Jumat, 30 Desember 2011

Being Nice Isn't a Marketing Tactic. Or Is It?

Being nice doesn't have to mean you have an ulterior motive. But if it does, that's OK.

Ever since the Great Diet Coke Delivery that Charles made to my office, folks have been buzzing. I've watched the comments on Charles' YouMoz post regarding the whole adventure, and there are three schools of thought:

I rewarded Charles with a link and mention because he did a really nice thing.Charles did a nice thing knowing it might result in a link and a mention.This is a savvy, cynical marketing 'stunt' that's worth repeating, and now SEOs the world over will be sending each other soft drinks.

I had no plans to comment on the whole discussion. I took the gesture at face value: A #1 with a strong dose of #2. It totally made my day, week and month.

But then I read a comment by Sha Menz that I found particularly telling:

Now I suppose anyone in the SEO world that receives a silly surprise in the mail from me is going to assume there is some sort of ulterior motive behind the gesture. :( Of course, that's just tough for me (and the people I will think twice about surprising in the future).

Is 'good' still 'good' when you do it expecting to be rewarded? I dunno. That's getting pretty deep for a bunch of marketing nerds. But here's why I wish everyone did more stuff like Charles, even if there is an ulterior motive:

A genuinely 'nice', helpful act, performed with an ulterior motive, is just fine in the marketing world. That's called 'customer service' or 'networking' or 'being a mensch.' Zappos does it. Tiffany's does it. So does Virgin Airlines. It gets people talking. It also makes people happy.

If I can build my business and make people happy... wow. Just wow. That's a perfect marketing utopia. Read Guy Kawasaki's Enchantment if you want to learn just how perfect it can be.

I'm not saying this cynically: Nice is a currency. It has value. That value declines if you overdo it. For example: The telephone customer service rep who keeps saying "I'm really sorry, I understand your frustration" after two hours' of frustrating troubleshooting. Yeah, I'm frustrated. You want to make me happy? Fix my cable!

Overuse reduces value.

Send me a free pair of boxing gloves. You know what they are for me? Crap. So I remember you for sending me crap. AKA spam.

Those gloves might be the best on the market: State of the art boxing gloves that the best fighters would beg for. Doesn't matter. My only punches are verbal.

Send me a free pair of cycling gloves, when I already have three pairs? More crap.

These kinds of gifts fail, because I don't need them. If I don't need them, right then, then the chances I want them are pretty slim. And the odds that I'll appreciate the gift are slim, too.

Note that all of this assumes these gifts are sent to me from strangers. I'm not a completely ungrateful wretch. If a friend sent me boxing gloves, I might look at them strangely, but I'd still say 'thanks'.

Most important, a truly 'nice' act proves you listen to me. The generic "I'm really sorry. I understand your frustration." fails because it's overused, and because the person saying it sounds like they're reading from a script. Which they are. They're not listening to me, at all. That reduces the niceness quotient to about zilch.

Charles showed up with Diet Coke. Just a short time after my panicked tweet. Clearly, he listened. He went out of his way, just a bit, to respond. Totally fantastic.

If you do a favor with an ulterior motive, don't whine if you get nothing in return. That's tacky. If the warm feeling you get from the favor itself (the intrinsic reward) isn't enough, then you shouldn't be taking action at all.

The extrinsic reward - the link, or the tip, or the new customer - is gravy. If you can't grasp that, stop.

Go ahead and commit acts of kindness for strangers. Even if you do so expecting something in return. Just follow these rules:

Be nice when appropriate. Don't slather it everywhere like cheap syrup on lousy pancakes.Do relevant nice things. Don't send crap to random people, or do favors no one wants.Listen first. The closer the match between the favor and the context, the more the recipient appreciates it. No match at all may mean you're a stalker.Do it for the intrinsic reward. Sure, expect something extrinsic. But ask yourself if the intrinsic reward (the warm glow you get) is enough. If it's not, you're making a mistake.

I'm a pretty cynical guy. But I do think marketing communications can make the world a far better place. One of the ways it can do that is by rewarding acts of kindness, good behavior, etc. informing the community. So be nice!

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How I Got The Attention of One of the Top SEO Bloggers With Diet Coke

We've all heard stories about companies who do remarkable things for their customers that results in people talking about them. These examples include the Nordstrom's employee who accepted a return for tires, Zappos providing surprise overnight shipping, or Gary Vaynerchuk sending a Mark Sanchez jersey to a customer, even though he sells wine. Delighting customers with unexpected acts of kindness doesn't have a directly measurable ROI, but often times it leads to loyal customers and evangelists who spread a story.

I recently learned that doing remarkable and unexpected things can also get the attention of the linkerati and lead to social media mentions and even a link on one of the most popular internet marketing blogs. And all it took was Twitter and Diet Coke.

It was 9am on a Tuesday and I was getting settled into work when I decided to check Twitter. I noticed the following Tweet from one of my favorite internet marketing bloggers:

"Hmmm." I thought. "Wouldn't it be funny if someone actually delivered some Diet Coke to Ian". After a few moments of wondering how something like that would be received, I decided to do it and find out. I have been a fan of Ian Lurie's Conversation Marketing blog for years and thought it would be fun and unexpected.

