Is your site ready to run the SEO Marathon?

Now I don’t claim to be a runner – in fact the closest thing to a marathon I’ve completed was 24 hours of watching the series 24. I don’t think sitting in a lay-z-boy eating Cheetos and drinking Mountain Dew is going to help me train for 26.2 miles of grueling pain. With that said I have had friends and family members around me that have trained for marathons. I have seen them dedicate hours of their life to the most-intense physical training over a several month period, to try and be even remotely ready for the  amount of physical abuse their body will take.

SEO is Like Training for a Marathon?

I liken these training experiences to that of the SEO preparation for major search engine updates in 2015 and beyond. Any business with a major online presence, should be readying their websites for algorithm changes and updates from Google, Bing and Yahoo. We’ve already seen from Google that they have been doing more continuous rollouts instead of it just being a few day process. This means that any number of drops in traffic from our Analytics reporting could be the same algorithm update over a several month period of time. This is making it increasingly harder to pinpoint changes that Webmasters and SEO’s need to make in order to get back in good graces with the search engines.

If we are able to take the marathon training approach, and prepare our websites for the inevitable updates that are to come, we will be ready to take those updates by the horns, and won’t have to worry about it affecting the bottom line of the business.

 SEO Marathon Training Program

A simple guide I put together for this, is my SEO marathon training program:

  • Month 1: Have an SEO site audit done if you have not had one recently
  • Month 2: implement changes of findings from SEO audit
  • Month 3: How does my site rank in the Google PageSpeed Insights tool? Is my site mobile-friendly and are my customers having the best possible experience on my site? Make sites adjustments and changes as needed. (Most likely this will be part of the SEO site audit, but this can take time to implement if major changes are needed)
  • Month 4: Do a link analysis/audit and work through the link cleanup and disavow process as needed.
  • SEO QUART SystemMonth 5: Make sure that the content on my main pages apply to the QUART system that Alan Bleiweiss has so graciously coined for us.
    • Quality
    • Uniqueness
    • Authority
    • Relevance
    • Trust
  • Month 6: Evaluate your site compared to your competitors and make changes that will put you ahead of the game.

At the point month 7 rolls around, your site should be prepared for major algorithm changes and updates as they happen. This is otherwise known as the SEO marathon – the most grueling and physically exhausting event (especially if your bottom line suffers due to rank loss) that your site will go through.

SEO Will Not Stop Changing… At Least in the Foreseeable Future

SEO will continue to evolve every year, and Google continues to show their hand at wanting their customers (people using Google to search) to have the best possible experience when they refer a website for any particular topic. This all comes back to the importance of your site loading quick, giving unique and quality content that is relevant to the searcher and having a well-structured site that is mobile friendly and delivers authoritative information. We know Google is showing the mobile-friendly label in mobile search engine results, and can only believe that they will continue to value sites that are mobile-friendly as the number of mobile searches continues to grow.

I hope that this has inspired you to start your training today and get your site ready for the test that it will be put under as more changes rollout in the search industry.

2015 SEO New Years Resolutions!

Here we are at the start of a New Year and you know what that means! It’s time to start some New Years resolutions. Many of you will make resolutions to stay in contact with old friends, spend more time with family, or the ever popular getting in shape. While you are working on those resolutions, lets consider the top 3 resolutions for your SEO strategy.

1. Run a Site Audit, with link audit included.

When was the last time you ran and audit on your site? 1 month ago, 3 months ago, 6 months ago? Most understand the fact that algorithm’s can change several times over the year. 2014 was a big year for Google and their algorithmic changes. According to Moz change history, Google rolled out at least 13 new updates in 2014 with several other small updates. With that being the case, there is a good chance that those changes have had some impact on your site somewhere along the way. Hopefully the impact was minimal but it’s hard to know exactly what that impact was unless a site audit is performed. If it has been longer than 3 months since you took a good look at your analytics or the data found in your webmaster tools account, now is a perfect time to evaluate that data. A site audit will help to identify any red flags that might hold your site back in 2015. As a side note, if you do find several things that need to be addressed, take it one task at a time. If your site has been hit with Google updates, this can be a bit of an overwhelming task. Start by working on any onsite issues that you have first (duplicate title tags, any content issues, etc.) then work any strategic issues like link detox or 404 errors.

