FindLaw, Being FindLaw, Deletes Google Analytics Account Without Warning

I Hate You FindLaw

Today, a client of mine who recently left FindLaw had their Google Analytics account deleted. The account had nearly 4 years of data. It was deleted by a FindLaw employee without any warning.

Thanks FindLaw

Thanks, dicks

Am I surprised? No. FindLaw has a long, proud tradition of treating their customers like toilets.

I am mad though.

I’m mad at FindLaw for being horrible. But I’m more mad at myself for assuming that my client owned the account.

So, let’s use this as a learning opportunity, shall we.

I urge anyone who is currently using FindLaw’s SEO services, or anyone who is considering or in the process of leaving them, to inquire as to who owns your Google Analytics (GA) account.

If FindLaw, or an individual at FindLaw, owns your site’s GA account, export all of your historical data right now, and set up a second GA account that you own.

If you don’t know how to do this, hit me up and I’ll do it for you.

Note: If you know of a way to transfer ownership of a GA account to a new user, I would really appreciate if you’d share it in the comments below.

Making Any Blogger your Friend Using Haro

If you build links for a living and have not read Cialdini’s Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, get on it! The strategy detailed here relies on the rule of reciprocation that Cialdini puts forth:

The rule says that we should try to repay, in kind, what another person has provided us. If a woman does us a favor, we should do her one in return; if a man sends us a birthday present, we should remember his birthday with a gift of our own; if a couple invites us to a party we should be sure to invite them to one of ours. By virtue of the reciprocity rule, then, we are obligated to the future repayment of favors, gifts, invitations, and the like.

The idea that we need to give bloggers and webmasters a reason to link to our website is not a new one. The most popular advice for how to get bloggers to link to you is to “create a great asset”…DUH! But how do you get the blogger to notice you? How do you get her to like you? And more importantly, how do you get her to owe you?

I propose using HARO.

Before we dive in, let’s pretend we are building links for a nail care product company.

Here are the tools you’ll need to take a stab at this:
2. Google Chrome
4. HARO (free)
Here’s the process:

1. Find Blogs (and more importantly, bloggers)

The first step in our process is to prospect blogs (along with the blogger behind them). Here’s how to find and organize blog prospects:

  • Hit up Google.com/blogsearch
  • Your niche is nail care, so blogs concerning cosmetics or fashion would be a good place to start
  • Enter a search query related to the niche, and see what you get
TIP: In this hypothetical, I would probably search something like “inurl:fashion”, then I would tell Google to only return home pages, as I don’t want to sort through every post that has ever discussed fashion:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Now, here is where the fun begins. Go into your Google search setting settings and choose the option “Never show Instant results” (if you do not do this Google will not allow you to choose 100 results per page) and then choose 100 results per page:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Use the Scrape similar extension to quickly export all 100 URL’s to a Google doc. Here is what your settings should look like:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Start trollin’ these sites. Here is the information we need to obtain during this process:

Is the link worth pursuing? To answer this, I consider things like:

  • The PageRank/Domain Authority of the blog
  • Is there an engaged readership?
  • Is the topic relevant (obviously)
  • What does the blogs bureaucracy look like? What I mean here is, how many different people have to sign off before content gets posted? Is it a personal blog or something that is run by an organization or group, for profit. I have found personal blogs to always be preferable because forming one relationship can ensure that you get the link.

2. Comment, share, and email

You now have a list of sites relevant to your niche. Now you need to make an impression on the blogger, which I like to do in any of the following ways:
a. Drop a comment on a post. Don’t spam, be insightful, but make yourself known. Contribute to their community and they will take notice.
TIP: Have a Gravatar image set up so that they know you’re a real person.
b. Share their content on social media and mention them. Do you notice when someone shares your content? Or follows you on Twitter? Of course you do, and so will they.
c. Email them with questions, comments, feedback, anything that you can nerd-out with them about.
Now you have relationships with bloggers in your niche; they’ve noticed you. But how can you get them to owe you?

3. HARO!!

The final stage in this strategy is monitoring HARO for press opportunities that your new fashion blogging friends can take advantage of.  HARO emails are typically organized into categories at the top of the email:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look for queries related to the niche you are working in, and then evaluate whether any of your bloggers could address those queries. To prove that it is not hard at all to find opportunities to share with your blogger friends, here is a fashion inquiry from yesterday:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, email your fashion blogging friends informing them of the query and PR opportunity…that’s it. The beautiful thing is that you can send 20 bloggers the same query, and they’ll be none the wiser.

