Chinese SEO Just Got a Little Bit Easier

As of a few weeks ago, HitTail now supports Chinese characters and the major Chinese search engines such as Baidu and Sogou.

After many hours of toiling, tweaking and testing, we have worked out the undocumented kinks and are now live and supporting a handful of Chinese language domains (with more coming on board soon).

If you are a Chinese SEO or perform Baidu SEO, HitTail is now a viable option for your long tail keyword needs.

Building a Critical Mass of Content for SEO

Building a critical mass of content for SEO has its purposes as well as its downfalls. As a webpreneur it’s important to know both sides of this critical step in developing and maintaining an online business.

For starters, creating content for SEO purposes involves writing high quality articles richly embedded with competitive keywords. Doing this on a regular basis is a good step towards dominating the search engines, especially since Google loves content.

However, too much of a good thing can be bad … even for your website.

This brings us to the downfalls of building a critical mass of content for SEO. While adding content is good, it’s problematic when you add too much at once.

Here’s why:

  • You’re bombarding your readers with too much content to read at once.
  • You’re likely not targeting specific areas on your website.
  • The content’s quality probably isn’t the best since it’s being rushed to publication.

While this reality may be disappointing to anyone wishing to overload their website with content, cheer up. There are ways to build a mass amount of SEO content without bombarding your readers:

  • FAQ pages
  • About pages
  • Whitepapers
  • Blogs

Just remember that information that doesn’t require updating is best written as a content page. Information that has temporary value i.e., will require updating, is best created as a blog post.

You should also remember that SEO shouldn’t be your only purpose for building a mass of content. You want to inform and entertain your readers to the point of conversion.

Additionally, you want your website to look authoritative; a leader in its niche. You want readers to view your site as trustworthy.

When you build a critical mass of SEO content with this information in mind, you’ll generate traffic towards your website. And best of all, you’ll increase your income.

 

 

 

 

The Art of Writing Damn Good Blogs

The Art of Writing Damn Good Blogs: “Most bloggers have a topic in mind for their blog right from the start.

However, don’t just flail around wildly in the topic as you try to write your posts. You need to find out what your readers want, what they will respond to, and what will get them to take action.

Once you understand your readers, you will be able to provide them with something of value to them in your blog posting.”

Another tip to gain from this article is to scroll down to to near the bottom, and take note of their “Tweet This” link… clever!

Leveraging the Twitter Parrot Effect for Online Marketing

Admittedly, I haven’t blogged much here on the HitTail blog. I could slap excuses on it like, HitTail’s running reliably as promised since it’s launch in late 2006, showing real-time search hits and issuing writing suggestions, which when acted upon, pretty reliably seize you the first page of Google results. It’s a nice little secret weapon in online marketing circles, and the fan-base is as strong as ever, despite our switch from freemium to try-and-buy last year.

The fact we sustained such a business-model switch is remarkable, and that we’re going into this recession with a $10/mo product that helps you sell your wares online… well, it couldn’t be the conditions for a more perfect storm.

I’m hoping for nothing less than to get the entire world of bloggers who are trying to build their traffic merely by virtue of writing (if you write it, they will come) onto HitTail. It’s a modest goal, as all the other ways of doing this are too convoluted (analyzing your own log files with an algorithm like HitTail’s) or expensive (using one of the few packages that’s finally catching onto the long-tail thing). So HitTail fans, start spreading the word.

Speaking of blogging–of course, micro-blogging with Twitter or Facebook status and posted items (now links) is all the rage. When these pages (like Twitter tweet pages) are not protected with a login, they do influence search, but the landing pages are usually nofollowed–meaning that they don’t confer the SEO benefit in turn to the sites you link to. None-the-less, services like Twitter are valuable online marketing tools because they do help drive traffic to your site, albeit not directly.

There is another interesting effect that inspired me to get this blog post out today: the Twitter “parrot effect”.

In other words, I post, then a HitTail user posts about my post–because it’s about them, and micro-blogging is so easy with tools like TwitterFox.

Amplification of my message ensues, and the cycle continues.

So even though I haven’t been posting here much in the HitTail SEO marketing blog, I have been posting in Everyone Loves HitTail, where I collect the quotes, testimonials, and generally every mention of HitTail that my monitoring tools clue me into. And recently following a bout of post-vomiting, I noticed my monitoring tools reporting back to me every post I made… twice! Once in the standard blog monitoring tools driven by Technorati and Google Blog Search (as expected), but then again by people micro-blogging about my blog posts. I’ve posted the screen-shot below to show the Twitter activity on HitTail recently–none of those are me.

Yet, about half are repeating my words.

Nice.

Online marketers, take notice. If you’re not maintaining a clip-book of positive quotes in a blog that somehow ties into social networking in a way that ensures your built-in audience is tuned-in, then you’re not even doing the basics.

Corn Syrup, Mercury, Bees and CCD: The Long Tail of News

Forgive me for diverging from this blog’s normal topic of marketing, but I feel that the importance of researching the long tail of news cannot be understated and the following could be a good example of this. The following chain of events occurred from reading the news — not from using HitTail — but I think it just goes to show what can happen when you dig deep into data. Hopefully this is not lost on today’s investigative journalists. I hope one of you will find this story and research it further than I can.

