With search engine placement being a high priority for so many of our clients at Centresource, I thought it appropriate to share what we feel are some of the best SEO blogs and resources out there right now. First, if you’re not familiar with the acronym SEO, you might want to check out our other SEO articles which shed some light on various aspects and practices. In short, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and is one of the most important factors to consider when trying to generate traffic to a website via search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.) — hence the term optimization.

With the ever-changing climate in internet marketing, it’s key to stay on top of your search marketing to stay competitive and dominate the majority of your target keywords. As a web and mobile developer here at Centresource Interactive Agency, I also have an extensive background in SEO under my belt and with this combination, I’ve learned that simply pushing out clean, scalable code and a good looking product that performs and converts well, is simply not enough — you have to pound the pavement, in the online marketing sense, of course.

Finding Legit Resources

So where do you start? How do you know which advice to follow? These are exactly the questions that inspired me to write this post. A lot of the information floating around either just scratches the surface or could be detrimental to the health of your search engine campaign.

So, if you’ve ever asked yourself the questions above, this sweet list of goodies is just what you’ve been looking for. Below we’ve put together the ultimate list of SEO blogs and resources as a quick resource to legit information to help you take your search engine optimization chops to the next level and outrank the competition in the SERPs.

Quick Sprout
Quick Sprout SEO Blog — Hands down one of the best resources out there right now for not only search optimization, but SM (social marketing) and PPC (pay-per-click) as well. Neil Patel is well known in the industry for producing massive results and skyrocketing traffic. He’s helped a number of companies throughout the years dominate their verticals in PPC, Social, and SEO.

Moz
Moz (formerly SEOMoz) is another killer resource with a wealth of information for beginners and seasoned marketers alike.

Google Algorithm Monitor — With Google being the largest engine, it’s key to stay on top of the frequent shifts in climate; Moz’s Algorithm Change Monitor does just that. They’ve made it super easy to follow and have historical data on Google updates dating back to as far as 2000. Again, this tool easily lands near the top of my list as it’s my go-to whenever I see a drastic fluctuation in the SERPs. This is a great tool if you’re trying to keep tabs on Panda and Penguin updates.

Moz SEO Guides — What kind of resource list doesn’t cater to beginners? With that said, we’ve thrown in these guides from Moz. They’ve structured their collection of guides in a way that’s easy to digest and refer back to. Even if this isn’t your first rodeo, it never hurts to brush up on the latest techniques and best practices. Keep it close!

Moz SEO Blog — Yes, another Moz item on the list; the Moz Blog! Here you’ll find a plethora of information, from “How to Do a Content Audit Step-by-Step” and “What Happened After Good Pulled Author and Video Snippets: A Case Study”, just to name a few. Loaded with reading content, their blog is another great source for legit and actionable information. If it’s not in your bookmarks, you know what to do.

Google Webmaster Guidelines

Google Webmaster Guidelines — Curious what Google’s rules are? The webmaster guidelines is a good place to start. Google offers up some great info on what not to do; basically all of the blackhat stuff that will most likely get your site into some hot water. These are good to refer back to, especially if you’ve hired a firm to manage your SEO. Make sure their practices are inline with Google’s recommendations.

If for some reason you do find yourself in hot water, submitting a reconsideration request with Google may be your ticket back to the top. Prior to submitting one however, it’s important to rectify the issue that got you there in the first place. You might have to go as far as disavowing some bad backlinks.

Search Engine Land
Search Engine Land Blog — Another winner in my book is Search Engine Land. Apart from their thorough marketing content, having reached over 200,000 Twitter followers is testament in itself to the type of information these guys are putting out. Definitely keep an eye on this one, or at least get their updates on twitter.

Search Engine Watch
SE Watch Blog — In terms of blogs to follow, SE Watch is up there with SE Land. Again, they offer great content that’s literally up to the minute and cover topics that a lot of people are struggling with, like “You’ve Been Hit by Penguin! Should you Start Over or Try to Recover?” That’s a tough question and it’s not always the easiest to answer. With a constantly growing list of followers, you don’t want to miss out on the valuable information that they are sharing.

Search Engine Journal
SE Journal Blog — Last and surely not least, is the SE Journal Blog. They have an amazing list of guest bloggers that are well known in the industry and cover topics such as “Protecting Yourself Against Negative SEO”. SEJ is another great resource we couldn’t pass up.

The list above should be plenty to get your feet wet if you’re a beginner or just trying to understand all the jargon that was unloaded on you at that last meeting with your SEO firm. If you’re not new to the game, I’m sure quite a few of the resources listed above are familiar to you, so feel free to share your experiences and/or recommendations in the comments below.

We work with a lot of companies in varying states of maturity. Some prospective clients come in with workflows, user identities and fully vetted business models — they just need an objective, expert hand to finalize strategy and design. Some folks come in with nothing more than a fantastic idea and a basic blueprint of how to bring that idea to life. For the latter group, it’s key to help them fully flesh out their concept and market viability before we move into any concrete planning or strategy.

One of the best tools for realizing this particular stage of the process is a business model canvas. There are traditional business model canvases out there, but The Lean Canvas created by Ash Maurya (author of Running Lean) is tailored specifically to the entrepreneurial venture and is a great way to help a client unlock some surprising ideas about their product.

Adapting the basic structure of the business model canvas first pioneered by Alex Osterwalder, Maurya is more focused on identifying the problem a product is trying to solve, rather than the ideal solution the product represents. Maurya says:

Once you understand the problem, you are then in the best position to define a possible solution. That said, I purposefully wanted to constrain entrepreneurs (through the use of a small box on the canvas) because the solution is what we are most passionate about. Left unchecked, we often fall in love with our first solution and end up cornering ourselves into legacy. Keeping the solution box small also aligns well with the concept of a “Minimum Viable Product” (MVP).

The Minimally Viable Product is so important, and one that a lot of entrepreneurs aren’t advised to follow. Instead of falling prey to “feature fever,” we’re always advising our clients to start small and to start smart. The MVP forces product owners to distill their product to its most basic structure. What is the key problem that needs to be solved…and what is the essential functionality users need in order to realize the solution to that problem?

The Lean Canvas also breaks down the potential input and output of a product. What is the known overhead? What are the expected sources of revenue? These are great paths towards understanding if there’s room in your business plan to roll-out a free beta version — making space to find early adopters (who can become product advocates) and collecting real-world user data and feedback.

These last two pieces of information are critical for building out a product’s next phases. Which features are being demanded by the users? Which features are now no longer relevant based on the actual user base? The product owner can now very wisely spend money on an even better, more essential version of their product.

You have an idea for a startup but have very little money and no coding expertise. You’ve come to the right place. There are so many services out there that can allow you to launch your startup with minimal cost and little technical expertise. But how to know which ones are right? And what steps should you take before knowing when to code? I’ve outlined the steps you should take before writing one line of code.

  1. Wireframes/Mockups
    You need more than an idea on the back of a napkin before you start coding or hire somebody else. Wireframes are a great way to get your idea out of your head and easily communicated to others. Wireframes are low-fidelity sketches or drawings and can be done in a notebook or on a whiteboard. To make your wireframes digitally presentable we recommend POP or Flinto. But there are also many more out there. Feel free to explore.If you’re looking for services that offer more hi-fidelity output that is presentable for clients and offers a lot more functionality we suggest Invision.
  2. Get Interest
    If you’re launching a startup, hopefully you’ve told all your friends, family and social networks. You’ll need a place to direct them to when they ask where they can learn more. Do you need to code a website now? NO. Create a barebones website with Wix, Squarespace, Weebly, WordPress, or Populr. All of them require no coding to get up and running. If you want to be an all-star, add a sign-up form to capture visitors to notify them of when your startup goes live. You can embed a Wufoo form or even link to a Google Doc Form if that is easier for you.How do you know if people are visiting your site? Be sure to install Google Analytics.
  3. Paying Customer
    If you have gotten somebody to pay for the service your startup provides, I think it’s safe to start coding. However, there is no shame in keeping the process manual until you get more paying customers than you can handle.If you haven’t gotten somebody to pay, GET THEM TO PAY. Having your friends say your idea is awesome is much different than them handing you their credit card. Getting payment is the ultimate validation that your idea is worthwhile.Collect payments on-the-go with Square, embed a payment form with Stripe or sell your digital product with Gumroad. Make money before coding!

If any of these recommendations seem to advantageous for you, feel free to DM me on Twitter or leave a comment below and I’d be happy to walk you through it. We’re here to make your business successful.

How many times have you launched a marketing initiative and then you move onto the next thing without looking back? Hours of hard work are forgotten, you check the done box and keep on trucking. This happens too often in the marketing world. The reality of it is all is that your work really has only begun on that project. Once something is launched, you then need to enter the testing, data collection and iteration phase of the project.

When a new digital marketing campaign is launched, you are at the point where you actually know the least about your clients and how they will respond to your message and tactic. Those first few days and weeks provide a great opportunity to learn about effectiveness and continue to improve upon the campaign to increase it’s impact.

That is why testing should be part of every marketing campaign. Here at Centresource, we are big fans of the tool Optimizely. It allows us to easily implement A/ B tests on elements of websites such as calls to action, forms, headlines, images and the list goes on and on. By splitting traffic to different versions of a website, we are constantly learning what is driving a better conversion rate online, thus creating websites that continue to improve.

Testing also plays a big role in our paid search work. It is necessary when managing paid search campaigns that you are testing multiple versions of your ad to maximize the opportunity, and learn more about what your prospects respond to.

However, you can’t just stop at testing. You have to let the data work for you. Pay attention to what it’s saying and put it to use. If you don’t see the desired outcomes immediately, iterate and improve. It’s a lot easier to improve upon something than start from scratch.

What role does testing play in your marketing campaigns? What wins have you seen as a result of a solid testing strategy?