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    Updated 4/25/14

    Grandiose claim? You be the judge.

    This post is for all the SEO’s, marketers and business owners busting their butts to generate more leads online.

    After 10 years working as an internet marketer I’ve seen dozens of clients both succeed and fail miserably with their digital marketing efforts. Ever wonder why some fail miserably and others make it look easy? Keep reading and you’ll know the answer.

    By the end of this article you’ll have:

    Now, back to my opening teaser. Why do some people fail while others kill it?

    I’ve heard a lot of excuses, ahem… reasons, from businesses who blame the ever-changing algorithm. It’s true that search engines will continue evolving in attempt to improve our online experience and it’s important to be aware of the latest internet marketing strategies. Bottom-line, there will always be one key element that will never change.

    Think long-term and ignore fads

    Each year Google updates its algorithm more than 500 times. Equally, most SEO’s and internet marketers put themselves into some level of panic after every one single update. That, or they’ll use the latest update as a sales gimmick to take advantage of you.

    Don’t fall for it! You’re smarter than that. 

    Sadly, there are hundreds of internet marketing and search engine optimization techniques you should probably avoid.

    When you hear about the next Google update, stop and take a few breaths before you hit the panic button, or think you need the hottest new SEO tool. But, don’t stick your head in the sand either.

    60% of the time, it works every time

    Be Cautious of “too good to be true” SEO Tools

    Some websites get all the traffic

    What’s the common thread?

    Search engines like Google are designed to provide the world with relevant information and an answer our questions.

    The reality is that today we have access to more information than ever before. Smart phones allow us carry every dictionary, encyclopedia, and how-to video in our pocket, the only catch is solid information is often mingled with misinformation and plain junk.

    A good search engine helps users cipher through the junk and finds relevant answers to our questions. This is Google’s goal. Take a look at the history Google’s algorithm updates (big thanks to Moz for regularly updating this!)

    Starting to see the common thread?

    Google updates that changed the game

     It’s been a crazy 4 years, let’s recap

    2010: Faster, predictive search results.

    • Official launch of Google Places
    • Google Caffeine (a key element to the freshness quality)
    • Google Instant and Instant Previews
    • Google and Bing confirm they use social signals in rankings

    2011: Penalized shady SEO practices, while rewarding sites that put quality first

    • The infamous penalties of and JCPenney for using shady SEO practices
    • The first of many Panda updates (let the crackdown on content begin)
    • Google rolls out the +1 button (to compete with Facebook likes and Twitter re-tweets)
    • Google, Yahoo and Bing jointly begin supporting (structured data markup)
    • Google aggressively launches Google+
    • Expanded site-links i.e. 12-pack & 6-pack (it started with 12, then limited to 6 shortly after)
    • The Freshness Update (giving recent content favorable rankings)
    • 9 Panda updates

    2012: More crackdowns on poor content and links, improved local searches

    • More Panda updates to improve rankings for quality content
    • The Venice Update for local listings (providing better rankings for local searches)
    • The first of many Penguin updates, penalizing spammy SEO methods (keyword stuffing, bad neighborhood links, over-optimization, etc.)
    • Rolled out the Knowledge Graph (which was a big clue as to the future of SEO)
    • 14 Panda updates
    • 4 Penguin updates

    2013: Improved personalization, rewarded long-form content and experimented with AuthorRank 

    • A targeted update to battle niches with overly spammy results, specifically payday loans and porn
    • Expansions to the Knowledge Graph
    • In-depth Articles, a new type of search result
    • Hummingbird, the biggest algorithm update ever (enhanced semantic search and the Knowledge Graph data)
    • Authorship Shake-up (creating volatile rankings for authorship results)
    • 3 Panda updates and 1 unofficial announcement by Matt Cutts; The Panda Dance
    • 2 Penguin updates

    The common thread among all these? Relevant, consistent and quality content.


    Visual learner?

    If you’re as nerdy as I am, or just a visual learner, I invite you to fall deep into the rabbit hole of Google’s algorithm history with the below infograph courtesty of Moz and Hubspot.

    infographic of google algorithm updates’ width=

    Thanks for the history lesson, but what does it all mean?

    The secret to search isn’t really a secret

    We can stop worrying about algorithm changes or latest rounds of Google penalties because thanks to research we know where Google is heading.

    All we need to do is create quality content that answers real questions.

    Search engines have continued cracking down on poorly written, irrelevant content this past year–with a vengeance. They’re making a strong push to clean up the web and are rewarding those who are already providing valuable information.

    Matt Cutts, head of Google spam team says, they’re “leveling the playing field.” Websites that have been over-optimized or contain poorly written copy will be penalized in order to reward those who have consistently offered well-written, timely and unique content.

    The message is very clear: spend the majority of your internet marketing efforts creating good content that answers your audience’s questions.

    Epic Content is God

    You’ve heard the cliché content is king? Well, in today’s world of search, content is God!

    However, don’t get caught in the trap of thinking writing copy is the only means of good content production. Think about your audience, their needs and digital preferences and then create something that will actually resonate with them. Develop it with the user in mind, and where they are in the selection cycle.

    Joe Pulizzi, Founder of the Content Marketing Institute once said,

    “The difference between content and content marketing is purpose.”

