The Best of SEO, Content Marketing, Social Media and CRO – 2012

2012 has been an incredible year for those of us who work online or who have an interest in search, social or any of the other variations in web strategy.

SEO in particular has seen upheaval after upheaval and Google has been instrumental in changing the way web marketing works or doesn’t as the case may be.

Anyone close to SEO will have watched as Google rolled out Panda update after Panda update, threw in a Page Layout update, an Exact Match Domain update, sent out link warnings and banished sites to the outer reaches, and generally shook  things up to such an extent that only the foolhardy would even contemplate manipulative techniques, black hat or webspam.

Best of SEO in 2012

2012 was also a year when social media really crossed over to the general business population in a big way. Even here in New Zealand most SMEs made the leap and invested time or money in their social media presence. As always the big players – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Youtube made frequent and significant changes to their platforms. The result of all this flux in social media means that it is essential keep your finger on the social platform pulse the whole time.

The big winners in 2012 were without a doubt content marketing and blogging and this is mostly down to Google’s efforts. The benefits of an integrated approach to content marketing, technical SEO compliance and social media authority have grown significantly as the year has progressed. Any business that is not considering a content based approach in 2013 will struggle to remain competitive online. (There, said it!)

Midge has done a great job this year in finding every week the very best content published on SEO, social media, content strategy and conversion rate optimisation and has delivered in our Weekend Wrap a combination of thought leadership, tutorials, opinion pieces and even some humour.

We hope you have found the posts educational, inspiring and thought provoking – we certainly have!

Don’t forget to subscribe to the Weekend Wrap up on the right here – we won’t spam… ever!

And while you are here please feel free to share with the social media buttons at the top – many thanks!

Here is my roundup of the very best of the Weekend Wrap – enjoy!

SEO

The future of SEO in 2013

Start with this great post from Stoked SEO who ask a number of the most influential SEO writers what they think will happen with Google and search in 2013.

Some of our favourite SEO people here: Jon Cooper, Jason Acidre, John Doherty, Julie Joyce, Paddy Moogan, Will Critchlow and more. Great insights!

Breaking Down the Mormon SEO Strategy

This post from Distilled was a bit of a surprise.

Who would have thought that a church would focus on an intensive SEO campaign and that they would be competing for phrases like Jesus, Church or scriptures.

Fascinating stuff and I really like the comment asking about the Mormon Church’s “conversion” rate! :)

An Open Discussion on the Current State of Link Building

This post stood out not only for the calibre of the SEO thought leaders taking part in the discussion and the quality of the information but also for the unique structure of the post and its informal concept.

Link building has definitely changed substantially in 2012.

We Can Do Better Than This

This is one of the standout posts of the year.

Jonathon Colman put together this epic piece which challenges many SEO writers to up their game with their content and to be more creative and inspirational with what they are producing and with the conversations they are having online.

2012 Year In Review: Important Shifts In Google SEO

This post by Tom Schmitz on Search Engine Land is a nice summary of some of the more important SEO changes from 2012.

He covers online reputation and trust, Google and webmaster notifications, over-optimisation penalties, Panda, Penguin, Pirate updates and lots more.

A WordPress Theme Change SEO Checklist

This one arrived at a very good time.

It was published a couple of weeks before we began shifting the High Profile Enterprises site to a new theme (thanks Studiopress and Genesis Framework) and is a very useful list of potential SEO problems when shifting to a new WordPress theme.

Further Questions with an Ex-Search Quality Team Member Andre Weyher

The very rare time when an ex-Google employee (search quality team) breaks ranks and shares their opinions on SEO is always going to cause some controversy.

Start with Google denying he was an employee at all and then changing their mind – whatever the outcome the 2 interviews that kicked up a bit of a storm have some really interesting insights.

7 Critical SEO Errors of E-commerce Websites

Thanks in part to repeated Panda updates seeking out and punishing duplicate content, many ecommerce websites have had a topsy turvy year in 2012.

Unfortunately, way too many developers are creating sites with duplication, masses of missing metadata and other technical fails that will hurt ecommerce sites.

