The 9 Most Shared SEO Articles of 2014

Another year is in the books, and what a year it’s been! It has been a roller coaster ride for the industry with search algorithm updates, content marketing kicking link building to the curb, and Matt Cutts taking a leave of absence but not before taking down multiple link rings. Here at SEOhaus, our company has grown significantly as we have added more talent to the team and evolved into BrightHaus. As internet marketers gear up for 2015 and eagerly await the newest trends and predictions for the New Year, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the most shared industry articles of 2014. Search Engine Land It’s Over: The Rise & Fall Of Google Authorship For Search Results With over 15,000 shares on social networks, this was by far Search Engine Land’s hottest article in 2014. A long-time lovechild of many SEOs and bloggers, the Authorship death sentence sent many marketers into mourning. In late summer, it was finally time to let go. Thank you, Search Engine Land, for being the friend willing to tell us it was over, and Authorship was not going to come back. Google Releases Penguin 3.0 — First Penguin Update In Over A Year Oh, Penguin. The ice-cold algorithm filter isn’t nearly as welcome as Happy Feet. The bane of many webmasters, Penguin 3.0 was received with mixed feelings. This article was shared over 10,200 times as news of a new Penguin in town spread. Many webmasters eagerly awaited improvements as a result of link removal efforts, while others hoped they would escape the wrath of our flightless friend. Google Begins Rolling Out Panda 4.0 Now Knowing how the industry reacts to algorithm changes, it’s no surprise to see the Panda announcement from May come in third place with nearly 9,200 shares. This was certainly one of the most talked about headlines of the year as it has been over year since the previous Panda update. Similar to Penguin, changes with Panda are always polarizing. Moz 10 Smart Tips to Leverage Google+ for Increased Web Traffic Cyrus Shepard takes home the top prize in 2014 with his Google+ tips garnering over 7,200 social shares. Posted in April, many of his tips are still relevant and helpful today. The core Google+ has not changed in recent months, and this is still a great article to reference when building your presence on the social network. Your Google Algorithm Cheat Sheet: Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird Search Engine Land gives us the breaking news on changes in search, and Moz contributors promptly fill us in on how to navigate those changes. Although there have been some algorithm changes in recent months, this is still a great resource to refer to and keep in your back pocket. Marie did a great job of bringing problems into light and offering solutions. The Most Entertaining Guide to Landing Page Optimization You’ll Ever Read We all love a good read, so why not have a chuckle while improving your craft? As far as measuring success goes, keyword rankings are a thing of the past. Even improved traffic metrics can make you feel warm and fuzzy inside, but just about every campaign comes down to one thing – conversions. This is a great post, and if you haven’t made your way from top to bottom without skimming, I recommend giving it a go. SEOhaus The Importance Of Social Media In Marketing Not to be pigeon-holed as an SEO company, we began offering social media packages this year. Two of our Specialists – Dylan Taylor and Taylor Mak – fittingly burst onto the blog scene this month and received the most social shares. They’re the social pros, of course, so I remain suspect of them garnering so many shares. Regardless, it’s a great discussion of why social media is so crucial to your campaign’s success. Weekly roundup: Top 5 SEO trends and more I always love a good roundup, whether weekly or annual. Andy highlights some of the top articles of the week, all of which are still very solid resources several months later. Don’t have the time to stay on top of the top headlines every day? Just check in with us when you can to get your recap. Tracking Time: Eye-Opening Insights Into Productivity The third most shared blog post for us this year comes compliments of Richie. As our company continues to grow, we recognize that our team members and their strategies need to be at the forefront of the industry. To better hone our craft, we ran a little experiment here in the haus to identify pain points, time bottlenecks, and ultimately how to up our game. This is a really insightful piece about how we operate.   So there we have it: 2014 in a social nutshell. The top three articles from Search Engine Land all focused on changes made by Google, so it’s interesting to see the difference between a news source like SEL and industry favorite Moz, which has more editorial, evergreen content. Our own blog showed similar trends to Moz with a post about social media taking the top spot for both. If you are a webmaster, which of your posts garnered the most social attention or page views, and what were some of your favorite articles of 2014?

7 Tips for Building Links Without Creating Content

Google’s love affair with informative and useful content is well documented. In order to build a strong backlink profile, creating great content is reportedly the only method that works. While original and useful content should never be ignored, when time is short or topics are scarce, you can fall back on these 7 link building strategies.

1. Testimonials

If you’re using a product that you like, consider writing a testimonial on your site about the product. When you’ve created the testimonial, contact the company and let them know that they can put the testimonial on their site. Most companies like to show that real people are using their products and will link back to the testimonial on your site.

2. Event Link Building

Event link building is perfect for a company that is planning on hosting a local event for its customers and the general public. The idea behind this is that you reach out to newspapers, local travel sites, and event magazines and let them know that your company is planning to host an event for the public. You provide the location, date, time, name of the company, and a link back to your site. This is a great way to publicize the event you’re hosting, establish a new relationship with a valued online site, and receive an authoritative link.

