All posts by Tanner Petroff

About Tanner Petroff

I am currently the Director of SEO/PPC at Utah SEO Pros and have previously worked in web marketing at Deseret Digital Media, Boostability, and Sportsman's Warehouse. In my spare time, I enjoy golf, racquetball, rock climbing, and spending time with friends. Connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.

Is Google Freaking Out? MyBlogGuest Gets Penalized

Goodbye from Search Results, MyBlogGuest

Yesterday, Matt Cutts announced that his team took manual action against a prominent guest blogging network. MyBlogGuest turned out to be the ‘lucky one’ picked by Google. There’s already been a lot of talk about this. Here’s Matt Cutts’ tweet:

Google is Playing Scare Tactics

I don’t personally do a lot of guest blogging. I don’t know how much I plan to do in the future. But when it comes down to it, guest blogging must be working as an SEO ‘tactic’ like all of the tactics of days gone by. If it weren’t, Mr. Cutts wouldn’t be so dead set on making a statement.

As far as I know, none of the publishers involved with MyBlogGuest have been penalized, and I don’t believe they will. Google is trying to scare us all into straightening up and flying right from here on out. John Doherty from HotPads had some interesting stuff to say:

Is Google Really That Naive?

As a scare tactic, this might work on some. It might work on the people who are so afraid of losing rankings that they won’t put a link to their website on their social profiles. Maybe it will work on the people who actually want to make the web a better place.

You know who it won’t work on? The people still paying for links, building link networks, link wheels, or whatever trend there has been in ‘link building’ in the last decade. That means that whether MyBlogGuest even exists or not, guest blogging is still going to be a thing.

There’s no way Google really thinks that guest blogging will just stop. So then, what’s going to become of it?

Guest Blogging will Always Be a ‘Thing’

And honestly, from my perspective, how could it ever not be a thing? Regardless of the name you give it, people have been writing for other people since the dawn of time.

From an SEO standpoint, guest blogging will remain an effective way to build website authority until Google stops looking at links as a ranking factor.

What’s Up With AdWords Enhanced Campaigns?

AdWords Enhanced Campaigns - Easier For Businesses?

If you’re unaware, here’s the gist of Enhanced Campaigns

Google introduced Enhanced campaigns so that you could easily manage and control bids, locations, ad types, and extensions from a single campaign easily. So for those of you running 20-30 campaigns in any given account, this update is for you. Desktop and tablet bids are now synonymous, and you can adjust your bids by percentage on mobile devices (but not tablets), location, or time of day.

Photo Credit - Google

Photo Credit – Google

I’m not worried about average CPCs jumping up

I know there’s been a lot of talk about the whole enhanced campaign “upgrade” that every campaign will automatically be switched to this coming Monday, July 22nd. Most people claim it’s the apocalypse of Google AdWords and cheap mobile clicks. Since everyone will be automatically set up to bid on mobile devices, there is the possibility that competition for mobile device terms will go up, and so will CPC prices. However, that’s really not what I’m concerned about.

Why did Google take control away from me?

Why am I no longer able to bid on tablets? The browsers are different, and render differently, so what gives? I’ve thought through this many times, and I can’t figure out what on earth Google was thinking when they decided not to let me bid on tablets. They even kept tablets and desktops in different categories, but just took my control away. Serious?

AdWords Enhanced Campaigns Devices

What happened to practical application?

This is another question I can’t seem to find an answer to. Say that I’m in the middle of an awareness campaign for a business with a few different locations. I’m allowing Google to set my bids for me to get the maximum amount of clicks. This works well, until I decide that I would also like to increase my bid on mobile devices within a couple miles of each location. Since enhanced campaigns should give me complete control over my bidding, I should be able to handle all of this in a single campaign, under a single budget, right? Sadly, no. In this case, I’ll still need to create an additional campaign to set manual bids by location. Is that lame, or what?

There’s still hope, this product is young

I’m hoping that Google asks for a lot of feedback. I’d be happy to provide my own. In the end, these frustrations are pretty minor. Rolling out a newly developed product never goes over totally smooth, and especially not a change of this scale by a behemoth like Google. Developers will be working hard from here on out to make the product better, or at least, that’s my hope. Maybe soon, there will be even more functionality.

