Separating my personal life and my work life (at least to some extent) makes me happier at home and more productive at work. For this reason, the main screen of my iPhone is reserved for “normal life” apps, like the HopStop app to help me get around NYC, the ESPN Fantasy Football app for last minute lineup changes, and the Kindle app to keep long subway rides entertaining. The second screen of my iPhone, however, is all business. I’ve put together a whole dashboard of awesome SEO apps that can help me get things done. Click the image below to see the infographic in its full-size, or scroll down to read the content of the infographic in text form.
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These apps help stay organized and coordinate with team members.
- Basecamp – Although this isn’t exactly an app, their web app looks and works great on the iPhone. I use Basecamp for project management. It helps me coordinate with clients, employees, contractors, and side project partners.
- Google Docs – When I’m not sharing documents and managing a project on Basecamp, you can find me on Google Docs. I know plenty of consultants and agencies that use Google Docs to coordinate their link building efforts. It’s simple, fast, and accessible.
- Wunderlist – My to do list program of choice. It’s clean and quick, and synchs between all of my devices. What more do you need? Other popular choices are Remember The Milk and Evernote. Pick what you’re comfortable with and what you’ll have no problem using everyday.
- oDesk – I use oDesk for outsourcing some content development and link building projects. Having their app handy on my iPhone allows me to keep track of my team. There’s no better feeling than waking up, rolling over in bed, and looking at all of the work completed for you overnight.
These apps help provide on-page and off-page statistics about various websites.
- SiteAnalyser – This app can help you get a rough picture of where any given website is, SEO-wise. The app quickly provides detailed domain information, on-site SEO data such as meta data, headers, load time, and page size, and link data such as inbound links and PageRank.
- SEO Pro – Whereas SiteAnalyser is good for on-the-fly information, SEO Pro allows you to save your websites and easily access data on them at any time, including extensive link data from Yahoo, Alexa, and Compete, as well as meta information and keywords.
- Serps – This is the best rank checker I’ve seen for the iPhone. It’s not pretty, but it works, it’s fast, and you can save websites and keywords that you check on frequently. At the end of the day, it has every feature you really need out of a rank checker, and it’s lighting fast.
- DomainStorm – This app is my go-to for all things domains. You can look up domains for purchase and get WHOIS information on domains quickly and easily. The app also has a brainstorm feature that acts sort of like a thesaurus for finding potential domain names given keywords you enter.
These apps help you maintain your website and publish content.
- WordPress – This app allows me to make quick updates and changes to all of my WordPress blogs on the go. It’s not ideal, but when I need to blog on the go or make a quick change, this app gives me everything I need to access all of my websites and get things done.
- Analytics – This app gives me easy access to all of my Google Analytics accounts. If you’re like me, then you’re glued to your analytics all day long, and having easy access to this data wherever I am throughout the day is a life saver.
These apps provide you with resources and industry news.
- FeedlerPro – This app is the best Google Reader app I’ve found for the iPhone. I can follow all of my favorite SEO blogs via RSS and stay up-to-date with the latest SEO news, articles, and tips. My personal favorite is Sphinn’s Most Popular Topics feed.
- Art of SEO – I keep what I believe to be one of the best SEO books ever written right on my iPhone. The app from O’Reilly, the publisher of Art of SEO, lets me easily flip to any section in the table of contents and allows me to search through the text for specific topics.
These apps allow you to access your social networks and stay connected.
- Facebook, Twitter, Google+ – Pretty self-explanatory. Having access to all of your social accounts right on your phone allows you to be responsive to comments and questions, and stay active in the conversation even when you’re not by your computer.
- Skype – This app works great for coordinating with employees, co-workers, contractors, and even clients. I use it to coordinate with some of my contractors from oDesk, and it’s great to be able to answer their questions anywhere and anytime to keep the workflow moving.
Got a favorite iPhone SEO app that didn’t make the list? Tell us what it is in the comments below.
I wouldn’t trade my Mac for a PC for anything in the world, but owning an Apple computer can be frustrating at times. Despite the affinity that many SEOs, web developers, entrepreneurs, and freelancers seem to have for Mac computers, there is a high proportion of SEO software that is only compatible with PCs. Sure, dual booting or running Windows virtually using software like Parallels or VMWare can work in a pinch, but there’s nothing quite like being able to launch a native application off of your dock and have it work quickly and smoothly. For this reason, I’ve decided to put together a little roundup of the best Mac-friendly software that’s available.
