The breakout star in SEO so far this year appears to be content marketing. It was pretty talked about in 2013, but with Google’s penalties and algorithms it will only be more important as the year progresses.

Of course, just as with any SEO tactic, content marketing has its risks. Google has shown that even using the best practices too much can still lead to penalties, and the Penguin and Panda updates have made it clear that you have to put good thought into any campaign you are going to run. Algorithmic updates by their nature don’t have room for leniency.

If you want to keep succeeding with SEO, you have to follow the rules to the letter. Of course, this is complicated Google’s reluctance to give hard rules for SEO. From what we know, it seems moderation is really the key to content marketing and optimization.

Adam Mason, writer for Search Engine Journal and SEO manager at Zazzle Media, shows the best method of dealing with content marketing optimization is to learn the history and know what has changed in the past few years. If you want to know how to push your content marketing campaigns without being hurt by penalties, his article covers anything and everything you would want to know.

It was only a matter of time before Twitter unveiled an advertising platform to its users. So far, however, the results have been extremely underwhelming.

At the present, your Twitter ad campaign will be run like a poorly run AdWords campaign. This is due to the fact that there just aren’t enough tools and metrics made available to run it properly. Twitter can’t tell you who exactly saw your ad or who exactly converted because of it. Instead, you get the total number of impressions and how many new followers you have because of the ad. And, perhaps they didn’t think this all the way through, but you also get to see exactly how much money the ad cost you right next to the embarrassing lack of metrics.

The rumor is that Twitter ads has already advanced past this early stage and some of the big money marketers are getting to experience that next level first and there’s no doubt that Twitter will improve its advertising platform until it is on par with Facebook. For now, however, there’s no reason to spend any of your budget on Twitter ads.

Jason Yormak did start a campaign with Twitter ads. You can see his results at Business2Community.

Source: Flickr

With the new year come new reports about the way we searched the internet in 2012. The Search Agency posted their “State of Paid Search Report” for the last quarter of the previous year, and while it is mostly confirming what other reports have already shown, there were a few notable discoveries.

Every report of the past few years has found that searches from smartphones and tablets have been growing significantly now claiming 25-percent of all search clicks. But, what wasn’t expected was The Search Agency’s announcement that the growth in mobile searching does not come at the expense of desktop browsing.

“Desktops computer searches remained level from Q3 2012 to Q4 2012, while mobile experienced an increase in search share. This demonstrates the industry’s steady growth and good health,” states their report.

Greg Sterling has the full breakdown from the report over at Search Engine Land, but the facts are that mobile browsing has no intention of slowing its growth, and tablets are at least partially responsible for the continued interest.

In just a few years, mobile browsing has gone from laughably tedious to one of the fastest growing ways we access the internet. With that meteoric rise to popularity comes misunderstandings thanks to generalizations, but the reality of mobile browsing is much more complex.

Karolina Szczur wades through the misconceptions about mobile browsing and design, attempting to clarify the truth about mobile design and show how believing these inherently false ideas leads to designs that don’t really work for the current web.

The biggest misconception is that mobile is well-defined or even monolithic. This isn’t helped by most articles which suggest tips for mobile design which lump all devices, browsers, and even tablets all into one category. It is easy to forget when we write about mobile browsing like this, that ‘mobile’ doesn’t actually refer to the handheld devices. It it refers to the user, according to Barbara Ballard, author of Designing the Mobile User Experience.

Focusing on devices when designing for mobile misses the more important factors surrounding users. Context defines more of what mobile users are doing than their devices. The most wide-held view of mobile users focuses on out-and-about shopping, but studies have shown that 70% of Americans use their phones in the bathroom, and just as many use them while sitting on the sofa, away from their desktop.

The usual decision when thinking about mobile users as “on the go” is to streamline everything on a site, but this forgets that mobile users are often trying to perform complicated transactions or reach full length articles from areas where a desktop isn’t feasible.

This monolithic attitude about mobile browsing also leads people to think that mobile browsing is dominated by Apple devices. While those with iOS devices are the most high profile smartphones and tablets, Google owns roughly 53% of the smartphone market in the US.

The difference is, Apple uses one standard device, whereas Google’s smartphones are spread across a vast array of Android devices with wildly different display sizes. Designing just for Apple is actually designing for less than half of the market out there, and ignores the huge variances available. When you then include the number of browsers available on smartphones and tablets, designing strictly thinking about Apple’s Safari browser is focusing on just a small share of users.

These are just two of the wide-held misconceptions about mobile browsing, and they spawn from generalizations meant to make the field of mobile browsing seem digestable, but it ignores every big of fact available. The reason for the huge boom in responsive design over the past year is a reaction to just this problem, and it serves a strong solution. Mobile browsing is anything but singular, and design now has to take into consideration the hugely different ways we all browse.

Source: Flickr

In the past decade, typography has re-risen as a huge interest for designers and artists of all kinds, to the point that it is possible for one to make a living designing type and custom lettering.

But, as with any newly popular area, the renewed popularity has come with misinformation and misunderstanding to what typography and lettering are. With all of the talk surrounding typography, now is as pertinent of a time as any to set the record straight on what it really is. Joseph Alessio explains it all in depth at Smashing Magazine, but I’ll walk you through the basics here.


Typography is basically how letters are arranged on a surface, and the term has existed since the creation of movable type printing systems. It is actually a subset of lettering, as it is concerned with how letters are applied to typefaces.

The most simplified and easily understandable explanation comes from Gerrit Noordzij, professor of typeface design at the Royal Academy of Art in the Hague from 1960 to 1990, and his definition helps show how typography is different from the broader category of lettering. Typography is “writing with prefabricated characters.” This makes it clearly distinct from lettering, handwriting, and even graffiti, because those types of writing do not use repeatable sets of characters.


