In June, we received many questions about article marketing, site penalties, content development and best practices for link building. If you have any questions you would like answered during our Monthly Marketing Q&A sessions, leave them in the comments below or click here to email us a question.
Q: What are the best article sites to use post-Panda?
A: Panda hasn’t changed the way that article sites function except for a handful of sites that implemented tighter quality controls. What the update did change is how much value and traffic you can expect your articles to receive. Article marketing has always been a secondary strategy and I recommend that site owners publish quality content on their own properties as opposed to article sites. However, if you do have the time and resources to devote to an article marketing campaign, I still think sites like Ezinearticles and Associated Content provide some value yet the further you go down the list, the lower the return on investment.
Q: What are some good tools for content writers?
A: The best tool for a content writer is imagination. It can be difficult and mind-numbing to constantly churn out quality content. A good imagination is important because it gives you the ability to describe a mundane topic in a different light. As far as software is concerned, we recently looked at a tool called InboundWriter which scores content based on keyword utilization and other factors. If you write content, you should definitely check it out as a way of improving the value of your own writing. Writers tasked with a number of assignments should also look into a task management solution like Basecamp.
Q: How do I restrict sources in Google News?
A: Google has recently updated their news options allowing you to restrict content from blogs and press release services. To set these preferences, go to Google News and click the gear icon in the top right. Once you select news settings, you can set a frequency for blog and press release stories as well as remove or amplify existing sources. The interesting thing is that many news sources run on blogging platforms and there was some confusion over which sources would be removed. However,blog owners currently tagged as blogs in news results can ask Google to re-evaluate their status.
Q: How has Google affected financial lead generation?
A: Google recently relaunched their Advisor system which offers financial services like credit cards, home loans and checking/savings. This tool has been around for some time, but the company is now advertising their product with a PPC styled ad at the top of any search results page for keywords in those industries. This has irked lead generation companies because its pushed down organic and PPC results. Putting the Google name on a product probably increases the number of PPC clicks they are taking away. Google confirmed they are now being investigated by the FTC, but has not made any changes as a result.
Linking and Links per Page
Q: For SEO, what’s the optimal number of links per word count?
A: There is no threshold or minimum number of words per link, but the general standard has been one link per 100 words. I agree with that because content that follows this guideline looks very natural and you have a lot of space to build context before and after the link. That being said, you can certainly go a lot lower but you have to strike a balance between natural looking content and content that looks like it has been stuffed (from both a user perspective and search engine perspective). Content full of links is likely to be seen as low value which would invalidate the point of creating it in the first place.
Q: How to reduce links per page?
A: The easiest way to reduce the number of links per page is to start with the navigation. If you have dropdown menus, look for multiple entries of the same page and review pageviews / click distribution in analytics to remove pages that people aren’t visiting. If you use a footer navigation, look at heatmaps or tag those links to see how often they get clicked. Blogs tend to have the most links per page and those can be culled.
Q: What big brands or companies have been banned or penalized Google?
A: BMW, Forbes, JC Penney, Overstock.com to name a few. No matter how big your brand might be, ultimately your placement in Google is an acceptance of their terms of service and violating those terms has consequences no matter regardless of the size of your company.
Q: What is the percentage of clicks by ranking position?
A: According to the most recent survey released by Optify, the percentage of clicks by ranking position is as follows:
- 1st: 36.4%
- 2nd: 12.5%
- 3rd: 9.5%
- 4th: 7.9%
- 5th: 6.1%
- 6th: 4.1%
- 7th: 3.8%
- 8th: 3.5%
- 9th: 3.0%
- 10th: 2.2%
Remember: The data also includes PPC clicks so it won’t add up to 100%.
Q: Will a 1 star review hurt my rankings?
A: A single review won’t be enough to knock your site down, but it should raise a flag. We recommend writing a response if the review service allows you to publicly respond to customer gripes. Hopefully, one star reviews are outliers but if you begin to notice a pattern in one, two or three star reviews, you need to take immediate action because a series of low reviews can hurt your rankings as well as your desirability. Local business owners should always monitor their reviews or use a company / service that can do it for them. If you notice that you have a number of one star reviews with no comments / explanation, you may be the victim of an organized campaign against your business and should report those ratings immediately.