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How to Really Rank in Google SERPs

Ranking in Google’s search results has been a lot more challenging these days, compared to how SEO was typically done a decade ago.

Over the years, Google has gradually integrated several advanced factors/metrics – mainly to fight web spam – and also to make the web search experience more relevant and useful to people worldwide.

Read more

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YouTube Marketing for Businesses

gdayspampangaI was invited to speak for one of this year’s GDays events here in the Philippines – which will be held in Angeles City, Pampanga this coming Saturday (April 26, 2014). This event was organized by Google Business Group in Angeles and is also supported by Google.

Originally, Glen Dimaandal (one of the smartest SEOs I know here in the country) was chosen to speak for this event, but sadly, he has to leave the country earlier this month for a business trip in the US.

And he just asked if I can substitute for him. Also, he’s going to do a guest post here on KTS early next month, so better watch out for that (he’s currently working on a really huge post about content marketing)!

Anyway, the topic assigned to me is about YouTube for Businesses, and I’m really excited about it, as I have been genuinely interested about it ever since I started doing online marketing. You can check out the slide deck below.


If you liked this post, you can subscribe to my feed and follow me on Twitter @jasonacidre.


Hummingbird SEO

Hummingbird, Google’s new search algorithm that was launched August last year, is said to have impacted 90% of search results.

The majority of the affected results are for long-tail search queries, which is why many practitioners didn’t notice the changes when it was first launched (30 days before the update was publicly announced).

This particular algorithm aims to make search results faster and more precise.

Read more

Link Building Tactics I’m Focusing on this 2014

I’ve been asked this question many times, way before the year even started. So I just thought of writing about it, and perhaps to also serve as sort of a module for our staff here at Xight Interactive.

The methods that I’m going to share on this post are the things that I’m implementing for the other sites I’m currently handling (that are aside from the clients we’re working on with our company) for over the next few months.

Scalable Reverse Engineering

Reverse engineering competitors’ link data has been a standard process in SEO over the years.

But as search marketing continuously evolve – which makes the practice more complex and competitive on many verticals – spying on competitors’ link marketing activities and outdoing them will certainly need more attention.

Knowing where your competitors are getting links and brand mentions is easier to track these days, as there are many available tools specifically made for this particular task that can provide extensive and up-to-date data, such as Fresh Web Explorer and Mention.net.


You can spend an hour a day listing and sorting the mentions and links that your competitors get on a daily basis. It’s also important to understand why and how they are able to acquire these brand mentions.

Because it’ll be easier to come up with ways on how to get link placements from the sites where your competitors are getting more visibility, when you know where, why and how they’re getting it.

Terms that you should be tracking:

  • Competitor’s brand name – to see publications writing about them.
  • Competitor’s branded products – to find people or blogs sharing and reviewing their products
  • Authors/bloggers writing under your competitors’ brands – to see where they are getting published.
  • Don’t forget to monitor your own brand mentions – as this can also help you build long-term relationships with linkers/publishers, as well as in reclaiming unlinked brand mentions.

In sorting your list of link prospects (domains linking to your competitors), it’s also crucial to evaluate if the link opportunity is really worth pursuing – ask yourself if do they have enough authority to pass and impact how people see your brand, or do they have substantial traffic to refer back to your website?

Don’t just follow your competitors’ footprints.

Take a step ahead and grow your own list of link opportunities by finding websites that are similar to the ones linking to your competitors. Get visible on those websites too!



I’ve taken Nishank Khanna’s advice seriously on making good use of Helpareporter.com’s email service to get better branding opportunities.

Lately, I’ve been spending 30 minutes a day trying to answer queries from publishers and journalists (who are looking for sources for the story they’re working on) that are coming through HARO’s daily emails.

But of course, I only pick the queries/topics that I know I’m really knowledgeable about, and you should too. And as for the industries that you’re not really an expert at, forwarding the queries to your clients (who know the topic better) is the best way to go.


For a more detailed guide on how to user HARO to get high-quality brand mentions to your site, you can check out this post by Mathew Barby (as he has included this tactic on his list) or on this forum thread where Nishank shared how he personally does it – including the email template he uses.

Linker Outreach

This tactic works best when your client already has existing linkable content assets on their website (or is very active in content development).

How it works:

  • Identify the pages (informational and/or non-transactional) within your client’s website that are performing really well in terms of user-activity, and contain information/ideas that perhaps no one in their vertical will be able to match. This is also applicable when you’re still at the content planning stage (for upcoming content assets).
  • Find your competitors’ contents that are similar to the assets that your client already has (or planning to have).
  • Make a list of the people and sites/blogs who have linked to their content or shared via social media (list them down on a spreadsheet, including each prospect’s contact details). You can extract these data using tools like Topsy and/or Open Site Explorer (you can also do a manual Google search, using advanced search operators to find social shares from Facebook, Linkedin and Google+).
  • Start reaching out to them. You’ll have better chances of getting them share or link to your content, especially when your content is better than what your competitors have – knowing that they’re genuinely interested about the subject of your content (since they’ve linked/shared your competitors content in the past).
  • Pro tip: don’t ask them to link or share your content, since they are linkers, and they’ll certainly know what to do next.

