Monthly Archives: June 2012

3 Ways Content Curation Can Bring Up Your Rankings

content curation -- fine art

Content curation is a bit like being an art critic -- you comment on what others have written just as art critics comment on what others have painted.

It seems that wherever I turn these days, I can’t read a blog or a Warrior Forum thread without someone mentioning how content curation is the greatest thing since, well, since the last greatest thing that everyone was super excited about. I know – it’s a big deal and all that, but really, to me, content curation is a little too reminiscent of auto-blogging, which hasn’t done well. Still, done correctly, content curation does have its benefits. Here’s what you need to know:

So Just What Is Content Curation Anyway?

In essence, content curation means that you are able to pull together content from many other sources in order to be a kind of news aggregator ala Google News. It’s a bit more complicated than that of course and it happens that most people don’t do it correctly anyway, but that’s the gist of it. Here are the details:

Kind of Like Auto Blogging

To understand content creation, one needs only to understand what the whole auto blogging craze was about a couple of years ago. The idea then was to create a blog which would update itself with fresh content by in essence stealing content from other blogs.

The creators of auto blogs ranged from the merely naïve, who thought that as long as they put a link back to the original content they were legally on solid ground, to the pernicious, who would actually try to claim the content was theirs to begin with. Either way, this method worked for a short while and made some people some decent money by getting easy to create blogs well ranked and make money start flowing in.

The catch of course was twofold. First and foremost, the creators of the content rarely actually gave their permission for their stuff to be stolen and this lead to some webhosts getting cease and desist notices, especially from bigger news organizations who could afford to have an attorney on call to sue these guys.

The second problem was that Google noticed that these so called auto blogs were popping up all over the place and that they offered no original content of their own. They merely tried to take content from others and ride the coattails to greatness. Google started cracking down on these kinds of blogs and they have pretty much disappeared because people realized they couldn’t make money doing it anymore.

How Is Content Curation Different?

There are three ways that content curation is different from auto blogging and I’m going to go through them one at a time. However, readers should be aware that in most cases, people do content curation incorrectly and basically treat it like a new version of auto blogging. This will lead to disaster, both in the form of Google slaps and in the form of lawsuits. So be warned.

It’s Snippets, Not Whole Articles

First and foremost, content curation in theory is supposed to be a snippet of an article rather than the whole thing. It’s like quoting the first 20-30 words of a story and then providing a link back to the original content. The idea is supposed to be that you are providing people with the most important headlines in your niche and if they need to know more, they can click the link to learn more.

The problem however is that if you rely exclusively on content curation and doing it this way, you won’t make much money because people will visit your site only to click away to someone else’s site. As a result, many people have tried to up the number of words they take from other sites and I have seen sites which are supposedly “content curation” sites which have 300-400 words quoted, basically the whole article.

This is a problem because it’s first and foremost, theft of content. You are no longer noting an interesting story that your readers may want to read on another website. You are quoting nearly the whole story for them, which means that they basically don’t need to go to the other site. Anyone who does this with major websites may find a cease and desist letter in their mailbox along with a note from their webhost telling them that their site has been shut down summarily.

It’s Discussion about Articles, Not Merely Articles

button

Content curation is NOT supposed to be something where you just push a button and forget about it. You need to editorialize.

In theory, the right way to do content curation is to actually write comments on what others have said. The idea is supposed to be that you take a snippet from someone else and then you editorialize about it on your own website.

The reason this is so important is that this allows for what is known as the fair use doctrine. This means that, according to copyright law (at least in the USA, I’m not familiar with the laws in other countries so this may or may not apply to you depending on where you are), you are allowed to quote copyrighted material in order comment on what was said.

The catch of course is that most people who do content curation never add in these extra comments and they simply pull in material from other websites. This leads to a highly questionable situation.

First and foremost, is it legal? If you quote just the headline and the first few words, it is possible that it’s legal because you are merely alerting your readers to an interesting story elsewhere. Note however that I’m not an attorney and the above is not to be construed as legal advice. If you get sued, it’s not my problem and I’m not taking any kind of responsibility.

