How To Crush It With These Awesome SEO Tools,Tips & Resources.

OK, apologies in advance for ‘stealing’ the title of this blog post from Gary Vaynerchuk’s ‘Crush It!’ book, but it just seemed like a good idea at the time! Anyway, what prompted a ‘need’ for this post was the absolutely bewildering array of information, services and resources (good and bad) out there, infact search Google for SEO and they will return upwards 0f 800M results. Phew.

Learn To Love The Google

Fittingly, it isn’t an SEO company that returns the top result either but the Wikipedia entry for SEO followed by Google’s own  ‘Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Webmaster Tools Help‘.

What else? Well, I sifted through a whole bunch of good and bad stuff and came up with a pretty effective reading list for those of you who either want to set about doing your own SEO, or, read up on as much background as possible so you’re not completely bamboozled when that SEO guru you were recommended tells you how quickly he can dominate Google’s SERP’s.

Call it your very own SEO bullsh*t detector if you like. And when you think of SEO results, think long term not short term gains, there’s a few SEO horror stories that’ll make you think twice (or should make you think twice!) about using any ‘black hat‘ methodology or any kind of the more nefarious short cuts.

Here’s some quotes pulled directly from Google’s own SEO for webmasters page.

  • Be wary of SEO firms and web consultants or agencies that send you email out of the blue.
  • No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.
  • Be careful if a company is secretive or won’t clearly explain what they intend to do.
  • Choose wisely.

Where To Start With SEO

SEOMoz SEO Expert Quiz.75 Questions

OK, its a little bit geeky and it will test you to the limit, but definitely worth a try is the SEOMoz SEO Expert Quiz. According to SEOMoz, “The SEO Expert Quiz has 75 action-packed questions and takes 30 minutes to complete.” It was pretty tough and I missed the ball with several answers in my rush to finish but the great thing is there’s a post-score analysis where they tell you where you went wrong. Brilliantly useful and educational.

Google SEO Guide for webmasters. Free PDFNeedless to say, all webmasters should heed to the ‘law of the Google’  and a good primer on what you should be doing and shouldn’t be doing to help position your website as high as possible in the search results is both Google’s own  webmaster resources  page and this PDF download on the basic’s of SEO, from choosing the right title tags, improving the structure of your URLs, Optimizing Content and even SEO for mobile phones.

Bing also have a thriving webmaster resources page, including detailed instructionals on SEO best practices.

Another bulging arsenal of SEO resources is from SEO Book and their Search Engine Optimization Tools page which features a pile of free and premium SEO tools from Firefox extensions through to web based SEO tools including things like a keyword suggestion tool and meta tag generator.

SEOrgy

The authorative Search Engine Watch have the concise guide, ‘Back to Basics – SEO 101‘ whilst SEOMoz get a little more indepth with their ‘The Beginners Guide to SEO‘ which digs deep into every corner over ten very extensive chapters which you can follow in the web based version or hand over your email for the PDF download. Superb.

Free Beginners Guide to SEO

Other essential and detailed resources include, ‘SEO 101 Resources: Beginner’s Guides and Tutorials‘ from Search Engine Journal, which is a roundup of the best resources from around the web (and which mirror’s some of my choices here).

ArtDriver.com have another brilliantly curated list of tools ‘38 Free Online SEO Tools‘ which put me onto the Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool. Basically a killer little desktop app which, to quote the website itself:

” spiders websites’ links, images, CSS, script and apps from an SEO perspective. It fetches key onsite page elements for SEO, presents them in tabs by type and allows you to filter for common SEO issues, or slice and dice the data how you see fit by exporting into Excel.”

Very handy, oh and there’s a great free version too (actually I’ve concentrated on free resources all round in this piece). Very simple and easy to use.

SEO Glossaries & Title Tags

If you’re baffled by the terminology and search engine definitions (hell, I still am) then  SEOBooks, ‘The Search Engine Marketing Glossary‘ should be a massive relief as should be the HighRankings ‘SEM/SEO Glossary‘ A to Z.

Dont forget the importance of your title tags with this ‘Title Tag SEO Best Practices‘ guide from SEOMoz either. Search Engine Watch also have a brilliant guide, ‘How to Write Title Tags For Search Engine Optimization‘ and sum things up well here:

Title tags are part of the meta tags that appear at the top of your HTML inside the < head> area. Think of title tags like the title of the chapter of a book. It tells people and search engines what your page is about.
Title tags are also part of what makes people decide whether to visit your site when it shows up in the search results. The title tag should contain important keywords to help the search engine determine what the page is about.”

Desktop SEO & WordPress Tools

A few more desktop based tools that are worth trying are the browser extension/toolbar SEOquake which is available for Firefox (where it hold top spot for most SEO downloads), Chrome, Opera & Safari. SEO Doctor is another popular SEO extention (for Firefox only), there’s a detailed overview here.

Full list of SEO extensions for Chrome here and Firefox here.

If you’re using WordPress (and millions are) then the ‘Best WordPress SEO Plugins For 2012‘ guide from iBlogZone is a great roundup, there’s even a ‘Part 2‘ and it covers all those SEO plugins you’ve heard of and some you haven’t. Nice.

Of course Yoast have one of the best and most popular WordPress SEO plugins around and their official SEO guide is equally as comprehensive, ‘The Definitive Guide To Higher Rankings For WordPress Sites‘.

SEO Audit Checklist

And, where would we be without an infographic . Search Engine Journal have a ’20 Minute (Or Less) SEO Audit Checklist’. Put together by  Inmotion Hosting.

The 20-Minute (Or Less) SEO Audit

The guide is broken into the following components:

  • Adjusting your browser
  • Evaluating your homepage
  • Testing the site’s global navigation
  • Reviewing category and subcategory pages
  • Checking for optimized content
  • Analyzing your site’s off-page SEO

And finally (phew!) from Kunocreative.com is their neat PDF printout ‘The Search Optimization Cheatsheet‘.

Kunocreative.com SEO Cheat Sheet
PS. Just as I was finishing, came across this,  ‘33 Free SEO Tools You Should Know About’ from WebGnomes. Great stuff. As always, please leave recommendations for all those hundreds of things I’ve probably missed in the comments. Enjoy!

Download this whole article as a PDF.

Further Related Reading

SEO, Why You Are Doing it Wrong (Search Engine Watch)
The Power of Keywords (SEO Book)
Five Common SEO Mistakes (and Six Good Ideas!)  (Google Webmaster blog)
Free SEO Advice & Marketing Tips for the Music Industry  (SEOMoz)
Some Key SEO Tips From The Top (Area239.com)

20 Killer Resources For WordPress Users & Developers

I’ve been using WordPress since 2005 and I swear by it these days, simply because its so versatile, infinitely customisable, robust, oh, and its free too. My early experience with content management systems was with PHP-Nuke, then Mambo, Joomla and B2Evolution (B2/Cafelog, was the precursor to WordPress).

20 Killer Resources For WordPress Users & Developers

But there has been incredible development on WordPress in the following years and I really couldn’t see myself using anything else, such is the support, the plug-ins and the adaptability of the platform. Its something you never stop learning too, learning about plug-ins, themes (free and paid), how to tweak themes, add text widgets….

Anyway, I’ve collected a whole box load of very useful resources over the years and really that’s the thing, if you’re prepared to read a lot you can turn yourself into something of a WordPress guru with a little patience.

Remember that old Chinese proverb:

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

 

I’m not saying this is the definitive list of WordPress resources but its a great starter kit and will save you a lot of time should you be considering whether to go it alone with your own install, or whether you’d prefer to let someone else do the heavy lifting for you!

Getting Started Resources

Getting started with WordPress

Getting Started With WordPress from Tasty Placement is a great instructional that holds your hand with writing and editing webpages on your WordPress site and shows you the basics on how to manage WordPress, including logging in, posting new articles and pages, uploading images, creating and editing menus and widgets and some more advanced features.

Another good easy to navigate WordPress starters guide with easy to understand instructions is ‘A Simplified Users Guide to WordPress’, which, according to the authors is intended to be a simple guide to using WordPress for those new to managing a WP powered site. In particular those who’ve had their WP site set up for them by a web designer or developer.