Now you have 20 bloggers who owe you because you’ve gone out of your way to think of them and tell them about something valuable. Think they won’t allow a guest post? Link to an infographic? Spread the word about a product discount?

By offering a relevant and valued resource, you have created a feeling of obligation. That, I promise, will make your link building efforts more successful, and far easier.

Ways to Build Links with Cash (not, ways to get “paid links”)

Cash is a HUGE asset for link builders. It’s also a huge asset for any other kind of human being, but here we are talking about building links.

Despite Google’s claims that the exchanging of monies for links is against their quality guidelines, there are plenty of creative, value adding ways to use your cassets (see what I did there?) to obtain high quality links with a solid return and with little to no risk. All the methods I propose below, I would argue are very low risk. Here’s why:

Google’s algorithm detects patterns in order to determine unnatural link behavior, patterns like dozens of links with the same anchors, links from websites on the same IP address, links from a multitude of low quality, inter-linked directories, etc. None of the tactics below are scalable to a degree where they could trigger any type of unnatural link penalty. If your links are manually reviewed by a human quality rater at Google, they may see fit to deem some of these unnatural. However, in my experience, all of these methods add value to users, produce a substantial ROI, and are perfectly safe.

Donate to Developers

There are so many little Excel ad-ons, and WordPress plugins, and email extensions that we use on a daily basis, yet how often do we ever think about the developer behind the tool. These developers almost always have their own websites, and those websites tend to be old, and carry substantial authority. Usually small stuff like niche WordPress plugins, Excel add-ons, and Chrome extensions are side projects of some developer, and usually those developers rely on donations to keep their tools updated and free. And when they get these donations, they are grateful and give recognition!

I imagine that if one could prospect the web effectively for these kinds of people, they could find a gold mine of cheap, high value link opportunities. I’m going to refrain from giving away my exact prospecting process here, but I’m sure you can figure out creative ways to one-up me :).

Buy Blogs

Guest blogging is cool, because you get a link. Buying the blog is really cool, because you get every link.

There are plenty of website selling and purchasing sites out there, and if you browse these often enough, you will find some good deals every once in a while. However, because the websites listed on these sites are actually up for sale, they typically go for market value, or above. But what if you could find valuable blogs and websites to buy that aren’t technically for sale? You can. Here’s one way.

What you’ll need:
How to do it:

1. Go to Google Blog Search

2. At the top of the screen, you’ll see “Search Tools”.

Click Search Tools > Any Time > Custom Range >

Set your search range to 2 or 3 years in the past. This will ensure that you are only getting sites that have been around long enough to accumulate at least some PageRank

3. Determine search queries that will return blogs that are relevant to the vertical that you are working in. For example, if you’re building links for a law firm, perhaps you’d search: “law” or “legal”.

Bonus tip: You can also tell Google to only return Home Page results, rather than specific posts. This can help you achieve more relevant prospects. However, the custom time range will be wiped out, so you do lose that ability if you choose to only receive home page results.

4. Configure your settings so that Google shows 100 search results, and use the Scrape Similar Chrome extension to aggregate your prospects. Export to a Google doc

5. Paste your URL’s into a URL opener tool.

6. While on each site, use your Buzzmarker to add the prospect, and get contact information

7. Set-up a personal outreach template in Buzzstream and send those emails.

8. Once the responses roll in, evaluate the most worth while blogs, and make offers

Sponsor Groups

For all intents and purposes, sponsoring a group (chess club, solar car team, local charity, etc.) in return for a link is a paid link. However, it’s also a link that 1) doesn’t leave a footprint 2) gives you a competitive advantage, and 3) provides a high ROI.

  • It doesn’t leave a footprint because there is really no way to scale it. Also, typically your link will be in an image, instead of being a standard text link. Don’t be dumb and use keywords it your alt tags though. Just brand it or leave it blank.
  • It provides a competitive advantage because your competitors cannot simply submit a payment and get the same link (as with a traditional paid link directory).
  • And it yields a high ROI because you may pay half the price (I’ve paid as little as $25, one-time) as you would for a similar quality link elsewhere, yet these link are normally .EDUs, and .ORGs with high PageRanks, and which do not typically have paid link directories where anyone can just go get a link.

This is a win-win; people are empowered to pursue their intellectual and charitable interests, and you get a high value link for your generosity.

Offer Discounts/Scholarships

I assume everyone reading this post knows about these tactics, so I won’t go into much detail. (If you’re not familiar, I highly suggest giving this post a read.)