I drove to the grocery store, picked up two 12 packs of Diet Coke, and went to the Portent Interactive office which happened to be 15 minutes away from my location. I walked into their entrance and was suddenly in front of several desks of Portent employees. I walked up to the first desk and told an employee that I noticed on Twitter that they were out of Diet Coke. Fortunately they pretty quickly realized it was for Ian and accepted the boxes.

I drove off laughing because I thought this was probably one of the most random things I have ever done. Within minutes I saw Ian Lurie's Tweet.

When I got back to my desk I read an email from Ian stating that I had definitely earned a link and it was one of the most brilliant displays of social media marketing he had ever seen. Later that night Ian published a post titled How Social Media Works on Conversation Marketing. I had just earned a link to my company's website from one of the most popular marketing blogs which has a domain authority of 70 and links from 1,674 domains according to SEOMoz.

Soon people I admire in the SEO community like Dr. Pete from User Effect were Tweeting about it and even Rand Fishkin noticed.


I never expected all of this to happen simply from helping someone on Twitter, but it makes perfect sense. I must have subconsciously channeled years of reading books like Seth Godin's Purple Cow about the importance of being remarkable. It really does work, in both off-line and online marketing if executed well. Here are some of my top takeaways from the experience.

Help Others Without Expectation of Reciprocation

When you help others with no expectation of receiving something back in return, good things tend to happen. People are naturally compelled to reciprocate when they have been helped, like telling their friends why they should do business with you or linking to your site. Even if you don't get a link at least you will be happier. According to a studies, people get a stronger boost in happiness from helping others rather than helping themselves.

Keep An Eye Out for Opportunities to Be Helpful in Social Media

If someone talks about a problem they are having in social media, look for ways that you can help. People frequently talk about things they need help with or problems they are having. If you are proactive and go out of your way to help them, it will almost always be appreciated. I use Tweetdeck to organize people into lists to focus on Tweets from the most relevant people.

Do Something Totally Unexpected

One secret to delighting customers is to do something nice for them that they don't expect. This makes it remarkable and worth talking about. This requires some creativity but there are several good examples for inspiration like the Southwest rapping flight attendant or Kimpton Hotels' response to a customer's request for a bed full of puppies and bathtub full of Reese's Pieces.

Keep your eyes open for opportunities to do remarkable and generous things for your customers, community, and linkerati and you might give them a story worth sharing.

Update December 23, 2011: Diet Coke noticed the story and responded... :)

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Historical Link Analysis is Here!

Season's Greetings, fellow Mozzers! As if this month hasn’t been exciting enough with the release of Custom Reports and Branded Keywords, today we have a special surprise for you. You asked for it, and we are happy to deliver. Introducing Historical Link Analysis for PRO!

(Photo credit: Dana Pleasant Photography)

Being able to see your link metric data over time helps demonstrate the effectiveness of your link building strategies. And hey, who doesn’t like to see progress? Read on to see how this new feature works.

This update to the Links section is full of lots of little goodies. Not only are we now storing your campaign link metrics over time, but we have also added Subdomain Link Analysis metrics for you and your competitors.

What matters most in viewing historical metrics is how you are faring against your competition. For each metric, you can view historical data over time in comparison to your competitors.  This way you can distinguish between the effects of your hard work to improve your link metrics and fluctuations that affect the entire index.

You can view historical data via the History tab or by using the menu link next to a given metric on the Summary tab. You can also export all historical data to a CSV file.

You may notice that we have made a few additional improvements to the Link Analysis section, including:

adding Total External Links to Root Domain Metrics (to align with what is reported in Open Site Explorer)moving Link details to a separate tab for better readabilityupdating the Summary PDF report to include Subdomain metrics

Your link analysis metrics will continue to be updated every time a new index is released. With the rollout of this feature we'll now be able to store your data from previous indices as well, starting with data from the October 28th index. However, this data only goes back as far as you campaign does. When you create a new campaign, we'll only begin storing link metrics for you and your competitors from that point forward.

In order to give you the best data, we’re continually improving our Linkscape crawlers and the data they return to the Index. As indices change, it’s possible that your metrics may change as a result of what is included in one index vs. another. This may occur even if a site’s link profile hasn’t changed at all. I encourage you to check out Rand’s Linkscape Index blog posts (released with each new index) to better understand additional factors that could affect your metrics. Best practices indicate that you should always compare your progress against your competitors, versus solely comparing to your past performance.

We hope these product updates bring a little cheer to your holiday season. As always, we would love your feedback! Feel free to share your thoughts, or holiday stories, via a comment on this post. For feature ideas you can always share via the feature request forum.

Happy holidays!

About Samantha Britney — On the SEOmoz Product team. Canadian, wannabe athlete, techno-geek. Loves all things French, especially food. Follow her on Twitter @sambritney.

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8 Things You Can Give Away to Earn Links + Mentions - Whiteboard Friday

Happy Holidays Everyone! It's that time of year again and Rand gets into the giving spirit with this year's special edition of Whitebeard Friday. Presented here are 8 generous tips that will encourage you to get into the holiday spirit of giving yourself. Please enjoy and don't forget to leave your comments below!

Ho, ho, ho. Welcome to this year's special edition of Whitebeard Friday. Merry Christmas. Happy Hanukah. Happy Holidays, whatever you celebrate. Festivus (the "Airing of Grievances"). Whatever you are celebrating this holiday season, I hope you're having a wonderful one. Welcome to the special edition of Whitebeard Friday. Every year I put on this ridiculous getup, and hopefully none of you who celebrate Christmas mind Jewish people like me wearing Santa Claus outfits. I apologize if I've offended anyone. But I have, you can see, drawn a Christmas tree with a Fesitvus pole in the middle and a Star of David. Huh, huh? A little cross-cultural segment there.

