Archive for the ‘SEO’ Category

Finding Missed Link Opportunities for your Infographic Using Google Image Search

Monday, November 5th, 2012

Back in July I learned a handful of nifty tricks after completing Google’s Power Searching with Google, and one of the more interesting tips was the ability to drag and drop any image from the web or from your desktop into Google image search to find the same or similar images.  This is probably takeaway I have used more frequently, especially when doing some fact checking with hurricane Sandy photos.  But as I continued to utilize this feature it occurred to me that people building links using infographics could easily use this feature to identify places that picked up their infographic and in turn make sure they are getting proper attribution.

How It Works

Google image search can easily search for images by simply clicking and dragging.  If you visit images.google.com you are able to drag images from other tabs directly into the search bar, or you can drag an image from a folder on your computer or desktop and perform the same search.  Searches using this feature will present you with a variety of results that look the same, or similar to your result.  Because of this, it is easy for you to find sources across the web that have been indexed with images that match what you’re looking for.

Finding Your Graphic

If you’ve posted an original infographic or other original image content you can easily drag and drop the finished graphic from your computer or website to find other places that may be featuring your content.  In the sampling of results below, you can see the results from and infographic I helped run for iEnhance.com last year.  The first result features the original piece of content, but is followed by other results featuring the same graphic.

Infographic image search results

 

With this information I can now visit each site featuring the graphic and make sure that iEnhance is properly receiving attribution for the image.  If not, I can contact the webmaster in hopes of getting the desired link that was included with the original infographic embed code.

Similar practices can be used to find essentially any original image content you’ve created for your website.  The catch is how original the content is.  For instance, this meme style header I did for a post on how to effectively pin images from Tumblr to Pinterest doesn’t exactly fare as well in my search because it uses a screencap from the popular eighties video game Super Mario Bros.

Results for a less original piece of image content

While many folks are still shying away from infographics in fear that they will be the next thing from Google to lose their value, I do feel that if done well these still have a place online and are still just as popular.  If you’re afraid that your infographics may hurt you in the future, this is also a great way to find opportunities to do link outreach and vary your anchor text a bit in comparison to your original embed code.  Regardless, its a quick and easy way to a) see who else picked up your graphic and b) make sure you’re getting the credit for your hard work that you deserve.

Update: After the post went out, Ben Cook tweeted me to let me know that Tineye is another good tool for doing this.  As an added bonus checkout his post on Copyright infringement outreach, which ties in nicely with my post and earning links from property that belongs to you.

Another great find with similar information is Geoff Kenyon of Distilled’s new post, which dives deeper into ways of finding missed link opportunities from your infographic.  Discover more ways to find sites that don’t link.

Ian Lurie: A Day in the Life of Internet Marketing’s Wittiest CEO

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

It’s 5:45am.  As the sun prepares for its ascent over the northwestern pacific, the sound of NPR’s Morning Edition bursts through a clock radio and breaks the early morning silence.  Portent CEO Ian Lurie awakes, pushes his cats Isis and Romulus aside, they exchange glares, and he begins yet another day in the life of Ian Lurie.

After a typical morning routine, he stumbles to his bicycle to make the first of three, 12 mile commutes he’ll make this week (the other two commutes will be by car) to Portent’s Downtown Seattle offices in Smith Tower.  Ian will point out that the ride to the office isn’t so bad, it’s the ride home with the 500-foot climb and occasional 10%+ grade that will kill you.

He arrives to the Portent offices around 6:30am and begins his morning ritual.  Each morning, Ian kicks off the day by recapping the day before.  He reviews what he got done and what he may have missed from his task list before hitting the RSS reader in an effort to curate content to share with his staff and on social media outlets throughout the day. A process that he mapped out in detail during his social media routine webinar.  Before diving into the day’s “must complete” tasks I an will focus a bit of time reviewing social updates from the previous night and respond as needed.

For the next half hour, he focuses on a single task.  This task is vital, and is always something that has to be done and cannot be ignored.  Typically, Ian will break larger tasks into smaller, more digestible chunks, but ultimately it has to be completed or he’ll be stuck spending the bulk of his day working to complete it.

After completing the day’s “must complete” task, Ian begins making his rounds to carry out meetings with various members of the Portent staff.  Though the meeting topics vary, Ian strives to keep them shorter than 15 minutes since he “really, really, really” doesn’t like meetings.

