Bing Unveils Responsive Design for Image Search

As part of its mission to improve the user experience, Bing has announced its roadmap for improving image search.

The first step includes features that are adaptable based on the user’s query, resolution, and interaction. This new release also includes optimization for touchscreen devices. Below is an example of the old and new versions of Bing image search.

bing-new-and-old-1

Tablet devices were a key factor in the direction that Bing has taken its image search. Tablet users can now swipe through inline carousels in search results. Bing describes the new format as “responsive, fast, and fluid.”

bing-ipad-swipe

When it comes to mobile devices, Bing shared the following:

“Our mobile experience has already gone through similar changes and will feel very familiar to you after using this experience.”

One of Bing’s more recent upgrades included the addition of Pinterest board searches. Since launching this feature as well as refinement and exploration suggestions have proven to be the most popular.

Because users want instant access to refine their search, Bing has added a mini-header that will slide with the users screen as they scroll down. This header is designed to create quick access without interrupting the search experience. 

bing-new-and-old-2

Bing’s take on this mini-header is as follows:

“The suggestions that we display in the mini-header will change as you scroll through the inline carousels to give you access to what you last saw. You can always click the button on the right to rotate through the content — the dots represent the each available set of content in the order they appear on the page.”

Last but certainly not least is the update to the image hover feature. Many images will now include a link or a search icon when the user hovers over them. 

3 Tips for Better Image Search

In addition to rolling out new features, Bing also provides sound input on what its team is doing to help make users searches more meaningful and successful:

  • Quality: No matter what the user is searching for, Bing is focused on providing high-quality and relevant image search results.
  • Suggestions: Users that are scrolling page after page are clearly having a difficult time finding what they are looking for. Bing maintains a set of search suggestions and collections to help users find what they need.
  • Actions: There are many different ways to search and endless topics to search about. Bing has provided the tools necessary to filer results, create an image match, and create one-click access to Pinterest.

 

 


The Original Search Marketing Event is Back!
SES DenverSES Denver (Oct 16) offers an intense day of learning all the critical aspects of search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search advertising (PPC). The mission of SES remains the same as it did from the start – to help you master being found on search engines. Register today!

Where to Get Local Citations – 4 Very Quick Citation Opportunities

Local businesses

Local SEO.

How many times have you neglected it, focusing on global efforts instead?

Best don’t tell.

Showing up in local search results might be one of the greatest opportunities for a business to gain organic traffic.

And see results fast.

Google has successfully blended local and global results, to a point where sometimes there is more of the former and less of the latter in SERPs. Just take a look at this screenshot below (and this is just what shows above the fold):

Local Citations

It’s no surprise then that Local SEO has become a crucial aspect of many business’ marketing activities. And for many reasons:

It helps customers to find your business. This one goes without saying, customers use search to find local businesses. And if you’re not showing up in local results, you are missing out on a great marketing opportunity.

It also costs less. Local SEO is not free, true. But if you compare it with a cost of advertising in Adwords for instance, you pay significantly less for it.

It can speed up getting good rankings. Achieving high rankings, especially for competitive phrases is a challenge. Type in any competitive phrase to Google and most companies you’ll see will be big brands. Regardless of your budget and ambitions, it might be difficult to overcome them. Well, unless your site appears in local results. In this case, in spite of its standing in Google it might still show on page one.

It can help secure your brand in search. Today a brand is everything. Local presence allows you to practically dominate Google for your branded keywords with such elements as brand box, carousel, maps and many more.

The thing is, ranking in local results isn’t very different from organic rankings. For your site to appear for local phrases Google needs to consider it authoritative enough.

And one way to gain this authority is through citations – mentions of your business name and address, phone number or website.

According to this research, citations make up to 25% of the top local ranking factors.

So are citations similar to backlinks?

Yes.

And apart from being a strong ranking factor, there is one other similarity between the two.You have to build them as the more you have the better chance for you to rank higher.

The question is, where to find good citation opportunities? Turns out there are few opportunities almost within your reach.

Intrigued? Here they are then:

1. Local Blogs

It might not immediately seem so but blogs focusing on your area are a great source of mentions of your business. These bloggers are very concerned about local matters and often refer and cite business news as well.

Not all of those blogs will feature a business listings page though. But if you have any news that might concern a local population – your store got renovated for instance or featured in national press, many local bloggers will be happy to feature it on their site.

To find these blogs put up a search similar to: “[your city] blog” or “[your area] blog,” and you should spot some good candidates to reach out to.

2. Local Business Directories

Apart from local blogs you could also search for various business listings and directories associated with your city or region. These could be anything, from your local council business listings, chamber of commerce list of members to private local listing sites. A quick search for my region here in Ireland revealed 7 directories on page one (and there are certainly more which aren’t ranking that well yet).

To find local business directories, search for “city name + business listings” and “city name + directory”.

3. Local Newspapers

When people search for local businesses, they not necessarily use only Google. Many will also turn to local press for such information and thus, many local papers maintain listings of local businesses.

Even if your paper doesn’t carry such listing, you can still build a citation from the publication. If you host an event for instance, submit it to the newspaper’s calendar listing. Or submit any news to a relevant section of the paper.

Most newspapers today maintain online presence and by appearing in their publication your business will also be featured online.

4. Industry Directories and Blogs

Similarly to local blogs, industry related online publications offer an opportunity for a mention of your business. Many of industry organisations maintain listings of businesses working in the field and what’s more, these pages are often crawled by search engines for citations.

To find these local citations opportunities, search Google for phrases like: “[your industry] directory” or even “[your keyword] directory”.

 

Creative commons image by La Citta Vita / Flickr

Last updated by at September 23, 2014.

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The 3 Things That Happened When I Tried to Fix My Facebook News Feed

I’ll start with the question this experiment set out to answer: if your Facebook News Feed is delivering too much content you don’t care about and not enough that you do, can you fix it by giving the algorithm the right signals? In a word, yes. But it takes some effort.

Cameron Uganec, who leads the content and social teams here at Hootsuite, recently shared on Instagram a post-it note I stuck to my monitor that read “Must Facebook.” He thought it was funny (“I can’t imagine there are many offices around the world where this is appropriate,” he said), but for me it was a necessary reminder. After years of neglecting my News Feed, using Facebook only for basic messaging and events, it wasn’t part of my daily content consumption routine. As I discovered, persistence is the key to shaping your feed.

Now that I’m about three weeks into this experiment, I don’t need the reminder. I’ve re-established the habit of consuming content that my friends share on Facebook. And when I say “my friends” I mean my actual friends. Which brings me to my first of three takeaway observations from this experiment:

The News Feed algorithm is more adept at figuring out your social graph than your interest graph

Of the five things I did to fix my feed, the change that had the biggest impact was adding some of my closest friends to my “Close Friends” list. My plan was to game this functionality by finding a select group of people I know and like who share great content and elevating them to ‘close’ status. I figured if I populated this list not with my IRL best friends, but instead identified those whose content I’d be most interested in, I’d achieve a positive effect on the quality of my feed. But instead I inadvertently ended up adding my closest IRL friends anyway.

