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29 The Complete Small Business Marketer’s SEO Toolkit

Business owners and marketers don’t necessarily need to become SEO experts, but they do need to equip themselves with enough knowledge, data and access to simple SEO tools to allow them to understand how and why one site ranks higher over another, what’s holding a site back and the most important ways to quickly analyze any page they land on.

SEO toolboxBelow is a list of the tools many SEO pros turn to when they want to initially size a site up. By familiarizing yourself with and using these tools you can turn yourself into a much more informed consumer of paid SEO services as well as enable yourself to quickly spot competitive opportunities for your business.

In addition, you may find these tools helpful when sizing up the online presence of a prospect, vendor or potential strategic partner. None of these tools are 100% accurate or foolproof, but the next time a company pitches you on their awesome SEO services you’ll have the skills to snap a picture of how good they are at their own SEO.

Google Search Shortcuts – Google has a list of operators that you can use to do customer searches that will turn up lots of information on sites you are analyzing. You simply adds these search shortcuts in Google and you can slice and dice a website up in hundreds of useful ways. I wrote an article that gives more detail on my top 10 Google shortcuts

Google Search Console – This suite of tools are mainly for spying on your own site in a way, but you need to get familiar with them. This is where you can get reports on the pages Google is crawling, where you might have broken links, the status of your site maps and any issues Google might be encountering with your site.  https://search.google.com (Check out our how-to for this tool)

SpyFu – As the name implies this tool aims at helping you understand what a site is doing related to PPC advertising and specifically AdWords. I shows the keywords they are bidding and shows a list of competitors for the same words. This tools helps you find competitors you didn’t even know you had in some cases because they are buying all their traffic and may not be showing up in organic search. http://www.spyfu.com/

SEMRush – Tool that offers some overlap with SpyFu, but I really like the amount of keyword data that you can dig up for keywords and phrases and quickly find out who ranks well for those phrases. http://www.semrush.com/

Ahrefs – Audit your website, explore competitors, research keywords & backlinks – all in one place. Powered by seriously big data & trusted by top SEOs. https://ahrefs.com

Wayback Machine – This tool, run as part of Alexa’s offerings is both fun and informative. The Wayback Machine allows you to look at what any site in their archive looked like going back as far as ten years in some cases. I don’t know how much practical intelligence you pick up here, but you might see a pattern in how a particular business has grown and evolved in design, offerings, and message. http://archive.org

7 Chrome Extensions Every Marketing Consultant Needs – The following seven plugins I keep at the ready for quick analysis. Some have overlapping features to be sure, but I like that as it gives me more depth and several looks at the same thing. More here

There you have it, put these tools to work and you’ll soon know more about every site your visit almost instantly.

What Is Your Biggest Wish for 2011

wish

Image: avlxyz via Flickr

Yesterday the Google Small Business team kicked off a conversation about the hopes and wishes you have for your business next year. They are working on a project to help small businesses succeed in 2011 and they want to hear from you.

So, here’s the one question they have for today – if you had one wish for your small business in 2011, what would it be?

Head on over this blog post and fill in the form – should be interesting to see what themes bubble up repeatedly.

31 Why Computers Don't Matter Anymore

AppleAn event occurred recently that was widely covered in financial and tech circles, but the significance of which may have been lost on most.

Apple’s market cap rose slightly above Microsoft’s, making it the largest tech company in the world. Now, market cap is based on current stock price and is a lousy measure of things to come and this is by no means a post about good and bad investments, but to me it marks a point in time that clearly points to the path we’re headed for the next decade or so.

Apple, on the verge of extinction in 1996, rose up with laptops, but then bet the farm on hand held devices and applications. Apple now makes the bulk of its revenue from iPods, iPhones and iTunes – in fact, it would be safe to suggest that Apple is not really a computer company. Apple built its store right next to the new freeway off ramp (the mobile freeway that is) and has benefited through this location dramatically.

As computers and even web browsers continue to lose significance by yielding ground to mobile devices and applications Apple is positioned to dominate for years to come. In the application world social networks like Facebook will continue to grow, cloud computing via applications will generate far more revenue than operating systems, software and hardware.

What all of this means is that Google must successfully nail a social strategy or even it’s mobile plays will cut into it search ad revenue. Microsoft may be in big trouble as it clings to shrinking government and enterprise installations too big to move elsewhere.

Small business can and should seize the opportunity to claim low cost operating efficiencies found in the cloud. Marketers must find effective ways to play in social networks. Resistance to mobile tactics such as location ads, text messaging, and mobile applications must erode as they become the preferred method of content and information consumption.