Keyword Research and Tracking
This program is perhaps the best known on the list. Market Samurai is primarily a tool for keyword and competitive research, but it also has rank tracking functionality and can assist you with managing and monetizing content on your blog. Plenty of Internet marketers swear by Market Samurai, which is available as a free trial, or in its entirety for $149.
Part of the SEO PowerSuite Toolkit, Rank Tracker is, well…just that. Many SEOs prefer having a robust program in place of a web-based solution for their rank checking purposes, and Rank Tracker is certainly up to the task. There is a free version, or a selection of paid versions starting at $99.
Another rank checker, Rage Software’s SERank offers website rank checking for multiple search engines. It also boasts helpful features like monitoring of competitors’ rankings and the option to export results as PDF reports. There is a trial version available for download, and full-featured versions available starting at $79.95.
Another program included in the SEO PowerSuite, Website Auditor spiders and analyzes your website, providing information on broken links, code errors, duplicate content, 404 errors, page indexation, meta descriptions, and other on-page factors. The page can help you quickly assess and uncover problems with websites. You can try the free edition, or download the full version starting at $99.75.
Manually creating site maps isn’t even an option for those of us that work on larger websites, so a tool like Sitemap Auditor can come in handy. Rage Software’s Sitemap Automator will spider your pages, put together an XML Sitemap, and even assist with finding broken links or problematic pages. It also has filtering options to help you easily exclude pages. A trial version is available, or you can buy the full product for $29.95.
Another program from Rage Software, Domainer is built for people that have a large number of domains and websites to keep track of. It can analyze important off-page details of all of your domains, including their link profiles and how they stack up next to competing websites. Moreover, it can help you research new niches and domain names. The program can be downloaded as a trial version or purchased in full for $29.95.
This website crawler can come in handy for finding broken links and locating redirects. Integrity has a pretty simple interface, but does offer some advanced options such as checking for broken images and ignoring query strings. Best of all, the app is completely free to download and use.
Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool
Another website spidering tool, this little gem crawls websites and presents you with key on-page elements, as well as issues that the tool has identified. The Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool boasts a slick interface and is well worth the download. You can use it for free (with some limitations), or get a full license for 99 euros per year, or about $130 USD.
A full-functioning back link checker, SEO Spyglass (a part of the SEO PowerSuite) can help you identify your competitors’ links as opportunities to build links to your own website. It can show you the anchor text and title tags your competitors are using, and can even help to identify the site wide links they’ve been purchasing from other websites – just a handful of the dozens of features that the program touts. You can download the trial version for free, or download the program in full starting at $99.75.
Another program from the well-regarded SEO PowerSuite, Link Assistant helps you track, organize, and manage your existing links. It can really make the link building process more efficient, as the program helps you find and track new link opportunities, create your own link directory to build links, verify links to your website, monitor your link popularity over time, and much more. Plenty of SEO’s swear by Link Assistant, and you can see why by checking out the free trial version, or by downloading it in full starting at $99.75.
I had an guest SEO tip published on DailySEOTip.com today. The post was called “Low-Hanging Fruit: How To Identify Keywords That Just Need A Little Help.” It details the process I use to locate and target a very specific type of keyword:
- Effectively converts traffic into sales/clicks/form entries/listens/watches/signups/whatever
- Gets searched often enough to warrant your time
- For which your website ranks highly (first 3 pages or so) but not #1
- Has a relatively low level of competition
I call these types of keywords “low-hanging fruit” due to focus on targeting keywords that are relatively easy to rank for, but will still provide significant amounts of traffic and conversions.
Some of the commenters on the post had a few questions, mostly about the first step of my process, which was obtaining the starting information in Google Analytics. The screen shot on DailySEOTip.com was relatively small, so I’ve included it here for those that want a closer peek at what is going on. You can click on the thumbnail to the right to see a full-size version of the image.
The process for obtaining the proper information from the Google Analytics step is broken out step-by-step below.
- Select “Keywords” under Traffic Sources on the left hand navigation bar of Google Analytics
- Under the graph where you can toggle between showing paid, non-paid, and total search traffic, select “non-paid.”
- Below the keyword list should be filtering options. Click “Advanced Filter,” then click “add new condition.”
- Change one of the advanced filtering conditions to Conversion Rate (under Goal Set) greater than X. X should be the minimal conversion rate for keywords you want to target. For some sites, particularly new websites or those with limited amounts of traffic, this may be > 0%. Other sites with higher conversion standards might have their own custom threshold.