It just happened. Whenever I saw content from a person who really is important in my life, I added that person to the list. Before long, my “Close Friends” were, as Facebook intended, my close friends. Which really shouldn’t be a surprise. The core insight that drove Facebook’s meteoric growth was that our social graph is a huge determinant of what content we will find relevant. In other words, who we know predicts what we care about.

As our friends list grew and friending became a matter of basic politeness, the effectiveness of the social graph in determining relevance diminished. That’s why Facebook created functionality intended to restore the social graph signals that made the News Feed great when we all had fewer than 100 friends. It worked. I was very glad, for instance, to learn about my friend Melissa’s Kilimanjaro charity climb and the fundraisers she’s planning. I set out to make my feed a better content discovery tool, not to become better informed about what’s happening in my friend’s lives, but achieved both.

Where I saw a less pronounced change was in the algorithm’s response to the signals I gave it about the topics I’m interested in. Maybe too few of my friends are sharing content about the intersection of social media and politics. Or maybe the algorithm is designed to pay closer attention to who’s doing the sharing than what is being shared. Whatever the reason, the part of the plan intended to fill my feed up with things I’m interested in by strategic Like-ing didn’t produce significant results.

I was disappointed that I’d failed to teach Facebook to interpret my interest graph until I read my colleague Evan Lepage’s post last week about Social Network Features You Need To Stop Ignoring. As he explained, Facebook’s Interest lists can accomplish much of what I was trying to do: “In addition to being a great way to categorize your Facebook interests and create a smoother, more efficient experience, this saves you the hassle of having to Like multiple pages, and then having a News Feed flooded with their updates.”

Mow the grass and your favourite neighbours will stop by more often

This experiment demonstrated the importance of basic maintenance. In the top-right corner of every News Feed item there’s a downward arrow that indicates a drop-down menu containing the two most important buttons for anyone who wants to curate a better content experience: “I don’t want to see this” and “unfollow [name].” Unfollow is a simple but effective tool that does exactly what it sounds like it does. If you don’t want to take the big step of un-friending someone whose content is fouling your feed, you can ensure you don’t see anything more from that person. Careful un-following had a dramatic effect, not only on the quality of the content in my feed, but on my daily experience of Facebook. If you un-follow one person every day for a month, you will be guaranteed a better feed.

The “I don’t want to see this” function will hide a post, so if there’s something you don’t want to see getting a lot of engagement you can hide it, no matter how many Likes and comments are popping up. If I were to speculate as to how the mysterious algorithm works, I’d suggest using this as a way to curate your feed. While I don’t know how Facebook treats these signals, beyond hiding posts I want to ignore, the effect appears to be positive. Through a mix of hiding posts and unfollowing friends regularly I’ve managed to significantly decrease the frequency of items in my News Feed I don’t care about.

If you don’t tell Facebook what you want to click, read, and share on a regular basis it becomes overgrown with content. The News Feed works best with just a little effort put toward trimming and pulling up the weeds. Because we’re always accumulating new friends, and by extension new content, we have to put in a modicum of work if we want the algorithm to know what to feed us. Among the five changes I made to my Facebook habits over the course of this experiment, identifying the things I don’t want to see more of has been the had the most dramatic effect. Again, it just takes some effort.

The “filter bubble” effect has been misunderstood (including by me)

Activist and media theorist Eli Pariser coined the term “filter bubble” in his 2011 book warning against the evils of algorithms that feed us too much content confirming what we already believe and too little that makes us uncomfortable. In a subsequent TED talk he explained how he personally experienced this effect in his social media feeds: “Facebook was looking at which links I clicked on, and it was noticing that I was clicking more on my liberal friends’ links than on my conservative friends’ links. And without consulting me about it, it had edited them out. They disappeared.”

Matt Honan’s Like experiment seemed to confirm the notion that the bubble reinforces our existing political tendencies when Facebook’s algorithm responded to his Like of a conservative post by delivering ever more conservative posts. The difference is that Pariser’s theory describes what he believes is the typical outcome of a typical user’s authentic behaviour. Honan, however, deliberately sent Facebook the wrong signals—there’s only so much we can learn about fixing a News Feed from the results of an experiment intended to break it.

My experience was different from both Pariser’s and Honan’s. In Vancouver, where I live, a long and bitter labour dispute between the provincial government and the teacher’s union came to a head over the course of this experiment. Not being a parent, I had spent most of the months-long conflict sitting on the fence. But as my feed filled up with content shared by parents whose kids weren’t in school due to the strike, I empathized more with their predicament and viewed the issue more through their eyes.

Polling throughout the dispute showed that parents supported the teachers in BC , but prior to this experiment I experienced the local media’s coverage daily update on who appeared to be winning. Through my Facebook feed, I learned that most of my friends who are parents were more supportive of the teacher’s union than I had been, and with the benefit of their perspectives, my opinion shifted their way. I can’t conclusively say that this experiment has broadened my political horizons, but it did show me what lots of people I respect thought about an important issue.

If the only content I consumed were to be filtered through Facebook’s News Feed algorithm, I’d likely find myself agreeing with my friends more often, and the filter bubble would arguably prevent me from being exposed to opinions and ideas I don’t agree with. If, however, like most people, I continue to get news and information from a diverse range of sources, it will have the opposite effect: my Facebook News Feed will be a collection of links to stories I’d never have read if I hadn’t been exposed to my friends’ divergent perspectives.

Maintain your social networks with Hootsuite. Sign up for a free 30-day Hootsuite Pro trial today!

Manage and Measure Your Campaigns Start-To-Finish With Hootsuite Campaigns

Hootsuite recently acquired Brightkit, a powerful social marketing and campaign platform used by some of the world’s leading brands like Universal Music Group, the Kentucky Derby, and America’s Got Talent.

Brightkit—now known as Hootsuite Campaigns—lets you gamify your social strategy and activate your fans. We’ve put together a webinar to show you Hootsuite Campaigns in action.

Social Marketing: Successful Social Campaigns

DATE: Thursday, September 25, 2014
TIME: 8 am PT / 11 am ET / 4 pm BST

Register Now

In this webinar, you’ll learn how to use Hootsuite Campaigns to build, launch, manage, amplify and measure winning campaigns. Register now to see how you can:

  • Build and successfully launch effective social contests and promotions
  • Monitor and approve entries, while analyzing participant and campaign data
  • Amplify campaigns organically through social channels
  • Optimize and track your campaign ROI accurately

About the speakers:

Stefan Krepiakevich - Hootsuite Campaigns Webinar

Stefan Krepiakevich
Hootsuite Campaigns

Stefan Krepiakevich joined the Brightkit team in early 2013 while the company was still pre-revenue. As the VP of Business Development, Stefan was responsible for leading sales and marketing focused on new customer acquisition. Now at Hootsuite, Stefan is responsible for scaling the Hootsuite Campaigns Enterprise sales & marketing team. He has a passion for start-ups, technology and building innovative and exciting businesses.