2. Check your citations:

The second thing to address as part of your SEO New Years resolution is checking on citations. Citations are an important piece of search engine algorithms. Although this pertains mostly to local business, citations are an important branding activity and have a lot of SEO value. With all other components being similar, often times businesses with a number of correct citations will most likely rank higher than those with fewer or inaccurate citations. Correct citations help search engines be certain about your business being who you say you are and located where you say you are located. Often times during the course of a year, companies will move offices or add new offices. Once the new information (phone numbers, addresses, etc.) gets added to the site, it must be consistent in your local citations. Another thing to understand with citations are the impact it has on mobile searches. Consider this, let’s say you are a lawyer in Mesa Arizona and you specialize in DUI. In the event that a person in the greater Mesa area has been pulled over for DUI, they may be standing on the side of the road, or sitting in the back of a police car thinking “I am going to need a lawyer”. So they do what everyone does, they pull out there phone, and search for Mesa DUI lawyer. That person is more likely to see your citation at the top of the mobile search results, than they are to scroll through the natural results. With that said, local citations will be imperative to your site success and overall ROI in 2015.

3. Investigate your link profile:

The third component to your resolutions should be an investigation of your link profile. As mentioned previously, part of your site audit should include a link audit. The Penguin update that was released in 2014 was one of the harshest updates pertaining to links that we have seen. With linking still caring weight in search engine rankings, this is something that needs to be addressed. In 2015, lets focus more on earning links rather than just “getting” them. Here are a couple good ways you can earn a quality link that will help to safeguard your link portfolio from future algorithm updates. Remember the goal is to make sure you are acquiring quality links. Using press sites can be an effective way getting a good link. Consider finding opportunities to support a journalists’ story with some of your own information that can back up the topic of their story. Doing so can yield you links from high authority sites. Another idea to consider is to market quotes from key people in your industry. There are certainly top experts in just about every industry out there. Search for those people, find quotes and use them as link building strategy. Remember back in the day when websites had a page dedicated to testimonials? Although those days are long gone, testimonials can be a good bargaining chip for link acquisition. If you have purchased a product, attended a convention, or been involved in any way with a quality person or site in your space, offer them a testimonial. When people want to sell something, specifically a service, they can never have too many testimonials. If you have had a good experience with that person or their product, offer them a testimonial.

Although you may find that you don’t have time to keep up with old friends in 2015, or that some of your family members are just too annoying to spend time with, or that your addiction to cheese cake is too much for you to overcome, make sure your SEO New Years resolutions are kept! You can be sure the SEO target will move again in 2015, but following these tips will help you keep your SEO momentum in the New Year.

Clarifying Cutts: What He REALLY Meant

It’s been almost two months since PubCon in Las Vegas, and I’m still simmering from the Cutts keynote. While many in the industry tend to idolize him, even the most white-hat and pure among us has reason to take what he says with a grain of salt.

In the two months since his talk, of which you can find video here, there are a lot of things that I feel need clarification.

So, I submit to you: Clarifying Cutts: What He REALLY Meant

Content Farms

Long story short: Cutts said Google noticed people didn’t like content farms. People used Chrome extensions to block these farms. Google noticed parodies of content farms that appeared around the web mocking the thin, uninformative articles which were designed to manipulate the algorithm.

So Google cracked down on these sites. Hard.

Well, sort of.

wikiHow still exists. And it still appears as the first result for far too many queries.

That’s a sucky content farm if there ever was one.

Why has it not received the same fate as its content-farm peers? It still ranks highly because Google owns it, and Google is not about to demote their own product.

This is despite the fact that wikiHow consistently appears as the worst result for almost any query for which it appears. wikiHow articles exhibit a startling lack of detail and on occasion, lack any familiarity with the subject they are supposed to cover. This makes wikiHow the most annoying source of information on the web. (Although you could probably count wikiPedia and wikiHow’s close cousin eHow on that list as well).

My question is this: If I start making parody articles of wikiHow pages, will Google remove them from my SERPs? If that is what it takes, I will do it.

(Speaking of Google removing things in response to public outcry, how many of these videos will it take before Google realizes a lot of people don’t like being forced to use Google +. Warning: Some totally justified but strong language in this video.)

This is what I heard from Cutts: If users do not like content farms, then Google does not like them either. However, if the content farm belongs to Google, then they do not care what the user thinks.

Apparently Google thinks if they shove their product down our throats long enough, we’ll have to swallow it. *cough* Google Plus *cough*

If Google wants web masters to respond to the “higher standard,” if would be encouraging if Google played by their own rules.

Playing by the rules doesn’t just apply to content farms. It applies to another point Matt Cutts mentioned:

Ads above the fold

I absolutely applaud not rewarding sites who put ads above the fold. It is a terrible user experience. If I have to scroll or click past ads to get to my desired content, there’s a pretty good chance I’ll leave your site. (Side note: How do so many big sites get away with making you click past a full-page advertisement before allowing you to go through to the main article? It’s probably because they are big sites, huh? I hate it.)

Ads above the fold are old news, but the mention at PubCon held particular resonance as banner ads for branded queries began testing in Google search that same weekend.

