Posts Tagged ‘Search Engine Optimization’

SEO For Businesses – What You Do & Do Not Need

SEO is a buzzword that almost everyone knows but few people actually understand. And, for the most part, that’s okay. Specialized internet marketing tactics aren’t really your business, and they shouldn’t have to be. But, it is important that you understand enough of SEO to make the right choice when hiring a search optimization or search marketing company to help you market your business.

First, unless your business is not making any money, you probably won’t have the time to run a complex search engine optimization strategy for your website. But, you should know the basics.

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Search Optimization Is Just the Beginning

The first and most important thing to understand about your search optimization is that it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Many people mistakenly assume that SEO is a matter of using the right keywords, ketting backlinks, and you’re done. That isn’t true, although it may have been in 2009.

Google’s most recent search algorithm, Hummingbird, used a wide variety of data and signals to direct searches, and your keywords are just one of those.

You also have to utilize other marketing strategies including:

Mobile Optimization – Check your mobile optimization, and consider using Google’s free tool to test mobile load times, speed, and other data.

Content Marketing
– A quality content strategy will drive traffic, help you to convert leads, and will build your reputation as a voice or brand authority in your niche. It’s also a great basis for starting your search optimization strategy.

Brand Strategy – Your brand strategy is crucial to making a sale once you get traffic. If you can’t convert leads into sales, there is no point in creating them in the first place.

SEO ties into each of these strategies, in Google’s Hummingbird, Yahoo Search, and Bing Search.

What About Keywords?

Keywords are becoming less and less important as algorithms are able to increase their ability to scan content to see what it is about. You still want to make sure that readers and search engines know what content is about, but keyword optimization is significantly less important than it used to be.

And Backlinks?

Backlinks are still important, but if you do it the wrong way, you will likely be blacklisted on Google. If your SEO firm is offering hundreds of links a day or mentioning directories and comments, back away quickly and save your website. Black hat tactics like link farming are extremely harmful to your site, and are unlikely to ever be beneficial in the future. The best practice, build natural relationships to build links.

So What Is Involved in SEO?

Search engine optimization involves over 200 different practices including content optimization, search marketing optimization to improve click through rates, content wording, offering quality content, understanding user needs and what Google thinks those users need, backend optimization, website speed, website quality, inbound links, social media, and much more. Moreover, because these signals are constantly changing, it’s important that you have you someone who knows what they’re doing, and has the time to stay updated, on your marketing team.

Choosing the right SEO company to help you out means paying attention to their strategies, what they’re offering, and making sure that they stay up to date on changing Google and Bing search engine optimization strategies. You want someone who knows that SEO is more than keywords and backlinks, and who can show you their results from their previous clients.

If you want to learn more about our processes, see some of our case studies, or get a quote for your search optimization, contact Rory Martin

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5 Search Principles for Your Seattle SEO Strategy

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is one of the most popular and most recognized forms of internet marketing other than PCP, but many businesses fail to utilize it correctly. While SEO requires a lot of expertise to fully master, you can get by with the basics, so long as you utilize them correctly. If you’re just getting started with your SEO campaign, you should consider hiring a Seattle SEO company to help you with the strategy and planning, but the following five principles will get you started.

Keywords

Everyone knows that keywords are important for SEO, and that couldn’t be more true, especially if you’re trying to do localized Seattle targeting. Long tail keywords, mentioning your city, neighborhood, and even street can all help you come up in specific searches for local businesses, which is highly beneficial for small and medium businesses. The most important thing to do is research your keywords, make sure you integrate them without being spammy, and use them as naturally as possible.

Quality Content

Several search engines including Google and Yahoo now value quality, informative content as part of their search algorithm. They judge this by how well your content answers questions, as well as how long people stay on the page, whether or not they backspace and visit another page, and so on. Essentially, it is in your best interest to provide quality content that keeps visitors on your page for as long as possible.

Meta Data

Some meta data has been overused and used for spam, so you do want to be careful with it. However, meta descriptions and meta headers have value not only in that Google sees them, but also in that searchers see them. When you have a header that is too long for search, visitors see a cut off snippet of it in search. When you don’t have a meta description, they see the opening lines of your content. Creating an informative summary of your content, and a short, catchy title will help with boosting clicks. You also want both to summarize what your content is about, and use keywords for Google.

