Wednesday, July 10, 2013

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Google AdWords Keyword Tool
Ever since Google announced the impending demise of the AdWords Keyword Tool and their preference for its new avatar – the Keyword Planner, yet another hot discussion has sprung up in the SEO community. This time, strong adherents of the free-for-all ideology are riled at Google’s decision to make the Keyword Planner accessible only to marketers who’ve explicitly signed up to Google’s AdWords (which is one step more than having a Gmail account), taking it closer to being a paid tool in future! I don’t see this as a hindrance, because most other keyword (or other) tools require you to create an account and sign in before you can use them, even if they’re free. But if Google does it, we have reason to pounce on them, don’t we?
One possible problem is that although the Keyword Planner has some cool new features (including integration of the Google Traffic Estimator, which will be retired too), as of this writing, the indispensable Exact Match and Phrase Match features are nowhere to be found! Whole books will become useless without these, so I hope Google will eventually port them to the Keyword Planner. Nor do you see the “Include specific content” option, which is a life-saver for the adult industry, which spends the most on Google PPC.
We’re not here to dwell on the good and the bad of Google’s decision. I personally am elated that this debate has brought the crucial SEO function of Keyword Research into the limelight once again. There’s more to it than taking the first 10 results from the Google Keyword Tool and scattering them left, right and center in your content. Savvy keyword research is what separates strategists from headless chickens.
The team at Nile Marketing is taking this opportunity to analyze other significant (and free to use/try) keyword research tools out there. We are asking ourselves what data and logic should ideally go into keyword research, how this logic can be programmatically applied to the creation of tools, and what the best ways are to consolidate and use their output. Here’s a quick look at 10 other keyword research tools, some well-known and some you’d do well to know. These are not alternatives to the AdWords Keyword Tool on their own, but each of them performs some function of the AdWords tool in its own unique way, and all of them aid and abet your keyword research quite well.

We’ll start with a simple one that might soon fade away. Mergewords displays three boxes, where you can enter distinct parts of a long-tail keyword. You could use one for your primary product-related keywords, another for product attributes and the third for a location or query strings. Just press Merge! to see the assorted mishmashes. It’s now done in by the new Keyword Planner, because Google has incorporated a “Multiply Keyword Lists” feature that does exactly this and then clusters it into Ad Groups.

WordStream boasts of a trillion-keyword database and you can try 30 keywords for free. There are little checkboxes enabling you to customize searches by filtering adult keywords or “nichefying” results. There are more options for finding negative keywords and grouping your keywords. The full version spews out tens of thousands of results for many keywords, the top 100 of which are available for free.WordStream

SEMrush is a true heavyweight. Only the first 10 results are free, though. You can search by putting the keyword itself in the main box to see volumes, trends and other data across ten different Google regional domains and Bing. Or better still, you can type in your site or that of a competitor to see the top 10 organic keywords it ranks for.
So you get only 10 keywords right? No! SEMrush also indicates 10 organic competitors for the site! You can then go to these competitors’ profiles and get the 10 organic keywords they are ranking for. It might turn out that five or so of a competitor’s keywords may not be in the niche of your liking or will overlap with your results, but you can find use for the remaining five. Thus, you can grab about 50 valuable keywords, give or take a few. I don’t recommend going more than one level deep with competitors, because the keywords your competitors’ competitors are ranking for may not be closely relevant to you and you’ll tend to lose focus.

SEO Book Keyword Tool
Powered by WordTracker, the SEO Book Keyword Tool shows you realms upon realms of data. So much that I can’t even decide on a screenshot. To call it exhaustive would be a gross understatement. You get search volumes from WordTracker, Google and Bing, data from Google Trends and Google Insights, traffic estimates Compete and Alexa, and much more. SEO Book points you to the 10 suggestions provided by Google Instant for your keyword, and then 10 more for each of those suggestions, and so on. It also delivers Yahoo! suggest results as returned by
Finally, you can also click onwards to vertical search results including blogs, directories, answer sites, classifieds, videos and groups to form a holistic synopsis of your keywords and your competition.
SEO Book Keyword Tool

Keyword Eye
This is the new kid on the block. Keyword Eye is a “visual” tool that displays keywords in increasing or decreasing sizes based on their search volume or AdWords competition. The Basic version offers 10 keyword searches per day on any of 10 different Google country keyword databases and 100 results per report. Keyword Eye is powered by SEMrush, and consequently gives you great data on competitors.
Keyword Eye

KGen is a nifty Firefox add-on that is somewhat like the Google Index > Content Keywords feature of Google Webmaster Tools. It can be viewed as a sidebar in Firefox and calculates the strength of keywords on the page you’re on by evaluating the number of times they’re used, the weightage assigned to them according to the HTML tags wherein they’re enclosed, and their positions in the text. You can take quite a few actions such as setting up negative words to be ignored, changing tag weights and exporting results.