3. Expired or Moved Sites

Hundreds of sites either shut down or get moved daily, which means that these sites’ backlink profiles make a great target list for outreach. The most difficult part of this process is identifying the sites that have shut down or moved. A list of appropriate sites can be found by using search strings like:
  • “target keyword” + rebranding
  • “target keyword” + out of business
Once you have your list of sites, you select one and plug in the URL into a tool like Majestic SEO or Ahrefs. These tools give you a comprehensive backlink profile for that moved domain. The next step would be to go to these links and identify the sites that make sense to get links from. Once the sites are identified, send an outreach email to the admin of those sites letting them know that they are linking to an outdated, non-existent site and that you would love to offer your site as a replacement.

4. Blog Aggregators

Blog aggregators are sites that aggregate blogs from different industries to make them easier to access for the user. In order to have your site appear on an aggregator, like AllTop, you are required to:
  • Submit your site.
  • Add special HTML code to your site to confirm that you’re the owner.
  • Wait for someone from the aggregator to stop by and take a look at your site.
Once your site is approved, you will have your own section in the aggregator with a dofollow link. Great return for very little work.

5. Broken Link Building

Broken link building is as old as the Internet itself. It’s simple to implement as well. By using search strings like:
  • “target keyword” + “resources page”
  • “target keyword” + “recommended sites”
You can identify the resources pages within your niche. By using Chrome’s Check My Links plugin, you can quickly find any broken links that a page has. Once you have your list of broken links, send an email with the list to the site admin and mention that your site would be a great replacement for one of those broken links. The site owner should be happy to include your link within his or her site.

6. Donations

Contributing to a donation not only makes you feel warm and fuzzy on the inside, but also gives you the opportunity to get a link from that charity. First, identify which charities list their donors on their sites (usually in the resources page). Once you have your list of charities, pick a few that you would like to donate to and ask for a link back to your site. You’re not only doing a good deed, but also helping yourself.

7. Google +

Google+ allows contextual dofollow links on your profile. In order to actually see the link as dofollow, you must be signed out of your Google+ account. With enough interaction within Google+ and direct linking to your profile, you can realistically make it a powerful link. Do you have any suggestions for building links without content? Let us know in the comments.

Content Marketing: New Name, Same Old Game

We saw a lot of changes in the SEO world last year, and it’s safe to say that the trend will continue for the foreseeable future. Let’s get real, though. With all the changes, not all that much is changing. I realize that statement is pretty charged, and some of you may disagree, but it all boils down to this: Google is wrapping up loose ends and closing loopholes, but past and future quality work will be rewarded.

Links – both number and source – were Google’s best indicator of authority, but that is changing with a content revolution. Primitive link building tactics like posting to irrelevant directories and guest posting unoriginal content with any average Joe Blogger needed to be tossed out of the window. SEO is evolving. We might call it “content marketing” now, but the goal for many is the same as before: earn (good) links to get a leg up on competition. Now we are just paying more attention to how instead of how many.

It’s a constant process of refining the algorithm. Matt Cutts said it best when guest blogging as we knew it was announced dead: “Ultimately, this is why we can’t have nice things in the SEO space: a trend starts out as authentic. Then more and more people pile on until only the barest trace of legitimate behavior remains.”

The same applies to just about any aspect of SEO. Need I bring up meta keywords? Once a useful and effective white hat tactic quickly added up to more spam than consumed in the state of Hawaii each year. How about directory submissions? What was meant to reward people for extending networks and emphasizing the “web” part of our cherished www turned into a link sharing free-for-all with irrelevance galore.

There’s been a lot of talk about intent and how to measure it, but the bottom line is to produce fresh, quality content and you will be in the clear. The priority is no longer the link itself but what garners links. Good content is more likely to be shared from your site or featured on someone else’s. Our focus needs to be on what is being produced rather than where it ends up. Nathan Safran sums it up well, noting that the goal in Google’s shift is to keep thin content from having the same value as deep content.

Moving into a new age of SEO means strategies need to be adjusted and old tactics must be revisited. Emails addressed “Dear Sir/Madam” won’t fly; get personal and get unique. In that vein, I’m not going to give you a list of the top 20 ideas for your content marketing, but a couple of my favorite resources are Link Building Strategies from Jon Cooper of Point Blank SEO and the recent article on Moz Filthy Linking Rich.

It’s all about having a more authoritative site than your competition. Building links for the sake of building links is a thing of the past. Google is cutting out the spam. There has been a major shift in SEO during the past couple years. As SEOs, we need to adapt or become irrelevant. Now it’s about link earning. Time to roll up your sleeves and get dirty. Link earning takes real time and effort, but isn’t that how the chaff is separated from the wheat?