it. And an idea will ‘jump up in your face.'”- Don Draper, on the writing process.

Have you ever sat in front of your computer feeling tortured because the words just won’t come out? You’re not alone. We’ve all been there. Online writing – whether you’ve been doing it for five minutes or five years – can be impossible if you’re not in the flow. Plus, if you force the process, you’ll probably hate the final product.

Takeaway: If you’re facing writer’s block, take as long a break as you can. Grab a cup of coffee. Play computer solitaire. Call a friend. The key is to get your mind thinking about something else. Your best ideas are often when you’re doing something totally unrelated to the online writing task at hand. By the time you do start writing, it will flow like a dream — and you’ll love every last word.

SEO Content Marketing Roundup, Week Ending April 6th, 2011

Feeling sociable?  This week’s latest and greatest web writing news centers on being (successfully) social, as content and social media marketers talk blogging and community development, while SEO and search folks discuss Google’s social ranking factors and its latest attempt at being social… plus (+1) or minus (-1).  Spread your social butterfly wings and investigate this week’s early spring blossoms…

Content Marketing:

So how do you define marketing?  Great read by Lee Odden at Top Rank.

In a similar vein, C.C. Chapman (co-author of “Content Rules”) talks about why content curation is critical to business via HubSpot’s “Inbound Now” video “show.”

HubSpot also features a video interview with Guy Kawasaki, who shares content creation tips.

iMedia Connection features an article addressing what “audience development” really means to social media, digital, and content marketing.

Are digital marketers ignoring Baby Boomers? At their own peril: check out the stat’s at eMarketer, which also reports that ad dollars still aren’t following online and mobile usage.

Another definition, this time of “conversation marketing” is posted by Ian Lurie of Conversation Marketing.

So do you have Google’s trust?  Check out this smart post at Brand Dignity (Brandignity).

Design Damage explains why attention is the new online currency, and Big Brand System discusses uncovering your brand’s personality (in 10 minutes or less).

Ragan.com further takes up (business) blogging with seven must-haves for a successful business blog, via guest post by Lee Odden.

Marketing lessons from Charles Darwin are at HubSpot, as are “mind-blowing statistics” that every marketer should know (both making the case for inbound marketing).

Do you know how and what content your buyers consume? Smart post at Content Marketing Institute on understanding your prospect.

Seth Godin addresses the disconnect between price and value in content, and Neuromarketing reviews Godin’s new book, “Poke the Box.”

Mashable discusses the brewing war amongst industry heavies to replace your traditional wallet with NFC technology.

In the mobile marketing thread, iMedia Connection posts seven new ways that brands can go mobile.

A great example of direct, instant engagement with the consumer via mobile content is at  Marketing Sherpa, citing the National Hockey League’s Calgary Flames and its fans.

Content Marketing Institute discusses five things you need to know about content strategy.

Finally, the need for (website) speed:  Mashable reports on Google’s new tool for helping you increase page speed, and Conversation Marketing’s Ian Lurie reports that fast pages convert two times better than their slower competitors (based on his column at Search Engine Land, where he focuses on ways to speed up your website).

SEO & Search:

SEOmoz posts a retrospective of all the SEO changes (mostly Google’s doing) that have occurred over the past year, not the least of which is the rise of social SEO.

Google’s introduction of its plus-one (+1) feature (social recommendation “button” for saying “it’s pretty cool”) to search results (and eventually to sites themselves, says the big G) had all the SEO and search industry buzzing, with insightful posts and smart takes from:

Search Engine Land – Danny Sullivan likens Google’s +1 to Facebook’s “Like.”

Search Engine Roundtable – Barry Schwartz does a great job of summarizing the feedback from searchers, webmasters and advertisers, providing a brief video demo and links to relevant resources.

Weighing in on the recent Google initiatives, Eric Enge addresses post-Panda measurements of social engagement at Search Engine Land.

Finally, Eric Ward discusses how all those social likes, pluses, tweets, etc. may “cleanse the link graph” via Search Engine Land.

Ann Smarty reviews Alan Bleiweiss’ new ebook, “The Site Owner’s Guide to SEO for Content Writing,” at Search Engine Journal.