12 Marketing in the Age of Google

Marketing podcast with Vanessa Fox (Click to play or right click and “Save As” to download – Subscribe now via iTunes

Vanessa FoxMy guest for this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast is ex Googler Vanessa Fox. Fox is the author of Marketing in the Age of Google: Your Online Strategy Is Your Business Strategy.

While at Google Fox built Webmaster Central, which provides tools, information, and community for site owners about how their sites are performing in Google’s search engine. She also was instrumental in the sitemaps.org alliance of Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft Live Search. (Both really good things!)

I’ve begun to state quite passionately in recent presentations that digital interactivity has moved to the center of marketing and perhaps to the center of all business activity in general and Fox’s assertion about online being the business certainly supports this growing notion.

Search permeates offline and online behavior and become woven into everything we do. It drives my wife crazy when we are chatting about something and she asks a question and I pull out my phone and dial up the answer. Offline advertising is driving web behavior and then influencing how people interact with organizations.

Search and social media are completely woven and no longer the next big thing. Social search has become the norm and really is just a part of marketing and a large part of the new era of customer engagement. If your customers are talking about you online then search greatly amplifies these conversations.

Organizations must make search and social media strategy connected to development, business and marketing strategy and tear down the silos between those creating content, social engagement, optimization and message.

Grab this complete list of keyword research tools from Vanessa’s blog.

Great book – great guest!

17 Weekend Favs April Seventeen

My weekend blog post routine includes posting links to a handful of tools or great content I ran across during the week.

I don’t go into depth about the finds, but encourage you check them out if they sound interesting. The photo in the post is a favorite for the week from Flickr.

port d'Enfer
Image credit: iyoupapa

Good stuff I found this week

Cartoon Me – pretty simple way to take a photo of you an turn it into an animated, cartoon like portrait.

MLB At Bat for iPad – I’m a bit of a baseball nut and the MLB app has been built exclusively for the iPad and totally rocks. Best iPad app exclusive app yet and turns my iPad (with optional MLB.tv subscription) into a 2400 game tv set.

Top 15 Google products for people who build websites – and people who don’t – I thought I was a Google know it all, but some of these were new to me.

11 Mining Twitter with Google Turns Up Some Interesting Stuff

As a marketing tool the Twitterverse gets so much more useful when you can filter out all the noise and drill down to people and communities that might very much want to know what you’ve got to offer.

twitter search with GoogleA bit of bloom has gone off the Twitter hype, but make no mistake, there’s still plenty of powerful ways to tap what’s going on there.

A great deal of information out there centers around searching the Twitter stream for related content, but that only allows you to focus on what’s being said. In this week’s post for AMEX OPENForum I explain 7 Insanely Useful Ways to Search Twitter that focus much more on who’s saying it. For some this is a much more interesting way to look at doing business on Twitter. Most of my tips rely on blending Google’s passion for real time search and search syntax to slice and dice Twitter in new ways.

30 Google Local Storm is Brewing

I’m out in Las Vegas at CES giving a couple talks on social media for AMEX OPEN and one of the big topics is Google’s new Nexus One phone. While it is a bit interesting that they’ve jumped into yet another market, I think the message that’s getting lost in a great deal of their recent moves is the way they are setting up to take over local advertising, marketing and search.

I’m working on a series of posts on this topic (small business better get good at local search or prepare to disappear.) and the recent holiday visit from my college and just out of college age kids reinforced what’s going on with local search and Google. By the way, when I say local search I mean when someone is trying to find a business online in their town.

When twenty somethings want to find something they often go to one of two sources – in this order 1) They fire up a mobile browser, plug in “dentist” and call the closest pin drop or 2) they ask a close friend. Understand that neither of these methods involves advertising, marketing or even search for that matter. No Yellow book, no print ad, no SEO – it’s becoming very much about showing up on the local search map. (I understand that this is a new form of SEO, but you better get your arms around it if you are either an SEO provider or small business.)

Case in point – Google announce yesterday another feature making local search even easier (only on new iPhones and Android phones for now) The feature is called “near me now” – you can read Google’s near me now announcement here.

near me nownear me now googlenear me now google local

Click to enlarge the images

If you’ve given Google permission to use your phone’s current location (under settings link) when you use your mobile browser you will see a new link under the Google search button that says: current city Near me now. If you click that you will get a menu of common places such as coffee and bars and the ability to click on one and find all the places in Google local nearest you now. Pretty darn easy way to drive business isn’t it?

Well, if anyone thinks Google put the Yellow book directories out of business just for sport, think again. This is the total domination of local search for ad money coming soon storm. Get in the storm shelter while it’s cheap! More to come on this.

53 Yourl Very Own Branded Link Shortener

Google and Facebook both announced link shortening services this week – Google’s – goog.gl and Facebook’s fb.me (mostly used in twitter and mobile shares, but fb.me/ducttapemarketing takes you to my Fan page.)

your own urlsLink shorteners have been around for years, but they are certainly getting hot right now it appears. I think I first used one called TinyURL as far back as 2000. What these scripts do is take very long URL like this search string on small business marketing – http://www.google.com/search?q=smallbusiness+marketing&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a and allow you to turn it into something tidy and even memorable like this http://dtmcoach.com/smbizmarketing. The brevity required on Twitter spawned a host of these services for the very practical shorter links, but because link shorteners are redirection scripts, and they pass the visitor through a link, they can also provide a variety of tracking and analysis for what happens to that link.

I use su.pr for instance to shorten links on Twitter, track and analyze, and tap into additional traffic from the tool’s sponsor StumbleUpon. Others commonly use Bit.ly and Ow.ly for the various features they offer.

Since everyone is doing it, I thought I would let you know about a way to create your very own, branded link shortening service, giving you the ability to create links that support your brand while impressing all who come into contact with your short links.

Here’s how you do it.
1) Get a really cool short URL (you can host it on any URL, but the idea is short – I have dtmcoach.com and duc.ttape.us for example)
2) You’ll need hosting – pretty much any host that could run a WordPress blog will do
3) Grab a free program called Yourl – read the installation instruction that come in the Readme.html file – the only real trick is a little bit of set-up in one file for the database (if you’ve set up a WordPress blog you’ll be familiar)
4) Check to make sure the setting for privacy is true and custom is true – you don’t want just anyone to create links using your brand, right? The custom setting allows you to create a word or phrase for your link so you can have /product vs. /ek3isk
5) Start creating links like dtmcoach.com/awesomeblog (that will bring you right back here)
6) View your dashboard to track and edit your links (Once you start putting this links out there you don’t want to change them)
7) Set-up the toolbar widget so you can create your URLs on the fly from any site or page you are visiting and easily submit to Twitter, Facebook or MySpace.

22 Google Wants to be the Local Place

Google seems to constantly add little tweaks to all of its various products. The Google Maps search product is inching more and more towards the turf currently occupied by the likes of Yelp and CitySearch. Not content to be a directions engine Google has added a feature that’s being dubbed Place Pages. Now when someone does a local search for a place or business and clicks on the “more info” link for a listing they are brought to a full-fledged, often info rich, web page complete with reviews aggregated from other sites, including Yelp and CitySearch. The idea is to present all the information about a place on one page. (I love to play around with the street view camera feature.)

bluemarble

Of course, all I can think to tell you is – take advantage of the real estate gift and make sure you fully enhance your local profile by visiting the Local Business Center.

You can also find out a little more at the official Google blog

35 What Happens When Someone Copies Your Posts?

twinsThere’s a bit of a debate that goes on in different corners of the blog world about the somewhat common practice of republishing blog posts via RSS feed. The republisher, generally someone trying to create content without any work for the purpose search engine traffic and AdSense revenue, simply creates sites and posts various RSS feeds for the content.

Some people view it as being ripped off, while others view it as additional exposure.

The ripped off camp suggests ways to combat this using various tools and services.

My feed gets republished frequently, but I happen to fall into the additional exposure is good camp. First off, the folks republishing the feed are likely getting no benefit to speak of as Google and Google AdSense folks frown on this activity, can spot it easily, and don’t usually reward it. Some people suggest the dreaded “Google duplicate content penalty” might come into play here, but I’ve not seen any impact of this on anyone but the republishers.

Now, there is one tactic that I do employ to assure that I get the proper exposure because I did notice the occasional republisher forget to even mention where the content came from or link back to the original. I’m sure it’s just an oversight so to help them I use a WordPress plugin called RSS-Footer.

RSS-Footer automatically adds a line of content to every post in the RSS feed. Since 99% of the folks participating in this kind of republishing simply publish the feed, this line starts every post – This content from: Duct Tape Marketing

Here’s an example of someone republishing my feed. Because I also use the Related Posts plugin that points to other posts on my site related to this one, this page has 6 links back to my blog – I can live with that.

Image credit: cybaea

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