I did a case study of this method 2 years ago. You can check that post out for a more comprehensive step-by-step guide, with the sample email template I used.

Content Strategy for Links

I was able to meet and catch up with Zeph Snapp (CEO of Altura Interactive) a week ago. He shared a case study on how pushing out more content on a regular basis (like publishing content 5x a week) can steadily grow the traffic of a website from that meeting.

And that approach can definitely strengthen a link campaign, given that the more eyeballs you can get to your site’s content, the higher the likelihood of getting more links to them.

Nurturing your target audience through continual content publishing also puts your brand on top of their minds, making your brand more linkable (a link magnet).

But of course, content alone wouldn’t the trick, that’s why building a strong readership is very vital to semi-automate content promotion (through social sharing and natural linking). And to truly get loyal readers, you’ll really need to invest on creating engaging, actionable and useful content.

Types of content that can help attract more visitors and links to a site:

  • Evergreen content focused on answering most frequently searched queries by your target audience/customers.
  • Content that aims to build relationships (ex: lists, roundup posts, ego bait, interviews, or just plainly citing industry influencers on your own content).

John-Henry Scherck did an awesome presentation recently for SearchFest that also further explains this strategy:

Build Traffic Generators

I’ve always believed that the most valuable links on the web are those that are able to pass traffic back to your site, constantly. They are the ones that will most likely impact your search rankings as well.

Here are several ways to build constant traffic generators to a website:

Distributing content on content-sharing sites that have high search share

Pages from user-generated content sites like Youtube, Slideshare, Pinterest and many others, can easily rank for long-tail search terms – making them a really good traffic generator.


Regular content contribution/columns on authority industry sites

This method is my personal favorite, and has been an integral part of most of the campaigns I’ve handled for the past couple of years – and will definitely still use it this year.

Instead of reaching out to hundreds of blogs for guest blogging opportunities, I just chose to focus on a few ones that can really drive results (traffic, brand impressions and conversions).

What makes this approach more valuable is that these domains normally have high DA, high traffic (and most of them are also your target customers), and the content you’re contributing to them have higher chances of ranking very well on search results – which often leads to continuous traffic generation.

Improving existing traffic generators

Identify the domains linking to your site that have been continuously driving traffic and conversions (Assisted Conversions on GA).

assisted conversions

Then further improve your brand’s visibility on these sites:

  • Build 2nd-tier links to specific linking pages that are driving highly targeted traffic and are able to generate conversions. This will help improve these linking pages’ search visibility.
  • Get more links from these domains, to continuously absorb more potential customers from them.

For more tips, you can check out my old post about conversion-oriented link building.

Building microsites

Investing on microsites that will be able to capture smaller segments of your target market is also a good option to make, especially if your business is in for the long-haul.

Niche or geo-targeted blogs are, more often than not, easier to build a community around in, since it specializes on a specific area of an industry. This method can allow your brand to get more quality leads and build links that’ll certainly be hard for your competitors to replicate.

If you liked this post, you can subscribe to my feed and follow me on Twitter @jasonacidre.

Dealing with Penalized Websites

The growth of inquiries for search engine optimization services has certainly increased over the past couple of years.

In the past, businesses mostly contact SEO companies or independent consultants for help to further improve the visibility of their websites – and eventually to increase its traffic. But sadly, these days, perhaps more than half of the businesses looking for SEO help are businesses hoping to recover from algorithmic updates/penalties.


Campaigns that are mainly designed to recover from penalties (whether it’s Panda, Penguin, manual penalties, etc…) are a bit more challenging than the campaigns that many seasoned SEOs have been used to.

We all know that a one-size-fits-all campaign doesn’t exist, considering that we work with different types of sites on different verticals. Though, I strongly believe that having a “think marketing” mindset can break the barrier that sets a complex recovery campaign from a standard traffic generation campaign.

Because the optimization concepts involved in trying to recover a site from algorithmic penalties are just basically the things that SEOs should be doing to improve a site’s traffic performance in the first place.

The focus areas of search optimization these days aren’t just there to be implemented to future-proof a website. It’s already universal.

Dealing with a penalized website is absolutely the same as dealing with a newly launched or unharmed website. And when we’re cleaning up a site for it to regain its old rankings, we’re just doing what the site should have done before.

Optimize for Experience

A good site experience is the ultimate indicator of relevance. A major factor that search engines use to determine pages/sites they have to reward with better search visibility.

