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Author Archive

8 Tips on Leveraging Relationships into Links



It’s no secret that links matter in search marketing. But – just ask RapGenius – link “building” can be dangerous, resulting in devalued links and even hard-hitting penalties that go beyond mere devaluation.

A few months ago, I attended a breakout session on links where a hyper dude named Neil Rodriguez uttered the words “Google will never devalue relationships.” That statement stuck, and it seems relevant as ever.

Often, when we need to build authority on the site of a new client, the first thing I like to do is look at the existing relationships the company has. As Wil Reynolds has said: “You have people in your CHURCH, why are you running past them to go try to convert people on the street?”

There could be relationships right under your nose, with people more than willing to vouch for your brand. So it just makes sense to take these relationships public for the whole Net to see, and, along the way, possibly happen to earn those editorial votes (i.e. Natural Links) Google craves.

Here 8 quick tips on how. (more…)

5 Ways to Get Data on PDFs and Other Downloads

One of the notable limitations of Google Analytics (GA) is that it does not provide data on non-html pages out-of-the-box. Thus, if your website has PDF files, Word docs, .wmv files, or other downloads, you’ll face a black hole of data.

But there are ways around that.

Recently, we started a project with a client that had a substantial portion of PDFs on their site. We went through our checklist for SEO for PDFs and determined the following:

  • The PDFs were worth keeping in PDF format
  • The PDFs needed SEO’d, including needing internal links to other pages on their site
  • We lacked data on PDF usage to help our client determine what users were interested in

To the last point, because so many types of content (reports, magazine articles, studies, etc…) were in PDF form, the client really struggled to understand what content performed the best, making content strategizing extremely difficult. So we had to implement workarounds to obtain as much data as possible.

We’ve written about many applicable workarounds in the past, but today I want to get them together in one place for you for easy reference if you want data on your downloadables. So, using our PDF-focused project as an example, below are 5 ways to get data on non-html files.


Ideas for Keyword (Not Provided)

If you’re an SEO practitioner, chances are you’ve heard that Google keyword data is likely going to be 100% (not provided). I’d love to provide you with a brilliant solution package to make your the keyword (not provided) headache completely disappear. But, like most industry people (that aren’t completely fooling themselves), I can’t yet.

So here’s 15 ideas on dealing with (not provided) and a bunch of my opinions.  Hope it helps. Big thanks to the entire LunaMetrics team for this one.

1. Employing a Rationale Problem-Solving Framework
2. GWT Search Query data
3. AdWords Paid & Organic Report
4. Paid AdWords Data
5. AdWords Keyword Planner Data
6. Google Trends
7. Ask the User
8. Focus on Landing Pages
9. Non-Google Data
10. Provided Data
11. Historical Data
12. Statistical Extrapolation of Samples
13. New Solutions from Google?
14. Triangulating visits via volume, rankings, CTR
15. Paid Data Sources

SEO Measurement Mistakes Part 3: Crawling and Indexation Metrics

This article is Part of a series:

  • In part 1 of this series, we discussed common mistakes regarding top-level SEO KPIs.
  • In part 2, we looked at common mistakes made when analyzing SEO metrics in Google Analytics.
  • The final article in this series is on Link Metrics.

Today, I want to cover 10 critical errors in analyzing and monitoring crawling and indexation metrics.

se9arch engine crawl and index


SEO Measurement Mistakes Part 2: 10 Google Analytics Gaffes

Author’s Note: This is Part 2 of a multi-part series titled SEO Measurement Mistakes. Links to the rest of series are below:
Part 1: 5 Huge SEO Measurement Mistakes
Part 3: Crawling and Indexation Metrics
Part 4: Links

In my last article, I discussed 5 ways people stifle SEO campaigns at the macro level by focusing on the wrong KPIs.

Today, I’d like to discuss a few common Google Analytics pitfalls we see when it comes to SEO. (more…)

5 Huge SEO Measurement Mistakes

Author’s Note: This is Part 1 of a multi-part series titled SEO Measurement Mistakes. Links to the rest of series are below:
Part 2: 10 Google Analytics Gaffes
Part 3: Crawling and Indexation Metrics
Part 4: Links


Last week, I sent an email to my fellow LunaMetricians asking one question, “what’s some big mistakes you see when it comes to SEO and measurement/Google Analytics?”

The measurement masters came up with some good stuff, and I’ll discuss five high-level screw-ups people make when it comes to analyzing SEO metrics.

Let’s start from the top.

1. Obsessing over Rankings

Ever Google the term “SEO definition“? The results have been getting better, but there’s still some severely outdated definitions ranking highly. Here’s a taste of the bad stuff:

“Search engine optimization is a methodology of strategies, techniques and tactics used to increase the amount of visitors to a website by obtaining a high-ranking placement in the search results page of a search engine (SERP) — including Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines.”

“Stands for “Search Engine Optimization.” Just about every Webmaster wants his or her site to appear in the top listings of all the major search engines…”

The second excerpt comes from a 400 word entry that seriously talks about Meta Keywords and directory submissions as viable SEO tactics. But I digress.

