Sword and the Script

Visibility is a Commodity; Trust is the Ultimate Conversion

by Frank Strong

Visibility is a Commodity Trust is the Ultimate Conversion

It was the third comment this week.  The comment was vaguely related so as to give the appearance of relevance. It was also exuberant in its enthusiasm so as to pass as complimentary.  And it dropped a hyperlink.

For many that manage blogs, news sites and other online media, comments used to be welcomed as a sign of interest, engagement and resonance.  Today comments have become a part of a two-ways scourge, sometimes vitriolic and the rest simply spam.

Both varieties are useless, but the difference is remarkable.  The former is driven by passion, however misguided, and the latter is likely a service for which an unsuspecting buyer is paying. Read More…

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Infographic: The Biggest SEO Fear

by Frank Strong

SEO Greatest fear

Panda’s may be in need of some PR.  First the world is confused as to whether it’s more closely related to bears or raccoons and now Google has Google-bombed its namesake.

The one-time lovable and cuddly-looking species – which even has its own reality show – has seen its trademark hijacked by the mighty search engine.

The panda PR people are writing op-eds. The panda lawyers are filing claims. But nothing compares to the outrage of the panda SEO staff.  As Google rolled out Panda 4.0, all eyes were on the web to discover (h/t Danny Brown) the winners and losers.

My bank is sending me a new credit card because eBay is already having a bad week.  And then Panda 4.0 bites.  But it’s not just big business getting hit.

Rae Hoffman, one of my go-to SEO blogs, points out small businesses are getting hit too – over “false positives.” Read More…

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Google Beats a War Path for Guest Posts; PR Needs to Listen

by Frank Strong

Google is on a War Path and PR Needs to Tune In

Google is on a war path, it’s personal, and the company is seeking to make public examples in an effort to dissuade the behavior it’s campaigning against.  Algorithmic changes like Penguin and Panda may have extended beyond SEO and into the PR lexicon, but soon the terms “manual penalty” might as well.  A manual penalty is when Google artificially depresses the visibility of a site in search because the company believes a site is gaming its algorithm.

Yes, they can do that.  And when they do, you have no choice but to yield to its demand, or forgo the search rankings.  For most organizations, whether it’s a savvy search marketing organization or not, forgoing search isn’t a viable option.

Although there are many factors that determine search rankings – and your results for any given term are likely to be different from mine – links are still the strongest indication of relevance and value of a site.  A link is a vote of confidence and generally speaking, the more quality links a site earns, the better it ranks in search.  PR pros tend to pitch a lot of content (if you’re not, you’ve got another issue) and whether they are aware of it or not, that content often earns links.

These links really matter because for most organizations, Google is likely to be the single highest source of referral traffic to a website.  This is the sort of traffic that online marketers and SEOs dedicate their time to converting – to webinar registrations, white paper downloads and ecommerce transactions. Read More…

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Social Media Gurus and the Foolhardy Trend to Bash SEO

by Frank Strong

Bash SEO

Some time ago, I chatted up an alleged communications and social media proponent on Twitter, in an effort to, well, start a “relationship.” This person remarked despite the growth of the network, they just couldn’t “get into Google+” – to which I responded, well, it’s important for search.

In the context at that moment, the response came back rather sharp in tone.  This person didn’t use social media for SEO, they used it for relationships. The irony of that statement notwithstanding, the response was seeping with an implication and indictment that was far broader than just Google+:  SEO is a dirty term; only gamers think about SEO.

What bothered me the most about that “conversation” was it underscored a lack of understanding of just how important search is to anyone interested in relationship building. If we, or our content, cannot be found then just who are we building relationships with? Read More…

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Enduring Questions on Press Releases and SEO

Do press releases have SEO value

As I was taking this screenshot, I noticed that in Chrome, “SEO” is marked as a spelling error in Bing.

by Frank Strong

Press releases.  Few topics get the PR community spun up more with the exception of the definition of PR.

We argue over how they should be used.  We argue over whether or not they should be called something else.  We argue over the best time to issue a press release. We argue over which wire service performs best.

Have heart, PR pros, we are not alone.  Press releases spin up another community too:  SEOs.

SEOs get their whirling dervish on over press releases because they are forever debating whether or not they have search value, or more precisely whether or not links in press releases have value.

Google’s most public facing expert, Matt Cutts says links in press releases do not have value.  Even for the mighty Matt, that’s a challenge to SEOs, who will go out of their way to prove Google counts press release links.

Ivy Lee could not have possibly imagined what he started when he issued what is recognized as the first press release. Read More…

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Five Essential Technical SEO Tips For PR Pros


Photo Credit: Flickr (modified under Creative Commons).