And apparently, analyzing and understanding visitor behavior stats are very crucial to succeed, not just in search, but as well as in actually growing an online business.

Improving the overall experience that your website can provide to its target users can be done through several optimization processes such as:

  • Information Architecture – making it easier for users to navigate and find information available from the site by categorizing topics/information into a coherent structure.
  • Optimizing for long-click – don’t just focus on increasing your search listings’ CTR, but it’s also important to improve the visitor retention rate, once organic traffic lands on your site’s pages. This can be done by ensuring that the information within the content really matches the search query that people use to get to that page. This also means blocking crawlers in accessing and indexing poor-content and duplicate pages from your site, given that they aren’t really useful when served/displayed to search engine users.
  • Technical SEO audits – while optimizing for humans, it’s also best to make certain that your site is search-friendly. Make it easier for search engines to crawl, access and understand what your website’s pages are about. Use this comprehensive SEO audit checklist by Annie Cushing.
  • Site speed – make your entire site load faster. It’ll help improve site activity, conversions, and search rankings. Use Google’s Page Speed Insights to know how your site is performing in terms of its loading speed.
  • Internal links – build more thematic internal links to increase page visits. And this way, you’ll also pass more page authority to your site’s other key pages (and help them rank better on search results).
  • UX design – invest on a conversion-oriented website design (make it responsive or have a mobile version if necessary). Like what I’ve mentioned on my last blog post, design separates successful websites from their competitors.

Sometimes, you just have to forget about rankings and to just remember that your main goal is to make sure that you please your users and be able to provide a remarkable experience for them.

Note: You can also check Moz’s Google Algorithm Change History regularly to determine if you’ve been hit or to identify what type of update have hit your site.

Improve Domain Authority

When it comes to link-related penalties, removing and disavowing bad/spammy links pointing to a site have been the popular ways to recover.

Though sometimes, outnumbering the bad links with quality and hard-earned links is the better approach.

This is also very applicable to websites that aren’t penalized, as the more you build your site’s Domain Authority, the more it will be able to compete for tough keywords (and definitely rank even better for long-tails).

There are two ways to continuously increase a site’s DA:

  • Build more useful/actionable pages that can procure links over time, so that they can improve their Page Authority. The more pages on your site that have high PA, the more it helps increase your domain’s overall authority. And internally linking your site’s pages also allows the link/ranking value flow throughout the website – which helps your other pages rank for the search terms they are designated with.
  • Get more links to your site and its inner pages from other sites that have high domain authority. You can also check this post for more tips on how to get hard-to-replicate links.

Rohit from Techtage.com also did an infographic last year that offers a more in-depth look on how to increase a site’s domain authority:

Increasing Domain Authority

String Entity Optimization

Search engines’ constant evolution, from indexing to understanding (keywords to context), certainly means that it’s going to be a lot more difficult for penalized websites to cope up. Not unless you strike while the entity graph is still in its developmental stage.

Being just relevant for the keywords that you’re targeting will not be enough in the future. Your brand must be synonymous to the industry terms you’re targeting to really win in search (just think of how “Bruce Lee” became synonymous to “Kung Fu” – think branding).

There are several web platforms and methods that search engines can extract data from to better understand entities. Optimizing a brand’s web presence through them could not just help regain lost rankings, but might also help build a solid foundation for a site’s future online presence.

Using the Skyscraper technique

Brian Dean wrote a comprehensive guide on using this content marketing method on his blog, and Nishank Khanna summarized how to do it on a forum thread I stumbled upon last week:

Step 1: Find link-worthy content (authoritative content that people already link to).

Step 2: Make something even better.

Step 3: Reach out to the right people (the low hanging fruit is the people who link to the content you found in Step 1).

Basically, the more you provide extensive content that supports the core keywords that your site is targeting (or the content topics that are frequently searched in your space), the more search engines will understand how important your brand is in its industry’s ecosystem.

It’s also the best approach to be an authority in your chosen niche, as well as to demonstrate your brand’s unique value proposition.

This is actually the core of my own strategy for this blog, where I only focused on creating foundational and evergreen content to eventually establish expertise, relationships, and my brand as a publisher.

So if you have existing content assets that can still be enhanced, updating them could really be a big game-changer.

Structured data

Schemas and Microdata helps search engines better understand what websites and webpages are about (specifically for Semantic web). Implementing these on your website can prepare your campaign for the inevitable advancements that search engines (particularly Google) are currently working on.

Relationships and associations

Social connections also play a big role in evaluating authority, web popularity and in the categorization of entities (industry, location, etc…).

For instance, it’s easier for search engines to determine what industry you’re in when you’re also actively contributing content or participating on discussions from other industry-specific websites.  These interactions can simply tie a brand to the market it belongs to.

It’s imperative to build relationships and a strong social following base nowadays.