And another worthwhile guide,if you had any lingering doubts, is from WPBeginner, called ‘Why You Should Use WordPress?’.

WordPress Mentor has a very handy WordPress setup checklist which runs through five difference stages and checklists to tick off. Install: The basic WordPress installation. Secure: Hardening the WordPress installation. Configure: Adjust WordPress settings. Connect: Connect WordPress to online services.Optimise: Adjust WordPress performance. There’s the HTML version or a much neater PDF download which you can get free for an email address. Worth it.

As if that wasn’t enough to read, Tentblogger has a huge series of blog posts under the umbrella, ‘The Ultimate Guide to Launching a WordPress-Powered Blog’. Sit yourself down, strap yourself in, there’s 55 posts on everything from WordPress security settings, SEO tips and tools, recommended Plugins,  setting up Google Analytics and all points in between. Brilliant.

Not forgetting the help pages from WordPress themselves, which of course are very detailed. There’s also support forums and a repository of Themes and Plugins.

Serverpress.Wordpress Desktop-Server

Another useful tool that is aimed squarely at developers, is DesktopServer from ServerPress, which basically enables you to have a server on your desktop machine (PC/Mac) so you can test and develop your WordPress install locally without publishing online until you’re quite happy with the results.

There’s a basic free edition which allows you to create up to three websites, or the paid version which has unlimited website projects. There are several other similar tools for Devs, like Bitnami, Instant WordPress and WampServer (and the Mac equivalent MAMP).

Now We’re Up And Running.

Things to consider after your WordPress install is up and running. Content writing tips, SEO and tech tools.

Ready-Set-Write-The-Ultimate-Guide-to-Blogging.Free PDF download

‘Ready, Set, Write: The Ultimate Guide to Blogging’, is a free PDF guide to getting the most from your blogging experience. Put together by the Content Marketing Institute, the 37 page guide runs through everything from developing your blogging voice and strategy, tips for writing really amazing content, getting your content seen and shared, measuring your impact and ensuring success. There’s a host of tips, case studies and tools here you can use to build and maintain a successful blog that benefits you and your business.

Ways To Create Compelling Content:Infographic.
Ways To Create Compelling Content:Infographic.

And, a really handy infographic on finding inspiration for great content, which today, a lot of the time means re-imagining other people’s ideas as infographics, but, seems to work for many. The title of the piece says it all, ’22 Ways to Create Compelling (When You Dont Have a Clue)’. 

And more content ideas from the Content Marketing Institute. ‘12 Things to Do After You’ve Written a New Blog Post‘ , ideas that I’m going to have to put into action once I’ve finished writing this blog post! But basically the post delves into ideas on how to spread your content successfully using social media, RSS and forums. Its basic stuff nowadays, but if you need some kind of bullet list you could do worse than start here.

Windows Live Writer
Windows Live Writer. Compose WordPress Posts Offline

You don’t always have WiFi when you’re on the move, despite this utopian dream of always on, everywhere, that’s hardly the case for most unless you have bottomless pockets! So, if I get the urge to write offline, Windows Live Writer is my weapon of choice. Why not just use Open Office, MS Office Word or a text editor?

Well, the advantage of Windows Live Writer is that as long as you sync it up with your WordPress blog (or multiple blogs) when you first set it up, it formats everything just like it would in WordPress and it has a preview function. You might even like it so much you could bypass going into the WordPress admin all together and use Live Writer from your desktop. Excellent tool.

Performance & Plugins

How To Speed Up WordPress And Boost Site Performance
How To Speed Up WordPress And Boost Site Performance

Here’s a really cool infographic that lays things out in easy to digest nuggets with instructions on ‘How To Speed Up WordPress And Boost Site Performance’, which kind of speaks for itself and looks into problems and solutions, like database cache and maintenance, javascript and stylesheets. Unashamedly geeky.

More geekiness (I guess!) from DBS Interactive who have an awesome WordPress reference guide, which basically is an online handbook ‘WordPress V3.0+ Template Tag Reference Guide‘, which guides you through the various template tags (obviously!) and is one of the best reference’s I’ve seen of this nature, comprehensive, well laid out and extremely useful. Naturally if you haven’t got to the stage where you want to get your hands dirty with coding then fair enough, but if you do….

