“Practice. Learn and then unlearn — that’s the trick in finding your own style of playing. You can’t merely emulate, you have to innovate, or at the very least create your own path into the process,” said writer, actress, and musician Carrie Brownstein, the co-creator of Portlandia.
While Carrie is no doubt talking about her superwoman business status from Portlandia, I like to apply this boss lady advice to my SEO career as well. I’ve always loved learning more about SEO.
What makes it work?
Why is it so different?
How does it affect my website traffic?
There is no faster path to implementing exceptional SEO practices than by learning from others who have done it before. I could take a course, but I don’t have time for that. I learn with every new client, but not everyone has clients to work through those growing pains. The quickest, easiest way, and the one with the most minimal impact on your day-to-day is to freshen up your skills by reading advice from experts.
The right SEO tactic can be a huge timesaver, helping you avoid common pitfalls and grow beyond the limits of your personal experience. But there are so many tools and so much news published every day that you could spend your entire day just reading them. So, how do you choose which SEO tools are the best, and where do you look for the most up-to-date information? It’s unbelievable how much easier tools make our lives.
Take, IFTTT, for example. IFTTT lets you connect with just about every other tool available. You can track tweets, receive text messages when the weather changes or track your package with Google Calendar. These may seem like small wins, but when you combine these over time, you have hundreds — or maybe thousands — of hours saved each year, just by using tools and staying efficient in your knowledge base.
How can you apply this to SEO?
If you’re starting, growing or working on SEO, I’ve collected these tools and tips I think are most worth your valuable time to gathering data.
1. Email Newsletters
I read a lot. I mean a lot. I look at my inbox every day. And, nearly every day, there is a newsletter from a blog that I subscribed to. There is a blog for every SEO topic under the sun on the interwebs. There are an estimated 152 million blogs on the internet. My inbox delivers custom, hand-picked (by me!) articles. Here are a few of my favorite email newsletters to stay up-to-date on the latest SEO trends (and some fun ones too!):
When Digg redesigned a simpler, better, and easier to use home page, it made finding the relevant content a pretty darn good experience. Now, like other search engines, I get results catered to my historical data. Take a look at the Digg Deeper section in the right of the homepage. See anyone familiar? 😉
The Digg Deeper organizes the top stories from people I follow on social media. Digg combined forces with the News.me app to bring you this excellent feature. Every morning at 7 am, I read through Digg’s daily email to catch me up on yesterday’s top stories. Digg uses a combination of individual human selection and algorithmic curation to choose the highlighted stories, many of which have been known to become viral.
To sign-up for the daily email, create a Digg account. Then, hop over to your settings. Here you’ll see the daily news topics along with the frequency you wish to receive emails.
Another impressive feature? There is a DiggBot for your SlackBot. Instead of getting my daily newsletter emailed, I can get it delivered daily via Slack. Just turn it on! There are so many cool things you can do with the DiggBot. See below!
SmartBrief covers over 200 niche topics for their email newsletters. Their full list of subjects is pulled from 180 different trade publications, media outlets, newspapers, and corporations. From AdAge, MediaPost, to the Washington Post, SmartBrief is aggregating content of important industry movements.
The Moz Top 10 is the inbound marketing, SEO, and social semi-monthly email newsletter you want to subscribe to for a quick snapshot of the top stories, all hand-picked by the editorial team at Moz. In addition to subscribing to Moz’s Top 10, I’d suggest doing the same for the Moz blog and Rand’s blog.
If you’re looking for search engine patents, Bill Slawski, the president and founder of SEO by the Sea, covers it all! From PageRank to semantic closings to assigning geographic relevance, Bill talks about it in his blog. Bill started his career in trial court as a court manager and administrator for 14 years before transitioning to SEO in 2005. So it’s safe to say he knows his stuff.
Reddit is one of the best platforms for discovering highly valuable content on specific topics. Reddit has almost 10 million unique visitors and boasts over 72 million pageviews in June alone. It’s a large forum that’s categorized into smaller forums called “subreddits.” This is where you can share links and comment. The engagement begins when you upvote or comment on one topic. You can view the entire list of subreddits here. I use it for tracking upcoming links to use in articles.
If you’re new, it can be slightly overwhelming, so here’s a list of subreddits I use:
Yes, Quora is a question-and-answer site, but tons of amazing content can help generate fresh ideas and establish authority. Quantcast estimated 2 million people visited Quora in May 2016. I would say that’s worth spending five minutes or so, wouldn’t you?! Even celebs like Rand Fishkin and Barak Obama are getting in on the Quora action.
Once you start following topics, you can turn on the notifications via email.
If you’re searching for a subject, but you’re not sure where to start, head over to StumbleUpon. Once you sign up, you’re immediately taken to a browser where you’ll get suggested content for you to vote up or down. Plus, you can share it with your community. It’s also saved to your dashboard in StumbleUpon if you vote up.
Here’s a look at the different topics you can search:
This community is home to over 150,000 marketing specialists dedicated to building innovative ideas. It’s like taking social media, content marketing, A/B testing, and all the other wonders of online marketing and turning it up 110 degrees.
GrowthHackers is divided into different sections: posts, questions, AMAs, growth studies, videos, and jobs. Similar to Quora, Medium, and LinkedIn Posts, you can repurpose your blog content (if relevant to growth) to the GrowthHacker community in hopes for engagement in the form of upvotes.
Spawned by Dharmesh Shah of Hubspot and Rand Fishin of Moz, Inbound has built a community similar to Reddit or Hacker News for insights on marketing, social media, and SEO. What started in 2005 as a small community has now grown to over 150,000 members. And, Ed Fry does an incredible job at keeping the Inbound community supportive and helpful.