Backlinks

Backlinks are another SEO technique that has been spammed and must, therefore, be approached with caution, but it’s still one of the most valuable tactics you can utilize for long-term results. Search engines use backlinks, or links from one site to another, as votes to see how important the website is. Therefore, the more of them you have, the better your site will rank in search. However, links have to add value, be natural, and hopefully come from websites that have their own influence and ranking.

Image Tags

Image tags affect your search ranking by allowing images to come up in search, telling Google that you have relevant images in your post, and allowing users to find you based on image searches. This can be especially valuable if you have products, because you can tag them with appropriate short and long-term keywords, write a description that tells searchers what it is, and get traffic based on users looking for inspiration on the product you are selling.

There are over 200 different SEO principles and considerations, and you have to consider them all if you want to rank a larger business in the long-term. A Seattle SEO company can help with ensuring that you are on the right track by performing an audit, helping with your SEO strategy, and helping with implementation if you need it. To learn more, contact Rory Martin for details.

How to Merge Your Marketing and SEO – Seattle SEO Tips

How to Merge Your Marketing and SEO – Seattle SEO Tips

If you have a well thought out SEO strategy, then chances are you’re probably already integrating many of the marketing theories that you need to make your search optimization successful. Unfortunately, many Seattle businesses do not have a great search engine marketing strategy, primarily because they aren’t sure how to get started with one. Because most Seattle business owners aren’t necessarily marketing specialists, this is normal. If you don’t have your own Seattle SEO manager to help you with marketing and integrating it into your search optimization, then you probably need be

Research Your Market Demographic

You wouldn’t write an ad without knowing who you were writing it for, but many people write SEO content without really deciding who they’re selling to. If you’re selling shoes, then it’s probably logic that you’re main demographic is women between the ages of 18 and 45, and most of them will want a very specific type of shoe. If you’re operating a restaurant with catering services, the answer might not be quite as clear cut, but you can get started by analyzing your customers, writing up everyone in your immediate delivery area, and making some specific concessions based on what kind of food you serve. If you serve traditional Jewish cuisine, then your primary audience is  most likely going to be Jewish, and on top of that, you can market towards people looking for food for parties, events, and weddings.  On the other hand if you sell an assortment of high end cakes and pastries, you can narrow your prospects further to weddings and events, which allows you to easily narrow your demographic.

Use Retargeting Lists to Market To Them After They Leave Your Site

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Just because you get someone to your site with SEO doesn’t mean that they’ve made a purchase. Rather the opposite. Most of the techniques used to bring customers in via search actually draw in customers who are still making a decision. Creating retargeting lists with more specific versions of your SEO keywords (I.E., Four-tier strawberry wedding cakes for delivery in Ballard) and creating PPC marketing ads for retargeting those customers can help you with turning your leads into sales instead of just traffic. The main problem with SEO is that you can draw in an unlimited amount of customers who want to read your content, but they probably haven’t made up their mind about what kind of shoe or cake they want just yet. If they wanted that, they wouldn’t be reading articles. So, adding them to a retargeting ad based on their initial search (I.E. 4-inch black pump) allows you to show them what they want to buy when they leave your site, so that they come back and make a purchase.

Evolve your Content For Your Customers

Every customer has something specific that they want to see and while it is true that you can’t please everyone, you can please your target demographic. What do they want to see, what do they need to see, and what would be beneficial for them. Changing your content over time to stand out and market directly to your customer base is the best way to go. Remember that content marketing strategies like SEO are not only about coming up in search, but also about creating yourself as an authority, so that customers remember you when they want to make a purchase.

The easiest way to set up a working SEO marketing plan is to get help from a local Seattle SEO specialist or consultant who not only knows search  marketing but also local demographics, trends and business.

Seattle SEO Tips – Quality is the Most Important Ranking Factor

 SEO has come a long way in the past few years, and whether your Seattle SEO specializes in Google or Bing, times have definitely changed. Four years ago you could upload a post with a 4% keyword density and 100 backlinks and expect it to skyrocket to the top of search, but today, that same tactic is far more likely to have you tagged as spam and possibly even blacklisted by most major search engines. Google and Bing both now focus on quality as an important ranking factor, and many of them immediately rank the largest sites first (which is bad news for the little guys).