By 10:30am Ian is back at his desk, jumping from meeting to tweeting, as he spends about five minutes reviewing his RSS feed, Twitter stream and Google+.  The next hour is filled with the day-to-day duties of a CEO, but more likely he’s engaged in a snark fest – cursing and muttering about a post, quote, or something else from an industry “expert” that is probably going to wind up costing some poor business owner a ton of money.

By 11:30am, Ian realizes that his snarkiness might actually be the result of low blood sugar and decides to grab something to eat before tearing apart another blog post.  While enjoying a quick bite, Ian seizes the opportunity to regain a bit of his sanity by reading the latest from Penny Arcade, XKCD, and Scripting News before diving back into his news feed and ultimately, insanity.

The remainder of Ian’s work day is spent doing the things that matter most as the CEO of a reputable internet marketing agency.  From blog writing and research, to working on proposals, aiding his team in diagnosing site issues, or extinguishing “enormous fires started, apparently, by gremlins whose primary desire is to see me running down the street naked, pursued by tranquilizer-dart-carrying guys from the funny farm.” This is when Ian truly gets down to business.  Ian rounds out the work day by clearing out his inbox and creating his to-do list for the following day before starting out on the 12 mile ride home…uphill.

First order of business upon arriving home? Recovery.  Second order of business? Pet the cats.  After a brief recovery and some quality time with the felines, Ian spends the remainder of his evening in the company of his family.  “I find if I cut more time from family and friends for work, I get frustrated and totally lose focus. They’re a sizable part of the reason I do what I do.”  Whether it’s chores, playing video games with his 12 year old son, or helping his daughter with a project, Ian makes sure his focus is on the home front during the evenings.  He checks messages on occasion and replies on an as-needed basis, but explains, “I know the other folks at Portent can handle just about anything.”  Which makes his evenings a lot less crisis-ridden in comparison to 10 years ago.

The remaining hours of the night are spent with his wife watching T.V., or catching up with friends.  As a family of Dr. Who fans, some nights require some additional negotiation with the kids since bedtime is often met with, “Do we have to go to bed? The Doctor’s regenerating, dad!” Other nights, the couple will watch Game of Thrones or True Blood, but only “if the kids are completely unconscious, in their rooms, with the doors closed and soundproofed.”  By 10:30pm, Ian calls it a night and heads to bed.  In just over seven hours he’ll be up and ready to take on another day as husband, father, internet marketer, and Portent CEO.

– – –

I’d been sitting on the day-in-the-life idea for a while and decided to kick it off with Ian Lurie after catching his presentation on time management.  If you’ve followed Ian’s work for any amount of time, you’ve probably picked up on a few things; he loves bikes, he loves cats, he has a wicked wit about him, and he goes to great lengths to maximize time and organization when it comes to his work.  About 20 slides in to the presentation, Ian features the slide below; as you can see the “work shit” and “home shit” segments are dead even.

How Ian Lurie spends his time

It was then that I decided I would reach out to Ian to get his take not only on the day-to-day of being the Portent CEO, but to get his insight on how someone in this industry can find that ideal life balance.

After getting some insight into what a normal day was like for Ian I asked him what advice he had for internet marketers struggling with work/life balance and he replied, “No one ever lay on their death bed and said, ‘Damn, I wish I’d worked more’.”  The one fascinating thing about Ian is that even though he commits his time to his family and friends, he is constantly connected and checks email, Twitter, and the like every few hours.  I asked him how he manages to not get absorbed in it all and he told me that he manages by making sure to spend no more than five to 10 minutes, and makes sure it only happens when he is at home or during downtime.

But even though Ian has managed to create a work/life balance that works for him, he says that he has made one significant sacrifice for his career.  Every Sunday, Ian spends two to three hours  preparing for the week ahead and going through emails.  A small sacrifice, in my opinion, compared to what some of us are making for our careers on a daily basis.

This is one of a handful of posts I hope to do that capture a glimpse into the lives of some of those internet marketers that many of us respect and look up to.  As we all strive for greatness, it’s only natural for each of us to wonder how the experts do it and I hope that these posts will inspire folks to try something new to help manage their day to day lives as internet marketers.  Curious to know what the daily life of a certain internet marketer is, let me know who in the comments and I’ll see what I can do!

Abusing Semantic Markup? Leaked Webmaster Guidelines Update May Suggest Your Days Are Numbered

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Last week I posted about the ugly state of Google’s SERPs thanks to rich snippet abuse over at Search News Central.  the post drew a lot of feedback both in the comments as well as through social media, and one theme continued.  Nobody really liked how people were misusing semantic markup to generate rich snippets, but nobody had a clear definition of what was right or wrong either.  Thankfully, thanks to a prematurely released revision to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines we may receive some guidance after all.