SEOmoz’s Rand Fishkin addresses the healthy “sibling rivalry” between PPC and SEO in his latest “Whiteboard Friday” presentation, and posts early ranking factors data from 2011.

So is SEO going to be a costlier service (or, a more profitable profession) in coming years?  Read about it at Search Engine Journal.

Social Media Marketing:

Social Fresh looks at three simple tools for merging social and search, while Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan discusses Twitter’s advanced search page and improved “who to follow” results.

SEL also explores Twitter’s new home page and its emphasis on interests, and HubSpot posts five marketing action items from Twitter’s search update.

Vertical Measures posts how Twitter milestones are happening every day.

Top Rank’s Lee Odden discusses how B2B marketing can become more social.

The three types of “self-destructive” corporate tweets is at Jay Baer’s Convince and Convert, and Trackur discusses “the do’s and don’t’s” of reputation management.

Search Engine Journal posts how (some) PR people are “destroying social media,” B2B Marketing Insider posts “the end of social media,” and GigaOm discusses how newspapers still aren’t really “getting” social media.

How to grow a blog community with social media is the subject of Social Media Examiner’s Michael Steizner’s video interview with ProBlogger founder and author, Darren Rowse.

SME also looks at Foursquare vs. Facebook Places, Mashable posts how Foursquare makes discovering brands easier, and Sazbean posts an infographic on Quora’s evolution (via Kissmetrics).

Business Insider posts a chart showing that – at least for now — social sites have little effect on where folks buy stuff online.

Meanwhile, Guy Kawasaki discusses how to launch any product using social media at Mashable.

Mack Collier penned a couple of posts about blogging, one that speaks to how to create a blog that connects with readers via slides, and a second on how to build an online community.

“Kick-starting” your blog by embracing the “nobodies” is posted at Kikolani, and critical “mom blogger” realities that you’re overlooking is at iMedia Connection.

Finally, Daily Blog Tips discusses common sense ways to network your way to blogging success, and Jay Baer posts how to spy on your Facebook competitors with “hyperalerts” at Convince and Convert.

Stay True to Your SEO Content Marketing Passion: Word from the Trenches

Guest Author, Marjorie Steele

When we freelance copywriters/independent web ninjas first started out, any business was good business. Most of us – myself included – finally quit that hated job with one, two months’ savings in the bank and a stack of incoming bills that wouldn’t wait. Any paying gig was cause for celebration!

For those of us who have been blessed with success, however, it doesn’t stay this way for long. The list of clients and projects grows, our calendars fill up farther and farther in advance and our rate structure evolves. Many of us find ourselves working 80 hour weeks to keep up, wondering why on earth we thought being independently employed would be relaxing!

These growing pains can be a great opportunity to improve – to carve out a shorter workweek and a higher income. Finding a good assistant and outsourcing tasks like bookkeeping and taxes can be a big help, but the strategy that has been most helpful to me in building a more efficient, profitable business has been learning to say no.

Specializing in Your Strengths

When I started my web marketing gig, I cast a wide net to get more business. I offered everything, from PPC management to social media consulting. As my calendar began to fill up, I realized that some of these services were much more profitable – and enjoyable – than others.

My AdWords PPC management projects, for example, were time intensive and stressful, with a very small profit margin. Most importantly, I didn’t enjoy doing it. So I axed it from my catalog, informed my clients that I would no longer be offering this service and cringed, waiting for them to tell me that they hated me. They didn’t. They understood, and some even thanked me for the work I’d done. The sky didn’t collapse, my client base didn’t disappear and my business had more time to dedicate to my higher paying services: SEO and copywriting!

Everyone has a niche in which they really excel, whether it’s writing for a certain industry or consulting on a certain topic. When we’re working in our areas of expertise, we tend to enjoy our work more, and when we enjoy our work, we tend to be faster, more efficient and more effective – with happier clients!  When our work is at its best, we can justify charging better rates, allowing us to work less for more pay.