If you’re still posting your blogs on WordPress and blogger sites with links back to the original, paying for funnel websites, or creating thousands of links back to your site, you’re definitely making a mistake. The following include a few rules for Seattle businesses to live by when handling their SEO.

Pretend Google Doesn’t Exist

Or Bing. First things first, if you wouldn’t do something in terms of link creation or adding words without thinking of a search engine, you shouldn’t when thinking of a search engine either. Both Google and Bing are looking for quality in terms of keywords and links, and natural is the way to go.

Think Like a Reader

If you’re writing a blog or a website page and you’re thinking like you’re trying to sell to someone, then you’re thinking the wrong way. Instead, think about the reader experience as you go through the page. You should design your text, the quality of the text, and the number of links on the page based on how you think a user or reader would feel about it. Search Engine Land recommends reading the newspaper and deciding where you would put links, and see how they wrote content, to get the hang of writing for readers.

Put Quality First

Quality is your most important goal, for both links and on-page content. That means writing well-written sentences, using a spelling and grammar check, and proofreading everything. You want to have shorter paragraphs of no more than five sentences, and unless you’re targeting a highly educated audience, a fifth grade reading level. Make your content easy to read, and make sure that it is very easy to tell what it is about, without excessively repeating keywords. Think the same way with links. Try to accumulate them for their readership and activity rather than their PR (public PR is mostly irrelevant now as Google probably will not be updating the toolbar any further). If you put up guest posts or links, do so only with the idea that you want the readers to visit your site, and not for Google or Bing.

Want to know more about how to run a quality SEO campaign? Consider asking one of the expert Seattle social media managers at Rory Martin to help you handle your SEO, or to create a strategy for you. SEO optimization is more than just links and keywords, and hiring a professional can help you rank with the best of your competitors.

Is SEO Dead? A Guide for Seattle Businesses & Websites

If you’re into content or digital marketing then you probably use SEO, or at least plan to. SEO is one of the most popular forms of digital marketing, mainly because it offers a lot for what you pay. Rather than paying for what you get, like you do with PPC, you pay for a marketing strategy that could put you on top of search engine results for Google, Bing, or Yahoo. Unfortunately, time after time, we keep seeing articles with headlines reading some variation of “SEO is dead!”

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If you don’t work in the field of SEO, then you probably wouldn’t know any better than to believe it. After all, it’s on the Internet, right? Wrong, SEO is not dead. Search Engine Optimization will exist so long as there are search engines using algorithm and math based tools to find search results that match a keyword. That is actually the definition of SEO. Because we don’t imagine that search engines will have manually listed results to show when someone types in a search anytime soon, SEO is still alive and well.  You can still benefit from paying a Seattle SEO company to optimize your business, especially if you hire the right company.

Why Do People Say SEO is Dead?

One of the main reasons that you might keep seeing that SEO is dead is because SEO has undergone some very major changes in the past few years. By major changes, we mean that where two years ago, a couple of thousand links pointing back to your site might skyrocket you to the top of search, now it’s more likely to get you banned. And the same can be said of keyword stuffing, or the process of putting a percentage of keywords into your article (I.E. make “Seattle cupcakes” 2% of the article). These processes once worked, but they’ve been blacklisted on many search engines because they typically produce content that is spammy, irrelevant, and difficult to read. New SEO algorithms are more complex, harder to game, and offer better quality results. It also makes “SEO” harder for random people to get into selling a service and calling it optimization. So, scam SEO is dead. But actual optimization is still another thing entirely.

What Goes Into SEO?

If you want to know what actually goes into SEO and what you should be considering, we’d have to tell you, a lot. Google, the most popular search engine, uses over 300 signals in it’s algorithm, and most search engines have different algorithms. So there is a lot to consider. However, that’s one of the reasons why you probably want to hire a professional Seattle SEO company rather than winging it yourself. Some of the signals that search engines look for include quality, helpfulness, use of the keyword, a low exit rate, grammar, readability, site functionality, metadata, and even social signals.

Is that a lot to keep up with? Yes it is. Unfortunately, most search engines constantly change their algorithms, which means that policies, and strategies might be different tomorrow.