- Change the other advanced filtering condition to Visits (under Site Usage Metrics) greater than Y. Y should be the minimal traffic level for keywords you want to target. This helps weed out keywords that are super long-tail and are not likely to be replicated. Again, this number will vary between websites, but I would say that > 1 visit is the minimum, such that you’re not spending time targeting keywords that may never be searched for again.
- That’s it. You may want to add in Landing Pages (located in the header of the keyword table in the dropdown box that says None to the right of the dropdown box that says Keyword), or you can let Rank Checker add those in for you later on – it doesn’t really matter, although adding them in with Google Analytics might be a bit faster and easier come formatting time.
I recently had a bit of a debate on the SEOmoz Pro Q&A boards about the role of content in SEO. Some member posted a question inquiring about ways to automate link building. Naturally, a bunch of us jumped on the topic and informed the original poster that automated link building strategies are by and large useless, as any links you’re going to get from things like low quality directories, blog comments, and forum profiles are of minimal value, if any, and are likely to get devalued in the future.
The debate started when an extremely well-respected member of the SEO community (and a really nice guy!) posted a response I see on a lot of SEO forums. Essentially, he said that all you need to do is write great content, and the back links will roll in on their own. Voila – no need for silly link building strategies.
Now, I’m definitely on board the “content is king” bandwagon. Complete content makeovers are usually the first thing I suggest to my clients. Creating great content is definitely something I recommend all the time on forums and Q&A boards like SEOmoz or Quora.
My major qualm with this advice is that I think it is sort of misleading. If you’ve got an established website that’s getting some traffic, or you have a strong community, a big following on social network, or the good fortune of working in an industry that really embraces blogging and social media, then it’s true, oftentimes creating good content is enough. You focus your efforts on researching and creating great articles, and when you publish them, you just have to give them a little push in the right direction (via a Twitter post, for example), and the links start to roll in.
The real problem here is giving this advice to people running small businesses, or people just starting out with their digital marketing efforts. Take Joe the Plumber, for instance. He can pour his heart and soul into writing The Best Guide To Plumbing Ever, and slave and sweat over it until it is positively the best plumbing resource guide on the Internet.
The thing is, how is this post going to attract back links? Nobody’s visiting Joe the Plumber’s website, so there are no eyeballs on it. He doesn’t have any followers on Twitter or other social networks. He doesn’t have an active community regularly reading and commenting on his website with their plumbing woes. And it’s not about an Apple product or a picture of an adorable kitten, so he won’t have much success on social bookmarking websites like Reddit, either.
The post just sits there, not ranking for anything competitive because it is on a weak domain and an even weaker page. If Joe the Plumber wants to get this page to blow up, he’s going to need to start networking with bloggers and niche web masters via social media, maybe get a few guest post opportunities to drive in links and traffic, run a link request campaign via e-mail, and in general market the hell out of the content if he ever wants it to get noticed, much less linked to.
Does this sound like “automatic” link building to you? Didn’t think so.
Content is certainly the most important factor in any SEO campaign. But for most people, and almost every small business, it’s only part of the equation. If your content is to actually attract the links that you intend it to, you’re going to need to market it effectively – and that IS link building.
The flip side of the equation is that the content on it’s own probably will start to pull in links on its own - eventually. It’ll rank for long-tail phrases and slowly but surely web masters will start to link to it, assuming that it truly is the best-on-the-web content that Joe the Plumber claims it is. This is a slow process, however, and by no means a guarantee.
Is your time best spent creating more great content, while you leave the link building to happen naturally? For most websites, probably not. You’re going to need to put just as much effort and attention into marketing your content as you do creating it.
This is a post on ways in which you can outsource high quality content creation. Are you looking for a quote on outsourced content creation? Get a custom quote from my company today.
We hear all the time that the key to any successful SEO campaign is content, content, and more content. And it works! Great content can make link building infinitely easier. The recipe is simple enough: instead of having to build links the manual way (sending out e-mails, scouring Google and Open Site Explorer for opportunities, directory submissions, etc.), you can create great content and merely give it a nudge in the right direction via social networks, social bookmarking services, and your established relationships with bloggers and niche web masters. If your content really was up to par, the work is done, and links should start rolling in on their own. Once you have an established community around your website and you’ve made a name in your niche, you can practically build links on autopilot just by publishing more great content.
So what’s stopping everybody from doing this? It seems easy enough, right? There are two real constraints:
- Not everybody can write well. Pessimistic though it sounds, not everybody is cut out for writing interesting content. Everyone has their own strengths and a dynamic skill set, and writing skills are not always a part of that. You might have an idea for the world’s best link bait, but if you can’t execute on that idea and produce an interesting, engaging article, your content isn’t going to be nearly as successful as it could have been had it been written by an expert copywriter.