What I will go into is a way of thinking about the outreach that has helped my team and I drastically increase our success rate. When you’re prospecting site’s to link to your discount or scholarship, think about the individual person you will be relying on to put up your link. Ask yourself these questions:

What’s the person’s job?

If his job is a work/study position at his college where he can barely think of enough tasks to fill his 20 hours per week, you’ve got a good shot at the link. If it’s PR manager at a understaffed start-up, you may not want to even try.

The answer to this question should dictate whether you use email outreach, phone outreach, social media outreach, or maybe even video outreach.

What’s your relationship with the person?

If he’s a complete stranger in the IT department of some college somewhere, your odds go down. If he’s the president of a Fraternity of which you are a member, you have a really freaking good shot at the link. If he’s your brother, the link is guaranteed (or at least I would hope…). Always think about your relationship with the person you are relying on to place your link.

How can you help him?

You’re a SEO; you have so many skills, and connections, and pearls of wisdom! You’re talking to a college kid. Tell him about a job or internship opportunity he should look into; help him create an amazing digital resume or blog; shit, buy him a case of beer! Add value to his life with your unique skills and he’ll be happy to reciprocate.

 

I’d love to hear your tips below!

Hiring at a Start-up: Best for the Position or Best Available?

Hiring is hard. See Ryan Leaf

One the many hats I wear in my position is that of hiring manager. We are a small but growing start-up, and so we are hire on a fairly constant basis. Before having this role I had never hired anyone, but now it has become critical that I make the right personnel choices. After all, when there are eight people in the entire company, one person can have a massive impact. As a hiring manager, I have found myself faced with one particular question time after time:

Do I hire the person who seems best given the nature of the role, or do I hire the person who has the most talent overall?

Ideally, these two things overlap, but usually they don’t. While there are TONS of intangibles present in a great employee that lie outside of pure talent, here I want to focus on only that trait.

For Your Consideration…a NFL Draft Metaphor

I liken this decision to that of a general manager of a NFL team choosing who to pick first in the draft. Each year around draft time the talking heads debate whether the team in question should choose a player which best fills a particular need (so, if the primary tight end is horrible, should they draft a tight end), or whether they should just take the best player available, regardless of position.

For start-ups in particular, I say take the best player available, regardless of her specific skill set. Here’s why:

The start-up environment is a fluid one, where adaptations must be made quickly. Hiring a person to fill a specific role may end up biting you when that role doesn’t exist a month down the road.

The start-up environment is also one where every single employee can have an impact on the direction of the company as a whole. The talented person you hire may end up creating her own role that is far more valuable then what you were hiring for in the first place.

A mind is a terrible thing to waste, and when you’re a start-up you face stiff competition for those great minds. Scoop them up when you can, even if they may not seem like the perfect fit for the position.

I’d love to get some feedback in the comments below from folks who have faced this very dilemma.

 

Stop Being Scared of Google, Use Common Sense, and Build Some F*&king Links

I had a post on local link building published on the SEOMoz blog this week, and some of the comments that were left in reaction to my ideas are what motivated me to write this post. Now, this isn’t going to be as actionable as I try to make most of my posts, so it’s more of an ‘SEO observation’ than a ‘strategy’. The point is essentially summed up in the title, but I wanted to share a couple of the comments that sparked the idea, and explain what I see as the flaws in them from a cognitive stand point.

Here is the first:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To address this person’s comment on Guest Posting for links: Links that are acquired from guest posts are not in fact against Google’s guidelines. Links that are acquired from guest posts on bullshit sites, with bullshit content which serves to add no value to the web other than you getting a link are against Google’s guidelines. This is a prime example for me of someone getting in their own way, by being so paranoid of Google that they won’t actually ever build any damn links. It is also common sense. Google wants to provide their customers with the best product possible. That means they need to incentivise less bad content. That means that need to speak out against guest post links from bullshit sites. Matt Cutts explains it here:

To address the rest of his comment on getting links in exchange for money, products, services, etc.: He is correct that these are not acceptable means in Google’s eyes for passing PageRank. However, you have to look at the semantics. G is telling us that if we get links for money, products, services, etc. for the purpose of passing PageRank, we are going against their guidelines.

Now, you tell me is what alternate universe would a tactic link setting up a scholarship contest, and then a University adding that scholarship to their website, which links to the scholarship page on my site, be deemed as purchasing a link in order to pass PageRank?  There are so many other benefits, both from a business and community perspective from doing this, not to mention it makes the web better! Google has not grounds or reason to penalize link building like this, and they won’t! This fellow needs to get out of his own way, build some links, and stop spewing off rubbish like this: