Learning From 2015’s SEO Successes, Failures



2015 was no different. This year was a whirlwind of SEO news; numerous updates to Google’s algorithms, new factors to weigh and consider, and old methods reaching their demise. The SEO scene is in some ways unrecognizable, and in others it’s reliably consistent. The paradox is part of what keeps us on our toes.

As we reach the end of 2015, it is time to look back and reflect on what worked for throughout the year, what failed miserably, and what to carry with you into 2016.


How TripAdvisor took over the travel information market


The combination of the best, freshest and most relevant travel information, coupled with the ability to book in real-time, is really rather attractive when researching travel plans.

Being able to stay on one site and do all of that is better. Step forward TripAdvisor, on a mission to complement its vast user-generated content (UGC) by buying the best of travel start-ups.

It has taken 15 years to build up its UGC reviews – not only hotels, but restaurants, attractions, bars, tours and all other aspects of travel. Some 280m people now use the site to research travel.


17 of the Best Free Stock Photo Sites

Written by Carly Stec | @

We’ve all heard the mantra, “Don’t settle for anything less than you deserve.”

Yet for some strange reason, many people continue to push out cheap (and usually cheesy) stock photography to serve as a representation of their brand. 

But the truth is, high-quality stock photos don’t have to come hand-in-hand with a hassle or high price tag. To prove it, we’ve compiled a list of 17 awesome resources for free, non-cheesy stock images. 


15 Google Doc Features You Didn’t Know Existed (But Totally Should)

Written by Lindsay Kolowich | @

A few years ago, as I was scrolling mindlessly through my Facebook News Feed, I came across an article that would change the way I ate ketchup forever.

It was a super short article by FoodBeast that showed how most people have been using those small paper ketchup cups completely wrong their whole lives. Turns out you’re not supposed to use the cups as is, but rather, you’re supposed to fan out the sides of the cup to increase capacity, like this. (You think you know a ketchup cup, man.)

As a marketer, this got me thinking about what other tools we might be underutilizing. Sure, you may have been using Google Docs for years and years, but it’s likely that there are useful features that you have yet to uncover. For example, did you know you can look at a document’sentire revision history to figure out what was changed and when? 

There are a lot of sweet features Google Docs has to offer that aren’t on many people’s radar. Let’s uncover some of those features. Here are 15 of the most useful ones you’ll wish you knew about all along.


12 Excel Formulas, Features & Keyboard Shortcuts Everyone Should Know

Written by Carly Stec | @

Ever find yourself elbows deep in an Excel worksheet with seemingly no end in sight? You’re manually replicating columns and scribbling down long-form math on a scrap of paper, all while thinking to yourself, “There has to be a better way to do this.”

Truth be told, there probably is … you just don’t know it yet. Excel can be tricky that way. On one hand, it’s an exceptionally powerful tool for reporting and analyzing marketing data. On the other hand, without the proper training, it’s easy to feel like it’s working against you. 

To help you use Excel more effectively (and save a ton of time), we’ve compiled a list of essential functions, keyboard shortcuts, and other small tricks you should know.


Local SEO More Important Than Ever Now

Local SEO Google Maps

 If you’ve been keeping an eye on Google’s algorithm updates over the past several years, you know that it’s beginning to look like a veritable petting zoo out there. In addition to the many Panda updates that Google has rolled out, we also have the Penguin, Pigeon and Hummingbird.

While it may seem like these numerous updates are just the ramblings of a company obsessed with making things difficult for SEOs, it’s a bit more than that (or at least they would have us believe it is).


Minimalist SEO: How Less Can Equal More in Rankings


SEO Targeting

For anyone that operates a business site, SEO can make or break you. That may not be pleasant to hear, but the facts show us search engine traffic is often the lion’s share of acquisition. Ranking on the first page of Google essentially boils down to tons of traffic with the potential for gobs of conversions. If you are not on the first page, it often means just the opposite.

In the digital world, SEO is something that must be learned and applied effectively in order to survive. The problem that most folks encounter, however, is where to begin in the vast sea of SEO tactics and strategies. Backlinks, speed, keyword density, optimization techniques; there is a lot to learn. For newcomers, it can be a bit overwhelming. Even SEO veterans can get frustrated every now and again due to its constantly changing nature.


How & Why Good SEO is All About Good Content


Photo Credit: Adikos via flickr (CC BY 2.0)

 For many novices who are trying to make a name for themselves in online markets, the SEO universe appears to be dark, scary and unwelcoming.

For some, understanding and applying effective search engine optimization tactics that could return the desirable results is a questionable project almost as farfetched and complicated as a human mission to Mars.

Why is the SEO world so annoyingly complex? The answer is simple: when it comes to successful optimization, search engines have all the right answers, but they aren’t willing to reveal the rules of the game.


8 Reasons Why You Should Use WordPress for Your Content


Finding a great site to host your content doesn’t have to be a daunting, overwhelming journey. There are several hosting sites out there, but there is one that stands out from the rest – WordPress. It is one of the top sites to use for your content, and I want to show you why you should only use it when it comes to sharing content. Let’s take a look at some of the top reasons why you need to make the switch to WordPress and have an impactful content marketing campaign. 