All right. This week on Whitebeard Friday I am talking about, I was originally talking about 12, to emulate the 12 days of Christmas, but it wouldn't fit on the whiteboard. So we're doing eight, eight things you can do, you can give away, to earn links and mentions to help your marketing efforts. Obviously, Christmas, the season of giving away. Even when I was a kid, my parents celebrated Christmas. My parents with my whitebeard. I was very, very young. This was like the 17th century. We want to talk today about some of those great methods of things you can give away as part of the holiday season, the giving season, and earn back great things for your marketing.

So, number one, your writing. This is a pretty obvious one, right? When you guest post for someone, when you guest comment, when you leave your written work or allow others to publish it, that earns you links back, links and references back. And I have a pro tip for each of these. So the pro tip here, make a search like this - you see this tiny writing here - "guest author," guest plus author or write or blogger or contributor, if you use that plus the word "blog" or the word "news" or your keywords, you will find posts that contain this stuff. Another pro tip, use Google blog search and Google discussion search. Both of those are great at providing this kind of stuff.

Number two, your videos. See, we're doing a video right now. Do you feel this wonderful video content? The pro tip here is use Wistia. I believe both Wistia and - people are walking by in the SEOmoz offices and think this looks hilarious - use Wistia or I believe Vimeo Pro also does this. When you put your videos up, if you'll notice the embed link for this video in particular, which I think maybe it's in the right-hand corner, that corner, that corner, one of the corners, the embed point will actually point back to your site, which is phenomenally great because it means when other people embed the video, you control the anchor text and the link of where it points back to.

Number three, your product. Whatever it is that you sell, whatever it is that you make, whatever it is that you do, you could have a service, giving that away often earns you links and references in return. Pro tip, be careful of those direct giveaways. If you say, "Hey, here's the product, I want a link back," that can get you into trouble. But if you instead use events, or charity, or sponsorship, or you give it away without a request and ask and people cover it, that's an organic and natural link, an editorial link. That can work for you.

Number four, very similar, your time. Donate and dedicate your time, like me, Father Christmas by helping people out, donating what it is that you do best. If you are a marketer, that could be helping other people with your marketing. If you are a consultant, it could be doing consulting work. If you are helping people in business or you are an expert in a particular realm or product, helping those people do those things, accomplish those things. Finding people who you know have needs in that area and giving it away can help you earn good will, and then that brings links back to your site and references back to your site. A wonderful way to give and receive.

Number five, this is something I hate when marketers don't do this. Give away your contact details. What I mean here is when you are participating out on the Web and you are hoping to earn links and references back, make your contact details public, make them easy to find, make sure that there's not a big challenge here. Make it clear you are open to contributing and helping and participating and that you hope that by doing these things you spread your brand. This will invite people to email you, to tweet at you, to link to you, to reference you when they are seeking contributors to these types of things. Contact details, by the way, also important to make sure that those are easily accessible and findable from your site and anywhere you do participate.

Number six, your photos, your images, or your graphics. The pro tip here, have an images or photos section on your site if you can, especially if you have a large media library, and then make sure it is open to licensing in exchange for a link. You can use the creative comments licensing, you can create your own licensing, you can create little things that make it easy to embed any of your images or any of your graphics and earn that link back. By the way, another pro tip on this, if someone is using your images, or you suspect that they are, use Google's similar images link inside. Here, I'll show you right here. Let's say I have just done a search for an image, and I have clicked on that image. Now you're going to see the image here, and there is a little X, and then Google has a sidebar over here with some links after I have clicked it, and one of those is "similar images." If you click on "similar images," that will show you other images like this one, oftentimes, people who have taken your image but haven't given you credit. You can then reach out to them and be like, "Hey, what's the deal?" Does it look weird having Santa kind of give a . . .

Number seven, your full feed, your full RSS feed. The pro tip here is, especially, this is important to not go partial feed but to go full feed when you're giving RSS because lots of people will republish that, lots of people will reference it, email it, subscribe, etc. Great for marketing. And pro tip, use absolute links. Don't use /blog whatever. Use www.mysite, the full link, because when it gets referenced on other sites, it will point back to you and that link will count and pass value.

Number eight, last but not least, your data. Undoubtedly, if you're doing interesting things in the world of product, of marketing, of customer research, of embedding yourself in a community, you are collecting valuable, super cool data. A great way to do this is to first build a list of likely writers, people who you think would be interested in the data you're providing. This could be white paper kinds of data. It could be research and survey data. It might be data you've generated from all the users of your product or from whatever it is that you're collecting. And then reach out. Before you have it, reach out and ask if they want access. By doing that, you create this wonderful confirmation, because you said, "Hey, Dear Writer, Do you want access to this cool data that we've got? Would you like to share? Would you be interested? Would your customers be interested? Would your readers be interested?" A lot of the time they'll say, "Yes, I would be interested. Please do share that with me." If you instead just reach out and say, "Hey we have this cool data," you get a lot of ignores. But if you first reach out and say, "Hey, Kenny, I know you write on the SEOmoz blog. Would you be potentially interested in some data about the social media marketing field?" Kenny will be like, "Hmm, yeah, that's sounds interesting. Send it over to me." Then you send it over and say, "Hey, we'd love if you could at least tweet or share it, and if you blog about it, that'd be even better." This is a great way of making sure they get your data and then link to you.

