Friday, May 30, 2014

How to Beat Your Competitors at Organic SEO


SEO is dynamic, more than a tad bit complicated, and highly competitive. Depending on your industry, staying at the top of rankings can range from mildly challenging to completely cutthroat. In order to stay ahead of the curve, you need to be committed to following trends, being efficiently reactive, and staying willing to examine the small and big pictures thoroughly.

The good news: SEO is not rocket science. It’s decipherable, and those that stay educated can absolutely succeed. If you’re ready to dive in and beat your competitors at their own game, follow the five tips below and enjoy your definitive edge.

Step 1: Study Your Top Competitors’ On-Site SEO
In order to beat your top competition, you need to know the tactics they employ. The aspects you need to study include:
  1. Title tag / meta data structure and content
  2. Keyword usage, especially in headers
  3. Overall SEO activity – use a tool like Site Comparison for on-page analysis
Watch closely; if one of your competitors makes major changes to their strategy, that’s a key indicator. It usually means they were either dinged by a search engine and needed to change course, or discovered a new trend worth adopting. If you see their rankings improve as a result, you know what to do.

Step 2: Monitor All Backlinks
On your own side, it’s a good idea to keep a constant log of your company’s backlinks; this will help you identify any impending negative SEO attacks, and ensure all links pointing to your site are from relevant, reputable sources.

On your competitor’s side, watching their link strategy can unearth new link partners in your space, as well as expose tactics that are helping them stay ahead. Use a tool like Majestic SEO for assistance.

Step 3: Show-Stopping Content, and Lots of It
This might be step three in your approach, but it’s undoubtedly the most important. Your number one strategy in staying ahead of the curve is to have a consistent flow of epically relevant and appealing content. From blogs to white papers, videos to podcasts, slideshows to infographics, content is the best way to elevate your SEO rankings and your overall brand awareness.

Fresh content ensures the search engines are regularly taking notice. Automated indexing systems are looking for new content, and if your site becomes stagnant, that’s a surefire way to give your competitors an edge. Well-crafted content is also your best bet for going viral. It only takes a couple of highly shareable releases to really start getting your company on the map. If you do nothing else to propel your organic SEO strategy to the next level, let it revolve around consistent content creation.

Step 4: Smart Keyword Selection and Execution
While it is no longer necessary to focus on things like keyword density, your keyword selection is still an integral part of a successful SEO plan.

One of the biggest mistakes companies make lies around top-ranking keywords. If you find a combo that lands you in the top spot, don’t assume that’s helping your brand unequivocally. Being number one for a given set of keywords should not be the goal; your bottom line is. If you’ve targeted keywords and have successfully landed high rankings, but you see little to no overall traffic or revenue improvements, you’re simply targeting the wrong keywords.

Search queries that yield the highest traffic increases are all you should focus on. Use tools like Google Analytics to monitor different keyword combinations, and their related traffic correlations. Do the same for your competitors because that can help reveal strengths and weaknesses in your own strategy. Tools like Open Site Explorer can help you remain in-the-know.

Step 5: Stay SEO Savvy
If you’re reading this article, you’re likely already aware that organic SEO is an ever-changing landscape. To stay competitive, it’s essential that you stay current. It’s astounding how many folks are still employing tactics from five years ago, while experiencing intense frustration that their businesses are not advancing.

If you’re staying on the cutting edge, have the courage to try new trends as they emerge. These are obviously not guaranteed to work, but if you find a magic potion before any of your competitors do, that’s a genius way to leap ahead.

Stay current. Keep on point for organic SEO, video SEO, and any specific discipline that is relevant to your company or industry. Being aware of rising trends and tactics that have fallen away can be the difference between leading the pack and scrambling to stay in the fray.

There’s really no option in organic SEO to commit part way. It’s truly an all-or-nothing game. Without a steadfast commitment to all the steps listed above, it’s highly unlikely you will see anything but lackluster results.

Creating an ironclad SEO strategy requires a consistent commitment to content, competitor research, on-site metrics, and current news. The result is a powerful combination of real-world results and future trends that can help you reach a rankings level your competitors only dream of.

What are some other key methods you have for staying competitive in organic SEO? Do you stay on top of what other companies in your space are up to, or just focus on your own results?

