These are the Featured Stories – the articles that are just so awesome they go to the front page of the website.

Spammed In

LinkedIn Spam

Has this ever happened to you on LinkedIn?

You’re on LinkedIn and you get a few connection requests. You’re kinda hurting for connections and want to expand your network so you go ahead and Accept All.

Next, you go into one of you’re favorite groups and check on the new discussions.

And there they are, two of the people you’ve just accepted as connections are there, having posted several new "Discussions".

Only they aren’t really Discussions, are they? It’s just drive-by link Spam. And then you scroll down and see the exact same thing over and over again, sometimes by different marketing geniuses, or perhaps a different "Ad" altogether, but it’s really just the same type of garbage.

I know; it’s happened to me more times than I’d like to count and quite honestly I am fed up. I hope you are too.

11 Sure-fire ways to identify LinkedIn Spammers

  1. The Photo
    Usually, there will be no photo at all; just the standard little grey guy image. Other times it’s of a famous celebrity from India (See #7). Or perhaps it’s a stock photo.
  2. The Name
    Just use a discerning eye here. One notorious LinkedIn Spammer has as a photo of themselves a common Indian lady, but their name is "Timmy". Ding-ding. Alarm bells should be going off.
  3. The Connections
    Everyone starts somewhere, so simply having very few connections doesn’t make them a Spam/Scammer. Neither does having too many. But just go through them a bit. One clue would be a large number of connections that all have questionable profiles.
  4. The Recommendations
    The thought process behind this point is the same as above; don’t be too quick to judge. But do your due diligence.
  5. The Summary
    Most often they will have no content in the Summary area at all. And if they do, it will be brief and generic in nature. Or perhaps it will be just a thinly-veiled advertisement.
  6. The Employer
    Ring a bell? Oftentimes Spammers & Scammers will list the exact same fake company name across their many profiles. Do a search on Google; you may find that the company is legit – but they do not really work there. Or perhaps they do work there but the company engages in unethical business practices.
  7. The Location
    59% of LinkedIn’s members are located outside of the USA. Unfortunately, however, the majority of LinkedIn Spammers & Scammers are from India. This is not to say all LinkedIn members from India are of this disreputable type; I’ve personally worked with many outstanding and reputable Indians. Just another indicator to be weighed with the others; for example, the location is Hyderabad, India, yet the photo looks like a Japanese model.
  8. The Activity
    On the right sidebar of their profile, you should see a box showing their latest activity on LinkedIn. Take note – this is a HUGE indicator!
  9. The Websites
    If they’re going to be Spamming & Scamming, this should be full of dubious links. Sometimes not, however, due to the fact that they’d like to be as deceptive as possible.
  10. The Specialties
    Real people specialize in real things. Do these things make sense to you, and are they skills that they’d use at the job they currently have? Are they many different terms for multi-level marketing? Are they simply names of their product or service?
  11. The Interests
    Real people have real interests. The idea here is the same as for their specialties; do they indicate a "real person" to you?

Again, use your common sense in applying these indicators. None of them alone should have you jumping at the "Flag" link. Instead, look at a combination of indicators and take note of how many bells go off in your mind.

I love LinkedIn. It launched way back in 2003, so it’s had time to pick up traction and become the world’s largest professional network on the Internet. But it’s also had time to attract the bad guys. And there are lots of them. Being a step ahead sure can’t hurt.

Taking back LinkedIn from the Spammers and Scammers

LinkedIn Spam

I’m a member of several groups. And lots of them are full of Spam and Scam. I do what I can – flagging and sending messages to the owners of the groups. However the owners are often too busy to properly moderate, and there are way too many bad guys with messages out there to waste my time on.

Luckily though, one owner did respond and actually added me as an Administrator of the group. I jumped at the opportunity and quickly did away with the vast amounts of Spam. I’m definitely much more active in the group now, knowing that we can actually have real discussions with real people.

But it’s not enough. We need everyone to do their part. Let’s work together. We may not be able to take back the Internet, but we can sure try to take back LinkedIn!

Oh, and if you’re curious about what group on LinkedIn I’m helping to moderate, it’s Global SEO Professionals.

Google Trends

Trends

(Scroll down for the Big List.)

Trends are powerful things.