This useful post identifies 7 key mistakes that must be fixed.

The Most Creative Link Building Post Ever

This is pretty cool. Contact a slew of top SEOs and ask them to share their most creative way they have ever got a link and you are going to see some pretty unbelievable answers.

Check out the post for some incredible and some pretty funny replies.

A story for another time would be when I sailed a boat, ran a half-marathon and climbed a mountain all on the same day for a link :-)

220 SEO tips and tactics from SearchLove 2012

The best web marketing conferences always deliver a huge amount of valuable information and 2012’s SearchLove in the UK looks like a great one.

The people at Wordtracker have compiled 220 soundbites and tips from across the full range of disciplines – SEO, CRO, social media, PPC, content strategy and more from some of the world’s leading experts.

5 SEO tips to get your website right with Google

I put this post together to assist businesses in getting the SEO basics right for their websites.

It is geared toward the smaller business who has to do a lot of this stuff themselves but the concepts apply for larger sites as well. Narrowing down to 5 tips was the toughest part.

This post was created in response to a request from a friend on Twitter to put together a plain language guide.

How to Build SEO into Content Strategy

The second appearance from Jonathon Colman and this time it is with this excellent Slideshare presentation.

He looks at building a bridge between SEO and content strategy and shares insights on SEO myths and realities, metadata and best practice, the content lifecycle, editorial calendars and a whole lot more.

The 2012 Guide to Google Webmaster Tools – Analytics Integration, +1 Metrics, and More

Kristi Hines has such a huge amount of long-form high quality content published on a range of big sites I wonder when she ever sleeps. Google Webmaster Tools became essential for all websites in 2012 and here Kristi gives a highly detailed rundown of the important features and how they can benefit you with tons of screenshots and diagrams to make it as intuitive as possible.

A keeper!

The Death of Link Building and the Rebirth of Link Earning – Whiteboard Friday

When Rand Fishkin (CEO of SEOmoz)  talks the SEO world listens. This is a video post of the highly useful Whiteboard Friday series and Rand tells it like it is. Link building in the old sense is all over – it is all about Link earning now and he talks about what that means for SEOs.

Insightful, as always.

The Return Of The Google Dance

Another big name and respected SEO leader is Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land.

Here, he talks about the “Google Dance” and how after being dormant for a number of years it has reared its head again in 2012 due to Google’s intensive update schedule. This post gives you some idea of how volatile search has become recently.

Is SEO Dead?  Yes, But Only to Some People…

This “take no prisoners” infographic from SEObook was a pretty tough (but necessary) broadside at the anti-SEO lobby who seem to come out of the woodwork every time there is a major shift to spout the old cliche that SEO is dead.

The various interest groups are clearly identified and despatched one by one – fun if you are an SEO, maybe not so much if you are the target…

Technical SEO Audit with Google Webmaster Tools

Jason Acidre has been responsible for some of the very best SEO posts in 2012 and this one is no exception.

This post takes you through a comprehensive site audit using Google’s Webmaster Tools and is geared to the more technically advanced.

Tools, tips, techniques and problem fixes are all given here.

Would Google Fail Its Own Quality Test?

This all started when Google’s manual page quality rating guidelines were leaked.

If that wasn’t enough to cause some red faces Gordon Campbell ran Google through their own rating guidelines in this humourous post and found them sadly lacking and probably worth banning from their own search results.

Check it out!

The Hidden Cost Of Cheap SEO & Social Media Labor

Another goodie from Search Engine Land! I’m sure we all get those emails or see PPC ads with SEO services or social media management for what seem like ridiculously low prices. Unfortunately this has the effect of confusing many about what real web marketing costs.

This post clearly details the huge risks involved with taking on cheap online services and gives a good picture of the outcomes you could expect.

Rank Modifying Spammers

As always SEObook cut right to the chase – I’ll let them introduce this one:

If there are any webmasters still under the illusion that Google is the SEOs friend, that must be a very small club, indeed. Google used to maintain a – somewhat unconvincing – line that if you just followed their ambiguous guidelines (read: behaved yourself) then they would reward you. It was you and Google on the good side, and the evil spammers on the other. Of late, Google appear to have gotten bored of maintaining any pretense, and the battle lines have been informally redrawn.