Link Building Isn’t Bad – Matt Cutts Confirms How I’ve Felt All Along

Link building isn’t bad

Link Building Isn't Bad - TannerPetroff.com

Matt Cutts recently said in an interview with Eric Enge on the Stone Temple blog that link building is not illegal, and not even inherently bad.

Eric Enge: There are people who think link building is illegal now. Is link building illegal?

Matt Cutts: No, link building is not illegal.

Eric Enge: Really?

Matt Cutts: It’s funny because there are some types of link building that are illegal, but it’s very clear-cut: hacking blogs, that sort of thing is illegal.

Matt even goes on to clarify shortly after that he’s not being literal about the legality of link building. He’s referring to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Got that?

Wait, who is this Matt Cutts guy?

For those of you who don’t know, Matt Cutts is a renowned Google engineer that originally wrote Google SafeSearch. Apparently the folks at Google thought he did such a great job with SafeSearch that he should head up the webspam team. Now, anytime there’s an algorithm update, you can be sure who is behind it. If you’re a blackhat SEO, then Matt is probably your nemesis. Also, you should probably get with the times.

Matt Cutts - expert guy | TannerPetroff.com

This doesn’t mean all link building is good

There is a lot of link building that is spammy. Low quality directories, article directories, article banks, comment spam, forum spam, etc. These types of link building tactics have been targeted by previous algorithm updates (Panda, Penguin) that many webmasters have whined and moaned about endlessly. If these are the kinds of links you are building, then just stop right now. It’s time for you to look at SEO in a new light.

No Spam - TannerPetroff.com

Start looking at SEO like marketing

It’s kind of strange concept, that SEO is marketing, right? No. It’s always been marketing. Just like print, direct mail, billboards and radio ads are marketing, so is SEO – and every other form of web marketing for that matter. I hadn’t been working in SEO very long when the Panda update came about. Before Panda, I thought of SEO as manipulation because that’s how I was taught it worked.

I’ve decided to change how I look at marketing since then. This isn’t anything revolutionary, but I like to look at marketing in just three ways: owned, earned, and paid media. Owned media being the properties you own, like putting signs on your building, and adding content to your blog or website, earned media being press, referrals, or any other organically generated lead/sale, and paid media being billboards, PPC, direct mail, and most other types of marketing you’re probably thinking of. Can you guess where SEO falls in? Yep – earned media. And as such, it must be earned.

But in a lot of ways, if you think like a good marketer and think about what will appeal to people, you will find your job as an SEO and getting links or trying to build your links will be easier as well. -Matt Cutts

Build a website your audience will love… And links

My opinion is that this is going to be the way to do SEO from here on out. Build something great, tell your friends, share it socially, reach out to influencers and ask people to help you out. You might be surprised at how willing people around the web are to help you out.

Google AdWords Keyword Tool Shutting Down

Goodbye AdWords Keyword Tool

Well, it’s been a long run, and we’ve had some good times, AdWords Keyword tool. You’ve given me hundreds of thousands of ideas over the last few years, and helped make my job a lot easier. But it’s nearly time for us to say goodbye. How you will ever be replaced, I do not know… Wait, yes I do.

Goodbye AdWords Keyword Tool

Hello AdWords Keyword Planner

So far, I don’t like you. But that’s no real reason to fret. I didn’t like the AdWords Keyword tool at first, either. Don’t take it so hard, I’ve just spent a lot of time with that tool.

Hello Google Keyword Planner

I’ll admit, there are some features you have that I’ve been missing and waiting for in the AdWords keyword tool. I can exclude keywords like ‘free’ and ‘cheap,’ filter by search volume, cost-per-click, and even competition without exporting to a spreadsheet, and save all of my data straight to my account.

Features I've Wanted

But whatever happened to usability? Why do you make it so difficult to find the ‘broad match,’ ‘phrase match,’ and ‘exact match’ options? Why do I have to ‘modify’ my search all at one time rather than add keywords as I scroll through the pages? Why does the tool seem so slow and slightly buggy?

What Happened to Usability?

I know, you’re still young. It will probably take some time for you to figure out all the kinks. We’ll see how much your developers care about you in the coming months. I’m open to the idea of being pleasantly surprised by the end result. So far, though, I don’t like you.

