The Point

Posts Tagged ‘search’


Do Backlinks Still Matter?


True or false? Backlinks are the holy grail of search results.

The confusion remains. The speculation continues. And the research keeps pouring forth. The more you read this stuff, the less clear you are on the answers.

See, anyone can publish their take on SEO ranking factors. The search results themselves may be our best measure of credibility, unfortunately. Search engines are pretty amazing, but they’re definitely not lie detectors.

Even so, I asked Google for the answer. Or I should say, I asked Google to show me the top ten results for my question. I’m going to show you what I found, reflect on how much of what I read matters, and close with my opinions.

FYI: the data I present in the “numbers” for each search result come from:


  • MozBar—for links and domain authority (DA)
  • Buzzsumo—for social shares (which excludes Buffer and many popular networks and isn’t always up to date)

Here are the first five results on my SERP (search engine results page). (more…)


SEO 2017: User Experience Optimization is What Matters Most [The Poodle Update]

SEO 2017 - Poodle

I’m going to scope out my take on SEO 2017.

Take it for what it’s worth. See, I don’t know what most SEO experts know. I’m a different kind of search engine optimization expert.

I’m a reluctant SEO expert

I never used the term “SEO” to describe my services or myself. I never liked the term “search engine optimization.” I never liked studying it. And I certainly never considered myself an expert.

Until I became one.

I learned how to separate the wheat from the chaff (oy) and do the research and writing required to publish content that appears on the first page of search. A lot of my posts and pages appear there. A lot of them got there fast—with no link building, buying or bartering.

What can I say? I should write a book about SEO to help simplify it for you. Wait, I did that.

Learn the essentials of SEO in under an hour banner

So heed my disclaimer. Want scientifically extracted theories about causation and correlation? I’m going to let you down.

Want me to reveal, review or re-order the 200-plus search ranking factors you need to know to form more informed hypotheses about the world’s most mysterious algorithm? Goodbye and good luck.

You’ll have to settle for some simple speculation

The future of search is about the user experience. If it needs a name, we’ll call it user experience optimization. UXO? Why not?

The history of search was about relationships. Not human relationships, but relationships between websites, a.k.a., links. I’m not dissing links. They played an immense role. They still do.

Links fuel the machine. The Google database, enormous beyond comprehension, stores the locations of pages that are published, what’s on the pages, and which pages point to the pages. It wouldn’t work otherwise.

For better or for worse, links became the name of the game. The game became seedy. An endless appetite for backlinks gave birth to a business where ethics became optional.

I should know. Because of my achievements in guest blogging, and to a lesser degree, the momentum of my own blog, I’m often perceived to be (and pursued as) a link in the chain to bigger and better links. Translation: link seekers seek me. Everyday.

But there’s a problem with all this lust for links. People don’t care about links. Search engines do. People care about content.

We’re all outsiders trying to look into how Google does its thing. We know far less than we’d like, but we can agree on a few things:

  • Google sells ads and allocates its most valuable page real estate to those willing to pay for them.
  • Google’s less concerned about rewarding non-advertisers with clicks than it once was.
  • Still, Google aims to reveal pages containing the content its users want.
  • Google tracks and analyzes what happens after we click.

The point I’m making is based on that fourth bullet. What happens after we click, the user experience, is what will matter most going forward.

User experience optimization is based on three things

  1. Clicks
  2. Consumption
  3. Action

Got it? There might be better names for these things and I suspect us marketing folks will throw everything we’ve got at labeling them. Let’s settle for clicks, consumption and action for now. And let’s get into ‘em a bit. (more…)


The Way To Do SEO that Works [Content Matters Episode 11]

Episode 11 Content Matters

If you want to start cranking your ranking, you need to understand SEO that works. 

Just a few years back you might have achieved super SEO powers by droppging keyword bombs on your pages and “acquiring” links here, there and everywhere.

Welcome to 2016 where getting your pages and posts to top Google’s search pages calls for the right balance of basic on-page SEO tactics and a serious commitment to creating a stellar experience for your visitor.