Bing Keyword Research
Bing Webmaster Tools is becoming a force to reckon with with each passing day. It has some super-powerful tools that must be giving sleepless nights to Google were it not for Bing’s paltry market share. Click on a site added to your BWT, navigate to Webmaster > Diagnostics & Tools and click on the second one in the list: the Keyword Research tool. You can filter your search by country and language. You can also search for keywords that appeared in Bing results within a custom date range. I wish this tool wasn’t so tedious to access, what with you having to add a site to BWT before you can use it, even though your keywords need have no relation to the site in question.
Bing Webmaster Tools Keyword Research

In its own words, KeywordSpy enables you to “unveil your competitors’ most profitable ad copies & keywords” and “learn from time-tested ad campaigns.” It offers a magnanimous wealth of data; the “Related,” “Similar” and “Misspell” results taken together can give you keywords similar to Phrase match and Broad match results. Further, KeyWordSpy now allows you to comb most major Google country domains.
KeywordSpy is one of the best tools for competitor research. Like SEMrush, it shows you organic as well as PPC competitors. And there’s a bonus—you also get to see their ad copies! However, just like SEMrush, KeywordSpy displays only 10 results (Whoever said the best things in life are free… wasn’t a digital marketer!) and you have to resort to looking at your competitors’ keywords for more data.
One severe impediment to non-native English speakers in India, Europe and elsewhere is lack of vocabulary. If you hated grammar class in school but are now faced with the herculean task of keyword research, consider your problem half-solved. Head over to for synonyms and related terms. For example, a search for “interior design” returns terms such as décor, colors, furnishings of a place, adornment, color scheme, decoration, and ornamentation. It also returns a couple of “relevant questions” that your targets are likely to ask, such as “How to become an interior designer?”
I said your problem is half-solved because even if you don’t speak the Queen’s, you still have to know that “interior decoration” is a reasonable substitute for “interior design,” but “interior ornamentation” is not.

Show of hands – weren’t you wondering if I forgot Übersuggest with each passing tool in this list? Well I saved it for the end. The king of secondary keyword research, Übersuggest gives you all the terms “suggested” by Google for each letter after your keyword, in alphabetical order. It now offers vertical results for images, news, shopping, video and recipes.
There’s a clear explanation of how this tool works on the Übersuggest home page, so I’m going to skip on the duplication. Plus, its popularity and usage is probably next only to the AdWords Keyword tool.

There, now. We’ve given you a preliminary overview of ten cool keyword tools. Of course each of these has its own strengths and caveats, and at least for now, none can match the effectiveness of Google’s Keyword Tool, particularly in language, location, or device-specific results. Google gathers and analyzes vast amounts of data and as you know, the rich only get richer.
I also want to emphasize that Microsoft Excel and Google Docs perhaps play an equal, if not more important role in keyword research than any of these tools, because at the end of the day, the mountain of data you end up with is of no use if you can’t perform calculations, sort, filter, present or store it in a way that’s best suits the task at hand. Head over to Distilled for a comprehensive Excel for SEOs guide. Alternatively, bug this guy—he’s the Sensei who trains Excel ninjas in the dark of the night.
As optimizers and marketers, we have to constantly keep testing and fine tuning search terms. Tools will always be there to help us collect and organize data but only humans can fully understand human intent, even if you argue that husbands can’t understand wives!

Design and User Experience Come Before Link Building
This is not a misinformed diatribe about how design and user experience are more important ranking factors than links. Without a doubt, enough of the right kind of links can still rank low quality junk. That said, we’re pretty much with Google’s Matt Cutts on the link building obsession:
“A lot of people think about how do I build more links, and they don’t think about the grander, global picture…you get too focused on search engines…If you look at the history of sites that have done really well…you can take anywhere from Instagram to Path, even Twitter, there’s a cool app called Yardsale, and what those guys try to do is they make design a fundamental piece of why their site is advantageous to go to…If you really get that sweet spot of something compelling, where the design is really good, where the user experience just flows, you’d be amazed just how much growth and traffic and traction you can get as a result.”
No, not even Matt Cutts is saying that user experience and design are more important ranking factors than links here. He’s simply pointing out that the most successful sites on the web put so much effort into design and user experience that they couldn’t care much less about search engines, because they’re going to stay successful with or without rankings.
We’d like to elaborate on why we think design and user experience should always come before link building, assuming you’re anything other than a churn and burn affiliate sales autoblogger.

Conversion rate optimization brings permanent results for all traffic sources

For the vast majority of sites on the web, it’s much easier to double your conversion rate than it is to double your traffic by building links. Obviously, this isn’t true for a site that’s already optimized for design and user experience, but most sites haven’t done that.
Link building improves performance in the search engines, but CRO improves performance across the board. No matter where the traffic is coming from, paid or earned, if you put user experience first, you boost the lifetime value of each visitor.
Now, some people will argue that CRO and user experience are two different things. There’s some truth to that, but I think it takes serious imagination to believe that they aren’t intimately connected.
The better the user experience, the better your conversion rate. Clean, intuitive, purposeful design undoubtedly does the same. Unbounce wouldn’t have written a stellar ebook called Conversion Centered Design if it didn’t. Here are the takeaways they have to share, and we can’t help but find ourselves nodding in agreement with:
  1. Encapsulation – Techniques used to draw the user’s eye toward the content that is most likely to convert.
  2. Contrast and Color – Contrasting colors draw the eye and are more likely to encourage a click.
  3. Directional Cues – Use abnormal angles to point users through possible objections and then to your call-to-action.
  4. Whitespace – Don’t overwhelm the user with clutter, and give page elements room to breathe.
  5. Urgency and Scarcity – Create a feeling of limited time and limited supply (under the right circumstances)
  6. Try Before You Buy – Let users scrutinize your product before payment to build trust and display confidence in the product.
  7. Social Proof – Demonstrate that others have been pleased with the product to build trust. In particular, when possible, the social proof of people who happen to be just like the user is most effective.
We also like Unbounce’s 36 real life examples of converting landing pages to get a feel for what works and what doesn’t.
At the same time, we agree with Stephen of Conversion Factory and what he’s said at Moz. The largest jumps in your conversion rate really do start with user experience, not design. Start with the question “why aren’t users converting?” When you phrase it that way, it starts to sound bizarre to answer it by saying “because our button is the wrong color.”
Start by thinking like the customer, then start setting up Crazy Egg heat maps to figure out how they behave, employing user testing from places like, using Survey Monkey to test non-behavioral assumptions, and setting up your split tests. Focus most of your attention on a small number of metrics that truly matter, only bothering with the other metrics if you spot a noteworthy correlation. (Sometimes a dramatic boost in your microconversion rate has no impact on your overall conversion rate.)
You can learn just as much from your big losers as your big winners. A landing page that does especially badly can also tell you how to reverse things and get a big win.
Put simply, find out why users aren’t converting, and fix it. Don’t complicate the process.