Link Roundup – Week of June 9

There’s been a lot happening this week in the worlds of tech and marketing. Here’s a roundup of everything you need to keep you up to date.

SEO:

I Think I Might Have Been Wrong About Voice Search - Moz.com by Will Critchlow

Now Updated: The Periodic Table Of SEO Success Factors - SearchEngineLand.com

SEO Tactics Die, But SEO Never Will – Moz.com by Dr. Pete

PPC:

Half Of Display Ads Not Seen By Anyone - adcontrarian.blogspot.com by Bob Hoffman

Study: Rich Media Mobile Ads Create More User Interaction Than Standard Banners – Clickz.com by Caitlin Rossman

Tech:

Why Some of the World’s Most Productive People Have Empty Schedules - LifeHacker.com by Drake Baer

Facebook Finally Gets Hashtag Support – Mashable.com by Christina Warren

Twitter Opens Up Analytics Platform to All for Free – TheNextWeb.com

What Firewalking Can Teach You About You (and Business)

Firewalk Header

A friend of mine was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. As a self employed dog groomer, she doesn’t have a lot of money to pay for medical bills. As she gets further along with her treatment, those medical bills will pile up faster and faster. To help her raise money, her family organized a firewalk where all proceeds were donated to her.

I’ve walked on fire before, but nobody I work with had. I sent out an invite to everyone at the office and got a few people who wanted to go, but weren’t able to make it, seeing that it was late on a Friday night. Apparently weekends are important to people I work with. ;)

Just a few hours before the walk started, though, the president of the company walked over to my desk and said, “So what’s with this firewalk thing? Count me in, and my wife, too.” By the end of the night, he was asking the director of the firewalk if they do these for businesses, based on what he had learned. Like I said, I’ve walked on fire before. Every time I learn something new. Here are a few things I learned about me (and business) this go-around.

Reality is Merely Perception

As the firewalk instructor began to cue up the evening, he circled the group (about 100+ people) around him and asked everyone how many of him there were. Most people answered the obvious answer – 1. There’s only one guy teaching everyone else about the firewalk, right? Wrong. The answer, due to this thing called ‘perception’ meant that in that group of 100+, there were 101+ versions of the director. Everything I believe about the director is based on my beliefs and experiences. Everyone in the group has different experiences and beliefs, and therefore, everyone has a different perception of the director of the firewalk.

This really got me thinking, and I imagine this was the purpose of what he said. If in my world (I know it as reality), the instructor exists as a kind, wise person, but in someone else’s reality, he is a rude, idiotic buffoon, who is right? Well, I am. And so is the other person. And so is everyone else. All because of this weird thing called perception.

Big Fire - tannerpetroff.com

So naturally, I applied this to my life at the office. The other day, I got in an argument with a co-worker about whether or not we should purchase billboard space for one of our customers. My argument was that it wasn’t going to drive leads, it would be a lot of work to design the ad and website to send people to for contact information. My co-workers argument is that it the campaign wasn’t based on driving leads, but rather on branding and awareness. Who was right in that situation? I was. And so was my co-worker. I sure didn’t see it that way, though. I fought tooth and nail for what I perceived as right, because I thought it was the only answer. How many unpleasant conversations or situations could I have cut out of my life if I realized that there is always more than one answer?

The Firewalk is a Like a Mirror

When it came time to finally walk across the burning coals, I noticed a lot of things. Some people were calm, focused, and peaceful as they crossed the fire. Others were nervous, waiting at one side of the fire for several minutes before crossing or deciding that now was not the time for them to cross the fire.

Owen and Betsy Firewalk - tannerpetroff.com

I noticed that a lot of the people who were calm, focused, and peaceful crossed with what seemed like no trouble at all. They ended up on the other side as if they were doing nothing more than taking a Sunday stroll down a city street. As for the people who were nervous, there seemed to be a variety of outcomes. Some people waited until they were ready, and nervous as they still were, they walked and ended up fine. Others walked while they weren’t ready, and they would try to run, burying their feet deeper into

the coals than most. These are the people who were most likely to get burns or blisters on their feet.