- Not everybody has time. If you’re a small business owner or even someone working in-house, you certainly have a million things to think about that might seem to be more important than content creation. If you’re a consultant working on client projects, your time is being splintered across multiple projects in the first place, and further divided by other important tasks for each client, such as on-site optimization, other means of link building, reporting, and so on.
The solution to both of these problems is to outsource your content development. There are two main problems with outsourcing:
- Controlling Cost. Price is a factor in any marketing tactic or strategy, so it is obviously a consideration here. Outsourcing high quality content development can be an expensive proposition. Irrespective of cost considerations, however, developing great, best-on-the-web content is the absolute best investment you can make in terms of your digital marketing strategy. Yes, more so than any fancy link building service or PPC campaign. Top notch content pays dividends: links, buzz, trust, branding.
- Controlling Quality. Plain and simple, it’s hard to get good quality content. It seems as though anybody capable of creating it is already publishing it on their own blog, and any services that offer it aren’t all that they’re cracked up to be. I’ve experimented with buying content from places like TextBroker and Fiverr, and while you can procure some decent quality content at cheap prices, this isn’t exactly what we’re looking for. We want best-on-the web content, the kind of content that has the potential to go viral and earn links from the most authoritative websites in your industry. Low quality content brokers aren’t going to cut it.
So how, then, you ask, can you outsource your content and still be able to produce slam dunk content? There are three ways:
1.) Develop a Freelance Writer Network
Most articles about outsourcing content development mention Craigslist, oDesk, and Elance, and Guru. These websites can absolutely be a way to develop high quality content, but caveat emptor: not every provider you meet will be able to truly deliver. To effectively use these networks, you need to really screen the writers that you hire. Ask for multiple samples of their work. Ask them about their experience with writing in your niche. Don’t just look at their reviews, but contact their previous clients and ask them about the writer. Were they punctual and good about meeting deadlines? Are they creative enough to come up with great ideas on their own, or will you need to assign them projects with very specific details? With enough due diligence, you can easily locate a number of high quality writers. I’ve had luck on websites like oDesk and Elance with US workers. You’re going to need to pay them more than writers in India or the Philippines, but if you can find the right people, they’ll be the real deal.
The idea here is not to find one writer, but to put together a network of writers that you can rely on, particularly if you’re an SEO agency or consultant, as having access to writers with a wide array of experience will allow you to have a qualified candidate for the job regardless of which of your clients the work is for. Some writers will be a lot more experienced with creating short, engaging blog posts, while other writers might be more research-oriented workers that are comfortable with working on a big, time-intensive project that can be a link bait home run. The key is to find a multitude of writers with different strengths and backgrounds, this way you’ll always have someone ready for the job when you need it.
Bonus Tip: Keep all of your writers and writing projects organized with a project management system like Basecamp. It can make a huge difference in terms of both organization, planning, and productivity.
2.) Hire Niche Bloggers
Full-time bloggers in your niche write for a living. Although they typically make their money off of advertisements and affiliate links, at the end of the day, they’re trying to put food on their table by writing about what they love. Why not approach a few bloggers in your niche and let them know that you’re willing to pay for great content? Not every blogger is willing to work for pay, and you’re going to need to be smooth with your approach, but it can be a great way to find a writer for your website that is experienced and familiar with your niche.
Don’t merely proposition these bloggers as if they’re writers for hire. You’re going to need to turn on the charm a bit. Compliment them on their writing. Comment on articles that you like with insightful, original, useful commentary. Hit them up on Twitter and let them know your favorite article of theirs. Try to establish a relationship with the blogger, and then let them know about your need for content, and ask them if they’d be willing to create a few articles for your website in exchange for a reasonable fee.
3.) Hire an Expert
There are a multitude of SEO companies that offer content creation and link bait services, including Outspoken Media, Internet Marketing Ninjas, Todd Malicoat, and of course my company, Mangia Marketing. While you can expect to pay a pretty penny for these services, you can trust that you’re going to get the sort of quality that you’re looking for. SEO experts understand the ins and outs of link baiting. They know what works and what doesn’t, and they likely have experience in dealing with your industry. They’ve been through the link baiting process before – they’ve tried, failed, succeeded, and learned.
