Microsite Masters Update

Microsite Masters Update

We have some exciting news: we just redesigned our entire pricing structure!

The most noticeable change is that each plan now offers at least twice as many keywords as our old plans! In other words, we just halved the price of keywords on all Microsite Masters plans!

Now you can also try any plan absolutely free for 30 days so that you can see for yourself how Microsite Masters is the solution to your SERP needs.

Check out all the new plans here and let us know what you think!


Penguin 3.0: What Got Hurt, What Didn’t, and 3 Things You Need to Know to Remain Relevant

Penguin 3.0: What Got Hurt, What Didn’t, and 3 Things You Need to Know to Remain Relevant

Since our last Penguin Post a lot of things have changed, but the panic and uncertainty around Google updates have remained the same. Every time an update comes around people are still asking the same question:

What Did This Update Do and How Do I Recover? (By Reading This Post. Duh!)

With an increasingly large amount of rank tracking data (we track millions and millions of pages every single day) we have a huge trove of information that we’ve been able to sort through since the Penguin Update started. With misinformation and anecdotes thrown around like they are facts, we wanted to step back in and give you a look at what is going on with this Google Penguin update, backed by real data. We’ve mined through all of this data, and we think these results will show you exactly what got punished by Penguin and what you need to do in the future to continue to rank websites.

I’m Ready – Give Me Data!

This time around, we were able to dive even deeper with our analysis than we were last time. Since the Penguin update is a “web spam” update we wanted to look at exactly what Google was looking at – the backlinks themselves! So for each site in our dataset we took the top 50 backlinks and analyzed them both for their footprint and for their level of quality. The results we got were not unexpected at all:

Microsite Masters Backlink Distribution Non Penalized Sites

Microsite Masters Backlink Distribution Penalized Sites

A quick aside: I’m sure after seeing these graphs some of you are curious what a “high quality” post is and what a “low quality” post is. We considered a low quality post to be any post on a very thin website/subdomain (under five pages), any post that didn’t match the niche of the site it was hosted on, and any site that scored very highly on a custom webspam classifier that was provided to us by Cortx. We disregarded any links whose footprint did not neatly fit into of these categories. After spending countless hours manually analyzing this data we can say that it is over 99% accurate in determining what is a high quality article and what is not.

The results should not be that surprising; sites that were not hit by Penguin were more likely to have backlinks from high quality articles and high quality citations. Meanwhile, sites that were hit by Penguin were more likely to have backlinks from low quality articles and spammy social bookmarks and blog comments. When we saw this we were a little disappointed, as we were hoping for something more unexpected.

So we decided to take a look at the data in a slightly different way. Instead of looking at the average link distribution, we instead looked at what percentage of sites had at least one high quality backlink and what percentage of sites had at least one low quality backlink. This gave us a slightly different story:

Microsite Masters One Good Link

At a glance these numbers might not seem that interesting. Nearly 100% of non penalized sites had at least one good backlink and nearly 100% of penalized sites had at least one obviously spammy backlink, which is what you might expect. However if you look closer, nearly every site that was not penalized also had at least one spammy backlink. What this means is that bad links by themselves did not cause sites to get hit by Penguin.

We decided to take a look at our original backlink distribution graphs above and split them up so that we were only comparing the high quality posts and the low quality posts:

Microsite Masters Penguin Backlink Quality Distribution

This graph shows once again that bad links are not the problem – nearly 50% of all contextual links going towards sites not penalized by Penguin were considered to be spammy. But even more important is the statistic for penalized sites. For sites that were penalized, under 5% of their links were considered to be high quality. This indicates that bad links had very little to do with the update. Instead the Penguin update is targeting sites that do not have enough good links!

What Does That Mean for Me?

This means that Penguin is not punishing sites for bad links, but is instead “erasing” the value of bad links. When writing our first Penguin Post we did not find this to be nearly as much the case, and Google has commented that “the newer generation of Penguin goes much deeper and has a really big impact in small areas” and Matt Cutts has recently commented that Google is closing several negative SEO loopholes.

So our conclusion from this data is that when each Penguin refresh happens, Google is removing the juice from those bad links, leaving only the better links left. The sites that have a solid foundation of high quality links will continue to prosper and the sites that were built entirely on lower quality links will see their rankings fall.

I think I understand how Google’s Penguin Update works, but what about those 3 things I need to know!


high quality links

1. If You Are Penalized (or Not), Build Some High Quality Links!

This is the most important thing to take away from our information: high quality links reign supreme. Do whatever you can to get links from authorative sites in your industry. Write high quality blog posts (our favorite method). Make tier 1 websites that are high enough quality to also function as their own stand-alone websites; we like to call them microsites.

Create Youtube videos and tutorials – although we didn’t include this footprint in our chart (due to a relatively smaller amount of data), sites that were not affected by Penguin were twice as likely to have Youtube links in their backlink profile.

Lastly, if you are a local plumber who is wondering how in the world you can write engaging and inspiring content about plumbing, at the very least get high quality local citations.


microsite masters google penguin filter

2. Do Not Worry About Blackhat Links or Negative SEO

Our data shows that this refresh was almost entirely a “link devaluation” instead of a “link penalty.” This means that if you are doing whitehat SEO you should not have to worry about negative SEO; your good quality links will still keep your site ranking and any low quality links are just noise that you can filter out.

The important thing to remember is that the road to recovery does not come from obsessively worrying about disavowing or removing bad links. Instead the road to recovery, no matter what hat you are wearing, comes from getting more high quality sites to link to you.


private blog networks

3. High Quality Private Blog Networks Still Work

In our last Penguin update we talked about how blog networks still work, but that they need to be done in a high quality way. Although we found many SEOers took to heart some of our more obvious suggestions (like varying anchor text), the overall implementation of many of the blog networks we saw were still often very lazy and very sloppy.

For the low quality posts we still saw ridiculous things like links that didn’t make any sense within the flow of the article, links from blogs with only one post, and links from blogs with posts about “garcinia combogia”, “e cigs”, and “payday loans” all side by side (I’m sure that will make Google instantly fall in love with your site).

Black and grey hat SEOers also often forget the “private” part of a private blog network. Google has made it very clear that they are going after blog networks, so if you are buying your blog network links from a slick sounding sales page, it will only be a matter of time before Google catches on. Any blog network where anyone can purchase links should not be considered a “private” blog network, no matter what the owner promises regarding footprints or security.

Stick to high quality private blog networks that are either operated entirely by you, or by a small exclusive circle of friends or business partners. Avoid free-for-all “public private” blog networks which are great for churn and burn but not much else.

That’s All For Now!

It’s been a long two years since we last published a blog post, and we hope it was worth the wait. We have been working on some great experiments here at Microsite Masters and we won’t keep you waiting that long next time!

7 Proactive Rep Management Tips To Control The SERPs

7 Proactive Rep Management Tips To Control The SERPs

Regardless of your SEO knowledge, there’s no doubt people are using search engines to obtain information before making purchasing decisions or submitting their personal information in exchange for the “deal of a lifetime”.  As potential prospects have been burned in the past they’ve become more cautious and likely to perform some degree of due diligence prior to making impulsive decisions online.  Own an offer? Running paid traffic?  You need to read this.

Get Your Target Audience Wet

Bold claims in advertising will get most demographics excited if your targeting is right and the emotional connection created is strong enough for a person to whip out their credit card or stop everything they’re doing and pay attention to the interruption you’ve created.

There are many different ways to reach your audience through advertising creatively. Whether you’re building an e-mail list for pennies on the dollar using a PPV network or you’re buying print spots spots in church bulletins, (seriously!) there’s always a way to get your message across while optimizing the campaign over time to eliminate paths of resistance.

As you start reaching more people the likelihood of your audience searching your brand or product name to learn more information about what you’re offering presents itself.

Are search engine results pages portraying you, your brand, or your product in a positive light? Are there “scam listings” appearing in the top 10 results? Are the SERP’s killing your conversions?

Own The SERP’s Before You Run Traffic

For advertisers using traffic sources other than paid search, it can be easy to overlook how simple it is to flood the SERP’s with negative listings and compromise the results for brand or product terms.

For new offers, it can be easy to manipulate the SERP’s and establish authority to guard yourself against negative listings (RipOffReport.com, etc.) from appearing out of nowhere on page one.