The second issue is that Google doesn’t particularly like auto blogs and I seriously doubt they’re going to be interested in a website which is basically an auto blog with snippets. I could be wrong of course and I’ve heard from lots of people how Google loves content curation (more on that in a moment, when I finally get to the benefits).

However, my feeling is that Google wants to serve up relevant information to their readers and simply showing them a whole bunch of sites which just aggregate the material they could display fully from the original site is just not going to fly.

It’s Not Meant to Be Your Only Content

This is my biggest gripe about content curation. Even if you are able to get away with quoting snippets from other sites without getting sued for doing so and even if Google is fine with that, they are not going to be fine with a site which ONLY does that.

Auto blogs failed because they never provided a stitch of original content. If you try to auto blogging method with content curation, I cannot see how you will succeed any more than you could have succeeded with auto blogs.

The Right Way to Do It

The right way to do content curation is to treat it as part of your “mix.” You should have a blog or website which has plenty of relevant, fresh content published on a regular basis. It should include at least some original content which is unique to your website. You can then mix it up by also using content curation to fill in more content and keep your blog fresh and relevant.

Google Does Like Sites Which are Frequently UpdatedIdeally, your site should be updated constantly. Content curation can help you do that.

Let’s face it – unless you have an army of reporters available to constantly write new material for your blog or website, you are not going to be updating several times a day. At best, you may update once or twice a day, but even that tends to be too much for most people who are also trying to run a business.

However, Google’s search algorithm is designed to give higher rankings to sites which do in fact get updated regularly. By using content curation, you can in essence add extra material without having to do research. Just add a sentence and then put in your snippet. The idea isn’t to keep people on your site with this stuff (that’s what your own original material is for). It’s merely to keep them coming back and to get rankings.

You Look Relevant

Another thing that Google’s engineers have designed their spider to do is to look for sites which are relevant. This means that you have content which seems to be about your particular niche and this means that content curation is a great way to look good to those search spiders. It also helps when you have links to major news sites on your site because Google’s system does like to see those kinds of links as well.

You May Get Backlinks

Finally, it’s also possible that you could get some additional backlinks by doing content curation since many places will actually publish trackbacks as a comment in their blogs. This means that if you use an automated system to find content to curate, you could get some additional backlinks for your trouble. Though I wouldn’t count on it too much – most bloggers don’t publish trackbacks, especially automated ones from content curation.

Top 10 Effective SEO Tools Post-Penguin

Google penguin

...And if you don't, Google may give you a big slap!

The Penguin update has taken everyone by surprise – it didn’t just change the way that Google calculated the value of different kinds of links. It also made sure that the links we did create could count against us if they didn’t appear to be natural. So how do we build backlinks now that the flightless bird has taken wing? Well, here are ten tools to help you deal with the Penguin.

Not Really All Tools

I should point out that these are not necessarily all “tools” – at least not in the traditional sense of the term. Some of these might better be defined as methods rather than tools, though I will recommend specific services for most of these. The thing is, Penguin really doesn’t like automated link building and as such, you need to try to find ways around it.

The Directory of Ezines

Let’s start with a tool which isn’t so much a tool as a website. The Directory of Ezines is exactly what it sounds like – a directory of online magazines. Now why would this be so valuable as a tool in the post Penguin world?

Well aside from the fact that Charlie Page, the owner of the DOE adds lots of webinars and other information for free to his directory, simply having an up to date list of ezines which are available online can be incredibly valuable for article marketing.

You see, the nice thing about article marketing (not article directory marketing which hasn’t worked in years) is that it allows you to bypass Google completely. Put together a great article related to your niche, post it to your website, get it indexed and then offer it to ezines which relate to your niche. You can then get highly targeted links from every single one of the ezines which bring real customers directly as opposed to going through the search engines.

SEOQuake

Moving on from the DOE, which is paid (though in my opinion, worth it), let’s look at another tool which is totally free and totally worth your while. SEOQuake is a tool which is designed to allow you to find out more information about specific websites. This is perfect when you’re looking for blogs to leave comments on (you can avoid the PRN/A or PR0 blogs) as well as when you’re looking for places to put guest blog posts. The only catch? It works only on Firefox.

