How to Filter Link Opportunities with Open Site Explorer and Excel

Open Site Explorer is an extremely useful tool for finding out who links to a specific site. You can export your competitor’s link data and use Excel to filter the best link opportunities to the top. Like mining for gold, you often have to filter through a lot of worthless stuff to get to the gold nuggets.

Here is my process for filtering link opportunities with Open Site Explorer and Excel.

1. Go to You will need a Pro membership with Moz or a free trial.

2. Enter the URL of a website that you want to mine for link opportunities and click “Search.”

3. Select “only follow”, “only external”, “pages on this root domain”, and “show links ungrouped” from the drop down menus.


4. Click on Export to CSV.


5. Open the CSV file in Microsoft Excel (I use Excel for Mac).

6. Turn the sheet into a table by clicking on the cell in the first column and second row and clicking on the create table icon.


7. Go through the rows and highlight rows that are good link opportunities. You can use different shades of color to indicate the level of opportunity. If you go by the temperature of stars, yellow cells can be moderately hot targets and blue cells can be very hot targets.


8. Click on the table header to filter the highlighted rows to the top of the table.


9. Work on taking action with the highlighted opportunities. When an action is taken, write a note and change the highlighted color to gray. If it turns into a link, change the color to green (or use your own color scheme).

10. Create a Google Doc and keep track of your link wins over time. Seeing your list of links grow can keep the motivation going.


The Value of Intangible Value

Marketers produce massive value for the global economy however most people don’t perceive marketing as an honored profession. In fact, according to a recent Gallop Poll, only 11% of people rated the honesty and ethical standards of advertising practitioners as very high or high. The only two professions that were lower were members of congress and car salespeople. Why is the perception of marketing professionals so poor?

There are several reasons, but I think that one of them is that marketers produce intangible rather than tangible value. We can’t always measure the intangible value because it is something that we experience in our mind. And because of that people often think of intangible value as being inferior or not real.

Very often however, intangible value greatly outweighs the tangible value in our lives or the marketplace.

Take the house you live in for example. The land and building has real tangible value and a price that can looked up on However your “home” contains tremendous intangible value for most people. Your home contains the emotions associated with the collective memories of experiences shared with your family over the years and that is priceless.

If you look at some of the most successful brands, a large portion of their value is considered to be intangible value.

Click image to open interactive version (via My Asset Tag).

A good example of a wildly successful company that is mostly intangible value is Apple. The Apple laptop does not perform essential functions like browse the Internet or run programs significantly better than an Acer laptop, and yet the Apple has a significantly higher perceived value. Most of the difference in value comes from the brilliant marketing that has resulted in a strong emotional (and sometimes irrational) attachment to the brand. This intangible value is real value that gets people to pay a large premium.

In this great TED talk, Rory Sutherland discusses some of the virtues of intangible value. He points out that while tangible value requires raw materials, energy, and labor, intangible value just requires a good idea. He suggests that changing the perception of something can be just as satisfying as changing the reality.

Peter Drucker famously wrote: “Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two — and only two — basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.”

However, the innovators are often given most of the credit while marketers are often made out to be manipulators or villians (e.g. Don Draper). The engineers or the visionary entrepreneurs are praised and admired for creating massive value. Marketers should also be appreciated for the value they create. As Darmesh Shah said at Mozcon 2013, “Let’s make marketing a noble profession.”

Charles Sipe is an online marketing specialist from Seattle and shares interesting marketing links on Google+ and Twitter (@charlessipe). If you have any questions, he can be reached at charles(at)

8 Valuable Takeaways from Mozcon 2013

Every year, Moz brings together some of the most innovative and forward-thinking online marketers for three full days of presentations that are overflowing with insights and tips. Here are some of my key insights from Mozcon 2013.

moz-1Become an Early Adopter to Get Disproportionate Rewards

Darmesh Shah talked about how he was one of the first people invited to publish articles on the new LinkedIn Today publishing platform and already has over a million views. He suggests that in order to get leverage in marketing you can’t do what everyone else is doing. First movers who can take advantage of new opportunities have an advantage in inbound marketing.

Like Engineers, Marketers Can Make a Huge Impact by Using Leverage

Darmesh Shah observed that engineers and marketers both make an impact by using leverage. For engineers the leverage is the code for software that is used by the masses while for marketers a piece of content can also be leveraged to impact large audiences.

There’s No Excuse for Not Producing High Quality Videos

Phil Nottingham gave a compelling argument for producing high quality video and explained how it is fairly inexpensive to produce “White Board Friday” quality video content. He showed how using a $100 lapel microphone and a $500 lighting rig makes a tremendous difference and looks highly professional. He gave an example of Zillow’s smart strategy to interview local realtors which naturally led to the realtors embedding the video on their own site. Interviews of customers or tutorials also make great content which can be transcribed to produce unique text content for product pages.

Changing Copy or Images Can Make a Huge Impact on Conversion

Kyle Rush, who worked on the Obama Campaign, suggested focusing on changing the copy or the image on landing pages to make the biggest impact on conversion. Changing the headline on a page to be more direct: “Now, save your payment information”, led to a 21% increase in conversion. Also, changing the image for the contest to win dinner with the President from a first person view to an image of two people having dinner with the President led to a 19% increase in conversion. Conversely, focusing on colors or shapes of buttons was largely a waste of time.

Be Prepared When Google Eats Your Lunch with New Search Results

Dr. Pete’s presentation showed numerous variations of search results that can make your top ranking irrelevant. In many cases they are providing answers and information in the search results so that you don’t have to leave Google. This is frightening because Google can intercept a lot of your traffic overnight if it targets your vertical. Some examples provided include auto insurance comparisons, flight information, and sports scores. Dr. Pete recommends focusing on selling before ranking so you are less dependent on Google.