I’m pretty sure if people are searching for a branded term like “Southwest” there’s a pretty good chance they are going to click on the first organic search result, which is the homepage.

This is because people are too lazy to type in an entire address, so they let Google type it in for them. They don’t want a banner ad. They just want to go to the site and be done with it. You know people are likely going to click on the first organic result, so why show them a giant ad for the brand?

Because people might click on it and give Google money.

While an article on VentureBeat makes a great case for these ads, I think the main point here is to drive more money to Google so they can build giant floating cities.

Cutts claimed Google wants to provide the world with information as an “answer engine.” Why then does Google take up the majority of SERPs with ads? Products are not, by definition, “information.” Ads are the exact opposite of “strings, not things.”

If Google said they wanted to be the next Amazon, I would let this pass. Since they claim they want to be a source of knowledge and information for people, I find the present ratio of products vs. information unacceptable. I would not accept on a client site the amount of ads Google allows on their SERPs. Once again, I submit that Google should adhere to their own quality guidelines.

I know Google gets a lot of revenue from ads. I get it. They couldn’t make cool stuff without that revenue. But the problem is they are making some really shoddy shit. Which brings me to

The Google Neural Network

Google allegedly spends this ad revenue on computers that work on semantics (or floating cities, whatever).  They take words and through a beautiful application of science as art these computers form semantic associations.

As a theorist, this tickles me. These computers practice Saussurian semantics. They establish “signs”. The “sign” is the summation of an association of a signifier with the signified.

image c/o
image c/o

Here is an example: The word “Moscow” means both the word “Moscow” but also a signified concept–the capital city of Russia, its most recognizable buildings, etc.

I’m in love with what Google attempts to do with signs. They try to understand all the possible signifieds associated with the signifier. They also attempt to improve the quality of their “signs”–an endeavor I totally support.

My question is this: If Google can spend so much money on computers making word associations, would it kill them to hire a linguist? Someone who understands synonyms, maybe?

Some of the so called “synonyms” that appear in search just aren’t. When I search for the band by the name of BOY (a query with inherent issues), I shouldn’t get results with “son” in the meta description and nowhere on the page. A wedding dress is almost always formal. A formal dress is not always a wedding dress. Yet Google frequently equates the two in SERPs.

Sometimes they get it really, really wrong. I wanted to test Google’s semantic abilities so, because I was listening to Infected Mushroom at the time, I searched for “how to mix sick beats”. The results went from bad to worse.



Wellness Mama is a site I have visited before. (Yes, Google has started showing you sites you’ve visited before, even if they aren’t 100% relevant to the query. That’s another post for another day).  The words “beat” “mix” and “sick” all appear on the page. Besides appearing in the post, they don’t actually belong together. Like, at all. The implied “how do you make” also appears on the page, but Google ignores what comes directly after the phrase which is “kombucha” and takes you to a completely different page on the site.
In Google’s quest to avoid rewarding sites for having exact keyword phrases in a site, they still aren’t quite there with searcher intent.

They might could hire someone who actually knows about language and how it works to help them refine the intent of the ENTIRE “string.” Being fluent in your native tongue does not count as knowing about your own language.

Which brings me to

Conversational Search

Conversational search is the idea that you can ask Google a question like “How tall is Big Ben” and then ask a subsequent question about Big Ben using a pronoun like “How tall is it?” (By the way, Google claims Big Ben is 316′, which is a huge a** bell if you ask me.) In theory, Google would be able to tell the “it” refers to the Big Ben mentioned in the previous question.

So Google uses your previous search history to, hopefully, give you a more targeted answer. (Incidentally, being able to identify the antecedents of pronouns is Google’s first step towards person-hood and self-actualization. It’s only a matter of time.)

Remember the previous discussion of signs? This is just an extension of that. And the cool part? Conversational search doesn’t just apply to pronouns.

One time, I searched for “is honey gluten-free” (Don’t laugh. The store labeled the honey as “gluten-free,” and it confused me). Approximately 30 minutes later I searched “diabetes symptoms” because I had just found out Tom Hanks had diabetes.

This was the result:


conversational search


So, no pronouns used. Just Google assuming they know WHY I was searching for something. Too bad for them they don’t have access to my incredibly non-sequitur brain because, for me, the searches were unrelated.

It’ll be interesting to see how this rolls out in the future. That is all.

Finally I come to

Press Release Links

During the Q&A, someone asked if they had to edit old press releases with anchor text links in them. Cutts claimed there was no need to go back and edit them.

That’s bullshit.

And I have the manual penalty messages to prove it.

That’s right. Google TOLD us a press release containing links from FOUR years ago violated the guidelines.

Why would the Google web spam team send such a message when Cutts said companies do not need to alter past press releases?