RoboForm

You might not think of RoboForm as being an SEO tool per se and it’s really not. However, in a post penguin world, you want to try building links manually. However, that doesn’t mean that you necessarily need to fill in all your information manually. For a minimal fee, you can buy a license for RoboForm and use it to fill in all the boring details on each blog that you visit to leave comments on so that you only need to write the actual comment manually.

Ahrefs

In looking around for tools which were still useful in a post Panda world, I came across Ahrefs and I have to say that it does look impressive. This is actually a series of tools, including a site explorer (similar to the now defunct Yahoo Site Explorer which everyone used to use) as well as link analysis to help you decide whether or not the links that you are getting are worth anything.

The best part is that you can start for free and then build up to using the paid services later on. Ahrefs offers a pretty competent free option which includes lots of useful features and which should be fine for someone doing SEO on a single website. Those who need more power can consider one of the upgrade options.

SENuke X

I know what people here are thinking – SENuke is exactly the sort of tool that can get you into trouble in a post Panda world. And you’re right – it can, if you don’t know how to use the tool correctly. On the other hand, if you use SENuke in a smart way, this is still the tool to beat.

And yes, it’s godawful expensive, but they also work hard to make sure that the system can create good quality links even in a post Panda world. Those who want something a bit cheaper may consider going with Magic Submitter, which is also actively updated to try to keep up with the latest changes.

However, be sure that whatever you do, you follow the instructions carefully and don’t rush willy-nilly to build backlinks. I can guarantee that in a post Penguin world, those who don’t take the time to understand how these tools work will ultimately find that their efforts are for naught and that they are going to end up with the dreaded e-mail from Google about over-optimization.

Brad Callen’s Niche Finder

Some of the old tools are still great and still worth using. Brad Callen’s Niche Finder is a good example. It’s still my go to tool for finding quality keywords to base my writing on and the best part is that it’s totally “kosher” in a post Penguin world. No, it won’t directly help you to build backlinks to your website, but it can help you to figure out which keywords to target, which can be equally important, especially when you need to build links manually.

Traffic Travis

Speaking of old favorites, I still use Traffic Travis all the time. It has been updated to work nicely with the flightless bird of Google and it allows you to figure out what your competition is doing. Again, Traffic Travis is not so much a tool for building backlinks so much as it is a phenomenal tool for doing some excellent research and figuring out what works and what doesn’t work in this post penguin world.

The best part about Traffic Travis by the way is that it is still offered in both free and paid versions, meaning that you don’t need to worry about spending a fortune to buy it, at least not at first. Eventually, if you need more power, feel free to pick up the paid version. Or just grab it now and experience everything it has to offer. But know that it’s not an absolute necessity.

Ping.FM

I wrote about this a while back and showed how you could use Ping.FM in conjunction with HootSuite to build yourself a whole profile of free backlinks. This is still very true and no, I don’t think you’ll pay much of a penalty in a post Penguin world. The key here is to make sure to vary what you put down periodically so that you don’t end up with a whole bunch of anchor texts that look exactly the same.

This does require some extra steps on your part, however the nice thing is that it’s still free to use this combination of tools and that means that this is still a great method doing those backlinks that are all important, especially in the post Penguin world. I won’t bother will all the details of how to do it. You can read my original post on the subject, which explains all the details.

CommentLuv

Do you feel the love? The CommentLuv that is...

One of my most popular posts ever on this blog has been about CommentLuv. This is a plugin for WordPress, which, depending on how you have it configured can allow you to give a front page backlink to certain commenters on your blog. However, the thing that I think is most important here is not what I discussed back then so much as what you can do with this tool in order to find relevant blogs to leave do follow comments on.

In essence, by looking in the CommentLuv directory, you can actually find a list of blogs which have the plugin enabled and then find relevant blogs to post to. Use it in combination with SEOQuake to figure out which blogs are worth leaving your comments on and you’ll quickly find that you can build a nice portfolio of backlinks.

Disqus

flame wars

Disqus is great, but beware the flame wars that can spill over to your site from other sites.