Google +1’s Have a Surprisingly High Correlation to Rankings

According to Moz’s 2013 Ranking Factors study, Google +1’s are highly correlated to rankings. The .3 correlation that was calculated was the second highest correlation found and higher than the number of linking root domains (.29). Facebook shares (.26) and Tweets (.21) also had relatively high correlations. Are social signals catching up to links? It looks like social signals have become more of a factor in the algorithm.

Email Communication Hacks to Be More Effective

Carin Overturf from Moz shared some valuable tips for being more effective with email communication. She suggests to use your subject line as a headline that sets expectations for the recipient. Using bold and underline can make your email easier to skim and make your team’s communication more efficient.

Internet Traffic Will Shift to Smart Phones

Karen McGrane discussed the digital divide that many people don’t realize still exists in the United States. 20% of Americans have no Internet access and 35% don’t have broadband Internet access at home. However, almost everyone has a phone and most will eventually have a smart phone. Will Critchlow shared the fact that 77% of mobile searches are done at a location where a PC is available. Matthew Brown stated that 30% of Internet traffic will be mobile by the end of 2013 if the trend line continues. As most of the population shifts their Internet time to mobile, marketers will need to provide a great experience for smaller devices.

More Mozcon Coverage

MozCon 2013 Highlights & Quotes Content Harmony

The SEO State of the Union – Mozcon 2013 Ghergich & Co

Mozcon Day Two: Live Blogging! Search Engine Journal

MozCon 2013 Takeaways & Insights Kern Media

Insights and Tips from Mozcon 2013 – Liveblog Marketing Degree Today

101 SEO Tips from MozCon 2013 Day 1 Blast Analytics & Marketing

Presentation Slides from Mozcon:

Charles Sipe is an online marketing specialist from Seattle. He shares interesting marketing links on Google+ and Twitter (@charlessipe).

20 Influential Marketers Share Their Best Productivity Hack

Marketers often work long hours to execute strategies that deliver results for their companies and to keep their skills current with the constantly changing industry. This can come at the cost of our well-being and happiness due to less time spent on things like exercise, socializing with friends and family, and memorable experiences. Increasing your productivity can, as Tim Ferriss puts it, “maximize your per hour output” so you can get more free time or become more effective. I contacted dozens of influential marketers to ask them about their top productivity hack for getting the most out of their workday and they generously shared the following responses.

kane-jamisonFor me, it’s avoiding Twitter. Aside from that, for sales & proposals I work from a templated document using proposal software called Quote Roller. Makes the proposal process much faster. Finally, working towards building out checklists and procedures internally helps cut down on errors and misunderstandings. The more complex our processes get, the more I’m realizing the need for documentation earlier rather than later.
-Kane Jamison is the founder of the content marketing agency Content Harmony. @KaneJamison

sujan-patelMy most effective and simple productivity hack to get the most out of my workday is to start early. I start my day between 6 to 630am which gives me 2-3 hours of uninterrupted work time. During this time I get 65% of my days work out of the way. The rest of the 8-9 hours I work I’m bombarded with phone calls, emails, instant messages which gets me side tracked.
-Sujan Patel is the founder of Single Grain, a leading digital marketing agency in San Francisco. @sujanpatel

dan-shureMy biggest productivity hack is to work on your most important project first thing in the day and don’t check email or Twitter until almost lunch. If you get a solid three hours in uninterrupted work first thing, I consider that highly productive. If you need to grab info or something from your email, use the pause inbox plugin so you’re not seeing any new messages show up to distract you.
-Dan Shure is the owner of Evolving SEO and hosts the video series No Board SEO. @dan_shure

jon-cooperI really don’t have any productivity hack. The only thing relating to this topic is that I ask myself one simple question before doing something, which is “is this the best use of my time to make the most money possible?” That ends up discarding a lot of tasks and help me reach my goals faster. Granted, I’ve only recently employed this after observing a few investors I highly respect, and I’m still not the most disciplined, but all in all, it’s changed the way I think about the whole “getting shit done” mantra. You can try to be as productive as possible, but at the end of the day, it’s about what you do, not how fast/productive you can be in terms of going about it.
-Jon Cooper is the owner of Point Blank SEO, a link building blog and course. @PointBlankSEO

rand-fishkinMy biggest hack is my schedule and my rigid discipline on communication and work channels. Basically, if it’s not on my Google calendar or in Gmail, it doesn’t happen. I stick to a modified version of inbox 0 and am always working to get down to nothing in my email – every task I have sits there, often in an email from myself. I use it like a checklist, and am only interrupted from polishing it off by meetings on my calendar.

My schedule is also pretty strict. I wake up ~8:30am, do email until 10am, get to work between 10:30-11am, have meetings and coffees and team communication stuff until ~6pm, head home, eat dinner with my wife, and am back online from 10pm-1am to clear out the rest of my inbox and, if I have the chance, blog.
-Rand Fishkin is the founder and CEO of Moz, a provider of marketing analytics software. @randfish

james-agateMy biggest productivity hack I think goes against everything that the experts tell you which is that I stay on top of my emails throughout the day to stop things getting out of control in my inbox. So I get up early (another top tip), early enough to get some quiet work done before the rest of the world wakes up, clear through my inbox which has only had the 10 hours to fill up if you count sleep a leisure time. I operate a one-touch policy for email so basically I open and deal with it in less than 2 mins so that might be write a response, Boomerang for another time, assign to a team member, delete etc.

