Tucson Infographic: Welcome to The Old Pueblo!

Tucson, AZ is a great place to live – many of our content writers, editors, and designers went to college here and decided to stick around after graduation. Why? Maybe it’s the weather. Tucson receives 350 days of sunshine every year. Maybe it’s the gorgeous desert scenery: We are surrounded on all sides by state parks and natural wonders. It’s truly a hiker’s paradise. Perhaps it’s the strange and wonderful Tucson culture. I’d argue that Tucson is even weirder than Austin. Tucsonans eat hot dogs wrapped in bacon with mayonnaise on top, attend art openings in renovated warehouses, build their own bikes in subterranean bike lairs, and relish every opportunity to dance the night away at memorable concerts.

Everyone has a different reason to love Tucson, but one thing is for sure: It’s a very unique place. That’s why we decided to create this infographic about Tucson, our beloved home town. Please feel free to share it with your friends or send it to those East Coasters and Californians who still pronounce it “Tuck-son” (We all know a few!).

Tucson AZ Infographic

This infographic was created by Tucson content marketing firm Student Experts, proud purveyors of high-quality guest blogs, white-label content, and custom infographics.

Grab the Embed Code here to share this infographic on your website:

<a href="blog url"><img src="http://contentbystudentexperts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Tucson-AZ-Welcome-To-The-Old-Pueblo-Infographic-Web-1.jpg" alt="Student Experts Infographic Marketing" title="Tucson AZ Welcome To The Old Pueblo - INFOGRAPHIC" width="1000" height="3826"/></a><br/><a href="http://studentexperts.com/tucson-infographic-welcome-to-the-old-pueblo>Student Experts Infographic Marketing</a>

An Inside Look at Our Blog Editing Process

We think this is a great hairstyle for an editor.

Each month, our in-house team of writers and editors creates thousands of  business blogs for  SMBs nationwide. In addition to business blogs, we also create guest posts, website copy, interactive social media content, and custom projects.

While our production volume is very high and our turnaround times fast, our clients tell us that our work is better researched, of a higher quality, and more grammatically sound than the work of other freelance writers and services they have contracted with in the past.

So how do we consistently generate the kind of high-quality content that SEO and internet marketing firms are looking for? Aside from sentence-level changes, grammar, and spelling, the experienced editors at Student Experts look for the following when editing blog content:

1. Readability

When reviewing a business blog, our editors might ask, “Is it clear, cohesive, and fun to read?” Successful blogs will start off with an engaging statistic, or a journalistic lede that hooks readers right away. Here’s a quick comparison of a boring and a fun introduction for an optician’s blog about eye diseases:

    • Boring: “Many people are nearsighted and need to wear glasses.”
    • Engaging: “According to the American Optometric Association, more than a quarter of the United States population suffers from myopia, or nearsightedness.”

Not only is the second example more interesting, but it adds the clout of a respected industry organization and an authoritative outbound link to the blog. From the introduction, editors will ensure that the blog flows into a well-organized body, broken up into logical bullets, lists, or subheadings for easy consumption. As an example, you’ll notice that this blog offers a very readable layout. It starts with a direct introduction, then is followed by a numbered list of parallel points and a brief conclusion.

2. Links and Anchor Text

Building up SEO authority by linking out from your blog posts to authoritative third-party sites is one of the main benefits of business blogging. That’s why our editors check outbound blog links for domain authority, quality, and relevance. Ultimately, we strive to link to content that is appropriate to the client and that readers will find useful. Editors also pay special attention to the link anchor text used throughout blog posts. We vary anchor text between posts, using business- and location-based keywords whenever possible. For example, in a blog post for an HVAC company about repairing home heating systems in time for winter, we would use anchor text such as “Fall heating tune-up” or “heating system maintenance.” The HVAC business may also focus on keywords for its air conditioning and duct cleaning services, but since those services are not relevant to this particular blog post, we would not use those phrases in the link anchor text.

3. Client Parameters

We use a streamlined content management system to keep client’s keyword strategies and special requests up-to-date and organized.  An editor will check all blog content against a client’s parameters to be sure the writing is furthering that client’s marketing goals.  Maybe a business always wants to use a trackable toll-free number in the call-to-action? Or, perhaps a client has discontinued a product and no longer wants to mention it in their content. Our CMS, combined with our editorial quality assurance, keeps clients happy and greatly reduces the need for revisions.