Because the above press release contained the three strikes of linking: too many links, with too much exact-match anchor text, on a FREE press release site.

That last strike is the worst. The client had posted the same press release on a few other sites, so why did the web spam team single out this one? It was a free site and a content dump for press releases.

How do I know the fact it was a free site made this link in particular bad? Because this press release existed on several other reputable sites where it was not removed, and the site has since had its manual penalty revoked.

Upon removing the PRs from the free–and not very reputable–sites, Google did not mention them again in subsequent messages which contained similar examples.

So the claim you do not have to remove or alter past press releases is only half true.

If you have press releases containing anchor-text links on FREE press release sites, you’d better remove that shit post haste. Think you don’t have press releases on free press release sites? Think again. Many of these sites have scraped content from paid sites like PRWeb. This was the case for our client. The site even acknowledged they had taken the content from PRWeb at the bottom of the post. Check your back links and make sure this isn’t the case for you.

If you do find one of your press releases on one of these sites, do everything you can to remove it. If you are able to remove it, great. If the site does not remove the offending links, document your efforts. If (when, more likely) the manual penalty comes, you will be prepared with documentation to show Google.

So there you have it, the things from Cutt’s presentation I believe needed clarification and/or additional insight. Have you encountered anything in your time since the Cutts speech that contradicts what he told us? Thoughts about the above? Let me know.


Best of PubCon for PR Pros

This was my first year at PubCon (an internet marketing and social media conference), though several of our team are regular speakers. Matt Siltala is a bit of a PubCon celeb (he’s famous for his beard and seo/social street cred). Here’s the team in Vegas.

Avalaunch Media executive team

I went to most of the PR-related sessions, most of which were exceptional from both a PR and an SEO/social perspective. Here are my best tips from the top sessions for PR pros.

1. Easily buy SEO and do PR without Breaking the Rules.

PR is content: links, likes, pluses, traffic, media, and blogger mentions. Marty Weintraub showed us how he copies the direct link to a Google+ post.  It’s in a dropdown menu:

Google Plus direct link
How to find the direct link to a Google+ post.

Here’s a direct link for a report from our yeti on how to do social media right:

After you have the direct link, tweet about it using the Google+ link. Next promote the tweet for the hashtag #pubcon (Marty notes on this one he links directly to a blog post). He also posts on his personal Facebook page where he has many friends/followers and pays to boost the post so more of them see it. On his brand page he uses the power editor and creates many versions of the ad to show in the newsfeed. He targets his trade/industry people, in this case to places like Search Engine Journal, Pubcon and SMX. He creates another version of his ad for PR – places like Mashable, producers, show hosts, and local ad agencies. In addition, you can buy LinkedIn ads, Bing ads, and even run Google AdWords to the post.

While there may not be a direct correlation between Google+ interactions, there is a correlation. If you share and someone engages, then their connections see your content. Then your content rises when that person and their friends do related Google searches.

2. Press Outreach Secrets

Rob Woods along with moderator Warren Whitlock talked about creating press and Rob introduced me to a few new PR tools that I can’t wait to try.

  • Do a keyword search in Google News to find who is writing on the topic you want to cover. In Google News there is a link next to the author’s name and that takes you to their Google+ page. Some people put their email address on their “About” page or there is an icon to email them directly without knowing their email address (some have this disabled). If that fails you can tag them. Scraperr will scrape the top 500 results from any search term. From there you can pay someone on oDesk or Mechanical Turk to find contact info for the articles written that fit what you’re trying to pitch. Or you can do research to find contact information yourself.


  • Subscribe to Muckrack to build a list of journalists on Twitter related to your topic.
  • Search Followerwonk profiles for journalists from publications or blogs you want to do outreach to. For example you could search “tech reporter” or “sports reporter” or even search the URL field for the publication itself, such as “,, etc. You can export the results to a csv file. You can even download a file of only your followers and see if there are people from blogs or news organizations who follow you that you could reach out to.
  • Search to find the newspapers and TV stations for every city, state and many countries in the world. Or find the 15 most popular news websites here.
  • Check out Pitchbox to do research and keep track of your outreach efforts and results.

 3. Pinterest Marketing – How to Leverage the Fastest Growing Social Network

You know you truly love a subject when you’ve studied it for hours and still want to learn all you can about it. That’s how I am about Pinterest marketing. John Rampton shared a simple Pinterest marketing plan.

  • Spend 30 mins. on to see what is trending and to get ideas for your business niche. Breaking news, seasonal or pins for the holidays do well.
  • Go to the “popular” category on Pinterest and comment on the top 30 or so pins in your niche. I’d add that you could repin or like their pins.
  • Use auto-follow tool ninjapinner to auto follow back people who follow you.
  • Plan out your pins with ideas you had.
  • Use Viral Tag to schedule out your pins.

