Articles for October 2012

An Analysis of 100 Submissions Incoming screenshot

When I interviewed Rand Fishkin about – the community-curated inbound marketing resource – earlier this year, I found his answers to be very open, interesting and eye-opening. In particular though, this answer stood out the most for me:

Steve: What’s your view on self-promotion? Should people be afraid to submit their own posts (even if they are really good, ideal for the audience), or would you much rather see people only sharing other people’s content instead?

Rand: If you’re submitting 1/100 things you produce, that’s fine. If it’s closer to 1/10, that’s probably crossing a line. We don’t currently ban/remove for self-promotion or self-submissions, but we will ban accounts that consistently submit low-quality stuff (from anywhere).

In particular, it’s that mention of the “1/100” ratio. For everyone 100 posts someone submits, 99 should be someone else’s material – not their own.

Now we’re an industry all about marketing and promotion and regardless of the industry, I think if anyone’s proud of what they’ve written and genuinely thinks that it can help others, there shouldn’t be any shame in sharing it. I think I’ve submitted close to 1/20 of my own stuff, either from SEOno, my company’s blog or in the form guest blog posts, but a) not excessively and b) only when I think it’s genuinely useful to people. Here’s an example (which flopped anyway and made me feel a little like this)!

As a daily visitor of who also regularly tucks into the Incoming page (rather than just sticking to the main page), I’ve noticed a fair few folk who do not follow this rule even close to 1/10, let alone 1/100. So I got curious…

At around 9pm (BST) on Thursday (25th October), I scraped the 100 latest incoming posts to analyse them.

Disclaimer: I’m not doing this to show anyone up, to discredit the site (which I adore!) or to highlight how Rand’s utopian view of the site does not line up with the reality. It’s purely scientific – I’m taking some data and analysing it. Treat it as a social or even a psychological experiment: i.e. here’s a site and this is what people are doing with it!

How many people self-submit?

So the first thing to check was how many people self-submit/self-promote their content. The answer? 38%. More than 1 in 3 out of the sample. Wow. Sorry Rand…

What counts as a self-submission? Some are less obvious than others, so I considered all of the following:

  • When the submitter is the owner of the blog,
  • When they’re the owner of another blog indirectly (e.g. “in association with…”)
  • When they’re the author of the post, even if it’s not on their own site (e.g. a guest blog post),
  • When they’re submitting the post of someone they work for/with,
  • When they’re submitting something from another website that still promotes them in some way (e.g. if it’s a SlideShare presentation on a talk that they’ve done, etc.)

Of course, it’s not simply a case of saying that it should be around 1%, as not all submitters are created equal (so to speak) and some people contribute more than others. I suppose it’s a bit like Dr Pete’s recent post on “X% of Queries” –  there’s other factors at play and therefore it can be interpreted a number of ways. But regardless, even if we were to say that 5-10% was a fairer figure, 38% is still considerably higher than that.

Here’s a few other random-ish observations…

Were self-submitters a certain type?

I definitely noticed that self-submitters were usually company/agency profiles. Although a few individuals self-submit (and likewise a few companies/agencies don’t), it seems the case that individuals using the site will use it as intended – sharing content that’s written by others – while companies/agencies will share their own.

Who was the most selfless submitter?

Who submitted the most posts that weren’t their own? The wonderful Aleyda Solis, who submitted 7 posts that weren’t her own. I think she deserves a link for that. 🙂

Ed Fry came second (with 4). Ed recently became the site’s general manager, so it’s good that one of’s leading figures is using the site exactly as intended.

Speaking of which, a fair few SEOmoz individuals were in the sample, including Jen and Cyrus, all of them submitting non-SEOmoz material. However you could argue that with a site like that, they don’t need to self-submit because inevitably someone else is going to do it anyway – there’s less pressure on them to consider doing so. (Note: I’m certainly not saying that they’d be that way inclined anyway, but there’s certainly a difference.)

Who was the most selfish submitter?

Who submitted the most posts that were all theirs? I’m not going to name-and-shame, and luckily for me, it was a tie between a few people, so it doesn’t seem feasible to link to them all anyway (hah)! But there were a few people who’d submitted 2 of their own posts and just that – no one else’s.

I won’t say who, but in particular, one self-submitter has submitted 20 posts in their history and all 20 have been self-promotional. Now that is a bit sucky.

Ok, so while I don’t plan to name-and-shame, in the spirit of TAGFEE, I’m still willing to pass on the data. Want to see the spreadsheet with the full sample? You can view it here.

General hat tips

I wanted to end on a few notes of thanks…

Cheers to @Andrew_Isidoro of SEOFoSho for recommending a scraper tool for me to use in order to obtain the data from the site. While I used a different one in the end, I still wanted to say thanks.

Cheers also to @ir_emery, @Nonentity and @paulgailey/ for recommending Google Drive as the best/easiest way to share a spreadsheet online.

SEOno News & GB Posts: Part 3


So… it finally happened...!

A few weeks ago, I uploaded a new theme to SEOno. After 18 months of pretty much saying I’d “get round to it,” I finally actually did it.

At first, I tried a different one to the one I’m using now, but after receiving mostly negative feedback on it, I continued my search and eventually landed on this one – SmartOne – which has been very well received so far.

Also, while I mention it, major kudos to Geoff (@foomandoonian / for his help with an issue I was having regarding column widths.

Adios, Garland-revisited (my previous longstanding WP theme) – you served me well. 🙂

Posts on other sites

Since last time (mid-August), I’ve had three posts go live elsewhere:

Is “Keyword” A Keyword In Your Google AdWords Account?

I noticed something amusing a while ago that I’ve been meaning to blog about for ages. Sadly, it doesn’t seem to work anymore if you’re using a computer or an iPad, but I have noticed it recently via my iPhone…

Have you ever just tried Googling the word “keyword”? Have you seen its ads?

iPhone screenshots for "keyword"

You might chance upon an ad or two offering keyword research services or a keyword tool, but what’s the likes of Audi, Southall Travel and Sky Protect doing there, bearing in mind that they’re completely out of context and irrelevant?

How it happens

Well, when using AdWords and constructing/editing ad groups, you have the option to switch to ‘Spreadsheet edit’ mode to make bulk changes. It comes in handy if you’re essentially duplicating ad groups but maybe changing a word here or there, but not to the extent that requires AdWords Editor – e.g. “online marketing services” / “digital marketing services” / “internet marketing services” could all be done by using the Find & Replace function in something like Notepad or Excel and changing the first word in each instance.

However, the top row itself contains the word “Keyword” as a header to the first column. So you want to copy and paste everything from row B downwards…

AdWords screenshot

Notepad screenshot(Click to enlarge)

Of course, it’s very easy to accidentally grab row A as well, so that your new semi-duplicated ad group contains all your desired keywords as well as just the word “keyword”. On broad match. Ouch…

It really threw me when I first noticed it – I think I was typing in “keyword tool” and Google Instant showed the results (and the ads) for “keyword” before I’d even finished typing the full phrase. But for a digital marketing geek like me, I guess it made me chuckle!

How to check it

Want to check that you’re “keyword”-less? Of course you could check by doing a Google search for “keyword” and making sure that you’re not there, but if there really is a difference between the ads showing or not showing depending on which device you’re using then it could be rather time-consuming.

Your best bet is to check at the source: in your AdWords account. There might be a quicker way, but if it were me, I’d do this:

  1. Log in to your account,
  2. Go to Campaigns,
  3. Click the Keywords tab (note: at account level, not campaign/ad group level),
  4. Sort columns by Keyword (i.e. A-Z),
  5. Look under ‘K’,
  6. Pause or delete the offending keyword (if it is there).

If you were affected, then hopefully impression/CTR data as well as Quality Scores will improve – at ad group level and higher – with its removal.

A Trick For Stopping Event Hashtag Spam

Have you ever been following the hashtag of an event or conference on Twitter that has become popular – maybe even trended – for it to suddenly become inundated with irrelevant tweets like this?

#BrightonSEO (marked) screenshot

This happened at BrightonSEO and its #BrightonSEO hashtag, which I attended a few weeks ago. According to a few attendees, the event’s hashtag trended, possibly even on a national scale (can anyone confirm?). Eventually, probably as a result of the trending and the hashtag’s popularity, the spam started trickling in, with the hashtag getting hit by spammers now and again throughout the day. At one point, I think there might’ve actually been more spam tweets than normal/genuine tweets. Obviously it was ruining the hashtag, making it harder to read and follow with so much useless noise jumping in and interfering.

The perfect solution

However I noticed a pattern with the tweets and therefore a fix. All of the spam tweets used the same URL shortener: 00ey. It’s certainly not a popular URL shortener – I’d personally never seen it before – and so I realised that there was a way to follow the hashtag without the spam but also without risking missing out on or eliminating anyone else’s tweets, i.e. those of the actual attendees.

Instead of doing a search/column for #BrightonSEO, I tried #BrightonSEO -00ey. The difference can be seen below:

[#BrightonSEO] & [#BrightonSEO -00ey] screenshot(Click to enlarge)

Spam gone, proper tweets kept.

I presented it to the other conference-goers via the hashtag, getting a few mentions of thanks and a couple of RTs for my troubles, which is always nice!

The not-so-perfect solution

Hash symbol imageSometimes you might not get so lucky, and the spammers might use a more common URL shortener. This happened with #OiConf and #smwb2b, which took place more recently. I didn’t attend the events, but I saw people complaining about the spam that the respective hashtags were receiving. Unfortunately, in both cases, the spammers were using instead of 00.ey.

However, it was still possible to do a fix, this time with [#OiConf] and [#smwb2b] respectively, but this obviously would’ve meant that if anyone else used a link then their tweets wouldn’t show up, either. That said, in my experience, most people tweeting at a conference aren’t necessarily always also tweeting links (they might just be tweeting things that the speakers have said), so you might only lose out on <10% of relevant, non-spam tweets.

Again, I presented them to the attendees via the hashtag, receiving thanks and RTs in doing so. You can see the difference between [#OiConf] and [#OiConf] here.

Help your fellow attendees

So the next time you’re at an event and the spam tweets start flooding in, look for a pattern. If they all contain the same URL shortener, including it in the search criteria with a minus in front of it will exclude any tweets containing it.

Try it out, and if it works, be sure to tell the other attendees! They’ll love you for it – seriously!

[# image credit: Tom Magliery]