SEO is most definitely not dead, but many old ranking strategies are. That’s why you want to hire a professional SEO or digital marketing company that keeps up with changes, and offers you something that works, rather than a quick fix.

Five Major Red Flags For a Seattle SEO Company

If you’re in search of a local SEO company to help boost your ranking in the Seattle area then all well and good for you. SEO is still one of the most potent marketing options, and, if done right, can actually offer unlimited return. Unfortunately, when done wrong, it can do the exact opposite and ensure that your site never sees any organic traffic. While there are thousands of ‘SEO companies’ out there, not all of them are created equal, in fact, many of them have no idea what ‘SEO’ is anymore. So how do you sort out the chaff? Here are five major red flags that should send you running.

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SEO Copywriting

The truth is that there is no such thing as SEO copywriting anymore. Sure, you can optimize content here and there and make sure that the content is right, but today’s ‘SEO copywriting is more about good grammar, relevance, and helpfulness rather than using algorithms or keyword insertion. If they’re selling SEO copywriting, steer clear.

One Size Fits All Packages

If they have packages like “200,000 hits in one this period of time”, you can basically just turn around and run. Basic packages that offer a lot of results for one set fee look good, but they don’t really promise anything. Without a tailored and structured package designed to drive targeted traffic to your site, that traffic might as well not be there. Why? Because ‘traffic’ does not mean a consumer who wants to buy your products.

Backlinking Services

Whether it’s backlinking, guest posts, directory links, or automated linking, you have to steer clear. Backlinks can actually hurt your site more than help it, especially with Google’s new strict rules about relevance. If the links are not from an approved, relevant, and non-spammy source, then they could actually get you blacklisted on Google, which means no traffic from the world’s largest search engine.

SEO Tools

Are ‘SEO Tools’ one of their main sells? If so, you probably don’t want the company. Real SEO has very little to do with automation and more to do with good old fashioned marketing, back end optimization, and quality. It’s not about using tools to get the most done.

They Promise Quick Results

You probably want fast results. You would probably be happy if the traffic started pouring in tomorrow. Unfortunately, SEO doesn’t work that way. No matter what search engine you’re aiming for, fast results just aren’t happening if you do SEO right. In fact, time to results actually vary depending on the company, the search engine, and the number of competitors. Saying you will get ‘fast results’ is like promising that there won’t be anyone at the Starbucks counter if you go in fifteen minutes after they open. It’s possible, but not very likely.

A great SEO company offers quality digital marketing, not gimmicks and empty promises. Watch out for the red flags to root out the ones who won’t be doing your business any good.

Seattle SEO & The Long-Tail Keyword

If you do anything with SEO or marketing, then you are sure to hear about the long-tail keyword. With new Google search algorithms, new search results, and more people using longer searches, it is now becoming increasingly important for Seattle businesses to utilize longer keywords in order to keep up.

What is the Long-Tail?

The long-tail keyword is essentially a short phrase or specific search term that someone would use to look for something specific. While many people do use short-tail keywords to look for items, the results are much more vague, and usually used by someone first looking into an industry. So, for example, someone who is just starting to look into SEO might search for ‘SEO’ which wold bring up the Wikipedia page.

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On the other hand, once that person has looked at the Wikipedia page, they are going to move on, and probably start looking for SEO companies to hire. A long-tail search for ‘Seattle SEO Company” is much more specific and as a result typically offers slightly more specific results.
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About the Search Process

Right now, Google’s Hummingbird algorithm offers priority to websites that have the same long-tail keywords as the consumers search. So, if someone looks for ‘Marketing company SEO and Social” then they are going to get results that have all of those words. However, most people don’t start out looking for a long-tail keyword.

For example, if you’re considering hiring a Seattle SEO company but don’t know anything about SEO, your first search is going to be for ‘SEO’ or a similar ‘beginners guide to SEO’ where you would then read the Wikipedia Page, or browse around on sites like SEOMoz or SearchEngineLand in an effort to understand the process. For most people, the first searches are ‘what is it’, ‘how does it work’, and ‘do I need it’. While these searches can generate a lot of traffic, very few of them generate any sales.