Note:  The following is a guest post  who is an online marketing consultant specializing in SEO and web analytics. I can best describe Scott in one word:  brilliant.  There’s a lot PR can learn from a good SEO and I asked Scott for a post that goes beyond the standard five tips for SEO we see so often in blogs.  Over the weekend, he wrote this post published below.

* * *

PR professionals are well aware of the importance of links earned in their coverage, right?  In an SEO’s world, a link from one site to the next is seen as a vote of confidence by search engines, and it’s the basis for Google’s Page Rank Algorithm.   As PR Pro’s, you value a link as a pipeline for referral traffic and possibly additional coverage and even sales.  What I’d like to do, is present a few ways that PR pros can help the SEO’s on your team, and in turn, help yourselves.  Read More…

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If Everyone Owns Social Media…

If Everyone Owns Social Media

Photo credit: Flickr

If everyone owns social media, then no one owns social media.

Ever work on a condominium committee? Everyone is an owner and little gets done.

Ownership is a strong word, especially for social tools, which are often credited with having a democratizing effect on the web.  However, using it successfully requires leadership and decisiveness.

Writing on the SHIFT blog, Chris Penn, classifies the question as silly. His answer?  Whoever can use it to help build your business, that’s who.

Penn’s thoughts mirror my own, though I’d further qualify social media as a role for the do-ers.  There’s a difference between those that talk and those that do.  Social media needs a champion to weave, both the tactics, and the teams together.

This question is old, it has its old critics and old champions.  It’s also new, with new research, that attracts view points from multiple angles.  But it never fails to unleash a firestorm of opinions that range from rants to disinterest. Read More…

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Nine Takeaways from Lee Odden’s Optimize

by Frank Strong

Lee Odden‘s new book Optimize as about 10 years of blogging — and all the lessons and experience that go into that endeavor — stuffed into 232 pages.

If you follow the Online Marketing Blog many of the themes Lee and his team write about there are distilled, refined and presented an easy to read book.

“Lee tackles the triple crown of online marketing – SEO, social media, and content marketing,” wrote Geoff Livingston in a review on Amazon.com. “As social networks became entrenched in the online space, search increasingly used social verification to qualify online content…The result is a seamless intertwining of the three disciplines. None of them alone are strong enough to succeed, but together organizations can deploy knock out strategies.”

There’s one other major theme in Lee’s book:  PR.  Lee’s done a lot to get the basics of SEO across to PR pros because whether they know it or not, PR pros are perhaps one of the best means for authoritative link-building. And link’s are arguable still the top determining factor in search rankings, which in turn, is still a primary means for people to find content.   Read More…

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Coke, Target, rumors, SEO and crisis communications


Photo: Google search screen capture

by Frank Strong

My dear mother forwarded me an email today with the subject line, “Target Says “Veterans do not meet our area of giving.” It was one of those emails that had been flashed around the world and the string was filled with vows to never shop again at Target.

According to the email, “Recently we asked the local TARGET store to be a proud sponsor of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall during our spring recognition event. We received the following reply from the local TARGET management:  ‘Veterans do not meet our area of giving. We only donate to the arts, social action groups, gay & lesbian causes, and education.’ ”

Five things entered my mind at that moment:  1) I’m a veteran. 2)  I shop at Target. 3) I recall Target made headlines last Christmas for not allowing the Salvation Army to chime bells outside their store fronts. 4) Such an act of affronting veterans is a sure path to a PR crisis that even a large corporation couldn’t possibly botch.  5) I don’t believe everything I read on the Interweb.  Read More…

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PR pros should write for search engines


Photo: Google screen capture

by Frank Strong

Search is the new “earned media placement.” So said Kary Delaria on this blog post recently. Clear, concise — makes the point in phrase. It nicely drives home the point, in words we understand, that PR professionals need to develop a skill set in SEO, or search engine optimization.

That point is the fact that the best content in the world is useless if people can’t find it. And its well documented that the first place people turn to find content — journalists, bloggers, prospects and customers — is search engines. Brian Solis describes this as “findability.” Nice word Brian, I’ve been echoing it everywhere, but try to remember to give you credit for coining the term.

As a PR professional, almost every piece of content I produce, I have reviewed by SEO experts: Every press release, every white paper, every contributed article, every guest blog post. Not my pitches though. No one but the recipient sees those.

Each time I take content to SEO folks for review, I learn something new. In the process, I’ve found there are four key points that are important for PR people to understand — link building, bad links, key words and writing for search engines. Read More…

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