User experience creates repeat customers

Experience has trained most marketers to recognize that it’s very difficult to capture a consumer who habitually gives their money to one of your competitors. Habits die hard. It’s so much more important to retain your existing customer base than it is to get new customers. Churn and burn strategies only work for businesses that sell a single kind of product that only needs to be bought once.
If you want to stay in business long term, it’s almost always better to retain those customers, develop a new product, and sell to them again than to focus exclusively on obtaining new customers.
Even if this isn’t your plan, repeat visitors are more likely to keep you in mind and recommend your brand to a friend.
How can you build repeat visits? Well, we keep coming back to tools and communities because of their incredible power. For example, we love what Blue Fountain Media did for Smarties, which grew the Facebook Fan count from 900 to over 40,000 and dramatically boosted their repeat visitor count. They did this by giving users an immersive, interactive, gamified experience.
The potential for link earning here is unavoidable as well. Smarties earned an Interactive Media Award and got featured in SmartBlogs.
NASDAQ, on the other hand, chose to grow its repeat visitor count by building a strong, tight-knit native community (PDF link). They incorporated the ability to rate stocks, personalize content, view articles that meet user-defined criteria, view activity walls, and utilize other social components. They picked up 3,000 registers within 6 weeks and saw an improvement in repeat visitor count.
Think of the sites that you visit more than once and that you navigate to directly without using the search engines. What kinds of sites are these? Odds are, you don’t just visit them, you use them and interact with them. This is where too much emphasis on “content” as it is currently defined by the industry can actually be a bad thing.
Content is static, but tools and communities are not. They are inherently engaging. They take the user out of the passive, hypnotic state that they would get from a television set, and into the active state of mind. The more control the user feels over their own experience, the more memorable that experience becomes.
This is why the most successful sites on the web are all about doing.
Give your users something to do, and repeat visits will inevitably follow.

Earned popularity is always better than manufactured popularity

We mean several things when we say this.
From a pure ranking standpoint, it’s always better to have a genuinely popular site than it is to have a large, marketer-placed link profile. Genuinely popular sites generate natural link profiles and thus remain more or less protected from Google algorithm updates and data refreshes. Manufactured link profiles generally leave patterns, and when they don’t, more work is involved than in attracting a genuinely natural profile.
This goes beyond rankings, though. Earned popularity means that you have a customer base that actually enjoys what you do and is willing to recommend you to a friend. It means that it’s going to take a lot of work for a competitor to snatch your customers away, and it means that customers will feel like they naturally chose to do business with you, which is good for conversions and retention.
In this sense, manufactured popularity in the form of ad purchases and other forms of interruption marketing has disadvantages. It makes consumers feel like they were forced into a purchase, they may feel cheated afterward, and they are less likely to become repeat customers or to recommend your services to others.
This isn’t to say that PPC, display ads, and push marketing in general don’t have advantages of their own. They undoubtedly work faster, and in today’s age of targeted advertising, they are great for capturing hot leads. But these consumers are fickle unless you can also earn their trust. Those profits may be temporary, unless you invest them back into more long term marketing strategies.
I’ll say this. I think this industry is guilty of drawing an artificial line between inbound and outbound tactics, and even though we borrow this terminology, it’s important to keep in mind that all of this lies on a continuum. You can use outbound techniques to earn popularity.
User experience is where trust is earned. It may happen on your site, your social presence, or your email list. The location is not as important as the experience.

Yes, natural links do happen

It’s sort of amazing how often certain segments of the SEO community like to argue on this point. If you live in the fat-head of highly competitive, word-for-word keyword matched search terms, then yes, you’re going to see a lot of unnatural links. And yes, sites that use them are still ranking. We don’t live in a fantasy world where that’s not the reality of the situation.
But if you look at the link graph of the web at large, and most of the real industry thought-leaders, that’s not what you’re going to see.
Just take a look at the link profile of virtually any page on Cracked talked about 5 scientific reasons a zombie apocalypse could actually happen, it earned them links from 434 domains, and it got mentioned in Smithsonian Magazine. That’s how most links on the web happen.
Or look at the link profile for OMGpop’s Draw Something. They created an app with great user experience, and they picked up links from Gigaom, The Verge, ReadWrite, TechCrunch, The New York Times, and a total of 606 domains. They didn’t email these people and ask for links. They became newsworthy.
We’re not arguing against guest posts or link building outreach. We do it. It works. We’re just saying that when Google says you can attract links by creating a memorable user experience, they’re not blowing smoke.
When you do it right, it also happens to work much faster.