Get coverage or mentions from authoritative publications

Search engines rely on other authoritative sites for data and information. Getting mentioned by a-list publications can certainly be a big lift when it comes to understanding more about what your brand is about (co-citation and co-occurrence also matters).

Use HARO to get connected with journalists or influential content publishers.

I’ve been spending more time in using this service to get more brand mentions (not just links) these days. Nishank Khanna (again) shared a great tip (plus the email template he uses) on how to efficiently use this method for getting press mentions:

1. Sign up to get HARO leads (free) and/or PR Leads (paid). Both these services provide you leads on what journalists are writing about.


2. Pick the leads that are relevant to you. Don’t waste your time responding to or pursuing leads which you don’t have expertise in.

3. Write 2-3 bullet points with data that would help the reporter on the article they’re writing. Keep the email short, and DO NOT promote yourself in this email — that will come later. Your goal here is to get quoted as a source in the article. The reporter is not going to write an entire piece dedicated to you right off the bat.

4. In the subject line for the email you’ll be sending, use this simple formula:

(HARO|ProfNet): (The title of the lead)

So, for example, if a HARO lead is a journalist writing an article about “how does data loss effect businesses”, your email subject should be: HARO: How data loss effects businesses

Journalists get a gazillion emails a day, so keeping it 100% relevant is the only way you’re going to get noticed. And again, don’t promote yourself in this first contact with the journalist / blogger. Can’t stress that enough. You will build rapport 100x faster when all you’re doing is offering help.

5. For the content of your email, here is what I send (and I’ve split tested this again and again over the years):

Hi Tim,

My name is Nishank Khanna, founder of Bright Journey. Here is how data loss effects businesses:

  • 1-2 sentences.
  • 1-2 sentences.
  • 1-2 sentences.

I’d love to talk more and help you with your article. Just drop me a line atnishank@domain.com or (800) 555-1234.

– Nishank

Connect with me on http://twitter.com/nishankkhanna

That’s it! All it takes is responding to 4-5 targeted leads a day to get press. 15-30 minutes is usually all it took me to pick the leads and craft the message.

Once a journalist quotes you, they’ll be way more receptive to what you have to say in the future. And I don’t mean send them a press release. Press releases must die! Use your valuable time to craft content that journalists want to use, not writing generic press releases.

With this strategy you can start getting a few mentions that’ll lead to traffic and sales. The next way to get press is creating useful content (for example, put a spin on data that your business generates as an industry report). Send this first to the journalists that quoted you earlier. Again, keep the emails short and too the point.

Final thoughts

Whether you’re working on a penalized site or not, we’re all here for the long haul. Today’s best practices may change tomorrow, but what’s important is to always have the right mindset, in order for you to get the right actions to get to your objectives.

If you liked this post, you can subscribe to my feed and follow me on Twitter @jasonacidre

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12 Inbound Marketing Tips

I did a short presentation last week for the first ever startup/marketing meetup that our company has organized.

The pointers from my talk were mostly based on my personal experience for the past 3 years of my career as an online marketer and a business owner – so I was really excited to turn my slide deck into a blog post as well.

Inbound Marketing’s popularity as a medium to exponentially grow a business’ ability to attract customers and establish its brand as a leader in its space, has certainly increased these past couple of years.

I believe that it’s not just because everyone’s turning to it these days, or because it’s not as expensive as paid media.

But mainly because of the scalability and longevity of the results it is capable of providing, knowing that it involves data-driven (and measureable) processes – such as SEO, content marketing, social media, analytics, and conversion optimization.

This approach to marketing has helped me develop a one-man consulting business into a 20+ person company in 2 years.

I witnessed its power firsthand, and I’ll definitely be glad to share the key things I’ve learned from doing it.

#1 Great products make great marketing campaigns, not the other way around

Marketing a business is a lot easier when you’re offering a product that no one else in your market can match.

Users/consumers most likely share a product/service that they find really valuable to their peers (word of mouth marketing). And products that can be considered as one of the best solutions in solving a certain problem are definitely newsworthy.

It’s important to genuinely believe in the product that you’re trying to sell (or market). Because it is the driving force of your marketing campaign.

Although, this core principle doesn’t just apply on the product itself, as the entirety of the branded product can also be heavily affected by other factors surrounding it – like customer support/service, packaging, company culture, etc… (think of Zappos).

So when you’re offering a great product that’s in a very competitive market, then your brand’s unique value proposition will really matter, a lot.

#2 Understand the 2 core factors of SEO (for both site and page-level)

Relevance and Authority.

Search engines use hundreds of factors to determine sites/pages that they’ll be displaying to their users. But many of those factors stemmed out to become more accurate in gauging both relevance and authority.

For instance, optimization methods such as improving information architecture, implementing structured data, proper distribution of keywords, content optimization (title tags, meta descriptions, content matching the given title, internal/external links, etc…) and a lot more, all help search engines better understand what the information/products your site is providing and be able to determine if your site is relevant to what their users might be looking for.