Twitter
LinkedIn  

David Philp - Hootsuite Campaigns Webinar

David Philp
Digital Marketing Manager, Amy’s Kitchen

David Philp is a marketing and business strategy professional with extensive experience in digital marketing, brand positioning, promotional strategy, and quantitative evaluation of marketing goals. He specializes in online marketing and social advertising including SEM/paid search, display, remarketing, affiliate and SEO. David’s experience spans many industries including technology, cosmetics and most recently consumer packaged goods.

Twitter
LinkedIn

Bing Announces Responsive Design for Image Search

As part of its mission to improve the user experience, Bing has announced its roadmap for improving image search.

The first step includes features that are adaptable based on the user’s query, resolution, and interaction. This new release also includes optimization for touchscreen devices. Below is an example of the old and new versions of Bing image search.

bing-new-and-old-1

Tablet devices were a key factor in the direction that Bing has taken its image search. Tablet users can now swipe through inline carousels in search results. Bing describes the new format as “responsive, fast, and fluid.”

bing-ipad-swipe

When it comes to mobile devices, Bing shared the following:

“Our mobile experience has already gone through similar changes and will feel very familiar to you after using this experience.”

One of Bing’s more recent upgrades included the addition of Pinterest board searches. Since launching this feature as well as refinement and exploration suggestions have proven to be the most popular.

Because users want instant access to refine their search, Bing has added a mini-header that will slide with the users screen as they scroll down. This header is designed to create quick access without interrupting the search experience. 

bing-new-and-old-2

Bing’s take on this mini-header is as follows:

“The suggestions that we display in the mini-header will change as you scroll through the inline carousels to give you access to what you last saw. You can always click the button on the right to rotate through the content — the dots represent the each available set of content in the order they appear on the page.”

Last but certainly not least is the update to the image hover feature. Many images will now include a link or a search icon when the user hovers over them. 

3 Tips for Better Image Search

In addition to rolling out new features, Bing also provides sound input on what its team is doing to help make users searches more meaningful and successful:

  • Quality: No matter what the user is searching for, Bing is focused on providing high-quality and relevant image search results.
  • Suggestions: Users that are scrolling page after page are clearly having a difficult time finding what they are looking for. Bing maintains a set of search suggestions and collections to help users find what they need.
  • Actions: There are many different ways to search and endless topics to search about. Bing has provided the tools necessary to filer results, create an image match, and create one-click access to Pinterest.

 

 


The Original Search Marketing Event is Back!
SES DenverSES Denver (Oct 16) offers an intense day of learning all the critical aspects of search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search advertising (PPC). The mission of SES remains the same as it did from the start – to help you master being found on search engines. Register today!

My Monthly Income Report – July and August 2014

Welcome to a special edition of my monthly income reports, one that includes two months worth of numbers and lessons! Let’s waste no time. July and August 2014, here we go…

July 2014

Riding off of the successful beta launch of The Smart Podcast Player in June, which sold out 250 licenses in less than 24 hours, my team and I met in Portland during World Domination Summit to plan out the rest of the launch timeline. A more detailed post about the entire development and launch process is in the works, but as we continue to add more features, we’re slowly opening up more beta spots.

Each month since the launch, we’ve opened up a few more licenses, and each time it has sold out.

It’s not quite ready to be open for good, however. One of the things I learned through several discussions with people already in the software business is that customer service is a huge component of any software business, especially one related to WordPress with its many themes and versions. Because every additional feature means more potential compatibility issues, we’re rolling it out slowly and I want to make sure that as more customers come on board, there are enough people in place to be able to support them.

This makes me think back to 2010 and my previous and failed attempt at building premium WordPress plugins.

Back then, Michael Dunlop from Income Diary came out with Pop-Up Domination, and Glen from Viperchill released Opt-In Skin, and both premium plugins did extremely well. I wanted to give it a shot, so I came up with a couple of ideas and outsourced them to a development company.

Both plugins were complete failures, mainly because I rushed into it and didn’t think things through.

I stopped the production on one because the back-and-forth between myself and the developer became too much to handle. The other plugin was finished, but after it was done it was not what I had expected it would be, and after sharing it with a few others I found that it was actually quite useless.

It was an idea, but not a great idea. It didn’t solve a big pain or problem.

Overall, I lost about $11,150 in development costs, and about month’s worth of time.

Here were the big mistakes I made back then:

  1. I didn’t validate the product ideas before paying to get them created.
  2. I didn’t create a detailed wireframe outlining everything the plugins did. I simply said “I’d like a plugin that does this, and another one that does this. Go.” A wireframe alone would have showed me that one was too complicated, and the other was just not really doing anything useful.
  3. I tried to get two done at the same time. My focus and time was divided, and because of that, my chances of any one of them succeeding was close to none.
  4. I didn’t think of “life after development”. Who would have been there to support the plugin? How would I be able to keep up with all of the WordPress updates? If I actually thought things through, I would have seen I didn’t have the resources available to support the plugin and it would have been really easy for me to move on or focus on something that actually mattered. #brightlightsyndrome

With The Smart Podcast Player, however, here’s what I did right:

  1. I had the right motivation for creating this software tool, and it actually started out as a solution to a pain I had for my own podcast at AskPat.com.
  2. I validated the idea with other people in the target audience before putting time, effort, energy and money into development. I could have taken an additional validation step and pre-sold the tool as well, although I already had enough validation through my research.
  3. I dropped a lot of other upcoming projects to give me time and energy to focus on this one new venture.
  4. I made sure I had the proper team in place for development, launch and support.

The total cost of the development of The Smart Podcast Player was more than double the amount of my other two plugins combined, but I made up that cost during the first beta launch, and everything after that point has been mostly profit, minus the time for feature add-ons and support.

The interesting thing is because we launched with an MVP (minimum viable product), and the roll out has been limited each time, it has created quite a buzz for the product.

Marketing can happen automatically as a byproduct of a smart development process.

As a result, we have a waiting list of 1500+ people (and growing) waiting for it to go live.

Many are waiting for version 1.0 (when it opens for good without closing each time), which is coming by the end of the year or early next year, but many are anxious to get into the beta program to get the discounted price, but also to be a part of the development process with us. New features that are being added are a direct result of suggestions and opinions from existing beta customers.

That’s the best way to create a product – not just with your target audience in mind, but literally WITH your target audience!