 

Content Marketing

Talking Content Strategy with Industry Experts, Interview with Kristina Halvorson

A really insightful interview with Kristina Halvorson, author of “Content Strategy for the Web” by Nick Eubanks.

Kristina talks about the inspiration behind the book, some of her favourite content, how to get clients to embrace new ideas, testing processes, increasing lifetime value and more.

21 Tactics to Increase Blog Traffic (Updated 2012)

Rand Fishkin again and in this post he shares 21 tactics to improve your blogging performance (and the SEOmoz blog has over a million vistors a month!).

This is packed with great tips and ideas and should be compulsory reading for any blogger, SEO or content marketer.

A Walkthrough to Xight Interactive’s Inbound Marketing Process

Put aside a bit of time to work through Jason Acidre’s entire inbound marketing process. As I said previously Jason does detail like not many others so this post will need repeated viewing to pick up all the tips and techniques that Xight Interactive have implemented.

Awesome stuff!

What The New Yorker Magazine Can Teach You About Content Marketing that Works

We are big fans of Copyblogger due to the consistent high quality of the posts and because of the style of writing that the authors use.

This post looks at The New Yorker and how this magazine has made an art form of the long form post or in Copyblogger speak “epic content”. Most articles on The New Yorker weigh in at more than 10,000 words but because the content has substance and follows a narrative it is hugely successful.

Nice one!

I Know You, Writer

Midge first came across this massive post on inbound.org and it immediately knocked us over.

A great piece of writing with brilliant insights on what works and what doesn’t with lashings of humour and just by introducing the post with a bit of  Biggie Smalls Anthony Pensabene has got to get bonus points!

106 Excuses That Prevent You From Ever Becoming Great

Speaking of epic content, this post on Chris Brogan’s site is a classic. At nearly 7,000 words and 106 reasons you could use to excuse failing this must have been a huge task to create.

Like all great content this piece draws you in and keeps you engaged despite the length. Web copywriting at its best.

What Is The Secret Sauce In Good Content?

Everyone is saying “publish great content” but what exactly is great content? This one looks at the value of creating content for humans but also emphasises the need for the content to be robot friendly.

Writing content about your content (i.e.metadata) is a critical step that many do not get right. Like!

30 reasons your content marketing strategy is failing miserably

This is one of mine and appeared on our client TrinityP3’s blog.

I looked at as many ways as I could find that business and agency blogs were getting content strategy wrong or elements that they were missing altogether and put together 30 of the most common fails.

There seems to be a common misconception judging by some web marketing proposals I have seen recently that all a marketer needs to do is add new content to a website regularly to rank well in search… Ooops!

How To Write Seductive Sales Copy Like Apple

This is great stuff from Kissmetrics –

What can you learn from the Apple copywriting team? What are the ingredients to their success? And how can you emulate these techniques in your own sales copy?

Check this out:

The sales copy uses the word iPhone 81 times. And the name Apple is used an additional 26 times. But the words you and your are used even more often: 110 times. That means that one in 23 words of the sales copy is you or your.

Enough said…

Why Content Marketing is the New SEO

If you are not familiar with Neil Patel’s Quicksprout blog you are missing out on a ton of great info.

Here he analyses how content marketing has meant he has not had to manually build one link and comes up with some surprising stats around the cost differences between content creation and other SEO or paid techniques to grow traffic.

3445 Words on How to Promote the Ish out of Your Blog Posts

Ana Hoffman created this foot-to-the-floor, flat-out, blog promotion post a few months back and it is probably still being worked through by a lot of marketers.

Tons of value here: social media promotion, RSS strategies, social automation, Triberr, ViralContentBuzz, CommentLuv, Pinterest, Linking strategies and more to get your blog posts in front of the biggest audience possible.

Want to Create Something Amazing? It Starts With One Big Step

This one by Sonia Simone of Copyblogger follows the incredible Red Bull leap from 128,000 feet and dares you to take the big first step to achieving something epic (much like the huge marketing event itself – “Red Bull Stratos LIVE: Watch Felix Baumgartner Break The Speed Of Sound”).

If you’re going to build something — a business, a blog — that takes our breath away, it has to take your breath away first.

Nice!

75 Must Read Marketing Blogs to Make Your RSS Reader Epic

Kristi Hines appears on one of our favourite blogs – Unbounce – with this essential list of 75 great sites covering marketing blogs, SEO, conversion optimisation, paid search, email marketing, content marketing, blogging, analytics and social media marketing.

There will be many great sites here that you will not have seen before… guaranteed!

How to Maximize your Evergreen Content to Fuel Business Sales and Marketing

Evergreen content is extremely valuable in SEO terms and Jason Acidre takes you through how to identify keywords, scalable link acquisition, optimisation of content, gaining social momentum, social reverse engineering and a whole lot more.

Interestingly, this is evergreen content about evergreen content!

Why Content Marketing is the New Branding

Copyblogger takes a few spots in the content marketing section as the posts are uniformly high quality on this blog.

A great post here by Frank Strong with a pretty useful infographic.

Good insights on the connection between brand building and online content.

How do we inspire people to generate content? To talk about us on Facebook and Twitter, to increase our audience?

The WordPress Guide for Small Businesses 

This is a real standout and shows the reward for investing in high quality content (and it would not have been cheap to produce).

This is an excellent, intuitive step by step guide that follows a flow chart format and every time you answer No to a question you are presented with a video tutorial.

Brilliant!

 

Social Media

Not Tracking Social Media ROI is Your Fault

Jay Baer at “Convince and Convert” always delivers top shelf information and this post about social media ROI is another great one.

He takes you through a series of strategies to make measuring return on social media activity accurate and achievable.

If you’re looking to place blame for why you can’t measure social media ROI in your company, grab a mirror.

3 ways to make sure that social media expert is really an expert

If you really want to fire people up who call themselves “social media experts” it is pretty easy – all you need to do is offer ways to measure a person’s authority to speak on the topic!

Boom!

This post kicked the hornets’ nest and was the fastest moving post of the year on the TrinityP3 blog.

Mumbrella in Australia picked up the post within a week and the crazed, indignant, anonymous comments that followed were hilarious.

This is why I am not reading or tweeting your blog post

We love Mark Schaefer’s {Grow} blog and here Mark shares what people consistently fail at:

Do you want to increase the readership of your blog by 400% in just one easy step?

Lean in close now as I share this blogging secret: “Stop writing sucky headlines.”

Mark gives a range of examples of shockingly inept headlines and some examples of great ones then gives useable tips on how to improve yours.

Facebook: I Want My Friends Back!

An angry response to Facebook’s clumsy attempt to monetise their platform after their disastrous IPO!

Facebook have alienated a large number of businesses by severely reducing their reach to their fans (often these fans have been accumulated by paying Facebook for advertising) and then offering to sell this reach back to them in possibly the dumbest move of 2012!

This post pulls no punches!

What Can You Learn from These 6 Companies That Thrive On Twitter?

Take a look at this post from Kissmetrics to see how 6 massive Twitter accounts use the platform successfully for brand presence, customer service, providing value, market research, breaking news or tips.

There is a lot to be learnt from these 6 organisations and how they use Twitter and many of the techniques can be incorporated into your own efforts.

6 Tips to Get Retweeted More Often

If there is anyone more prolific than Kristi Hines it is probably Ann Smarty.

Ann has been everywhere in 2012 and the consistent, value giving nature of her posts across a huge range of sites is phenomenal.

In this one on Search Engine Journal she gives 6 actionable tips to up your retweet rate. Good stuff!

The pros and cons of business social media automation

Another post of mine published on TrinityP3 which looks at negative attitudes to social media automation and gives a review of 3 of the most useful/popular social media management platforms.

Social media tools are a fact of life today and if you are not using them you are probably not performing anywhere near your potential.