SEO Best Practices: The Big 5 in SEO



Every couple of years, SEO evolves into a mysteriously new discipline. As traditional push marketing continues to die off and industries continue to measure the impact that organic search has on overall growth, inbound marketing strategies (like SEO) continue to grow increasingly more sophisticated and challenging.

In fact, according to a study conducted by the National Retail Federation, in 2014 85% of online retailers found search marketing (including SEO) to be the most effective form of customer acquisition. But certainly not the easiest. This relatively new and powerfully effective form of marketing is only poised to grow and become even more important in the coming years.

In order for SEO practitioners to either build or continue the momentum, here are 5 of the most critical aspects of SEO to focus on in the coming months and years.


Best WordPress Plugins for Photographers


WordPress is without a doubt one of the best options to consider when you are creating your very own photography or photo blogging website. One of the perks of having a WordPress site is the fact that you can “plug in” just about any plug-in to tweak your website and make it do anything you want. With the countless options WordPress offers, it’s easy to get carried away. However, doing so can lead to a slower website and possible security issues. We know you get excited, but don’t get carried away.


Content Marketing Tools for Unique Content Generation


Content marketing is not going away anytime soon, so for those who have yet to adopt this strategy, now is the time.


How guests choose hotels during online booking

By Samantha Worgull
Associate Editor, Reader Engagement
REPORT FROM THE U.S.—Just how do guests dwindle down their hotel selections during the online booking process?
Two hospitality professors aimed to find out, looking beyond clickstream analysis by using eye tracking to discover why consumers choose a specific hotel.
Eye tracking is capturing eye movements and converting this information into some form of analyzable data, explained Stephani K.A. Robson, senior lecturer at Cornell University School of Hotel Administration. Robson was one half of the duo who presented research during a webinar titled “Consumer eye-tracking and revenue management,” which was presented jointly by Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International, Hotel News Now and HNN’s parent company, STR


SEO Pitfalls: How to Avoid the Most Common Snafus

SEO Targeting Today, most individuals in the marketing arena are aware that SEO rules and guidelines can literally change overnight. This constant dance of change and adaptation can often leave many business owners confused, frustrated, or just out of the loop all together. Because of this, many will operate off of old and obsolete information due to lack of knowledge or possibly resort to black-hat tactics, which will ultimately do more harm than good.

For this reason, a vast number of individuals scour the web for hours on end in search of the most up to date and useful information when it comes to SEO. The topic that seems to slip through the cracks for most knowledge-seekers, however, is what SEO tactics are actually harmful to sites and will damage overall visibility and performance. You can’t just focus on what to do; it’s imperative you know what not to do as well.


29 Ways to Collect Email Addresses for Your Business

Looking for ways to grow your email list? There are a ton of ways to get people to sign up for youremail marketing offers. I’ve put together a list for you to read, so you have heaps of options for growing your list.
  1. Include a link to your email sign up form in the main navigation bar of your website and/or blog. (Or better yet, include a sign up form in the main navigation bar).
  2. Create a “sign up” call to action on your Facebook business page.
  3. Create enticing visuals encouraging people to sign up for your list, and post them on various social media channels (especially Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn).
  4. Attend or exhibit at a trade show or networking event and bring an email sign up clipboard or book (or go high tech and bring an iPad or mobile device) with you. Ask each person you meet to sign up, or ask for permission to send an email. Do the same for any business cards you may receive.


Tools and Strategies for Driving Visitors to Your Site


website traffic

This is the age of information. In 2012, there were an estimated 51 million websites on the Web, and about 140,000 new site launches each day. This saturation of destinations and data has made it increasingly difficult to ensure that relevant traffic – and lots of it – are making it to your website.

Website traffic (or the lack thereof) is the single most important hurdle a digital business owner faces, and in order to remain relevant, online companies must continuously be reinventing ways to drive eyeballs to their creations.


Links Still Matter to Google: Using Real World Connections


Image courtesy of    [Stuart Miles] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

While search engine optimization experts and brand managers have debated the efficiency of links for some time and the future of link building has become questionable to some, word from Google’s headquarters is that links still matter and will continue to matter in the future.

However, how they are earned and how reputable they are may be changing.


Social Signals: Do They Impact SEO Rankings?


search engine rankings

Just beginning to tread the murky waters of social signals in relation to SEO rankings? It can seem like quite the daunting task considering the amount of confusion surrounding the topic. There seems to be a great deal of conflicting information put out by various respected sources, the SEO community, and even industry leaders themselves.

But first, what exactly are social signals?


What’s a Good Email Open Rate & Click Rate? [Benchmark Data]

Written by Ginny Soskey | @gsosk


It’s only natural for people to want to compare themselves to others. Benchmarks give you a reference for how well you’re doing — and some indication of how to improve.

In marketing, some benchmarks are easier to find than others. If you want to see how many social media followers another company has, you can just visit their profiles. If you want to see how their overall marketing is performing, you can plug in their URL into Marketing Grader and compare their score to yours. If you want to see their most popular blog posts, you can quickly and easily find the information using BuzzSumo.