Additional Reasons To Own The SERP’s:

1) Prospects are more likely to buy or share their info if the SERP’s display favorable results.
2) It’s easy for a competitor to sabotage your brand or image if you’re not proactive.
3) Have an affiliate program? Protect yourself from organic affiliates out to steal your traffic.
4) Increase the longevity of a campaign. It’s an insurance policy to squeeze additional profit.
5) If you have a budget for paid traffic, you should have a budget for reputation management.

How To Bulletproof Your Reputation on Search Engines in 7 Easy Steps

Step #1: Stock Up On Domains

Having a stash of TLD’s is important for controlling content on domains you’ll be using for ranking purposes and to “stake your claim” before competitors, rogue affiliates, or dissatisfied customers have a chance to get their hands on domains that could influence your target audience otherwise.

Buying branded partial query match domains is the best way to go in this scenario.

Examples: YourBrandProductType.com, YourBrandScam.com, YourBrandReviews.com, etc.

Still not sure how to get started? Type your brand name into UberSuggest.org (or a competitor’s brand) to discover more about the nature of user queries, then purchase domains accordingly.

SEO Hosting

Step #2: Host Your Domains On Different IP’s

If you’re trying to rank a dozen different domains for the same query (i.e “Your Brand Scam”) and all of the sites are hosted on the same IP, you’ll probably have more of a challenge ranking the sites than if you invested in a SEO hosting package from a specialized provider.

Using a web hosting package from Arctic Hosting will give search engines the impression that your domains are not all residing on a single IP, or controlled by the same party.

Your chances of obtaining added visibility in the SERP’s for queries related to your product or brand will be maximized when separating your sites on different C Class IP’s.

Step #3: Launch Branded Microsites With Unique Themes & Content

The key to successfully manipulating the SERP’s and proactively managing your reputation is to create an illusion that the SERP listings are not managed by the featured brand, but rather “enthusiastic” third parties sharing their thoughts and feelings about the brand, company, or niche.

Review sites are great for “niche coverage” as you can positively influence the SERP’s in your favor while reviewing competitors and potentially ranking for their brand names.

You’ll probably be creating more than a few microsites so it’s important you select a CMS that you’re comfortable working with and “built for speed” with respect to launching sites quickly. Using WordPress in this application is ideal, but feel free to vary it up for more diversity!

Element Variations For Microsites: IP’s, admin usernames, themes, site titles, non-www vs. www, timezones, date formatting, widget formatting, time formatting, permalink structure, plugins, pages, (about, privacy policy, etc.) and anything else you’d like to change to minimize footprints.

Last, you’ll be needing unique content for your microsites. If you’re up for writing the content yourself, go for it! If not, try finding a content writer on oDesk.com or OnlineJobs.ph that will write positive reviews about your product, brand, company, offer, or service.

Periodically posting new content (with images!) across your network of branded microsites is advised to stay on top of the “freshness” of the sites for search engines and to give users the impression they’re not reading old or outdated content.

Increasing the internal link weight of the microsites by dripping fresh content and creating new tags and category pages targeting the brand name can help accelerate the ranking process. Building out the depth of the microsites with quality content should be your only concern at this stage.

Step #4: Create Social Profiles

Services like KnowEm.com can speed up the process of creating and registering social profiles.

The pricing is reasonable when you look at the potential to flood the SERP’s with new listings featuring your brand or offer on authoritative websites. Turnaround times are quick too! (3-5 Days)

Why spend time creating social profiles manually or attempting to bot registration the processes?

Social profiles can be used to promote your brand directly, promote the microsites you’ve created, or “hype accounts” serving as advocates for your brand. Update profiles regularly to stay relevant!

Social profiles are easier to rank when using authoritative sites. (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) Another benefit of social profiles is that users can “follow” your brand regardless if they buy or opt-in. Social profiles create additional promotional and continuity channels that should not be overlooked.

Step #5: Distribute Press Releases

Press releases are a great way to put fresh listings in the SERPs to feature your brand name, build links to selected URL targets, and highlight your “newsworthy” content on authoritative sites.

More importantly, press releases appear “credible” as the content is often featured on sites that people are familiar with. (finance.yahoo.com, online.wsj.com, etc.) You’ll have to pay-to-play if you’re going down the path of press releases, but the rewards can be sweet if you do it right.

Press Release Considerations For Online Reputation Management

1) Place the brand name in the first few words of the title to ensure it appears in URL structures.
2) Linking to authoritative websites is advised. Like drinking socially, a “two-link” max works.
3) Bait credible and related sources to share the release by working their recent news in the content.
4) Build links to the press release URL’s from your arsenal of microsites and social profiles.
5) Become a Spin Doctor with your words. Applying spinning techniques is strongly encouraged!

If you have the budget to get creative with press releases you can do more than just proactively defend or enhance the reputation of a brand if you’re willing to push the limits and take chances.

Step #6: Mechanical Turk

Mechanical Turk is a market place owned by Amazon which allows users to complete or assign tasks in human intelligence for a pre-defined bounty. Tasks are designed to be easy and allow those requesting to quickly obtain data from real users across the world by crowd sourcing.

Leveraging the power of Mechanical Turk has definitely become a big part of advanced SEO so if you’re the type of person that doesn’t embrace effective search engine optimization strategies deemed to be “manipulative in nature” you should probably stop reading this article now.

How To Use “Artificial Artificial” Intelligence?

A fundamental aspect of search engine optimization is understanding that ranking factors are comprised of more than just classification algorithms, filters, and “authority signals” (links, social activity, etc.) designed to control the visibility of data accessed by query.

It’s important to realize that machine learning is being used to enhance the search experience for users over time where factors such as query selection and associated frequencies, clicked results, on-page behaviors, click-backs, behavioral time sequences, click-through patterns, relationships of subsequent queries, pattern frequencies, and all actions in between.

While bots can be used to simulate and mimic human behaviors to influence the SERPs, leveraging the power of Mechanical Turk offers SEOers the ability to artificially manipulate machine learning algorithms tracking behavior signals by simply asking users to complete seemingly mundane tasks on massive scale. The beauty of this application is that results obtained from users on larger scales is pretty authentic and can be used to train bots if internalizing efforts is more your flavor.

Creating Human Intelligence Tasks On Mechanical Turk

You don’t have to be a social engineer to get the SERP results you’re looking for by using workers on Mechanical Turk to influence search engine algorithms. Use the strategies below to get started.

1) Ask workers to perform a query using the search term of your choice.
2) Have workers provide feedback on the SERP results for the particular query.
3) Ask workers to provide feedback progressively throughout the task series.
4) Instruct workers to perform an action such as clicking through a SERP listing.
5) Have workers validate the action by having them provide relevant feedback.
6) Direct users to perform significant actions that have algorithmic influence.
7) Continue validation processes as needed and approve the user task when complete.

The possibilities are endless where you’re thinking creatively! The task of flushing out negative auto-complete queries can be achieved and the ability to demonstrate that certain SERP listings are “more useful” than others can also be achieved. With great power comes great responsibility.

Step #7: Treat People The Way You’d Like To Be Treated

There’s a fine line between pushing marketing limits and doing wrong by people. Internet companies focused just on selling more product often times don’t consider the “little things” like enabling a support ticket system, answering e-mails promptly, updating terms and conditions policies, or having a call center to resolve challenges for consumers that wish to dial in.

By not having certain communication systems in place, a single person can destroy the reputation of a company or individual with one negative submission about poor customer service or product experience. Consumers are aware of the power they have today with their ability to “go public” and expose a company, product offer, or service which they consider not to be reputable.

There’s no reason not to be considerate of your consumers when it’s only going to help with sales processes, resolve challenges faster, reduce reputation management risks that may arise, and increase the longevity a business cycle.

Give Your Competitors An Inch And They’ll Take A Mile

If you’re not treating your consumers the way you’d like to be treated you’re giving your competitors going the extra mile a competitive advantage. Don’t think they won’t be using your negative SERP listings as a reference to gain an edge in the market. Internet marketing is a ruthless game.

Companies providing a strong consumer experience generally have less challenges in the rep management department. This isn’t to say those companies are immune from negative SERP listings or they should overlook the first 6 online reputation management tips featured above either.

The takeaway is that if you’re proactive in your efforts to “bullet proof” the SERP’s before you start marketing and make the quality of the consumer experience a top priority, you’ll reduce the chances of going into “crisis mode” where unpleasant realities that might arise could be irreversible.