Knowing what’s hot and happening now in the world can be fun. It can also be a great source of ideas for relevant content, linkbait and SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

As Wikipedia says, "SEO Trending is a technique used by webmasters to write content based on recent events on the web to get more visibility for their websites in search engine results pages."


What are Trends?

Think about this. Trends show the general direction in which something tends to move. They show a possible future, the "buzz" of tomorrow, the next hype, an evolving topic. Or…An opportunity for the SEO-inclined to push their websites up in the search engines, get more backlinks and new traffic.

Now think about this. When there’s hype around something, people will:

  • Speak about it
  • Get curious about it
  • Search for it
  • Share it

How Trend – Spotting affects SEO

What does this mean for the SEO Consultant and/or Webmaster? The trends and the hype provide a framework for a certain amount of success. Here’s some things to do during the hype:

  • People will speak about it
    • Listen to their words (keywords)
    • Join the conversation via Twitter, Social Media, etc. (real time search)
    • Create trust by allowing discussions on your site, forum, blog, etc. (user-generated content)
    • Become an authority by getting them to speak about the relevant pages on your website (backlinks)
  • People get curious about it
    • Understand intent behind the unclear questions and give answers (intent)
    • Give away more – value-added free relevant content (incentives)
    • Use all available channels to give answers (universal search)
  • People search for it
    • Don’t underestimate the rapid increase in search volume (search volume)
    • Google’s "Query deserves freshness" factor will push keywords to the top of the SERPs (SERP Promotion)
    • Create fresh content for these queries (fresh content)
  • People share it
    • Find creative ways of using the hype for Linkbait to get new links (link bait)
    • Actively use Social Media to spread content and generate new traffic (SMOSocial Media Optimization)

Tools to Identify Trends

But how do we identify them? We know they’re happening but we usually hear about them in the now or in the past.

Aside from simply listening in the proper places, there are many paid and free tools to do just that. We spoke about Hot Content Ideas from Google and The SEO of Search Trends, but what about a bigger list of Tools?

Well here you go. I’ve compiled a fairly huge list of tools for you to go out play and learn from (in no particular order):

I’ll understand if you need to take a break after that; God knows I do!

SEO Trend It and Spin It!

Definitely not advocating the Black Hat "Spin" methodology here, but more of the original intent of the word. 🙂

Now that you have a huge toolbox to find out what people are searching for and talking about, be a little bit creative and original in your content creation. Make it interesting so that people who come to you as new traffic, come back and want more.

Web Directory

Directory Listings

Last month we discussed the Whys and Hows of Local SEO, including localized content ideas, such as including rates and locations. We also touched upon some ideas for link placement, like local rating sites and directory listings.

But why Directories? Perhaps you’re thinking "Directories for SEO? Directories are out-dated and just plain dead!"

Sure – they’ve been around for ages. And they don’t seem to ascribe to the whole social buzz idea. I mean, directories were THE THING at one point. Well, before Search Engines got smart… Right?

Slow down cowboy. Many people still submit to directories, including the pros. Let’s look at the Whys – The Benefits of being in Directories.

Benefits of Directories

Directories have been around since the dawn of the Internet. They’ve been a trusted way to get listed and locate listings. But in today’s world, many feel this dying breed has no benefit. There’s some merit to that idea, but it’s far from completely true. There are still benefits.

Here are some benefits, in no particular order, of having your website listed in a directory:

