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  • shAMA: Ask Me Anything: How to Land Epic Guest Post Opportunities & Is Marketing a Deal Breaker?

    In this week’s shAMA: Ask Me Anything, Shama answers Ulyses’ question about how to land guest post opportunities, and talks about whether marketing can make the difference between two equally solid brands. The Coke versus Pepsi wars are real, people. As always, a transcript is below. Hey Zen Nation! Shama here, and we have another episode of “Ask me Anything,” where you guys ask questions and I do my best to answer. Our first question comes from Ulyses on YouTube and he asks, “How do you build relationships with editors or influencers of publications like the Huffington Post, Search Engine Journal etc…so that you can get introduced and start writing guest posts?” So here’s my answer.  The first thing you want to do is establish a base outside of these platforms. So that means whether you’re writing a blog, or on other sites – remember, these are really high-tier publications, so you want to work your way up. Focus on the things that you can do, build up your name, build up a base so when you do get that introduction you can have a much easier time guest posting. I’m a big fan of momentum and I always say, “success…

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  • MZ Weekly News Round-Up: Bing’s Conversational Search and Google’s FASTER

    SEO: Google’s latest update to their webmaster guidelines shows, once again, that the company is cracking down on guest blogging for SEO purposes. In the “little or no original content”guideline, the search engine has added “low-quality guest blog posts”as an example of scraped content. In the past, Google has penalized several guest blog networks and is still continuing to set targets on low-quality guest blogging that blatantly attempts to manipulate search results. Bing is continuing to build a search platform that is based on “entity and conversational understanding,”and its newest feature is a step in the right direction. With this feature, the search engine will be able to keep the context of a search query in mind as it goes on to perform a subsequent search. For example, if someone was to search for “who is the president of the United States,”followed by a search for “who is he married to,” the results for the second query would be based on both searches. In this case, results would show pages related to Michelle Obama. Social Media: Twitter has announced that it will begin beta testing a new feature called “Promoted Video,”for brands who are looking to upload and distribute videos…

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  • Hybrid Content Marketing Will Change the Way You Do Business on Facebook

    Today, we here at Marketing Zen are excited to bring you a blog post from contributing author Jim Belosic.  Jim Belosic is the co-founder and CEO of ShortStack, a software application company that makes apps for Facebook, websites and mobile.   In the past few years, content marketing has become the hottest form of marketing out there. But make no mistake: Content marketing is not hot because it’s trendy, it’s hot because it works. For the last year or so, my company, ShortStack, has relied solely on content marketing. My decision to shift away from advertising and toward content marketing was based on one simple idea: I’d rather invest my company’s hard-earned dollars into awesome people instead of in ads that died as soon as I stopped funding them. People have the ability to produce thought-provoking and informative blog posts, infographics, PDFs and eBooks that will live on the web forever once published. My favorite metaphor is that the content my team produces functions like solar-powered cars, while ads are like gas-guzzlers. Original content contributes to better search result rankings and also has the power to establish brand representatives within the company as experts in our industry. These are all the things I…

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  • Is Guest Blogging Still Worth It?

    In spite of the fact that Google’s Matt Cutts is such an esteemed figure as to have been immortalized in verse by online marketers (or maybe because of it?), yesterday he threw yet another SEO curveball our way. In his blog post, entitled, “The Decay and Fall of Guest Blogging for SEO,”  he makes the case for abandoning guest blogging for SEO purposes, calling the practice “spammy” and one with only “the barest trace of legitimate behavior.” Wow. That’s harsh, Matt. But what’s even harsher are these statements of his: “Given how spammy it’s become, I’d expect Google’s webspam team to take a pretty dim view of guest blogging going forward,” and “So stick a fork in it: guest blogging is done; it’s just gotten too spammy. I wouldn’t recommend relying on guest posting, guest blogging sites, or guest blogging SEO as a linkbuilding strategy.” So is that it, then? Have the bad apples forever ruined guest blogging for the rest of us? Should we just give up on this practice altogether, so as not to risk Google’s wrath? While it’s true that there are a multitude of spammy guest bloggers out there, there are also a multitude of people…