I used to have a terrible habit of opening every email then leaving it as a read email sat in my inbox for an entire day if not longer thinking about how I am going to deal with it. Now I have forced myself to deal with it in less than 2 minutes.

I always clear out my inbox before starting task related work because I find it helps clear my mind and ensures our customers have had responses, my team know what they are doing and I can focus on the specific tasks rather than getting sidetracked thinking “A client won’t know what is going on with X, Y or Z because I didn’t respond to them.”

So when it comes to task work my other top tip is the Pomodoro Technique, it has taken real perseverance to make this a permanent fixture in my work day but what a difference it makes to productivity and it also forces me to take leisure breaks in the day and do important things like actually eat lunch 🙂
-James Agate is the CEO of Skyrocket SEO, a link building agency to digital marketing companies and major brands. @jamesagate

john-wallMy number one hack is “Big Rocks First.” Covey and the Merrills have an excellent book on time management called “First Things First.” Find some time before your week begins, many use Sunday night, to look at the calendar for the week. You need to select the five most important things you need to get done and fit them into the calendar. If you don’t set this time aside you’ll get crushed by the “tyranny of the urgent” – there’s always unlimited email to answer, meetings with co-workers and other urgent but not really important tasks that can fill your week.

Think of your week as a jar – it has limited capacity. The important items are the rocks. Email, social media, meetings and other less important things are sand. You’ve got to put the big rocks in first – you’ll still have space for sand in there. If you just start pouring in the sand, you’ll fill the jar and the important stuff will never get done.
-John Wall is the co-host of Marketing Over Coffee and author of B2B Marketing Confessions. @johnjwall

drpeteI’m a big fan of simple techniques, and one I’ve come to like a lot is the Pomodoro Technique. Basically, you work in uninterrupted blocks of 25 minutes and then take a 5-minute break. It’s a bit more complex than that, and there are many variants, but I find that focused work – that means no email, no Twitter, etc., is absolutely amazing for productivity. Writing and planning especially benefit. For a while, I experimented with doing 8 blocks per day, and that 4 hours of uninterrupted work time was more productive than my average 8-10 hour day. It is shockingly difficult to find 8 uninterrupted blocks of time (or make them, as the case may be), but I still try to use the concept daily, in whatever way I can manage.
-Dr. Peter J. Meyers is a Marketing Scientist at Moz and owner of User Effect, a strategic usability consulting firm. @dr_pete

danny-doverBy far the productivity hack that has made the biggest impact on my life is getting everything with due dates out of your head and into a system that I trust. (This is a philosophy from David Allen’s Getting Things Done). Regardless if it is due in three hours or three days, every item goes into my OmniFocus system. From there it syncs with my phone and computer and is never more than a arms length away. With this setup, I don’t worry about having to remember the milk or to post a blog post because I wake up every morning with a list of all of the things that need to get done that day. I rarely go a day without completing the list and I never have to worry about forgetting important tasks.
-Danny Dover is the co-founder of the marketing training course Making It Click and shares his bucket list adventures at Life Listed. He is also the author of the book Search Engine Optimization Secrets. @dannydover

ross-hudgensMy #1 productivity hack is to create uninterrupted time in my workday – where it’s just me, silence, and the computer. This is generally around 6AM or before anyone else gets to the office. Distractions are simply that – and very tough to get around, even with willpower. The way to get over that is to force solutions.

My second hack is to schedule blog posts for times I’m traveling. The noise of people responding and tweeting posts are especially distracting to productivity, so I find that if I force the posts live at unproductive times (such as on a plane/at a conference), it’s the most optimal way to get benefit without cost.
-Ross Hudgens is the founder of Siege Media, a digital marketing consultancy that specializes in businesses that operate online. @RossHudgens

jayson-demersMy top productivity hack for getting the most out of my workday is simple: Stay organized. I’ve got lots of to-do lists, but they’re very accessible and easy to work from. As long as I know what I need to do each day, I have no problem actually doing it. Recently, I’ve started using Producteev, which is a task management software that helps my employees and I sync up on tasks that need to be done, along with deadlines and collaboration tools as well. So far, I really like it!
-Jayson DeMers is the Founder & CEO, AudienceBloom, an SEO firm that specializes in link building and social media marketing. @jaysondemers

ian-lurieEveryone has to use something like Pomodoro to manage their time. You need to set out 25-45 minute blocks of time that are ‘interruption proof,’ and then set ground rules for your co-workers. Without this kind of interruption management, it’s impossible to get anything done.
-Ian Lurie is the founder and CEO of Portent, a leading internet marketing company. @portentint

neil-patelI spend a lot of my time within my email inbox, so to save time I use, which unsubscribes me from any junk mail I receive. This saves me roughly 30 minutes a day.

I also respond to emails right after opening them, versus responding later on. This again saves me roughly 30 minutes a day as I don’t have to re-read emails later on.
-Neil Patel is the founder of the analytics companies KISSmetrics and CrazyEgg and blogs regularly about online marketing at Quick Sprout. @neilpatel

mike-ramseyRescueTime has been great for me. Its a free tool to use personally and I am able to see a productivity breakdown. I also am able to see how much time I spend in Gmail which is something I REALLY try to limit as it is usually my biggest time suck. I think the key is that if you aren’t monitoring something it’s very hard to improve on it. I usually take a look at the data every week and see what type of trends are standing out.
-Mike Ramsey is the President of Nifty Marketing, a local search marketing company @niftymarketing

jason-acidreI got this tip from John Doherty (of Distilled) – the key to really get things done or be more productive is to actually do stuff (and lots of them). Productivity is as simple as that, I believe.