Why Business Owners Rank Better Than SEOers and 5 Things You Can Learn From Them

Why Business Owners Rank Better Than SEOers and 5 Things You Can Learn From Them

It’s been a little over a month since the Google Penguin update shook the SEO world. We’re seeing both service providers and agencies (as well as businesses!) either step their game up or pack their bags and move onto something else. As mentioned in our previous post, we’d be elaborating on the methods shared to recover from the Penguin Update.

It’s time to start running promoted sites like a real business.

We could give you more stats about the sites that were negatively hit by the Penguin Update, but it’s more valuable to look at the sites that were on the opposite side of the fence. What are the winners doing? What are they not doing? Let’s find out!

Passive Marketing Only Goes So Far

Even when it was “easy” to rank for competitive keywords with a link building strategy that worked before the Google Penguin update, the mindset of many SEOers (and web savvy business owners) was to rank as high as possible for targeted keywords. While this seems logical in theory, that methodology doesn’t always take into consideration on-page elements which permit converting traffic or enhancing the value of the business or user experience.

There’s no doubt SEO practices have changed this year. It’s time to work hard, get creative, and go back to the most basic methods to gain exposure. It’s time to start ACTIVELY MARKETING again.

Real Businesses Focus On Conversions

If you’re building your business to rank well on search engines as a primary way of generating revenue, your business will be as strong as a house of cards. You’re not building a business, you’re creating a hustle. Build a strong brand first and the rankings will usually follow.

To demonstrate the points we’re making, it would only be fair to use our business as an example. In the chart above, you’ll notice that only 13.43% of our traffic comes from search queries.

While some may think that number is low in comparison to both referral and direct traffic, it’s an indicator that we’re not just relying on “ranking well”. Our brand is recognized and shared by others. We’ve created a business, not a passive income stream based on high SERP positioning.

More importantly, the stats above don’t take into account paid search marketing because we haven’t had the time to building out the campaign as we’re focused on scaling “what’s working”.

Let’s take it one step further and analyze the organic traffic we’re receiving. While we’re obsessively tracking our rankings for both branded queries and keywords we’re targeting, it’s interesting to see the distribution percentages shared in the chart below.

We know what terms we’d like to rank for, we know what terms bring in qualified traffic, and we know that building a strong brand (in our case and the same for many businesses) is more important than anything. We’d rather 77% of queries be derived from our brand name (Microsite Masters) over ranking for the term “rank tracker”. Let’s now focus on Target KW Queries!

As a result of publishing compelling content in our last post, we were able to improve our ranking (“naturally”) for one of the keywords we’re targeting. It wasn’t difficult, it didn’t involve intentional link building or thinking about “anchor text variations”, and it didn’t cost anything but our time.

Ranking well for the term rank tracker is a reward for doing “exactly what we’re supposed to be doing”. If we lost our rankings for that term, we’d survive. We’re not reliant on search engines as a primary traffic source. This is a concept that more SEOers need to come to terms with.

The most important aspect of ranking / search engine visibility should always come down to traffic and conversions. Post Penguin, sites ranking for competitively (commercial/buying terms) typically have business models that are thought-out and do more than just relying on rankings.

SEOers Create and Kill Businesses

Unless you’re a service provider offering a self-serve package where buyers provide the details of exactly what they want promoted, most SEOers lack the necessary business fundamentals to properly service the Internet marketing needs of a typical business owner in today’s market.

Most SEOers are sales professionals that know enough about the benefits of search engine optimization to sell a business owner on why it’s necessary. Before the Penguin update it wasn’t difficult to rank a site using just off-page link building tactics. Everyone went home a winner!

In the past few years, thousands of businesses emerged and thrived by “working with SEOers” that passively marketed their websites by building links using anchors matching target keyword sets.

Some business owners used it to compliment other marketing efforts, some relied exclusively on SEO, and some business owners chose to do nothing relating to Internet marketing whatsoever.

Leveling The Playing Field

Some business owners lost entire businesses as a result of the Google Penguin update. There are also business owners that were positively affected or didn’t notice any difference at all in the SERPs.

Some business owners are blaming SEOers for “killing their business“, while at one time they were responsible for enhancing their business and creating new revenue generating opportunities.

Business owners affected by the update with diversified marketing strategies or a positive outlook on the future of organic promotion are actively taking matters into their own hands as a result of SEOers not providing a solution or not having the confidence to suggest one moving forward.

What are Smart Business Owners and SEOers Doing to Survive?

Method #1: Understanding Real User Queries

Stop thinking about the associated search volumes on targeted keywords and start thinking about real user queries. The mindset of many SEOers before the Penguin Update was to create traffic acquisition opportunities based on ranking terms with statistically significant search volumes.

While this may have worked previously, smart business owners often analyze how new users arrive to their sites based on entered queries. Even if you don’t have access to a sites analytics account using tools like Ubersuggest.org to search brand names, competitor brand names, and partially matched keywords provides a competitive advantage when applied accordingly.

Google’s Autocomplete algorithm should be used more to gather insights on real user queries, attitudes, behaviors, and search tendencies when compared to brands and specific keyword sets.

Method #2: Finding New Promotional Channels

Finding promotional channels (or “footprints” if you’re an SEOer) is different today when the focus on content quality and relevancy is valued higher than ever before. Reverse image searching is a different approach to finding link building targets as well as ways to enhance social outreach.

Step One: Find a widely used image that’s relevant to your brand or industry. Starting with Google Image Search to gather ideas can make the process easier. Select an image or two to start.

Step Two: Go to TinEye.com and enter the image URL you’ve selected to begin your search.

Step Three: Find link building, visibility, and relationship building opportunities. TinEye’s index is growing rapidly each month so the ability to reverse engineer image search using their technology can make any business owner or SEOer a force to be reckoned with. And the best part of all, it’s free!

Business owners take a similar approach to “finding footprints” but the intentions are different than the typical SEOer (or link building bandit in this example). Smart business owners often reverse engineer ways to obtain branding opportunities so their message is in front of the right audience.

Often times they’re not even thinking about the SEO benefits as the effort is done purely to enhance the bottom line of the business. Moving forward, SEOers should explore social outreach opportunities, become active members on relevant forums to gain credibility, and reverse engineer for legitimate marketing purposes instead of finding new sites to post links on.

The game has changed, evolve or die.

Method #3: Guest Blogging Vs. Blogger Outreach

There’s a difference between “guest blogging” to gain visibility, traffic, and exposure and “blogger outreach” where e-mailing random blogs that are niche relevant offering content in exchange for links is the focus. Before blogging and online publishing was an option many business owners created content to be featured within industry publications, local newspapers, and magazines. It was done to gain credibility, provide value to readers, and of course to attain new business.

When SEOers take the approach of scaling SEO campaigns for the purposes of posting links with the bi-product being increased SERP visibility, content quality often suffers which diminishes business credibility, provides little to no value to readers, or doesn’t generate measurable traffic.

If you’re not willing to put your brands logo, your real name, or cite your brands name within outreach content you should think twice about pointing links direct to site via blogger outreach.

Guest blogging for business owners will never die when the “SEO benefits” are a secondary focus.

Method #4: Treat All Traffic As If You’re Paying For It

Smart business owners realize there’s a real cost in both time and money for attaining traffic. Prior to the Penguin Update when it was “easier” to rank for competitive terms, the traffic generated from those queries wasn’t free, it was just cheap in comparison to relative CPC prices on search.

Business owners that used link building for ranking organically in addition to paid traffic and conversion optimization strategies are far ahead of the average SEOer for the following reasons:

1) It’s faster and easier to tell how a site initially converts when using paid traffic sources.

2) The mindset of marketers using paid traffic is to refine and optimize traffic and spends over time.

3) It’s absolutely necessary to split test and focus on conversion and user retention elements.

4) Paid traffic marketers utilize all data. Re-targeting and list building should go without saying.

SEOers focusing exclusively on generating organic traffic through link building with the intentions of increasing SERP visibility felt the wrath of the Penguin update more so than business owners and marketers using natural search visibility as a way to compliment their other marketing efforts.

Lessons Learned: Maximize return on all traffic generated. Never take a traffic source for granted.

Method #5: Become Ruthless In Business

Most successful (and experienced!) business owners are ruthless with their time and how they run their business. They’re usually passionate about what they do, always looking for ways to improve or grow, and aware of things happening within their respective industries.

SEOers can apply similar business strategies to gain a competitive edge. See below:

1) Form strong alliances with brand advocates. These relationships are the lifeblood of your business. Position your sites, offers, and web properties to thrive as if every conventional traffic source were to evaporate tomorrow. Communicate regularly and return favors when asked.

2) Obsess over the image of your brand. We’re absolutely ruthless when it comes to our public image. Web copy, use of images, phrasing, colors, etc. Extreme care needs to go into everything you do. Be deliberate. Be conscious. Be accountable. Make no exceptions. Strive for excellence!

3) Create phenomenal content. It works for all types of businesses. Just do it. Successful business owners don’t take shortcuts. They find solutions when faced with challenges and embrace change.

4) Start acting like a leader. Your target market and competitors will realize the value of your business when you position your brand accordingly. Influence the SERPs by taking pride in your business. Don’t rely on the SERPs to influence your audience. Respect and trust is given when it’s earned. Fabricating credibility isn’t sustainable, it’s not a long-term business model, think ahead!

5) Embrace your competitors. It’s short-sighted not to respect and value perceived competitors. Successful business owners understand that competition is a key element of creating a market.

We’re often asked by our brand advocates and the SEO community if we view SEOMoz as a direct competitor. While we’re competing in the same market (SEO Monitoring Industry) we’re offering two completely different services to our users. Yes, we’re overlapping with respect to rank tracking but it really comes down to the requirements of users to decide which toolset is best for their SEO needs.

We’re competing in the same market, but we choose to compete against ourselves.

More SEOers need to start embracing competitors in overlapping keyword markets and find more ways to demonstrate their value while not being overly concerned with what everyone else is doing.

Successful businesses challenge themselves as an organization and realize there are strategies and business fundamentals from other industries that can be applied.

It’s sometimes hard for SEOers to reach a level of business maturity where the realization of the “big picture” is apparent as the mindset before the Penguin update was to outrank all competitors in the SERPs and take no prisoners. Additional reasons to embrace “perceived competitors”:

1) You may be doing business in the future. API access can be granted or utilized by either party.

2) Big achievements in business (i.e. 18mm in funding) is great for the health of an entire industry.

3) Business owners with stand-up reputations are recognized by competitors. Why be mysterious?

4) Exit strategies are necessary. Can you buy a competitors business? Know what yours is worth?

5) You meet the same people on the way up as you do on the way down. Reputations are everything.

What Can SEOers Do Moving Forward?

Try things you haven’t done before! Intentionally link to competitors, promote their content through social channels, and focus on building a strong reputation in business first. (SERPs come second) Give everything you have to offer and you shall receive more than you can ever imagine in return.

Penguin Analysis: SEO Isn’t Dead, But You Need to Act Smarter (And 5 Easy Ways to Do So!)

Penguin Analysis: SEO Isn’t Dead, But You Need to Act Smarter (And 5 Easy Ways to Do So!)

The new Google Penguin update was a big change that has been very unsettling to SEO’ers, both blackhats and whitehats. It seems that everywhere you go, people who had previously considered themselves to be “professionals”, are now dumbfounded as their stable authority sites have moved from ranking in the top 5 for competitive keywords, to not ranking at all.

There has never been more whispers (both jokingly and not), that SEO is dead. Which leads me to…

The Number One Question People Are Asking:

What Did This Update Do and How Do I Recover? (By Reading This Post. Duh!)

Microsite Masters is in a unique position as we operate as a rank tracker; we have historical ranking data for thousands of websites. We have data on sites that are still doing great, and we have data on sites where rankings have tanked. We’ve decided to mine through all of this data (giving us a nice large sample size), and the results we found, although not unexpected by us, should give you a clear indication as to exactly how you should build and rank sites moving forward.

Ok, Now On To What You Really Care About. What Did We Find Out?

Link over-optimization is one of the most thrown around concepts in the SEO community now, so it was naturally where we decided to look first. We took a look at the sites that tanked and the sites that didn’t, and for both we looked at what their anchor text distribution was.

More specifically, we were interested in seeing what percentage of those links had anchor text for keywords that the site was trying to optimize SERP visibility for (such as “blue widgets”) versus any other type of anchor text (this could be “bluewidgets.com”, “blue widgets | the number one widget site”, “click here”, or anything that wasn’t a keyword containing measurable search volume).

What does this mean? It means that every single site we looked at which got negatively hit by the Penguin Update had a “money keyword” as its anchor text for over 60% of its incoming links. On the other hand, the sites that were not hit by the update had much more random percentages. Having over 60% of your anchor text being a money keyword did not guarantee that your site would be hit by the penalty (many of the sites not affected had numbers just as bad), but if under 50% of your anchor text for incoming links were “money keywords” it’s all but guaranteed you weren’t affected by this update.

Taking a look at the above information we compiled says much of the same. The graph above shows that only 5% of the sites affected by the update had a URL structure (ex: bluewidgets.com) as 2 or more of their 5 most common anchor texts. On the other hand, nearly half of the sites not affected had the same. What does this mean? Most of you will say that this is a clear example that Google has issued a link over-optimization penalty (or at the very least over-optimization link devaluation), and that is absolutely correct.

However, that’s only half of what we uncovered (in fact, it’s the least important half!)

If This Update Isn’t Just About Over-Optimization, What Else Is Factored?

In the recent post made by Matt Cutts, he specifically called out pages that were trying to fake relevancy (or just weren’t relevant at all), and gave an exaggerated example of what to avoid.

Although his example is a little extreme, it gives insight into what Google is going after: links that are not relevant (and therefore not likely to be created naturally). This should come as no surprise to anybody that Google wants to avoid this. After all, how can a “citation” or “recommendation” (which is how the concept of link “valuation” first came to be) be valid if the citation or link has absolutely nothing to do with the page or site that it is on?

We decided to test this by taking a look at the top links for all of the sites contained in our study to see how many of those links came from sites that are in the same, similar, or related niches.

This data shows something very important: penalized sites generally had very little links coming from domains and websites in the same niche. The numbers obviously show that it’s OK, and probably beneficial to have links coming from nonrelevant sites, however it’s important to supplement those links with links coming from sites relevant to the subject matter of your site.

Conclusion: What Is Google Doing?

We just demonstrated the “actions” Google is taking by evaluating one of the best data sets in existence to conduct a case study of this nature, so it should be obvious that Google is trying to prevent over-optimization of links in terms of anchor text use and valuating links from relevant sites higher than links from non-relevant sites in terms of SERP visibility for the promoted site.

If you take a look at those two facts separately, you get two separate things you should be doing.

However, if you take a look at those two results together, a juicier piece of info comes out:

Google is trying to replace or devalue “anchor text” use with “niche/content relevancy of linking sites” as a primary link relevancy, (or “quality”) signal.

Anchor text, has been proven by SEO’ers for the past 10 years as easy to manipulate. However, obtaining links from websites or pages in a similar niches and with relevant content to the keyword you’re trying to rank for is generally much harder to manipulate. This reality and ease of the manipulation obviously prompted Google to create this update.

Furthermore, unlike 2 or 3 years ago, the technology to determine the niche of a domain or webpage is becoming much easier and much cheaper to use (I know this because I’ve internalized and use this technology). That means reliance on anchor text is not nearly as big of a “ranking factor” as it was before when it was much harder to determine content relevancy on a large scale.

That’s Some Great Info! But What Exactly Should I Be Doing?

(I’m Lazy and Don’t Care About Google Updates. I Just Want to Rank!)

Method #1: Create Microsites 

What are those? Besides being important enough to SEO that we decided to use that as one of the words in our company name, they have been a great way to rank sites in the past, and continue to be even after this update. Microsites are small(ish) topic-focused sites that provide useful content relative to your niche, and make sure to cite your main site as a primary source. Google wants the Internet to be filled with sites that provides users what they are looking for, and give authority to sites that are relevant to what the user is looking for. By creating smaller sites of “higher quality”, you get to expand your presence in your niche, and use that expanded visibility and send relevant and authoritative positive ranking signals towards your main site.

Method #2: High Quality Blog Networks 

This might be the most “black hat” solution, but it’s still effective. Recently ALN and BMR have proven that low quality networks which seemed to good to be true, are too good to be true.

It’s no longer enough to have private networks with small amounts of content, anchor text that is poorly placed within the context of the article, no (or very little) accountability in the area of content quality, and other gaping network-wide footprints and general low quality attributes.