Whereas links, brand signals (social, unlinked mentions, etc…), domain authority and sentiments from other entities about the brand tell search engines how popular and authoritative your brand is.

A good question to ask yourself every time you optimize a site for search:

Is this the most relevant and most authoritative site in this vertical for it to rank for keyword xxx?

If not, then you have a lot of work to do.

#3 Design is 50% of the battle

I actually got this tip from one of Rand Fishkin’s presentations (can’t remember which one though).

The more web consumption grows, the lower an average user’s attention span gets. Design separates many successful websites from their competitors, especially in persuading and engaging new visitors to stay longer on the site, because:

  • Sites that provide better visual experience look more credible and trustworthy to users.
  • It makes it easier for visitors to use and navigate the website (UX, usability and site architecture).

This area of marketing can strongly impact your site’s ability to convert visitors. It’s smart to invest more on it.

#4 To educate is the best way to sell

I learned this from my former employers (Simon Slade and Mark Ling) while working full-time for Affilorama and Traffic Travis.

They’ve been giving ton of valuable information for free (through their content marketing efforts) which helped them established their brand(s) as an authority on their respective fields. And it’s a conventional wisdom in any industry that it’s easier to sell when people see you as an authority.

An effective content marketing campaign almost always aims to educate its target audience. Since having the ability to spread new and/or actionable ideas is one of the best ways to be remembered by your audience (influence).

This is the very reason why I always try to write extremely comprehensive blog posts (with ideas that I don’t usually see on other blogs) for the past 3 years of blogging. Because the more I teach my readers the things I do (and how difficult it is, sometimes), the more I can attract people to avail the services we offer.

#5 Invest on developing more “Big Content”

Content marketing has been the center of all attention these days in the world of online marketing – because it’s the center of it anyway. Content ties everything in digital marketing, that’s why it’s king.

When you have the best content on the web about a certain topic, you can get almost everything you need to fuel an online business:


And a comprehensive branded content (that’s purely informational) can certainly do well in search results these days (and can even outrank Wikipedia).


Many brands in our industry have already been implementing this (ex: Moz’s beginner’s guide to social media and QuickSprout’s advanced guide to content marketing), seeing that they’re getting a lot of good results from it (plus the fact that it’s a scalable landing page – since the content is evergreen).

big content

This marketing initiative can amplify your brand’s online presence, especially when the content is specifically targeted to a set of audience that can potentially be your future customers.

#6 Earn brand visibility from high-traffic industry communities

Google has brought down a lot of link building techniques over the past decade (from comment spams, article directories, badges, reciprocal linking and now to guest blogging). But perhaps, this is the only artificial link building tactic that will not cease to exist – providing real value to other online communities.

I’ve preached this approach many times in the past, because I’ve had many successes with it.


Instead of submitting one-off content to hundreds of blogs in your industry, why not just focus on regularly contributing content to one or two top blogs in your space that are sure to pass on more quality traffic back to your site.

Being associated with high-traffic online publications can improve the perceived value that others see in your brand. Become more visible to your target audience through them.

#7 Content and brand identity fuel social media campaigns

This one’s very basic, but many people seem to forget how content plays a big role (a very huge chunk actually) in social media marketing.

Content initiates interactions in the social web, and content can also display a brand’s identity or what differentiates it from its competitors.

Most successful big brands in social media integrate content with their campaigns (like Red Bull), so why would it be any different to the smaller ones.

Understanding the types of content that typically get shared (a lot) on social networks is crucial to be very effective on this area of inbound marketing.

#8 Personal branding is vital in Inbound Marketing

People tend to follow, interact and listen to other people, not brands.


Aside from the benefit of improving the ability of the site to earn its target audience’s trust, having strong personas behind a brand also serves as a strong signal that search engines can use (for entity search).

#9 Use Analytics to find opportunities and traffic assets. Identify what’s working, then do more of them (80/20)

Many practitioners use analytics for reporting, but forget to use their data to actually improve their sites’ performance.

Identify what’s continuously bringing high-quality traffic and conversions to the site (whether it’s high or low in volume), so you can maintain/improve them and take more advantage of them. These traffic assets could be:

  • Landing pages or existing content assets
  • Keyword rankings
  • Linking domains/pages (via Assisted Conversions)
  • Locations where you’re getting more conversions
  • Mediums (email, social, referrals, search, etc…)


#10 Optimize for remarkability and experience

Think of ways how you can make every visitor feel different when they’re on your site, because that’s what will make them come back.

In my case, I focused on including ideas on many of my blog posts that I think my readers wouldn’t find elsewhere. That was the unique selling point I planned to focus on for my blog’s content development a couple of years ago.

Because I believed that element will somehow make my brand more remarkable. And I think it kind of worked.