Design and user experience can be measured and tested with provable results

This is a big one for us.
We won’t argue with the fact that link building produces real and measurable results. It is, however, much more difficult to separate the junk and wasted efforts from the things that actually play an important part in the algorithm. We know that Moz domain authority correlates fairly well with rankings, and we know anchor text and page relevancy have some influence, but it’s more or less impossible to separate the folklore from the real ranking factors. You can measure the success of campaigns, but it’s hard to eliminate wasted effort.
Design and user experience, on the other hand, are readily measured and testable at a moment’s notice. You can quickly compare two landing pages and find out which one generates the most conversions, which one is more intuitive to users, which one keeps people on the site longer, and so on.
It’s not that difficult to measure strategies are useless. That’s a very naïve, by the books way to think about marketing. And gradually, over time, you certainly can eliminate some of the wasted efforts from your link building strategy. Intuition can go a long way and I’m not going to argue against it. More innovative and advanced measurement techniques are also available, which is why it’s worth having a statistician onboard if you can afford it.
All that said, hard numbers and proven results are irresistible to clients, and the ability to test and refine strategies quickly and easily without needing to backtrack is priceless.
The way users interact with your site and its design is the same way that influencers are going to interact with it. If you’re optimizing for users, you’re also optimizing for outreach. A page or tool that wows users is going to wow the people who can link to you. It’s much easier to just point an influencer to something amazing than to use hand-waving voodoo to convince them to link.
How’s that for a measurable, testable SEO strategy?

The most successful sites on the web put design and user experience first

If you actually take a look at the highest rankings sites on the web, you’ll note that pretty much all of them (Facebook, Twitter, Google, YouTube, WordPress, Adobe, Blogspot, etc.) are tools and communities that people would keep using if Google completely stripped away their rankings.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


Are you a small or large company wondering if you should move from dedicated servers to the new cloud computing platform? Learn the pros and cons of each technology to see which is a better fit for your company.

Disaster Recovery


In order to recover data if your server goes down, you will need to reinstall OS, restore the files and databases from backups. This process can take hours, consume IT man time and reduce productivity.


Recovering data with the cloud is a bit simpler. You will need to power on the cloud server backup image and your cloud server will be back and running in a matter of minutes.

CPU and Disk Scaling


To upgrade the CPU or disk space, you will need to shutdown the dedicated server. This will cause significant downtime to your company. You can easily do this on a weekend or at night…that is if your business does not run 24/7.


This new technology allows you to add CPU power and disk space without any interruption to your business.

Hardware Upgrade


To upgrade to a newer server, you will need to reinstall OS and device drivers. This again causes downtime for your company.


Cloud makes it a bit easier to upgrade because the same cloud server can run on different hardware.

Backing Up


Dedicated servers require a initial setup time and scripting. After the initial setup, backing up files is easy.


The cloud platform allows you to back up your data entirety with easy in the initial phase and beyond.
At the present time, it really is up to what is best for your company whether you want to adopt the new cloud technology now or upgrade your servers to ones that are newer and faster.
It is still in the early stages where you could opt to get new servers. Just keep in mind that as technology improves and progresses, one day you will have to leave the clunky designated servers behind and change over to the cloud.

Are you having a hard time convincing your boss that search engine optimization (SEO) is important for the company? Well you are not alone.

It seems there are a lot of companies with upper management staff that just do not understand the importance of the internet. Perhaps they grew into their careers when traditional marketing was the only option or they do not know much about online marketing and SEO to make an intelligent decision.

Unfortunately, it is up to you to educate them and sell them on the importance of having a powerful SEO strategy that spells success for the company.
Here are a few tips to get you started.

Visual Aids

Nothing says ‘I did my research’ like charts, infographics, diagrams and analytics. Not to mention some people are visual so spelling it out with words and images is definitely the way to go.

Show the Numbers

Remember that you are asking for a budget, so you will need to show some numbers and analytics to back up your SEO proposal.
Gather as much information as you can about what the competitors are doing and how much they are spending on their SEO strategy. No boss wants to be outdone by their competitor.

Online Marketing Vs. Traditional Marketing

Your next step is to get your boss to understand that online marketing is the way to advertise a company this day and age. Sure traditional marketing may still work but companies need to also do online advertising.
More and more consumers are turning to the internet to search for the items they want to purchase. They are also using the internet to communicate to their friends whether they like a brand or product.

Free Tools

So who doesn’t like getting things for free…am I right? Since you are asking for an SEO budget, make sure to point out that some of the SEO efforts will be free. Let your boss know about all the cool and FREE SEO tools that are available such as: Google Keywords tool and Wordtracker.
When you’ve gotten your SEO budget approved, we are here to assist you in developing and implementing a successful SEO strategy.

Using Twitter for Influencer Outreach
Picture the following scenario. You are interviewing someone for a job and they spout off all sorts of wonderful things about themselves. You call their last boss and get a less than desirable recommendation. Whose words do you believe?

Or how about this. You are at a cocktail party and a stranger comes up to you and starts telling you how cool their marketing software company is. A little while later you are having a conversation with another stranger and they tell you that they recently purchased and are loving a different marketing software company. Whose recommendation are you more likely going to check out?