And finally a couple of SEO resources.

The first is from Yoast, ‘The Definitive Guide To Higher Rankings For WordPress Sites‘. Yoast know a thing or two about WordPress SEO, being the people behind the super popular WordPress SEO Plugin and this is one of the most complete SEO guides you’re likely to see. Essential. And if you want a second opinion, DIYThemes have an equally essential, self explanatory guide, ‘WordPress SEO for Everybody’. An ongoing tutorial which the writers say, “in it, you’ll learn how to use ethical, legitimate ways to get your WordPress blog ranking higher in the search engines.” Good enough, and it certainly is.

That should be enough to keep you going for weeks I hope. If you have any further tips and resources I’ve missed out please mention them in the comments and we’ll keep this thing updated.

Related Reading

WordPress Now Powers 22 Percent Of New Active Websites In The U.S. (Techcrunch)
How to install and test WordPress on a local server (CNET)
7 Ways to Build a Business Around WordPress (Mashable)
The Reason You Should Draft Your Blog Posts Outside WordPress (Tentblogger)
WordPress Support Forums (WordPress.org)
The Many Advantages (and Secrets) of WordPress Sites (Blueglass.com)
Manage All Your WordPress Sites From One Dashboard (ManageWP)

Download this article as a PDF.

 

Some Key SEO Tips From The Top

I was lucky enough to be in Brighton UK last month for the increasingly influential Brighton SEO search marketing conference. There was a wide range of attendees, the majority seemed to be from London and the south (naturally) with a handful of Northerners and overseas attendees. And much talk that the 1000 tickets for the event sold out in 13 minutes!

Brighton SEO conference infographic-April 2012
Brilliant Infographic via ShellShockUK

It was a great start with the soundtrack of choice Sabre’s Of Paradise ‘Smokebelch’ welcoming us into the Brighton Dome.

Organiser Kelvin Newman introduced the first panel, which was also one of the best, ‘Ask The Engines’ which included  Pierre Far from Google Europe, Dave Coplin from Bing UK, Martin MacDonald from Expedia and outspoken independent consultant Rishi Lakhani.

The organisers already have video archives of the conference live.

Plenty of questions were raised like is SEO doomed? How does it need to evolve? With responses like “seo will never die, its constantly evolving”, “it’s very much in its infancy, much more fractured organic marketing and skills will evolve”.

Rishi was quick to point out there needed to be a more formal structure to SEO as there is no real recognised industry body, no standards and no ethics board and the people practising SEO services were unqualified.

Bing’s Dave Coplin also pointed out that there was a real passion for SEO and that practitioners were ‘alchemists’ with no rules or career paths.

Google guy Pierre was eager to warn against link buying schemes, warning that Google search algo’s use over 200 ‘signals’ to filter out spam in search results.  There was talk of ‘rich snippets’ becoming more important.

Philip Sheldrake was up next and delved into ‘the Semantic Web and the Internet of Things’. Things got a bit ‘geeky’ at this stage as the stage echoed with discussion of ‘Web 3.0’, RDF’s (Resource Description Framework’s) and Tim Berner Lee’s four principles of linked data. I left for a coffee break with the term IPv4 spinning around my head.

Samantha Noble from Koozai digital marketing was next with great pointers on relaunching a brand online.  She said branding was more to do with the customers perception of the brand and a strong example of a great brand was Virgin, with multiple business ventures but one brand name. When she brought up the question of who had trademarked their brand, only around 10percent of delegates raised their hands.

One of the most useful practices to protect your online brand is to make sure you buy up all the top level domain names. Another great tip she mentioned was to reserve your brand name on all the major social networks  using social profile search tools like Knowem.com.

I used this trick for my Buzzsonic brand and dominate all the SERPs. A unique brand name is key. Consider that some of the biggest online brands, Ebay, Amazon, Google, Yahoo, Facebook are known for the brand name, not the keywords in the name.

As I scribbled away on my wirebound reporters notepad the people either side of me were stroking their iPads like extra’s from ‘Minority Report’.

Black Hat Microformats? Oh My God!