Next comes the decision making process. The searcher knows what they want and they know what it does, so they start looking for something to buy. This is where the long-tail keyword comes in. The search for ‘SEO’ turns into “SEO company’s in Seattle’ or ‘Seattle Marketing’, which turns into a sale for one of the results.

Applying Long-Tail Keywords to Your Marketing Campaign

Unfortunately you have to know what your long-tails are before you can use them. If you only service a small area, then your long-tail keywords are obviously your location, but you also have to consider other specifics such as your exact products. A local bakery could utilize area and food specific long-tail keywords like, “Kirkland Wedding Catering” or “Where to Get Chocolate Cupcakes on 12th Street.”

Any long-tail keyword runs the risk of being too specific, but this is where keyword research comes in. A keyword with an average of 30 searches per month offers less traffic, but also the potential for 30 sales each month, as those 30 people find exactly what they are looking for. Broader searches offer more competition, and less chance of a sale, but can still be useful as well.

Is Your SEO Still on Track with Google?

SEO is a rapidly changing business for international and local Seattle industries. Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines are constantly updating their policies, but Google, which controls more than 70% of traffic, updates most of all. If you haven’t been keeping up with Google’s SEO trends your website might not be on track, which means that you could begin to see your ranking and your traffic drop whenever your website is scanned! Check your Seattle SEO against these recent SEO changes to make sure you are headed in the right direction.

Images No Longer Help With SEO

In the first month of 2013, many website owners saw their traffic soar as Google’s new image search policies directed more and more visitors to properly tagged images. As a result, many SEOs began using targeted photos as a form of SEO. Now, Google has changed their image policy so that the searcher does not actually have to visit your website to get the full size image. This change took place during first week in February and it’s definitely a game changer. While you can still benefit from having keywords as your image title and alt tags, it probably will not increase your SEO.

What about Headers?

Headers are great to include in your blog because they help organize it (and Google loves organization), but they don’t help with your SEO very much. The old rule of putting one keyword in the title and one in a subtitle no longer works because Google isn’t really paying attention. Using the right keywords in your content lets Google know what it is you are talking about without using it in a header. Importantly, your title should include your keyword or a variation of your keyword. However, this is for the readers benefit, not Google’s.

How is Your Social Doing?

If you really want to dominate Google in today’s market, you have to pay attention to your social. New updates are placing even more focus on social responders including how much, and how quickly, you get social shares and likes. While a good post doesn’t necessarily need a lot of attention from social to come up in search, it does help if you have a competitive keyword. Look around, check anyone competing for your Seattle SEO keywords and see how they are doing. If their SEO is as good as yours and you are doing worse than they are, the answer is likely in social. Similarly, if you aren’t participating in Google’s Authorship program, you might want to start because it makes your post larger in search and can help you to get more prominent positions once you start to build your author rank.

Backlinks

You might already know this but now, more than ever, a surge of artificial backlinks can kill your ranking. Google has caught on to spam techniques like automatic link building, link submission, and even mass guest posting on low PR blogs. Now if you want your backlinks to be beneficial to your site, they must publish quality content, not have a history of spam, and usually be at least PR2 or hire. While there are a lot of variables, the moral is that you should choose your backlinks slowly and build to your site from quality links and articles.

Want to know more? Keep following Rory Martin to stay on top of the latest Seattle SEO that will affect your ranking. Google is changing quickly which means that it is important to stay on top of the factors that affect your SEO.

Seattle Social Media: 5 Reasons Google Authorship is a Must-Have for Any Blogging Website

Google Authorship is one of Google’s newer tools for authors, and one of the newest ‘SEO kittens’ available for site owners. With recent and forthcoming updates to Google’s search engine algorithm, Google Authorship is expected to be very important to blogging websites, and an integral part of Seattle social media optimization sometime in the very near future. So what are the benefits of Google Authorship, and how can you utilize it for your site?

Attract More Attention to Your Post in Search

The first and most obvious result of using Google Authorship is that you will eventually see a photo, a small bio, and a link to your Google + directly in search. While this might not seem like much more than a vanity point, consider two things. The first is that the post is bigger than any posts that do not have authorship, this immediately attracts more attention. Second, and most importantly, anyone looking for a quality article can see who wrote that article and that you are confident enough of its quality to put your name and your face on it. Google Authorship has sometimes seen as much as a 30% increase in click through rate based on impressions, meaning that you could be getting a lot more traffic just by adding your name and your face to your results in search.