A completely internalized niche blog network (which in reality is really a group of microsites) is as effective as it ever was and generally more selective than large public blog networks to ensure proper quality control and avoid footprints. More on that later!

Method #3: Diversify Anchor Text

If you are building links yourself, you have probably reached a decision where you could spend X (whether in time or dollars) with the anchor text of “a term I want to rank for” or “a term that appears naturally but I’m not trying to rank for”. Although you are consciously aware that you need a natural mix of both, each time an SEO’er is faced with that decision they tend to usually pick the first option because, well… it’s no fun to spend time and money building links that will probably not directly help you rank! Stop doing that and make sure that over 50% of your links contain anchor text that isn’t a keyword you are trying to rank for.

What anchor text should you be using? From the data we’ve evaluated, “MySiteDomain.com”, “MySiteDomain”, “http://mysitedomain.com”, “http://www.mysitedomain.com”, “The Title of My Website”, “here”, and “the title of one of my H1’s (that isn’t a keyword I’m trying to rank for)”, were generally used as anchors on sites that were not affected by the most recent Google update and are probably a good starting point to consider using moving forward.

Method #4: Play Google’s Game

Get completely legitimate whitehat links! All of the previous points are ways to emulate a “natural” backlink profile. Meaning, ways to make your site look like it’s whitehat, despite possibly taking some shortcuts. The other (often forgotten) thing you can do, is actually use whitehat strategies!

Write legitimate guest posts on niche sites, find ways to get media coverage (HARO is probably one of the easiest ways to find news stories related to your niche). Last, as we’ve talked about before, viral marketing not only provides lots of visitors, but a ton of legitimate link power.

Method #5: Run Your SEO Sites Like a Real Business

One of the biggest things I noticed when pouring through our massive amounts of data is that sites that portrayed themselves as a “business” fared a lot better than sites which viewed themselves as a way to obtain and leverage traffic from Google in order to monetize.

What does this mean? A lot of things, but one of them is to look at other traffic sources besides Google. Not only will that make you less reliant on Google, and their seemingly fickle SERP shuffles, but those other traffic sources will almost certainly indirectly help your site rank better on Google.

Bonus Method: Keep Checking This Blog! 

Each of the points above are worth an entire post, and over the next couple of weeks we’ll be doing exactly that. So come back often to see each of those 5 points fleshed out as its own full blog post!

I’m Too Lazy To Even Read Bullet Points. Give Me The Cliff Notes!

SEO is getting harder, but it’s still possible (and  still relatively easy) to make money with it. Stop being lazy, and a good way to do that is to not rely on these cliff notes and actually read the article!

Case Study: How I Lost My Link Bait Virginity To The Montauk Monster

Case Study: How I Lost My Link Bait Virginity To The Montauk Monster

My love affair with the Montauk Monster started in July of 2008 when I first saw the pictures of the bloated beast circulating the Interwebz. Was it a dead dog? Was it a turtle without a shell? Was it a genetic experiment from Plum Island gone horribly wrong?

Regardless of what it was… it definitely caught my eye and got my attention.

If you haven’t heard of the Montauk Monster it was an unidentified creature that washed up on the shore of a Long Island beach located in Montauk, New York on several occasions.

From the moment pictures of the beast were posted online it was an instant viral sensation that left many people wondering…    WTF IS THIS MUTANT CREATURE THING?

Romance that summer smelled like a mix of “low-tide and rotten garbage”, but that didn’t stop me from making the Montauk Monster mine. Forget love, it was nothing but LINKS at first sight.

You may be thinking that yours truly (Nicky Papers) might have a necrophilia fetish or an obsession with rotting carcasses, be assured the only thing that got me off was the WEB TRAFFIC.

Whoa, Nelly! The Montauk Monster only wanted me for my LINK JUICE? Not my LINK JUICE !?!?

We Didn’t Take It Slow

The secret to running a successful link bait campaign requires taking immediate action, selecting the right “trend” to exploit, and most important of all….. A GIANT SET OF SWINGING BALLS.

That’s right, you heard it right. MASSIVE NUTZZZZZ. Running a campaign covered globally as a result of “throwing gasoline on the fire” is not for the faint of heart or passive marketer. Think big!

Is Foreplay Really That Important?

If you’re not pre-heating the oven, stay the hell out of the kitchen. Prior to creating a phenomenal Link Bait campaign it’s important to recognize if the opportunity is worth your time to pursue.

1:) Does the story have mass appeal?
2:) Can you easily capture the attention of millions of people?
3:) Are there any risks associated with promoting the campaign?
4:) Will the campaign make money? You’re not running a charity. Profit first, notoriety second.
5:) What’s the exit strategy? How can your campaign be parlayed into your next venture?

Kissing And Telling

Let’s skip the appetizers and dive into the meat and potatoes. Nobody likes a “look at me story” but if you’ve made it this far you’re probably wondering HOW I POPPED MY LINK BAIT CHERRY ?

The first step was registering the domain Montauk-Monster.com. The non-hyphenated version was taken so this was the best choice for buying an exact-match domain. Next, I installed WordPress and took the stance of a “concerned Long Island citizen” intrigued by the hype of the story.

Organic traffic was strong out of the gate as interest in “Beastie” escalated. As the media cycle started to wind down, I needed to give the people what they want… A LOGICAL EXPLANATION!

Next, I took video content and “over-analyzed” it in the form of a blog post to influence readers that the girls who originally found the carcass might be withholding certain truths about their discovery.

My readership was strong as a result of crafting compelling content offering a realistic “conclusion” to the unknown. With blog comments piling THICKER THAN KARDASHIAN BOOTY spreading the love on other sites featuring the Montauk Monster was necessary. Parasite SEO? I HAZ DAT.

I hit forums, blogs, wiki’s, social networks, and article sites to drop links promoting Montauk-Monster.com. I registered accounts manually, developed online personalities, emailed webmasters, and “sockpuppeted” threads. I gave the story what it needed to spread: MOAR EXPOSURE.

The rest came easy after establishing an audience. Proposing that the Montauk Monster was a movie prop after creating a “mysterious microsite” was the next argument that I encouraged readers to consider. Suggesting it was a marketing ploy, was the marketing ploy. After my “theories” were posted on Gawker.com, traffic and interest surged as more speculation and hype was created.

The Honeymoon Phase

The Montauk Monster was a household name for the rest of 2008. What’s not to love about “Beastie”? Fans continued to show their love for the weird and bizarre. Highlights Include:

2008 was a great year for the Montauk Monster! Montauk-Monster.com was positioned as the “voice” of the story where journalists and fans embraced the community and visited for updates.

Additionally, keep in mind there was still NO CONCLUSION TO THE STORY AT THIS TIME.

The Boy Who Cried Monster

Just when you least expected it….It’s BAAACK. “Beastie” makes it’s triumphant return in the most recognized fabricated link-bait campaign of all time. Fabricated? Wait….Say What?!?!?

A couple from Southold, NY reached out through the contact form on Montauk-Monster.com claiming that they found a dead carcass resembling the Montauk Monster. FO’ REALZZZ?

The “shot heard ’round the world” blog post reached global audiences May 14th 2009 where it was featured on the front page of AOL, MSN, and Yahoo! simultaneously. CHAAA-CHING!!!

Montauk-Monster.com served over 500,000 impressions before 11:30 AM EST that morning before crashing servers. Not bad for a basic looking WordPress blog and not spending a dime in traffic.

Watching the search term “Montauk Monster” reach #2 on Google Trends was one of the most exhilarating experiences in my career as SEO specializing in organic promotion.

Link building wasn’t automated. Content wasn’t spun. No paid links. PURE F’ING WHITEHAT.

To enhance the user experience, I posted a Blair Witch-style video on YouTube capturing my encounter with the carcass which quickly racked up over 1,000,000 views after it was released. Clear domain watermarkings, links in the right places, this effort was intentional my friends.

I still have no idea what the Montauk Monster is. It was probably a dead dog, or raccoon, or something. Who knows? I’m not a Marine Biologist, I’m a Marketer. This was business as usual.

Turning A Trick Into A Treat

Dr. Dre said it best, “you can’t make a hoe a housewife”. The same applies for viral campaigns. Income can be generated and web assets can be created, but these types of campaigns won’t generate sustainable revenue after the buzz dies down. Simply put, it ain’t a long-term biz model.

Hoe is short for honey, but how does this make you $$$ MONEY $$$ ???

1:) Paid Advertising: This is a no-brainer. Google AdSense, Banner Networks, etc.

2:) Mail Your List: Subtly push “offers” creatively via e-mail. (i.e. Don’t be a FAT and BLOATED carcass at the beach. Reduce unwanted belly fat in 72 HOURS GUARANTEEEEED!)

Use humor and references to the subject to add value. Who said Affiliate Marketing was dead?

3:) Licensing: Own proprietary content? LICENSE THEM BITCHEZZZ. Example above.

4:) Exploit Traffic: Zip submit pop-up ads asking the question “Is The Montauk Monster Real?” appeal to all demographics. Source cheap traffic, ride the trend, and send em’ down a co-reg path.

5:) Leverage Link Weight: Montauk-Monster.com was once a PR 6 domain where blogroll links were worth their weight in gold. Promote other sites from the bi-product of inflated link authority.

6:) Consulting Opportunities: Can you make lighting strike twice? With great power comes great responsibility. Creative agencies will pay $$$ for out-of-the-box thinking. Get Money, Get Paid.

7:) Sell The Assets: Selling the website might be in your best interest if you can find a buyer. Cash your chips in and don’t look back. It’s not your baby, it’s BIZZZNESS. On to the next one!

Cool Story Bro. What Next?

Running Link Bait or Parasite SEO campaigns? Taking on Reputation Management clients?

Then you ABSOLUTELY NEED to use Microsite Masters to manage organic campaigns.

The Montauk Monster is an example of a campaign that was managed the old fashioned way.

– I tracked rankings using public proxies or checking manually.
– I relied on EXCEL SPREADSHEETS to keep track of the actions performed.
– I used the same spreadsheets to track dozens of link building targets.
– I knew one day I’d help create a solution to manage SOPHISTICATED SEO campaigns.

Behold The Power Of Microsite Masters

Let’s use our organic campaign as an example!

We’re tracking 237 keywords across 19 domains. Not complicated, but not amateur-like either.

By using the EXPANDED VIEW feature you can now see the entire campaign in one view where you can sort by Website, Keyword, Country, Search Volume, Rankings, and SERP Position Changes.

The example above shows the view where ranking data is sorted by positive SERP movements within the last 24-hours. That’s right. You read it correctly. We are a DAILY RANK TRACKER.

The term “SERP Tracker” corresponding to our WickedFire Sales Thread URL reached front page territory on Google by increasing 18 Positions overnight. This is interesting…. How? Why?

We used WickedFire in addition to our own site to promote the service and increase visibility in the SERP’s. The link weight behind WickedFire responded well to the links created to promote the thread.

More importantly, Microsite Masters tracked the cause and effect of our promotional efforts by noting the vendors sourced and services we used, associated costs, and the SERP impacts realized.

BUT WAIT….There’s More!

Well, actually not. Just kidding guys!

However, the management team behind Microsite Masters is one of the hardest working, talented, most innovative, and just plain BRILLIANT group of individuals in the SEO Industry.

SEO is our livelihood. Creating intelligent solutions is our passion. Adding value is our purpose.

Simply put, Microsite Masters is a DOWN AND DIRTY RANK TRACKER run by a team that lives, breathes, eats, and sleeps all things SEO.

We’ve got GIGANTIC TESTICLES and we’re obviously not afraid to push the limit.

Own a website? Want to track your search engine rankings? Need accurate results?


Kind Regards,

Nicky Papers

P.S. Do you really think I’m that sleazy to leave a post script message?

P.P.S. I’d rather profit from posting pics of dead animals. (inb4 PETA THROWS A BITCH FIT!)

The Top 101 Overlooked or Overemphasized Factors In SEO

The Top 101 Overlooked or Overemphasized Factors In SEO

Whether you are just starting out with search engine optimization or you are industry veteran, you probably have an opinion on strategies that are effective in both time and cost. Regardless of your level of experience, the list below should be helpful for anyone looking for a competitive edge.

1: Content will forever remain King. As long as that holds true, links are Queen when it comes to ranking. Why over-complicate things? A combination of both is what you need to win.

2: The easiest way to acquire quality backlinks is to give people content worth sharing with others.

3: Focus on your best; outsource the rest. Outsourcing operations of your business is not easy and requires managerial skills to ensure quality and deadlines are met. Outsourcing may actually turn out to be more work and take more time than actually completing the task yourself.


4: Affiliate Summit is one of the best conferences to meet other SEO professionals. The SEO sessions are always thought provoking and worthwhile. For conferences, Affiliate Summit tops the list when it comes to networking, attendee intelligence, fun parties, and keynote speakers.

5: Aged domain names sometimes offer a path of less resistance when it comes to ranking. Additionally, these types of domains may have an existing link profile that can be taken advantage of. Start with Go Daddy Auctions to see what’s available on the aged domain market.

6: Building links to URLs that do not exist before you register a domain may help accelerate ranking results. This method should be used sparingly and with caution. It’s known to be an effective strategy in extremely competitive niches and a secret that is not often shared.

7: Using WordPress? A caching plugin such as WP Super Cache or W3 Total Cache may improve site performance and load times. By reducing page load times, you can increase the amount of visitor time spent on the site. This may yield to an improvement in rankings.

8: W3C validation is overrated. Cleaning up the code of a site may improve rankings, but there is no link between W3C validated sites and their ability to rank higher than sites that contain a few errors.

9: Using outbound links on your site? Don’t forget to add target=”_blank” to your link structures as needed. People have short attention spans online and if you’re not opening a link to a new tab you may lose or distract the user from your content. Be conscious of those links on your home page!

10: Keyword density is important in all areas of SEO. Stop using expensive plugins and tools. Textalyser is a free online text analysis tool that has been around for years. There’s nothing wrong with using free tools to get the job done. Don’t waste time and money by over-analyzing.

11: Debates that involve comparing “Black Hat” to “White Hat” SEO practices needs to end. Stop talking and start working! Budget, experience, efficiency, and results will always prevail. Period.

12: Stop searching for “profitable” niches. Share what you love and the money will follow.

13: For those looking for an alternative to Google Analytics, check out Get Clicky. Their white-labeled version is useful for brand conscious agencies that want to offer analytics to clients.

14: If you have affiliate links on your site (products, banners, etc.) you may want to cloak your links. If you are using WordPress, check out Pretty Link Lite to clean up link structures, track clicks, and encourage users to click through links as URL targets will appear less threatening.

15: When created in volume, social bookmarks offer fast and powerful SERP gains at a reasonable cost. Taking advantage of Pligg CMS social sites is the way to go. Varying anchored titles and spinning your descriptions simulate viral properties, which can lead to massive SERP increases.

16: For the most part, PageRank is overrated. Artificially increasing PR or deliberately using high PR domains to promote sites doesn’t always translate to an increase in terms of ranking.

17: Over-optimization (on-page) can be as ineffective as not optimizing at all.

18: Incorporating videos on your site is a great way to compliment contextual content, reduce bounce rates, and increase conversions. Additionally, videos can be optimized to direct traffic to your target URL on sites like YouTube, Vimeo, etc.

19: Anchor text does not have to be synonymous with the title of a link. Most people choose not to vary those elements by habit or personal preference. “Elaborating” on the title by incorporating related keywords may improve rankings and enhance click-through rates if done correctly.


20: Many people neglect to evaluate the competition of the top 10 SERP results for keywords they are targeting. Understanding how and why certain sites are ranking will give you a clear strategy as to what you need to do to remain competitive. Not sure how to evaluate the competition? Using SERP IQ to obtain that data should be your first move, regardless of your level of experience.

21: Sitemaps work well for getting lower-quality sites indexed. Sitemaps on high-quality sites that are established do not provide nearly as much value as people believe they do as the likelihood of indexing should not be in question and remain predictable for the most part. Search engines are a lot smarter today and less reliant on user created sitemaps to influence indexing.

22: Building links with velocity doesn’t mean that they will be crawled or indexed by search engines at the same rate.

23: Well-written meta descriptions should encourage users to click on SERP results, which may help improve rankings over time. Meta descriptions of high-quality should give both users and search engines the appearance that the content is both relevant and desirable prior to clicking.