All right, everyone, I hope you've enjoyed this silly edition of Whitebeard Friday. It's been a fantastic year. Hope you have a great holiday, and we will see you again next week. Yes, even between Christmas and New Year's we're going to be doing Whiteboard Friday. See you next week for another edition. Take care.

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Kamis, 29 Desember 2011

Grassroots SEO - Strategy, Process & Life Cycle

If you're a patron at search events, conferences and workshops, you might walk away the way I typically do: full of "stuff" to try but no clue where to start. Weeks go by, your notes become a beautiful art piece with dozens of brown coffee cup circles and doodles, eventually getting crumpled into a ball and tossed across the room just next to the trashcan you were aiming for.

There goes another $1,300 of inspiration without actionable takeaways. In this post, I'm going to give you a way to organize information you receive (and some of my own tactics) into what you will now and forever call an "SEO Strategy."

There are rockstars who multi-task and play all the search channels at once, optimizing content, creating links, rendering videos and engaging with social media elements while juggling 12 bowling pins and guzzling an energy drink. Good for them. For the rest of us, let's stick to something a bit more palatable and a lot more doable.

Below you'll find the basic layout of your 6-12 month campaign, starting with what's in your SEO strategy. Let's start with milestones. You can put your milestones into a Google Spreadsheet in bold, font 24. Paste items in between milestones respectively, as you grow in your understanding of SEO best practices and techniques.

You can also use project management tools, such as TeamWorkLive.com or Basecamp, both of which allow you to calendar your milestones and create assignable task lists beneath them. If you're an agency, you can create templates and cookie cutter your boilerplate SEO campaign. Example:

Sample Project Templates

You are going to get to hundreds of ideas and tools thrown at you for keyword research, spying on competitors, finding link opportunities and elements to consider when planning your SEO campaign. Problem is, most presenters don't actually say "okay, add these line items to your research to-do list, phase 1 of 5 in your holistic SEO strategy", they just say "here's some stuff you can do".

What's in Your SEO Plan?

Below is a list of reports and actionable lists to carry over to your project management system (or spreadsheet). The planning phase can take up to a month, but will save you a lot of time and frustration later in the campaign. Remember, this is boilerplate, so you can squeeze in new research and data-mining tasks you pick up from events. Isn't it nice to have a place to start putting the "stuff"?

Obstacle Analysis Report (OAR) - This report will help you discover potential crawl and indexing issues. It has little to do with content, and is mostly focused on how search engine-friendly a website is. Criteria might include: checking for broken links and duplicate content, analyzing HTML and XML sitemaps, optimizing robots.txt and .htaccess files, to help crawlers get to the content you want indexed and away from the content you don't. The OAR might also include a review of Webmaster Tools, an audit from your seomoz.org campaign, and possibly data from similar online tools. Basically, your on-page "stuff" goes here.Competitor Analysis Report (CAR) - This is your baseline report, your Day 1, your "aha" moment, where you get to discover some exciting things about your competition, and some occasionally depressing things about your current SEO performance. Having access to Hitwise is the most ideal starting point (if you can afford it). If not, tools such as Compete.com, SEMRush, KeywordCompetitor, and OpenSiteExplorer.org can give you really nice insight into where your competitors are earning links, what keywords they are getting traffic from (AdWords and natural search), and even tell you how much more money they spent on specific keywords last month versus the month prior (a keyword performance indicator). For local businesses, WhiteSpark's Local Citation Finder does a darn good job of finding competitor business citations and sorting them by seomoz.org's own Domain Authority for easy prioritizing.Link Analysis Report (LAR) - This report is fun. Using tools like those in the seomoz.org arsenal, or possibly giving Ontolo a spin, you'll be seeking out and creating an organized inventory of link opportunities. Categorize your opportunities by classifications such as: Web Directory, Business Directory, Industry Blog, Regional Blog, Industry Portal, Industry Forum, Industry Experts, Niche Social Networks, and so forth. From here you have a few choices of how to store the information. I prefer Buzzstream, an Eric Ward-approved link tracking software, but Google Docs will do the job as well. If you do use a Google spreadsheet, break your classifications into their own tabs or link building becomes unmanageable.Keyword Discovery Report (KDR) - You'll already have a boatload of data from the first three reports to help with this, possibly the most important, report. You can also explore a number of other tools to help tally up all the keyword opportunities. WordTracker and Google AdWords will provide some excellent ideas, but nothing will beat what you'll find in your own web analytics and Webmaster Tools (provided you are actually tracking conversions and/or sales). With competitor data, you can run pivot tables in Excel to learn about the frequency of keywords the major competitors appear to be receiving traffic from. Purge out the terms that are too broad or not searched enough to be bothered with, sort by relevancy and search volume and you've got yourself a list of keywords to optimize for.

Now that you have all this terrific data, what the heck do you do with it? Here's where actionable items or deliverables come into play.