  1. Affordable
    Most directories are free. And of those that aren’t – most are fairly cheap. Some niche directories. And although more expensive than their counterparts, are also extremely targeted. A small warning, however: if it’s free – make sure the quality & freshness are there. Some of them never actually list your site.
  2. History
    Directories have been around a long time. They were here before Search Engines themselves! And we know that Search Engines pay attention to history. Getting listed in a long-standing directory will have more weight than a fly-by-night set up.
  3. People-based
    Although some of the el cheapo directories will post your listing immediately, some of them have actual humans behind the site. And they manually review the submissions. These are of a higher quality obviously. You’re already getting your first live human test – via submission!
  4. Getting Indexed in the Search Engines
    New website owners have learned the difficulties of getting indexed in a timely fashion. The days of using the "add URL" page of a Search Engine are long gone. Today Search Engines like Google and Yahoo find new sites through links. Directories give you links. And that gives you increased visibility to the Search Engines themselves.
  5. Timeliness
    You’ve built a website and are waiting to be found by the Search Engines Even with on-page SEO, you know how frustrating it can be to sit and wait. So why do it? Most directories, even those manually reviewed, have a fairly short waiting time for being listed. So you’re listed on the internet, especially for your niche target, perhaps Geo-Targeted as well. You have a keyword-focused listing, and an immediate quality one-way link! The Search Engines will pay attention.
  6. Increased Brand Recognition
    Using your brand in the directory listing and linkage creates another digital footprint. This immediately increases brand recognition.
  7. Traffic
    Though you’ll get a boost in traffic from being listed, it will most likely not be huge. It will, however, be more targeted, and that is, afterall, a step closer to a conversion.
  8. Contextually-Relevant and One-Way-Links
    We all love one-way SEO juice-boosting links, and directories are a great place to get them. If it’s a well-managed directory, then you’ll also get the benefit of that link being contextual (a link from a page with topically related content).
  9. SEO Targeting

    • Niche
      Directories are categorized, going from broad to specific. This is much like a folder system and breadcrumb trail. For example, in the Yahoo Directory, the Search Engine Optimization Services sub-category can be found via: Directory > Business and Economy > Business to Business > Marketing and Advertising > Internet > Promotion > Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Can you see how someone arriving to your website via a directory might be more targeted?
    • Keywords
      You get to choose what text to put into your directory listings. This is similar to the Title, Meta, etc., so why would you waste another SEO opportunity? Just look at the above-mentioned "Niche" topic. See how the breadcrumbs can be keywords? Oh and maybe keyword focused (focused, not stuffed) anchor text & descriptions?
    • Local
      Thinking of how directory listings go from broad to specific, we can see how Geo-Targetting and Local SEO can play a role here. For example, if I owned a retail outlet in Atlanta, GA – my listing could be found in the Yahoo Directory via Directory > Regional > U.S. States > Georgia > Cities > Atlanta > Business and Shopping > Shopping and Services > Retailers. At the time of this writing, there are only two listings in this sub-category and only one of them is specific to the actual area. Opportunity there?
  10. Competition
    Is there some competition on the Internet? Just a wee-bit. This makes most of our online marketing initiatives – SEO, SEM, SMO, etc. – a bit of a challenge. The great thing about directories is the very fact that they are dying out by most standards. For example, Google & Bing shut down their directories, pointing folks to DMOZ. Why is that a good thing? Because fewer and fewer people are using them and even fewer keep their listings updated. This gives us an edge. And that’s a good thing.

Bonus SEO Benefit of Directory Listings

And for you serious SEO folks out there – here’s a bonus benefit:

Directories are completely unaffected by the Panda update!

Soon I’ll be covering some of the directories out there, but in the meantime, why don’t you go and see what you can find? Go get listed!

Human-edited directories are often targeted by SEOs on the basis that links from reputable sources will improve rankings in the major search engines.

Local Search Engine Optimization - Local SEO

Local SEO

Local SEO – its concepts, strategies and tactics, has become increasingly important in the Search Engine Optimization game.

Just look at Yelp, Google My Business or Bing Places to get an idea of this.

The key is localized content. Content that is specific to users in specific geographies. Now isn’t that closer to the idea of providing what the users are really searching for?

For example, sign in to Google. Search for movie theater. Voila! It’s localized and specific, helpful content.

Now let’s get into a few ideas of how to optimize your pages for local search (local SEO).

Creating Localized Content for Local SEO

Here’s a few ideas to spurn your campaign.

  • Shipping rates
  • Sales tax differences
  • Warranty repair locations
  • Dealer locations
  • Different uses for different climates

Local SEO: Ideas

Once you have some localized content, you need to link locally as well. We know the importance of links in SEO, right?

  • Local Yahoo! versions
  • Local Business Directories
  • Local Bloggers’ business sites
  • Informational sites about specific localities
  • Local Business rating sites

And there’s much more.

There’s also Yext, which now bills itself as the "Digital Knowledge Management Platform".

Ever hear of Yelp? They claim to be "best way to find great local businesses". Let’s look at some other ideas.