24: A phone number in the title may increase clicks and ranking potential as users may be inclined to dial for assistance. A visible phone number in the SERP’s may influence a user to click or call based on perceived accessibility. Use local numbers (when applicable) to increase user trust, potential clicks, and inbound inquires. Check out Twilo to get started building voice systems.

drip feed blasts

25: Love the idea of automation but hate the idea of installing and running XRumer? Drip Feed Blasts is great for simplifying the complexities of link building for marketers of all skill levels.

26: Craiglist ads can be optimized for search engines. Optimize titles, use anchored links within your ads, and the ability to rank Craiglist ads on search engines can be achieved. In turn, additional “front-page real estate” can be obtained on targeted terms. Just because the ad expires in 45 days doesn’t mean it’s a short-term SEO strategy to overlook.

27: Facebook pages and Twitter accounts (when optimized) have the ability to rank well and occupy additional front-page SERP positions. When applied correctly, the barrier to entry (even in local markets) can become more difficult for competitors to penetrate.

28: Algorithmically, spun content is effective when used properly. Using spun content on your money site in place of well-written copy is not the intended purpose of spun content.

29: Be conscious of the plugins you’re using and update or delete them when necessary. Outdated plugins pose a security threat and may hurt your site and rankings if exploited by a 3rd party. Learn more about what’s “in the background” with Ghostery to take competitive analysis to new levels.

30: Using Browser Shots to check browser compatibility is overlooked by many SEO’s and web developers. The user experience across multiple browsers should always be considered. The added SEO benefits of reduced bounce rates and higher click-through rates are an added bonus.

31: Focus on ranking sites before attempting to monetize (aggressively) with ad networks. The horse always needs to be put in front of the carriage. Attain organic traffic first, monetize later.

32: When looking at outbound links there’s really no guideline as to what’s optimal. OBL’s should be relative to the amount of content presented and link to relevant sites which support the content.

33: There’s nothing worse than cheap hosting when it comes to speed and reliability. Increasing your hosting specifications will improve the user experience and may help improve rankings as server uptime is a critical factor that should never be overlooked.

34: Exact match domains have always been a hot commodity in the world of SEO. You’ll probably pay a premium to acquire them, but they are not necessary to own when it comes to ranking. Perceived value (among other SEO factors) seems to drive the exact match domain market.

35: There are no countries or areas of the world that are “better” in SEO or link building. There are talented, experienced, and reliable service providers from a wide-range of cultural backgrounds. It’s extremely difficult to prosper in this industry if you are the type who “judges a book by its cover”.

36: Managing clients or multiple vendors? Using a web-based project management tool such as Basecamp will keep your business organized when sending and receiving assignments (content, link building reports, etc.) over using traditional e-mail for project updates.

37: SEMRush is a powerful SEO tool for keyword research. Also, SEMRush offers API access which gives a competitive advantage to developers in the SEO space. Get creative with their data!

38: Using a to-do list is essential for planning your day, campaigns, and prioritizing areas your business. It doesn’t matter if it’s web-based or a simple pen with paper, just use something.

39: Copying and pasting data contained in link building reports delivered from service providers to your clients? Make sure that the “author” of the document has been removed or changed. This also applies to any type of re-purposed business documents. (Word docs, Excel spreadsheets, etc.)

40: For the most part, pinging links is overrated. Search engines have a purpose. Let them them do their job to crawl your links. Pinging low-quality links doesn’t exactly look natural anyway.

41: People still use RSS for the purposes of staying up-to-date on new content released on their favorite sites. Save time by aggregating new information and start getting creative with RSS.

42: Creating tags on WordPress posts is an easy way to build the depth of your site’s index, rank new terms, and create SEO friendly URL structures to build links to.


43: Blogsvertise is great for professional SEO’s and agencies to use as both a publisher and an advertiser. For “heavy hitters”, generating an extra $10,000 a year as a publisher can be achieved. Not convinced? Get the low-down on Blogsvertise: Earn $12,775 in Paid Postings for 2011

44: Search volumes on keywords do not have to contain a significant amount of volume (or any measurable volume) to yield positive results with respect to ranking. It’s all relative to your intent to monetize the traffic generated from organic searches. Small amounts of targeted traffic can go far!

45: Never underestimate the power of paid traffic. Too many talented SEO’s focus 100% of their marketing efforts on just organic traffic. Need a hand with PPC? Services like Trada can help.

46: For link building, using varied URL structures such as www.yourdomain.com/index.php or the non-www version as URL targets can add needed variety to long-term SEO campaigns.

47: Still looking for ways to vary URL structures? Services like bitly allow users to create custom URLs and shorten links. There are endless possibilities when it comes to 301 redirects.

48: Reciprocal link exchanges are overrated. They won’t necessarily hurt your rankings, but it’s time consuming and you run the risk of the other party removing your links without notice in the future.

49: Be conscious of 404 pages. Creating custom 404 pages can help users find information they’re looking for or identify challenges with respect to the site. (database errors, etc.) Placing a service request form or a link to the FAQ page will help users get back to browsing (or buying!) quickly.


50: Working with clients or the general public? At some point you’ll require the services of an attorney for contracts, terms and conditions agreements, privacy policies, or even cease and desist letters. We recommend The Kelly Law Firm because they’re knowledgeable in all areas of SEO.

51: Generally speaking, paid directories such as Yahoo!, BOTW, JoeAnt, etc. are overrated. Looking for a time and cost effective strategy to achieve SERP gains? You probably won’t find it there. If you have the budget or a reason to use “top shelf” directories to stay competitive, go for it!

52: When used to pass authority, sitewide links (blogroll, footer, etc.) are worth their weight in gold.

53: Be aware of “extension based” keyword phrases. For example, the search term “walmart.com” is entirely different from the keyword “walmart“. Looking to rank competitive branded terms for your deal or coupon site? Apply the method by building links using the “.com term” as the anchor.

54: Local SEO is perfect for generating leads and client work as significant number of search queries are for local businesses. Familiarize yourself with Google Places, the “7-Pack”, and citation sources. Not sure where to begin? Using services like the Creature Local can be helpful.

55: Domain age should be valued higher than extended registrations. While showing “long term commitment” seems beneficial in theory, it doesn’t necessarily correlate to improved rankings.

56: The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber can help take your business to the next level. Read it!

57: Yahoo! Site Explorer recently shutdown. This doesn’t mean you should stop analyzing backlink profiles. Check out Majestic SEO and Ahrefs Site Explorer as alternatives to get the job done.

58: Is your daily work routine filled with too many repetitive tasks? Simple tasks can be automated using UBot Studio to save time and energy. Previously outsourced tasks can be easily automated.

59: Using an egg timer will turn you into a productivity machine and keep you focused on work.

60: Leave Matt Cutts alone! Rules need to be put in place so they can be tested. If the barrier to entry is too easy everyone would choose a career in SEO. Successful people in the SEO industry adapt and embrace change to remain competitive.


61: Performing repetitive tasks that require typing CAPTCHA’s? The API offered by Death By Captcha will save you time and make projects that require scaling more manageable.

62: There’s a difference between blogroll, sidebar, and footer links. Sitewides are not created equal.

63: When promoting foreign keyword sets, be conscious of terms that contain accent marks. Not using accents within the anchors of promoted terms can be detrimental to the entire campaign.

64: Enabling XML-RPC on WordPress can be incredibly useful if you require remote publishing across multiple sites. Some talented SEO’s do not even know the function exists!

65: It’s sometimes easier to build a network of contacts that will post links rather than blindly sending requests by e-mail. Building a network of SEO professionals is crucial to long term success in the industry. Services such as My Blog Guest can help accelerate the networking process.

66: Using C-Class IP’s (dedicated or shared) to set up portfolios of websites (niche related, non-niche related) should go without saying. IP diversification is important if you’re interlinking sites.

67: “MozRank” and PageRank are not synonymous. There is no direct relationship between the two with respect to measuring and quantifying authority.


68: {Incorporating|Using} {spintax|intelligently spun content|spun content|spun descriptions} {can|may|is helpful to} {reduce|minimize} {contextual footprints|duplicate content}. If you prefer using software to spin content check out Word AI, the most powerful article spinner available.

69: A lot of links will not make up for poor content. A lot of content will not make up for poor links.

70: Intentionally including anchor text such as “click here”, “read more”, etc. within link building campaigns looks natural to search engines and may actually prompt click-throughs.