See the theme here? We humans are wired to believe a recommendation about a person or brand from a third party than from a person or brand themselves.

What does this have to do with influencers? Well, you can look at influencers as the third party people who recommend your brand to an audience who trusts their words. After all, it’s tactless and ineffective to tweet about how cool your own brand is, right? But when someone else does it, it’s okay. In fact, it’s the best form of marketing you can get—word of mouth.

You know you need influencers for a successful strategy and you know that Twitter is one of the channels that amplifies an influencers message making Twitter outreach a logical component of your marketing strategy.

Once you get through this guides and its links, you should be a professional at identifying the right influencers for your brand,  locating and engaging with influencers on Twitter and reaching out to them.

Maximize Your Twitter Profile

Before you start reaching out, you need to ensure that you appear seriously and professionally when people read your Twitter profile. Hence, right now is a great time to check in on your own Twitter profile before you do anything else.
  • Give your bio a good edit to make sure there are no typos. Put in keywords that explain what you would hope to be found for in a Twitter search.
  • Make sure your bio is concise. Tell exactly what your specialty is. But don’t let it be too dry, it’s okay to throw in a fun fact about yourself!
  • Don’t bog your profile down with self-promotional links. Honestly, you may just want to link it to either your company or your portfolio.
  • Give yourself a legitimate location. While listing your location as “funk town” or “earth” may be funny, I am not sure you’ll be taken seriously.
  • When someone is checking you out on Twitter they are going to look to your most recent tweets so make sure you only tweet useful information. A good strategy before you ever hit “tweet” is to think about whether or not someone viewing your profile for the first time would want to follow you based on that tweet.
  • Make sure your head shot is professional and of good quality. A blurry headshot screams laziness.

Define the Who

Before you can locate an influencer on Twitter you need to know what they look like. Thus, you need to outline your influencer and give it an image.

First, think about the types of Twitter users your target audience would follow. For example, if I’m promoting a book on parenting toddlers, I’m not going to reach out to Twitter users who actively tweet about raising teens because their audience is there to read their advice and anecdotes about teenagers, not babies.

When you think you’ve got a grasp on what type of person your audience would follow on Twitter then fill out the following three categories so that you can choose influencers who can speak to your ideal audience for you.
  • Context: A contextual fit is first and foremost the most important factor when defining who to reach out. For example, if you are looking for influencers to tweet about your marketing automation software, you wouldn’t reach out to someone who tweets about fashion all of the time. Even if their bio says marketer. Because their audience is clearly there to read about fashion so you’ll need to refrain—no matter how many followers they have!
  • Reach: Reach determines how far your influencer’s tweeted words carry. You may want to set a minimum number of followers that your ideal twitter influencer has before putting them on your target or reach outreach list.
  • Influencer type:  When you read a tweeter’s bio, you should get a feel for their personality type. Maybe you are working on a nonprofit campaign and need an activist, or maybe you are advertising a fashion garment and need a trendsetter or perhaps you are enlisting a campaign for a technical piece of software and you need an authority on your niche.
Once you have outlined who your ideal Twitter influencer is, it’s time to locate them.

Tools to Help Your Twitter Searching

Searching for the ideal influencers manually using Twitter’s search function is not very helpful. Because of this there is an exhaustive amount of tools available to aid in your Twitter scouting. Here are some of the more popular ones.

Follower Wonk is probably the most popular. This tool allows you to search for influencers by keywords in their Twitter bios. You can even find Twitter influencers by location if your campaign involved your influencers going to a specific place like a restaurant to review or trade show to tweet about.

Social Bro is getting a lot of buzz and good reviews lately. Among many organization features, it will allow you to search for influencers based on whatever criteria you see fit.

Twellow is a free tool that allows you to search for influencers based on keywords they have in their Twitter bios and will return results with follower metrics for people in categories that you search for. helps you find influencers, cultivate relationships and manage your Twitter outreach. It has a basic free plan and you can upgrade to a more premium plan if you see fit.

Following hashtags will reveal influencers in a targeted genre or niche. If you are looking for influencers who actively twee about fashion then you would follow fashion related hash tags to identify who is talking loudly about fashion.

Use Fakers to ensure genuine followers. The world of social media is transforming communication and marketing in many good ways. But with any good thing there come negativities. We already know that some “influencers” have fake followers so using Fakers can help you run them through the filter of “sincerity.”

Staying Organized

Keeping your outreach campaign organized from the very beginning will provide a strong backbone that will strengthen every step of your campaign. Organization in Twitter outreach primarily revolves around nurturing and maintaining your relationships with your target influencers.

Here are some tools to help keep your organization intact.

Use Twitter Lists, a list that you can put any Twitter user in to, to monitor your relationships with influencers. You can view tweets by list which will allow you to more closely monitor your targets and interact with them.

HootSuite is free if you are only managing one account but upgrading isn’t terribly expensive.  HootSuite allows you to stay organized, follow hashtags, schedule tweets, track who is mentioning your brand and more.

Buffer helps you manage your Twitter account and allows you to schedule your tweets. Their free plan is awesome.

Unique Tweets to Grab Attention

Active engagement on Twitter with your targeted influencers will lead to awareness of your brand’s presence which leads to a much better response rate when you reach out. Reaching out to gain a relationship through a single tweet can seem a bit abrasive; sometimes you need to be creative in your tweets to grab your targeted influencers’ attention.  Here are some creative ways to do so:
  • Incorporate a tweet or link to a blog post of theirs (if they have a blog) in your own blog post. You can then tweet at them that you recommended their words in your post and include the link of course! This strokes their ego and puts you on their radar.
  • Instead of simply retweeting their posts, write your own shout out and tweet their posts with their Twitter handle so that they see it.
  • Respond to the posts they tweet with a question that sparks a discussion. This has proven to be one of the most effective ways to get an influencer to engage with you.
  • If you are following certain hash tags, you know some influencers in your space are following those hash tags as well. By tweeting often—but not obnoxiously—using these hash tags will be sure to at least make your influencers aware of your existence.
  • Be bold and tweet at your targeted influencer a simple introduction or invitation to collaborate.

Don’t Overlook Advocacy

It’s been established that tuning in through your Twitter tool of choice can help you find influencers. Organization and Twitter monitoring can help you get to know your influencers. Creative tweets can help you grab their attention. But one thing that too often gets overlooked is brand advocates aka influencers that are already in place!

By following mentions of your brand, you have probably already seen people tweeting about how much they love your brand. Reward or at least acknowledge these mentions in order to keep them coming. You can do this by tweeting a sincere thank you to sending them a product from you company to offering a commission for those mega advocates.

Advocates are often your loudest influencers because they have aligned themselves with your brand organically. They also are obvious in their passion for your brand which shows in their mentions and makes their own network want to look in to your brand to see what all the fuss is about.

Reaching Out

After you’ve engaged with and stroked the egos of your targeted influencers, it’s time to reach out and be transparent about your goal. If, through your tracking of your targeted influencers, they’ve posted links to their personal blogs or have a link in their Twitter bio, check out the blog and see if you can find their email address. You need more than 140 characters to appropriately reach out. Because any “pitch” or “post engagement contact” should contain the following:
  • Find the person’s first name and address them by it
  • Get to the point and state why you are reaching out
  • Don’t ask them to just do something for you, offer something to them as well
  • Reference a tweet or post that says why the two of you are a good fit to work together
If you can’t locate an email address, tweet your request. Keep it friendly and to the point. Here are some examples:
  • Hey @twitter_user, I think we should collaborate, what do you think?
  • @twitter_user, I love your stuff, can we talk about working together?
  • @twitter_user how does one perfect fit such as myself go about working with you?

Stay Informed

You’ve already grasped by now how quickly social media and marketing trends change. Here are some resources to keep you informed as well as to stay in the loop concerning Twitter outreach.

In the event that you are new to Twitter and need help setting up your account and grasping the basics before reaching out, check out this guide on Kissmetrics blog.

Social Media Explorer, a resourceful blog will keep you up to date on all the tips, best practices and tools when it comes to all things social media.

Social Media Examiner is a great blog to follow for any marketer who wants to increase their company’s sales and improve their brands image with the help of social media.

Sprout Insights has some great tips on Twitter.

Check out this guide from HubSpot on best practices when using Twitter hashtags.
Do you have any resources, tips or tricks to share on Twitter outreach? If so, let’s get a discussion going in the comments below!

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10 Dead SEO Tactics (And Their Alternatives)

SEO is a constantly changing industry, and much of what you read in a passing introduction to the subject is outdated. We’d like to take this time to discuss several SEO tactics that are dead or dying. We’re not necessarily claiming that these tactics never work (although that’s true for a few of them). We’re simply pointing out that these tactics are losing value and place the future of your site at risk. All of these tactics are frowned upon by Google, and many of them can get you penalized. Some are more “gray” and still work, but can’t be expected to last long enough to be worth the investment.

Tactic #1 – Exact Match Domain Names

Like most of the tactics mentioned here, this can still work, but only if none of the other search results have anything going for them. There was a time when your domain name could give you a boost over your competitors, but this tactic was so abused that Google released an algorithmic update just to target exact match domains. (Here’s our infographic on the updates that came out in 2012.)

Today, exact match domains only really matter for branded searches. If somebody searches for Amazon, they’re going to get Google is getting increasingly skilled at telling the difference between a branded search and a phrase search. If your domain is built to target a specific phrase, Google can usually tell, and this will only get more important in the future.


Instead of choosing a domain name that matches a commonly searched for phrase, choose a domain name that will stick in people’s heads. Look at all the successful tech companies and you’ll see that very few of them are keyword-driven. Google, Facebook, Kickstarter, Amazon, Zappos: these names are designed to be remembered, not to inform.

It’s also important to realize that the end of exact match domains doesn’t mean the end of keyword research. It simply means that keyword research is far more important for individual pages than it is for domain names. This actually leads us right into our next point.

Tactic #2 – Exact Match Keywords in Titles and Meta Tags

Keyword-stuffed meta descriptions are as dead as an SEO tactic can be. They offer no value whatsoever, except to encourage a click-through from the SERP. We can’t stress this enough. It’s good practice to get a call-to-action in your meta description, and that’s the only reason you should be using it. Stuffing it with keywords is only going to scare away users.

Exact match keywords in titles are a grayer area. If you can fit an exact keyword into the title, it’s still worth doing it, but that’s not really what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about cutting and pasting a keyword out of the AdWords Keyword Tool and giving no thought to your title. This should be avoided almost every time.

It’s not hard for Google to tell if every one of your page titles is simply stripped right out of the keyword tool, and users subconsciously pick up on it as well. This gets especially bad when the keyword phrase you’re targeting isn’t grammatically complete.