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Camera-Shy Video Marketing

Video marketing is huge! But if the idea of being on camera is more than you can handle, and you prefer to stay behind-the-scenes, there are tools that can help! Create marketing videos using Camstudio, a program that records presentations right from your screen. That means your mug doesn’t even need to make an appearance–you could film this in your jammies if you really wanted. Camstudio is free and comes with easy to follow tools that’ll have your video going viral in no time!

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How To Answer Questions On An Employee Self Evaluation

Examples of Answers to an Employee Self Evaluation

Employees will tell you how they measure up in self-evaluations.
Employees will tell you how they measure up in self-evaluations.

A performance appraisal offers a manager the opportunity to evaluate an employee, but it can also offer an employee the opportunity to evaluate himself. Self-appraisal can encourage employees to become mindful of areas where they need to improve and it can reveal attitudes and biases a manger might never guess from observation. Some examples of employee responses can prepare you for the results you may get from employee self-evaluations.

Productivity Answers

When asked to evaluate their productivity, most employees think they are very productive. Comments such as, "Of course, everyone has an off day once in awhile," or "Despite a lot of personal problems, I did pretty good" can be cues to examine whether you are really getting a full effort from the employee. Anyone who blames the business for a lack of productivity with answers such as, "I want to be more productive, but management keeps wasting my time with busy-work." This kind of self-evaluation turned into a management evaluation may indicate someone who does not take responsibility for their own actions.

Quality of Work Answers

If you ask employees to write down an appraisal of the quality of their work, ignore the general pats on the back and look at details. If someone says, "I make some errors, but I always try to correct them and learn from them," you probably have a good employee. If you see responses like, "There's not always time to do my best work," or "Nobody's perfect," you may have an excuse-maker for an employee.

Skills Evaluations

You can ask employees to analyze what skills they needed to complete their tasks in the past year. Watch for answers such as, "I found that my organizational skills really helped me do my job," and "My interpersonal skills contributed a lot to getting things done," and you will know you have a self-aware employee who is trying to make the workplace as productive as possible. If you hear, "I can't wait until I get a promotion so I can really use my best skills," or "A lot of my skills go to waste because people don't always appreciate what I can do," you probably have an employee who is not fully invested in their current position.

Answers About Problem-Solving Abilities

A business owner needs employees who can solve problems. If you ask employees to evaluate their problem-solving talents, you may hear, "I jump right in and try to fix whatever is wrong," or "Several times last year I headed off problems before they got too big." This is the kind of employee who can be a real asset. What you don't want to hear: "Every time I try to solve a problem, I'm afraid I'll get in trouble if it doesn't work," or "I feel like manages are here to solve problems. I just do my job." This type of employee can be someone who just wants to show up for a set number of hours and get paid for doing as little as possible.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