This is just a quick snap-shot of our writing and editing process.  Get in touch with us today to learn more about how Student Experts delivers high-quality, white-labeled content to internet marketing and SEO firms.

 

Photo credit: Evil Erin

3 Reasons to Consider Infographics for Content Marketing

infographics marketing

Infographics. This word seems to be on the tip of every SEO and internet marketer’s tongue. Infographics are images containing visual representations of statistics, demographics, historical time lines, and factoids about a certain topic.

What is it about these colorful data visualizations that make them such compelling pieces of content?

Below we’ll explain the top three reasons to consider infographics as a part of a content marketing strategy. We will also share some helpful links for getting started with infographic design and marketing.

Why Create Infographics?

1. Infographics Are User Friendly

People love to feel informed but have limited attention spans. Infographics are popular with online audiences because they feature memorable, bite-sized pieces of information in a visually stimulating format that’s easy to share. Blog posts, guest blogs, ebooks, and white papers are all integral to a content marketing strategy, yet infographics are more user-friendly and engaging than these other text-based formats.

2. Infographics Have Social Value​​

Which would you rather post to your Facebook wall, a link to a blog post listing statistics about the economy, or a stunning image that animated the same statistics using charts and information design?  Users on networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest will likely find more value and fun in sharing a visual infographic than a plain old blog post. Featuring original infographics on a business social media profile, blog, or website can also create a more positive brand image for that business.

3. Infographics Build Links

Marketers can submit infographics to third party design websites, bookmarking sites, and social networks, with links pointing back to the original infographic URL. While many of the links from third parties such as Pinterest or Flickr will be “no-follow,” populating such sites with an infographic image can help increase referral traffic. Additionally, other blogs and websites may find your infographic on a site like Visual.ly, and then choose to share it with their audiences using embed code or a  “follow” link attribution. While distributing an infographic, marketers can optimize the infographics’ embed code with the links and varied anchor text of their choice.

If you are considering infographics as part of your  online strategy, be sure to partner with a content marketing provider offering infographic research, fact-checking, design and editing. To learn more about marketing with infographics, check out these helpful links.

Links to Infographics Resources

 

 

 

 

Photo credit: Brett Jordan

Is SEO More Volatile Than The U.S. Stock Market?

SEO and the U.S. stock market are not the same thing.  Not even close.  But there  is a big similarity between the SEO industry and the U.S. stock market that I’ve picked up on recently.  With Google’s recent algorithm updates, the discussions about the fallout in the SEO industry sometimes sound like we’re talking about the fall 2008 U.S. stock market crash.  Does anyone else get this feeling?  Allow me to compare apples to oranges for the next 400 words.

SEO & US Stock Market

There are two main points of comparison between search in 12′ and the 08′ U.S. stock market crash: volatility and fear.  Below I will point out how these two industries match up in terms of volatility and fear.

1) Volatility. Both search and the U.S. stock market have experienced stretches of volatility unheard of in most industries.

Percentage of search affected by Google updates

Panda 1.0 – 11%

Penguin 1.0 – 3.5%

Google’s Panda and Penguin updates worried a lot of internet marketers and businesses that rely on their search rankings.  After these updates, many internet marketing firms were left scrambling to ensure their current and past clients were not affected. This string of recent updates has certainly altered the landscape of the search industry and now, as a result, everyone is becoming more accustomed to volatility.  Being flexible and adaptable is the new mantra among leading internet marketers.

Largest single day changes in the Dow Jones Industrial Average

October 13th, 2008: +11.08%

October 15th, 2008: -7.87%

If you don’t follow the U.S. stock market, these numbers may not mean much to you.  However, these numbers reflect a staggering loss to those working in the industry and to most investors.  The New York Stock Exchange experienced Record volatility during the fall of 2008.  At lot of wealth was lost and the uncertainty of that stretch of time serves as reminder to how risky markets can be.

2) Fear. Articles and language around the SEO and U.S. stock market crises induce fear and uncertainty.

There are plenty of articles written referring to both of these events.  Many of those articles share the same emotional outlook: fear and uncertainty.  Here’s one example article about search and one example referencing the U.S. stock market. Just take a look at some choice words from these articles:

SEO changes

When fear, uncertainity, and doubt drive an industry’s conversation, it can affect the behavior and decision-making of industry leaders. This kind of negative language can also discourage customers  from investing in a product or a market that seems unstable.

Volatility in both search and the U.S. stock market has had some serious effects.  A lot of wealth was affected, either negatively or positively by the changes in the industry.