If you’ve built your business for the long haul, this should be a high priority. Knowing that eventually, brands and standalone platforms are what will matter most in the web’s ecosystem.

One good sample of this is CollegeHumor.com. They’ve established their brand very well through consistently providing remarkable content, which also impacts the experience their users get every time they go to the site.


Many of their content get shared a lot on social media, and I believe many of their followers just go directly to the site (due to the consistent content updates they do on their site).

The cult following they have built is enough for search engines to understand who they are.

funny videos

#11 Maximize earned visibility to improve owned media

Use or test multiple CTAs on pages constantly generating new traffic to your website.

Calls-to-action shouldn’t just be used on your site’s transactional landing pages, because there are so many other secondary CTAs that you can use to build up your other marketing activities, such as

  • Encouraging visitors to follow you on social networks.
  • To subscribe to your blog’s feed and/or email newsletters.
  • Check out products you sell that they might find interesting (based on the topic of the content they landed on).

#12 Do everything the hard way

The harder the things you do, the more your work becomes valuable. It also makes it harder for your competitors to replicate what you’ve done to succeed.

If you liked this post, you can subscribe to my feed and follow me on Twitter @jasonacidre.


A Year without Guest Blogging

First off, sorry for the misleading title, because it’s not entirely true, since I’ve published 3 guest blog posts last year (2 for Moz and 1 for Hit Reach).

overall traffic

I’m not saying that guest blogging doesn’t work, because it really does (when getting published on the right places)!

gb traffic

Although, I’ve handled other sites last year that didn’t really rely on guest blogging (as a link building and traffic generation method) – you can see the full case study here.

case study

Guest blogging, as a marketing method, can add so much value to a campaign. Some of the factors that make it a very tempting process to be integrated to any type of online marketing campaign (when done right) are:

  • It helps you build relationships with other content publishers.
  • It can build brand exposure and improve site discovery, especially if you’re getting published on popular websites in your space that are capable of ranking for keywords that you’re also targeting (which often creates a traffic funnel that can consistently refer visitors back to your site).
  • It allows you to build links (signals) that can help better shape web entities (as well as authorship) and improve domain authority (which eventually impacts a site’s search ranking ability).

The benefits of being active on guest blogging sounds really good, but the reality is many are relying and focusing so much on it, and tend to forget the other important aspects of marketing a business over the web.

A guest blogging campaign involves a very exhausting process – such as prospecting, outreach, content development and tracking – in which most of the available resources are more often than not invested in to these efforts, just because everyone’s overdoing it.

If 50% or more of your current marketing activities are put into guest blogging, then you might want to rethink your campaign this year.

Internally, my focus for this year (on marketing my own sites as well as some of our clients’ sites) will only revolve around 3 simple processes:

  • Technical SEO
  • Content development and promotion
  • Taking advantage of existing (and proven effective) traffic sources (through Analytics data)

Continuous content development

As I’ve mentioned on my post on Moz a month ago, content development has been the driving force of my entire campaign last year. And it has proven itself to be very effective.


One of my clients’ has been very successful with this approach as well, wherein he didn’t even bother building new links to his website after the first 3 months of full-scale on-site optimization we did for his website.

He just focused on consistently providing new content to his site’s steadily growing readership.

I believe that this approach is far more exciting, given that it’s like running your own magazine/publishing company – particularly in ensuring that every content you come up with is of high quality and targeted.

One valuable content can drive links, social shares, rankings, traffic, and conversions – but having ton of them can certainly tell a lot about your brand.

Things I suggest you start doing:

  • Regularly brainstorm for content ideas. Determine what your target audience wants.
  • Create a content calendar – and strictly follow them.
  • Align your content ideation/planning with keyword research.
  • Invest on other content formats (videos, images, interactive pages, etc…).
  • Always think of or project how your content will affect your branding and conversions.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO and content marketing is a deadly combination, seeing that the more useful pages you continuously add to your website, the more you’re able to build searchable web pages (which increases your search traffic).

Common best practices of technical search optimization:

  • Optimizing title tags – and making sure that the title of your pages match the content/information it provides (optimizing for keyword and topic relevance as well as long-click).
  • Only serving content that’s important and useful to your target visitors, by disallowing access (or using the “noindex” tag) on pages that have poor/thin content or duplicates.
  • Improving site’s speed.
  • Using structured data (schema/microdata) for search engines to better understand your site and its pages.
  • Optimizing the site’s structure and making it easier for users to navigate and use the site (particularly in finding the pages they’re looking for).
  • Proper use of internal links to increase site usage/engagement and for search crawlers to easily find and index deeper pages of the website.
  • Fixing site errors (404s, unnecessary redirects, canonicalization, and other site crawling/indexing issues).

Build on effective traffic sources

One of the best ways to succeed in online marketing is to take advantage of existing traffic channels that are already doing well. It’s just like knowing what your strengths are and focusing on getting even better with them.

