How Google’s Latest Penguin 2.0 Update Affects You

penguin 2.0Google has released their latest algorithm update which they have named Penguin 2.0. According to Matt Cutts (head of Google’s web spam team), this update will have an even stronger impact than Penguin 1.0 did, so I thought it would be worth talking about today. If you own a website/blog then you need to care about this. A lot of people get a little glassy-eyed when I start talking SEO stuff, so I’m going to keep this really simple. What are some of the changes webmasters like us can expect and how will it matter.

Most of my readers are not into black hat SEO stuff. Link spamming, blog networking, etc. and according to Google that’s who ALL of their updates have targeted, but that simply isn’t true. If you are a small business owner, entrepreneur, or novice web master/blogger then you could have made tons of SEO mistakes inadvertently and paid the price for it when Google rolled out their updates. Especially because many of the strategies site owners were taught to do years ago were perfectly fine by Google and they worked, but were abused by some web owners, so the rules have changed. Penguin 2.0!

Changes to expect:

1. SPAM

Obviously first and foremost, Google is looking to eliminate spammy sites. Many web owners have complained that after their last 3 Penguin related updates, that there were still many spammy sites outranking them in the search results. I agree. I saw this too in my space on the web as well. Google is never specific about the indicators they are looking for when deciding if a site is user friendly vs spammy, but let’s hope they start with the obvious culprits. Sites that are keyword stuffed, outdated, and have no social signals.

My one takeaway on this area is that it’s important that you continue to INCREASE the freshness of your site. You do this by writing and publishing content on a consistent basis AND you do this by having social signals point to your content, share your content, or leave comments on your content.

2. PAID LINKS

Google has a basic rule when it comes to paid links, advertorials, etc. They don’t want those links passing PAGE RANK. So for example, if you have a page on your site that is quite popular and ranks well in the search engines you may get an email from a company asking if they can place a link on that page. Or perhaps your entire site ranks well and they would like a sponsored blog post. While they are not saying that you can’t do this, what they don’t want is for these links to carry page rank from your site to theirs. Most sites requesting this type of link are spammy, junky, or low ranking sites. They want your Google juice! Which will make them more important in the search engines, but not because of the quality of their content, but because they paid for the link.

So here’s how this can affect you. Say you have a content rich blog and someone wants to add a link to a certain page. The link needs to be a “NOFOLLOW” link so that essentially the only benefit that the advertiser gets is whatever traffic you send them from that page. Traffic vs. Rank. That’s the takeaway here.

3. RECOGNIZING AUTHORITY SITES

One thing that Google wants to do a better job of is recognizing websites that are an authority on their topics and ranking them accordingly. That’s great news for authors and solopreneurs who write on a specific, niche focused topic.

4. VARIETY OF SEARCH RESULTS

There were some user complaints that when they conducted a search that one site would have a cluster of results on one page which obviously knocks out a lot of other user friendly search results. Clearly this is aimed at the web juggernauts. Off the top of my head, there was a time when the site About.com would have a cluster of results for a particular term. I don’t know if that’s true anymore for this particular site, but this is the type of thing that they are looking to change. Users don’t need 6 results from the same website. They want to see a variety of search results.

5. MORE INFORMATION TO WEBMASTERS (When hacked, How to fix stuff, Etc.)

Users have claimed for YEARS that Google does not do a good job of telling webmasters when something is wrong so that they can fix it before they are bumped from search engine results. Hey…most of us don’t know the Google “rules” as they certainly do change from month to month, year to year. So one thing they said they are working on is to notify webmasters of issues.

Allow Google to communicate with you by verifying your website in the Google Webmaster Tools section which is quite easy to do. You just need to already have a Google account which you already have if you have a gmail email, are on Blogger, Google+ profile, etc. Go to your Google dashboard and search under “products” for Webmaster Tools. Add and verify your site and Google will communicate with you if there is an issue. In addition they are working on adding better documentation on what to do to fix your issue once Google alerts you of it.