I personally was a bit nervous, but had no hesitation crossing the fire. I walked side-by-side with my wife, who was holding my hand the whole way. At the very end, I felt a pocket of extreme heat and jumped a small jump to the other end of the fire. This morning, I have a small burn on my foot, and I believe it’s a perfect reflection of how I work and interact with people. Life can be scary. Work can be scary. Sometimes I just have to keep moving, anyway. Sometimes when I’m in the middle of something scary, I forget how to deal with it, and freak out, and sometimes it causes me to get burned. I feel like I’ve been burned a time or two in my life, and it’s perfect for me because it’s exactly what I create for myself.

Trust Goes a Long Way

Of all the people who walked across the fire without being burned, what number do you think they would rate their trust in themselves, on a scale from 1-10? Judging by how calm and peaceful they were as they walked across the fire, I would guess a minimum or 8,

and more likely a 9 or 10. What about those who were nervous and waited for several minutes on one side of the fire? A 4 or 5? And what about those who rand and were burned? A 3 or 4? I don’t know all the answers, but these are my guesses.

If you asked me last night about my level of trust in myself, what do you think it would be? If you guessed a 6.5, you’d be right on. And – surprise! – I got burned. How often in work do I allow myself to be burned solely on the fact that I don’t trust myself? What would life at work be like for me and everyone I work with if I were able to trust in my ideas, and to know that the ideas everyone else has are perfect, as they are shaped by their beliefs and experiences they know to be reality.

Linzy Boulter Breast Cancer Fire Walk

Donate to Linzy

P.S. I briefly mentioned this at the beginning of my post, but this firewalk I’m writing about was a fundraiser for Linzy Boulter, who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. If you’d like to donate to help her pay for medical bills, get in touch with me and I’ll point you in the right direction.

Moz – The New SEOmoz Without the SEO

Photo Credit – Moz

SEOmoz Rebrands – Drops SEO

The last week or so has been a big week for Rand Fishkin of Moz. His company dropped the ‘SEO’ from ‘SEOmoz’ and while this may be a small thing to many people, I think this is a big deal. Moz says they are rebranding for a number of reasons, including no longer wanting to be limited by having ‘SEO’ in their name (mainly due to recent acquisitions), SEO being more than just SEO, pronunciation, and general branding/marketing purposes. I think they nailed it.

SEO Carries a Negative Connotation – Like It or Not

The first reason I think they nailed the rebrand is that people view SEO as smoke and mirrors or manipulation. If you’ve ever had to sell a C-level exec on the value of SEO, you’ve probably run into this. This is something many people in the SEO industry know and just don’t want to accept. There have been far too many snake-oil salesman that offer black-hat services or are flat out scams that reflect very poorly on the entire industry. While there are plenty of legitimate agencies, freelancers, and in-house SEOs, there is no real way to escape what has come from poor services. A lot of work has been done to fix these problems, but there’s no way to fully recover from that perception.

SEO is Evolving

Another reason I think they nailed it is that SEO isn’t just SEO anymore. It hasn’t been for awhile. The days of the ’10 Blue Links’ are long gone, and aren’t coming back. Search algorithms have evolved and the SEO industry has to come with it, or else it’s going to fall behind. You can’t just build a site that has the basics down well anymore. Now that schema markup, social factors, brand mentions, and more are being factored into what websites rank, there’s no way to be an SEO without working in other spheres like content marketing, social media marketing, or conversion optimization. This is the new kind of SEO.

Signaling a Change In the Industry

This is where I think the rebranding is really going for Moz. This new kind of SEO is quickly becoming a hot topic in the industry. Some people call it inbound marketing, some people call it SEO. Others call it web marketing or internet marketing. I’m not personally attached to whatever you call this ‘new’ marketing (it’s not really new, just a holistic mentality of SEO/web marketing that the industry should have been paying attention to all along), but I work for a company that does inbound marketing, so for now, I’ll stick with that. Inbound marketing is what we do, and we do it well. I recently wrote this blog on the Fit Marketing website called Why Inbound Marketing is More than SEO.

I hope this is a good transition point for the web marketing world. It’s time for the industry to grow up, and it has done a lot of growing in just the last few years. I’m excited to see what happens next.

Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid of Penguin 2.0 (Or Why You Really Should)

What Penguin Is

Google’s Penguin update was originally intended to cut down on low quality ‘spam’ websites appearing in search results. This was the first update that specifically targeted the quality of links coming to your site or going out from it. Before we get too far into it, here’s a quick recap of the Penguin updates so far:

  • Penguin 1 on April 24, 2012
  • Penguin 2 on May 26, 2012
  • Penguin 3 on October 5, 2012
  • Penguin 4 (AKA Penguin 2.0) on May 22, 2013

Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid

Penguin 2.0 is a deeper technology of the original Penguin update, which was targeted at people who have been using manipulative link building tactics to game search engines. I’m not just talking about submitting your site to a general web directory, though many low quality web directories were deindexed around the time Penguin rolled out; I’m talking about spam. Link networks, blog networks, dynamically generated low quality content, etc. Another thing that made this update unique is that it takes into consideration where your site is linking to, not just where the links are coming from. The update wasn’t perfect in the beginning, and that’s why it’s evolved over the last year or so.

The biggest reason you shouldn’t be worried – Google Webmaster Tools. Check your account and make sure you don’t have any messages. If you don’t have any messages from Google waiting for you titled “Unnatural Links Warning,” then you should be just fine for now. This means that no link penalty/manual action has been taken against your site. If you’ve got a message, then you should start cleaning up your link profile as best you can, then get ready to disavow the links you can’t get removed and send in a reconsideration request. There’s no reason to sit around and play the blame game, just move straight ahead to recovery.

Why Penguins and Other Cute-Sounding Animal Updates Should Scare You

Like I said earlier, these updates aren’t perfect the moment they roll out. There will always be a few unfortunate cases where good sites with solid practices get the short end of the stick. Sometimes you may never recover from an update like this. That’s why it’s very important to make sure your traffic is coming from a number of sources.

Also, just because your site hasn’t been dinged by the algo yet doesn’t mean it’s not coming. If you’ve been up to some manipulative link practices, just know that as the algorithm gets smarter, the more likely it is that your site gets hit, or manual action is taken against you.

What’s Next in SEO?

I’ll let Matt Cutts take it away with this one:

Why I’m Excited to See What Yahoo! Does Next, and Couldn’t Care Less about Bing/Microsoft/Xbox

The Good

Things have been different ever since Marissa Mayer (former Googler) took over as CEO at Yahoo! last year. I think it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to that company. I’ve always found myself wanting to root for the underdogs in the race for search dominance, but Google has long since declared itself the winner of that battle.

However, it seems that Marissa Mayer knows that search isn’t exactly Yahoo!’s thing, at least not yet. In case you’ve been living under a rock the last couple of weeks, you’ve heard that Yahoo! just acquired Tumblr, the blogging website. Less than 24 hours after announcing that acquisition, Yahoo! also announced that every Flickr user would get an entire terabyte of storage for all of their photos. Oh, did I mention that they’re giving it away for free? Yeah, it’s free; talk about awesome.

Buying companies and making cooler products isn’t all Mayer has been up to, either. She’s also been working hard to solve the company cultures issues that have been plaguing Yahoo! for years. Employees are now required to work from the office; telecommuting is no longer an option. Everyone on the web heard the moans and groans of the ones affected by this change, but that’s what happens when you try to change the way things get done. Even though Mayer had an easy pregnancy and was back to work within five days of having a child, she upped the amount of maternity/paternity leave her employees get. Substantially.

This is the first time in a long time I’ve been excited to see what Yahoo! does next. Hey, I might even be tempted to start using Yahoo! search next time I’m doing a bit of research. I wonder how Google feels about their former employee turning their competition into a real thing again.

The Bad

While the ‘Bing It On‘ challenge is admirable, showing that their results are “As good as, or maybe better than,” Google’s results is not only a day late, but also a dollar short. Nobody cares for the mediocre, and why switch something like your primary search engine if you’re not getting anything new from it?

Search isn’t the only thing about Microsoft I don’t care for. The XBOX One was just announced yesterday, and I couldn’t care less about it. The console won’t play games from the 360 console, and I don’t watch enough TV or sports to care about the deal they struck with a cable company. I may eventually buy one, but only if the PS4 proves to be a bust.