Put your OAR items into a To-Do List within your project management system (under the milestone of On-Page SEO)Put your CAR items into a Google spreadsheet so you can track and monitor changes over timePut your LAR classifications into one or more To-Do List within your project management system (under the Off-Page SEO milestone), put the opportunities into a spreadsheet or BuzzstreamPut your KDR into a Google Docs spreadsheet, create a new tab called Content Tracking Spreadsheet with a column for just the top 100 or so keywords, and create columns to track Page Name, Title, Meta Description, Has Video?, Image Name, Image Attributes, Has 450+ words of Content? Matt Cutts Didn't Throw Up, Is Engaging? etc. In your PM system, your content writing tasks can be assigned (put the list under the On-Page SEO milestone)

Now that the technical stuff is done, you get to start the creative and social media campaign planning. Pull a group of super smart people into a room for a full day and come out with awesome link bait, widget, tools/giveaways, and other creative link building strategies to add under your respective milestones.

There are thousands of smart (and sometimes silly) things you can do to optimize your website. You already have a To-Do List assigned in your project management system to square away OAR findings, and a To-Do List for your content team based on the keyword themes you want to optimize for. This initial phase of your SEO shouldn't take more than 60-90 days and typically isn't rocket science.

You're going to get all sorts of new ideas from the seomoz.org blog, Search Engine Land, SEO Roundtable, and thousands of Tweets if you follow #seo in Twitter. Therefore, if you're using a project management system, your template will be growing and growing over time.

Local and Ecommerce websites will have a few special To-Do Lists for data feed optimization, location-based landing pages, and a few other things you might extract from David Mihm's Local Search Ranking Factors or elsewhere.

Mike Essex wrote an excellent post awhile back on 99 Ways to Build Links by Giving Stuff Away. I also like to use my Meetup.com group to have everyone provide 1-3 creative link building ideas to everyone who requests ideas, along with some crowd-sourcing tools, such as Amazon Mechanical Turk and similar services. Choose the top ideas based on the business and industry and add them to an Advanced SEO To-Do List in your project management system. You will definitely need to create several project briefs for each idea so it makes sense to the tech and marketing teams.

I keep a Google spreadsheet going that has nearly 400 link building opportunities now (thank you Eric Ward).

You'll also have a list for Basic Link Building (industry destinations and directories), Moderate Link Building (outreach, and slightly more technical than submission-based linking). Advanced link building tasks are really more of an initiative and can be tracked outside of the the project management system as ongoing marketing innovation.

This milestone gets a bit tricky and requires getting in bed with those crazy social media people we all love. Perform an audit of all the current destinations our SMM teams are working with and insure they all contain relevant keywords, profile links, and (if location-based) business name, address, and phone number.

Next, seek out new social media opportunities, such as niche social destinations, popular social networks that have not been claimed yet (Google+ might be a good start). You might even buy lunch for the social team, and then try to give them training on how to blog with keyword-rich links every so often. If their eyes start going crazy as if you fed them after midnight, run away and try again another day. If not, train your social team, in distributing content, video, and micro-blogging to give you a serious lift in ranking. The trick is to make them think it was all their idea.

Technically, you can break video and mobile into two different milestones. But for the sake of the novel this post has become, let's bundle them together. For video, I recommend having a quick chat or consult with a pro, such as Mark Robertson of ReelSEO on campaign, channel and distribution ideas. Get ready to setup some video XML sitemaps and to start distributing video to relevant sharing networks. Also be prepared to start using video ads (PPC), which may help long term placement on key YouTube videos.

For mobile, you'll want to slip ONE task in for Milestone 2, insuring your mobile users have a custom experience that's mind-blowing and award winning. The rest will revolve around the creation of mobile apps for your products, mobile search optimization, and possibly even a few short code campaigns. We love Vegas, so I'm always excited to get my MB SMS offers from Mandalay Bay).

If you get through all the milestones (6-12 months on average - some might overlap, but they don't have to), your project management system should be empty of tasks. If so, you're no longer in Production Mode, you're now in Operations Mode and need only use your link and campaign tracking tools (here's a sample) for your day-to-day SEO initiative. However, you may elect to start over and repeat the entire process annually, depending on the results from the first round.

Now you have 5-6 vehicles of SEO in an organized form. You may decide to create a page for each milestone on your yellow notepad when you attend SEO conferences and events. If a presenter gives you some cool "stuff" to do, you should be able to easily classify the task into one of these buckets, so later you can update your project management template, as though you were putting another piece into a seemingly endless puzzle; which beats the heck out of creating scribble for your crumble ball with beautiful coffee rings on it.

Thanks for reading.

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The Best of 2011 - Posts & People Who Rocked Our World

What's better than unicorns and kittens happily leaping over rainbows with gold at the end? The Moz community, that's what!

At the end of every year we like to take a look back, not only at which posts made an impact, but which people made an impact on the community as well.

This year we're taking a peek at the top content on the blog based on thumbs up, visits, root domains, tweets and comments. Plus we have the added bonus of looking at community members who left the most comments, and those whose comments were the most thumbed up. If you've missed any of these posts over the past year, I invite you to grab a cup of coffee and start reading. I look forward to hearing about your favorite posts, plus your thoughts on why these posts did so well this year.

Before we get too ahead of ourselves, I wanted to again remember GoodnewsCowboy, a long time community member whom we lost to cancer earlier this year. GNC was an amazing man and is sorely missed around here.