Vince Blackham shared some great case studies of pins that killed it on Pinterest. Check out his slides here. In the Q&A Vince gave advice to a vacation rental company that applies to other businesses too:  “don’t promote yourself, promote the experiences”. So for this company based in Park City, Utah, I picture boards with the best places to eat, the festivals, the farmer’s markets, the events, places to stay (with their properties), skiing, and outdoor activities in Park City, Utah.

For additional Pinterest marketing tips see my slides from Bend WebCAM: 10 Tips for Marketing on Pinterest.

Not only were these sessions incredibly helpful for those of us in public relations or blogger outreach, it was also a pleasure to reconnect with or meet the presenters. Thank you to all who shared their expertise at PubCon. I was inspired to fine tune my pitching and introduced to new ideas and tools to use.

If you were at PubCon, did I miss any great PR insights? Please let me know in the comments.

What Do Zombies And SEO Have In Common?

Recently I was shown this chart of a client, and I couldn’t help but post about it. The chart is simple, it’s tracking 3 pretty decent keywords for the client. I think it speaks volumes, and does a much better job of showing how alive (kicking and screaming even) SEO is!

SEO is NOT Dead [clearboth]

    Less than 3 months.

We took on this project just before January of THIS year, (you know, the year SEO is dead … yet again) and as you can see in less than 3 months, 2 of 3 keywords have jumped to the first page. The two on the first page are in the top 3. Even better, (and more important than the rankings) sales/conversions/leads are up, and never been better (according to client). I guess SEOs and Zombies have more in common than most people realize, and answers the question to the title of this post! I have case study after case study, and chart after chart that can show this for large numbers of keywords, but I wanted a simple approach to proving my point and I think this chart does it well. I also wanted to show results for a campaign that had no social or social signals, no viral pushing, no press, no PPC … nada. SEO only…. on page & link building – simple. SEO basics & a short amount of time … SEO 101 .. ok ok you get it.

    A focus on “rankings” Matt?

I usually do my best to not focus on rankings, and focus more on the conversion side (ie sales, leads etc)., but with all the talk lately about SEO, and it being declared dead yet again, I can’t resist but to post when I see stuff like this. All we did was simple SEO. We made sure the content on the page was unique, optimized and better than the competition. We used the right keywords. We made sure we had correct title tags, good meta data, used our header tags, alt tags etc. (all the normal on page SEO) and we built some links by producing good content for the site.

    It’s not rocket science, its good basic SEO.

We got these results by doing what every goo0d SEO ALREADY knows they need to be doing (what they have ALWAYS been doing – head down & working) and ignore the idiots.
* hat tip to Debra Mastaler for the title of this post.

How Important is Reading a BOOK to an SEO Firm?

I’m back!

Yes, it’s been too long since I blogged at DSM, and I’m honest when I say “I’ve missed it…”

I’m re-motivated to share ideas, ask questions, and even call people (and companies) out on their online business stupidity.

I’ll start, though, with a sincere SEO question:

Is reading a BOOK really helpful to an SEO Firm (or freelancer or wanna be)?

To make sure I’ve clarified – a BOOK is just that: paper back, hard-bound, library issued or purchased on Amazon. I’m not referring to an eBook, a list of blog articles or your habitual RSS Reader.

Books – you know – the things that Borders can’t seem to sell anymore. Do real books even exist these days?

Questions about Reading Books

  • What’s the last real book you read?
  • What real book(s) are you currently reading?
  • Was the book you read just for fun or to further your career as an online marketing “guru”?
  • Were you forced to read the book by your company as a PR or HR stunt?


Last night I was going through my Stumbleupon routine and found a great article about reading books. It caused me to ask myself some questions about my habits, the use of my time, and ultimately whether or not reading books would or wouldn’t help further my online marketing career in one way or another.

After reading the article, I came to the conclusion that YES, reading IS important for an SEO. YES, reading a real book WILL improve my online marketing skills. And YES, there are things I can do starting TODAY to get the “real-book-ball” rolling.

I got a lot out of the article and suggest you read it in its entirety; here are some key points I think all SEO’s can use to improve their business situation via reading a real book:

4 Reading Secrets to Help SEO’s Form Good Reading Habits


  1. Speed Reading is the Secret Weapon: Have you ever tried this? I know most of us think TIME is the biggest issue when it comes to reading a book. We’re too busy online all day every day to make time to read – let alone learn how to “speed read”. However, the real idea behind speed reading is that you know how (and when) to speed up and when to slow down. With a few basic techniques you can get a sizable increase on your maximum speed. If you want to learn how to speed read start reading here: Double Your Reading Rate.