The Ugly

This seems to be how I feel about everything that Microsoft is doing right now. I walked into a Windows store the other day, only to find that it was a sad ripoff of the Apple store. Once again, set your sights high, Microsoft. People are bound to stop buying those simple to use iPhones and iPads once they see that Windows 8 devices come in packaging and from a store that is “as good as,” Apple. Just kidding, Microsoft. Nobody cares that you are copycats, and I’m sure your sales will show it.

5 Steps to Improve Organic Search Rankings

Search Engine Optimization seems to have a bad reputation with bloggers and business owners all over the place. This is most likely because the only exposure they’ve had to SEO is either: 1) The ‘snake oil salesman,’ who sells them on the dream of the 1/2 hr work week; Or 2) When someone spammed their blog with comments that sound like someone chewed up the English language and spit it out back into the comment. Just like every industry, there are people who give the rest of us a bad name. The good news is that SEO done right can drive a significant amount of qualified traffic to your site. Whether your site is brand new or has been around for 15 years, this quick guide will help you earn more traffic to your site. There are hundreds or thousands of ways to help a website rank. This guide is by no means comprehensive, and is just one method I know works. Remember that there will always be a different way to get things done.

1. Research Your Keywords

This is one of the most effective things you can do for your company, product, or service. Find the words people are searching when they are in need of a product or service like yours. The trick is to find keywords that will send the most qualified traffic (longtail keywords). Once you have found a list of keywords, move on to the next step.

Keyword research tools to help:

2. Create Valuable, Share-able Content

It may be worth looking into what kind of content your audience wants to see before doing your keyword research. Find the keywords people search to find the content your audience wants to read, watch, and share. Whether you choose to create blogs, white papers, videos, infographics, or any other type of content, make sure it is easily share-able on the networks your audience uses most.

Bonus tip:

Create persona models for each potential customer/client demographic, and create content designed to convert each persona in each step of the sales funnel.

3. Make Your Content Find-able

Whether you blog once a month or post hundreds of news stories every day, your content doesn’t do anyone any good if it can’t be found. Rather than letting all of that hard work go to waste, organize your content in the way that makes the most sense, whether that be by date, subject, author, or whatever makes the most sense for your site. Making your content find-able will not only help your audience navigate your site better, it will also be easier for search engines to find and index your content.

Bonus tip:

Use a sitemap.xml file to guide search engines to every page you want them to index.

4. Optimize Your Site

Unless you are a bit more web/dev savvy, this step might require you to hire out some help. Check your URL structure, post names, page titles,  and meta descriptions. Also take a look at the way you link to content internally, the way you use canonical URLs, and check for dead links (404 Errors). Use the keyword research you have already done to dictate what changes need to be made by adding your keywords to the places that are most relevant if they haven’t already been placed there.

With large sites that have dynamically created content, as well as ecommerce sites, be sure to check for duplicate content and the proper use of canonical URLs. Also be sure to have a plan in place to archive old content or redirect products that no longer exist or have been removed from the site. These can create major headaches down the road if you aren’t able to fix the problems early on.

Site audit tools to help:

5. Find Link Opportunities

I won’t go into too much depth here, but links pointing to your site from other people’s sites are the biggest factor search engines look at when deciding what to rank for specific key terms. Not all links are created equal, and there are some serious consequences for acquiring links to your site in a way that doesn’t fall in line with Google’s webmaster guidelines.

First and foremost, if you haven’t already reached out to your family and friends about your business or website, now is a great time to do so. You might be surprised how many people have a blog of their own and would be happy to link to your site if you just ask.

If you’ve already told everyone and their dog about your site, then now is a good time to expand your search for opportunities to get links. If your competitors are ranking ahead of you for the keywords you care about, take a look at what they’re doing to rank so highly. If you can, try to get links from the same kinds of places, assuming they aren’t spammy or from a ‘bad link neighborhood.’

If your competitors aren’t giving you much to work with, there’s a whole world of opportunity out there. Finding places to get links is as much an art as it is a science. It takes a bit of skill that can’t really be taught, but I believe deep down that everyone can make the connections they need to be successful.

Link opportunity tools:

Bonus tip:

Act! My grandpa always used to tell me “You know, in basketball, over 98% of shots never taken don’t go in the basket.” The same is true with each of the steps I’ve outlined above. Reading about changing your site isn’t going to help you get any further down the road without action.