Work a variation of the keyword phrase into a title that encourages click-through and social activity. Put the focus on grabbing attention and encouraging clicks, rather than on the keyword.

You should still try to work the keyword phrase, or a subtle variation of it, into the title, but not at the expense of a memorable and eye-grabbing title. Don’t concern yourself with getting the exact phrase into the title. Adjust the tense and conjugation of your words as needed, and please don’t be afraid to add
punctuation or adjust the order of the words.

If you pay attention to the search results, you’ll notice that exact match titles don’t show up as often as they used to. Instead, the keywords increasingly show up scattered throughout the title and the body. Google is getting better at interpreting the meaning of your query, and your approach should reflect this change.

Tactic #3 – Meta Keywords

I hope everybody who’s reading this already knows this, but meta keywords have absolutely no influence on search results whatsoever. This has been true since the end of the ‘90s. It can be good practice to include a few keywords in case your site gets scraped by some tool that still uses the meta keywords, but as far as SEO this one is just plain useless.


Focus on increasing your percentage of repeat visitors from the search engines. Google can measure how often users return to your site, and they use this information to determine how relevant your content is. I sometimes think of this as the present-day stand-in for meta keywords, since links are more accurately thought of as authority signals than as relevancy ones (though this isn’t completely true).

Analyze Google Analytics to find the pages on your site with the highest percentage of repeat visitors (the lowest percentage of new visitors). These are the pages that you want to promote and emulate the most. (Make sure that you are filtering yourself out of Google Analytics before taking this data too seriously).

Tactic #4 – Building Links with Duplicate Content

This one is not only dead, it never worked very well to begin with. Google can clearly identify when a piece of content is copied, and if you submit multiple pieces of content it will, at best, ignore all but one of them.
In the past, this may have been a decent way of capturing a link from the highest PageRank site willing to post your duplicate content, but today it’s actually just a good way to get yourself penalized. Google knows that spammers are trying to use this tactic in order to manipulate their rankings, and it very rarely works.

A variation on this tactic that has also worked in the past it to “spin” an article by running it through an algorithm that creates automated variations of it. This process results in very low quality articles that are no longer exact copies. Anybody who tries to read the articles can immediately tell that something is wrong with the grammar and that bizarre synonyms have been chosen. Google is no longer fooled by these tactics and can usually tell the difference between content written by a human and content written by an algorithm.


It’s still possible to get multiple links from a single piece of content, and the best way to do it has always been the best way to do it: post your content somewhere where it will reach a massive audience and attract natural links as a result.

It no longer makes sense to create and submit a piece of content if the only benefit is a single link back to your site for each publication. This has never been the kind of a link Google wanted to count and it’s never been the best way to grow your link profile.

To build the highest quality links, and grow your link profile at the fastest rate, you need to get published in a place where you’ll actually get read. What is the SEOmoz or SearchEngineJournal of your industry? That’s where you need to be published, because it sends referral leads directly to your site, and creates a ton of natural links in the process.

Don’t waste time on content submission that only results in a single link back to your site under your own control. It’s just not worth it anymore.

Tactic #5 – Keyword Density

This is another outdated tactic that, much like meta keywords, actually hasn’t worked for many years. There is no specific number of times you should use a keyword on your page, or a certain percentage of your content that it should make up.

As with many of the other tactics on this list, too much emphasis on keyword density can actually end up hurting your rankings. Thinking about keyword density while writing also makes it very difficult to write worthwhile content. The more time you spend pondering how to fit a keyword into a piece of content, the less time you’ll spend thinking about how to write sentences that keep users engaged and informed.


Instead of worrying about keyword density, you can capture a much larger space in the search engines by bringing in long tail traffic. The more in depth your content goes, the more long tail traffic you’ll bring in.

Research has a way of expanding the vocabulary of your content. As you dig deeper into the problems your users want solved, and mine the tough sources for original information, you’ll also serendipitously discover and use keyword phrases you would never have found in the keyword tool. Since they’re naturally attached to the subject at hand, they’re also commonly searched for along with your core keywords.

In addition, you can use the keyword tool to find related keywords, and discuss them within your content. When you do this, however, it should serve the end user. Don’t go out of your way to use several variations on your core keyword. Use the keyword tool to find related topics, and discuss them naturally within your blog posts.

Tactic #6 – “Unique” Content that Serves No Real Purpose

We’re currently exiting the period where “unique” meant little more than “not plagiarized.” Your content needs to be consistently creative, and there are things you can do to make that happen.

There was a time when it was easy to rank content as long as it was technically unique, in the sense that those exact words hadn’t been said elsewhere. All it took was enough links. This is still possible, but it rarely lasts long. It’s not sustainable.

Google’s Panda algorithm is designed to identify how well a piece of content serves its purpose. Leaked guidelines for Google’s quality raters make this abundantly clear.  If your content doesn’t meet its intended purpose for the user, or it has no purpose to begin with, it will eventually be taken down by an algorithm update or a human quality rater.


Focus on the true meaning of unique, as in “unique selling proposition.” Your content must be designed to fill a hole in the idea marketplace. It must add value that no other prominent piece of content on the subject adds. That value can come from the research, the tone, the target audience, the medium, the personality, the user experience, or one of many other ways to differentiate yourself.