Speaking of comments on your blog, one of my favorite new services (which is also free) is Disqus. This is a multisite commenting platform which can be integrated into most kinds of blogs and websites. It allows you to build a community around your website and to allow people to have threaded conversations in your comments section.

Now, you may be wondering why this would be useful for building backlinks. In and of itself, it probably isn’t useful (though some websites do allow you to leave links within your Disqus comments without any moderation as long as you are a member of Disqus).

However, from everything I’ve seen, Disqus for whatever reason seems to engender community and discussion more so than many other platforms.

I think this may be because people are able to leave comments and see what others are saying on a variety of different websites, meaning that people tend to follow their friends (or enemies) to other websites to read what they had to say and or to comment on what they had to say. This ultimately leads to more traffic while completely avoiding the whole Google Penguin problem.

The 3 Types of Links You Probably Never Paid Attention To

confused about these kinds of backlinksAs SEO professionals, it’s our job to know about the kinds of backlinks that exist on the web and to tell you more about them so that you can get what’s called link diversity. However, it seems that there are always some kinds of links that people tend to utterly ignore and they do this to their detriment. Here are three kinds of links which are great and which can get you plenty of quality backlinks:

Guest Blogging

I’ve discussed guest blogging in this space in the past but for whatever reason, people tend to ignore it as a possible way to get backlinks. Perhaps that’s because it’s perceived to be harder to get guest blogs than it is to get other kinds of backlinks. Of course, this also means that these links will generally be worth much more as far as link juice is concerned.

How Guest Blogging Works

In essence, guest blogging means that you write up an article to post onto someone else’s blog and they include a link back to your own website within the body of the article. This is often done in the bio at the end of the article (especially on the more popular blogs), though some blogs also let you put in a link within the text of the article itself.

The owners of the blogs love guest blogs because it means that they get free content for their blogs which looks good and which they don’t have to write or pay for. Google also looks more favorably on these kinds of links because they happen to be harder to get than say a comment link on a blog somewhere which pretty much anyone can get.

Getting Guest Blogs

There are three basic ways to find guest blogging opportunities. The first way is to simply look for blogs in your particular area of expertise. Just go to Google and do a search for your niche along with the term “top blog.” Or even look for blogs in general within your niche.

Use SEOQuake to find blogs which have a decent PR (at least PR1, though I prefer not to bother with blogs with less than PR3 or 4). Then, look for a contact us link. In some cases, there will actually be something specifically about guest posts. If there is, use that link to contact the owner (occasionally, they even have a plugin enabled which lets you post your guest blog automatically and the owner just needs to approve it). If there is no link specifically for guest posts, just look for one which lets you contact the owner.

Send an e-mail to the owner and tell them about your proposed topic and that you are interested in offering them a guest blog in exchange for a link. Be sure that your English is impeccable (I regularly ignore requests on my blogs when I see people who can’t write a request in English) and be sure that you are on topic.

The second way to do this is with a website which specializes in offering a marketplace where bloggers and potential guest bloggers can get together. One that I’m a member of and have used in the past is Blogger Linkup. They list both people interested in receiving guest blogs as well as people interested in writing them. The advantage of such a site is that you don’t have to wonder whether the owner accepts guest blogs or not.

Finally, you can also look for paid services which work a bit differently. Here, you actually load up your already written guest blog and make it available to members to download. You’ll pay for the privilege of having your blog posted to a particular blog, but the good news is that you’ll have the ability to choose which blogs get your content.

One that I’ve been happy with is Content Facilitator, though there are dozens of such sites. The reason I like these guys is that you can potentially use it for free (though in practice, if you make heavy use of the service, you’ll have to pay).

guest blogging

No, not that kind of a guest -- there's no need to stay in a local hotel in order to be a guest blogger for a blog. Unless you're reviewing the hotel for a travel blog of course...

In All Cases

In all cases however, you want to ensure that the guest blogs that you write for these sites are your best work. People are going to see your stuff for the first time at these sites and they’ll only click the link if you show them a reason to do so.

Wiki Links

Okay, enough about guest blogging. Let’s talk about another underappreciated method of getting backlinks. Wikis.

Now I know that someone out there is already racing to the comment section to remind me that Wikipedia is a no follow service and that they take a very dim view of people putting content up there which has been paid for. Fair enough. However, before I move on from this particular part of wikis, let me remind you that with Penguin, no follow links can be useful and while it’s technically a violation of the TOS, there are still people you can pay to put stuff up on Wikipedia.

However, while Wikipedia is the granddaddy of wikis, it is not the only one around. There are tens of thousands of wikis about every imaginable subject, maintain by various universities and individuals as well as corporations who want to get information out there. All of these wiki sites are equally useful places to get backlinks from.

Getting the Links from Wiki Sites

There are any number of automated programs which are designed to spam every wiki they can find with “articles” and even “spun” articles about your company with backlinks to your website. I don’t recommend using them though. Much as they may seem like a great shortcut, in the days of Penguin, you need to do this manually.

Start by writing a quality article about your business and making your backlinks relevant to the article. So for example, if you make a unique kind of door locking mechanism, you might want to write an article about door locking mechanisms and then mention your particular method as well. Then, you could include a relevant link back to your website in the source section.

Now, go into Google and search for wikis related to your particular niche. So in our example, you would look for wikis which deal with household items or security or door locks. You can cast your net pretty wide to find relevant wikis, but don’t spam the science wiki which is devoted to black holes with your article about door locks.

Then, simply post the articles. You don’t need to spin them either. You can easily put the exact same article up on all relevant wikis because Google doesn’t have a duplicate content penalty the way most people think it does. Moreover, because wikis are user edited guides to particular pieces of information, your articles are likely to get edited and made unique by regular users of the wikis you put them onto anyway.

Press Releases

Finally, let’s talk press releases, specifically paid press releases. There are several parts to do doing this successfully. The first of course is actually writing the press release. The second is to get the release distributed (a paid service is usually much better than the freebie services) and the third is to respond to requests from media outlets for interviews.

Writing Your Press Release

Your press release needs to read like a news article and it should be about something news worthy. This means that releasing a press release about your dental practice which has been in business for two and a half years and has nothing new to say is not going to work. On the other hand, you might have a press release about the dental practice’s ten year anniversary and how it has become a fixture in the neighborhood.

If you have a particular product to promote, remember that your job in writing a press release is NOT to sell the product. You want to tell people about it as if it’s news. This means that you analyze what the product is and who it competes with. You should include a few quotes from your company’s owners or engineers or whatever to discuss the new product and again, it needs to be written in a journalistic style.

If you’re not sure what it should look like, either check out the press release section of major corporations like Microsoft or Apple.  Try to follow a similar style to these. Or, hire a professional to do the job for you (hint: I do write professional press releases).

Getting It Out There

Once you have a professional press release, make sure it’s formatted correctly (just see some of the examples above – there are specific details that need to be added in) and then look for a service to distribute it for you. There are some such services on Fiverr, but frankly, this is a case where you get what you pay for.

I recommend a service like PRWeb, which does charge a fee but which does the job correctly. Another good service is PRNewswire, which does a similar job, though they are a bit pricier than PRWeb.

Getting Ready for Interviewsdoing interviews

While some news sources will run your press release as is, others will want to interview you. In a 24 hour news cycle, this is especially true because many reporters are always looking for stories to fill space or air time (Ironically, while newspaper space is at a premium, space on blogs and or cable news channels can be pretty wide open).

Be prepared to accept requests for interviews by including a phone number and e-mail address where you or whoever will handle press interviews can be reached. You need to make sure that the person is capable of offering concise answers to questions and isn’t going to be flustered if a reporter calls.

If you are a one person shop, you may want to practice this with a friend. While there are no guarantees that you will be called for an interview, it is entirely possible that it will happen and you should be prepared (I started a software publishing company back when I was in high school and got a call from a reporter back when there weren’t so many news outlets and I was a one man shop, so yes, it really can happen).

So what are you waiting for? Go out there and grab these backlinks and make your website rise to the top of the rankings!

by EricHammer, on       Comments are off for this post