Matchmaking Clients with Your Business

It’s a hard lesson to learn, but at some point we all learn that not every client is a good fit for our business. Maybe the client’s business philosophy clashes with yours, causing you to feel like you’re “selling out.”  Maybe the client isn’t respectful of your time, continually asking for unbillable hours on the phone.  Or maybe the client is simply asking you to provide a service outside of your specialty.  Saying “no” to these ill-fitted opportunities will free up your time and energy for projects which are more enjoyable and financially rewarding.

Ways to Say “No” to a Client or Project (Graciously)

It’s not personal – it’s business. When you’re upfront and honest about the reason behind your decision, most clients and leads will understand. Some may even respect your honesty and provide future referrals. Being gracious and honest (read: not an emotional, stressed-out basketcase) about your decision can go a long way in strengthening your reputation.

Whenever possible, refer leads/clients to a known service provider. This is a common courtesy that allows you to let clients down without leaving them in the lurch.

  • “This really isn’t my area of expertise. Let me refer you to someone who’s better qualified to help you.”
  • “After careful consideration, I’ve decided my services aren’t the best fit for your business. Let me refer you to someone who might be a better fit for your business model.”

Negotiating Those Unbillable Hours

If your problem with the client is too many unbillable hours or that you’re simply not making enough money from their projects, the simplest thing to do is to reorganize your rate structure until you are making a decent profit.

  • “After analyzing my profit margin on project xyz, I’ve decided that in order to continue offering the same level of quality, it’s necessary for me to raise my rate from $xyz to $xyw. Please let me know if we can continue working together at this rate.”
  • “I’ve reviewed my timesheet for the past X months/weeks and have found a high number of unbillable hours spent on project X. In order for me to continue working on this project, I will need to begin marking phone conferences and X hours spent on monthly project management as billable.”

The client may decide to accept the new rates/billable hours, or they may walk away and find another service provider, leaving you room for a new, higher-paying client. Either way, you’ve done the right thing for your business.

Marjorie Steele is a poet turned copywriter turned web business ninja who specializes in small business. When not battling a hectic schedule or building links with great content, Marjorie dabbles in organic cooking and idolizes Tina Fey.

5 Reasons Why Social Media Is Good for SEO

Do you like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn? Well I’ve got a reason to love all of these social media platforms. We use these outlets to learn new information, disseminate interesting information we find, engage with new people and share ideas. But what most don’t realize is that social media is in fact great for SEO and can help boost your search engine rankings. Here’s how:

1)   The same way you use keywords to optimize your blog posts can be used to optimize your posts in social media. Leveraging keywords improves search traffic when you use keywords that rank highly for your topic.  Use a keyword research tool such as Google Adwords to figure out which search terms rank higher, and infuse those terms into your posts.

2)   Social media encourages the sharing of multimedia, and multimedia is shown to increase time on page. PRWeb did a study which concluded that including multimedia in news releases increases time on page by an average of about 30 seconds. Imagine what that could do for your blog and social media posts. That’s the difference between someone reading your post and clicking the “X” and someone reading your post and getting hooked—you want the latter.

3)   Social media influence increases link sharing, which ultimately results in better search ranking. Every link into your portal improves your chances of ranking well in Google and other search engines, according to informIT. I like to call it link-love, and give plenty of it when tweeting throughout the day. Tweeting information from a variety of sources is important because those sources might notice this and tweet you back: creating lots of link love.

4)   Google’s crawling, indexing and rankings are directly influenced by Tweeted links and Facebook shares. The easier it is to link to your content via sharing buttons, the more likely someone will use them to share your content, according to SEOmoz.

5)   SEO is based on relevance and authority. You build relevance and authority by creating and sharing original content (such as blogs) and building communities on platforms such as Facebook or Twitter. The more relevant and authoritative you are on your topic, the better search engines will view you.

Are you convinced yet? Try your hand at increasing your SEO using social media and share with us what you find! Keep one thing in mind: all SEO takes time and patience.

For more information on social media and SEO, I recommend visiting the TopRank Online Marketing Blog, Mashable or SEOmoz.

Stacey Acevero is the social media community manager at Vocus and PRWeb. Part of the PR team and an early adopter of social media, she blogs frequently about public relations, social media, marketing and search engine optimization at BloggingPRWeb.

