Hardcore Guide to Media Relations

How do you earn links from journalists writing for high Domain Authority online news publications?

First, I want to be clear this is not about writing a constant stream of press releases scheduled on an editorial calendar, then publishing these to Internet wire services. This article will teach you the art of real media relations.

Media Relations Guie

First you must accept…

Journalists Do Not Care About Your Brand or Company

Reporters write stories for readers to read. Readers are the journalists’ first constituency. After that, their loyalty belongs to their professional selves, their editors and their publications.

Your company is a potential news subject. Your only influence lies in your ability to present compelling stories to reporters and manage responses to stories about your business.

Journalists are not heartless. Most reporters are actually pretty awesome. They understand their beats, know the businesses involved and enjoy rapport with many PR professionals and company leaders.

You just need to recognize and respect their goal: publish news, information and stories readers value. Help them and they will eagerly speak with you.

Rise Above the Noise

Reporters have limited bandwidth. They can write only so many articles. If you want your story to be picked-up it must stand out.

Every day journalists get inundated with press releases, emails and phone calls. They must sift through it all to find the stories that matter. Their job requires discipline, experience and trusted relationships.

If you received 100 press releases and another 100 email pitches or tips every day, could you keep up? To accomplish this journalists scan subject lines, looking for topics readers care about. They rely on email filters to flag important topics and companies.  And yes, most reporters have lists of trusted sources, people who regularly bring them good stories.

In the business press most stories are about

  • Well known brands
  • New companies founded by recognized leaders
  • Major product launches and benchmark updates
  • Financial reports
  • Leadership changes
  • Legal proceedings
  • Executive profiles

Obviously reporters cover other news, but you must have a compelling hook. The smaller or less known the brand, the more compelling your pitch must be. In this regard major brands like Amazon and Microsoft will always have an advantage because people know them and want to read about them.

Knowing this, you can probably guess what I am about to say concerning social media press releases.

Internet Wire Services

As a category, press releases submitted to Internet newswires tend to be a cesspool of dreck. Reporters don’t read them. Most Internet press releases contain no real news. They are self-promotional pieces.

Companies, big and small, post thousands press releases every day. This is terrific for services like PR Newswire and PR Web. You pay them to publish your releases on their automated systems. For added fees they let you add links and photos, then call them social media press releases. Internet wire services can be useful, but as a rule, not for pitching.

If you think reporters get their stories from online press releases you’re fooling yourself. Some might worm through the spam filters, but good journalists will already know about the newsworthy stories from direct contacts with the companies they report about.

Become a Trusted Source

How do you, as media relations professionals, get reporters to read your emails or take your calls? How do you become a trusted source?

It’s a long-term process and not everyone can do it.

  • Be patient
  • Work within the system
  • Provide valuable news or stories

Mostly it is about building relationships, which is why it’s called media relations, not press spamming.

Get to Know Who Reports On Your Industry

Learn who the journalists are. Keep a database or spreadsheet of reporters’ names, beats and contact information. You may be able to purchase a list.

Read what they write. Are they local, regional, national or global? Note which businesses they tend to report on and what type of articles they publish. If they do a piece that strikes you for any reason, make a note in your database.

Reporters change jobs. Keep your database up to date.

Reach Out

As you build your contact list reach out and introduce yourself. Let them who you are, what you do and why they might want to add you to their contact list. Make an offer to help if the occasion should ever arise and ask if it’s okay for you to email them if you think you have a compelling story. Keep it professional and brief.

When you reach out, give journalists a link to your website and profile so they can learn more about you.

Never send a lengthy biography or explain all the ways you can help. If they want to learn more they will either look you up or ask.

Reporters are much more likely to use you as a source or consider your stories once they shake your hand. If you are going to an important conference or event send a note via email or Twitter asking journalists if they are going. If the answer is yes, let them know you would like to say hello and shake hands. If it happens, be professional and concise. Give your 30-second introduction, say how pleased you are to meet and that you hope to have some good stories to share in the future. This is not the time to pitch.

Pitching

There is an art to pitching news stories. You must understand how to frame stories and sound compelling. You must gain an appreciation of when to send something to your entire database or contact a single reporter. You have to accept that off the record is a myth; everything you say or write is on the record at all times.

When you pitch a journalist who has never published a story you pitched, make sure it’s as good as any topic they’ve written about. Better to set your bar too high than try to duck under it.

Record every pitch in your database.

And when you succeed, record that too, then pour yourself a beverage.

 

Image by Kate Ter Haar

SEO Web Page Optimization Checklist

Keyword Selection

Optimizing any web page begins by selecting the proper keywords.  Choose keywords and phrases that

  • Match the page topic and content
  • People search for
  • Do not cannibalize

I suggest picking one keyword or phrase as your primary choice then adding a few other closely related keywords that are also relevant to your topic. As you write these words and phrases should naturally fit into your copy and not feel out of place. A good trick to use is read your text out loud. If something seems odd or jarring it requires rewriting.