The point is to focus on unique value, as opposed to merely unique words. You accomplish this by identifying the specific problem you are trying to solve, and solving it for your target audience better than any other piece of content on the web can. If you can’t do that, you need to choose a different topic, because you’re chasing a fool’s errand.

Tactic #7 – Exact Match Anchor Text Links

The anchor text of a link hasn’t lost all of its value, but it’s no longer the most important ranking signal out there, and if you pursue anchor text overzealously you will end up with nothing more than a penalty to show for it.

Over-optimized anchor text sends a very clear message to Google: you have direct control over the links pointing toward your site, so they are not natural. In their eyes, this also means that they are irrelevant as a sign of your authority on the web.


When you build backlinks yourself, you should move away from anchor text and start focusing on your conversion rates. Place links where they are more likely to be clicked, and use anchor text that’s more likely to result in a click-through. You can test this a bit by experimenting with AdWords or a different text link ad service if you wish.

The anchor text isn’t completely ignored, and it’s still used to find clues regarding what the linked page is about, but you should avoid too much emphasis on it. It’s generally best to just discus the linked content in the way that makes the most sense, and then attach the hyperlink to the part of the sentence that’s most likely to get clicked on.

In addition, it’s wise to use bare URLs, branded links, links containing the exact title of the linked page, and partial match anchor text.

At the same time, you shouldn’t spend too much time trying to make your links appear “natural.” If you’re doing things right, most of your link profile should already be natural, as we’ll get at the end of the article.

Tactic #8 – Keyword Heavy Footer Links

It doesn’t matter whether they’re outbound or internal links, keyword heavy footer links are a bad idea. The footer has been abused as an SEO tool for quite some time, and Google has wised up to the fact. The search engines now place most of the emphasis on main content, and for the most part ignore links in the footer. Excessive keyword use in the footer is just asking for an algorithmic demotion.


Use the footer to reduce your bounce rate. Google most likely measures “pogo-sticking” behavior, where a user clicks onto a site, clicks back, and goes to the next site. Users who instead stay on the site, and don’t return to the search results, tend to be more satisfied with that result.

Instead of filling the footer with keyword links, fill it will calls to action for more content that will interest them. Test, test, test and find the links that encourage the highest click through rate. Keep users on your site so that they are more likely to remember your brand, share you with their friends, subscribe to your newsletter, and ultimately convert. Keep them from returning to the SERP and sending a negative signal to Google in the process.

Tactic #9 – Site-Wide Links

Nearly every client we’ve dealt with who was hit by Penguin or an unnatural link penalty had a problem with site-wide links, either on- or off-site. Whether they’re backlinks or internal links, a link from every single page on any website is generally a bad idea, especially if it’s keyword optimized.

Don’t get us wrong. You want a link back to your home page from every page on your site; that’s just good UI. And if a few sites happen to put you in their blogroll that’s rarely a problem, especially if they used your brand name rather than a keyword.

But if site-wide links end up making large part of your backlink profile, or nearly every page on your site links to every other page, you’re just asking for trouble.


For your internal links, just include a few links in your main body and make a few recommendations at the end of each blog post. This keeps users clicking through and seeing what you have to offer, which is great for engagement. There’s no reason to link to a single page from every other page on your site, unless it’s your home page, or it’s part of a “best of” list in your sidebar.

As for external links, you should essentially never build a site-wide link yourself. Don’t worry too much about site-wide links if they’re natural, but as for your own efforts you should stick to contextual links or calls to action in your signature. Links should look more or less editorial (although not to the point that you’re disguising the fact that it’s your link).

Tactic #10 – Unnatural Links

In general, you should avoid any unnatural linking scheme. What do we mean by this? Well, Google’s terms of service indicate that any link intended to manipulate rankings is a violation. Many SEOs fail to understand this, and mistakenly believe that their links are within Google’s guidelines as long as the quality levels are high.
I suppose we’re pushing things a bit by saying this tactic is “dead,” as it can still work quite well, but consider yourself on thin ice. Even quality links are in Google’s gray area if you built them yourself, in particular if the link offers little or no value outside of SEO. If there’s reason to believe that the link only exists to manipulate your rankings, there’s reason for Google to disregard the link.


Stop building links to manipulate your rankings. I know, this is almost heretical in some circles, but it really is the only way to stay within Google’s terms of service, and it’s actually the fastest way to build links.

Instead of focusing on building links to grow your presence in the search engines, switch over to building links for referral traffic. This is the only method defensible as a long term marketing strategy.

How could this be the best path to improving your rankings? It’s simple. The pages that send the most referral traffic are the pages that Google wants to rank in the search engines. Focus on building links from those sites, and you will focus on promoting yourself with the influencers that matter most.

Google does not want to see your pages ranking on backlinks that you built. That’s an inconvenient truth for many SEOs, but there’s no getting around it. If you focus on referral traffic, you end up focusing on tactics that result in natural links. It’s the simple law of numbers. The more often people see your content, the more often they’ll link to it. In the meantime, your hand built links will come from the sites that send the most positive signals to Google, and actually indicate that you do have some influence.
It’s the path of least resistance. Cheating is harder.


There’s no point investing in outdated tactics that can’t be expected to work long term. While some of the tactics we’ve talked about can still be effective, this is only true in the short term. These are SEO strategies that can, at best, give you a false sense of security about the future, and all will eventually leave you dead in the water if you rely on them exclusively.
We realize we’ve taken a few strong stances here, and we welcome all feedback.

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