For quick reference, check out the Top Posts of 2011 by:
Thumbs Up
Unique Visits
Linking Root Domains
Total Number of Comments

And the community members who rocked our world:
Top Comments of 2011 by Thumbs Up
Top Users of 2011 By Total Comments

A few notes about the data: 1. I'm no scientist, I did my best putting this together and I apologize now if I've screwed anything up. 2. All data was pulled in the past 24 hours, so some of the numbers may have changed slightly. 3. I'm not a scientist. :) Plus, I need to send a huge thank you to Casey Henry who helped me gather quite a bit of this data. Thank you Casey!

Let's get this party started. First things first, I wanted to note that last year there were three posts with 100 or more thumbs up. This year, there were 41 posts with over 100 thumbs up. FORTY ONE. That's just crazy pants (as Joanna Lord would say). This of course made me want to figure out if the thumbs up was just a general inflation, better content, more traffic, what. I think you'll see it's a generous helping of all of that combined. For the first time the blog schedule was pretty well organized (ehem.. I may be the one who organizes this ;), we specifically reached out to get great guest bloggers, we added more amazing Associates to write for the blog and our traffic was through the roof (more on that later). But enough of my mumblings, let's get to the good stuff.


Thumbs Up: Help Raise Money for New Zealand
March 3rd, 2011 - Posted by jennita
This post is actually the top post in every single category listed below. But in order to show off more great content, I pulled it from the other lists since it dominated them all. :) I wanted to call it out here and again thank everyone for all their donations to the New Zealand Red Cross after the horrible earthquakes earlier this year. It was absolutely amazing to see the community come together so quickly.

Aaron Wheeler

1. How Google's Panda Update Changed SEO Best Practices Forever - Whiteboard Friday
June 23rd, 2011 - Posted by Aaron Wheeler
Panda. As the title says, Google Panda changed SEO forever and everyone wanted to watch the video about it. Number one Yo!

Dr. Pete

2. Duplicate Content in a Post-Panda World
November 16th, 2011 - Posted by Dr. Pete
Panda... again. Pete knocks this one out of the ball park and inbound marketers across the globe liked this puppy. In fact people liked it so much they asked for him to make a PDF version that they could print out for themselves and others. Sweet.


3. The Responsibilities of SEO Have Been Upgraded
July 12th, 2011 - Posted by randfish
So, an SEO isn't just an SEO anymore, we've become so much more. Inbound Marketing anyone?


4. How Organized Spam is Taking Control of Google's Search Results
January 28th, 2011 - Posted by invseo
Whee! This awesome post started out in YouMoz and very quickly got promoted to the main blog. It really got people riled up as we headed into the new year.


5. 4 Graphics to Help Illustrate On-Page SEO
November 8th, 2011 - Posted by randfish
In grand Rand fashion, he put together these great images that will help us to demonstrate a bit easier what on-page SEO really is. You know for that boss or client who just doesn't get it. ;)


6. Which Type of Link Anchor Text is the Most Effective? [An Experiment]
October 11th, 2011 - Posted by jamesagate
Another top post that started off in YouMoz (YAY YouMoz!!) and won the hearts of the community. James ran an experiment and walked us through what seemed to work best!

Oli Gardner

7. The Noob Guide to Online Marketing (With Giant INFOGRAPHIC)
February 9th, 2011 - Posted by Oli Gardner
I'm not quite sure this one even needs any introduction. If you're reading this post, I'm sure you've already seen the Noob Guide (as we call it around the office). Once again Oli hits the top 10 list with an infographic (he was on it last year too #goOli!).


8. Just How Smart Are Search Robots?
November 29th, 2011 - Posted by iPullRank
They are smarter than you think, and Mike King explains it all, Pacman style!


9. Quantifying the Impact of Google's Keyword Referral Data Shutdown
November 14th, 2011 - Posted by randfish
Whoa, whoa, whoa! What's up with this (not provided) bs?

Justin Briggs

10. Better Understanding Link-based Spam Analysis Techniques
July 31st, 2011 - Posted by Justin Briggs
Justin gets into the mind of a search engine to help us understand link-based spam detection. Sounds geektastical, doesn't it?!

Great, we've seen the posts that got the most thumbs up, but are they the same as the ones that got the most traffic? I'll give you a hint, only two of the top thumbed, are the same as the most trafficked. Which means eight of them are different. The question is, does this mean these posts got a lot of traffic from new users that didn't create accounts in order to thumb up the posts? Sadly we may never know. I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments though. Now let's look at the traffic!

Oli Gardner

1. The Noob Guide to Online Marketing (With Giant INFOGRAPHIC)
February 9th, 2011 - Posted by Oli Gardner
Yep, you'll notice a trend here... the Noob Guide is on ALL OF THE LISTS. :) #goOli

Aaron Wheeler

2. How Google's Panda Update Changed SEO Best Practices Forever - Whiteboard Friday
June 23rd, 2011 - Posted by Aaron Wheeler


3. White Hat SEO: It F@$#ing Works
April 10th, 2011 - Posted by randfish
This was in response to a post claiming that White hat SEO is a joke, which Rand easily proved otherwise.


4. The New Google Social Network - Google+
June 30th, 2011 - Posted by caseyhen
z0mg! Google created a social network that doesn't suck! Everyone go get your account noooowwwwwwww.