Summary tips for speed reading:

  • Use your forefinger to follow the line on the page. This focuses your vision onto a specific part of the text.
  • Practice reading books faster than you can comprehend. This isn’t actual reading but it will make you familiar with using your finger and slowly increase your maximum speed.
  • State your purpose before starting to read. This will allow you to focus on information you need and reject information you don’t.


2. Carry a Book Wherever You Go: I’ve started doing this, although I’m not addicted to reading yet and would rather “people watch” than stick my nose in a book. However, “…gaps of a few weeks without any reading material means several less books you can read each year. Worse, time spent without a book breaks down your reading habits so it can be harder to start again.” As SEO’s, we travel from time to time, we take mass-transit to appointments, and occasionally we go on vacation. If we have a book with us, this good habit can begin to form. Otherwise, we are simply wasting time between appointments. Some of the people I look up to most in the business world are those who are avid readers of all kinds of books (not just business books).


3. Stop Web-Surfing! For me, this basically means go on a “Facebook Fast” and stop checking ESPN MLB Standings :) (By the way, did you all see that the Yankees are up 2.5 games in the AL East and have won 6 in a row?) If I were to add up all the time I “waste” dinking around on Facebook and reading articles about baseball and other sports on ESPN, I would have probably already read 25-30 books this year. How do you waste time? Can you use that wasted time to read a bit more?


4. Create a Book “To Read” List: Yes, there are great marketing books out there. Yes, there are even up-to-date SEO and Social Media Books out there. Search for them on Amazon and make a list. Create an “Online Marketing Book Club” and read books together and then meet to discuss them and share ideas (depending on who you’re with I guess). What are books you’d like to read but haven’t yet? Here are some of mine:



What do you think about reading a real book?

Do you think it’s good for SEO companies to be reading books about their industry (or about whatever else)? Why or why not?

What books do YOU recommend?

One thing that wasn’t discussed is audio books – have you ever tried those? I personally am too scatter-brained and haven’t seemed to get as much out of listening to a book while doing other things.

Nate Moller works with businesses who want to improve their online business. For over five years, he’s worked with thousands of companies who are looking for answers in their online marketing journey. Follow Nate on Twitter and become a fan of Moller Marketing on Facebook!

These are STILL Common SEO Mistakes

This is gonna be a quick post of some of the most common site errors I still see to date.  Crazy thing to think about IMO is that it’s the middle of the year in 2011, and we are STILL seeing some of these.  Now I know SEO died many years ago, but its just crazy to think these basic onsite SEO issues are not being handled like they should be with business owners.  Heh, maybe we still ARE needed.  What gets me is that even some of the most basic changes can bring about huge differences in traffic and rankings – and of course, sales and making money … which is why you are doing this right?  To make money?

As I ran quickly through a few sites last week (for potential new clients) these were the common problems found:

  1. 301 issues … on /index.htm/html/php as well as not having www or non www’s assigned
  2. No site maps … of any kind, nor had any of them even heard of Google Webmaster Central
  3. No Custom Meta Data – in some cases all descriptions were same with no unique titles for every page
  4. No Blog, or if they did have a blog it was on blogspot or somewhere off domain – (don’t do that if you are wanting SEO benefits onsite) sure there is debate on this one, but I am sticking to my belief that it is best to have your content on your own domain … period)
  5. Internal Linking Structure – too many “click here” links – great post by Matt McGee where one of his talking points is on text links
  6. No content, or not enough content on home page – I would love comment on this one – what do you guys and gals think is a good number of words for content on home pages?  other pages?  Just curious to see what you all think.  Thanks for playing along.
  7. No images, or hardly any images used and if there was an image used the naming structure was bad like “image1.gif” vs “product keyword”
  8. No use of H1 tags …. anywhere


Now I am sure there were more issues on these pages, (remember this was a quick site “look over”) but these were the common ones, and that is the point of this post because these are so basic.  You guys … these are basic issues that should be done before the websites even launched.  I just felt like posting this because it seems more and more lately I am getting these kind of issues knocking on my door.

Please add your most common seen mistakes in the comments with links to posts where people can find answers.  Thanks in advance!


When Is It OK to Say No to a Prospective Client?

Have you ever had this problem?

In your head you’re saying “No, No, No!!!” But then you say “Yes” anyway? Me too, me too…

I’ve been self-employed now for almost six full months.

I’ve found some “Golden Clients”, and I’ve dealt with some that have come close to making we want to go back to “Corporate America” (not really).

I’ve come to the conclusion that some clients are just not worth it. Sure, they may be paying you pretty good money to work for them. Sure, they may have respect for what you’re doing (sort of). But at the end of the day, due to their unrealistic expectations and/or their lack of understanding about what they purchased, they demand more and more for less and less, and they will probably not end up being one of those clients who refers you to all their contacts.