Local SEO: Citation Listing Services

Be sure to read the Top 10 SEO Benefits of Directory Listings. It’ll definitely build your confidence in directories, as well as your Local SEO campaign.

Hopefully this will help boost your creative juices and your local SEO campaigns will flourish. Good luck!

The Links of SEO

SEO Links Relationship

SEO involves links. We know this. It’s also known that Quality over Quantity is extremely important to Search Engines (and even more important to me).

But what do Google, Yahoo and Bing consider to be quality? Not to mention the fact that sourcing links for SEO can be a painstaking process. If we are going to take the time and effort to undergo this endeavor, we need to be sure we get our ROI (Return On Investment) – the link, and not the black-list.

Let’s look at 3 Important Factors to consider when sourcing links for SEO.


The best way to ensure Google finds your site, is for your pages to be linked from lots of pages on other sites. Google’s robots jump from page to page on the Web via hyperlinks, so the more sites that link to you, the more likely it is that we’ll find you quickly.

SEO Link Sourcing: 3 Important Factors

  1. Link Authority

    What is Authority?
    Some folks like to look at the number of total back links as if the high volume equates to quality, regardless of obvious SEO implicaitons. These numbers can often be misleading, however.

    For example, blog comments and site-wide links… In fact, many of us shy away from judging anything based on numbers alone. But if you want to get some linking in there for SEO, then you must understand that both Quantiy and Quality are very important.

    A small site that is an authority within a niche is a great find indeed – more important than simply looking at how many back links it has.

    Here, it’s not about the site’s link strength, but rather it’s about the trust it has built up. And this trust…You want.

    Especially in SEO.

    Remember the phrase "Birds of a feather flock together"? Well it sometimes holds true. And most Search Engines assume it is.

    So if you want your site to be thought of along the lines of trust, integrity, and thought leadership, you need to associate your online identity with other online identities that rock those things.

  2. Link Relevance

    What is relevant? First off, Spam is not. Secondly, and most ideal, would be an entire website devoted to your niche topic; your niche keywords…It’s where you want to network and collaborate – perhaps exchange guest posts even; for SEO and for overall win-win in life. However do keep in mind that if the site is too low quality, PANDA will drop you.

    But some topics have HUGE amounts of competition. Just think about "Ringtones" or "iPads"…But, think about "Downloadable Ringtones for Macs" or "iPad usage in the Workplace"; now that is a bit more specific, a bit more relevant, and a bit easier to deal with when it comes to link sourcing for SEO.

  3. Link Accessibility

    What is Accessibility? Wikipedia defines Web Accessibility as "the inclusive practice of ensuring there are no barriers that prevent interaction with, or access to websites, by people with disabilities."

    However, not all clubs are built the same. Just in and get yourself a link from a university or scholarly journal. Simple huh? Yeah, but not easy; not in the least. Sourcing quality, authoritative and relative links can be a trick in and of itself. How accessible is it? That’s the last key.

Don’t participate in link schemes designed to increase your site’s ranking or PageRank. In particular, avoid links to web spammers or bad neighborhoods on the web as your own ranking may be affected adversely by those links.

Spam

Spam

Spam. Long gone are the days of this word simply referring to a food item; A canned meat product made mainly from ham.

Now Spam invades our privacy, offends, annoys, and seems to be almost unstoppable.

We find it in SERPs (Search Engine Results Page), we find it as torrential rain in our email inboxes, we find it in our forums, we find it as personal messages and comments in our networking sites, and we find it as comments to our blog posts.

Today we find Spam everywhere, and it finds us.

What is Spam?

Spam is flooding the Internet with many copies of the same message, in an attempt to force the message on people who would not otherwise choose to receive it.

Most spam is commercial advertising, often for dubious products, get-rich-quick schemes, or quasi-legal services.

Spam costs the sender very little to send — most of the costs are paid for by the recipient or the carriers rather than by the sender.

What is Blog Comment Spam?

Spam in blogs (also called simply blog spam or comment spam is a form of spamdexing. (Note that blogspam has another, more common meaning, namely the post of a blogger who creates no-value-added posts to submit them to other sites.)

It is done by automatically posting random comments or promoting commercial services to blogs, wikis, guestbooks, or other publicly accessible online discussion boards.

Any web application that accepts and displays hyperlinks submitted by visitors may be a target.

Read more in Wikipedia’s "Spam in Blogs" article.

How to Spot Blog Comment Spam

As the administrator, webmaster, author, etc. of your site, your comment settings should definitely be set to require your approval before being published. You personally and manually need to decide if it should go up.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have some automated help via plug-ins, etc. to auto-detect (and delete) obvious spam comments; You Should!

However, some comments in your moderation queue may look a bit convincing. Here’s some tips to help identify common Comment Spam patterns (These are just a few – some use some or none; some use all):

  • First Name Only
    Spammers are vague.
  • All single-case
    All upper or lower case.
  • Comments are on Old Posts
    Usually at least 6 months old.
  • Short message
    The pattern use to be long messages, packed with links – but the pattern has changed.
  • Grammar & Spelling
    Most are not native English speakers, so you’ll see glaring mistakes.
  • Scraped Content
    These guys will often scrape content right off your blog and re-paste it as part of their comment!
  • Nonsense
    The "comment" usually makes little to no sense whatsoever.
  • Titles
    Commonly they’ll use the title of your blog post, site, article, etc. within the comment, like "I always Spotting SPAM Comments in your Blog so thanks"
  • High-Traffic Links
    The links will be going to sites that require high traffic to make a profit. Porn, Gambling, Shoes, Jewelry, etc. are common.

Hope this helps in keeping your site Spam-Free and if you have any other tips on spotting Blog Comment Spam, shoot me a note and let me know!

newspaper

Hot Content Ideas

Fresh, new and magnetic content is good for SEO and good for conversions. Finding inspiration for this content, however, can be a chore.

Google, the search engine, is one of the main entities that we want to take notice of our content. But Google, the monster engine of intent, is one of the main entities that we can use for the inspiration we seek.

Google News and Information Services

As we learned in The SEO of Search Trends, knowing what hot topics people are actually searching for can be extremely helpful for marketing in general, and SEO in particular.

Enter Google News and Information Services.

When someone hears a buzz or reads a headline that’s interesting in a newsworthy way, they’ll usually turn to a search engine like Google to find out more about it. Why not jump on the bandwagon and be one of the search results?

These Google Search services will help point you in the right direction of hot topics, provide citeable sources, and more.

  • Google News
    News from all over the web, collected into clusters; different perspectives on hot news topics. It’s really pretty cool.
  • Google Scholar
    Search Scholarly Journals, Articles & Patents, Legal Opinions & Journals and more for your research and citing.
  • Google Finance
    Google’s One-Stop shop for market analysis, business news, personal investment portfolio tracking and much more.
  • Google’s Knol
    Basically this is Google’s version of Wikipedia; a user-centered reference site. However the site has taken some strong criticisms for not being properly monitored.

Have a Google News and Information Service you think should be added to the list? Let me know.

RSS to Email

RSS to Email

The Problem with RSS

You really love your favorite RSS Reader / Feed Reader / Aggregator / etc., but it’s starting to get hairy; you’ve subscribed to so many of them that simply checking in with your reader seems to daunting a task these days.

Or perhaps you don’t use a feed reader; you prefer to sign up for Email newsletters instead. And you’re coming across cool websites that you’d like to subscribe to, but only see links for RSS.

Sound familiar? I know it does for me. Personally, I use to use Google Reader as my preferred online RSS Feed Reader, but it was discontinued back on July 1st, 2013, but they also provided a nice list of alternatives.

Aside from that, I also found myself commonly in both scenarios mentioned above.

RSS Readers: The Email Solution

Is there one? Yes indeed.

If you don’t have a feed aggregator, but are interested in learning more about them, check out this super-cool & super-detailed Compariosn of Feed Aggregators, by Wikipedia.

But if you’d simply like to Subscribe to a RSS Feed via Email, what to do? Some feeds are burned and hosted by Google’s FeedBurner, and sometimes there’s a link therein that allows you to do so. And often, there’s not.

Free RSS to Email Services

We’re talking about us – the end-user here; the ones who like to be notified of new articles or posts, etc. on our favorite websites. Not the email marketer trying to integrate RSS feeds into their newletters.

And believe it or not, there’s a few you can use for free!

Give ’em a shot!