Lettering is simply “the art of drawing letters” as Alessio puts it. While lettering can cover a huge area of character creation, it is easiest to think of it as custom letterforms created for a single use, usually focusing on the overall composition, rather than strict adherence to established characters. It can be made on the computer, but not by laying different fonts next to each other.

While typography is a subset of lettering, when talking to clients or other designers, it is wise to distinguish between the two. Lettering is usually thought of as design made of custom letters, whereas typography is a design made out of existing fonts and typefaces.

The two are easily confusable, and it is of little surprise that their definitions have largely become entangled, but understanding the differences can help you communicate what you want more easily, as well as keeping you from looking uninformed at an important moment.

Less than a year ago, Google unleashed an update called the “webspam algorithm” that seemed innocuous at first, until experts began to notice how widespread its effects were. The impact of the update was so large, Google eventually gave it an official name more in line with their other update, Panda. The “webspam algorithm” became Penguin.

The original name for the update was an accurate description for what this update did. It was aimed to demote sites violating the Webmaster Guidelines for Google, specifically sites full of webspam. These sites used manipulation to improve their rankings in the search engines, but some innocent sites were affected, and more have been affected by each subsequent update to Penguin.

These “black hat” methods such as keyword stuffing, cloaking, participating in link schemes, and purposefully using duplicate content had been around on the internet since SEO has existed (pretty much as long as the internet has been widely used), and Penguin sought to finally deal with the spammers, but with it a new set of rules for SEO were created.

Pratik Dholakiya has collected these rules into “The Definitive Guide To Penguin Friendly SEO” which explains which methods have been shunned and what new techniques are favorable for SEOs.

If you were actively using black hat techniques, you won’t find new ones to continue spamming in a different way, but for any SEO looking to legitimately improve their search performance with good content and practices, this list will help steer readers away from any bad methods.

Can Facebook ads help business to business sales? Adam Proehl of Business2Community says ‘of course!’

There’s bound to be some opposition from those established in B2B marketing, but consider some of Proehl’s main points. Though users aren’t going to Facebook to look for what your business is offering, that doesn’t mean they can’t find your business that way. Because, regardless of why they’re there, all of your potential customers are likely visiting Facebook.

Plus, through remarketing, you can gain an additional way to reach users who visited your website and left without a conversion. At worst, you continue to make potential consumers aware of your brand and what you offer.

So, don’t think of Facebook as direct marketing, necessarily. But, do consider it helpful to your business.

Receiving an email from Google saying that they have noticed unnatural links associated with your website is never a good thing. The best outcome still involves losing organic search traffic from Google for at least some time, plus the email means you have work to do really quickly.

Search Engine Watch writer Chuck Price has seen webmasters respond to manual penalties and many of them actually make their problems worse, especially when they panic. Webmasters who panic when they receive a manual penalty website tend to fly into manic states running around doing the first thing they can think of to try to get the penalty fixed; thoughts like filing reconsideration requests before actually fixing the problem.

If you’ve received an email about unnatural links or manual penalties, take a minute to breath. There is no reason to panic. You have to do some work to identify the issues and fix your site’s linking problems, but panicking isn’t going to get that done any faster, and might blow your one chance to get your links reconsidered by Google in the near future.

Once you’re calm, it is time to get to work. Price has suggestions for how to get your page back in order no matter how many bad links you have. However, if you have been actively building thousands of unnatural links, you will have to make huge efforts to make up for the spamming.

Email marketing is considered one of the old standards for online marketing. It has existed since the internet boom, and it still works today. Basically, email marketing is making specialized custom emails to generate leads, promote your brand or a specific offer, and initiate deals with consumers.

However, there is a common mistake many marketers are still making that diminishes your brand’s reputation and credibility. Many email marketers are still not creating proper email templates that are optimized for typical inboxes. Simply put, seeing a poorly formatted or designed email sends consumers looking for the button leading back to the inbox, or worse, looking to label your email as spam.

Web Designer Depot writer Lior Levin has a list of 10 ways marketers fail to properly structure their emails, ranging from writing the body copy of the email in a word processor (which attaches extra HTML code that will likely ruin the layout) to forgetting to create a plain text copy for those who require it.

With how long email marketing has existed, you would think most would have it down already. But, judging from my inbox littered with random emails that look terrible or don’t load, it seems some at least need a refresher.

On January 15th, Facebook announced they will be starting their own personal search engine called Facebook Graph Search. That’s right, the little white bar at the top of your page now has an actual purpose. The search engine relies strongly on “likes” and other relevant Facebook information such as page popularity and location signals.

While this new change could lead to some interesting methods of finding businesses close to you (for example, Facebook claims you will be able to search things like “Italian restaurants that my friends have been to”), but it also has business owners and SEO experts wondering how to take advantage of Facebook’s search. As Matt McGee found out however, Facebook was already ahead of everyone.

They released tips for how to make sure your business gets found in the Graph Search. Releasing these tips helps them as much as it helps others use the search, because it will help business position themselves to appear in the search while simultaneously populating the search engine for Facebook.

The most important things to know are that Graph Search is only available for a few right now, but it will offer local search from the very start, and the search results are created by compiling information created and shared by businesses, especially through their pages.

That doesn’t mean you have to have a page for your business however. It will help enormously, but businesses also will show up so long as customers or visitors have tagged them as a “place”.

We will have to wait to see just how Facebook’s Graph Search works once it is unveiled for the wider public. It could become another gimmick type feature of Facebook that many don’t use, like the FourSquare like ability to check into locations is treated at the moment. But, it is possible Facebook’s new search engine could be a useful tool for finding local businesses.