Why is this?

Is it because you didn’t do a quality job?

Is it because they don’t have a good business?

Is it because you lacked good communication skills from the beginning?

Or is it because they’re just down right bad people?

The answer is NO, it’s probably none of these reasons.

I worked with a client once who shared a great quote with me. In talking about sales, he said:

NO is the first two letters of NOT YET…

I think this statement is really applicable with the type of clients I’m talking about. Turning down a client does not mean you have to completely burn a bridge and avoid them like the plague.

Saying No may simply mean “Not yet…”

Here’s why:

  1. EDUCATION: The prospect needs a bit more education on what you’ll be offering and what expectations they should have. Unrealistic expectations are the most difficult thing to deal with. You I don’t want to tell the client “I can’t do that…” but in some cases, I just can’t.
  2. ORGANIZATION: The prospect needs to make sure they have all their “ducks in a row” before you dive into the complex world of SEO and Social Media. Do they have at least one dedicated employee who will be working closely with your team? If not, they need to get one. I’ve realized that my job is NOT to run their business or make their business decisions; instead, my job is to take what their doing and help get the word out there and optimize their efforts accordingly. Without a dedicated staff member who is teachable and preferably internet savvy, it’s going to be a long road and one I’m not sure I want to travel down.
  3. EXPECTATIONS: The prospect needs to determine what they what to achieve with your SEO efforts: increased brand awareness, more traffic, higher ROI, ORM, etc. If they don’t really know what they want to achieve, none of your efforts will completely satisfy. As I said before, unrealistic expectations are the most difficult thing to deal with and are a HUGE RED-FLAG. Using case studies of other clients you’ve worked with can help people understand what they should expect. If they don’t think what you’ve done is enough, then NOT YET is a perfect solution. Chances are, they’ll go with another firm and then possibly come back to you anyway.
  4. COMMITMENT: The prospect needs to fully commit to helping you help them. This is similar to organization. If a client expects you to learn their business or industry overnight, NOT YET is a good answer. If a client can’t give you any time to meet together, they just want you to run with it, NOT YET is a good answer. Clients have to be willing to dedicate at least some time and resources if your efforts are going to pay off.
  5. BELIEF: The prospect needs to believe that what you’re doing is truly of value. A lot of this goes right back to education: if they have no idea what SEO is or why they need it, but instead their buying from you because they know their competitors are using an SEO firm, they most likely don’t truly believe that what you can do is going to help them. I know, you may be asking the same thing I am – “Then WHY would they invest the money?” Good question! Just like the other points, though, if they don’t really believe they need this (and sometimes it’s hard to catch this right away), “Not Yet” is the best answer.

What have your experiences been with saying No (or Not Yet) to clients?

Have you passed the fear of turning down new business? or do you still say YES to everyone and then regret it over and over and over again?

Nate Moller, a self-employed entrepreneur, has been teaching clients how to start an online business for over five years. He’s worked with thousands of companies who are looking for answers in their online marketing journey. Follow Nate on Twitter and become a fan of Moller Marketing on Facebook!

Giving SEO The Credit It Deserves

A Thanks To SEO
A Thanks To SEO

SEO has been GOOD to me.  SEO has been GOOD to my clients. I have been doing this since the late 90s, and still no complaints…from anyone, not one.

Don’t compare us to lawyers, don’t try to tell us we are selling snake oil, and especially – I mean especially, don’t try to tell us our industry is dead (have you heard of Google?). We have heard it all before, and to be quite honest, we are getting bored of it. Seriously figure out something else to talk about in 2010. Please? Go link bait your agenda in some other industry.

The number one thing I learned in 2009 is that SEO IS NOT DEAD despite the claims. What a great year to be an Internet business owner. Am I right? When i looked all around my town this year, and saw small businesses closing up (supposedly because of the recession) I never feared about any of my stuff online not continuing to grow and prosper. SEO has been good to me, so when I hear about (or when I wasted my time reading) some ass hats link bait of why it’s dead it makes me wanna scream.


I often wish I had more time to blog in response to these idiots. Even more so, I wish I was a better blogger, but I am not – so guess what? I will just stick with taking care of my clients and growing my company (Its worked so far, pretty well too). Wow how do some of you bloggers do it? My hat is off to you! I barley get time to post every once in a great while, but I wanted to make sure I took this opportunity to THANK, NOT BASH SEO, and what it has done for me.