How to Correctly Optimize Press Releases for SEO

A Guide to Correctly Optimizing Press Releases for SEO

Image courtesy of (KROMKRATHOG) /

Do you have what it takes to create and distribute stellar content in the form of press releases without terminating your friendship with Google? It’s no secret that search engines work around the clock to ensure a flawless Web experience for all categories of Web users. This means Google is constantly plotting against content creators who rely on less orthodox search engine optimization to bring their websites on page one in search engine results, boost their online visibility and fill their own pockets the easy way.
Why Is Google Constantly Blocking Your Way to SEO Success?
Unfortunately, the never-ending string of sneaky changes sometimes manages to puzzle even the most experienced webmasters and stop them from getting a good night’s sleep. What seems acceptable today becomes intolerable tomorrow. Google, can you please make up your mind and surprise us with a little bit of consistency? The bad news is that it is not in our power to control Google, its plentitude of algorithm updates and its endless list of surprises, which is probably longer than the one that Santa prepares for us on every single year. The good news is that even though we cannot anticipate or correct Google’s independent spirit, we can adapt to these new challenges and breathe new life into our old content marketing strategy.
The Good, the Bad and the Dangerous of Content Distribution via Press Releases
You may be aware of the fact that Google has a real problem with bad link-building strategies. And by “bad” we mean deceptive and designed to manipulate search engine results to the webmaster’s advantage. According to Search Engine Watch, Google may also be bothered by press releases that are created and distributed to help a certain website occupy a better position in search engines without actually doing readers any favors.
The same source mentions the fact that Google seems determined to squeeze every single drop of SEO juice from press releases; this appears to be a diabolic master plan that was rolled out quite some time ago. The most pressing problem that has recently come to our attention is this: Google is actually cataloging links in press releases as “unnatural.” As a result, it is compelling webmasters to nofollow them. So what does this major change mean for companies and organizations that depend on properly optimized press releases to highlight their mission, vision and purpose in business?
Search Engine Watch reveals that in 2006, press releases were a real gold mine for SEO experts who knew how to give wings to an inspired marketing message and optimize quality content for search engines at the same time. Eight years later, press releases are no longer considered the Holy Grail of search engine optimization. On the contrary, sloppiness and refusal to comply with Google’s rules and guidelines while writing press releases can get you in serious trouble and expose you to considerable penalties. Don’t say you haven’t been warned: according to Search Engine Land, press releases won’t help your rankings. This statement is supported by Matt Cutts, who revealed that press releases cannot and will not improve your current position in Google.
So what’s the best method to keep risks at bay and still profit from the good that still lies in every single well-written press release? People who want to rely on press releases to spread the word about their companies by publishing their content via article websites or paid wire services such as Marketwire, Business Wire or PR Newswire are advised to nofollow their links, especially if they represent optimized anchor texts.
In this particular context, the rel nofollow attribute seems to be a life preservative that is your one and only hope when you are just about to sink in an ocean of gray hat SEO tactics and uncertainties. When in doubt, just use rel nofollow to stay in Google’s good graces. Rules may be created to be broken, but this is certainly not the case. The nofollow tactic seems a simple, easy to implement preventive measure that could enable many content creators to avoid penalties. But older press releases that have already been distributed and republished by countless sources are the real concern in this case.
Rel Nofollow: A Life Preserver That We Should Hold On to When It Comes to Optimizing Press Releases
In this particular context, one question is on everybody’s lips: will the ghost of already archived press releases that are all over the Internet haunt its creators and distributors? How much time will paid wire services need to clean up this mess and implement new sets of rules to avoid mishaps that could make Google really angry? At this point, nobody can provide an accurate answer to these 2 pressing questions that are on everybody’s mind.
What we do know for a fact is that nothing can stand in the way of clients who want to share their newsworthy facts with the whole world; not even Google’s mood swings. Businesses depend on press releases to boost their visibility, promote lines of products or new services, diversify their clientele and improve brand awareness. From this point of view, press releases are undeniably powerful allies and nothing can change this. There’s only one alteration that should be factored in at this point: links should be handled with gloves.
The rel nofollow alternative represents a viable option at hand for people who don’t want to let Google stop them from creating and distributing first-class press releases that have what it takes to inform and educate a broad audience. In other words, content creators shouldn’t exclude links from their strategy. On the contrary, they should include one or two to help readers land on a company’s blog or website and stimulate them to take action. However, the new changes made public by Google, related to link building strategies in press releases may bring us back to an old-school form of premium PR work, which is not necessarily a step back. After all, PR Newswire reminds us that we should write for living, breathing people, not for machines.
After all, press releases are the bread and butter of most journalists and respectable publications like The New York Times, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, for instance. According to Search Engine Watch, excellent press release wire services, like PRWeb for instance, feed the content hunger of more than 8,000 websites and give millions of people something to talk about. This is only one reason why press releases are truly irreplaceable.
Breaking News: Press Releases are So Much More Than Mere SEO Tools
Truth be told, we can’t imagine how gigantic, prestigious newsrooms like Reuters and AP would manage to function without healthy feeds of quality press releases in their system. The problem is that some content creators craft and distribute content just to generate inbound links, which is precisely the thing that drives Google crazy.
To overcome this obstacle, writers, marketers and SEO experts should refresh their memory and remember that press releases are not mere SEO tools used to push a certain page on a privileged position in Google. Press releases should be perceived as high-value content pieces designed to generate authentic reads and clicks and enhance the online visibility of a brand in a natural manner.
Engaging, informative content is the key to success in what press releases are concerned. First-hand newsworthy facts are mandatory, not optional. The one or two links accompanied by the rel nofollow attribute are just the icing on your cake. If all this fuss created around links has made you feel confused, just take a closer look at the five foolproof ways to optimize your press releases without exposing Five Risk-Free Ways to Get the Gold Medal While Optimizing Your Press Releases for Google and SEO
1. Keep the Essential Links to Drive Traffic. The nofollow alternative sounds like music to our ears. Let’s be serious: you cannot ban the usage of links in your press releases. This radical decision would basically defy the purpose of this type of content pieces. How would users be able to spot the company behind the amazing technological breakthrough, the new affordable line of products or the innovative concept that you’re describing with so much enthusiasm in your press release?
2. Convert Press Releases into Useful Inroads to Killer Content Posted on a Blog or a Website. Raise the curiosity of your readers by creating short, concise, compelling press releases that represent the bridge between readers and a company’s blog or website.
3. Come Up with an Intriguing Story Idea. When it comes to stories that could be easily assimilated by the media, new is good. But new and memorable is always better. Try to present a certain fact from a different perspective. Thinking outside the box always pays off. This doesn’t mean that you should feel encouraged to lie or exaggerate facts listed in your press release. It just means that you have to craft a compelling story around the news you are getting ready to serve on a silver platter. Journalists have a nose for interesting facts that could capture the attention of their readers and boost their engagement. This is precisely why they are more likely to pay attention to press releases that come up with a genuine story with a twist, while avoiding dull content pieces that are mostly based on fabricated facts and nonsense.
4. Perfect Your Distribution Strategies. If you already count on an amazing wire service, like PRWeb for instance, to distribute your press releases, this doesn’t mean that the job is done and you can just cross your arms and wait for miracles to happen. You may not like the news that you’re about to hear, but here it goes: in order to connect with a large segment of readers/prospects, you have to play on multiple fields.
If you rely on a wire service, this means that you are already one step ahead of your main competitors. Keep up the good work by expanding your content distribution strategy. Post your press releases on some of the most popular social media platforms, where they could be read, filtered, assimilated, liked and shared by your fans and followers. Don’t neglect the enormous power of social networking websites. They are extremely valuable channels that enable you to interact with your targeted audience, inform and educate your readers, become a leader in your field of activity and build and maintain solid relationships in the long run.
5. Rely on Multimedia Content to Broaden Your Horizons. In an era in which the Gangnam Style clip managed to go viral and raise almost two billion views on YouTube, it becomes more than obvious that press releases based solely on text fragments are so yesterday. Step up your content creating strategy a bit by including multimedia elements in your informative piece. Videos, infographics and images correlated with well-balanced, short paragraphs increase pageviews and keep your readers on your side for the longest period of time (yes, even the ones with a very short attention span).
Create and embed stunning video content to convince journalists and bloggers that what you have to say is actually important, relevant and newsworthy. Remember that the Internet is highly polluted by junk and overly optimized content with very little substance. This is precisely why you have to rely on five-star multimedia elements to prove the worthiness of your press releases and let the readers know that your content pieces could become the nucleus of high-quality, reader-oriented articles and blog posts. Furthermore, inforgraphics are hotter than ever. Turning your press release into an infographic will only support your content distribution efforts. Many newsrooms are crazy in love with this type of content, so they won’t hesitate to use it and link back to its original source.
These five suggestions reflect the fact that press releases are still alive and well. They may no longer be able to help you generate inbound links, create and implement more or less shady link building strategies, boost the link juice of your current optimization campaign, but this doesn’t mean that press releases are useless artifacts. On the contrary, optimized keywords, great attention-grabbing headlines, proper social media strategies, hashtags and stellar multimedia content can and will reward your legitimate SEO efforts and bring your message in front of a large audience who is ready and eager to take notes.

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Do You Have What It Takes?

Starting a business is hard, and it isn't for everyone. Getting angry with your boss or longing for a flexible schedule aren't reasons to go out on your own. Entrepreneurs are a breed all their own, and there are certain things needed that will mean the difference between success, and not so much success. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and the same can be said for starting a business. Having a personal support system in place is crucial when your small business ideas are going from crawling to walking.

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