Link Building-Surviving the Penguin

Posted by Eleni Apostolopoulou in Blog Posts | Leave a comment

Google PenguinWhat every website owner likes to see is high Google Ranking and many will easily cross the shady, thin line that separates white-hat SEO (the good guys) and black-hat SEO (the “Bad” guys). And though you may think you got away with it, karma comes around and knocks on your door; and by karma I mean Google Penguin.

Google Penguin is the latest Google Algorithm update to Google’s endless war against Black-Hat seo.  Specifically the May 25th update, called Penguin 1.1, was built to target over optimization and poor backlinks and reportedly affects 3.1% of search queries in English. Website owners all over the world are getting nasty surprises, when they see their rankings suddenly plunge from one day to the next.

So the question on every webmaster’s mind is “What do we do now?”

 


What can we do to avoid getting hit by this update but still get backlinks to our website?

Well the best thing you can do is make sure you play fair and stick to Google’s guidelines. Always use white-hat techniques however tempting it may be to cheat your way to the top. Your results may take longer to show, but they will be long lasting and you will always feel safe from any future algorithm updates.

However, as we have mentioned the line between the good and the bad is very thin and you cannot always tell what is safe and what not. For this reason I’ve listed the basics of each category.


White-hat link building Techniques

  • Write valuable content that people will naturally want to link to and share on social media; this is the most important thing you can do. Good content and good offers bring natural traffic and this is the type of traffic that is more likely to buy from you anyway. 
  • Share on Social Media like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. This is a no-brainer. The people on your social media are people who are interested in you or your business. Obviously these people are more likely to, in turn share and promote your content or even buy from you at the end of the day.
  • Guest Posts on Blogs is a great way of letting people see your expertise and at the same time, for you to get a nice little link back to your website. Keep in mind though, that for the link to have a positive result, you have to look for trustworthy, credible websites with a good visibility. In link-building you are judged by your “friends”.     
  • Send Press Releases to news media and online magazines that your target audience visits. Email editors and let the world know you are out there. Not everyone will be interested, but the ones that are, will give you valuable links to your site.
  • Post in Forums that your target audience visits. Don’t be spammy or obviously self-promoting; just try to be useful, have fun and people will naturally be interested in what you do and willing to help you along the way.


Black-hat link building Techniques

  • Paid links. Google can now easily detect websites that offer paid links and so the website itself gets penalized and loses credibility. Therefore any website associated with it, can also lose rankings, if it is found that it is linked to enough such websites.
  • Link Farms or sites linking to each other only to boost link popularity. In this case Google not only doesn’t like the fact that you are trying to trick it, but also since the sites’ content rarely have anything to do with each other, it makes it hard for Google to estimate what your website is about.
  • Reciprocal link pages. Again here comes the matter of quality links or “Friends.” Since site that offer reciprocal links, also offer them to a number of low quality or spammy websites, your site may just get thrown into the same category as everyone else and end up getting penalized.
  • Low quality directories. Same as above.
  • DoFollow Forum posts and DoFollow blog comments. Here too you have the same problem as the previous two cases. All these sites, forums, and blogs, because they offer links out freely, tend to draw to them a lot of people who are just interested in getting links, without having anything valuable to offer.  Google can see that these websites are just no good and lowers their ratings. Now your site may not fall into this category, but just to be sure you are safe, don’t hang out with the wrong type of people.
  • Article spinning which means re-writing existing articles. Usually this is done by using special software and most of the time comes out unreadable and this is how Google Panda can tell if content has been used by an article spinner.  Also article directories have their own ways of telling whether an article is a duplicate or not. As a result, if you get caught, you will lose any backlinks not to mention your credibility.

 

I will leave you with a quote from Google’s page in Link Schemes that will help you any time you are in doubt about the techniques you’re using.

The best way to get other sites to create relevant links to yours is to create unique, relevant content that can quickly gain popularity in the Internet community. The more useful content you have, the greater the chances someone else will find that content valuable to their readers and link to it. Before making any single decision, you should ask yourself the question: Is this going to be beneficial for my page’s visitors?