The best part of all of this is seeing the player live on our customers’ sites. That is the coolest part about this software stuff to me – immediate results for what the customer paid for, as opposed to information which can take time to consume and implement, and with varied results.

If you’re a podcaster and you’d like to get on the wait-list for the next launch, make sure you sign up here (although we are currently at the tail end of another beta opening, if you’re anxious to get it now and you get in on time).

All existing customers currently get automatically upgraded to future versions of the plugin.

FoodTruckr

The big news for FoodTruckr.com (a site I started as an experiment – you can read all about it from the start at the Niche Site Duel hub) was the preparation for the launch of FoodTruckr’s first product in August, which is an eBook called How to Start a Food Truck – The Definitive Guide.

Over the previous 6 months, the site has been publishing a multi-post series with the same title with the idea that the content in the series would become the base content for this eBook. This is the same exact approach I took when selling my first eBook for GreenExamAcademy.com.

The series on FoodTruckr was a major hit, and during July I started to collect email addresses promoting the launch of the book.

A cool byproduct of publishing the blog series is that parts of it started to organically rank extremely high in Google. No “forced” backlinking strategies were implemented – it was just simply writing content that was more thorough than what was already out there, and eventually Google finally figured it out.

Stay tuned though, because in the next couple of weeks Brian Dean from Backlinko.com (a new favorite blog of mine!) is publishing a guest post here on SPI that’s all about what’s working today in the world of SEO and backlinking, and I’ll even be putting some of his strategies to the test.

In July alone, the site had 25,802 unique visitors, 77% of them coming directly from Google. There were a total of 1,172 different keywords that brought traffic into the site. Most of them are long-tail keywords covered in that blog series, but as little as each of those long-tail keywords get, together they definitely add up.

Here is a screenshot from SEMRush.com of FoodTruckr.com’s most searched for and highly ranked keywords.

ft-keywords

Note that How to Start a Food Truck is sitting in the #2 position, one behind an Entrepreneur.com article that was published in July of 2011! In a couple of months, I wouldn’t be surprised if FoodTruckr started to rank #1. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking, but I’d like to think FoodTruckr.com has more relevant information. A lot has happened in the world of food trucks since 2011!

The rest of July was spent planning for my family/business trip to Australia in August. With two small kids and a keynote to present at the ProBlogger conference, it was a lot to prepare for, but it definitely turned out to be the trip of a lifetime.

Let’s move onto August…

August 2014

In August, The Smart Passive Income Podcast hit a huge milestone:

10,000,000 downloads!

Ten million downloads after 125 episodes is simply mind-blowing to me. I record these episodes – alone – in my home office, and then people decide to take time (sometimes up to 1.5 hours) to listen to an episode, or many. I can’t even describe the feeling – just, thank you!

Thank you to everyone who has listened to the show, subscribed, and left a rating and review. Thank you!

Just for fun, I calculated how much listening time this actually is. Considering my average show is about 47 minutes in length, it’s about 894 years of listening time!

That’s obviously completely meaningless – but hey, it’s fun to think about. If you’re looking for a way to get your message out there or grow your current audience, if you’re not podcasting already, you’re totally missing out.

If you’ve always wanted to start one but haven’t yet, here’s my free step-by-step tutorial to help you get setup (no opt-ins required before you get it), and it’s complete with microphone reviews and tutorials on getting your show up on iTunes and Stitcher.

I’ll Be Keynoting Next Year at…

Speaking of podcasting, I was very happy to be asked to keynote Podcast Movement ’15 next year in Ft. Worth, TX! I wasn’t able to make it to this year’s inaugural event because I was going to be in Australia for the ProBlogger conference, however I was super happy when Jared Easley and Dan Franks asked me to keynote the event next year.

Here’s how we announced it to the audience that was there for PM14. Wasn’t my idea – it was their’s, and I loved it!

Thanks again Jared and Dan for inviting me! I couldn’t be more excited and I’ll be sure to bring my best for you and everyone there! I’ll even bring a sick bag for TC just in case. 

Our Epic Trip to Australia

The trip we had been planning since January was finally here! The first half was going to be spent doing stuff together as a family, and then the second half I was going to be on my own at the ProBlogger Event while my wife and kids would be with family we have in Brisbane.

Darren Rowse from Problogger.net was one of the first bloggers I followed when I got into this world of blogging back in 2007-08, and I’ve always had mad respect for him. When he invited me to do the opening keynote for his event, I almost passed out. It was seriously a dream come true.

I wrote an entire recap post about my trip to Australia, so if you’re interested in selfies with kangaroos, 12-seater planes, a go-pro view of my keynote and shenanigans with Chris Ducker, you can read all about it here:

problogger-conference-family-trip

A Mini-Launch While Sleeping

My team and I scheduled a mini-launch of 100 new beta licenses for The Smart Podcast Player on August 25th, which would be announced solely to the waitlist. Bugs were squashed and all new features were stabilized and tested to the best of our ability, so it was time to add a few more people to the beta group, but not too much because again, I wanted to be smart with the roll-out and make sure customer service could handle any potential bugs or compatibility issues.

Since I was going to be in Australia at this time, to coordinate with a 9:00am PST launch, I’d have to be up around 2:00am Australia time, which wasn’t going to work out. So, I decided to completely hand-off this mini-launch to my team. Matt, my project manager, was there to make sure all of the pieces were in working order, and Mindy, my assistant and happiness hero, was there to make sure the emails got out on time and to take the lead with customer service.

This was going to be the first time I will have launched something without me being there to make sure it all rolled out correctly. I trust my team, but I was definitely a bit nervous. Remember, it took me over 4 years to get comfortable with hiring anyone in the first place, and 5 years to finally hand-off some of my email.

I went to bed hours before the launch and when I woke up in the morning, there was definitely something waiting for me in my inbox:

Notification after notification from Gumroad.com for each sale that was made! It was an amazing thing to wake up to.

Each morning, I typically do wake up with a bit more money in my accounts – primarily from the books and practice exams I sell on GreenExamAcademy.com, ad clicks and affiliate purchases (among other income streams) that happen overnight across most of my sites, but never have I woken up to this much.

For this one mini-launch, the Smart Podcast Player generated $8,239.00. After diving more into the analytics, I saw that the 100 licenses sold out in less than 4 hours. I thought it would sell out, but definitely not that fast. Since it sold out in such a short time period, I did get a few emails from people who were upset that they missed it, which is understandable.

I definitely miscalculated, but again just wanted to play it safe. I knew there was going to be another roll-out, so I was comfortable telling people who missed out that the product would be even better the next time around, that they would still get the beta pricing.