If you choose to get the daily emails (or weekly) through the Inbound Digest, you’re greeted with the top seven stories for that day.
3. Bookmark Content
Another awesome tool is List.ly. I create lists for everything under the sun for SEO. From schema markup, local citations, to AMP resources, if it’s related to SEO, I’ve created a list for it. This is where I store all my articles, video, quotes, whatever! Why? Mostly because it’s so easy to filter what I’m looking for.
With List.ly you can also embed interactive lists that allow your users to add to your lists to help crowdsource content. Here is a live List.ly where it says “Add to List.” Super cool, right?!
Pocket is an easy-to-use, streamlined approach to finding content. First, you can save articles to read later and tag them with a category so you can search them later. And, inside the app, Pocket shares “Recommended” items that are trending.
4. Content Platforms
I regularly browse the stories and collections on Medium’s “Top Stories” tab. Medium makes it easy for me to discover content that I like.
Medium also shares a wealth of shareable, authentic, well-written stories the homepage that are based on my needs and my all my favorite writers I follow.
Here’re a few of my favorite writers on Medium:
You can also get the top stories from Medium delivered to your inbox daily.
Panda has a gorgeous interface for discovering content. They segment their content from the beginning to provide you custom content to your industry needs — developer, designer, entrepreneur. The collection is sorted by stories and visuals from different communities in a variety of layout options (or email!).
You can search multiple sites without clicking away from the homepage. Here’s a list of some of the main pages:
- Angel’s List
- Fast Company
- Tech Crunch
5. Social Media
The Latest was created to track what’s trending on Twitter. They follow the tweets from top influencers, then analyze the top links they share to pull in what the top links are at that moment. The Latest homepage is a collection of the best tweets without actually going to Twitter. But, if you want to pop over to Twitter, you can watch the top tweets here too.
As a Twitter power user, Twitter lists are the jelly to my peanut butter. I use them to save time by allowing me to bucket users (SEO idols, funny brands, Tampa locals) and topics (cat videos, design) into different lists to keep myself focused on specific streams of content. You can also follow Twitter lists to help you streamline your content stalking process.
Here are a few I follow:
- Search Marketing– curated by Danny Sullivan
- SocMedia Editors – curated by Sree Sreenivasan
- Copywriting / Writing – curated by Unbounce
- Tech News People – curated by Robert Scoble
- BI Editors & Reporters – curated by Business Insider
What’s Popular on Google+ and Pinterest
Let’s not forget about Google+ and Pinterest. When you’re exploring content in Google+, you can search for “What’s Hot” and Google will use its algorithm to sort through trending content and your past search history to pull content most relevant to you and today’s hot topic.
Pinterest will also use its algorithm and your past searches, followers, and current trends to populate your “Popular” feed.
Facebook Groups are an awesome resource for feedback, new content, and talking about new ideas with your peers. I actively participate in multiple Facebook Groups and not only have I gained credits for my articles, but they’ve sparked exciting concepts for upcoming pieces I’m working on. Plus, I get a nice bump in traffic to my website now and then.
Here are a few Facebook Groups to take a look at:
LinkedIn Pulse & Groups
I typically come to LinkedIn for industry insights or company specific information. According to LinkedIn, this is what people are searching for:
- 60% of members are interested in industry insights
- 53% are interested in company news
- 43% are interested in new products and services
Many industry experts are sharing their expertise on LinkedIn Pulse. Pulse is very similar to Medium in that you can use it to repurpose content. So, it all depends on where you like receiving your content from and where your industry is sharing. LinkedIn Pulse also lets you choose between daily, weekly, or recommended email frequency in your settings.
LinkedIn Groups is another great place to source content. The groups are filled with like-minded people to network with and brainstorm new ideas. Here’s a list of top LinkedIn Groups to check out:
Slideshare is one of my favorite visual social networks and probably one of the most quickly forgotten. Slideshare is host to some of the best keynote presentations from the best speakers in marketing today. And, the content is engaging with memes, graphs, etc.
After the rebranding with LinkedIn, Slideshare’s homepage looks very much like the visual search engine, Pinterest, with the deep scroll and image structure. Here are some of the best Slideshare presentations:
- How Google Works – by Eric Schmidt
- Why Content Marketing Fails – by Rand Fishkin
- Networking Tips for Introverts – by MarketingProfs
- The Other C’Word – by Velocity Partners
Buzzsumo uses magical unicorn powers to signal what the top performing posts are on the interwebs. Just kidding! Type in a keyword, brand name, or URL, and BuzzSumo will sort the top performing articles, videos, infographics, guest posts, etc. based on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn, and total shares. And, you can pull in backlinks. BuzzSumo can help gauge what the possible virality of an upcoming article you’re working on might receive.
I have set up a few different Google Alerts for research studies and relevant SEO topics (AMP, RankBrain, etc.). Using search operators you can set these up to receive the kind of results you’re looking for:
- study OR research + SEO
- harvard OR stanford + “research”
Once you have the alerts set up, you can choose the frequency (as-it-happens, daily, weekly) that works best for you. Then, add to your Pocket app for later use.
Where Do You Look to Stay Up-to-date on SEO Content?
I’ve found that newsletters and the tools listed above work best for me to discover stories, case studies, and best practices. Plus, it saves me tons of time! While some of these are not-so-secret, these are the methods that are tried-and-true for me. And, when you write a piece of content that everyone loves, it’s a win-win.
It’s up to you to find your groove and get creative when discovering new content.
What are some of your favorite ways to in-the-know on SEO? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments.