September 30th, 2014 by

This article, which deals with link building outreach best practices is the third part of my series on Link Building for SEO in 2014. If you aren’t familiar with link building basics or how to start a campaign I recommend you read:

link building graphic

A core concept for link building for SEO is to earn links from websites that have greater authority for desirable keywords.  Natural editorial links,  earned when a web content writer finds your content and links to it, are great when you can get them, but sometimes you need to take your efforts to the next level.

An example: You have been blogging for awhile and are getting good feedback comments from readers. You aren’t, however, seeing referral links to your posts show up in your web statistics. What now?

Link building outreach efforts can earn you valuable referral links and increase the SEO value of your content at the same time. Rather than hoping your content is found and linked, it requires you to directly contact website owners and bloggers to request a review of your content.

Here are the steps for adding outreach to your link building strategy.

Find Potential Referring Websites to Contact in Your Link Building Outreach

The whole point of building incoming links for SEO is to receive links from websites who have greater authority for targeted keywords, so how do you find them to start your link building outreach efforts?

1. Choose Your Targeted Keyword Phrases

Search!

Use private search functions on Google, Bing and Yahoo to determine who ranks highly for your targeted search terms.

Before you go off and start searching for targeted keyword phrases to see how your website ranks, its important to understand that your personal search results will likely be filtered in search engines based on a variety of factors (web history, search history, your location, etc.).  It’s vitally important to start your search without this “results customization” to see the “raw strength” of your website compares to other for your targeted keyword terms and that starts with your browser.  My recommendation to choose and configure one web browser (either Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome) that will be dedicated to private searching and follow the requirements of the major search engines to keep those searches free of personalized results.

It’s a good idea to read up on what the major search engines require for private searching:

2. Review High-Ranking Website Search Engine Query Results for Your Targeted Keyword Phrases

List the websites that have higher ranking for your targeted keyword terms and review each for their suitability for link building outreach to improve SEO, including:

Site Authors & Bloggers Link to Relevant Content

links in a chain

Make sure a website is worth your precious time before engaging its owner or author for links.

A website will not likely entertain the idea of linking to you, no matter how good your pitch, if it does not already link to other websites with relevant content.  Also Look for contact info for authors/bloggers on the website and in social media; if you can’t find contact info easily, it’s probably not worth your time.

Site Does Not Use “NoFollow” Links

It used to be that all links were considered a “vote” for the content they linked to.  These days, a link with the “nofollow” attribute tells Google to not count the link as a vote.  This link attribute is growing in use and is now widely seen wherever a link is paid for (i.e. banner advertising your website on another site) or the referring website owner/editor may not have full control over the link, such as:

  • “Advertorials”
  • Article directories
  • Blog comments
  • Forum posts and signatures
  • Guest book comments
  • Guest post signatures
  • Press releases
  • Wiki pages (e.g. user-editable pages such Wikipedia)
  • Yahoo! Answers

That’s not to say that all these sources on all websites will be “nofollow” links, but it pays to check before spending your time trying to get your link on there for SEO purposes.  When you’re on a page with a link(s) to external websites pull up the page source code (typically a View selection in your web browser) and look for an example link.  If it looks like this:

<a href=”http://www.examplewebsite.com” rel=”nofollow”>Example Website</a>

then you will know those links are not counted by Google and do not contribute to SEO efforts.  Please note that “nofollow” links may still give big value in terms of the referral visits they bring, so be sure to add these websites to your referring links efforts.

The following can help you narrow down your targeted sites and set their priority if you end up with a long list.

Site Does Not Require Payment for Review or Link

If the website in question only reviews sites that pay for the service then it’s not worth your effort.  The major search engines are constantly looking for sites using paid links and downgrading or eliminating them from search results so that link you buy today may be worthless tomorrow.

Don’t Forget Check Your Own Readers’ Comments

Sometimes a reader who leaves a comment on your blog post is also a writer for a blog or other website and a potential source of links.  If they have engaged you by leaving a comment on your blog post, chances are they will be open to linking to you.

Next Up: How to Earn Links with Your Link Building Outreach Efforts

My next post in this series with present best practices for engaging website owners and bloggers to get their attention and earn those links.  Contact us if you want help in getting your link building strategy off the ground.  We offer consultations and ongoing services for link building outreach and other SEO-related services.

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September 3rd, 2014 by

So, you’ve determined that inbound marketing is for you, and that it’s an investment that can help you attract new customers and grow your business. Now we move from the “why” to the “how” to learn that it’s the tools of inbound marketing that are practical in reaching those new customers.

The Link Between Making Breakfast and Inbound Marketing

For those of you who offer breakfast as part of your services, consider this scenario: You get up early. You preheat the oven. You get the pans out. The kitchen counter is lined with food to be cooked, ingredients to be fashioned into something good. All of this is meant to become a beautiful, delectable breakfast for your guests. You leave the kitchen in the hopes that all of those things will work together to become that breakfast. But when you return, you find them all precisely where you left them. There is no piping hot bacon or sausage, no golden pancakes, no buttery biscuits, no fluffy omelets. Everything is where you left it. The food and ingredients cannot make themselves. The same is true for inbound marketing: it is not practical or proven until its tools are engaged and applied on a regular basis.

The Tools of Inbound Marketing

Truth be told, you want your site visitors and prospective customers to have a satisfying experience. They’re more likely to return and visit your site longer if they like the content or find it useful. Understanding who you want to visit your site and who you want to target as prospective customers is important to figuring out which tools you pull out of the toolbox. Some might be more helpful than others. Whatever tools for inbound marketing you decide are best, you must give them time and attention.

inboundmarketingtools-02

Websites

If InsideOut Solutions designed your website, you’re already doing well in this area. Whether to have a website these days is no longer even a point of discussion since the world is doing a large portion of its business on the web. Since customers are searching for what they want, it is essential to have a website that shows what you offer. Also, a good website that invites attention is part of what your inbound marketing strategy should include. Remember that you don’t need to go door-to-door or buy expensive time to interrupt people in their car or on their couch. Those same people are using the internet to find what they want on their terms and in their own time. A beautiful, clear, and functional website is a key way to lead them down the path to you.

Blogging

Blogging is a method of adding content to your site. This content is in the form of articles written by you. The benefits of blogging regularly are:

  • Indexed posts: The more you have, the better opportunity you have to get found online. Properly optimized blogs have a tendency to increase your rankings in search engines and, importantly, also widens your visibility in search for keywords.
  • More leads: Draw prospective customers to your site with relevant, smart blog articles and invite them to return by consistently publishing quality information. HubSpot reports that 43% of companies have acquired a customer through a blog. 43% isn’t a number to sneeze at.
  • Increased trust: Once you have valuable content that site visitors want, they’ll come back to you for more. This increases the chances that you’ll turn those visitors into customers, and that you’ll gain advocates for your business. Remember that just because a visitor doesn’t become a customer doesn’t mean they won’t become an advocate.

Social Media Marketing

How to approach this inbound marketing tool is a struggle for some individuals. They might blog a lot, for instance, but fail to ever really distribute the content they create. Blogging is not an if-you-build-it-they-will-come tool. You can write the most prolific blog articles ever, but if you fail to distribute them to an interested audience, they’ll collect internet dust for years. Social Media Marketing is basically using the existing tool of social networking. All the major social media brands (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.) are built on networks of people. Call them friends, followers, circles, or whatever you like. But people talk and share and think together on the internet. Smart inbound marketing uses this interconnectedness to achieve a new kind of word-of-mouth marketing. While we won’t explore in depth the advantages of each social media channel in this post, it’s important to note that without proper and timely use of social media marketing, you’ll end up adrift in a vast sea of nameless websites. And your users would likely have better luck finding the proverbial needle in the haystack.

Landing Pages

Landing pages are self-defining in name and function. Are you wanting to promote something on your website, but not necessarily have the visitor see your main page yet? A landing page is a strong method to accomplish this. Typically, this page is designed to get information from the visitor (usually name, contact info, etc.) and for you to provide something in return (additional information, content, contact, etc.).  The goal should always be, with any content, to establish trust and a bridge of communication. Invite the visitor to learn as much as he/she wishes, and use solid, valid content like landing pages to give them something in return so that they trust you and want to return for more.

Email Marketing

Some may think that email marketing is just another word for spamming. On the contrary, it’s a strategic method of reaching out to and keeping track of individuals who have provided email addresses (at the landing pages, for instance). As with all the other tools, email marketing is all about timing. Coordinated with landing pages, email marketing seeks to provide prospective customers information that they’re seeking. Send emails to them with content that builds trust, meets their needs, and speaks to their pain points. For instance, if you know a lead is constantly reviewing vintage wine selections and you’re sending them craft beer newsletters, you’re not going to invite further interest and your off-topic emails are likely to send them off to a competitor.

Handle With Care

All of these inbound marketing tools are meant to be tailored, handled appropriately and with consideration of your prospects. If you’re only preaching about what you’re selling, you’re not going to build much of a following. Buyers want engagement, learning, trust, and relationships. This is true across all industries. Understand that no one comes out of the gate as an expert with inbound marketing tools. But investing your time in learning about them and using them increases your chances of generating more leads and eventually customers. Join us for the next post in this series, “Attract with Inbound Marketing,” to find out what flower blooms, curb appeal, and fast food logos have in common.

Currently, of the inbound marketing tools, we offer blogging and email marketing services. Click below to contact us and find out more about these services.

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December 29th, 2013 by

The new year is upon us and at this time of year tradition demands that we make our resolutions for the upcoming year.  Don’t forget your internet efforts when it comes to your business’ marketing resolutions for 2014.

2014 Resolutions

Don’t forget to make your internet marketing resolutions for 2014.

Making resolutions for the new year should be treated seriously.  Lots of folks chuckle about their New Year’s resolutions, but, indeed, it should be treated as the opportunity it is: a chance to refocus efforts and make improvements, whether personal or professional.

Top 5 Small Business Internet Marketing Resolutions for 2014

These resolutions are aimed at InsideOut Solutions’ primary client base:

  • bed & breakfast inns
  • dude ranches
  • cabin, cottage and vacation rentals
  • destinations, etc.

but also apply to many small to medium-sized businesses.

1. Review Your Website

It’s time to go through your website with a fine-tooth comb.  You’ll want to fix all those misspellings, grammar errors, and out-of-date info, of course, but your review needs to go much deeper to be truly effective.

Keep reading →

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September 30th, 2013 by

A WordPress website, along with design and managed hosting from InsideOut Solutions, creates a strong foundation for your online marketing.

A WordPress website, along with design and managed hosting from InsideOut Solutions, creates a strong foundation for your online marketing.

Occasionally, our current and potential clients will submit their concerns about having a WordPress website.  Often these concerns are raised when a website Content Management System (CMS) provider publishes a blog post, email newsletter or other article denouncing WordPress as a website platform in order to convince readers that they offer a better alternative with their own CMS.

While it’s true that a WordPress website isn’t ideal for every business, InsideOut Solutions has proven that WordPress combined with our quality website design and managed hosting services create an effective and affordable internet marketing platform for its clients in the unique lodging and related industries.  Whether you own a B&B inn, dude ranch, cabin resort, boutique hotel or motel, or vacation rentals, you owe it to yourself to learn more about WordPress and why it is such a powerful foundation for websites.

Keep reading →

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July 29th, 2012 by

Don’t Copy & Paste Your Way to the Bottom of Search Results: Make Sure Your Website Content Is Always Your Own – and Protect It!

The Bad Artists Imitate, The Great Artists Steal by Banksy

While artists like Picasso and, more recently, Banksy might, with tongue in cheek, condone theft in the name of greatness, doing so online can kill your search engine ranking.

The success of your internet marketing depends a great deal on the text that appears on your website pages, blog posts, directory listings, etc.

There’s been a great deal of controversy over how damaging it is for a business to have “duplicate content” – that is, text content that is copied from one place to another on the web (even on the same website).  While the detrimental effect of duplicating your own content is still hotly debated, there is no controversy about duplicating content that is not your own.

In short: Don’t do it.

It might seem harmless to copy and paste bits or even sections of text from other sources, such as using Wikipedia to fill in information about your area, but it is illegal…and devastating to your search engine rank when (not if) discovered.

Before we get to far into how plagiarism can hurt your search engine marketing efforts specifically, let’s get some definitions:

What Is Plagiarism?


pla·gia·rize verb \ˈplā-jə-ˌrīz also -jē-ə-\
transitive verb
: to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own : use (another’s production) without crediting the source
intransitive verb
: to commit literary theft : present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source

“plagiarize.” Merriam-Webster.com. 2012. http://www.merriam-webster.com (20 July 2012).


So, if writer “A” uses text previously written by writer “B” without proper credit, writer “A” is plagiarizing the work.

What is Internet Plagiarism?

Internet Plagiarism

Copy and paste are useful functions in electronic media, but should never be used to pass someone else’s work off as your own.

Plagiarism on the internet, generally referred to as “content scraping,” is simply copying and pasting content (text and/or images) from a source without proper citation.

Content scraping has been around for a long time on the internet and was used extensively for years, without repercussions, to build search index-able content for websites.  Those days are long gone.  Plagiarizing content now can have serious consequences from a legal and search rank point of view.

What Are the Legal Dangers of Internet Plagiarism?

Today, there are a number of tools used to identify content scraping.  Businesses and organizations that discover plagiarized and/or improperly cited work can slap the plagiarist with a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) Removal Notice.  If the scraped content is not removed or cited properly, the business or organization may file a copyright infringement lawsuit.

What Are the Search Rank Consequences of Content Scraping?

How Search Engines View Plagiarism

Search engines like Google, Yahoo & Bing view unoriginal content as a hindrance to delivering quality results and will penalize websites using scraped text.

When (not if, these days) discovered, search engines penalize plagiarized content by lowering rank or, if the content scraping is severe enough, removing a website from its results.  If you re-publish without proper citation, you will likely see a drop in rank and, hence, in visits via the search engines that have made the discovery. 

Google Panda rolled out in February of 2011 and has received 13 major updates since.  Panda’s focus is on both rewarding quality content and slapping sites with little quality content, stolen or duplicate content, and a high ad-to-content ratio.  Bing and Yahoo also penalize scraped content they discover.  An article from your chamber of commerce might be a good resource for your website visitors, but it won’t help you at all of you drop off Google, Yahoo and/or Bing.

Despite the high potential for penalization, there are many websites that plagiarize content and attempt to establish their “version” as genuine, meaning you need to protect your content.

How Do I Protect Myself from Internet Plagiarism?

There are many tools available to businesses and organizations for fining plagiarized content on the web.  If you have a small website or publish new content infrequently, you can generally get by with a free service such as Plagiarism Checker or Article Checker, which allow you to search for duplicate content by (ironically, enough) copying and pasting text or entering individual URLs.

If you have a larger site and/or publish frequently, you will want to consider a paid service from providers such as Copyscape or Plagiarisma.

If you find a site has plagiarized your content and you want to take action on the copyright infringement, you may use the DMCA Online Service Provider directory to find a designated copyright agent to contact.

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June 27th, 2012 by

Internet Marketing on Bing: What should be your strategy be with recent announcements about Xbox & Facebook?

Bing LogoBing now regularly edges out Yahoo as the second most used search engine and the overall trend indicates that it will continue to eat away at Yahoo’s share of the search pie.

Bada-Bing

The upcoming year may finally seal the fate on whether Bing goes bada-boom or bada-bust. Either way, it’s not going down without a fight.

Thus far, Bing has not been able to take a substantial bite out of Google’s market share, but has instead taken bites out of every other search provider (swallowing some almost whole). As Bing now controls the back-end of Yahoo search, search marketers tend to lump them together as Microsoft when talking about market share. Doing so gives Microsoft about half the market share of Google and that remained fairly consistent as we head into summer of this year.  Even so, Microsoft reported a $2.6 billion loss in its online services division in the last fiscal year.

But there are changes coming that could help Bing finally bite into Google’s dominant share of the pie.  In this article, you will learn about two major changes and what you should do to ensure that your search marketing efforts on Bing will benefit from its increased use.

Keep reading →

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May 27th, 2012 by

Internet Marketing News: WordPress Websites Have a New Mobile Option

Mobile Devices

The mobile web shows no sign of slowing its growth; make sure you have a mobile website that's ready to compete!

Mobile website standards, as with everything else related to the internet, have continued to evolve at an increasing rate and InsideOut Solutions is proud to announce a new mobile website solution for our Inndx and WordPress website customers that offers greater design flexibility, content management, search engine optimization features.

This totally new version of our mobile website feature for WordPress websites is a major upgrade from the version we rolled out to our clients in May of 2011. The all-new administration interface makes management of your mobile website more efficient. The mobile site as it displays to visitors is more user-friendly with larger, easier to click links.

Have a look at one of our first clients to use this new mobile website service and compare the previous version with the new:

Previous WordPress Mobile Website Header

Previous mobile website was good, but we recognized a need for easier thumb clicking of menu items.

Mobile Website for 9 Cranes Inn

The new mobile website for WordPress is "thumb friendly" and customizable to meet your mobile marketing needs.

The new mobile website is packed with improved features to help clients improve their ability to effectively market their business in the mobile marketplace.

Keep reading →

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April 29th, 2012 by

Internet Marketing Weekly: Why it’s important to monitor your Bed and Breakfast’s Online Reputation.

Social Media 01We are living in a world dominated by fast moving information, real time data and social media. We are receiving higher volumes of information at a quicker rate then ever before. This new explosion has created a very unique issue for small business owners. How do you stay up to date with everything that is being tweeted, tagged, liked, blogged, G+, checked in, reviewed, reported on and pinned (whew, try saying that 3 times quick). In this post, I’m going to show you a few simple tricks. Along with 2 tools to make Online Reputation Management easier, and a little less time consuming.

 

So What is Online Reputation Management (ORM)?

ORM is the practice of monitoring the Internet reputation of a person, brand and business. With the goal of addressing and mitigating both positive and negative mentions. For most businesses, monitoring your Online Brand and helping to build a positive outlook is the most important function. No business is perfect and no one is ever satisfied a 100%. Your going to face situations were customers or guests aren’t happy. On the other side of the token, you will have customers that rant and rave about how perfect you are. Both of these factors need to be monitored and treated equally. With the unhappy online customers you must engage and mitigate. With happy online customers engage and be thankful. When people look across the many outlets of information they aren’t looking for you to be perfect. They are looking for how you react, and how you treat your consumer (happy or not).

Using Google Alerts to Make Your Life Easier.

Google Alerts will become one of your true allies in the ORM battle. It’s a free tool that will allow you to set up a number of different search queries that will notify you anytime your brand is mentioned. A great tip is to add not only your brand name but to also add any geographical terms for your area. For example, Sequim Washington Bed and Breakfast that way you can also start to see other business in the area that are being mentioned or covered. You then can start to measure your online reputation against others in your market.

Social Media Never Rests

Sites like Facebook and Twitter never sleep. They are moving 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. So staying up with all the happenings is a tough task for those who require sleep. Luckily, there are some great tools out there that can help you to get ORM results quickly across a large number of sites. Much like Google Alerts, Social Mention will become something to lean on more and more. This program works very similar to Google Alerts, except you have the ability to reach deep into all the social network platforms.

In Conclusion:

I hope you can find a way to use these two great free tools. These tools should help keep you in the loop and speed up the rate in which you can gather information about your brand. Please contact us if you need any further details on this topic. With never ending growth of Social Media, and more advancements in technology coming. Staying on top of  your online brand reputation will become more important everyday.

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April 22nd, 2012 by

Internet Marketing Weekly: Attract guests traveling with pets to your bed and breakfast.

Marketing your pet-friendly B&B

Take advantage of the growing number of people traveling with pets.

Do you allow pets at your bed and breakfast? If so, how often do you welcome guests with pets? Have you noticed the growing trend in pet travel? Do potential guests know your inn is pet friendly?

Hint: It takes more than a single sentence buried somewhere on your website declaring your property pet friendly to get the word out. It’s no use providing doggie beds and milk bones if no one realizes they can stay at your inn with their furred friend.

Let’s brainstorm. What could you do to spread the word about your accommodating pet policy?

Keep reading →

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