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  • How to Increase Your Website Traffic via Link Building – Part 2

    Welcome back, class! If you’ve gotten started following the directions in our previous blog post on link building (Hey, high five, A+ student!), you’ve already got amazing content on your website, and have sought out the right kinds of sites you want linking back to that content: sites that are relevant, authoritative, and user-friendly. So what do you do now? So glad you asked! The next step in link building is getting the word out to the owners of those perfect sites you’ve identified. How is this accomplished? Well, it depends on the sites themselves. To get bloggers to link to your site, write them a friendly, personalized email explaining the connection your company has with the topic of their blog, and asking whether they’d be willing to write a blog post featuring your company. Or better yet, ask them if they’d be open to letting you write a guest blog post for them. Be sure to sound as much like a human being as possible – templates are the kiss of death here! To get news outlets to link to your site, contact industry news sites and pitch them an interesting story idea featuring your company. You can also…

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  • What the Heck Should I Write About Today? 7 Sources for Awesome Blog Content

    Oh, man. How many times have you been confronted with that mysterious condition known as writer’s block? It’s what every writer dreads. Your muse has deserted you. You start having flashbacks to your school days, sitting in front of a blank sheet of paper on essay test day, with nothing to say. You try to write something – anything – but it’s like pulling teeth; the words just won’t come. But you have to write something, and something good – you want to make sure your business blog is updated regularly with fresh, relevant content! So what the heck do you do? Well, here are some sources you can mine for ideas when you’re absolutely stuck. In fact, it’s a good idea to keep these in mind all the time, even when you’re bursting with ideas – it never hurts to have a few back-up topics in mind, or to be thinking about your next post already. 1. Come up with a monthly theme. A theme can be a real lifesaver when you’re low on ideas. Instead of having to come up with a new topic completely out of the blue a few times a week, you have a starting…

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  • Cut through the Noise of Social Media by Being Useful

    Companies don’t compete for attention from other companies, they compete again EVERYTHING! Businesses are using the same real estate that we all use every day to communicate with our friends and family: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social networks. This makes it difficult for us as we get barraged with messages to like, +1 and friend companies all day long. How does your company win? Be amazing – be Zappos! Transcend marketing. This is really hard, and often, not particularly realistic. Or… Be truly, inherently useful. Your customers will keep you close by engaging with you on social media, watching your videos, subscribing to your newsletter, reading your blog, and more. Create Youtility Your goal with Youtility is to create marketing that is so useful people would pay you for it. You, of course, won’t be charging them for your marketing but you want to provide so much value that they will want to buy your product or services. How Hilton Suggests provides Youtility Hilton Worldwide (the parent company of Hilton Hotels and their sister brands like Doubletree Hotels) has a program on Twitter called Hilton Suggests. In 2012, @LTHouston wrote on Twitter, “Good places to eat near the Magnolia…

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  • SEO Poetry with Powered by Search

    Guest post by Troy Boileau, a SEO & Inbound Marketing Consultant at Powered by Search, a  Toronto SEO agency. A couple of weeks ago, Kelsey Lehnertz and Marketing Zen helped me and Powered by Search out with an awesome, practical post on which 3 tools SEO experts would use if they couldn’t use any other tool. Out of that one project this one flourished: SEO Poetry! I pitched a couple of extremely excited friends and partners from other companies in the niche: Could you pretty please write me a Haiku or a Limerick about SEO? Though I was excited about the idea (compliments of one of my colleagues, Marc Nashaat, thanks Marc!) I still hadn’t expected the great result. It was fun seeing the poems come in or who the poem-writing was delegated to and imagining how that process went; Hey, Powered by Search wants a Haiku! Who’s our company poet? Laura Atkins bullied Steve Atkins into writing theirs; James Agate immediately went to Anthony Pensabene. Kelsey says she wrote Marketing Zen’s limerick but it’s too good not to have had editors! And because of this excitement, before I let you get into reading through some awesome poetry from the likes of…