There were a couple big lessons learned here:

  1. I don’t have to do everything myself. Yes, this was a mini-launch, and if it completely failed it wouldn’t have been the end of the world (is anything really that?), but it was so cool to wake up knowing everything that was supposed to be done was done. To Team Flynn, you’re amazing! I’m still learning what it’s like to manage a team and to work with others, but working with people who share the same values and goals makes things a lot easier.
  2. The scarcity model works. Like I mentioned in the July section, the purpose for the slow roll-out is to make sure customer service can handle the inquiries coming in, but as a byproduct of that, scarcity does factor into the marketing of this product. Because there were only 100 licenses available, people definitely wanted in – and plus the fact that the price will go up in the future helps too. It helps that the product is a software product with a legitimate reason to open for a few at a time – however scarcity can (and should) definitely play a role in the marketing of your information product too. You can’t really go the “there’s only X number available” route for a digital information product, but price increases and limited bonuses can work for sure.

The Smart Podcast Player became much bigger than I thought it would be. A lot of plans I made for 2014 back at the beginning of the year had to get pushed aside because of it, but as an entrepreneur you have to know what’s working and you can’t always stick to the plan.

A plan is, as we all know, just an educated guess, and you have to take opportunities that are presented to you that are not in the plan sometimes.

It’ll be exciting to see just how far this goes!

FoodTruckr Book Launch

And the final big thing to happen in August was the launch of FoodTruckr’s first product – an eBook product called How to Start a Food Truck, The Definitive Guide.

I really had no idea what to expect when this went on sale.

I also wanted follow the Nathan Barry style of launching a book. I interviewed Nathan in Session 75 of the SPI Podcast, and also re-interviewed him with Q&A from the audience on a live webinar here as well about selling eBooks.

Following in his footsteps, I decided to launch and sell it directly from FoodTruckr.com – not on Amazon.com or through a publisher. This gives me more control on how to package and price the product, and ultimately will be more profitable. That’s not always the case in terms of selling on your own site versus selling on a platform like Amazon.com, however if you have enough traffic, build enough buzz and get your pricing structure correct, it can definitely work out in your favor.

The final manuscript ended up being 79,190 words, which is a legit sized book! I definitely did not write it all myself, and in fact most of the content was created, like I said, from the blog content on FoodTruckr.com thanks to Nicole, who was the writer I hired to take primary control of the written content on the site. I still produce the podcast myself.

Here is the breakdown of the 3 different packages people could choose from:

The Main Course:

  • The Mega-Book (PDF and ePub)
  • The Business Bonus Pack (Extra articles about budgeting and financing)
  • The Truck Bonus Pack (Extra articles about buying a food truck)
  • FoodTruckr School Podcast Transcripts (15 Episodes)
  • Price: $37.00

The Combo Meal:

  • The Mega-Book (PDF and ePub)
  • The Audiobook (Which I recorded myself!)
  • The Business Bonus Pack (Extra articles about budgeting and financing)
  • The Truck Bonus Pack (Extra articles about buying a food truck)
  • The Marketing Bonus Pack (Extra tips for getting into festivals, social media tips and fundraising)
  • The Partial Worksheet Pack (Actionable worksheets for taste-testing, calculating profit, swipe files, etc)
  • FoodTruckr School Podcast Transcripts (15 Episodes)
  • Price: $77.00

The All-You-Can-Eat Buffet:

  • The Mega-Book (PDF and ePub)
  • The Audiobook (Which I recorded myself!)
  • The Business Bonus Pack (Extra articles about budgeting and financing)
  • The Truck Bonus Pack (Extra articles about buying a food truck)
  • The Marketing Bonus Pack (Extra tips for getting into festivals, social media tips and fundraising)
  • The Complete Worksheet Pack (All 8 Bonuses)
  • FoodTruckr School Podcast Transcripts (15 Episodes)
  • Restaurant Engine Special Discount (A deal we made with another company for customers)
  • Lifetime Access to Private FoodTruckr Mastermind Group
  • Price: $147.00

If you’re interested in seeing the sales page live so you can get a feel for what it looks like, you can view it here. 

This closely follows Nathan’s pricing model, which is a 3-tier model at 1x, 2x, and 4x to 5x the base price.

I’ll get into more detail about the launch process, including all emails and templates used very soon in an upcoming Niche Site Duel update post, but here’s a quick rundown of the launch results.

Here’s the breakdown in August, starting on launch day, August 18th:

  • The Main Course ($37): 11 units sold ($407.00)
  • The Combo Meal ($67): 10 units sold ($670.00)
  • The All-You-Can-Eat ($147): 12 units sold ($1,764.00)
  • Total units sold: 33
  • Total income: $2,841.00

Since September rolled around, sales are still trickling in daily, which is pretty cool to see despite no launch efforts or never having paid for any advertising (that’s the next experiment). Generally, I’m happy, but I have mixed feelings about the launch.

$2,841.00 is not pocket change. I’m quite proud of that number, especially for a first launch for a site that started almost exactly a year ago. It’s definitely more than the $100 per month I was getting with the Adsense ads on the site.

But on the other hand, it’s only 33 units.

Most of the units came from the email list of 250 that was built a month before the launch specifically for the launch of the book, and I do have to remember that many of my existing audience and subscriber base already have a food truck.

That’s not to say this was a poor decision for a first book – most of the content was already there and there are a number of people who have yet to start their own trucks (especially traffic coming from Google for relevant terms), so this product does fill in that gap between no truck at all, and how to improve the success of your existing food truck.

Plus, I have to remember that this is a very limited niche. Yes, the food truck industry is growing, but when you think about it, there aren’t really THAT many food trucks that exist yet – and it’s not as easy to start a food truck as it is to say, start a website. Tens of thousands of dollars go into the start of a food truck venture, not to mention a complete lifestyle change.

I’m happy with the initial results and I look forward to exploring what happens when I introduce some ads into the mix. I’m taking careful notes as I move along because now that I have a base of sales, it’ll be interesting to see what happens next.

September will be the first full month of sales on a totally passive basis – no launch or promotions whatsoever beyond what’s already clickable on the site.

A slow start, but it’s a start and we all have to start somewhere. I love that this isn’t completely easy, because that’s the reality of it. Yes, the site has made money and that’s great, but how we can kick it up a notch? Can it be kicked up a notch?

It’s all about experimentation, and I’m happy to take you along for the ride. Much more to come on this later.