6. FIX SOME PANDA ISSUES

Lastly, Google’s Panda update was a nightmare for many legitimate site owners and Google has recognized that they need to tweak their parameters for the changes that this update caused. So they are going to implement some tweaks that are suppose to be especially helpful for the little guys (like us!).

Want A Little Extra SEO Help?

If you own a website/blog and aren’t sure if you’re optimizing it according to new Google standards, feel free to hire me for a SEO strategy session.

Join The Conversation

Feel free to join the conversation and share some of your Google Penguin strategies or stories.

Does Your Content Pass The Flesch-Kincaid Readability Test?

Is Your Writing Simple Enough To Pass The Flesch-Kincaid Readability Test?

flesch-kincaid-writing-score

Studies prove that the average customer or client responds to information that they can easily understand. Of course the question is: Are you writing content that the average customer and client can easily read and understand? Do you even know? If  your prospects are not connecting with your content, one of the reasons could be that you are writing “over their heads” and trust me when I tell you that this happens more often than you think. In an effort to sound superior, intelligent, or as an “expert” in their fields – many entrepreneurs will “overwrite” their content.

What Does Simple Writing Look Like?

Simple writing should include words that are direct, simple, and familiar to the reader. You should eliminate any needless words. Organization and structure of your content should be simple, straightforward and and arranged in a logical way so that the reader understands the point(s) you are trying to make.

How Do You Know If Your Content Is Readable?

This type of “readability” factor for your content can actually be measured using something called the Flesch-Kincaid Readability Tests.  There are two tests. One is called the Flesch Reading Ease test and gives your content a score based on readability. The higher the score, the better.

For example, a score of 0 through 30 is easily read by college graduates (such as The Harvard Law Review), a score of 60-70 is easily understood by 13-15 year old students, and a score between 90-100 can easily be understood by the average 11 year old student.

The other test is called the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level test and translates the reading ease score into a grade level. Typically educators use this test to measure the readability of text books and other materials. But we are also educators and can use this test to determine if our content can be easily read by customers and clients.

With this test, the lower the grade level, the better. This test measures word count, syllable count, and sentence count to come up with a score. The score is directly related to the grade level, so for example content with a Flesch-Kincaid level of 8.2 can be easily read by the average eighth grade student.

What Score Is Good For Me?

You will find that your content will differ in scores depending on the topic, how tired you were when you wrote the article:), and other various factors. An easy way for you to get an idea of what a good score is for you is to take a sampling of the articles that were the most “shared” or “commented” on or simply your favorites. Estimate your average score out of those articles.

Keep in mind that you should probably try to not score higher than a 65 in the Flesch Reading Ease score or no higher than a 8-9 in the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level one (although this particular article scored a little high).

This has nothing to do with the aptitude of your readers. I target business owners and try to keep my Flesch scores as low as possible and the reason why is “time”. If my readers can consume and understand my content quickly, I know that they will take action faster, and probably come back to read more. If my readers have to think a little too hard about what I’ve written, they may save it for later (and never read it!) or just stop reading altogether.

How To Test Your Content

If you own Microsoft Office, you already have the test feature built into Word and Outlook.

flesch-kincaid

If you are an iWork user there are already tons of requests on the forums for developers to add this feature to Pages and Apple Mail. So hopefully we’ll see it soon, but in the meantime if much of your content is published to your WordPress blog then you can test your content using the WordPress SEO Plugin by Yoast or use an online calculator.

flesch-kincaid seo yoast

This article topic was written by reader request. If you have a topic you’d like me to cover on the site, feel free to drop me a note over on Facebook.

 

Why Do So Many Entrepreneurs Fail At Content Marketing & Article Marketing?

This is a frequently asked question from members of my community that I don’t think I’ve answered before on this site because it is such a “loaded” question. Yet I think that I’ve now worked with enough entrepreneurs and small business owners that I can answer this pretty confidently. So here it is…

Here are my top 5 reasons why so many entrepreneurs have trouble seeing results from their article & content marketing and what they (you too!) can do about it:

trouble with article marketing#1 – Analysis Paralysis

Many entrepreneurs do not succeed with article and content marketing because they get stuck on what to write about. If you aren’t creating content on a consistent basis, you will not see results — plain and simple. It should not take you 3 weeks to write a blog post and if it is taking you that long — then you need to see me! You are over thinking this whole content thing.