The Beginner’s Guide to Understanding AdWords PPC

Understanding AdWords PPC

How do you get on the first page of Google fast?

You run Google AdWords pay-per-click (PPC) ads.

If you don’t have the luxury of writing for one of the web’s most established websites, search engine optimization (SEO) is the hard way. Gaining visibility and generating leads requires creating stellar content and a ton of persistence. It’s not magic. And there are no shortcuts.

Pay-per-click is a different story. Patience is not required. You can enjoy results immediately.

You won’t succeed with zero understanding of the AdWords PPC advertising platform, however this article will give you enough knowledge to get started and put you on the path to success.

PPC is a money game

With pay-per-click, you get your web page displayed on the search engine results page (SERP) when someone searches for the keywords you’ve selected. As the name suggest, you pay only when your ads are clicked. Fees are based on a cost-per-click. (more…)


SEO Bullshit (And How to Avoid Stepping In It)

SEO Bullshit

I’m NOT calling SEO bullshit.

I’m not saying you don’t need to understand SEO. You do. And when you do, search will become a leading ingredient in your marketing mix and possibly the largest source of traffic to your website. (Psst… I simplified it for you here.)

I’m not saying you shouldn’t do SEO. If you’re doing content marketing, it comes with the turf. If you persist in knowing little or nothing about SEO, you’re sabotaging your success.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t hire SEO professionals. If you can’t parcel time to do the necessary research, link seeking and ongoing analysis, you should enlist the help of experts. It’s too important to ignore.

I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re still wondering…

Why the harsh title for this post?

I gave this post the title “SEO Bullshit” because we’re all up to our earballs in misinformation about the topic. It’s everywhere.



How to Get Your Blog Post on the First Page of Google – Featuring an Interview with Andy Crestodina

the first page of google, Crestodina

The “SEO is dead” parade marches on. Even some search professionals are now writing obits for their old friend.

But search continues to thrive. It continues to drive traffic more than, well, anything. So what gives? For any given search, ten web pages are going to command page one rankings and earn waaaaaay more clicks than the gazillions of pages that follow.

If you’re a content marketer, you’d love to see your next blog post on the first page of Google. How important is it to understand SEO? It’s crucial.

I’ll be straight with you. If you want to play last decade’s lightweight Google games, you’ve come to the wrong place. A pro like Andy Crestodina won’t indulge you.

However, if you want to talk about creating immensely useful content while executing a strategy to rank atop Google SERPs (search engine results pages), you’d want to listen to Andy, if you could. And you can.

Right now. Right here. I present my friend, the content chemist himself, with a full set of answers on how he gets his blog posts on the first page of Google and how you can do the same.

Listen to Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media explain:

•  How he puts in the effort—in advance—to create blog posts with a very high chance of landing on the first page of Google.

•  Why it’s always more important to appeal to readers than searchbots.

•  His formula: traffic x conversions = success.

•  The three questions that must be asked and answered:

  1. Is anyone searching for this phrase?
  2. Do I have a chance of ranking for the keywords?
  3. Can I make the best page on the internet for the chosen topic?

•  The number one factor for ranking in Google.

•  What to do after you publish.

•  A better name for “SEO.”

•  A more effective approach than keyword density.

•  The case of the ambidextrous armadillo.



How Publishing Crappy Content Ruins Your Rankings

content farm

Lessons from (and confessions of) a former content farmer.

This is a guest post from Erik Devaney of HubSpot, aka @BardOfBoston, pictured above 😉

Ever stumble across a poorly written, vaguely comprehensible article with a title like, “How to Cook Atlantic Pygmy Octopus on a Weber Grill” or “The Best Types of Blue Flowers for Japanese Rock Gardens”?

Chances are, an article like that came from a content farm: a website that publishes thousands upon thousands of crappy articles, all for the sake of ranking for as many keywords (and keyword combinations) as possible.