Having a diversified traffic source is very crucial these days, and you can never rely on just search (or just social traffic).

It’s imperative to identify which channels are sending traffic and conversions to your website, and to continuously improve them to stay on the top of the game.

As the more traffic you consistently get from the channels that have proven to be effective for your site, the more you can ensure that people will find and be able to consume your future content.

traffic sources

Invest more on what’s already working for you. These traffic funnels and brand assets may come in form of:

  • Keyword rankings and/or landing pages – identify which content assets are constantly sending traffic and conversions to your site. Try to enhance them more (optimize for UX or conversions), so that they can maintain or further improve their search rankings, or for them to become more linkable/shareable.
  • Linking websites/pages – check the list of top domains/external pages referring visitors to your website, as they are considerably assets that you somehow have control of. Take advantage of them by building more brand visibility (getting more links) from them, or building 2nd-tier links to high-traffic pages linking back to you.
  • Online communities – Contribute and provide more value on other niche communities or social platforms that are sending quality traffic to your site (forums, groups, social networks, etc…).
  • Email list – continuously grow and strengthen your email list by sending high-value content to your subscribers on a regular basis. Because loyal visitors are as much as important as your site’s new traffic.

Personal thoughts on Guest Blogging

Guest blogging is a very effective branding tool, but it’s a tedious process. I’d rather focus on the 3 areas of online marketing I’ve mentioned above instead of landing 10 new guest posts every month.


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Taking your Inbound Marketing Campaign to the Next Level

It’s unavoidable for marketers to get stuck when running long-term campaigns, especially when they are accustomed to following a certain process (that most of us do in agencies).

This mostly happens when we have already exhausted almost every tactic limited on that process, which is not that great when you’re looking at scalability – and in consistently getting results.

And that is why being able to identify areas of the campaign that need to be prioritized (that can drive results almost instantly, or what others call “quick wins”) is very crucial, to make the approach more efficient and ROI-oriented.

But what would you do once you’re done in winning in those areas?

I’ve read an article a few weeks ago where Anand Chandrasekaran (Entrepreneurial Product Leader at Yahoo) shared an advice from “The book of life” that I believe fits very well to today’s marketers (particularly for the technical ones).

Always cultivate a beginner’s mind. Because in the beginner’s mind, the possibilities are endless. In an expert’s mind, the possibilities are few.”

In retention, as well as in growing a project in terms of its marketing end, our job as marketers will always require us to continuously find opportunities, problems and fixes.

With that in mind, you’ll always be looking for something new to study, learn and implement. And that hunger is what will fill the gaps within your campaigns, and what I strongly believe takes it to the next level.

More Traffic Opportunities through Search

SEO is still a vital channel for inbound marketing, and that’s for sure. It’s a continuous process, so there could possibly be some areas of search optimization that you haven’t fully maximized yet that could potentially bring in bigger results for your campaign.

Removing duplicate and poor-content pages

Making sure that your site is not allowing search engines in indexing pages that wouldn’t be that valuable to users can tremendously improve its ability to rank better on search results.

One of the best reasons why is that the “authority/link value” flowing within the site will only be passed around the pages that are really important – which in turn allows them to get better search rankings.

Also, this increases the site activity from users coming from search engines (another important factor that’s used to determine relevance), as people are only able to get to pages that they are specifically looking for.

removed dupes

The best way to determine if you have duplicate/thin pages that are being indexed by search engines in your site is by comparing the number of pages in your sitemap vs. the number of pages indexed by Google.

sitemap vs. indexed

Say if you only have 500+ pages you want to be indexed (based on the number of important pages of your site listed on your sitemap), but Google has already indexed 2,200 pages from your website, then it only means you have 1,000+ possible duplicates and poor content pages showing up on search results.

On finding duplicates, you can start digging through Google Webmaster Tools, and see what URL parameters are configured in your site.

url parameters

Check if these parameters are being indexed by Google – by simply searching for them on Google search.


If they are showing up, you might want to start disallowing search crawlers from accessing and indexing those pages (you can disallow access to these folders through your Robots.txt, or by adding the “noindex” tag on these pages as well).

It’s very important to only serve the pages you want your users to find.

Improving your search listings’ CTR

Export your site’s search queries report from Google Analytics or GWT, and track the keywords you’re ranking for with high amount of impressions but have low click-through rates.


Start optimizing for click-throughs from search results, as this is something that many SEOs neglect after reaching the top spots of the SERPs.

It’s important to understand why people aren’t clicking through, staying longer on the page or converting – even when you’re already at the highest position. Since being able to optimize for these aspects will enable you to sustain your rankings.