 

 

 

 

Combining SocialBro and Buffer App for best Twitter Marketing results

Posted by Eleni Apostolopoulou in Blog Posts | Leave a comment

So you got your Twitter account all set up, you have your content ready for sharing and your followers are steadily increasing, but is that enough? What if your analytics aren’t showing any visitors from Twitter? What if you’re getting no mentions and no Re-Tweets? How can you use Twitter to it’s full potential?

Well the difference between Twitter and other Social Media is that Twitter is a real time media; meaning that others will see what you post, when you post it and after that it’s lost into internet history. Of course someone can visit your profile and search through your tweets to see what you’ve been posting, but lets face it, no one’s going to do that. Would you?

To get the most out of our Twitter experience we have to know WHEN most of our followers are on twitter and the post at that exact time, in order for our tweets to have maximum visibility. Helping us do this we have two applications, which combined can change our twittering world.

SocialBro

First of all we have SocialBro. This is an application for all web browsers  that informs you, among other things, of the best time to tweet. It gives you information on what day or time is the most effective for tweeting and when are most of your followers online. This way you lessen the risk of going to a lot of trouble writing an article and no-one seeing it in the end.

Best time to tweet

Above you can see a visual representation of the percentage of followers online every hour. The bigger the circle the more people are online and are likely to see your post. There are also other useful features such as Potential Exposure by day of week or by hour and stats about when you get most ReTweets and Replies.

Best day to tweet SocialBro comes along with a lot of other cool features that you can explore on your own, like statistics about new followers, people you follow, people not following you back, inactive followers, etc.

Buffer

Then we have BufferApp. This application helps you post your tweets any day and time you like, by using a simple schedule.

Schedule your tweets

You can also connect your Buffer with one of two link shortening services and have your links automatically shortened as well.

Furthermore, you have built in analytics for each link you post, describing clicks, potential viewers and re-tweets.

Combining The Two

Obviously, all you have to do now to combine the two is figure out the time and day most of your followers are on twitter from SocialBro and then simply go to Buffer and schedule your tweets to be posted at that exact time. Collect your links for the week, add them to Buffer and you never have to think about link posting until your buffer is empty.

This way not only do you  have your tweets posted at the best time, but you also have freed up valuable time spent going onto Twitter and posting throughout the day.

3 Extensions for Google Chrome Every Business Owner Should Have

Posted by Eleni Apostolopoulou in Blog Posts | Leave a comment

There are many extensions out there that claim to help you out with various tasks you need done; however if you fill your browser with extensions, you run the risk of slowing down your browsing. So which ones should you choose, especially if you’re a business owner? Which ones do you absolutely need?

Mail Checker Plus for Google Mail:  Although checking your mail every now and then is really counter productive in many cases, business owners who may have deadlines to meet, or meetings to be informed of, need to get the information right there and then.

The super cool thing about this extension is that you don’t necessarily have to leave what you’re doing. It has a note of how many unread messages you have in your inbox, on your browser and gives you a small notification every time new mail comes in. When it notifies you or when you click on the extension, it provides you with the tittle of the unread messages, who sent them and the description; you can then decide if you have to deal with the email right then, leave it for when you have more time or delete it.

You have the option to delete your messages, mark them as spam, read them of archive them, all without ever leaving the page you are on. The best part is if you are actually busy, you can just ignore it and it wont interfere with what you are doing.

Shareaholic for Google Chrome: Social Media and Social Bookmarking is one of the best ways to promote both your website and your expertise, but they require effort and  time. Having to log into ten different sites to post this update or that article you found on the web is spending time you simply do not have.

This extension is your best friend in your content marketing efforts and save you a lot of trouble.  You can choose which social media you use more often and you have found the most helpful in your marketing campaigns, and have them display any time you want to share something by clicking on the extension.

WebRank SEO: I know I have talked about this extension again in 8 Most Useful Internet Marketing Tools but I really like it and I’m going to re-suggest it and elaborate a bit about why I like it.

This extension gives you instant information on any site you visit. It provides you with:

  • Google Ragerank, Alexa rank, Compete Ranking and Quantcast Ranking.
  •  Pages indexed on Google and Bing.
  • Website Backlinks from Google, Bing, Alexa.
  • How many Tweets a page has had, how many diggs and how many bookmarks on Delicious it’s received.
  • It will also show a traffic graph from Alexa.

This way you can keep an eye on your competition plus get a brief picture of how your own website is doing. Of course it won’t provide you with a full competition marketing report but it will tell you which websites are worth monitoring and which are not.

I”ll only be accepting feedback and other extensions you like in the comments to keep it all related. Looking forward to hearing your suggestions!

Getting Started With Pinterest Plus a Few Marketing Tips

Posted by Eleni Apostolopoulou in Blog Posts | Tagged | Leave a comment

My latest love in the social media is Pinterest. I was going to write some more about mailing lists but I changed my mind, as I am really happy with my new social media friend. So here is everything you will need to know about Pinterest. At least for now…

What is Pinterest?

Well as the social media defines itself

Pinterest is a Virtual Pinboard”.

In other words Pinterest is a social media that lets you pin and organize various images you find on the internet. You pin the images you like on boards based on a common theme; for example you can create a board named “My Furniture” and pin images, you found online, depicting interesting furniture you would like of are thinking of buying.

Terminology

As every social media Pinterest also has its own lingo. Here are the basics:

Pin: A pin is an image added to Pinterest. A pin can be added from a website using the Pin It button, or you can upload images from your computer.

Board: A board is a set of pins. As we’ve mentioned a board can be on any topic and you can add as many pins to a board as you want.

Following: You can either follow a user, by pressing the “Follow All” button under the users photo, or just follow a specific board. If you follow a user then all of their pins on all their boards shown to you in real-time on Pinterest. If you just follow a board then just the pins from that board will show up. You can un-follow a user anytime without them being notified.

Repin: A repin is adding an image you find while browsing Pinterest to your own board.

Like: Liking a pin adds the image to your profile’s Likes section.

Mention: To mention a pin to a Pinterest user, you first need to be following at least one board belonging to him/her. Then, type the @ symbol immediately followed by his/her username. Potential matches to this username will begin to load; when you see the person you want to mention, click his/her name.

 

Getting a Pinterest Invitation

Pinterest, to date, works on an invite-only basis. So you will need to get an invitation in order to join. Fortunately that is pretty easy.

Pinterest homepage

You can either “Request an Invite” form the social media itself or ask a friend who is already there to invite you. Asking a friend is a faster way but Pinterest does actually invite you within a couple of days so it’s not that much of a difference.

Now you Joined, What Can you Do?

Once you have received your invitation the first thing you should do, of course, is edit your profile. You will find the link to do this in your main profile page. If you are using the profile for your company enter your company’s name, your company’s logo, a brief description and links to your website. Also don’t forget to link your Twitter and Facebook profiles so people can find you there too and so that when you pin your images you can share it across your social media profiles.

Now you can begin pinning!

First you will have to create a board. To do this press the “Add +” link which is on the top right side. You will get the following pop-up:

Add a pin

 

Press create a board. Give your board an interesting and descriptive name, related to the pins you plan in pinning on it. Then select a related category and who you want able to pin on it. If it is just you select just me.

To add images to your board, again select the “Add +” link. As you can see you can either enter a URL where you have found the image you want to pin or upload an image from your computer. If you chose to add a pin from a URL then a link will be added to your pin towards the website you took the image from.

Once you select “add a pin”, you will be asked to provide the URL and then after you click “Find Images” you will be presented with a selection of images from that particular page. Click next until you find the one you want to pin, chose the board you want to pin it to and write a brief description. If you want to promote your website, through an image that you have on there, also include a link to your homepage in the description.  You can always edit a pins details by pressing the “Edit” button above the pin.

You can now go about creating all sorts of boards and adding all sorts of pins. Further more you can like your and other people’s pins on Facebook and tweet about them on Twitter.

Discover Interesting Pins

By going to Pinterest’s front page, you will see all the pins pinned by people you or on boards you follow. To discover new pins, boards and users just click on “Everything” and select the category you are interested in. You can “Like ” any pin you like and you can repin any pin that has a theme relevant to one of your boards.

Marketing Tips for Pinterest

Pinterest can be and is used for online marketing purposes and with very impressive results. However the site specifically states:

Avoid Self Promotion

Pinterest is designed to curate and share things you love. If there is a photo or project you’re proud of, pin away! However, try not to use Pinterest purely as a tool for self-promotion.

In other words it is not really acceptable to blatantly promote yourself; this means you will have to find other ways to promote your business through Pinterest. Be creative and have a look around to see what other brands are doing to promote their company.

This being said, here are a few tips to help you along the way

  • Always add visual content to your blog posts and articles. You should already be doing this of course, as it helps your site for SEO purposes, but now try choosing clear images, having a good idea about how you can also add them to a relevant board on Pinterest.
  • Try to create boards with themes describing how your product can be used or what lifestyle your product or service promotes.
  • Promote your pins by sharing on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Comment on the posts and encourage others to also comment on them.
  • Interact with pinners you think would be interested in your services; here of course i mean in a natural way not obviously promoting yourself.
  • Create boards that are more likely to be repinned, followed and liked. This lets it’s content reach a larger audience and is more likely to bring people to your profile.
  • You will see for yourselves that it is actually quite easy to get pins liked and repinned.  The goal is however to get them interested in you. Show images of your best products, or of interesting statistics that you might have, book covers from ebooks you might be offering; get creative and see how you ca promote yourself and be subtle at the same time.

I hope that was helpful. Any questions you may have about Pinterest feel free to leave them in the comments section or email me.

~Eleni

 

 

How to Create an Email Marketing Campaign Using Mailchimp

Posted by Eleni Apostolopoulou in Blog Posts | Leave a comment

O.k. so if you want to create a customer base, at one point or another, you are going to have to create a mailing list. We will discuss tips on how to do this in the near future but for now lets say you have one ready.

We will now use MailChimp to describe how to create a email marketing campaign and actually start to communicate with your list.

Creating the List

After logging in, press “Lists” from the top menu.

 

Then just click on the big red button that says “Create List”. If you get asked a second time select “Create List” again.

And then fill in the form with the list’s information to set up your list. Give it a name, enter a name from who you want the emails to be and a email people will reply to. You can set a default subject, but you are likely to change your mind along the way many times. Also chose a reminder for people, explaining why they are receiving this newsletter. (ex.  You are receiving this email because you signed up for my E-book “5 Essential Tools For Small Business Online Start-Ups ” at apostolvirtualassistance.com)

Then enter your companies details. This is important because in order your mail not to be considered spam your real details must appear on the email or newsletter. Last select if you want to be notified when people subscribe or unsubscribe to your newsletters and the format you will be sending your emails in.

Now you will be re-directed to the page where all your lists are.

MailChimp newlist

To add people to your list, you can either import one from a different location or you can add people manually.

Because sending email messages to people without first having permission to do so is considered spam (CAN-SPAM Act of 2003), MailChimp only allows you to import lists of or add people who sign up at your website. Signing up at a website, automatically, means that you give your permission to be contacted.

Importing a list

If you wish to import a list you have already created, click the “import” link below the list you have just created.

MailChimp List Import

This will give you the option to import lists from your computer or from a another service online. From your computer you can upload a file with your contacts, copy-paste from an excel spreadsheet, or upload a list from constant contact. Alternatively, you can import your contacts from the services that are listed in the image above.

Adding people manually

If you wish to add contacts manually, click the “add people” link below your list.

Enter the email, first and last name of the persons you want to add, and check to confirm that you have permission to contact them. As we said if you don’t have permission, you can be reported as spam. Then click subscribe.

You can now add all sorts of details to the subscribers’ profiles if you like, or just move on to create your campaign.

 

Creating the Campaign

To create a campaign click the “Campaigns” tab from the top menu and then click on the big red button that says “Create Campaign”.  Select from the drop down menu what type of campaign you you want to create. Your choices are:

  • Regular ol’ Campaign.
  • Plain Text Campaign
  • A/B Split Campaign. This allows you to test your campaign by dividing your subscribers into two sample groups. You can then experiment by changing things here and there and testing which works best for you and your mailing list.
  • RSS- driven Campaign. This allows you to automatically send your subscribers a newsletter, whenever you update your blog (or any RSS feed)

For the beginning, you should probably just go with a regular campaign and explore your options as you get more experienced.

After selecting “regular ol’ campaign”, you are taken to a page where you select the list you want the campaign sent to. Chose to send it to the whole list.

Now enter the name you want assigned to the campaign and the message subject. For the subject try to be creative and interesting, as it is the most important factor, for people, in deciding if they are going to open your email or not.  Select  tracking options, so that you can note how well your campaign went and estimate what works for you and what doesn’t. Don’t worry about the advanced details for now and move on to “next” .

The next step is to chose your emails layout. You can go with something basic, pre-designed or create something yourself.  MailChimp has a great selection with pre-designed  themes to go with, which you can alter as you like. Whatever you chose, add the images you want, your company’s logo and the information you want to share with your subscribers. At the bottom you will have your default company’s information and a unsubscribe option.

Some advice on writing newsletters

  • Don’t forget to add your Twitter and Facebook info, so people can connect and build a better relationship with you. This will help them trust you and make them more likely to buy whatever it is you are offering.
  • Include in a reminder of past posts or offers, for new subscribers who weren’t informed or people who didn’t check previous emails.
  • Your subject and your “short teaser” should entice your readers by hinting at the most interesting information in your newsletter.
  • Include Calls to Action; telling your subscribers to click on a link or contact you will get you better results than leaving it vague.

When your done, go to “next” and check that the plain-text version is correct and all the information you want is included. Then continue to your next and last page.

Check that all the information is correct and test it to see if it appears as you wish. If you have a free account, consider creating a test campaign first and sending it to yourself, so you can test it this way. Once you have made sure that everything is perfect, proceed to send your email. If you like you can schedule it for a time when you know more people will open it.

Here is a good article, I found online, that might give you some insight on what the best time to send an email campaign might be.

And that’s it!! If you have any questions please feel free to contact me or leave them in the comments.

 

8 Most Useful Internet Marketing Tools

Posted by Eleni Apostolopoulou in Blog Posts | Leave a comment

When you start putting effort and dedication into your website, you will want to know how it’s doing out there in the sea among all those other fish. To get a good picture on your own, without resorting to expensive marketing companies, first, you can try and complete a competitor analysis report. It can be as simple as the one I provide in the link or as complicated as you like.

For most of the fields you can use WooRank, which I link to below; but there are a number of other tools out there that might help you keep an eye on your website’s progress and give you the means you need to improve it.

Here are some of the tools I have used myself for SEO, competitor analysis, and tips for my own website.

 Website Analysis

  • Hubspot Marketing Grader: Marketing Grader measures your entire marketing funnel and gives you advice on how to get more out of your marketing. For an idea on how it works check out my blog post on HubSpot’s Marketing Grader
  • WooRank Website Analytics: Website Analysis & Internet Marketing tips for your website
  • WebRankStatsDomain Stats and Website Stats like Google Pagerank, Alexa, Compete and Quantcast Rank, pages indexed and backlinks in Google

Keyword Research

  • Google AdWords Keyword ToolFind the best keywords relevent to your website, services or product.
  • SpyfuWho is running advertising campaigns for the keywords you are interested in. This tool is not free but does provide a 30 day trial period.

Competitor Analysis

  • Alexa: Provides information about websites including Top Sites, Internet Traffic Stats and Metrics, Related Links, Online Reviews, Contact Information.
  • QuantcastSite traffic and demographic trends
  • Open site explorer: Keep track of the backlinks to any given website

Hope they help you as much as they have helped me!

Hubspot’s Marketing Grader

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The next tool, HubSpot’s Marketing Grader, is used for personal marketing information,  but  still very well serves for marketing research. I will give you a guide of how it works as well with an example of how it can be used.

First you are led to a page where you are asked to put in the details of the website or websites you want information for.

Hubspot's Marketing Grader

 

Lets say you have a website for parents, pregnancy and babies. I’m going to use parents.com as an example, with babycenter.com as a competing website.

Now this report will give you quite a complete picture of your presence online, although I have to mention that sometimes it doesn’t find all the information there is, sometimes missing your twitter page or other similar info. The best thing is that it will give you tips as to what you have to change or in the case of a competing website, what are it’s weaknesses.

Here is most of the information you will get from the top of the funnel section, summed up. Note that if it doesn’t find your blog or social media page it will ask you to provide it if you want.