SEO Content Marketing Roundup, Week Ending April 13th, 2011

With social media flexing its ever-growing muscle in all things marketing, this week’s latest and greatest web writing news is concerned with the online “face” of business, from cohesive social media policy and strategy to sound (brand and industry) reputation management.  Content and social media marketers, as well as SEO and search folks, seem more than a bit self-conscious about presenting their  best face and a consistent voice, as consumers become ever more savvy and influential.  Take a good, long look at this week’s handsome selections…

Content Marketing:

So how do you find the “right” type of content for your business?  Content Marketing discusses this via a “demand spectrum,” as well as how to use its valuable content checklist for different content types.

And speaking of CMI, the second (April/May 2011) issue of its Chief Content Officer (CCO) Magazine is now available.

Brian Clark discusses the two essential elements of irresistible content at Copyblogger, and shares just “how the hell you can constantly create compelling content” via Internet Marketing for Smart People with Robert Bruce.

Good read at Mashable about how to spread your brand’s footprint around the web, as well as nine digital marketing lessons from top social brands.

Level 343 discusses company blogging do’s and don’ts, while Problogger (Darren Rowse) addresses the issue of determining what you want your blog to be known for.

Conversions is the subject of two notable posts, one at The Next Web (TNW) addressing how to optimize your conversion rate (without bothering your tech team), and the second by Chris Garrett at Copyblogger, relating how a “team” approach to advice killed his site’s conversion rate.

Nine steps to continuous content marketing improvement is at Content Marketing Institute.

Interesting post by Vivek Wadhwa on the new information age, with all its implications, is at TechCrunch, while Cheryl Burgess pens “innovation gone wild on Madison Avenue” at Blue Focus Marketing.

SEO & Search:

Search Engine Land posts three white-hat ideas for optimizing Google’s “suggest” results, and Lee Odden shares three essential SEO tips for advertisers via Top Rank.

Meanwhile, Business Insider discloses an internal Google memo to employees, indicating that their 2011 bonuses will depend on “Google sucking less at social.”

Computer World features a related article on new Google CEO Larry Page’s “first blunder” (re: social networking).

And speaking of the big G, Brand Dignity (Brandignity) dissects Google’s “official” SEO tips, while Google Guide features an unofficial, interactive Google tutorial.

SEOmoz posts an intriguing “feature preview” of the SERP analysis report, while Six Revisions posts looking beyond Google page rank with alternative SEO metrics.

SEO by the Sea discusses Google’s newest patent, “query breadth,” which may alter the relative weight given popularity- versus relevance-based ranking signals.

Target Marketing Magazine features an article explaining 10 ways to fix your SEO ranking in the aftermath of Google’s Farmer/Panda update (from a SES New York session.)

In the meantime, Search Engine Roundtable reports that Google is responding to reconsideration requests with “no manual penalty” notifications (meaning, it’s fixable).

Mashable posts how to optimize your content for social discovery, ReveNews posts “how to get social with SEO (because you have to)” and Top Rank posts improving B2B marketing by integrating both SEO and social media marketing.

Social Media Marketing:

HubSpot highlights key findings from the SME industry report, showing that social media is important to 90-percent of marketers.

Mashable reports that StumbleUpon has hit 1 billion stumbles per month, and posts an infographic showing the demographics driving “the winners and losers” of different social networking platforms.

Jay Baer addresses the “dangerous realities” of social media for business at Convince and Convert.

More research on Facebook (engagement practices) is available at Community Organizer 2.0, and HubSpot posts how to encourage engagement on your Facebook pages.

Brian Solis provides an interesting take on increasing social influence by not thinking about the (Klout) score, and SEOmoz posts how to track your social media strategy using third-party tools and APIs.

Marketing Sherpa features a survey-based article on using social media as a list growth tactic, and Social Media Examiner looks at nine companies doing social media “right” (and why).

Google announced its merger of Hotpot with Places; Search Engine Journal discusses this newest Google initiative, including the (Larry Page) timing.

Mack Collier posts 10 considerations for businesses when creating a social media policy, and Mark Schaefer of {grow} posts an entertaining “classic take on social media.”

And finally, Mashable posts how paywalls are changing the social media strategies of news organizations.