If you want to think about them in terms of actual farms, content farms are like giant, multinational agriculture corporations. Corporations like these can have thousands of employees, hundreds of different products, and they often use genetic engineering in order to optimize those products. Likewise, content farms can have thousands of writers, hundreds of different verticals, and they often use black-hat SEO tactics (especially keyword-stuffing) in order to optimize their content for search engines.

Of course, genetic engineering is a tad different from SEO. Yet both are frequently viewed as ways to “game the system,” and often carry with them negative (and unnatural) connotations.

It should come as no surprise then to learn that Google is not a big fan of content farms. And just a few years ago, they made these feelings known to the world with the release of their Panda update.



12 Content Marketing Tips Every Small Business Must Know

cmsmallbiz cartoon

Garrett Moon of Todaymade is one of my favorite bloggers. I loved the tips he offered in this post and he agreed to let me republish it here. 

Ahh.. the life of a small business owner. So peaceful, so serene, and so little stress. Am I right?

Of course not–your life is crazy! But you wouldn’t have it any other way, would you?

Being a small business owner has many benefits and many job titles. In the course of a single hour, you can easily jump from Chief Executive Officer to Chief Financial Officer, from Chief Operations Officer to Chief Marketing Officer. In small business, you are in control of your own destiny. You are also in control of your own content marketing.

Every day, I hear from small business owners like you asking about how they can get the most out of their content marketing. They simply want to promote their business to best of their ability, and who can blame them? For that reason, I decided to compile a list of my top twelve tips for content marketing for small businesses.

1) Listen To What Your Customers Ask You

Small business content marketers struggle with what they should be talking about online.

It is easy to get into sales pitch mode and push our products and service on our customers, but that isn’t what they want from us. They want the same thing that they want in the store – advice. One of the simplest tips for small businesses that are using content marketing is to simply answer the questions that your customers are asking.

Take a poll in your business and figure out the top ten questions that your customers ask most frequently. What do they want to know about? Make a plan to write a blog post (or several) answering each question one by one. Do this regularly, and you will soon build a library of practical content for your future customers.



Stabbing Mediocrity to Death with Pencils and Pens

It’s easy to make a pledge to cut through the clutter. To be bold. Provocative. Memorable.

It’s another thing to actually do it.

Many writers have the chops. Many clients claim to need these writers and go looking for those with war paint on their faces. With fire in their belly. With a fire-breathing manifesto published on their site.
And so, the two, client and copywriter, try to ally.
But then the real world gets in the way. Resistance.
Mediocrity is a relentless monster.
What do you say we get out our weapons—our words—and stab that bastard to death?


Fire Your SEO Writer

I reject the term “SEO copywriter.” I couldn’t even get myself to use it in this post’s headline (even though it’s what I want to talk to you about).

The reason for my disdain of the term is it puts SEO before copywriting. If you believe this is a smart approach to creating effective content, this article will be a waste of your time.

Your copywriter needs to understand SEO.

Every online marketing writer should have a seriously solid grasp of SEO. If they don’t apply basic “white hat” (ethical and genuine) SEO practices when writing for your website and blog, you’ll realize less success with search and therefore get fewer eyeballs on your content. You don’t want that.

However, you also don’t want SEO to seize control of the work. In my opinion, writers who call themselves an “SEO copywriter” either (a) want to rank for the term, or (b) believe rankings equates to results. They don’t.

In advertising circles we’re fond of saying “Nothing kills a crappy product faster than great advertising.” It’s repeated often because it’s true. And the idea applies to SEO copywriting.

  1. Play only by the rules of the robot and you increase your search engine rankings.
  2. You increase your chances of getting clicks to take people to your website.
  3. You also increase your bounce rate while decreasing engagement, time on site, opt-ins, subscribers, shares, trials, buys and referrals.

Why would I be so bold as to state #3 above? Because the SEO-first mindset usually results in word puke.

The real objective isn’t to rank high or generate traffic. If you’re thinking in terms of long-term success, the real goal is accomplish these things, and then, give your visitor the best possible experience. They’ll spend more time on your site, share your content, and come again. And yes, search engines factor these things in big time.