75 Tips to Manage Your Social Media Efforts in 2012

This is a BIG post on QuickSprout which takes you through a ton of valuable recommendations to improve your social media effectiveness.

This is worth tucking away and working through the tips over time.

Twitter Is Not A Conversation [Research & Charts]

Heidi Cohen presents Dan Zarella of Hubspot’s research into Twitter behaviour and offers actionable marketing tips based on the findings.

This dispels the commonly held view that Twitter is all about the conversation.

Not true – it seems that there is more to it!

35 experts weigh-in: How we create influence on Facebook

Another post from {Grow} and this one rounds up 35 Facebook high achievers to offer their insights on what it takes to become powerful on Facebook.

Really interesting to see the wide range of opinions here.

This demonstrates that individuals on social media are successful because of their unique voice and personality matched with a personalised strategy rather than any cookie cutter approach.

How to create a company page on LinkedIn

Kristi Hines is back with a LinkedIn company page tutorial on the Wordtracker blog.

As always Kristi gives clear instructions illustrated with screenshots and diagrams to show you what you need to do at every step.

Time to up your LinkedIn game?

20 Social Media Divas You Should Be Following

From Francisco Rosales’ Social Mouths blog comes this excellent collection of 20 of the top women in social media.

I’m sure you will have many more you can add to this list but I certainly found a few I had not seen around before.

Make sure you follow them all and check out those mentioned in the comments as well.

 

Conversion Rate Optimisation

What The Highest Converting Websites Do Differently

This is really useful!

Presenting unique value propositions, split testing, headline testing, ideal form structure and more CRO insights are discussed with examples of great sites that get it right

7 Blogs Designed for Conversion and What You Can Learn From Them

This one is on the Unbounce blog which is another favourite of ours.

Kristi Hines (again) looks at 7 heavyweight blogs and analyses conversion goals and how these are approached in design and layout and then offers reasons why they are successful.

Plenty to learn here.

The Perfect Landing Page Recipe

From Unbounce again – this time Oli Gardner – this cool infographic gives you plenty of ammo for your next landing page.

It is all put together like a cooking recipe just for fun but the insights are what counts here.

The One Question You Must ALWAYS Answer For Your Reader (Infographic)

Nice post and infographic on Social Caffeine.

Like the “clickbait” title as well.

What do you think the one question you must always answer for your readers could be?

6 Copywriting Mistakes That Shatter Conversion Rates

Crazy Egg increased its conversion rate with a page that was 20 times longer than the original

More excellent insights from Kissmetrics on ways you can improve conversion rates on your website by avoiding these 6 copywriting mistakes.

Valuable stuff!

Meta Description Magic: Think Less about SEO & More about Click-Throughs

And one final post by Kristi Hines on Kissmetrics. (Kissmetrics and Unbounce are really dominating the CRO posts on the Weekend Wrap in 2012!)

Metadata is critical in optimising content for search engines and this piece looks closely at the meta description tag and how it can be optimised to increase click-through.

I am sure I am not the only one who finds it amusing that Google cuts off their own meta description in their own results because it exceeds the recommended length.

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There are a number of our most respected thought leaders, bloggers and writers who do not appear in this list and every month we discover several new people who are creating astonishing content to add to our list to watch and learn from.

So, keep an eye on the Weekend Wrap where we will share these gems as we find them.

2013 is going to be a huge year again in all the key digital areas with the rise of mobile, further Google adjustments, big new startups and tools, further shifts in how we get our information, changes in the use of scraped data,  increased social media presence in our lives, and startling innovations and advances in hardware that will change our lives.

We’re looking forward to it!

Thank you for visiting us – we wish you all the best in the coming year!

 

About Mike Morgan
Mike Morgan works with innovative businesses in New Zealand and Australia developing custom web marketing strategies integrating SEO, Content Marketing and Social Media Optimisation. When not in front of his screens you will probably find Mike walking on beautiful Ohope Beach with wife Midge and doberman Cooper. Follow Mike on Twitter here and

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Comments

  1. The panda update rolled out by Google indeed shook up the ranking of many websites. And no one can disagree that 2012 was a bright year for SEO, only if you steered clear of all manipulative techniques!:)

    • Thanks for the comment.