Let’s get to the numbers for July and August…

Income Breakdown (July 2014)

  • GreenExamAcademy.com Product Sales:

    • Total: $4,803.68

      • Previous Month: $4,442.43
      • Difference: +$361.25
  • SecurityGuardTrainingHQ.com:

    • Adsense: $3,050.04
    • Job Board: $140.75
    • Affiliate Earnings: $68.95
    • Total: $3,259.74
      • Previous Month: $2,209.29
      • Difference: +$1,050.45
  • FoodTruckr.com:

    • Adsense Experiment: $72.39

      • Previous Month: $83.48
      • Difference: -$11.09
  • CreateaClickableMap.com:

    • Total: $669.33

      • Previous Month: $609.39
      • Difference: +$59.94
  • iPhone Applications:

    • Paid Apps: $770.12
    • Free Apps: $150.09
    • Total: $920.21
      • Previous Month: $1,284.59
      • Difference: -$364.38
  • eBook Sales for ‘Let Go‘:

    • Total: $223.10

      • Previous Month: $614.12
      • Difference: -$391.02
  • Ask Pat Podcast Sponsorship:

    • Total: $4,994.80
  • SPI Podcast Sponsorship:

    • Total: $5,200.00
  • Gross Total in July: $75,153.15

    • Previous Month: $83,903.53
    • Difference: -$8,750.38

Expenses Breakdown (July 2014)

Below is what was paid last month. It does not include pro-rated yearly fees. Most are related to the Smart Passive Income Blog and new projects that are under development:

  • Dropbox: $9.99
  • Libsyn.com (podcast file hosting): $30.00
  • Hosting Payments and Domain Renewals: $431.87
  • Transcriptions and Podcast VA: $949.00
  • E-Junkie Shopping Cart Fee: $5.00
  • Paypal Website Payments Pro: $30.00
  • Certified Public Accountant / Bookkeeping: $260.00
  • Skype $2.99
  • Legal / Attorney: $1,750.00
  • Developers and Assistants for upcoming projects!: $26,267.00
  • Slack (for team communication): $32.00
  • Aweber Fees (over 100,000 on list): $893.00
  • Paid advertising and banner ads: $0.00
    • Total Rough Expenses for July:  $31,115.85
    • Rough expenses from previous month: $24,047.63
  • Net Total in July: $43,997.30

    • Net Total from Previous Month: $59,855.90

Expenses were particular high this month (a record!) due to FoodTruckr launch and Smart Podcast Player launch and customer service.

And here’s the breakdown for August:

Income Breakdown (August 2014)

  • GreenExamAcademy.com Product Sales:

    • Total: $736.69

      • Previous Month: $4,803.68
      • Difference: -$4,066.99
  • SecurityGuardTrainingHQ.com:

    • Adsense: $2,610.96
    • Job Board: $74.48
    • Affiliate Earnings: $98.95
    • Total: $2,784.39
      • Previous Month: $3,259.74
      • Difference: -$475.35
  • FoodTruckr.com:

    • Adsense Experiment: $88.82

      • Previous Month: $72.39
      • Difference: +$16.43
    • How to Start a Food Truck eBook: $2,841.00
    • Total: $2,929.82
  • CreateaClickableMap.com:

    • Total: $469.53

      • Previous Month: $669.33
      • Difference: -$199.80
  • iPhone Applications:

    • Paid Apps: $799.53
    • Free Apps: $166.15
    • Total: $956.68
      • Previous Month: $920.21
      • Difference: +$45.47
  • eBook Sales for ‘Let Go‘:

    • Total: $866.33

      • Previous Month: $233.10
      • Difference: +$633.23
  • Ask Pat Podcast Sponsorship:

    • Total: $5,316.45
  • SPI Podcast Sponsorship:

    • Total: $4,160.00
  • Speaking Fee:

    • Total: $2,500.00
  • 1-Day Business Breakthrough with Chris Ducker:

    • Total Profit after split: $5,082.50
  • Smart Podcast Player:

    • Total from Individual Licenses: $16,465
    • Total from Studio Licenses: $2,248
    • Total: $18,713.00
  • Gross Total in August: $98,639.65

    • Previous Month: $75,153.15
    • Difference: +$23,486.50

Expenses Breakdown (August 2014)

Below is what was paid last month. It does not include pro-rated yearly fees. Most are related to the Smart Passive Income Blog and new projects that are under development:

  • Dropbox: $9.99
  • Libsyn.com (podcast file hosting): $30.00
  • Hosting Payments and Domain Renewals: $115.19
  • Transcriptions and Podcast VA: $262.50
  • E-Junkie Shopping Cart Fee: $5.00
  • Paypal Website Payments Pro: $30.00
  • Certified Public Accountant / Bookkeeping: $260.00
  • Skype $2.99
  • Legal / Attorney: $1,650.00
  • Developers and Assistants for upcoming projects!: $15,550.00
  • Android App for SPI: $4,500
  • Slack (for team communication): $32.00
  • Aweber Fees (over 100,000 on list): $960.00
  • Paid advertising and banner ads: $0.00
    • Total Rough Expenses for August:  $22,543.67
    • Rough expenses from previous month: $31,115.85
  • Net Total in August: $76,095.98

    • Net Total from Previous Month: $43,997.30

Income was much higher this month primarily because of the sale of The Smart Podcast Player, but it was good to have FoodTruckr actually make a dent this time too. Unfortunately, because the LEED exam is still between exam versions, sales for study guides and practice exams took a huge drop this month, but this was expected.

As far as the team expenses, there was significantly less work to do this month since it was all done during the previous month, as reflected in the expense breakdown, however the final payment for the Android version of the SPI mobile application was due in August.

A Note from Pat:

A significant portion of my total online income comes as a result of this very blog that you’re reading right now – mostly from the products that I recommend as an affiliate, which are products I’ve used or am extremely familiar with and have helped me in my own businesses.

When I first started this blog back in 2008, I never intended to make any money from it. If you go back to my earlier income reports you’ll see that all of my income was coming from outside of this blog through other businesses. Over time, however, the SPI community has grown and as a byproduct of being helpful and giving away as much as I can, I started earning an income from this site too. Because I believe in total honesty and transparency, I decided to include the income from SPI on these reports as well. It wouldn’t feel right hiding this from you.

My non-SPI related income has hovered around the $10,000/month mark for a while now, which is much more than I ever made working my 9 to 5 job in architecture, but I’m truly blessed that I have the support from an amazing community here at SPI who is willing to pay me back for all of the information I publish and the help that I try to provide for free. Some people go out of their way to make sure I get credit for an affiliate link, often emailing me to make sure I got it, which means the world to me. Thank you so much!

With this type of community comes great responsibility and I will never take it for granted. I will never promote something just for the potential income that can come from an affiliate offer, even though those opportunities are definitely there.

I’m incredibly grateful for everything and I will continue to give back with valuable content and my experience in return.

Final Thoughts…

A lot has happened in the last few months. New products, new developments, new goals – but the biggest change of all has happened at home.

My son, age 4, entered pre-school. Five days a week, five hours a day.

The weekends actually feel like weekends again.

Now, this might not sound like a big deal to you, but to my family, it’s huge. Since he was born, my wife and I have been able to stay at home with our son virtually all day, every day. I work from home so I’m used to the little bugger running around and playing with him the moment he wakes up, and over time I eventually scheduled work around the time when he was awake.

I miss him. It seems like yesterday that I announced on the blog I was going to be a dad, and here he is already growing up and learning cool stuff, coming home telling us about everything he’s done and who climbed the wrong way up the slide again.