Brainstorm with Search Results

Even before you do any research, he will probably have a few ideas about the keyword or keywords you wish to target. Search for these on Google and Bing. Now look at the search results. First, look at the title tags of each listing. You may see other keywords that Google or Bing consider synonymous.

To be helpful, Google and Bing frequently offers suggestions for additional searches you might try to find what you’re seeking. As of this writing, Google displays these at the bottom of its search results while Bing places in the sidebar. Copy any words and phrases that seem appropriate to add to your list. You can also use a keyword suggestion tool. Übersuggest http://ubersuggest.org/

Select with Keyword Tools

After you brainstorm some potential keywords, run them through a couple keyword research tools. Google and Bing provide free tools, plus there are several high-quality commercial options. When selecting your keywords, try to find the most naturally relevant words or phrases and the highest number of searches.

Pro Tip: If the search results are highly competitive consider selecting a less ambitious primary keyword or phrase.

Eliminate Avoidable HTML Errors

When it comes to assessing the quality of your HTML Google and Bing take different approaches. This is based on statements made by search engine employees at SEO conferences.

Google takes the position that everyone creates web pages, not just expert webmasters. They try to make-up for many quality issues commonly found URLs and HTML code.

Bing considers HTML quality to be a fundamental part of web page quality. Like Google, Bing can read through a lot of coding and markup mistakes, but these same errors may negatively affect Bing SEO.

You do not need perfect HTML. Achieving a 100% score on HTML validation tools is practically impossible with modern web scripting. That said, the well-optimized page avoids common errors.

Meta Tags

Meta tags provide search engines with valuable information about your website. With the exception of the title element (or title tag), these are invisible to the page viewer.

Content Type and/or Character Set

A well-formed HTML <head> will contain technical information about the code or markup. This includes declaring a character set. While there are a large number of valid character sets, search engines work best with UTF-8.

Long Form: <meta http-equiv=”Content-Type” content=”text/html; charset=utf-8″>

Short Form: <meta charset=”utf-8″>

Most content management systems take care of this automatically.

<title>

Properly called the Title Element, though commonly refereed to as the Title Tag, the page title is the most influential SEO ranking factor under your direct control.

Place your most important keywords as close to the beginning as possible. Words in title tags are considered highly important for determining keyword relevance. Words placed at or near the beginning of title tags carry more weight than words that appear later in the tag.

Keep it short. The fewer the number of words in the title tag the more each word will carry. When pages appear in the search engine results, usually the title tag is used as the listing headline. Google limits its display to 512 pixels, around 50 to 60 characters.

Site links, the links that appear immediately beneath some search results, often for brand name searches, are even shorter, 215 pixels. Shorten site link title tags so their meaning is clear in the search results.

Keeping titles short is most important for the home, category and sub-category pages. Product pages should have short titles too. Titles for deeper pages, like blog articles, may have to be longer for practical reasons. Still, keep in mind how the listing will appear in the search engine results and make sure it is be readable.

Don’t be surprised if a search engine rewrites a title tag in the results pages. They have formulas that sometimes rewrite titles to make them more informative. If this happens, consider re-optimizing your title.

URL

The URL of a web page should generally match the title tag.

Begin with the page <title> element.

Change everything to lower case.

Remove stop words.

Remove characters that are not letters or numbers.

Replace accented characters with the closest non-accented equivalents. For example, à becomes a  and č becomes c. Replace spaces with simple dashes/hyphens (not en-dashes or em-dashes).

It is permissible to create a wholly unique, keyword concentrated URL as long as it matches page content and does not compete with other keyword optimized pages. For example, the URL for How to do an SEO Audit could be /seo-audit.

Meta Description

<meta name=”description” content=”This is a meta description. “>

While invisible to the page viewer, meta descriptions often appear as page descriptions in search results.

Search engines display around 155 characters. Because of proportional fonts, some are wide while others are thin; the actual number of characters shown varies.

A well-written meta description will increase attract clicks and increase visitors. This makes it a vital SEO consideration.

Keywords in meta descriptions do not affect rankings.

A good meta description describes page content in a compelling manner that encourages clicks.

Meta Keywords

<meta name=”keywords” content=”keywords, keyword, keyword phrase, etc.”>

Do not use the meta keywords tag unless it is required for internal website tools like site search. Empty them on every page or, even better, ask your Webmaster to delete the tag from any CMS templates.

Search engines ignore the keyword tag. While once it was a useful signal, it became one of the most spammed web page elements. Sites would stuff the tag with every conceivable possibility or use the exact same tag on every page.

While search engines ignore the keywords tag, many sites continue to use it, stuff it, or otherwise abuse it. Even if search engines do not look at the tag explicitly, their algorithms may read webspamed keyword tags as a negative SEO factor when assessing overall HTML markup. For this reason the safest thing is simply not to use it.