Here’s the key for consistent content creation: solve a problem! Quickly write out a list of 10, 25 or more of the problems your clients/customers typically face. Now write an article that solves that problem. Ta-da the end!

#2 – Unrealistic Expectations

I am notorious for “splashing cold water” on my clients by telling them to stop believing all this crap that many marketers are trying to sell. You cannot dominate your niche with content in a week or even a month. It takes consistency for a long period of time, but the payoff is totally worth it. Free traffic. More visibility. More influence. More authority.

#3 – No System In Place

Many fledgling article marketers typically wake up and decide at some point to write an article or shoot a video during their day, then they do not what to do with it OR they don’t create another one until the “mood” strikes. Things like this happen because entrepreneurs don’t have a system or a blueprint for what to write, when to write, where to publish, etc. in place. I use the Articology blueprint for article marketing in my business and the businesses of my clients. It really makes things a lot simpler when all the guessing has been taken out of the equation.

#4 – Not Using Enough Optimization

Okay, I’m not trying to frighten you with SEO talk but I’ve got to be honest here. One of the major ways that new traffic will find you is if they find your content through a typical organic search in Google, Yahoo or Bing. You cannot create an article or video with a “clever” title and think it will be found by people searching for information on the web. People don’t search for answers using clever words or analogies. They use everyday 5th grade language. Ex: “How do you fry chicken?” or “How can I lose weight?”

So it’s extremely important that you optimize your content for the search engines, otherwise known as SEO (Search Engine Optimization). If you have no idea what I’m talking about, I have tons of articles on SEO on this site, but if you need a tip right now: you should be writing titles for your content that contain keyword phrases that your clients/customers are searching for.

#5 – You’re Not Promoting Your Articles

I talk about article promotion a lot in Articology because it’s something not a lot of marketers or strategists are showing you. It’s not enough to publish an article and wait for the traffic to follow. You have to publish then promote that article. Tell people that it’s out there. Shout it out! Guide them with a link.

Let people know what problem you are solving for them today and where they can find the answer and they will RUN to your content, like it, tweet it, share it, etc.

Conclusion

Content marketing and article marketing work. In fact, all the six or seven figure entrepreneurs I know online ALL use content marketing in their businesses. Avoid these 5 stumbling blocks and you’re already way ahead of the game!

How To Create Compelling Content – The Infographic

Are you clueless when it comes to creating content that your readers crave, consume, share, and act on? Hey, it can be daunting task but here’s a little inspiration for you to get over the hump and get a clue! This infographic on how to create compelling content was designed based on a post originally at Copyblogger.com. Enjoy!

22 Ways to Create Compelling Content - Infographic
Like this infographic? Get more content marketing tips from Copyblogger.

#1 Secret For Writing Productivity

writing productivityIf you are a parent, especially a mom (shout out to all my moms!), then this is probably going to really speak to you because we tend to be multi-taskers to the tenth power! The problem with multitasking is that it can be distracting. Sure you may get a lot done, but is it really done well? OR do you even get any one thing done completely at all?

I find that the clients who have the most difficult time with creating compelling content on a consistent basis for their audience, tend to suffer from this multitasking approach towards everything in their lives including their marketing and let me tell you — for must of us this approach just won’t work.

So (drumroll please!) this is my #1 strategy and secret for writing and producing more content on a consistent basis:

Focus on only ONE marketing strategy today and that’s creating content.

Do not play around on Twitter. Do not look for Facebook friends and fans. Do not connect with someone on LinkedIn. Forget about commenting on your favorite bloggers posts. Leave those website, pay per click, or Facebook ad stats alone today. Your website doesn’t need any tweaking today. You don’t need to check emails all day. Just once at the top of the day, if at all. Instead, just focus on content.