The biggest difference between the two industries going forward, is that Google has unprecedented control over the entire search and SEO industry. Google’s leadership position within the search arena has enormous implications that could bring on even more instability in the future. I think that difference alone makes search and SEO more volatile than the U.S. stock market.  What do you think?

Surviving in A Post-Penguin SEO Universe

Google Penguin Update

There was a time when building links anywhere and by any means—via social profiles, page footers, directories, anything you could get your hands on—was an effective linking strategy. With Google’s Penguin and Panda updates, this is no longer the case.

The Penguin updates penalize and de-index web spam such as linking schemes, low quality content, keyword stuffing, cloaking, and deliberate duplicate content. With Penguin, Google also purged its index of free directory submission web sites. As of May 2012, it is estimated that about 50 percent of the free directory submission web sites are no longer found in Google results.

Panda reportedly affected the rankings of almost 12 percent of all search results. This update negatively affected the rankings of scrapers and copyright infringers, as well as sites with large amounts of advertising. News websites, social media websites, and those sites with minimal ads, lots of organic links, and plenty of original content may have seen their search results improve as a result of Panda.

The Rising Importance of Content

Those of us in the SEO and online marketing industries should take note: Excessive usage of the old tactics can actually drive your rankings downward. What does help SEO ranking is high quality, original content. Posting articles, guest posts, and blogs on websites now has a huge impact on search rankings. When you’re ready to put together a content strategy, you will likely come across two types of content services that supply written content for SEO and internet marketing firms and their clients.

1. Content Brokers

This type of company takes orders for articles and puts a request out to their network of freelance writers. They usually assign to whoever is available at the lowest bid and bow out of the equation. This leaves the client to handle any editing and revisions directly with the writer. Usually, the content these writers produce is unsupervised and the client is ultimately responsible for the final product. This approach can be time consuming for SEO managers, who don’t normally have the time to monitor article quality since they are focused on other aspects of SEO for their clients. Although the SEO or internet marketing firm may save money on the articles themselves, the ultimate quality (which Google is looking for) may not be there.

2. Supervised Content Specialists

The second type of content company uses internal writers and editors and supervises the writing process. Usually, a topics creator, editor, and project manager are involved in addition to the writer. Writers employed by the content company will specialize in a few key subjects or industries, in order to provide well-researched, expert content in that area. A supervised process means that all content is edited for quality, plagiarism, and keyword usage before being delivered to the client. With a supervised writing service, the client is assured that they will receive quality content without lifting a finger. The cost is slightly higher, but the final product is far more professional than brokered content.

To keep up with Google’s quality-focused updates, you may find content creation is becoming an integral part of your SEO and internet marketing solutions. Student Experts offers a private label approach to content creation that ultimately results in better blogs and guests posts that your clients will love. When you’re ready to start delivering a content solution to your clients, consider partnering with us. We can get you started today with a free content trial (no strings attached!) to see if we are a good fit for your needs.

Photo credit: CarbonNYC

A Thousand (Searchable) Words: Why Image Naming and ALT Text Matter for SEO

Toothpaste for Dinner JPEG is Worth

You may be familiar with the old cliché, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” but what if a picture was worth a thousand hits?

In the era of Google Image Search, including a relevant picture  with well-written content can boost your site’s traffic. We have a few easy tips for optimizing your blog’s images for SEO but first, let me relate an anecdote.

My accidental rise to the top of Google Image Search

I started blogging when I was a freshman in college. My passion for music and live concerts was just too intense not to share it with the world. I didn’t really know what I was doing, but I signed up for a WordPress.com blog and started writing and posting images regularly. None of my posts got much attention since I wasn’t using SEO best practices or promoting myself effectively through social media. I was thrilled if two or three people read a post.

That all changed when I posted an image that exploded without warning. It was a picture of me with the lead singer of a new band called MGMT (The name might ring a bell). The image was simply titled “andrew-van-wyngarden-mgmt-and-me.jpeg” with the embarrassingly enthusiastic ALT text “Andrew VanWyngarden and I!!!” Yes, I used three exclamation points. Please don’t judge me. I’ve grown up and learned to control my punctuation usage.

Without knowing it, I had made a post that was incredibly search-friendly. For a while, my silly face was at the top of every Google image search for that singer and several related search queries. I went between result number 2 and number 3 depending on the week. My blog saw a traffic explosion, and a huge comment thread was born. People from around the world were finding and visiting my blog! All I had done was post a JPEG and name the file.