And we were off again with Glenn Jones and Google rich snippets, microformats, RDFa, extra semantic content and social graph API’s. Blimey, and no mention of OPML after all that!

Thanks to the brilliant Katie at iSayDigital for sparing me one of those magic Wonka tickets!

Related Reading

15 Top Quotes & Takeaways From Brighton SEO (ScreamingFrog)
BrightonSEO Conference 2012 – A Round Up (SEOFoSho)
Brighton SEO 2012 Round Up – Top 5 Takeaways from Every Talk (SiliconBeachTraining)
The Best Brighton SEO Round-up Articles (ShellShockUK)
Google Webmaster Tools
Google Rich Snippets Testing Tool
Welcome To The Koozai Blog
SearchBots: Lost Children or Hungry Psychopaths (Cloudshapes)

Why Bother Having A Resume?

I’m not a big fan of marketing ‘guru’s’ (they’re usually self proclaimed for one thing) but Seth Godin is a big exception as his words of wisdom can usually be adapted to most fields. Anyway one of his older blog posts (which seems even more relevant in todays job market) said:

“I think if you’re remarkable, amazing or just plain spectacular, you probably shouldn’t have a resume at all.”

seth-godin-action-figure

He continues:

“Here’s why: A resume is an excuse to reject you. Once you send me your resume, I can say, “oh, they’re missing this or they’re missing that,” and boom, you’re out.”

What do use in its place? Seth continues…..

“If you don’t have a resume, what do you have?

How about three extraordinary letters of recommendation from people the employer knows or respects?
Or a sophisticated project they can see or touch?
Or a reputation that precedes you?
Or a blog that is so compelling and insightful that they have no choice but to follow up?”

Read the full post….

Related Reading

Seth Godin Books
Yes, students, having your resume online really does matter (Intel.com)
Who Is Seth Godin? (Squidoo)

12 Free Small Business Tools To Bootstrap Your Start-Up

We did a inventory this week to try and discover what our most crucial tools in the office were. Things we found crucial to the way we work, things that we found cost effective (mainly free!) and things that made our lives easier, cheaper and more streamlined.

We’re probably considered tech nerds to many, we spend way too much time online, we collect social media infographics on Pinterest, we jailbreak our iPhones and are early (over) adopters of anything to do with social media, but one thing we do have in common with most is that we appreciate free stuff and it kind of took us by surprise at just how well equipped a small business can be on a shoe-string budget.

How small business is using social media
Graphic via Mashable.com

1.UBUNTU 

We’ll accept that, at least for now, the Apple Mac book’s are on hold and we like the variety of software and the familiarity of the Windows OS. So.

Having said that, if you’re really feeling the pinch you can give that old PC or laptop a real speed boost by loading it up with Ubuntu . Ubuntu is the totally free OS that runs on Linux so there’s something of a learning curve vs. Windows, but the GUI (the graphical user interface) is surprisingly easy to get to grips with and you can run Firefox, Chrome, Mozilla Thunderbird and thousands of other similar software tools that’ll make it possible to run everything you need to run a small business just as well as Windows.

Take into account too, that Linux is known to be more stable than Windows and is based on Unix, which also powers Apple’s OS. If you want to try it out without committing yourself you can even boot it up from disc first.

The free Open Source Linux/Unix based OS, Ubuntu

 

2.LIBRE OFFICE 

If you’re grabbing the download of the Ubuntu OS then this office suite will be included in the install. Libre Office is a newer spinoff of OpenOffice, which was originally run by Sun Microsystem’s as a free alternative to Microsoft Office (you’re not still paying for that are you?) and does pretty much the same things as the paid software. So, you can write documents, do spreadsheets, edit Word docs (here called ‘Writer’), edit vector graphics, do database editing and presentations (similar to Powerpoint).

 3.SKYPE 

Still paying over the odds for your phone calls? Why? Skype is pretty much ubiquitous these days and as well as using it for (free) Skype to Skype calls worldwide, you can extend its usability by using USB phones (those headsets really aren’t that cool right!) and on the move (over WiFi) with Skype mobile apps for Android and iPhone handsets.

4.DROPBOX 

I had a recent laptop burn out which not so long ago would have crippled my productivity stone cold dead. Thanks to my Dropbox sync from laptop to cloud, all my working files and documents were safe and accessible immediately. You can sync up to 2GB for free and there’s an iPhone app for handheld access and a ton of add on services to squeeze even more usability out of the service. 50GB will cost less than $10 a month. You might also try Box.net (who’s free version extends to 5GB) and the much hyped GDrive. Essential.

5. TWEETDECK 

There really is only one choice (in desktop apps) for me, for managing my Twitter (and Facebook, Foursquare and Linkedin) accounts. I’ve been using Tweetdeck for quite a while now and it was my favourite social media management tool until Twitter purchased the company and messed up all that I liked about it. Never mind, you can still ‘downgrade’ from the latest version to the ‘pre-Twitter owned’ version (hunt down the older Tweetdeck 0.38.2 from Oldapps.com) if you hate the latest version.You’ll need to install Adobe Air too.  Schedule your social media posts, keep track of hashtag searches and monitor your @mentions and followers in real time.

Hootsuite is almost up there (for me) in terms of features and usability but is web-based vs desktop and its user interface is a little cluttered for me.

6.GOOGLE ALERTS 

Besides being a voracious user of the often much maligned RSS (for which you should be using Google Reader of course) for keeping in touch with news, my most useful ace up the sleeve is by telling the mighty Goog to alert me when ever anything with my chosen keywords gets mentioned via Google Alerts. I can even tell them how often to let me know, as it happens, daily or weekly. Brilliant.

7.GOOGLE APPS FOR BUSINESS

For smaller teams (of 10 or less), Google Apps is an excellent set of collaboration tools in the cloud and include Gmail (please tell me you don’t still have a Hotmail address?), Docs and Calendar and has transformed how we work with others in many ways. Convenience.

Essential office tools in the cloud with Google-Apps

8.BIT.LY 

I love Bit.ly, the ubiquitous URL shortener. It tracks every click on those URL’s  I scatter across various social media networks, it gives me real time analytics and even lets me use my own custom shortener. Particularly useful for tracking the effectiveness of social media campaigns.

9.INVOICEABLE 

Invoiceable (ex-Invoice Bubble) is an alarmingly simple and useful free tool that enables you to use invoicing to clients. You can create professional looking invoices for free, hook it up to your Paypal account, have recurring invoices and even fire off invoices and estimates as PDF’s. Invoice Bubble is financed by small ad placement which you can remove for $5 a month.

10.TEAMLAB

Yeah, we’ve all heard of Basecamp, which kind of set the standard for online collaboration and project management, but here’s a younger upstart out of Latvia. Teamlab offer a brilliant set of business collab, document and project management , CRM and team management tools. You can import projects from Basecamp, documents from Zoho, Google Docs and Box.net and even have your team enter blogs, forums, polls, bookmarks and Wiki’s. Free. Pretty awesome. Alternatives to consider? Freedcamp and Project Bubble.

teamlab free online project management tools for business

11.WORDPRESS

We will never stop raving about WordPress simply because it offers a brilliant platform for any young (and old) upstart to launch an online enterprise, blog or store, super quick, simply and cheaply. Hook yourself up with a reliable webhosting account (one with CPanel and Fantastico) and a domain name and you can be up and running in minutes. Absolutely indispensable.

12.MAILCHIMP

We love Mailchimp too, primarily as its a great intuitive mailing list management service and also because they have a ‘forever free’ service if you have fewer than 2,000 subscribers which lets you send up to 12,000 emails per month absolutely free. You can hook it up to your WordPress blog and if things really take off upgrading isn’t going to break the bank. Such is the nature of ‘disruptive tech tools’, we are now looking into Wysija WordPress newsletter plugin (you’ll see it in use on this site very soon!).

Honourable mentions go out to Gimp (free Open Source image editing alternative to Photoshop), Google Analytics, PortableApps.com (your desktop apps on a thumb drive), Rapportive (social GMail plugin), Survey Monkey (though Goog just released this) and Remember The Milk (task manager) amongst others !

If there’s any we missed (and because of space we know there are many!) do let us know in the comments.