Make a list of the things you need to do on a daily basis and sort them by levels of priorities. I personally use Trello to organize my daily/weekly tasks.

I usually start with medium to high priority tasks that aren’t time consuming (like emails, delegating tasks to teammates, reading etc…) before doing the tedious ones (ex: writing blog posts, doing research, analyzing clients’ sites, etc…). The more I see my list of “done tasks” pile up, the more it stimulates my brain and be pumped up to work on the tougher ones.
-Jason Acidre is the CEO of Xight Interactive and writes about online marketing at Kaiser the Sage. @jasonacidre

Ann SmartyI don’t have any separate productivity tools (mostly because, ironically, I don’t have time to master them) but I have learned to use my daily software for productivity:

My browser: FireFox has “pinned tabs” option, so whenever there’s a task, I pin it and let it hang there. My browser gets slow and cluttered with too many open pinned tabs, so that’s by far the best motivation for me to go and clear it up by actually doing the tasks!

My email client: I use Thunderbird as my master email inbox: I sync all my mail in there and go through each message one by one (reading, replying, deleting automatic updates, etc). If any of the emails requires something done, I’ll leave it there hanging. If I want to unclutter my inbox, I’ll do my best to *do* that.
-Ann Smarty is the owner of MyBlogGuest, a free community of guest bloggers. She also blogs about SEO at SEO Smarty. @seosmarty

geoff-kenyonOne of the most helpful productivity hacks that I’ve found is to turn off all notifications. I don’t get pop up notifications about email or chats or any kind of push notifications; these these messages rarely contain pertinent information to what I’m working on and are distractions rather than resources. When I’m working on something, I want to focus on the task at hand rather than being interrupted by notifications.
-Geoff Kenyon in an SEO consultant at Distilled and blogs at @geoffkenyon

john-dohertyMy top productivity hack is to not read blog posts during the workday. I’m constantly on Twitter and see awesome content coming through my feed, but I also have work to do. So, I signed up for Pocket, formerly ReadItLater, and save everything to my Pocket so that I can read it that evening or on my commute home. If you install the Pocket Chrome extension, you can right click on links and save them to your queue without having to open them at all. It’s brilliant!
-John Doherty is the head of Distilled NYC and blogs at @dohertyjf.

lauren-hall-stigertsI’m happiest when I’m in The Flow – that’s when I’m totally focused on one activity at a time and pushing myself through the hard parts. It’s too easy to distract myself with the online equivalent of potato chips when I should be eating salads (getting things done).

One of my weaknesses is social media. There’s so much power for good there, and it’s an essential place for online marketers to be. But, like potato chips, too much can be a bad thing. I’ve recently started using Buffer (optimized with FollowerWonk) as a way to share awesome content throughout the day without having to open the bag of potato chips every time. I use the Chrome plugin to send quick updates on the fly, and they get deployed at intervals throughout the day. Now I plan when I check my social networks instead of letting real-time updates control me.

BONUS! I’ll be keeping an eye on my RescueTime dashboard to quantify my Buffer-induced productivity!
-Lauren Hall-Stigerts is a marketing consultant specializing in content strategy and social media at Marketing Gal. @lstigerts

mike-essexMy top productivity hack is taking my dog for a walk in the morning and before I go to bed. Although it’s not a hack during work time I find it’s vital that I have these two periods of calm in order to process what happened during the day and to plan for the day ahead. We have so many distractions around us at work and home that walking the dog is the time when I have no technology around me, just her and the empty field. With all of the other burdens removed it means I’m free to think creatively and put my mind to tasks that need dedicated time.

It’s like how people get great ideas in the shower because their mind is free to think and listen to the ideas that have been bubbling under until that point. The shower is pretty much the only time we get away from technology now and dog walking applies the same “hack.” The best hack of all is turning everything off.

You might also find this slidedeck I made helpful which covers other hacks to be creative like coning yourself, Pomodoro and being child-like.
-Mike Essex is an Online Marketing Manager at Koozai and author of Free Stuff Everyday. @Koozai_Mike

cyrus-shepardThe biggest productivity hack I use is to work at a standing desk. I swear my productivity rises 30% with this simple act. I also have more energy, seem to digest my food better and when listening to music have more freedom to dance.

The one I have at work I made myself, inspired by this post. Here’s what it looks like:


-Cyrus Shepard is Senior Content Producer at Moz and blogs at Above the Fold. @CyrusShepard

brain-deanI’m a big believer in “proactive” vs. “reactive” modes in business. I find that I get the most accomplished when I’m in proactive mode.

Because of the way humans evolved, we’re in reactive mode by default. First, it’s better for survival (you can spot danger and opportunities easier). Second, it requires less mental energy.

That’s why checking email/Facebook/blogs is so addictive: it puts you in full-on reactive mode.

I’ve found that once I get into reactive mode, it’s hard to go back into proactive mode.

That’s why I don’t check email (usually) until 3-4pm. That’s obviously more efficient because of batching. But it ensure that my mornings and early afternoons are in full-on proactive mode: producing content, doing outreach and generally getting stuff accomplished.

