Rand Fishkin joins us for another exciting episode of Inbound Now, HubSpot's social media and inbound marketing Podcast ! Rand is CEO and co-founder of SEOmoz , co-author of The Art of SEO , and the go-to guy in the SEO industry.
In this episode, we chat about:
- How social media is impacting search
- Google +1 Button vs. Facebook "Likes"
- Where to start with link building
- Getting bloggers to link to you
- How to go about guest blogging
- Earning links, the right way
- What you really need to know about the Panda update
- Search verticals business-to-business companies should focus on
- Tips for hiring an SEO consultant/agency
- Leveraging user-generated content with YOUmoz
- The future of where SEO is heading
View the full transcript here: SEO Best Practices & Link building strategies with Rand Fishkin
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How Social Media Is Impacting Search
"If lots of people start seeing those, lots of people are opting into that, we're going to see just a ton more search rankings influenced by what our friends are sharing and saying."
Social media is impacting search in two ways: direct impact and latent social influence.
Facebook and Twitter both sell data to Google and Bing, and that data is then included in search algorithms. They use the number of times something has been shared on Facebook, who tweeted something, how many times something was tweeted, etc. to calculate content authority (How important is this article that was tweeted a ton of times?) and author authority (How important is this person who tweeted it?). This is the direct impact.
Being connected to other people and networks has an impact on your search results. For example, if you're logged into Google (and you've somehow connected your account with Twitter, Facebook, etc. -- or even if you're just logged into Facebook while you're logged into Google) and you do a Google search, you'll actually see results in terms of your network and who shared what. These results move up in the rankings. This is the latent social influence.
Google +1 Button
"I actually think Google desperately needs this. Right now they're relying on data from Facebook and Twitter. Those two networks could close off access to their information to Google."
The Google +1 Button was released a couple of weeks ago. More on it can be found here . While Bing will likely always have access to Facebook's data because they own a piece of Facebook, Google is relying on data from Facebook and Twitter. The Google +1 Button is its own, Google-owned, social share data.
The whole concept is simple. If you like a webpage, click the +1 button. Then Google will learn what you do and don't like and show you better results and what your friends +1'd.
Google +1 Button vs. Facebook "Likes"
"You can do either/or, or both. But I think the thing about liking a page on Facebook is it does nothing for me."
While clicking "like" shows you're sharing good stuff with your friends, there's really no takeaway. With the Google +1 Button the takeaway is better, more useful search results.
Where to Start With Link Building
"I think some of the easiest ways right now are social ways."
When just starting out, begin with the low-hanging fruit.
Connect with people on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Keep tabs on your keywords on those sites, and reply with a helpful comment.
Answer relevant questions on Q&A sites like Yahoo! Answers , Quora , Facebook Answers, LinkedIn Answers , Formspring , and ChaCha .
Another place to start? Leverage existing relationships. Offer to contribute testimonials for partners with a link back to your website. Give your customers easy ways to link back to you (e.g. website badges, social media buttons, etc).
Getting Bloggers to Link to You
"One of my favorite things that people say is 'I really want to get links from all these bloggers. How do I get links from all these bloggers?' Here's a great way. Email the bloggers, and don't ask them to please link to you ."
Instead, ask bloggers what really great resource they wish was created in their niche so they could share it with their audience. Then create whatever that is and, most likely, the bloggers will link to you and share it.
Guest BloggingWhen you approach a blogger about doing a guest post, the way and attitude in which you approach them matters. A guest post isn't article spinning or article marketing -- it's a unique piece written for one blog.
"It's the difference between 'I am going to go find an article spinning software and then do article spinning out on 500 sites' and 'I'm going to write a guest post for this great clothing blog in my industry that would really appreciate my writing style, and I'm going to get good enough, and I'm not going to spam anyone. But they're really going to want to have me contributing.'"
Earn the trust, respect, and authority of people in your space and they will naturally want to share your business, product, service, message, etc.
And don't forget to look beyond blogs when you're earning links! There could be a store down the street with a website, and you could offer to put some high quality articles (with pictures from their store) on their site for them. Think of outside-the-box ways to earn those links.
What You Really Need to Know About the Panda Update
"The Panda update should be very good for authentic, small business marketers."
What Google did with the Panda update was take all the "content farm" sites out there and push down their rankings, which should expose more content from small, authentic business and other websites.
If you're contributing online content and you're authentic and doing well, you'll be fine. You'll run into issues if your site is filled with an overwhelming amount of advertising that is blocking the text, and if the writing reads like keyword-stuffed garbage.
Google is taking all the data they've received about what people find frustrating in sites like the "content farms," and the sites people like (like blogs, small business websites, LinkedIn, etc.), and using it in their algorithm.
Search Verticals Business-to-Business Companies Should Focus On
"Local is absolutely huge. Every business that is locally focused that can drive most of their customers from local referrals needs to sign up for the Google Local Business Center . They need to get their business address registered."
Some businesses (interior design businesses, for example) do get some traffic from image searches. But the traffic is typically low quality.
Video is huge right now. You can do video mark-up through a video XML sitemap, so you don't have to host the video. If you're embedding YouTube videos on a web page, you can send a video XML sitemap to Google that tells them you've created this content and added a video. Then, if Google wants to, they can annotate the listing to show a piece of the video (a little image next to the listing). Click-through rates and time spent on the site goes way up.
Local is a big area of investment. Businesses should be trying to get local citations ( Whitespark Local Citation Finder is a good tool to use) and see where other people go.
Tips for Hiring an SEO Consultant/Agency
"I would say if you're a tiny, local, small business all the way up to a medium-sized business, I would bias toward at least learning the basics yourself. It's nearly impossible to judge how credible, accurate, high quality, and intelligent an SEO expert or a consultant or an agency is if you don't have some underlying fundamental knowledge yourself."
Invest some time in learning the fundamentals before hiring a consultant or an agency. This will help you recognize when something isn't right with who you hire. A good reference guide is "The Beginner's Guide to SEO" by SEOmoz . Also check out Google's SEO Starter Guide .
Make sure to ask the consultant/agency typical questions, like:
- Who else have you worked with, and can I speak with them?
- Tell me about the strategy you designed for so-and-so. How did it work? How did it drive good content, good keywords, and good links? Why was it going to be successful for them?
- How do you measure your campaigns?
- Tell me about some of the toughest SEO experiences you've had and some of the easiest ones.
- Which methods do you consider white hat? Which methods do you consider black hat?
- Can you guarantee rankings and results? No is the good answer here. No one can. Only Google controls the rankings.
Leveraging User-Generated Content With YOUmoz
"We've got to practice what we preach, right? If you're telling people, 'You should guest blog, and you should let people guest blog,' we want to have that ability also."
YOUmoz is the way SEOmoz allows users to contribute content. People submit content and an editor reviews it. If an article gets a lot of good feedback and the community loves it, they'll promote the article to the main blog. Then the post will be seen by 95,000 people who read the main blog every day.
It currently drives 10% of the site's overall traffic and the YOUmoz feed is subscribed to by 5,000 people.
The Future of SEO
"Number one is, given this Panda update, I think they went a little light on what they can do from the user's perspective. So make your website beautiful, make it usable, make it fast."
First and foremost, optimize your website to provide the best possible user experience.
Secondly, get on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter and, at least, claim your name and participate a little bit. Check out "The Science of ReTweets" HubSpot webinar with Dan Zarrella to learn about what predicts success on Twitter.
Watch the content that you produce. Great content is more than taking a long time to write something and thinking it's good. Go find out -- from your users, from bloggers in your industry, from people on Twitter, etc. -- what they want and need, and how they want to consume it.