Cyrus Shepard

5. 10 Ugly SEO Tools that Actually Rock
September 5th, 2011 - Posted by Cyrus Shepard
Apparently people like ugly. Kidding, kidding. What this really says is that people love tools and especially ones that kick booty.


6. Facebook + Twitter's Influence on Google's Search Rankings
April 19th, 2011 - Posted by randfish
Rand takes a look at some early correlation data on social influence in Google SERPs. You'll notice a trend this year and that's social, social, social.

Aaron Wheeler

7. An SEO Checklist for New Sites - Whiteboard Friday
September 22nd, 2011 - Posted by Aaron
And the crowd went wild! Seriously though, everyone knows someone who has a new website, and they came to watch this one in droves.

Cyrus Shepard

8. Blog Design for Killer SEO - Infographic
July 12th, 2011 - Posted by Cyrus Shepard
These days everyone tries their hand at Infographics. But Cyrus (and his wife who designed it) put the "fogra" back in Infographics. It's a great visual on blog design with SEO in mind.

Cyrus Shepard

9. Beating Google's Panda Update - 5 Deadly Content Sins
August 16th, 2011 - Posted by Cyrus Shepard
Everyone wanted to learn how to make sure they didn't get hit by Panda, or pull themselves out of the Panda abyss.


10. New Edition of the Ranking Factors for 2011 is Now Live!
June 6th, 2011 - Posted by randfish
Can I get a w00t w00t!

Well we're SEOs aren't we? Then we must take a look at the posts that have received the most backlinks! The best way to do this is to look at the number of linking root domains instead of total number of backlinks. As with everything else, you'll notice that last year there were three posts with over 100 linking root domains. However this year, there were twelve posts with over 100. SEO really does work?! What?!


1. Facebook + Twitter's Influence on Google's Search Rankings
April 19th, 2011 - Posted by randfish
Everyone who wrote a post about how Facebook & Twitter are now helping with rankings, must have linked to this post. Love!

Aaron Wheeler

2. How Google's Panda Update Changed SEO Best Practices Forever - Whiteboard Friday
June 23rd, 2011 - Posted by Aaron Wheeler
Poor little photos of pandas all across the web being used in posts about Google Panda. All the while linking to this highly informative Whiteboard Friday.


3. A Tweet's Effect On Rankings - An Unexpected Case Study
February 15th, 2011 - Posted by jennita
Well lookie there, I MADE IT TO THE LIST. I don't need no stinking thumbs or traffic, I'm down with the backlinks! :) (ok... I'll move on now)

Oli Gardner

4. The Noob Guide to Online Marketing (With Giant INFOGRAPHIC)
February 9th, 2011 - Posted by Oli Gardner
Noob. Guide. 'Nuf. Said.


5. Google's Farmer/Panda Update: Analysis of Winners vs. Losers
March 3rd, 2011 - Posted by randfish
Oooh everyone wants to know who made out well with Panda and who got crushed.

Tom Critchlow

6. Google +1 And The Rise of Social SEO
March 30th, 2011 - Posted by Tom Critchlow
Remember when Google +1 came out before Google+? Yea, that was odd. Anyway... Tom wrote a great post on how it changed SEO!

Cyrus Shepard

7. Blog Design for Killer SEO - Infographic
July 12th, 2011 - Posted by Cyrus Shepard
Infographics = links.

Cyrus Shepard

8. Experiments on Google+ and Twitter Influencing Search Rankings
July 5th, 2011 - Posted by Cyrus Shepard
Hmm more talk of this social thing helping SEO, we might be on to something here.


9. White Hat SEO: It F@$#ing Works
April 10th, 2011 - Posted by randfish
And if you haven't read this post yet, go F@$#ing read it! (sorry for the bad language, but Rand started it)


10. Social Annotations in Search: Now Your Social Network = Rankings
June 22nd, 2011 - Posted by randfish
If your aunt Betsy shares a post about gluten free brownies, you might see that in your SERPS. Wait. What?!

Ya'll have been tweeting your little fingers off this year. In 2010 there were only two posts with over 1,000 tweets, but in 2011 there were 55. This may very well be the reason for all that traffic above. :) I need to give a huge thanks to Dr. Pete for gathering this data for me at the last minute (that's how I roll). Now let's see what people like to tweet about. I should probably note that five of the 10 top tweeted posts ARE ABOUT TWITTER. heh. I know what I'm going to be writing about more in 2012.

Oli Gardner

1. The Noob Guide to Online Marketing (With Giant INFOGRAPHIC)
February 9th, 2011 - Posted by Oli Gardner
Holy tweets batman.


2. Yes, You Really Can Build Links With Twitter - Whiteboard Friday
September 1st, 2011 - Posted by caseyhen
You can build links with Twitter? OMG I have to tweet this!


3. Facebook + Twitter's Influence on Google's Search Rankings
April 19th, 2011 - Posted by randfish
This is starting to be like deja vu. :)

Cyrus Shepard

4. 10 Ugly SEO Tools that Actually Rock
September 5th, 2011 - Posted by Cyrus Shepard
Any time I see a post being tweeted that has the word "ugly" in it, I totally click. Cyrus is a tweetbait master, who knew?!

Aaron Wheeler

5. How Google's Panda Update Changed SEO Best Practices Forever - Whiteboard Friday
June 23rd, 2011 - Posted by Aaron Wheeler
Panda. SEO. Changed. Forever.