      I agree that Panda shook things up and people have to be a whole lot more diligent with technical compliance and improving the quality of content but the real game changer this year was the Penguin update.

      This one totally changed the way SEO looks at link acquisition and shifted strategy away from any hint of unnatural link building toward “link earning” with long form content and giving a large amount of value. Unfortunately we still get daily emails offering mass directory submissions, comment spam, article spinning and paid links so there are a large number of SEO firms that will actually harm business performance by peddling their damaging wares.

      Cheers
      Mike

  2. wow! very long article but very informative and a lot of resources to choose from. thanks!
    I’m still suffering from the latest google updates. I don’t know if it’s because I deleted from old articles or it’s because of some google search algorithm update.

  3. Do not forget to add the mega Penguin update that was also rolled out in the similar year for targeting the sites with low quality of back linking profile having comments mainly generated from excessive reciprocal linking or excessive paid links or through Black Hat techniques like Link Farming etc.
    2012 had been the year of highs and lows the highs for the websites getting more benefit from this updates allround while the lows definitely from the panda, penguin or EMD update threshed sites.
    Now in 2013, Google recently refreshed Panda to its new version #24 which affected 1.2% of the english queries and the Google is set to roll out Authorship Rank algorithm where even the social status of the Author of the blog will be considered while ranking a website in SERPs.
    Thanks for the informative post.

  4. This is a very informative post. Well written! I agree that the panda update rolled out by Google indeed shook up the ranking of many websites. And that this one totally changed the way SEO looks at link acquisition and shifted strategy away from any hint of unnatural link building toward “link earning” with long form content and giving a large amount of value. I am also suffering from google updates. Thank you for this post! Looking forward for more updates.

  5. I hear what you are saying with ecommerce sites and dupe content from a seo angle but the thing is google always preaches to build sites for users and rankings will follow. Surely a consistent templates is good from a user friendly perspective when building an ecommerce site…… I wonder what the best approach here is?

  6. Thanks for a wealth of information. My sites were affected by the Google changes last year but my problem is that there are several reasons why, but I dont kinow specifically why I have been hit e.g. duplicate content, auto link building, too much advertising above the fold etc etc All I know is that some less quality sites (IMHO) have survived.
    Cheers.

  7. Optimization tips usually come in the form of SEO action items. However, SEO is one of many online areas that can be optimized. All too often, social media optimization (SMO) and conversion rate optimization (CRO) take a back seat to SEO.

  8. True that, Google has grown up a lot from the past. It works more smart now, readers sticking to the content is crucial and sometimes creating that quality content is quite difficult too but when the content goes viral then keeping that pace to the web company becomes unmanageable. Web companies must realize that they should create a brand not just creating a content for generating traffic for little period.

  9. Thanks for sharing this informative post and it was quite interesting to read. My site was affected tremendously and I believe that this maybe owing to some duplicate content.

  10. The penguin update has changed many things this year round. The SEO world is changing and it is focusing more on the natural link building process rather than the paid one. I will have to focus on all the points that have been mentioned in this post to become successful in this SEO world. Thanks for sharing this informative article.

  11. Amazing post. I agree that companies should focus on building brand names for themselves rather than trying to seek traffic by mere content. The content method will surely help to drive some high amount of traffic if it is of high quality but building a brand name should be a top priority and it will help to increase our rankings.

  12. Nice and detailed post. Google is changing things continuously and it is becoming quite challenging to stay ahead in the SEO world. I think quality content and backlinks are something that we should focus on. This will help us to get a leap in our rankings.

  13. Interesting post. The SEO world is getting better day after day and it is getting more challenging to stay on the top. Google updates are getting better with time and it is focusing more on building natural backlinks and getting the traffic in a more genuine way.

  14. My site was affected badly during the last years update and the reason behind this would be over advertising. I never had any duplicate content posted but I did not have a proper link building process in place. These two areas have affected me. Thanks for sharing this useful post.

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