It’s crazy and makes me sad, but extremely happy at the same time. It inspires me to keep pushing to be a good example for him. He’s beginning to understand what I do here at home and he’s asking more and more questions about it each day.

I still have my daughter at home with me, but she’s a lot easier to take care of and a little “miss independent” too. With an extra 25 hours a week, there’s a lot I could do with that time. It’s not completely free until our daughter is in school too, but it does mean one thing:

Change will always happen. 

My wife and I had gotten into this great rhythm around taking care of the kids and giving ourselves time to do what we needed to do. Monday was her day to do whatever she wanted while I watched the kids, and Tuesday was mine – and then Thursday was date night – but all of that is mixed up now, and as soon as we get into a rhythm again – more things will change.

Part of life (and business) if learning how to adapt, and to know that at first when things change it’s going to be difficult and hard, because it’ll be different. You have to experiment, test and work together with those around you to eventually make things work and find that groove again.

The schedule will work itself out over time, and I have to remember that I can’t stop my kids from growing up, but I can stop every once and a while to watch them grow up, so I don’t miss anything.

Just some random thoughts from my brain before I close up today. Thanks for your time, and I’m happy to be back in sync with my monthly reports again.

Cheers, and to those headed to Portland, ME for Agents of Change, I look forward to seeing you there!

Financial Services: How to Become a Socially Focused Organization

Social media for business is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. Financial services institutions have specific requirements and regulatory standards that influence, and can even hold back, their social media efforts. Good news: Hootsuite is here to help. We’ve created the Financial Services: 4 Social Media Strategies for Business Success white paper to prepare your regulated organization for safe and compliant social media activity.

Embrace Social Media with Confidence

The white paper will review the different challenges facing banking, wealth management, and insurance, as well as the opportunities social media offers to each. Download now to find out how your organization can benefit.

Download Now

In this white paper, you will find learn the four core strategies that financial services institutions can use to successfully implement social media:

  • Verify and streamline your social media accounts and activities
  • Establish a consistent, unified social strategy across all departments
  • Identify and implement metrics and analytics around social media efforts to support business goals
  • Educate and empower employees across the entire enterprise

Social media has given customers more influence and control than ever before, in every industry. The world of banking and finance is no exception, and in spite of compliance concerns, there is tremendous opportunity for banks, financial advisors, and insurance firms to meet—and exceed—their customers’ expectations.

Banking

In addition to social marketing and selling, social customer service is a natural fit for banks. And the banks that are most successful using social media have progressed beyond the customer engagement phase. They are collecting data to target products and advertising where it’s most useful, and are picking up on buying signals and getting a better idea of customer preferences by listening to customers’ online communications. The white paper also gives discusses how banks can implement customer care processes through a social relationship platform.

Wealth Management

Financial advisors are in a great position to capitalize on social media-driven opportunities. Recruiting new clients, improving relationships, and using internal social networks to connect with in-house experts are easier to accomplish than in the past. The white paper contains statistics to back this up—learn about the percentage of surveyed financial advisors who have acquired new clients through Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. The data shows that wealth management firms that do not have a robust online presence run the risk of not only missing opportunities, but of losing relevance in a world where brand image and reputation are linked to client-generated reviews.

Insurance

Information is gold for the insurance industry. Insurance firms can use social media to educate the public on a variety of topics, which does double duty in building up their brand. People who are searching for insurance options are heavily influenced by branding—knowledge may be power, but perception trumps all. And individual insurance agents can use social listening to understand their clients’ concerns and interests. They can communicate with their customers during or after a catastrophe, offering advice to those who are already insured and providing assistance to those with questions.

Financial services is in a great position right now to take advantage of all that social media has to offer—customer service, social listening, engagement, uncovering new business opportunities, and so on. Now’s a great time to get started, if you haven’t already.

Download the White Paper

Responding to Device Changes in Google and Bing

Back in January, I wrote a post on why it’s time for B2B advertisers to go mobile. I hope you’ve added mobile to your PPC strategy this year. Recently, both Bing and Google announced some changes to mobile advertising that you need to be aware of and react to within your PPC campaigns.

Track Your Results and Adjust Bids.

In the past week, Bing rolled out the first wave of planned campaign settings changes that affect mobile advertisers. Bing Ads advertisers can no longer use separate campaigns for tablets. Tablets are now part of desktop campaigns.

Tablet-only campaigns weren’t commonly used by PPC advertisers, so that alone isn’t a big deal for most people. But you’ll want to check your traffic, CPCs, and conversion rates carefully over the next few weeks.

Watch for spikes in these key metrics. Spikes could indicate an unwanted bump in non-converting traffic from tablets. If you see that your conversion rates are decreasing and cost per conversion is going up, you’ll want to adjust your keyword and ad group bids accordingly.

Use the Tablet Modifier.

While it’s sad to lose control over tablet traffic in Bing Ads, the good news is that Bing Ads has given us a tablet bid modifier. Tablet bids can be modified from -20 percent (decrease by 20 percent) to 300 percent (increase by 300 percent).

If you see spikes in CPCs without a spike in conversion, consider using the tablet modifier and reducing bids by 20 percent to mitigate the impact on your return on investment (ROI).

Conversely, if you see an increase in conversions, it might be coming from tablets. Consider adding a positive bid modifier for tablet traffic.

Start Using Mobile Bid Modifiers.

While Bing Ads still has the option to use mobile-only campaigns, that option is going away in early 2015, so it’s a good idea to get used to using mobile bid modifiers if you aren’t already. Review your performance by device in Bing Ads by running a device report:

bing-device-report

Export your data and then use a pivot table to summarize stats by device. You’ll get something like this:

This data will help you decide where to set your modifiers. In this case, I’d set mobile to -100 percent. Unlike tablets, Bing Ads still offers a mobile opt-out by using a -100 percent modifier. If your mobile performance is comparable to computers, though, you may not want to use a modifier at all. Make sure to look at the data so you are making an informed decision one way or another.

Use Improved Dayparting.

Bing Ads recently improved its dayparting capabilities. Previously, you could only schedule ads during multi-hour blocks of time, which wasn’t ideal for most advertisers. Those who needed to schedule in a tighter time frame were forced over to Google.

Bing Ads is now on an even playing field with ad scheduling, offering 15-minute increments:

bing-ad-scheduling

If you find that you’re getting a lot of mobile traffic during certain times of the day that isn’t converting, or that’s converting better than average, you may want to adjust your ad schedule to modify bids during that time.

Use Mobile-Preferred Ads for Bing and Google

Both Bing Ads and Google AdWords offer mobile-preferred ads.

bing-mobile-preferred

While mobile-preferred ads aren’t guaranteed to show up on mobile devices only, setting them up in the engines enables you to use ad copy that would appeal to mobile searchers.