Avoid Abusing Rich Snippet Markup

When I read the leaked contents on Patrick Sexton’s feedthebot (the post has since been removed since the updates were launched prematurely), I noticed that Google used this update to focus a bit more on abuse of semantic markup, which fuels the appearance of rich snippets.  In the original post, which Eren Mckay was kind enough to retrieve via cache for me, Patrick highlighted two points specific to rich snippets.

First, in the document Google recommends webmasters review their recommended best practices for rich snippets, but more specifically Patrick points out that Google specifically says to avoid “abusing rich snippet markup”.  Could the writing be on the wall for webmasters, SEO’s and the like who are using rich snippet markup to falsify ratings and author information like I outlined in my Search News Central post?  As someone who is tired of having to explain to clients why they shouldn’t follow some of these spammy practices, I hope so.

Penalizing Rich Snippet Markup Abuse

The one thing that still isn’t clear is how Google might penalize violations related to rich snippets.  Currently the abuse of semantic markup can be reported to Google, and as one commenter on my post on Search News Central pointed out Google does in fact take action.  However besides removing the snippet, the overall penalty is uncertain.  Does it impact only the violating snippet, or does it prevent rich snippets from displaying at all in the search results for your website? The outcome is still to be determined.

Regardless of the outcome, Google is clearly looking closer at rich snippets and hopefully in the coming weeks/months we’ll have some deeper insight into what they are looking at with the help of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.  While the true use of semantic markup can be argued, I suggest that you read the intent of the markup and decide from there if you are actually using it as it was intended, or are you simply looking to get another shiny thing added to your result in the SERPs in hopes of increasing click through.  If the answer is the latter, you may want to rethink your strategy.

5 Reasons Your Infographic Sucks

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

First, let me start out by saying that I am in no way an infographic hater like so many internet marketers these days.  I think infographics are an awesome way to showcase data in a non-boring format.  That being said, these things are being cranked out so quickly anymore that I feel that many companies aren’t doing enough to make sure their infographics don’t suck.  Just because your infographic is pretty, doesn’t mean it should lack quality.  After all, if you are trying to build authority in a subject, you should probably put on your best foot forward.

You Didn’t Run the Text Past Your Editors

While its probably easy to hide bad grammar, typos, and the like in an infographic they make both your graphic and your company look ridiculous.  For instance in an infographic on The Most Commonly Misunderstood Lyrics in Music, and the inspiration for this post I found the following:

The Misspelling of the word "should" in an Adele lyric on an infographic

Notice both instances of the word “should” are missing the ‘u’ in “should”. If that weren’t enough let’s wrap it up with a grammar less on “to” vs “too”.  I’m not sure who Many Times Before is, but I hope he gets a name change.

Incorrect use of the word to in a Maroon 5 lyric in an infographic.

I Can’t Understand The Data

In this moving, yet hard to follow piece featured on FastCompany and created by NYU student Doug Kanter, we see an interesting representation of Iraq soldier casualties through a tattered American flag.  However, though the data represents all fifty states, I can really only gather that California and Texas have lost a lot of people to the war and I can’t pinpoint where all the other states start or end.

Infographic: Soldier Deaths In Iraq

You Skimped on the ‘Graphic’ Part of Infographic

This 2011 graphic featured on Mashable about hot Halloween costumes was a tough one to bash since its one of the few I have seen on Halloween, my favorite holiday, but visually this “graphic” was lacking.  The graphics used felt amateur, even for the subject matter.  For instance this vampire used makes Count Chocula look like Vlad the Impaler.

A terrible looking vampire image represents classic costumes in an infographic.

I’ll Never Get The Two Minutes It Took To Look At Your Graphic Back

If your subject matter is boring or offers nothing of value, I’m not going to be a happy camper.  A great example of this is Lawyers.com’s How To Stay Out of Jail on Super Bowl Sunday graphic.  The graphic features five legal hassles to avoid during the Super Bowl, but really these are five common sense things not to get busted for regardless of the Super Bowl.

The Top 5 Legal Hassles To Avoid On Sunday's Big Game

I Can’t Read It

I’ve come across a number of infographics over the last couple of years that appear to have some great data, but even when scaled to full size I can’t make out some of the text.  Make sure your text is legible.  This also applies to your layout in general. If it’s too busy and hard to follow it’s not going to resonate well with people.  Make sure your graphic isn’t too cluttered or hard to read before it goes out for promotion.  To play it safe test it on a variety of resolutions.