This morning I read on a story buried on page 8 of my morning paper that mercury has been found in a large percentage of corn syrup. An hour later, I read a new column on the New York Times website about Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) that is quietly ravaging American bees and endangering our food supply. CCD has been a mystery since its discovery in 2006. Yet today I noticed one key aspect that had been left out of prior reporting that I had read. Honeybees are fed on corn syrup while being moved between farms. Corn syrup that has now been found to likely contain mercury. While a minor amount to humans, this could be toxic to bees.

Part of the problem of CCD is that once bees are infected, they often leave the hive never to return. That makes diagnosing them difficult. Yet, according to Wikipedia, symptoms in mercury poisoning include include sensory impairment (vision, hearing, speech), disturbed sensation and a lack of coordination. Maybe the bees can’t find their way back. It probably also lowers their defenses, making them susceptible to other diseases.

Bee keepers, please try feeding bees on something else other than corn syrup. Reporters, keep digging in the long tail for potential news angles like this one. I don’t know if there is any correlation between the two stories, but both are important issues that independently deserve more press.

Top SEO Marketing Tools

HitTail is one of the top SEO marketing tools available, especially at the price. Imagine being able to be hand-fed writing suggestion topics for your blog that are specially determined to have the ability to achieve top search position for your website? You might pick up 100 more hits/mo or 10,000 new search hits per month, based on a single blog post or new webpage. Results may vary, and we encourage using traffic esitmator tools such as the AdWorks keyword tool to help you decide which keyword suggestions to use. But this post for example is on the topic Top SEO Marketing Tools, because it was fed as a HitTail suggestion. How long do you think before HitTail itself is on page one for that precise search? Let’s watch.

The Future of Advertising

For anyone who is interested in the future of advertising, I am going to be giving a short talk on the subject at the New York Future Salon meetup tomorrow. And if advertising does not excite you, there will also be other cool topics on the agenda such as future connectivity, Internet governance, and decentralization.

Full details are available on Meetup.com, but here is the time and place:

  • Stone Creek Bar
    140 East 27th Street
    New York, NY 10016
    (between Lexington and 3rd Avenues)
  • Saturday, September 20th @ 4pm

Value of Search Engine Traffic

SEO firms often struggle with measuring and communicating the value of their services. Often times they give good qualitative reasons to go with their firm but ignore hard numbers that could help close the deal. As marketers become more accountable for ROI of initiatives such as SEO, it will be important for SEO firms to give accurate projections on how much value they can offer.

So what are the best ways to put a monetary value on natural search traffic? Is it enough to tell a prospective client that your firm can get them on the first page of Google for “xyz widgets”? They may be more concerned with how many new customers you can bring them or how many new leads they will get after doing SEO. Going forward, the discussion will be less about specific rankings and more about the actual ROI from natural search traffic converting into sales or leads.

SEOMoz has a great post on the opportunity gap which is the difference between the status quo and where they could be in terms of search traffic. It’s important to tell prospective clients how much money they’re leaving on the table by NOT doing SEO.

The first step is to figure out how your prospective client measures success – is it simply higher rankings on benchmark keywords, more conversions, more pageviews, or something else? The next step is to ask them specific questions about their current situation that will help you predict what you can do for them. For example, ask them what their current conversion rate is for their existing traffic. Also ask them what % of their overall traffic comes from natural search? If they are willing to tell you this during initial discussions, then you can give them a pretty good estimate on ROI.

The next post will walk through some very basic examples.

Calculating Natural Search Value

As a follow up to the post on the Value of Search Engine Traffic, here are some very basic ways to calculate the value of SEO for two types of prospective clients – eCommerce sites and Publishers.

1) eCommerce site (conversion rate x average order value)

Simple Example:

Current conversion rate: 3%
Average order value: $20
New search traffic due to SEO (per day): 8,000 visits *
Total new Revenue from SEO (per day): $4,800

Assuming the client does nothing to improve their conversion rate (i.e. reducing bounce rates, streamlining the buying process), they can expect $4,800 per day in additional sales after doing SEO.

2) Publisher (ad impressions x CPM)

Simple example:

Ad impressions per day: 50000
Average CPM: $5
Ad revenue per day: $250

Projected impressions after SEO: 90000
Projected ad revenue per day: $450

* The simple calculations above don’t account for the difference in click-through rate from securing a #1 position vs #7-10. As you know, the CTR for a top listing is much higher than the CTR for a lower ranking. This should be factored in when you are estimating how much new traffic your company can deliver for a client.

An alternative approach that HitTail Premium uses is to measure natural search traffic based on the Cost per Click values from Google AdWords. For example, we can count the number of visits to your site as a result of organic search and multiply that number by your average CPC to come up with a monetary value for that traffic. While this isn’t completely accurate given the variance in keywords and their respective prices, but it does give you a ballpark estimate on how much money your search traffic is worth.

These exercises are useful to show the opportunity cost of NOT doing SEO. Often times, winning SEO business is a matter of showing an executive how much money they’re leaving on the table by NOT doing SEO.

Feel free to add in comments on other ways to assign a monetary value to search traffic for different types of companies beyond Publishers and eCommerce sites.

Blogging growth opportunity in niches

Danny Dover at SEOmoz recently posted a fascinating article on the state of blogs. There are great stats on who controls the top blogs as well as the gender breakdown and audience profile for high traffic blogs.

One of the key takeaways is that there is still a lot of room for growth, especially in non-Technology topics. In addition, there is a huge opportunity to develop new blogs targeted at women. The key here is to find a niche and develop a new audience in a unsaturated market.

Inspired bloggers out there can then use tools like HitTail to determine what are the hot topics people are interested in within a particular niche that will drive traffic to their blog.