When my brain is tired from that work, I check all the things I need to check…which requires significantly less mental effort.
-Brian Dean is a link building consultant and owner of Backlinko, which provides free tips and resources for building links. @Backlinko

kristi-hinesIf you have trouble staying focused on your work, then try the StayFocusd Chrome extension. It blocks websites that distract you from your projects on specific days and hours during the day. Overall, you can give yourself a specific allotted time for all of your blocked sites per day. This can keep your Facebook, celebrity gossip, and online poker site usage down to 15 minutes total during the work day. It’s a great way to increase your productivity by decreasing the chance of getting sucked down the IMDB rabbit hole.
-Kristi Hines is a content marketer and freelance writer who was named to Forbes’ Top 50 Social Influencers. Her Blog Post Promotion Course teaches people how to become exceptional at promoting content and she also runs the popular marketing blog, Kikolani. @kikolani

matthew-barbyEach day I make sure that I rise an hour early so that I can go through all of the latest content that has been produced across my favorite blogs and decide which to share online. This is where Feedly comes to my rescue. I’ve categorized my Feedly (RSS reader) into loads of different categories to give me streams of content related to link building, content marketing, design, PPC, growth hacking, local SEO, entrepreneurship, etc. This way, I can skim through each subject to get a general overview of what’s going on – the fact that I’m UK-based helps because I get all the content from the US whilst they’re all asleep, which gives me a chance to catch up! My goal is always to get as much done as possible in the morning because I find my concentration is at its peak. Getting into the office early helps me to shake of any rustiness before I get bombarded with phone calls as well!
-Matthew Barby is the Head of Online Strategy at Wow Internet and writes about online marketing tools and strategies at Find My BlogWay. @matthewbarby

Thanks to everyone who contributed for being so generous with their time! Please help improve this resource by sharing your best productivity hack in the comments.


“My biggest productivity hack is to work on your most important project first thing in the day” -Dan Shure (Tweet This Quote)

“My most effective and simple productivity hack to get the most out of my workday is to start early.” -Sujan Patel (Tweet This Quote)

“Make a list of the things you need to do on a daily basis and sort them by levels of priorities.” -Jason Acidre (Tweet This Quote)

One of the most helpful productivity hacks that I’ve found is to turn off all notifications. -Geoff Kenyon (Tweet This Quote)

“My top productivity hack is taking my dog for a walk in the morning and before I go to bed.” -Mike Essex (Tweet This Quote)

“The biggest productivity hack I use is to work at a standing desk.” -Cyrus Shepard (Tweet This Quote)

If you like this post, be sure to share it with your audience.

Responses collected by Charles Sipe, an online marketing specialist at Spacecraft Digital. @charlessipe

How to Target Different Audiences with Content Marketing

Determining a well-defined target market is the first step towards a successful marketing strategy. Ask yourself who is already interested in your product or service – as well as who might be – and you can attempt to address their needs (as well as reach your clearly defined marketing objectives) with specific content marketing.

For instance, this article’s target audiences are:

1. Marketing Enthusiasts
2. Content Providers
3. Web Developers

Each of these audiences will be looking for a different thing from this piece. A marketing enthusiast might have searched ‘effectively targeting different audiences’, content providers might have tried ‘how to use content marketing’ and web developers/tech experts perhaps went looking for some combination of the two, such as ‘different types of content marketing.’

The point is, each of these groups is looking for, or drawn to, something different. Whether actual content or simply the way in which that content is presented – different things appeal to different audiences, so it’s essential to understand and cater to these preferences.

Using the above mentioned target audiences as examples, here’s a quick guide on how to use differentiated content (and content forms) to raise awareness, build trust and make sales.

Marketing Enthusiasts
A marketer’s main objectives are making a product known, understood and desired by its target market. They are likely to search for resources and tools that can help them do this. Examples of content that will cater to this need include:

1. ‘How-to’ guides and useful articles or blog posts
2. Webinars, podcasts, tutorials and demo videos
3. Marketing trend reports and whitepapers
4. Features guides (that show them how your product or service can help them achieve their goals)

Content Providers
A content provider’s goal is to create (and sell) high quality web content. This content could be written, visual or audio. As creatives they are likely to be looking for inspiration and ideas, mental stimulation that could serve as a springboard towards developing their own unique content (especially when suffering from a creative block). Examples of content that will be useful to them are:

1. Collations of inspirational examples (top ten lists, showcases and picture galleries etc.)
2. Interviews with industry pioneers
3. Viral videos, images or infographics
4. Relevant industry blogs, news and critiques

Web Developers / Tech Experts
Tech devotees can be subdivided into further target audiences, but for the purpose of this article, some technical goals might be creating custom websites; sourcing useful hardware, software and apps; as well as searching for a little inspiration. They might be looking for data-driven content that is direct and to the point. Examples of content that would be useful to them are:

1. Webinars, tutorials or demo videos
2. Reviews of useful tools, products or services
3. Case studies and customer testimonials
4. Pricing guides

All of these forms of content resonate particularly with certain kinds of target audience, and each can be adapted to enhance your business’ online presence. They are by no means exclusively suited to the specified audience types, but based on their mindset (discoverable with market research) they may prove more valuable, which is what creating good, sharable content is all about.

Targeting content is just one element of a comprehensive content marketing strategy, which you should develop in order to start seeing measurable benefits for your business.

Content marketing is already huge, and it’s growing. It can be an inexpensive way to generate sales, leads, and customers and help you beat your competitors.

If you’ve not jumped on the bandwagon yet, now is the time to do so.

Julianne Staino writes about marketing trends, technology, and Nuxeo– a company specializing in helping you manage your content and digital assets.

Virtual Chief Marketing Officer Insights With Elizabeth Quintanilla

I recently had the privilege of interviewing Elizabeth Quintanilla, a marketing consultant and owner of EQ Consultant Group in Austin, Texas. She shared some valuable insights on her path to becoming a marketing consultant and ideas for using LinkedIn to help your career.

What led you to choose marketing as your profession?