6. A Tweet's Effect On Rankings - An Unexpected Case Study
February 15th, 2011 - Posted by jennita
Ooh Ooh Ooh! That's me again. (Every post from here on forward shall be about Twitter)

Cyrus Shepard

7. Experiments on Google+ and Twitter Influencing Search Rankings
July 5th, 2011 - Posted by Cyrus Shepard
Google+. Twitter. Rankings. Tweet it.


8. The Tweet Effect: How Twitter Affects Rankings
June 1st, 2011 - Posted by dohertyjf
Hehehe this is just getting funny the number of top tweeted posts talking about twitter. It's so meta I might cry. But really, John's post rocked the twitters.


9. Tracking the KPIs of Social Media
September 7th, 2011 - Posted by randfish
Love, love, love this post. I may have even tweeted it 20 times or so from various accounts. I mean... wait... you can't prove anything!


10. White Hat SEO: It F@$#ing Works
April 10th, 2011 - Posted by randfish
Don't make me tell you again.

Here's the thing, mozzers comment a lot. It's really quite amazing how many comments a post will get, even the mediocre ones. There are tons of exceptional industry blogs out there, but I've never seen one get this many comments to every post. I absolutely love that the community is so generous! Below we'll take a look at the top commenters, but for now let's see which posts caused the most disucssion. Oh! Most of these have been mentioned above, so I left out my comments (since you're probably getting tired of them anyway).

Aaron Wheeler

1. How Google's Panda Update Changed SEO Best Practices Forever - Whiteboard Friday
June 23rd, 2011 - Posted by Aaron Wheeler


2. 32 SEO Tactics to Avoid in 2011
January 18th, 2011 - Posted by Lindsay


3. White Hat SEO: It F@$#ing Works
April 10th, 2011 - Posted by randfish

Oli Gardner

4. The Noob Guide to Online Marketing (With Giant INFOGRAPHIC)
February 9th, 2011 - Posted by Oli Gardner

Aaron Wheeler

5. Article Marketing: Mostly A Scam - Whiteboard Friday
August 25th, 2011 - Posted by Aaron Wheeler

Dr. Pete

6. Duplicate Content in a Post-Panda World
November 16th, 2011 - Posted by Dr. Pete


7. Quantifying the Impact of Google's Keyword Referral Data Shutdown
November 14th, 2011 - Posted by randfish

Tom Anthony

8. Competitive Analysis in Under 60 Seconds Using Google Docs
May 15th, 2011 - Posted by Tom Anthony


9. The Responsibilities of SEO Have Been Upgraded
July 12th, 2011 - Posted by randfish

Tom Critchlow

10. Google +1 And The Rise of Social SEO
March 30th, 2011 - Posted by Tom Critchlow

Yay! Now we get to take a look at some of the people making "waves" in the community. This list shows the top 10 comments based on the number of thumbs up it received. Some of them are cooky and fun, while others are direct and to-the-point. Take a peek:


1. SandroM | January 19th, 2011
32 SEO Tactics to Avoid in 2011

Jonathon Colman

2. Jonathon Colman | September 24th, 2011
Crawl Outage - An Update and What We're Doing


3. randfish | September 2nd, 2011
Yes, You Really Can Build Links With Twitter - Whiteboard Friday


4. russvirante | September 26th, 2011
Crawl Outage - An Update and What We're Doing

iulian lita

5. iulian lita | January 18th, 2011
32 SEO Tactics to Avoid in 2011

Liza Shulyayeva

6. Liza Shulyayeva | July 12th, 2011
The Responsibilities of SEO Have Been Upgraded

Dan Deceuster

7. Dan Deceuster | September 15th, 2011
5 Reasons Why Copying Links is Bad for You

Frederik Hyldig

8. Frederik Hyldig | August 26th, 2011
Article Marketing: Mostly A Scam - Whiteboard Friday


9. gfiorelli1 | July 12th, 2011
The Responsibilities of SEO Have Been Upgraded


10. randfish | July 6th, 2011
Experiments on Google+ and Twitter Influencing Search Rankings

So who commented the most you ask? Well if you're around the blog much you probably already know that Gianluca is the king of comments. I wanted to also note that our friend GoodnewsCowboy (who I mentioned above) was the top commenter last year. This year he fell to the 15th spot, and that's only with having comments through March 16th.

One note about the top users, all Associates and staff have been removed from this list (There were five that would have made the list: Rand, Dr. Pete, Cyrus, myself & iPullRank). So who are our chatty Kathy's?

gfiorelli1James NorquayJenni BrownMoosa Hemanialgogmbh_petraDubs

6. Dubs
mozPoints: 284 | Rank: 162


10. Stephen
mozPoints: 1724 | Rank: 15

Are you as enamored as I am with this post? I sure hope so! It was a ton of fun to put together (even though you may have heard me grumbling on twitter about it). I always love taking a look back at the past year's posts and realizing how much has really happened in a year! This year the obvious themes were the convergence of search and social, plus the Panda update. I hope you'll bookmark this post and read through the ones you may have missed throughout the year. What was your favorite post this year?

Spectacularly awesome image of unicorns, kittens and rainbows from Sarcastic Monday.

About jennita — Jen Lopez is the Community Manager at SEOmoz and a devotee of the fine arts of Twitter, Facebook and all things social media. She has a background in web development and will always be an SEO at heart. Follow her on Twitter @jennita.

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