To date, that single image post has accumulated approximately 120,000 views.

Embarrassing college stories aside, the point is, if you’re using images on your blog, you should be using a naming schema and adding ALT text. It only takes a little extra time, and it opens up a whole new avenue for people to find your awesome content. Check out these five tips for naming and optimizing blog images:

1. Come up with a clear naming schema and stick to it.

I’d recommend being consistent with whatever naming schema you adopt. Make it a habit! It’ll keep your image folder organized and help Google figure out the image’s content. Get descriptive and don’t be afraid to use hyphens or underscores. Include your company name when it’s relevant. Your images will instantly be more search-friendly than “IMG_0052″ or “45299_3615209171720_1719966979_n.”  Plus, if a reader right-clicks and saves your image, that filename will live forever on their hard drive. Better make it good.

Here are some examples to get you started: “Student-Experts-Content-Writers-Meeting.jpg,” “2012-Google-Penguin-Update.jpg,” “Tacoma-Plumber-Fixing-Leaky-Pipes.jpg”

2. Always add ALT text!

It only takes a second, so stop making excuses and add descriptive and human-friendly ALT text when you upload an image. It’s helpful for SEO and for people with visual impairments using screen-reading software. If you want to learn more, this video describes why ALT text is important. Some ALT text examples include, “Two Student Experts employees on a coffee break,” or “New Spring 2012 Collection.”

3. If you are linking to an image, use descriptive anchor text.

Creating good anchor text for external links is crucial for SEO, and image links are no exception. The more you can tell a search engine about the image you’re linking to, the better, and text is one of the easiest ways to describe your linked content. For example, ”Our house salad features delicious organic Roma tomatoes from our garden” uses better anchor text (shown in underline) than, “Click here to see a high-resolution image of the tomatoes used in this recipe.”

4. Make sure images are relevant to your post, titles, and headings.

Context is crucial with image optimization. Even if you’ve named the image with care and crafted beautiful ALT text, search engines can get confused if the image appears to be unrelated to the content around it. Always use relevant images (except, of course, when you’re being intentionally ironic).

5. Don’t stuff your images.

Keyword stuffing is a bad practice for content and for images. Keep your ALT text and titles relevant and succinct. Images with extensive ALT text can appear spammy, especially when multiple images are stuffed with the same repeated keywords or phrases. This thread at Google’s forums provides a great example of the negative effects of keyword stuffing images.

I hope this posts allows you to create image-filled and SEO-friendly blog posts. If you have questions about image optimization, or think I’ve missed any important tips, then leave me a comment.

3 Reasons Why Every SMB Website Needs A Blog

blog writingThink a regular business website is good enough for a small or medium-sized business (SMB) to succeed online? Think again.

According to HubSpot, a company blog attracts 55 percent more visitors, 97 percent more inbound links, and generates 434 percent more indexed pages than a static website.

If these stats alone don’t convince you to consider blogging as part of an overall online marketing strategy, then check out the three main benefits of business blogging below:

1. Build SEO

A business blog combined with a keyword strategy is an excellent way to build SEO. Using keyword-based anchor text, linking back to your a main website, and linking out to authoritative sources will all contribute to improved search results. Blog writing is also a great way to mention long tail keywords that may be tough to incorporate naturally into regular website copy.  If a business blog’s content is high-quality and engaging, then other websites and blogs may even create valuable back links to it.

2. Establish Thought Leadership

Business blogs and guest posts are great places to feature recent research and newsworthy items in a client’s industry.  An expert content creation service will know the go-to resources for news and research in industries ranging from dentistry to automotive. When  blog posts and guest posts include timely statistics and news it will impress visitors to your client’s blog (potential customers) and help that client to establish thought leadership within their industry.

3. Promote Conversions

Every blog post can have a call-to-action and a link pointing back to a relevant product page or other high-conversion page on your client’s website. The call-to-action can be overt, such as “Call today to find out more,” or more subtle, for example, “Contact your expert plumber for more information.” You can even incorporate google analytics and a trackable toll-free phone number to measure the success of different combinations of calls-to-action and content.

If you’d like to provide blog content to your SEO and internet marketing clients, then consider partnering with Student Experts. We produce thousands of SEO-optimized blog posts and guest post each month across more than 30 industries. Find out how to get started with our free content trial today.

Photo Credit: jmoneyyyyyyy (T-shirt available for sale at Raygunsite.com.)