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  • The Great Social Customer Service Race – 14 Top Brands Tested on Social Support Savvy

    Guest post by Ashley Furness. Ashley is a market analyst with Software Advice, a lead generation and research advisory firm that offers software reviews and comparisons.  Today, consumers tend to base their purchase decisions on reviews, social media and referrals from friends. They are interested in marketing, but only if it matches their expectations about the brand. If anyone had a handle on social customer service, I assumed 14 of the nation’s top brands – such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi – would be among them. But recently I completed a research project that tested this theory, and I came up with some surprising results. The five-week project, dubbed “The Great Social Customer Service Race,” assessed the how quickly and often the companies responded on Twitter. Four Software Advice employees used their personal Twitter accounts to send messages to the brands, sometimes with the @ symbol and sometimes without the @. When the @ symbol is used, the account holder is notified that they’ve been mentioned in a tweet. It’s not feasible to expect these brands – some receiving thousands of messages per day – to reply to everything. But we designed questions that should have received some kind of response based on social customer…

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  • How Large B2B Companies Can Become Socially Proactive

    Diving right into social media can be a daunting task for the 67 percent of B2B companies that remain unfamiliar with outlets like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. But the key to successfully launching a social media campaign is all about using dormant branding know-how to carve out a niche strategy that’s all your own. For many B2B companies, the biggest ‘social’ obstacle seems to be determining how it would work best for their company, industry, audience, etc. The acceptance of social media as a valued form of marketing is on the rise, but knowing how to leverage these social outlets in the B2B world is another step in the process that many have yet to figure out. At AmeriQuest, we’ve found LinkedIn and Twitter to be the most effective social outlets for their immediacy and interaction with our target audience. With LinkedIn, we’ve joined multiple industry-related groups that allow us to both follow and add to the latest conversations happening in our industry today. Whether it’s our own company news or a blog article, we make sure to share our content through as many channels as possible. However, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to determining how best to work past this…

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  • Local SEO Loophole: How to Get Ranked in Google within 30 Days

    This guest post is by Pete Kennedy, co-founder of Main Street ROI. Want more SEO tips?  Register for Main Street ROI’s free Halloween SEO teleseminar: The Death of “Old-School” SEO.  You’ll learn about the 3 “old-school” SEO tactics to avoid, plus the 5 new SEO rules to follow. Sign up here. One of the biggest myths about search engine optimization (SEO) is that you should expect to wait several months before you start ranking on the first page of Google for your target keywords. While it’s true it can often take several months to crack the first page for super competitive keywords, there are also opportunities for fast rankings with SEO. And one of those opportunities is local SEO. Local SEO is the process of getting your website ranking on the first page of Google+ Local, Google’s local search engine results (formerly known as Google Places). The Case for Local SEO Here are 3 reasons why local SEO represents a powerful marketing opportunity for local businesses. 1. Local search is on the rise More and more consumers are using search engines to find local businesses on their computers and mobile phones. According to Google, 20% of search queries are for local businesses,…

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  • Search Engine Optimization for Small Businesses

    Guest Post by Aaron Houghton, co-founder and CEO of BoostSuite.com You want more visitors and more customers from your website. You’re heard that Search Engine Optimization (or SEO) is the most cost effective way to promote your business online. But you’re a small business owner, not a web marketer, how should you get started? I have good news. These days the term SEO refers to a large list of marketing techniques. Some are quite complex and for these you’ll benefit greatly from the assistance of a web marketing expert. Other techniques are simple and allow you to make a lot of progress on your own – even if you know absolutely nothing about web marketing. In this article we’ll show you how you can get started doing SEO on your website using only what you already know about your business. Here’s the trick. Stay in your comfort zone. You know your business, that’s why you went into business in the first place. You’re probably not a technical web marketer, and that’s just fine. If you’re comfortable editing your website then go ahead and make the following changes right on your website. If not, just write down your changes in an email…

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