Think about your customers, and what they might be looking for on a mobile device. Then work that into your ad copy. Using mobile-preferred ads can often improve your conversion rate on mobile devices.

Start Testing Mobile Ad Copy.

Google recently announced that it will begin truncating the second description line of ad copy on mobile devices. The challenge with this change is that many advertisers traditionally put their call to action in the second line of ad copy.

Consider this ad, which follows a common e-commerce convention:

Buy Blue Widgets

Huge Selection of Quality Widgets.

Save 50% + Free Shipping! Buy Now.

That last line is compelling – it contains all the reasons to buy from this advertiser. But the truncated mobile version would be:

Buy Blue Widgets

Huge Selection of Quality Widgets.

Pretty boring, right? There’s no call to action and nothing unique here.

The ad might still convert well, which is why you need to test it. But you’ll probably want to test switching the first and second description lines, like this:

Buy Blue Widgets

Save 50% + Free Shipping! Buy Now.

Huge Selection of Quality Widgets.

With this ad, the truncated version becomes:

Buy Blue Widgets

Save 50% + Free Shipping! Buy Now.

This ad is a lot more compelling than the previous truncated version.

You’ll want to run this test in both Google and Bing, if for no other reason than Bing tends to follow Google, so they may soon decide to start truncating mobile ads, too. Plus, you might find the test ad performs better even in its full version!

With a little vigilance, you can quickly adapt to the latest device changes in both Google and Bing.


The Original Search Marketing Event is Back!
SES DenverSES Denver (Oct 16) offers an intense day of learning all the critical aspects of search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search advertising (PPC). The mission of SES remains the same as it did from the start – to help you master being found on search engines. Register today!

Links, FUD, and Webmaster Guidelines

The confusion and misinformation surrounding link-building is truly breathtaking. It’s really no surprise, thanks to Google and the FUD they’ve spread. I was recently reminded about just how deep the misunderstanding runs, when I visited Google’s Webmaster Central Help Forum dedicated to crawling, indexing, and ranking.

As you might imagine, the discussions on this forum are primarily focused on organic rankings, or the lack thereof. In one discussion, the subject of link-building came up, and a site owner shared this thought:

“… I can try to build links on my own.”

The reply, from a “top contributor” – “Please doesn’t do this, unless you plan on no-following all of them. Building followed links is against guidelines.”

Doh! (aka untrue)

To put this fully in perspective, this comment appears in the official Google product forum. The forum is the designated place for users to go, in hopes of getting an answer to their Google crawling, ranking, and indexing questions. Occasionally, a Googler might jump in, but most of the “service” is provided by volunteers.

This presents a serious flaw in the system. Volunteers, despite their best intentions, don’t always get it right. In the case of the thread where I dropped in, they got it dead wrong. This is unacceptable and Google has an obligation to moderate these forums and correct misstatements pertaining to their guidelines.

Getting back to the forum, I asked the contributor to “Please cite your source for ‘Building followed links is against guidelines.'”

Instead of getting a response from the original contributor, a different contributor decided to jump in, with this response:

https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/66356?hl=en

If someone is building links, that normally means that they have a hand in generating those links. The rule of thumb is to gain links through having a great website, content, advertising (which drives people to the site and they may link to you) etc. But building links normally refers to link buying, guest posting for link, low quality directory submissions, etc. You can build links if the site drives traffic to you but then you need to use the nofollow tag which safeguards you against Google’s penalties.”

Unbelievable. Now my interest was really piqued, with two different contributors spreading the FUD. In the interest of getting people in sync with the actual guidelines, I responded with this:

Nowhere in the guidelines is it stated “You can build links if the site drives traffic to you but then you need to use the nofollow tag”

When someone is organically linking to useful content…neither the author nor website can control if the link is followed or not.

I’ve performed over 200 link audits and have assisted scores of clients in getting penalties revoked. I have a pretty good handle on link building and the guidelines. Just trying to cut down on the FUD being spread here.”

After that exchange, the first contributor felt it was the right time to chime back in with this useful comment:

“I always feel left out in a pissing match.”

As Jimmy Fallon might say…Thank you, “Top Contributor.”

With the hornets’ nest, fully stirred, contributor two jumped back in the conversation:

“That FUD as you refer to it is a game we play called ‘Best Case Scenario.’ If we say X, most of the readers will try X*42. X1 or X2 might be acceptable and X3 might even be tolerated, but there is no way X42 is going to avoid the penalty…..so we don’t mention X.”

So…we don’t mention X – really? Followed up by contributor three:

“Maybe not.” (Challenging the assertion that I know what I’m talking about. :))

“You are still trying to build, less aggressive than others, but it is still building. Instead of building, why don’t you suggest improve what you already have won? So why don’t any of the people advocating the building of links ever mention fixing the low-hanging fruit?”

I’m not sure why the two would be considered mutually exclusive, but with the ball back in my court, I responded:

“It has NOTHING to do with best case scenario – it’s all about understanding the guidelines and following them.

FUD = all link-building is bad and scary ’cause It might cause a link penalty

Reality = Backlinks = Rankings, Rankings = Traffic – Deal With It!

I’m not looking for an argument – just stating the facts.

The Key Takeaway

There’s a lot of bad information floating around the Web pertaining to link-building. Even on the official Google webmaster forums. You owe it to yourself to read and understand the link scheme section of the webmaster guidelines. While it’s true that spammy links can cause a penalty, it is equally true that good backlinks are still the most powerful, off-page, ranking factor.


The Original Search Marketing Event is Back!
SES DenverSES Denver (Oct 16) offers an intense day of learning all the critical aspects of search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search advertising (PPC). The mission of SES remains the same as it did from the start – to help you master being found on search engines. Register today!

Bing Ads Reveals Dynamic Sitelinks

Bing Ads has revealed a new feature, “dynamic sitelinks”, which creates annotations for ads that haven’t specifically set up sitelink extensions. 

dynamic-sitelinks

From Bing’s blog post:

Dynamic Sitelinks is another way to help your potential customers evaluate what your web site has to offer prior to clicking through, which saves them time and provides you more relevant customer opportunities. However, dynamic sitelinks is an ‘annotation’, which means that Bing Ads dynamically creates the content for you from content already on your page.

Advertiser’s ads may be a candidate for dynamic sitelinks if they haven’t set up sitelink extensions and their display URL has deep links information available, which the Bing algorithm uses to surface the annotations. 

The report says internal Microsoft data shows that dynamic sitelinks can increase click-through rates up to 14 percent. 

In recent coverage of SEW’s sister event ClickZ Live, dynamic sitelinks were discussed in a PPC session, where speaker Diane Pease advised that “advertisers create their own sitelinks to give themselves more control of their message.”

In July, Google AdWords unveiled a similar feature, and in an article for SEW, Larry Kim discusses that topic at length.


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