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Better PR: Custom Blog Creation or Article Writing and Distribution?

There are lots of reasons you might want to focus on creating an ample amount of high-quality content for your business. The biggest is the social factor: the more you say (intelligently and well, that is), the more people on sites like Facebook and Twitter will talk about what you said. The more they do that, the more traffic you get, the more (free) backlinks get built on your behalf, and so on.

So, knowing this, some people have come to use with a pretty simple question: if you’re going to focus on creating killer content and putting it out there, where should you put it? Google’s recent focus on “fresh” content seems pretty solidly in the camp of “don’t duplicate it”, so that’s out. And really, when you get right down to it, there are two basic options — you can put it all up on a blog, or you can post it to various article directories.

So which is better PR?

If you go for custom blog creation:

  • Readers are much more encouraged to move from one post to another, learning more about your company as they go.
  • You can add your own widgets and tools to make your blog more SEO-friendly, more reader-friendly, and more ‘you’.
  • The various tags, titles, categories, and other natural blog elements all add to your ability to focus each page, SEO-wise, on a specific keyword or two.
  • As you add more pages to your blog, it will grow in relative authority and each post will benefit from that.

If you go for article writing and distribution:

  • Readers reach the call-to-action and they’re much more likely to follow it to your site’s landing page than they are to click off to another article.
  • Article directories tend start with higher authority (and thus significantly more readership) than a blog will, no matter how well-SEO’d.
  • Article directory pages benefit (or suffer) from the overall quality of the directory as a whole, so a very good directory will pass even more juice onto your content.

On the whole, it’s somewhat of a conundrum, because if you have an established blog with a pile of content on it, you’re better off posting to the blog in most cases — but if you don’t, you’re better off posting to an article directory. But if you keep posting to the article directory, you’ll never get that blog off of the ground. In the end, as was probably entirely predictable, the best answer is to do both.

Watch A Top Los Angeles SEO Company Build Backlinks

OK, it’s not often that a top-ranking Los Angeles SEO company goes into any amount of detail about what exactly it does when you hire it to put your website on the first page of Google. Every SEO company likes to pretend it has it’s own super-secret proprietary information that only it can use to succeed in a way that no one else can.

The truth, however, is much simpler: most SEO companies do exactly the same stuff. The difference is almost never in the techniques they use — it’s in the details, like customer service, speed, accuracy, and quality of content. The details that separate an all-American company from an outsourced train wreck.

Here’s what our company does when you ask us to guarantee first page placement for your website:

  • Analyze Your Website: We check out your website to see how it conforms to the rules of on-site SEO, and to make sure that it’s professional-looking and ready for the public.
  • Alter Your Website: If it’s not, we’ll give you the specific HTML changes you need to make sure the SEO is spot-on…and we’ll offer a few suggestions to make it a bit more polished if need be as well.
  • Keyword Research: The most important part of ANY SEO operation. We take our time on the keyword research, making certain the phrases we’re going to target will be money-makers as well as being within your site’s grasp.
  • Quick Links: Once we know what keywords to target, we split into four groups. The first group pumps out swarms of small, quick links like social bookmarks and directory submissions. These fast links give Google evidence that your site is growing and isn’t going to go anywhere anytime soon.
  • Slow Links: The second group starts putting together content and distributing it across the best content directories on the Internet. These slower links are stronger individually and cast a wide net with which to capture customers.
  • A Blog: The third group will create a blog for your company, SEO-optimize it, and start putting out fresh content on a regular basis. This helps remind Google that you’re an active and evolving company that deserves frequent attention.
  • PPC Management: The last time uses pay-per-click marketing to get your website on the front page of Google instantly and keep it there while the other three teams’ efforts kick in to give you a natural, organic ranking.
  • That’s the entire plan — sounds simple, doesn’t it? Of course, every one of those parts has an immense amount of experience and expertise that goes into it, which is why companies like ours exist.

Subdomain Links, Unique Root Domains, and First Page Placement

Here’s an interesting fact: of all of the various statistics that you can easily measure about a website, there is one single number that most directly correlates with high rankings on Google. It’s the number of unique root domains you have that link to your website.

So, for example: say you have a website that has 400 backlinks from 7 different root domains (say, for example, because 200 of those backlinks come from blogspot.com — because he does a lot of blog commenting — and another 195 come from squidoo.com because the guy loves his lenses.) Then you have another website that has 55 backlinks from 24 different root domains. The guy with almost 1/8th as many backlinks is more likely to be ranked highly on Google, because he has three and a half times as many unique root domains linked to his site.

Until very recently, this was also true of subdomains — a subdomain effectively counted as a different root domain. (A subdomain, if you didn’t know, is the part of the URL that comes before the website’s “main” name — so ‘arananthi.blogspot.com’ is a different subdomain from ‘taotenshi.blogspot.com’.) They were counted as separate domains for a long time because subdomains were only really used by big sites like blogspot to separate out their various authors.

Of course, SEO companies caught on and realized they could easily make hundreds of subdomains and backlink from each to a site and pull lots of linkjuice without ever even having to register a new domain name. So Google changed things up and made subdomains count as the same domain as the root domain.

What that means for you — or rather, your SEO company — is that it’s no longer profitable in terms of first page placement to invest in more than one Squidoo lens, more than one Blogspot microblog, more than one of anything on the same URL, really.

The exception that proves the rule, of course, being content that’s valuable for being content rather than as a backlink — so you still want regular blog posting, regular articles up on the top article directories, and all that. Content is still king — it’s just not quite as effective SEO as it was a short while ago.

Get Your Organic SEO And Put On A Good Public Face At The Same Time

It might be that we’re drilling a little too hard on this concept lately, but it seems like people are having a really hard time understanding the realities of the new organic SEO market. Things don’t work today like they worked a few years ago.

A few years ago, it was easy to buy cheap traffic. Google’s Adwords and similar markets hadn’t been discovered by the corporations yet, and so it was open season for any small business to pop out $.15 per click and get good traffic to their site. At the same time, genuinely good content was hard to find — most $.02/word writers were from the Philippines or Bangladesh, and if you wanted content done well for your business, you basically had to do it yourself or pay a small fortune and hire someone to do it.

Today, it’s switched. The recession has driven thousands of unemployed people from the UK, the US, and Australia online — and as many as have become entrepreneurs, even more have become content producers. That means that content isn’t that hard to acquire anymore — which means, in turn, that the average quality of content online has shot up. At the same time, corporations have taken over AdWords and other PPC networks, which means traffic, which used to be relatively cheap, is at a premium.

Michael Danielson, aka seo_writer_mcThat has created a unique effect on SEO. At the same time that it’s become even more important to small businesses (because PPC isn’t an option), it’s also become higher quality (because of the surplus of native English content writers.) Sure, you can still get cheap one-off backlinks pumped out by SEO companies in Bangladesh, but today, if you want a high-quality, relevant-content backlink, chances are some stay-at-home dad in Washington State will write you a piece for a press release service at $.02/word quite happily.

What that means for YOU, the business, is that you should be able to count on your SEO company to produce backlinks that not only give you authority on Google, but also bring traffic directly to your table — because they’re written by intelligent, English-speaking people who have a basic grasp of how to market to their peers. If you’re not getting that level of service from your SEO company, you need a new SEO company.

Why Every Website SEO Company Needs To Master Public Relations

If you intend to do any serious amount of business with your website, SEO is only one small part of what you need to succeed in today’s internet business environment. Having backlinks used to be the be-all and end-all of SEO, but with last year’s Google update codenamed Panda, lots of things changed — and each successive update Google performs, from increasing the number of secure searches to punishing content mills, only pushes SEO further into the realm of PR.

Here’s what I mean. It used to be that you could outsource a few dozen 250-word articles to your friends in Bangalore, get them spun into a dozen articles each by some other friends in Calcutta, and post your 144 articles to 144 different article directories to get 144 unique backlinks with controllable anchor text and LSI — and it would matter. Not anymore.

Panda has killed thin-content pages — especially those on weak websites (like almost any article directory that’s not on the Top Ten Article Directories list.) You can still do that whole process, and it’s even gotten cheaper and quicker as automation software and outsourcing quality has improved; it just won’t actually bump your traffic much at all. If you want to see improvement in your rankings, you have to play to Panda’s demands — and that means real content on quality websites that pass legitimate juice through your backlinks.

So how does that force organic SEO and public relations to join hands? Simple — if you’re creating fat content, people will read it. If your content is looking like it has being written in the Bangalore, people are going to associate that level of quality and knowledge with your company forever. You never know which piece of content will be the one that a given surfer will find and use as his first impression of your company — and you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

In other words, every ‘fat’ backlink you post needs to be something you would proud to have your customers see. And that means hiring an SEO company that knows a little something about PR.