    Meaning it’s a waste of time to create content for the sake of creating content, especially if copywriting is your only strategy. Instead create something that people will actually care about!

    To serve as a reminder, we developed this content grid showing how different content types can assist the selection cycle, compelling the user to take action.


    View the full size version.

    Follow these steps to put the “marketing” in content marketing

    The most effective digital marketing strategy you can implement for online success comes down to targeted content creation and promotion. This can be extremely daunting for most businesses that typically follow the “publish and pray” technique.

    As an agency we follow a pretty straightforward method for this. Once a piece of content is created, let’s say a blog post for example, we implement the following 10-step checklist to thoroughly and shamelessly promote the hell out of it.

    Checklist: How to promote your content

    Once the post has been written, proofread and properly optimized (meta tags, URL name, proper H-tags, etc.) go ahead and publish it. You don’t need to learn how to publish a book – or take a mastercourse for 6 months. Just doing it will feel so much better, and create more overall effect.

    Then use this checklist to get the most from your post:

    1. Create a PDF version of the article. Include the PDF download link at the end of your post.
    2. Submit your PDF to directories like DocStoc and Scribd. Download this 10-step checklist for an additional 16 directories.
    3. If you and other employees have personal blogs, publish a summary of the new post with a link pointing to the new article.
    4. Browse past blog posts for related articles and include a keyword rich anchor link from the old post, to the new one. Add new sentences or paragraphs to ensure the new link is relevant.
    5. Want to track if anyone clicks on the updated anchor links? Add a custom URL string for easy identification in Google Analytics. Something like, ?utm_source=past_blog_link&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=post_title
    6. Find an intriguing image and headline then share on relevant social channels; Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn.
      1. Share from a company account, from your personal account, and ask friends & colleagues to share it too. Mix up the message on them so you’re not repeating yourself to any overlapping audiences.
      2. Again, use a custom URL to track it’s success in Google Analytics. i.e., ?utm_source=social_share&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=blog
    7. Promote the article with paid FB ads using hyper-demographic targeting features. Around $20-50 should do for Facebook. If relevant, pay to promote on Adwords,, and others. However, these can cost upwards of $300.
    8. Submit or share post to other relevant (free) directories and forums. Some ideas are,, and As a quick note for reddit, find subreddits to post to that revolve around your topic and if you aren’t a regular redditor, don’t post, the community can smell outsiders pretty easily.
    9. Create a branded slide deck that breaks down the primary message of your blog post. Then:
      1. Submit that to
      2. Paste the embed code for the slide deck at the end of your blog post (above your PDF link).
    10. Record a branded whiteboard, or screen capture video where you briefly discuss the takeaways, tactics or tips in the blog post.
      1. Submit to the company YouTube channel, and

    To learn more about getting the most out of your videos visit Wistia’s learning center for a truly comprehensive education.

    Download this 10-Step Checklist

    Thanks for reading

    If you followed this post step-by-step you should have ultimate clarity on how you can setup an effective internet marketing strategy and be the person killing it – not wondering why your ideas don’t work.

    You’ve now learned:

    • The history of Google’s algorithm
    • To create content that meets the sweet spot for both user preferences and algorithm ranking signals
    • How to promote your content in a way that reaches your target audiences
    • How to setup tracking methods to prove the success of your work

    The only thing left will be to refine the strategy and continue improving it.

    I’ll leave you with a list of must-bookmark resources mentioned throughout this post to help take your knowledge of digital strategy to the next level.

    Stay classy digital marketers


    Resources mentioned in this post

    Algorithm info:

    Infographics & PDFs:

    Content promotion channels:

    • DocStoc; submit pdfs
    • Scribd; submit pdfs
    • StumbleUpon; add just about anything
    • Quora; offer links to content that answers users questions
    • Reddit; offer links to content that answers users questions
    • SlideShare; upload ppt slide decks
    • DailyMotion; upload short videos
    • Vimeo; upload short videos
    • Wistia; use it to host videos on your own domain to maximize SEO

    Additional sources used or mentioned – all of Rockstar status:

    • Content Marketing Institute: Absolute leaders for relevant content marketing information.
    • Moz: So much SEO and marketing education they should have a .edu in their domain. Moz also provides some of the best digital marketing software in the industry!
    • Backlinko: Brian Dean is making link-building fun again! He’s a great writer and clearly explains (and tests) today’s best methods for generating more traffic.
    • KAISER the SAGE: Jason has been a link building pro for some years now. But he’s an expert in so much more. Just read his list of 115 online marketing strategies and you’ll see what I mean.
    • The Resource Section of Smart Passive Income: Pat Flynn is an affiliate marketing and podcast superstar. His tutorials on video production and podcasting are phenomenal.
    • Post by Matthew Woodward, How I Built a Top 100 Blog: For the most part, Matthew is a blogger and uses YouTube to create tutorials and reviews for various SEO software companies as an affiliate. This post is one of the best step-by-step case studies I’ve ever read. If you’re interested in starting a profitable blog or affiliate marketing check it out.

    Need a print version? Download this post in a PDF.

    *Images courtesy Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy; DreamWorks/Apatow Productions