What you are great at intellectually doesn’t necessarily match with what you are great at based on your personality. The feedback I always got as an engineer was that I was always around the coffee pot but I got my work done. I am an extrovert and that lends itself to being a marketer.

How has your MBA degree helped you in your marketing career?

One way it helps is by bringing you credibility. Often a technology company doesn’t want to hire an engineer to do marketing unless you have experience as a product manager. Also an MBA helps you learn about finance and operations since as a consultant you get pulled into issues that are not necessarily marketing issues.

What tactics have been most effective for acquiring clients for your marketing consultancy?

It’s different now that I’ve been in business for nearly five years. In the beginning it was a lot of networking and getting in touch with people to let them know what I’m doing now and convincing them to take a chance on me on various projects. Today it actually comes down to referrals from previous clients. I also teach a series of classes guest lecturer. I don’t blog as much anymore because I don’t make the time but at the same time I’m always using social media like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to share ideas and best practices.

I learned that you have recently worked as a virtual Chief Marketing Officer. Can you explain how it works when a company hires a virtual Chief Marketing Officer?

I had to distinguish myself from the graphic designers because people often associate marketing with graphic design. Also, companies may already have a marketing team in place but they’re just not being led appropriately so it’s easier for me to say I will project manage the team and streamline the operations. With one technology client we have set up an agile board of tasks to bring clarity and visibility because people didn’t know what the marketing team did.

You gave an excellent talk on utilizing LinkedIn at Austin’s Career Connects Conference (video here) and there were a lot of great tips on using LinkedIn to grow your online presence. Can you share a couple things that marketers can do to improve their presence on LinkedIn?

Make sure your profile is 100% complete. Please don’t use a glamor shot for your photo because when you’re meeting people, the quickest and easiest way for them to find you is by looking at your photo on LinkedIn. Be active in groups; you’re able to join up to 50 groups. Find the areas that are interesting to you and participate. Read or respond and like or comment. Find the areas that are interesting to you as a marketing manager and at the same time try to stay top of mind with your network. I update LinkedIn every Monday through Friday with useful information.

What books have helped you the most in your career?

Leadership books are great because you’re always going to be part of a team. In terms of marketing books, I’ve enjoyed Brains on Fire. Also, Brand Tattoos which is about creating a unique brand that sticks in your customer’s minds. It’s noisy out there so it’s important to create a valuable positioning statement for yourself. Sometimes you don’t have enough coffee and you just need one of those Dummy books. I also need to understand sales so I’ve read books on negotiations and Getting to Yes so I can understand a sales mentality.

What productivity hacks have you found to help you maximize the efficiency of your limited time?

Hootsuite is how I manage all my social media and I use Nimble for contact management. ContactMonkey provides insights on email campaigns such as what platform people are using. I have a critical to do list and if I accomplish the things on that list it is a successful day.

What advice would you give to someone who would like to start their own marketing consulting business?

I would never discourage someone to start their own business but do it because you want to, not because you don’t like your previous boss. You need to have a drive of service because when you’re a consultant you’re working to improve other people’s businesses. Be prepared to spend as much time learning and staying on top of best practices as you do working because you have to be the leader. You are effectively the CEO and will be running your entire company from taxes to finance.

You can learn more about Elizabeth at the EQ Consultants Group website and follow her on twitter at equintanilla.

Note: This article was transcribed from a phone interview.

Derek Halpern Talk on Nonverbal Website Cues

Derek Halpern is the author of Social Triggers, a popular blog that shows how to use findings from academic research to be more effective in marketing and business. In this talk at Affiliate Summit, he discusses research that suggests ways to improve conversions on your website.

Some key takeaways from the talk:
-The British College of Optometrists found that 43% of people thought people who wore glasses are more intelligent and are more likely to get hired from a job interview.
-A study found that a fancy font on the menu made it seem like more time went into the preparation of a meal.
-A study found that people preferred a shorter content column width when reading online.
-If you get people to read the first three sentences of your copy, they will almost always read the rest of the copy.
-You should have one specific goal for each page.
-People don’t like to spend money. Don’t give them any reason not to buy.
-People prefer to read out of a book.
-Online people prefer consuming small chunks of content.
-Remove navigation on order pages to increase conversion.
-People have a tendency to look where other people are looking.
-It makes you feel good to see other people smile.
-Avoid using stock photos of people smiling. People are turned off by fake smiles.

Derek Halpern also hosts the excellent Social Triggers Insider podcast where he interviews authors and business people about psychology and business topics.

Creative Commons photo by Shashi Bellamkonda.

20 Helpful Resources for Learning About Keyword Research

A successful campaign to increase valuable traffic to your website starts with understanding the right keywords that you want your website to rank for. Keyword research can help you determine what potential customers are searching for and uncover opportunities where your site can move up to the first page in search results. The following resources provide helpful ideas and tips for conducting effective keyword research for your company. I have also included my top takeaways from each article or resource.

How to Do Keyword Research: 17 Industry Experts Shared Their Methods & Tools Rana Shahbaz
-Use Ubersuggest to get suggested keyword based on a root phrase.
-Look for keywords that are related to the problem you are solving.

How to Improve Your Rankings with Semantic Keyword Research SEOMoz
-Semantic search tries to determine what people mean when they enter keywords.
-Search for a keyword in Twitter search to see how people are talking about specific keyword phrases.

5 Tips for Conducting Semantic Keyword Research Search Engine Journal
-Related searches indicate what Google “thinks” are semantically related keywords.
-Write for humans first, search engines second.

The Ultimate Guide to Keyword Research Viperchill
-Use Yahoo Answers to find popular questions that people are searching for.