How Will Secure Search Change Small Business SEO?

Google has started redirecting people who log into their Google accounts before searching to a new, more secure form of Google search. The difference is a small as an s: it’s https://www.google.com instead of http://www.google.com — but the effects the change has on the searching process are profound to everything except the searcher.

If you run a search on the new secure Google, you won’t notice any difference at all — but the owners and users of first- and third-party applications ranging from Google Analytics to Market Samurai will. Those applications take information from Google’s database of searches and use them to tell various people about your Google searches. The new secure search prevents those applications from ever getting your data.

If you’ve got Analytics, for example, and someone uses Google to get to your site, you’ll learn that they did so — but you won’t get to see what search term they used to get there. If you use Market Samurai, you won’t see the missing data, but the data that you don’t see will be incomplete — because whatever small percentage of people that are using the secure search don’t have their data counted by MSam’s keyword research module.

So what does this have to do with small business SEO? Pretty simple: even if all your doing is basic local internet marketing, you still need to know which keywords to target. As secure searches become more and more common (and Google has said outright that this is one of their goals!), obtaining the information you need to properly target keywords is going to get more and more difficult.

That said, this isn’t something that should be blown out of proportion. To a degree, local internet marketing isn’t ever that hard — if you sell martial arts supplies to a small down like Aptos, CA, the keywords “sparring equipment Aptos” or “Aptos ninja gear” are always going to be safe bets. It’s only for the long-tail keywords, particularly pay-per-click marketing long-tail keywords, that will really suffer — making PPC an even worse bet for small businesses than it is today.

Quick Links Like Forum Posting Or Slow Links like Article Writing and Distribution?

Last week, we mentioned a divide between two different kinds of links in the SEO world. Since then, we’ve gotten several Emails from interested readers who wanted us to explore that difference in a little bit more detail. Here goes.

Quick Links
The first category of backlinks are the ‘quick links’ — links that take very little creativity, time, or even expertise to generate. These are links like the ones you get from forum posting, social bookmarking, RSS aggregation, directory submission, and blog commenting.

The goal of a quick link is to get a backlink pointing from a unique root domain that you’re not already linked to — all other elements of the backlink are secondary. It’s nice if you can control your anchor text, your link context, your LSI, and all of that — but it’s not necessary. The simple fact that there’s a new root domain on your list of “root domains that are linked to my page” is the goal.

You can get quick links from almost anywhere — even most SEO-ignorant stay-at-home moms can be trained in the art of quick link building in a matter of hours. The important attributes of a quick-linker are a long attention span, an immunity to boredom, and a resistance to carpal tunnel syndrome.

Slow Links
The second group are the ‘slow links’ — links that get built at the rate of two per hour instead of twenty per hour. These links take a spark of creativity, because they need content in order to be built. Article writing and distribution, press releases, Web 2.0 properties, guest blog posts, and marketing videos are all slow links.

The thing about slow links is that they’re like the Swiss army knives of SEO: they do everything, and they do it all pretty well. A well-written slow link will give you:

  • * A backlink — and usually one with decent authority and juice behind it.
  • * A landing page from which potential customers can find you.
  • * A public work that you can point to as evidence of your expertise and use as a tool to build your reputation.
  • * A piece of content that other people might backlink to voluntarily, widening your sales funnel even further.

In the end, the best SEO strategies probably involve a bit of both kinds of links. Focus too much on quick links and you’ll lose to someone with a better reputation. Focus too much on slow links and someone with a mountain of quick links will outrank you. A divided approach is the best answer for most companies.

How Does “Freshness” Affect Social Bookmarking and Directory Submission?

It went somewhat unnoticed by all but the most hardcore SEOers out there, but a short while ago, Google announced a small change in the way that they valued the “freshness” of a website. This “small change” affected some 33% of search results, but it was nonetheless largely disregarded as irrelevant to SEO because it didn’t actually change the degree to which a given backlink affected the authority level of the site it linked to.

We maintain that this was a dire overnight on the part of the SEO community, in part because there is a subtle way in which authority is affected, but also because modern SEO is about more than just backlinks and authority. As content producers, SEO companies have to make the leap to being both public-relations firms and backlink gurus, because every piece of content we put out there has a good chance of either winning customers over or turning them away.

So how does the “freshness” change affect our SEO?

In terms of social bookmarking, directory submission, and other one-time, relatively content-free backlinks, it’s effect is almost nil. These links aren’t ever going to be on page one — or even page 8 — of Google. It’s these kinds of backlinks, however, that are the ‘cheap and easy’ side of modern SEO.

Social bookmarking and directory submission are so simple and commonplace that they are actually automated in some places — and everywhere else, they’re done by drones packed into cubicle farms or outsourced to freelancers overseas. That’s not to say that they’re not valuable — any backlink from a unique root domain is valuable, and in terms of value-per-effort they’re among the best — but it is to say that they’re among the least valuable backlinks that you can create. That’s because they’re the least likely to rank and they have the least amount of public-relations value (because they have almost zero content surrounding the actual backlink.)

The flipside of that, of course, is that those backlinks that do have relevant content (and thus are more individually valuable in the first place) are more affected by the “freshness” change. There’s now more reason than ever to keep up on your blog posting, turn in regular articles, press releases, and videos, and put that much more effort into your social marketing tactics. In fact, in the end, the only links that aren’t terribly affected by the “freshness” change are social bookmarking, directory submissions, and their ilk.

Article Writing and Distribution Is The First Step in Online Reputation Management

Article writing and distribution does a lot of good things for a website. It creates powerful backlinks, it drives mad traffic all by itself — and if you hire a spinner to multiply your articles, it’s a great form of affordable SEO. But one thing that many novice webmasters miss out on entirely is the ability of a solid set of articles to create an online reputation for an individual or a business.

Think about it — if you go to an article repository and you see three dozen articles by the same guy on several different aspects of the same detailed subject — let’s say it’s Italian art. Furthermore, each of these articles links to one of two pages on a website all about Italian art. You can scan these articles and find technical terms and details that clearly demonstrate that this guy knows a hell of a lot more than you do about Italian art. And, of course, the website he links to clearly indicated that he is the owner of the site and it’s attached business.

You walk away from that experience with the understanding that if you ever have a question about Italian art, that dude — and that website — are your go-to sources of information. You’ve just been hit by the online reputation building power of article writing and distribution.

On the other hand, the inverse is also entirely possible. If you submit a boatload of articles that are full of bad grammar, incorrect facts, and a childish tone of voice, you can utterly destroy your online credibility. It’s a double-edged sword. That means it’s worth a lot of time and energy to get your few articles done well — and also worth a little extra cash to hire a high-quality article spinner, and a top-tier distribution expert.

Some people have decided that the possibility of a negative impact is so great that they’d rather just skip out on the article marketing part of SEO altogether. On the other hand, if you love what you’re doing and you’re passionate enough to know the details, it should be easy for you to impress.

Just Like Food: Organic SEO Is Better For Your Health

Have you ever talked to a nutritionist about the difference between organic food and non-organic food? They’ll tell you without hesitation that organic food has a lot of things going for it that non-organic doesn’t. It’s got more nutrients per bite, which means that you don’t have to eat as much for your body’s cravings to be satisfied.

Organic SEO is very much like organic food for your website. Websites don’t get hungry, of course, but all websites compete for space in the search engine results pages (SERPs) in the same way that living creatures compete for resources in the wild. The difference is that creatures evolve very slowly — but every organic backlink your website gains is like a new boost of energy it can use to climb up the SERPs and obtain alpha status.

You might be asking what the alternative is — if organic SEO is like homegrown tomatoes, what exactly is a McNugget in this increasingly tortured analogy? There are actually a few different answers.

Pay per click advertising is the equivalent of going out to a high-end restaurant to eat every day. You’ll probably see good results, and (especially if you get a good PPC management team) you’ll see them fast — but you’re paying an awful lot for that success.

Traditional advertising is like generic supermarket food. You’ll see good things…eventually. But it’s nothing special, and everyone is doing it. Email advertisement, banner ads, and similar tactics are everywhere — you’ll never get ahead using tactics like these.

Black Hat SEO is the worst of the worst. You know those companies that put stuff like hydroxypropylmethylcellulose and bisphenol-A in their food? That’s these guys. Their “nutrition” might sustain you for a few weeks apparent online dominance, but when it fails you, you’re out of business for good.

If you want your website to succeed, give it the tools it needs to go alpha. Get some organic SEO under your belt, one way or another, today.