Their experience can be worth its weight in gold. Not only do they have expert writers on staff that can pump out amazing articles with remarkable consistency, but they also have SEO experts to make sure that the content is best positioned to attract links and build buzz. This combination of expertise is oftentimes a winning solution.
The web is going crazy with buzz surrounding Google+, a new social network from our friends in Mountain View, CA. We’ve had a chance to dive right in and explore all of the features Google+ has to offer, from populating our various friends into Twitter-esque “Circles”, to a multi-way video chat function called “Hangouts”. We’re admittedly impressed with what Google has created – from the well-conceived structure of the social network to the aesthetically-pleasing design of the user interface, it’s not hard to tell that Google+ certainly has the potential to be a winner.
As Google undoubtedly knows, however, they are facing an uphill battle. Overtaking Facebook as the dominant social network will be quite a struggle. Should Google+ start to gain significant market share, however, it will drastically alter the landscape of the web, starting with how Google algorithmically ranks websites in their search engine.
Why will Google+ change SEO?
If Google+ continues to rapidly expand, search engine optimization as we know it will quickly begin to center itself around the social aspects of the web. It is no surprise that Google is interested in bringing their search product in this direction. It has been a known fact for sometime that Google incorporated social signals from websites like Twitter and Facebook into their search algorithm. Should Google+ become a serious player in the social network industry, you can expect this emphasis on social signals to increase.
Google+ will give Google’s search team an incredible amount of information to work with. They’ll be able to really study how people interact and identify the movers and shakers in different networks and industries. They’ll have more information than ever from each of their users. Search is going to become a highly personalized, social experience. We’re coming back full-circle, transitioning from a completely algorithmic search experience to one that very much so involves content curation by the user.
What search signals will Google+ create?
The Circles feature will help Google to understand the influencers within its network. Similar to Twitter users with a high number of followers, Google+ users that are included in a large number of circles will be indicated as movers and shakers within their network. This provides Google with a way to measure the amount of trust any given user’s actions should be afforded.
The +1 Button brings back content curation to search engines in the trust sense. Undoubtedly inspired by Facebook’s Like button, the +1 Button will give Google insight into which specific pages are liked by users. This information can certainly help Google determine what pages are authoritative within any given niche.
Google+ Sparks are equitable to Interests and Activities on Facebook. Sparks will give Google firsthand knowledge of what their users are interested in, giving them an easy platform for ad targeting and customized search results.
Google+ Profile Data gives Google more information than ever about their users. Not only is this helpful for demographic segmenting in advertising, it also provides Google with an opportunity to understand who/what their users are affiliated with in terms of employment, education, location, and their other social networking accounts. This could give Google the most accurate picture yet of exactly who you are.
Mobile Apps will bring the localization aspect to Google+. Smartphones nowadays almost all include GPS, and those who allow Google to access their location will give Google an understanding of where you are, where you go, and who you’re with. AdWords advertisers are undoubtedly salivating over the possibilities this could create.
How should I change my SEO approach in a Google+ era?
- Add the +1 Button to your website. Make it easy for Google+ users to endorse your website by adding the +1 button to your website and blog. (Tip: Use WordPress? There’s a nifty Google+ Plugin available.) While you’re at it, start working Google+ into all of the call-to-actions on your website. Don’t just remind users to Like you on Facebook and Follow you on Twitter – ask them to +1 you as well. You can bet that +1′s will positively affect search rankings, so the sooner you can start racking them up for your best content, the better.
- Focus on building great content. The best SEOs in the business have been promoting content-based SEO campaigns for years now, but the advent of Google+ makes implementing these strategies a wiser decision than ever before. Put your effort into making interesting, engaging content that Google+ users will share and +1. There is a reason why you always see content like top 10 lists, FAQs, infographics, and link roundups in your social media streams all the time – the content is extremely linkable, and likely created with social media audiences in mind.
- Get your business on Google+. Well, not just yet. Google is asking businesses to refrain from creating profiles on their new social network until it has rolled out all of the business-specific functions. But when the time is right, make sure you jump on it, and give it every bit as much TLC as your Facebook and Twitter presences receive. Once you have your profile setup, don’t forget to promote it in your other social media channels, as well as through your e-mail list. This is a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people forget to take advantage of every communication channel they have with their customers.
- Don’t forget to track your Google+ success. Google recently made it easier to track referrals from Google+ in analytics software. If you’ve got Advanced Segments setup to track your Social Media traffic, don’t forget to add the plus.google.com domain to the segment. With a little bit of tinkering, it can be easy to track your success using Google+ as a traffic tool. Remember, you can’t manage what you don’t measure.
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