What the outdated and crappy definitions how SEO all have in common is they paint a verbal picture that high rankings are the goal of SEO. That is false.

The goal od SEO is to improve rankings. False. The goal of SEO is to increase the value generated by organic search traffic.


4 SEO Terms Driving Me Crazy

You know what really grinds my gearsThis is an unusual post for me. I tend to stick to “how-to” articles because I realized a while back that no one really cares about my opinion.

But in an industry where words must be so carefully dissected and examined, we’ve gotten downright silly with some of our favorite jargon. And it’s my time to whine.

4. “Keywords”

I know it sounds crazy to call this one out. I spend many hours every week studying users search queries to influence our clients’ content creation endeavors.

But does it not irk you that people call a 3 word phrase a “keyword”? So “just call it a key phrase fussypants,” you say.

Beyond nitpicking, the real problem is that all this obsession over “keyword research” and “keyword use” betrays the real goal of all that analysis – to figure out what content people you want on your site want to find. And that comes to down to more than the particular string of characters user types in the search box, which is unfortunately the connotation that comes with keyword.

How about geographic location? Am I necessarily looking for general plumber info when I search for “plumber?” Chances are my IP address let’s Google know that I probably want to see some Pittsburgh plumber in my search results page. (more…)

7 Big Content/Site Migration Tips A Layman Can Understand

A lot of folks come to us asking us to help them restore a decline in website traffic that occurred after a site migration or major update. Typically, most – if not all – of the traffic loss was preventable. There’s a lot of different update and migration scenarios and a lot of different things that can go wrong, but we keep seeing many of the same underlying issues.

For the purposes of this article, we’ll define a migration as anytime a large amount of pages or content move from old URLs to new URLs  whether it be migrating an entire site to a new domain, a subdomain to a subdirectory, merging a small site into a bigger one, or what have you.

And I’ll assert that most potential problems with any migration can be prevented by following 7 fundamental pieces of advice so simple that even a CEO should understand.

  1. Understand the Stakes
  2. Make Sure No Content is Missing
  3. (Properly) Redirect Every URL
  4. You Need a (Cross-Functional) Migration Team
  5. You Need a Pre-Launch Plan
  6. You Need a Post-Launch Plan
  7. Use Tools (more…)

My Fifteen Minute Weekly SEO Health Check

Every Monday, I run through a checklist for each of my SEO clients. The goal is to discover issues that don’t warrant same-day response time, but should still be addressed in a timely manner. There’s slight variations from client to client, and I sometimes use paid tools, but below is the basic template, featuring my 3 favorite free SEO tools: Google Webmaster Tools, Bing Webmaster Tools, and Google Analytics.

SEO Health Checklist

  1. Google Webmaster Tools: Check Crawl Errors, Index Status, and Messages.
  2. Bing Webmaster Tools: Check Site Activity Screen, Crawl Information, and SEO Reports.
  3. Google Analytics Reports: Review Keywords, Landing Pages, Sources, SEO traffic numbers and engagement.
  4. Google Analytics Alerts: Review Custom Alerts and Automatic Alerts. Review other reports as needed.

A disclaimer: This checklist is best used in proper scope in conjunction with other intelligence-gathering methods. Other recommended methods include: Google Custom Alerts, Webmaster Tools notifications, and Daily peaks at Google Analytics Dashboard.

The main purpose of this checklist is to fill as much remaining insight as possible in fifteen minutes. It helps me catch SEO problems and opportunities earlier, and informs me on how I need to adjust weekly SEO workflow. It really makes my job easier.

It might take a bit of time to set things up and get used to finding everything, but once you have it down, and you know what your metrics should look like, you’ll soon be gettin’ her down to 10-15 minutes on average.

Below are details on each step. (more…)

What Makes a Good Backlink Prospect? A Prospect Evaluation Framework for Link Building

In SEO, sometimes you need to go out there and directly contact bloggers and webmasters and win links one-by-one. There are 6 steps in direct link building:

  1. Needs analysis. How much direct link building is needed (if any)? Which pages and keywords need supported?
  2. Figuring out where to look. Examples: Google searches for blogs in a specific area, a list of your Twitter followers that have websites, competitor link profiles, etc…
  3. Pulling prospect lists. Examples: performing the Google searches, retrieving Followerwonk data, retrieving Open Site Explorer link data, etc…
  4. Qualifying prospects
  5. Pitching. For example, emailing or calling qualified prospects.
  6. Follow-ups.

This article pertains to qualifying prospects – that is, going through a list of websites and deciding which sites deserve the significant time required to try to obtain a link from them.

It’s one of the most time-consuming steps in the direct link-building process, and many full-time SEOs like myself have spent hundreds of hours of their life checking out thousands of sites. Thus, there is a need to do it as efficiently as possible, without missing quality link targets. Last week, I was scouring hundreds of sites in a Followerwonk download, and I realized 3 things:

  1. I was sick of doing this, and I wished could get an intern to do it.
  2. For that to happen, I’d have to figure out a simple, repeatable process that could be easily taught.
  3. There was indeed a simple framework, and the reason things had gotten so tedious for me that day is that I wasn’t following it.

Here’s the framework: (more…)