The Beginner’s Guide to SEO – Keyword Research SEOMoz
-There has never been a lower barrier to entry for understanding the motivations of buyers in any niche.

Keyword Research for Web Writers and Content Producers Copyblogger
-Keyword research indicates what people are interested in and what language they use.

Google Related Searches Blind Five Year Old
-Review “related searches” for keyword ideas and keyword modifiers.

Keyword Research for SEO SEO Nick
-Make sure to set the Google Keyword tool to exact match to get a realistic monthly search volume.
-“Local” in the Google Keyword tool refers to the local country, not the local area.

How to Take Your Keyword Research to a Higher Level Search Engine Land
-Keywords that you have not assigned to a specific page will be a distraction.

SEO Strategy For Business – How To Build A Keyword Opportunity Model SEONick
-Use this Google spreadsheet to estimate the value of specific keywords for your business.

4 Under The Radar Keyword Research Sources You Can Use To Find Hidden Gems Search Engine Land
-Use to find out how many people have visited a specific page on Wikipedia.

Minimum Viable Keyword Research John Doherty
-Your domain strength helps determine which keywords you have a chance to rank for.

How to Research Keywords: Tips, Competition and Squirrels Orbit Media
-Use Google Trends to see if a keyword is becoming more or less popular.
-The competition level in Google’s Keyword Tool estimates competition for Adwords not organic search results.

5 Unexpected Keyword Research Sources Search Engine Journal
-Check popular industry forums and review titles of popular threads.
-Listen to how customers describe your offering over the phone.

Extending Keyword Research: Learn from Your Offline Audience Seer Interactive
-Think about questions that people are asking offline.
-Create FAQ pages to answer common questions.

Conducting a Keyword Performance Audit Zazzle
-Export your visits from keywords in Google Analytics into Excel and compare this to the values of the estimated monthly exact search volume from Google’s Keyword Tool.
-Google’s Keyword Tool might not be accurate for recently trending keyword phrases.

Spy on Your Competitors for Keyword Research Authority Labs
-Look for keywords where Google thinks sites like yours should rank well.

Keyword Research Mistakes to Avoid Single Grain
-Consider the competition level of the first page of Google; don’t be deterred by a large number of results for a keyword phrase.

Beyond Google Adwords Keyword Research Quicksprout
-Bing’s Keyword Research Tool shows the exact amount of times a keyword phrase showed up in search in the past 30 days or longer.
-Use strict mode for the equivalent of exact match.

When Keyword Targeting Gets Tough SEOMoz

-If it makes sense for users, put multiple keywords on the same page.
-Use natural language on your pages.
-Combine keywords that make sense.
-If it is a competitive keyword phrase, consider a separate page.

If you would like to suggest a helpful resource that we missed, please mention it below in the comments.

Top Interview Questions For Hiring an SEO Writer

Hiring for SEO can be tricky for two reasons: First, it’s difficult if you aren’t overly familiar with SEO yourself, and second, even if you do have an SEO background, it can be tough to know what questions to ask someone because it is such a new industry. Most colleges and universities don’t have classes regarding SEO, and it can currently be tough to find a writer who specializes in SEO content only. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be too difficult if you do a bit of planning ahead of time. It’s important to understand the industry and think outside of the box when it comes time to hire.

SEO Interview Questions and Possible Answers

One of the biggest things to keep in mind when hiring writers is your goal. You want to have a budget for writers and then decide how much training you’re willing to offer. If you want to jump into very advanced articles right away, you may have to pay a little bit more for a specialized writer. If you’re willing to hire someone who is a good writer and give him/her some time to learn, the way you interview might chance.

Below are some common interview questions that work well if you’re looking to hire an SEO content writer, as well as some answers that might help you make a decision:

1. Tell us a little bit about your background—where you went to school, why you chose the field you did, some of your past experience, etc.

Answer: In all honesty, someone doesn’t have to be an SEO expert to be a great SEO writer. You have to remember that it may take him/her a while to write an article because research can be tough, but it isn’t impossible to come up with a great article. It might take a while for a writer to really get a good grip on the subject, but it can happen. As stated above, it’s all about your goals and how long you have to invest in a writer.

2. Have you ever contributed guest content to a website in the past? If so, what was your process for pitching? How did you find new editors to work with? In other words, how do you analyze the sites you choose to write for?

Answer: This is something that can be taught and learned pretty easily, so I wouldn’t say this is a make or break. A good answer would be something about taking time to get to know the site by commenting and sharing content, and then sending a pitch complete with sample articles for the editor to check out. A great way to find new sites is to continually keep up with social media and check out the sites that your connections are associated with.

3. Do you work well on your own, or do you prefer to work in groups?

Answer: This was something I was asked before and it made me think. For this job, it’s important to be happy working alone and setting your own daily goals.

4. Do you have any background knowledge working with SEO related topics? If so, how do you continue to make sure you are creative and not regurgitating the same information as other blogs out there?

Answer: I typically go around to different blogs to find a topic, and then I take that topic and find a bunch of articles regarding that topic. I try to take bits and pieces of each, and the majority of the time a new angle or opinion will come to me through all of the research.

5. What do you know about your target audience, and how do you really make sure you are leaving a lasting impression?

Answer: This is a tough question to answer, but most good candidates will explain that the target audience is typically small business marketing departments. This of course depends on the type of company that the candidate wrote for in the past (which might very well be slightly different than your current audience).