I implement an SEO strategy for every single one of my clients this year, in one of its forms. Call it what you want, blended search, mixed media, online marketing – again, who cares? If you are a good Internet marketer you already are aware of whats going on, and doing right for your clients.  (I am pretty sure it was) Danny Sullivan said it best “As long as there are search engines, there will be SEO”  (although I can’t remember exactly where)  So now, you try to tell me that because of social media, the rules about SEO have changed. The point of SM is relationship building and sharing of information is it not? Through that, you build links, get sites to rank for your name (example: if you are on Twitter and are active go Google your business name and tell me where Twitter is) and drive traffic. Hmm, sounds a lot like SEO to me. Getting YOU, Your Brand, or YOUR CONTENT to come up in the SERPs. But of course, none of this matters because SEO is dead …. right?

SEO is NOT Dead
SEO is NOT Dead

Looking forward to SEO in 2010

I am very excited to know what I know, and very excited to continue to use SEO in 2010. I look forward to continuing to help my clients businesses grow with SEO too. They have all thanked me this year, and are looking forward to another year just as good. A side note FYI, I helped a lot of my clients grow their businesses this year with out even an ounce of social media, or other forms of marketing. That’s right, just 100% SEO – good ole onsite and offsite SEO, link building etc.. Please, don’t get me wrong, if all the decisions were up to me, I would use every form of marketing available, but lets be honest with each other, some clients are just not ready to embrace it yet.

How to tell if SEO will not die in 2010?

  • Are you always going to need a properly coded site? (technical SEO)
  • Are you always going to need good content?
  • Do you want people to find your content?
  • Do you want people to find your images and videos?
  • Are you always going to need people linking to you?
  • Do you want people talking about your business?
  • Do you think you might use Google, Yahoo or Bing in 2010?

If you answered YES to all of these questions (which I dare any of you to tell me no) then YES, you will be using SEO in 2010.  There are so many posts that answer this better then I do with the bullet points above, so read them, but this post is to THANK SEO, I don’t need to defend it.  I know what its done for me.

This SEO IS DEAD debate is like a bad car wreck, everyone feels like they need to slow down and look at it, but they don’t really need to … do they? Move along, there is nothing more to see here (remember this can date back to 1997 – LOL).   Let’s hope 2010 brings more intelligent posts and conversation about SEO and Internet marketing, especially from people who should know better.

Getting Quality Backlinks with Press Releases

My approach to press releases is different than traditional PR. Most of the press releases I write are less about getting press coverage for my news, and more about getting quality backlinks to my site. However, it is possible to do both. It starts with a good story and added to that, online distribution.

Many people believe it’s enough to blog about their news. For some high traffic blogs (thought leaders) this might be true. For most blogs there isn’t the distribution. You want to reach outside of your community for greater exposure.

Here’s an IM conversation I had recently about the importance of press release distribution:

Clogon: i guess i just put my “press releases” in the form of blog posts

Me: yes and your reach is pretty limited compared to a distribution site that sends it to thousands of people

Clogon: so which one do you prefer at this point – or are there better ones?

and cost?

Me: even our hero [name deleted] said the pr is what killed it the last time I worked with him

on a contest

prweb is still the best

tell me you can get that kind of reach for free

not going to happen

even if you blog you should be sending out press releases

it doesn’t need to be either/or

What should you write about?

This is easy if you have news to announce – like a new product. If you don’t have any news of your own to announce, look at the news going on in your industry right now. Then give your opinion or slant on it.

One of the best ways to increase visibility is to tie into a trend. Right now a trend that’s hot is the economy and how it’s affecting your business, customers or community. Anything that has a green benefit (as in saves the environment) is popular. For example, colleges are trying to save money by cutting down on the number of commencement ceremonies. What is happening in your industry?

I look at press releases as feature stories more than hard news stories. That way journalists or bloggers have a ready-made story to work from and a good angle. We’re either lazy or we’re overworked and giving us a good storyline is helpful. We can add our opinion and input and it’s good to go. So give us a good story and make sure it’s not boring or bragging. That’s the fastest way to turn off a writer.

A good story will get you links – sometimes not to the press release itself – but they see the story and link to the domain.

Want more information about press releases? Read my Book.
My book, “I Want a Killer Press Release, Now What?!? A Guide to Online PR” goes over more ways to increase your exposure online. It’s in pre-order both in paperback and as an ebook. I wrote it after years of writing press releases and seeing what works. Also as a resource for people who want to write and distribute stories themselves. I also charge a fee to review and improve press releases that are already written. It’s my favorite thing to do.

FREE OFFER: I’m looking for before/after examples of press releases so I have a special offer. I will review and improve your press release free. Just be one of the first 10 people who make a comment on my blog or become a fan of the online PR book on Facebook.

By entering you give me permission to use your name in blog posts and promotional materials. Email me when you’ve done this. If you’re one of the first 10 then I’ll ask you to send the press release to grocerybike @ gmail .com

No matter what your budget writing and distributing news online monthly or quarterly is a great way to build links and get traffic to your site.