Conclusion

Infographics can be a really awesome way to generate links, traffic, and establish yourself as an authority on a subject, but they need to be handled with care.  Don’t leave infographics up to your designer to run with.  Get all the appropriate parties involved to make sure that your infographic conveys a message that is helping and not hurting your brand or marketing efforts.

 

The Evolution (or Lack Thereof) Search Engine Optimization

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Hey, I'm Being Followed By MonkeysI’ve talked about my SEO origins in the past and explained how even though I was aware of SEO, I wasn’t formally introduced to it in 2006.  At the time my job was basically to tell clients that called in what was good, what was bad, and ultimately how not to screw up their website.  A little over a year later I would be the one trying not to screw up their website and consulting with them on a regular basis on how to best execute SEO on their website.  Obviously my SEO knowledge and career have advanced since then, but no matter how advanced I get in my SEO knowledge or career the core message still rings true.

SEO Then and Now

In his November 2007 post on the US Search Engine Optimization Market Aaron Wall made a timeless statement that pretty much sums up good SEO.  He said, “Building an organic SEO presence provides a cheap stream of fairly stable traffic, especially if you have a diverse set of inbound links and a large catalog of hand crafted unique content.”  Go back a few years in the SERPs and you can see the same advice from other veteran SEO’s.  Jump ahead to all of the Penguin recovery, Panda recovery, and future proofing articles and it’s all the same advice.  Yet nearly every time there is a major update and websites get slapped for gaming the system the bulk of the SEO community is stunned by the fact that their crap-hat SEO techniques didn’t withstand the test of time.

Content Is King

It’s cliche and overused, I get it.  It was the mantra of turn of the century SEO’s and yet it still holds true today. Sure the verticals may change, content can be images, videos, writing, but its still content and its still at the core of everything related to internet marketing and SEO.  If you read any article out there on recovering from an algorithm update or future proofing your SEO from the past or present it will tell you the same thing.  Don’t be spamy, create great content, and earn natural authoritative links.

Future Proofing Your SEO

As Michael Gray pointed out in a 2010 case study believing all the hype isn’t enough to truly see success the way one would think.  Playing by the book isn’t always enough to drive natural links and bring SEO nirvana.  These days its creating great content and finding means of getting it in front of people, either through social media or other means.

In many cases you may still see your site outranked by websites using aggressive webspam techniques to gain an edge.  But when we are talking about future proofing your SEO we are talking about long term strategy and not short term gain.  Oftentimes the difference between spamy SEO and timeless SEO is lies in the long term outcome.    The sites that fall to algorithm updates such as Panda and Penguin are usually these more aggressive sites.  Those sites then have to focus less on moving forward and more about cleaning up their past.  Meanwhile websites who played by the rules are sitting pretty in the same positions or have overtaken the throne of a fallen competitor.

At your core, do what’s right for SEO the things that haven’t changed since the turn of the century.  Create good great content regularly, serve your users, and pay attention to the metrics that matter (traffic, page views, conversions, engagement).  If you’re not sure where to start you can take a look at my Google Guide to SEO  and consider these website content tips from Google.

Next focus on earning quality backlinks to your site. Sure, it’s a pain, but in the end you will make up for it in time you won’t be spending cleaning up a penalty.  If you’re not sure where to start on your link building Jon Cooper put together an AMAZING resource on Link Building strategies.

If you feel you have to dabble in risky behavior that’s against the search engine guidelines in order to gain an edge on a competitor treat it the way you would a holiday meal or alcohol and enjoy in moderation.  The key is balance.  Much like the holiday or alcohol if you overindulge you might end up feeling a little sick with the outcome, or worse yet make a complete ass of yourself.

Conclusion

The root of SEO hasn’t changed.  The evolution of SEO began and ended with quality content that served the end user.  The types of content and the platforms for driving users may have changed over the years, but ultimately the purpose and goal of SEO has gone unaltered.  I’m not taking a “white hat” or “black hat” stance on this.  Ultimately you need to do what’s right for your client or your business.  If you’re doing work for a client, at least do the right thing and disclose the risks involved.  Regardless, if your focus shifts from long term goals and turns into a mission for short term gain the search engines will ultimately catch up with your antics and you’ll again be bombarded with months of industry updates about how quality content, natural backlinks, and a great user experience are ultimately how to get you back on good terms with Google.  In the end the the root of search engine optimization never changes.