6. Do you use any tools or specific strategies when writing?

Answer: There are tons and tons of different tools that a writer can use. Mentioning any sort of social tools for promotion (Buffer, SocialBro, etc.) is a great way to show that he/she understands the industry. Any talk of using analytics and analyzing CTR is also a great (and fairly advanced) answer. This is one of those questions that you’ll have a good feeling about right when it is answered.

7. What types of social networking techniques do you use to make sure your content is always earning visibility?

Answer: This is a great opportunity for the candidate to talk about the importance of Google+. This network is only going to get more important as Google begins to alter SERPs based on connections and shares, and this is something a writer should be aware of when it comes time to get involved with authorship and social sharing. You can learn more about authorship here.

8. How would you handle working with different clients?

Working with different clients often means having to change not only the topic of your work, but even the tone and style. This is where a very good writer is going to be your goal, and the research about the topic can be learned.

Were there any questions that you found incredibly helpful? If you were once a candidate, what questions seemed to catch you off guard?

Amanda DiSilvestro gives small business and entrepreneurs SEO advice ranging from keyword density to recovering from algorithm updates. She writes for HigherVisibility, a nationally recognized SEO agency and local SEO company.

Starting an Online Marketing Consultancy: Interview with Alex Avery

I recently had the chance to chat with Alex Avery, an online marketer who started his own SEO and web design consultancy, Webology Marketing in Seattle, Washington. In this interview he shares insights from his experience of starting an independent SEO business and things that have helped it grow.

How did you get started in online marketing and what led you to start your own business?

I started with a small advertising firm in 2009. I worked as a production assistant and began learning the ropes of SEO from day one. At that time, most of the organized education materials were focused on keyword density. It was painfully obvious that there was more to SEO/online marketing than keyword density. That’s when I found SEOmoz, which was instrumental in helping me understand the comprehensive approach to organic web marketing.

Once I had a better understanding of the industry, I built out an internal model at the agency to follow these best practices. And while the concepts were well-received, the approach was a little daunting for this small ad agency. After a couple of years, I moved to an even smaller, more focused SEO firm in Seattle. Sadly, these same comprehensive strategies were not the ideal approach for this firm, either.

I decided to start my own firm in 2011. Since then, we’ve seen a lot of success for our clients. My hope is to continue to grow and offer more comprehensive marketing services to small/medium size businesses.

What activities do you spend most of your time on and what things make the biggest impact for your business?

Most of my time is spent writing. New and updated content is vital to the success of any website.

Another significant part of my time is spent on website design/development. I find that efforts spent writing content, link building and other off-page tactics are not as effective unless I have a strong on-page, development plan in place. Having a professional design and clean site architecture makes a significant impact in both rankings and conversions (sign-ups, emails, etc.).

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started your business?

Getting started with Webology, I underestimated the need for a strong sales force. As many entrepreneurs have learned, new client acquisition is very time-consuming. It’s not that it’s impossible to do on your own, but once business starts booming, you need some support to keep things moving/growing.

How did you determine where to set your prices for your services?

Our pricing model has changed/evolved quite a bit this last year. When we first started, we ran our campaigns based on an hourly model. This approach was problematic for several reasons. One reason was that it gave the impression that we only spent X hours on a campaign because that’s what we billed for. What this didn’t reflect was the countless hours of research, outreach, client meetings, and other time spent that we didn’t feel comfortable billing to the client.

Another reason why the hourly model was troublesome was that clients would want to decrease or increase their work on a month to month basis—this lead to some surprises, come invoicing time.

The retainer model, if done transparently, eliminates these issues. The client is billed a consistent amount each month and time spent on a campaign is still tracked and accounted for. Again, transparency is essential here. Be sure the client knows exactly what you’re working on at all times. Start by providing frequent, transparent reports that detail ongoing and completed projects. And, of course, show competency and effectiveness by tracking traffic, rankings, and conversions.

What things have worked for you to acquire customers for your business?

For our company, the single most important channel for growing our client base has been our relationships. Forming relationships, and even partnerships, with the right people led us to those initial clients that have built the foundation of our business.

The second half of this plan is to practice what you preach. Develop and implement a social networking strategy, invest in design and development tactics to help improve your own site, and even consider buying ad space (AdWords, display, remarketing, etc.). Here at Webology, we are definitely guilty of the age-old “the cobbler’s kids have no shoes” scenario but it’s something we are excited to work on.

How do you ensure that your clients are happy and feel like that their expectations have been met or exceeded?

Two things: set reasonable expectations and be transparent. Setting reasonable expectations will only help you in the long run. There’s no need to hype up your tactics/strategies. The results will speak for themselves.

Transparency will eliminate surprises when it comes time to evaluate your services. Whether you’re an in-house SEO or an agency, you’re typically working with a marketing manager (or similar) within a company. Quite often, these marketing managers are pulled aside by their bosses and asked to explain what it is you’re working on and what results they’re seeing. This is when your transparency model is put to the test. They (the marketing manager) should be able to explain your services, current projects, and results-to-date with a high level of confidence. If they can’t, you could be subject to budget cuts or worse, without notice.

Can you describe a mistake that you have made in your business and what you learned from it?

One mistake I’ve made (and continue to make) is losing sight of the big picture, when it comes to the growth of Webology. It’s easy to get caught up in the day to day and forget to step back and evaluate the overall strategy. This has led to short-sighted decisions and relationships that end up causing problems down the road. An example was bringing on an employee that didn’t know online marketing very well. Hiring and training new team members is not necessarily a bad tactic. However, when you’re just starting out, you need all the time you can get. It’s best not to spend time training and find someone who can help ease the workload.

Learn more about Alex’s company at Webology Marketing. You can follow him on Twitter at @alexanderavery