  • Blog: http://www.parents.com/blog/
  • If the Blog is easy to find, share, how often is it publishing new posts etc.
  • Pages indexed by Search Engines: 517.000
  • Images: 37 With atl tags: 18
  • mozRank: 6.3
  • Sites Linking site: 7.700
  • Authoritative pages linking to page: 10 and lists which ones they are
  • Whether the site has a mobile version, apple icons and a meta viewport tag.
  • Twitter  account: @parentsmagazine And info: followers, following and updates.
  • Klout Score: 66
  • Facebook business fan page: http://www.facebook.com/americanbabymag Fans: 32.828

Next is the middle of the funnel section, with information about converting traffic into leads. This includes:

  • If there are pages with forms to convert traffics into leads
  • Whether and how well are these pages being linked to in the Blog and Social Media

Last is the Analytics section where it shows

  • What software is being used to track analytics: Omniture
  • Unique Visitors per month: 1.997.357

Along with this information, the grader also provides suggestions and tips as to what one can do to improve their ranking. In the example we have entered, while the website has a page named blog, it isn’t actually a blog but a list of parent related blogs, so the grader can’t find any blog posts. This turns up the following

 

Further more there aren’t enough images with alt tags so it’s advice is

Alt text advice for images

All this information helps you determine what you can do to improve your own site and also how your competitors are doing online as well. If you want further information for your Twitter and Facebook accounts there is also a Twitter Grader and a Facebook Grader provided by HubSpot as well.

 

 


 

Pipl.com

Posted by Eleni Apostolopoulou in Blog Posts | Leave a comment

The first tool  I would like to show you is one of my favorites when it comes to people search. Usually, if I can’t find someone on Google and can’t find them on Pipl, it means there is a slim chance of finding them at all.
Pipl.com people search engine

As you can see, you can search people by Name and Location, Email, Username, or Phone Number, which is awesome because this adds a whole new dimension to your regular White Pages.

I’m going to do one sample search by name and one by username which are the most often searches. For both however, as you will see, a knowledge of the location of the person we are searching for, will make our life much easier.

 

Searching by Name and Surname

Ok so the first search we are going to do is by Name and Surname.

You might need to run this search when looking for contact information, for marketing purposes, especially when looking for the decision making people in a company.

To show you the sort of results pipl.com brings, I am going to run a search using my own name, because it is not right to post other people’s contact information without them knowing.

I just type Eleni Apostolopoulou in the search area and here are the results:

Now it returns Social Media profiles, physical addresses for all the people named Eleni Apostolopoulou that it can find. It would also return email addresses, if I or any of the other Elenis had one with our name on it, but we don’t so it doesn’t. For email addresses user-names generally return better results.

Now in my case even if you know the location, it doesn’t really help, except to rule out some results, because most of the Elenis are from Greece;  however if you know my face you can easily find my FaceBook profile,  where I have an email listed or my Linkedin profile, where I have my website listed with even more contact info there.  If you haven’t ever seen a picture of me (where “me” insert the person you are looking for), but you happen to know I am a Virtual Assistant, again you can see the Social Media profiles I have associated with my VA business, such as Linkedin and Google+ and get my contact info through there.

Searching by Username

Lets say you are browsing a forum and find a person you would like to contact without actually joining the said forum. People usually use user-names in forums, because they probably don’t want people knowing their real identity, but sometimes they don’t mind being contacted and in this case only, you can go ahead and try and search for them. So how do you go about doing this?

One helpful fact is that people usually  have the same username on various forums and social media, so they don’t forget it. Sometimes they even put it in their email addresses.

Again I will demonstrate how this works using my business username ApostolVA.

Here is where it helps to know the location of the person you are looking for, which is usually stated in forums, and  if you click on the ApostolVA, Greece result it will take you to a page with only results about my username. If of course you don’t know my location but know that my first name is Eleni, again you will quickly find a social media profile like twitter, where you can contact me.

 

Other features

What is really great about pipl.com is it’s extra search options. If you check on the left sidebar, you can narrow your search down by location and age; however it will only show options that are actually given in the search results.

If you select the “Advanced” tab, it will give you the ability to search a person using a combination of information, thus bringing more accurate results at once, without you having to navigate through all the irrelevant results.

 

 

Welcome to my blog!

Posted by Eleni Apostolopoulou in Blog Posts | Leave a comment

Hello everyone and welcome to my blog!

Here is where I will be analyzing various tools I come across in my online business and share my experience with you.

What helped me, what annoyed me and what gave my business an extra boost!