Increase Author and Site Credibility

Not only are you putting your name on your post, you’re allowing Google to see what you are claiming. Based on your user reaction, the helpfulness and SEO quality of the blog, and of course, the amount of social media sharing you get, Google will ‘remember’ that you post good content, and start placing you higher in search. Readers can also see how many followers you have on Google +, a great indicator as to whether or not you deserve to be read.

Easily Access Statistics and Click-Through Rates

If you’re attempting to track your content to see click through rate, traffic, or even average position in Google search, there is literally no better tool than the Google Authorship statistics. Currently the tool is only accessible via labs (meaning that it may break, vanish, or disappear at any time), but it is well worth your time and effort to check out. Want to see for yourself? Log into your Google Webmaster Tools, click ‘Labs’ and then choose ‘Author Stats’.

Does Google Have a ‘Favorite’ Child?

It has been rumored in the past that Google has a tendency to ‘play favorites’ with its own content, so you might want to consider using Google + and utilizing Google Authorship with it for that reason. Google currently owns about 65-75% of internet search, meaning that of the estimated nearly 300 million internet users in 2012 at least 195 million used a Google search engine.

Benefit Your Local Seattle Social Media Optimization

Last year, Matt Cutts, head of Google’s webspam, talked about how a well ranked Google Authorship website might continue to place well in search, even if the site changes hands to someone who doesn’t worry quite as much about quality. But this doesn’t mean you should start being lax with grammar and content, instead, it means that once you have a reputation, you will keep it for some time.  Google authorship allows you to build your SEO over time by simply posting great content and engaging with your readers, customers, or clients. Social activity involving your posts, sharing, number of clicks, and of course, your number of followers will all contribute to your ‘credibility’. With the many new changes to Google search engine algorithms, including the introduction of Penguin, Panda, and Google Authorship; you can’t afford to exclude this great tool from your Seattle Social Media optimization. If you have not set your Google Authorship up yet, you can find out how here.

How to Plan a Link-Building Strategy

You might have heard the phrase ‘link building’ tossed around when new media marketing professionals talk about search engine optimization,  and to many, it sounds incomprehensible. How can you build a link? Can you pay someone to link to your site, like an advertisement? Or do you create connections with other companies and bloggers, who might then link to you? The answer is: both of these strategies, and more.

Link Building Tools

But let’s start from the beginning. When coming up with a link-building strategy, we need to know what we’re aiming for. Which website linking to yours would be the best for your company’s overall business strategy? Shoot for the stars at this stage, because you really never know who might pick up on your content. Once you have a comprehensive list of all the sites you’d like a link from, highlight the biggest. This doesn’t have to be the site with the most readers, but the one with the most authority in your area of expertise.

Now ask yourself: Why would they want to link to us? The answer is already on their site. What kind of content do they currently publish? What do they usually link to? Are they all about fresh new statistics? Unusual ways to make business connections? Graphics about obscure points of code? Try to find a gap in their current content spread – maybe they haven’t covered JavaScript in a while, or perhaps you recently had an employee attend a stand-up comedy workshop for better confidence when giving presentations. Whatever you choose to write about, make sure that you have as much information as possible on this subject. Remember this piece is going to be seen by hundreds of thousands of people, right?

After bringing all the research together, and creating the content, see if there’s a timely opportunity to publish it. Maybe it’s World Comedy Day or World Code Day. These sorts of events mean that people will be looking for content on these topics, and they will be prepared to share them. On a smaller scale, there will be blogs running carnivals, and blogs curating all the posts on these topics for that day, so seek these out and make sure you get a link on their websites. This will make it easier for the bigger names to find you.

Finally, don’t assume that researches on the big name sites, or in the big name companies, will stumble on your content, and don’t be afraid to directly contact the people who you want to link to you. It’s more acceptable than ever to shoot off a succinct and respectful email asking for a link, or even to Tweet at people who might be interested in your piece.

What do you think of this off page SEO strategy? Have you successfully earned a link from a big name site or company? How did you do it?

© Copyright © 2012 Rory Martin Inc.
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