I find when I decide that on Mondays (my personal writing blitz day) all I am going to do is write, I produce a lot more content. In fact, instead of writing just one blog post or creating one video or writing a guest post for another site — I find that I am creating 5, 7, or 8 different new pieces of content that day that will set me up lovely for the rest of the week! Bam! Content done. Now I don’t have to worry about how I’m behind on creating new content for the rest of the week because I’ve already done it. And get this…

There’s something about doing ONE thing in one sitting, without distraction. You get in a ZONE. So I find that I write my best when I have been writing several articles, book chapters, etc. at one time.

So here’s what I recommend that you do:

1. Select one day a week that you will commit to creating high level content that attracts more of your ideal clients.

2. Eliminate all distractions on that day.

3. Create a series of blog posts, guest posts, video articles, or audio articles that day — don’t just write one piece of content that day.

4. Pay yourself on the back, you’re done for the week!

How Entrepreneurs Can Quickly Beat Writers Block

Do You Have Writers Block?

If you are an entrepreneur who shies away from writing articles because you struggle with writer’s block, do not waste your time trying to beat it by using traditional “writers block” books and courses out there. Those are typically written by fiction authors who are trying to help other fiction writers — and that’s a whole different animal!

Fiction authors typically write from a purely internal creative place. Entrepreneurs like us, need to also write from an external influence — and that’s solving the problems of our clients. When you write content that meets the needs of your clients, you will never run out of article ideas, that is article marketing 101. So when I work with new clients who tell me that they hate writing because it takes them hours to get just one article written — I know what the problem is immediately…

1. They have not identified their client’s problems and struggles.

2. They do not know how to talk to their ideal clients in a way that they will understand.

3. They have not clarified their marketing message.

And Really What All This Means Is That They Are Not Clear About Who Their Ideal Client Is. Are You?

The real struggle and the real block comes up when you start moving forward in marketing a business but aren’t 100% sure who you are talking to because you are wishing and hoping that everyone will see the value of what you do. You want anyone who will pay, and this is marketing from a place of “lack” and “desperation”. This is why you are blocked and this is how you can beat it…

Regardless Of How Sure You Think You Are,  Re-evaluate Who Your Ideal Clients Are And What Transformation You Provide For Them

Okay, I already see your eyes rolling up in your head:) But I want you to really consider what I’m asking you to do today. If you were really spot on about who you clients are, would you be struggling around idea generation?

So I today I want to get VERY specific. More than you ever have before. Ask yourself what they look like, how much money they make, what they do for a living, are they married or single, do they have children, what is their education level, where to they hang out, what social media to they use, what other sites to they visit,  and any other details you can think of.

Don’t waffle or waiver on this. If this is who your ideal clients is than that’s who they are and that’s who you should target. You cannot speak to EVERYONE. It is not effective nor authentic marketing by any stretch.

Now that you know who they are, it will be much easier for you to craft a marketing message that speaks to your ideal clients. If you are still blocked and can’t come up with 10-25 article ideas, my recommendation is to go back to the drawing board and do another exercise around getting clear about who your ideal clients are.

 

Google Scholar

Want To Refer To Scholarly Publications In Your Work?

Are you in a niche where you’d like to write content that references scholarly content from academic publishers, universities, professional societies, librarians and more? Using these types of references in your work can dramatically add to the credibility of your articles and they are easier to find than you may think. Simply use Google’s search engine for scholarly search: Google Scholar.

google scholar

Want To Be Considered A Scholarly Resource?