71: Debates regarding do-follow links vs. no-follow links needs to stop. Both types of links can promote sites, increase visibility, and distribute content. A link is, is a link, is a link.

72: Paid links are often a seasonal business for many niches the require a “push” during busier or more competitive business cycles of the year.

73: Understanding user activity and behavior (on-site) is often overlooked by even the most talented SEO’s. Tools such as KISSMetrics offer marketers a competitive edge. Optimization should extended beyond the most obvious areas of SEO. The optimization game is evolving.


74: Have reputation management clients or looking to add value for long-term link building clients? KnowEm is a service for creating social profiles on the most popular networking and web 2.0 sites online. KnowEm will save time and your clients will appreciate you looking out for their brand.

75: Affiliate datafeeds that offer value should be utilized more. Creating real brands and not using thin content (if possible) is a recipe for success if you’re looking to monetize organic traffic.

76: Google+ is overrated when it comes to SEO benefits that everyone thought it would bring.

77: Headings (on-page) define semantic relationships within content in addition to altering the look and feel of text. Use headings (H1, H2) instead of increasing font sizes or bolding text.

78: Image optimization is often overlooked. Increase traffic from image searches by optimizing file names, text surrounding the image, outbound links attached, descriptions, and image ALT text.

79: Using Google Blogsearch is a great way to find URL targets for both link building and reputation management campaigns. It’s often overlooked, but incredibly powerful.


80: Love search engine optimization but lack the skills to develop SEO friendly sites? Check out the website templates on ThemeForest for the perfect website design in your favorite CMS.

81: Blekko should remain overlooked as a search engine. It’ll never compare to the power of Google.

82: Elements to “legitimize” a site should be taken seriously. This includes copyrights, terms and conditions pages, privacy policies, business addresses, phone numbers, contact pages, etc. This information builds user and search engine trust and may help increase conversions and rankings.


83: The term “link bait” has different meanings to different people. The Montauk Monster was one of the most powerful link bait campaigns of all time. Case study to be revealed shortly…

84: Help desk software such as Kayako is effective from a support perspective while indirectly building out a sites index. Kill two birds with one stone while enhancing the user experience.

85: Doing business by e-mail? Placing a link in your e-mail signature gives recipients the ability to easily discover your site, learn about your businesses, “like” a Facebook page, or tweet pages to their followers. These actions may positively increase traffic, rankings, and potential conversions.

86: Don’t take the advice you read on your favorite SEO blogs to heart. The methods that work today might be irrelevant tomorrow. Don’t be afraid to do something new that nobody else has tried yet.

87: Updating and reevaluating the on-page elements of sites and deep pages that were published in the past can give them a breath of fresh air in terms of ranking and traffic potential.

88: Outbound links should be created with discretion to prevent link dilution or encouraging users to leave a site prematurely. This especially applies to sites of high quality, “money sites”, etc.

89: Hard work is required for long-term success in the SEO industry. Research and automation tools will help, but nothing takes the place of hard work when it comes to growing your business.

90: Don’t overlook or underestimate the power of internal linking. It’s an area of SEO that doesn’t get as much credit as it should. Just because it isn’t “sexy” doesn’t mean it should be overlooked.

91: For under performing (optimized) sites, changing the layout or the theme can help in instances where both indexing and ranking have become challenging under normal circumstances.

92: Blog commenting (both manual and automated) is still an effective method of link building. As long as there’s some value in the comment (or perceived value) relevancy to the topic / promoted URL can remain in question. You get out of what you put into blog commenting; get creative!

93: Consistency in all areas of SEO and Internet marketing is what makes the industry challenging and competitive. If you “snooze”, you’ll lose. You have more competitors that want your ranking positions than you probably realize. Don’t get lazy and more importantly, don’t ever give up!

94: Looking for an unbiased review of the usability of your site? Check out UserTesting.com to start increasing conversions and enhance the user experience by receiving feedback from others.

95: Create meta descriptions with the same level of care put that would put into writing PPC ads. Not sure how you measure up? Check out what your top competitors are doing.

96: If you haven’t looked into the link building opportunities on Pinterest, take a closer look. E-commerce and product review sites should take Pinterest seriously as an avenue for promotion.

97: URL structures containing dashes “-“ to separate words compared to using underscores “_” tend to perform better in terms of SERP positioning after positive movements are realized.

98: Google should not be feared. If your approach to link building is too cautious you will never be competitive enough to deliver results. Having “test sites” is a perfect way to try new methods.

99: On-page time is a favored search engine characteristic (in many niches) and an indicator of quality content. How long have you been reading this post?

100: Stop reading and start doing!

101: Microsite Masters is one of the most powerful SEO tools that you may or may not be using. We encourage you to try Microsite Masters today if you haven’t already subscribed!

Lost Revenues – Using Weekly Rank Trackers and Web Analytics

Lost Revenues – Using Weekly Rank Trackers and Web Analytics

If you’re an SEO professional and rely on a weekly rank tracker or web analytics to manage campaigns, you’re not only doing a disservice for yourself, you’re doing a disservice for your clients as well. For those that have been in the business for an extended period of time, it’s safe to say that it’s still the “wild west” when it comes to standards, regulations, and what’s acceptable in terms of accountability.

What you say you’re “going to do” as a service provider versus the work that has actually been performed and the ability to quantify those actions in the form of a report are three completely different things.

How are you selling your services? How is campaign efficiency measured?

If you are not providing SERP tracking as a service to your clients how are you measuring performance over time? Selling the potential “gains in traffic” and using web analytics as a crutch is one approach that many service providers take as it seems like the easiest and most logical solution, but it’s important to recognize the following:

1: You are not selling traffic. You’re selling the potential to acquire traffic that is targeted in nature or of better quality for the purposes of added visibility or to monetize with less resistance.

2: For long-tail terms with commerciality, search volumes may be low. In many cases, (local businesses, product names, etc.) you don’t need a significant amount of traffic to generate inbound inquires or sales. The phone might not be “ringing off the hook”, but if a positive ROI has been achieved any client will recognize the value of your service.

If you’re stuck on selling the “boost in traffic”, you may be unintentionally compromising a business relationship regardless of positive results in other areas.

3: What if the traffic drops? There may be cases where the overall amount of traffic is lost as a result of “refining” on-page elements, redirecting pages contained on the domain, or even link building.

In time, traffic may level out even decrease (remaining more targeted and of higher quality) but you may have lost the client by the time you’re able to explain the strategy or before the traffic has normalized.


Buying and selling SEO services with accountability: Daily SERP Updates Remain King

You may still be reliant on a weekly rank tracker and that’s OK! Why? A daily, web-based, and RELIABLE rank tracker did not exist until Microsite Masters was created.

Rank tracking (in general) is certainly a step in the right direction when it comes to having a grasp on the cause and effect aspects of running an SEO campaign. However, it’s important to recognize why weekly rank tracking has become a thing of the past:

1: For demanding clients (or those with deep pockets!) how can you a deliver a SERP report on demand if your rank tracker has not updated and you only have access to dated results? Are you an in-house SEO living the high life? Imaging explaining to upper management that you “don’t have access to that data yet” or even worse scrambling to put together a spreadsheet using personalized results. Resorting to fraudulent or unethical behavior as a result of technical restraints can be eliminated. Consider Microsite Masters as an insurance policy to keep the people that require accountability in check.

2: The SEO industry is has matured, is thriving, and is recognized as a legitimate and highly effective method of promotion. Some businesses have worked with multiple SEO companies in the past or choose to engage multiple service providers. Don’t be the consultant or agency delivering weekly or monthly SERP reports when the competition is delivering or giving access to daily results. This industry is far too competitive to not be taking advantage of advancements in the areas of intelligence, tracking, and accountability.

3: Notice search engine updates and algorithm changes as they happen. Stop reading blogs, stop asking others, and start watching the SERP impacts (daily) and react accordingly. How could you not be aware of an algorithm update or a significant drop in rankings as a result of using a weekly rank tracker? It’s hard to point the finger at technology when a solution exists to address those types of challenges and concerns. Sleep better at night and stop gambling week to week, daily rank tracking has become necessary to remain both competitive and professional in the SEO industry.


Simply put, every campaign you’re running and every client you’re managing revolves around one thing: MONEY. If you are not able to show what you do and “how you do it” surviving in the SEO industry will become difficult (financially) for those who are not evolving with the times.

The game has stepped up, have you?

Start Tracking Your Rankings Today