Things you can do to improve your page’s CTR from search results and activity once people land on the page:

  • Apply marketing/sales approach on your meta descriptions, to entice people to clicking on your listing.
  • Implement authorship and publisher markups (rel=”author” and/or rel=”publisher”).
  • Use structured data (schema) for reviews, places, products, events, lists and in-depth articles.
  • Make your pages’ title tags more descriptive of the content they contain.
  • Ensure that the content of the page matches the search query it’s targeting (try to provide the best answer for that query).
  • Invest on design and user experience, to make your landing pages more sticky.
  • Include relevant internal links within the body of the content to make the visitor stay longer on the site.

Optimize for Speed

There has been so many case studies out there that prove how site speed optimization can extremely impact search traffic improvement (you can start with this case study from Neil Patel).

You can also use Page Speed Insights, a free web-based tool from Google that enables its users to easily identify elements of the site that make it slow – which also includes instructions on how to fix those issues.

page speed insights

Build more support pages for your key pages

Content marketing and blogging blends well when integrated with SEO for a lot of reasons:

  • Support contents such as blog posts and other content assets can rank for your campaign’s target long-tail keywords.
  • They pass on link value, page authority, traffic and visibility to your site’s important pages (money pages), especially when they are internally linking to them – which makes your key landing pages stronger (and have better search rankings).
  • These content efforts help your site gradually build a stronger online brand presence, which is an important signal these days for search engines.
  • The more pages you have on your site that has accumulated substantial Page Authority, the higher Domain Authority your site can get. This means more chances for your site to rank for the competitive search terms it is targeting.
  • Builds more channels for your site to generate conversions.

Transform your site into a platform

Platforms are the future of the web (and search engines will most likely be biased towards displaying them on search results). You don’t necessarily need to be the biggest, but rather have the best solutions to offer in your industry to win in the digital age.

Big Content

Start investing on continuous development of bigger contents. This is one of the best ways to become recognized in your space as the go-to-brand when it comes to information.

A perfect sample of this is Neil Patel’s content efforts last year, as Quicksprout has certainly invested a lot of time and effort in creating several advanced online marketing guides and tutorials under the site’s University section.


With those initiatives, Neil’s site is slowly becoming a platform that people will come to, to learn more about online marketing.

There are also other forms of big content that you can spend more time in developing, such as:

  • Apps (web-based and/or mobile)
  • Video series
  • Events

Community Building

If you’ll notice, most of the successful sites (in any industry) have a community wherein people actively discuss and interact, not just with the brand, but with other community members as well.

Cultivating a community can certainly take your brand to a higher level.

For example, Affilorama is considerably one of the biggest names in the affiliate marketing industry. Aside from they almost have everything (content resources, extensive lessons/courses, tools and more), they also have a very active community (on their forum section and user-generated blog).


Affilorama has truly become a platform for affiliate marketers for the past years due to these efforts and investments.

Invite other experts to write for your site

Getting other publishers to contribute content on your site (on a regular basis) also helps attract new markets and audiences, which can strongly demonstrate the strength of your brand, in terms of association and the depth of information and topics you get to share on your website.

This also encourages your visitors to participate more in the discussions, and also in bringing more publishers to write for your site.

Loyalty Marketing

Return visits is as much as important as acquiring new visitors to a website, given that these guys are already aware of your brand and have better chances of converting.

Obviously, the best way to build a loyal following to your brand (customers/readers) is to give them so many reasons to come back.

Consistency in providing high quality and valuable content

Being able to provide the information that your target audience will want to consume constantly is one of the most common reasons why people follow brands on their blogs or in social networks.

Although, as web consumption grows, content marketing also gets more competitive. So it’s important to really understand what quality is to your target audience, in order to genuinely provide value.

I really liked Danny Denhard’s tip from his presentation at the recent Digital Marketing Show – wherein he stated that “you have to understand TV to understand quality content”.

As the more you publish content that will be useful and actionable for your audience, the more you can nurture your audience and more likely for them to visit again (and take actions such as email subscriptions, following you on social networks for updates or availing for your products/services).

Serve content targeted to people who already believe in your brand

Reward your brand’s followers (or existing customers) by giving away exclusive or higher value content. This may perhaps be distributed through email marketing or for people who are already following you on social networks.

Some of the forms of content that you can offer:

  • Free access to your tools/apps
  • Discounts
  • Comprehensive guides, which you can offer to be only available to those who’re already subscribed.
  • Featuring community members on your site’s blog.


Apparently, many sites have succeeded in integrating this principle to their product/brand (like Nike, Linkedin, Mint, Moz and Teleflora, to name a few).

Gamification, as a part of your business strategy, can help improve the user engagement of your site, and more often than not, breeds more loyal users/visitors/customers.

Optimize for Experience

Make people’s experience in using your website very remarkable (whether they’re an existing customer or a first time visitor).

Because when people like what they can see, read and/or consume from your website, they’ll definitely be back for more, and share the experience with their peers.

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