If you are an educational professional, etc. and would like the content of your site to be considered as a resource for the Google Scholar search engine, here are the content guidelines straight from the horse’s mouth that you need to consider:

Content Guidelines

  1. The content hosted on your website must consist primarily of scholarly articles – journal papers, conference papers, technical reports, or their drafts, dissertations, pre-prints, post-prints, or abstracts. Content such as news or magazine articles, book reviews, and editorials is not appropriate for Google Scholar. Documents larger than 5MB, such as books and long dissertations, should be uploaded to Google Book Search; Google Scholar automatically includes scholarly works from Google Book Search.
  2. Users click through to your website to read your articles. To be included, your website must make either the full text of the articles or their complete author-written abstracts freely available and easy to see when users click on your URLs in Google search results. Your site must not require users (or search robots) to sign in, install special software, accept disclaimers, dismiss popup or interstitial advertisements, click on links or buttons, or scroll down the page before they can read the entire abstract of the paper. Sites that show login pages, error pages, or bare bibliographic data without abstracts will not be considered for inclusion and may be removed from Google Scholar.

Top 5 Things I Learned About Writing Content In 2011

Every year I like to reflect and assess what is working in my life and what isn’t. These are the five things that came up for me during 2011, when it came to creating content in my business. Maybe you can identify with some of these.

1. Statistics Can Be Addictive

In 2010 my husband was obsessed with his Blackberry and in 2011 he moved on to an iPhone. I think he may be even worse now. He is addicted to his apps the way I am addicted to my “stats”. Keeping an eye on your content statistics such as blog article views and article directory views can really get addictive especially when you have a period of high traffic and then see the inevitable dip in traffic. Not only that, if you get really obsessed, you start to rework your article ideas around what you believe the stats are telling you. Not good.

Okay, even though it does make sense to give your audience more of what they want, there has to be boundaries around how much time you give this — and I didn’t have too many boundaries. I analyze stats like some of you run down your entire day on Twitter. So what is it I learned? That I need to chill with the stats looky-loo. In 2012 it’s all about monthly stats watching instead of daily for me. I’ve got other things to do!

2. Consistency Is Critical

Well, the one good thing that came out of my obsessive statistic watching is that it did reinforce the fact that consistently publishing content totally affected my overall statistics for my blog, in the article directories, and with Alexa.com. The more I published, the better my stats, period.

3. Content Needs Space To Breathe

I decided to play around with the length of my articles in 2011 because while I had always stuck to a 400-500 word formula, I wanted to see how those would do when compared against article shorts (150ish words) and longer articles (800-1000 words). What I discovered is that if I broke up the content in the longer articles and included enough white space in between paragraphs – that they fared just as well.

The key seems to be for most people reading articles on the web is that they need white space to break up the type in order to stick to reading articles all the way through. It makes total sense, especially now that we know statistically that most content is being read on mobile devices.

4. Content Needs To Be Shared Via Social Media

Sharing content via social media has only grown in 2011 and what I did somewhat casually in 2010 became a “must do” activity over the last year and is only growing in importance in 2012. As  you probably have noticed, social media is no longer that thing that only the cool kids participate in, now it’s a global force. Everybody is doing it.

Businesses are spending big bucks on their social media branding because it’s that important. And honestly, new kids on the block have it so easy! Social media sites give entrepreneurs a HUGE advantage when it comes to getting their content in front of many more eyes than was possible pre-social media days.

Finally, search engines are considering your social media footprint  when ranking your content. Look at it this way, if folks are talking about you (in social media) then you get better ranking. If they aren’t – you may have to stand in line behind a few of the more popular folks in your niche!

5. Content Resistance Is Futile!

This realization is not so much about me as it is about many of the members of my community. Many of my article marketing students #1 complaint is that they have no idea what to write and so it takes them a very long time to write one article. This creates a resistant mindset when it comes to creating content which can break what little confidence you may have had in your ability to write.

I think it’s important to understand that if you are really struggling to write content that your ideal clients would love to consume, then there may be a bigger issue at play, and that is that you are NOT 100% clear about what your message is. If you were, it shouldn’t take 3, 4, 5 hours to write one Top Ten list or a few how-to tips. You might be saying “well that’s not me”, but ask yourself when was the last time you produced some content? Was it today? Last week? Last month?

In conclusion, it’s time to get honest with yourself. What have you learned about your content this year? Take a look at your content production pattern. Are you creating content enough to attract new clients consistently? Are you sharing it in social media? What can you do to improve your content for 2012?