Meta Robots

<meta name=”robots” content=”index, follow” />

The meta robots tag tells search engine whether or not to

  • Include the page in the search index or not (index vs. noindex)
  • Follow the links on the page (follow vs. nofollow)

When this tag is not present search engines assume the default settings: index, follow. Generally you want search engines to index pages and follow links.

A common misconception is that robots.txt will keep pages out of the search indexes, which is not true. The only way to prevent a page from appearing in search altogether is with <meta name=”robots” content=”noindex, follow” /> or <meta name=”robots” content=”noindex, follow” />. If you want search engines to ignore individual links use the rel=”nofollow” attribute inside link tags.

Rel=canonical

<link rel=”canonical” href=”http://example.com/category/page-title” />

Duplicate content is a major SEO issue. When search engines index multiple copies of the same page it divides or dilutes authority and relevance. While search engines pick one version to show in the results, duplicate pages can hurt rankings.

One reason different URLs get created for the same page is that content management systems may add tags to internal and outbound links. Search engines try to recognize these and ignore them, but it is still best to tell search engines what URL you want indexed via the rel=canonical tag.

Search engines treat rel=canonical as a 301 permanent redirect and forward ranking authority to the address you specify.

The rel=canonical tag is a suggestion, not a directive. Search engines will compare pages to decide if they are sufficiently duplicate.

Use absolute URLs in the rel=canonical tag and be sure to use only http:// or https://. Not all content management systems get this right. They use https on SSL and http on non-secure addresses. Pick secure or non-secure and use it on both versions.

Rel=publisher

<link rel=”publisher” href=”https://plus.google.com/company’s google+ profile id “/>

In an age when other websites copy, rewrite and repurpose other websites’ content it’s a good idea to include your company’s Google+ ID in the rel=publisher tag.

Search engines prefer to show results for the original publisher or most authoritative publisher. Should another website copy your page, if the rel=publisher tag can signal your site as the real source.

In articles written by and attributed to individual authors this tag can be used alongside the rel=author tag used to a piece with the writer’s Google+ profile. <link rel=”author” href=”https://plus.google.com/author’s google+ profile id“/>

Other Meta Tags

Above are the critical meta tags you need for SEO optimization. Depending on the type of page content there are other tags that may be applicable. I recommend reading Michael King’s post, 18 Meta Tags Every Webpage Should Have in 2013.

HTML <body> Markup

The <body> generates the page’s visible content. Aside from the content itself, search engines use HTML markup to parse content and determine relevance.

H# Tags (h1, h2, h3, h4, h5, h6)

<h1>Page Headline</h1>
<h2>Sub-headline</h2>
etc.

When you look at a page’s h# tags or headline tags they should read like an outline. Though h# tags have limited SEO value, proper use is still considered a best practice because it’s a signal you can control.

Use the h1 tag for your page headline. This should include your main keyword or phrase and closely match the <title>. Except in rare instances, there should be only 1 h1 per page.

Use h2 tags as sub-headlines to divide your content. H2 tags may or may not include keywords. If they do, the keyword or phrase must be applicable to the section that follows.

Use h3, h4, h5 and h6 tags to further divide content into smaller sub-portions. Keywords in these tags have little to no impact.

On the web, most pages never go past h2 or h3 and use h4, h5 or h6.

Do not use h# tags for CSS or design. A common mistake is to attach styling to h# tags then use these tags wherever that formatting should appear. This leads to all sorts of problems such as h# tags to appear in sidebars and footers.

Image Alt Attributes

<img src=”/image-url” alt=”image description” title=”image description”>

Search engines look for keywords in the image attribute. Ideally this tag includes an accurate description of the image, describes the page or page-section and includes relevant keywords or key phrases. Keep it short and place keywords as close to the beginning as is suitable. Do not keyword stuff.

Keep in mind that image alt tags are important to machine readers for the visually impaired. This alone should make you want to write thoughtful attributes.

Search engines ignore the image title attribute. In most browsers the image title will appear when a user hovers over the picture. An image title attribute is not necessary, but it can be useful for providing further information like, “Click on the image to view the full-size version.

Use the figcaption tag to add a caption and include the most relevant keyword for the page and picture.

<figure> <img src=”/image-url” alt=”image description” title=”image description”> <figcaption>A description of the image with its keyword.</figcaption> </figure>

Search engines use the words before and after an image to try determine what image searches the image ought to appear for. This is a great place for keywords that describe the image.

Pro Tip: Use CSS to place graphical design elements and HTML to place content images.

Link rel=nofollow

<a href=”/ur” rel=”nofollow”>

Search engines count links as endorsements and use them to quantify and assign authority to webpages and sites. To preserve the usefulness of this important signal, search engines ask webmasters to nofollow links in advertisements and to pages for which the webmaster cannot vouch for trustworthiness. A good example of the later are links in visitor comments.

Page Templates

When websites use clear and consistent templates it helps search engines distinguish between unique content and other parts of the page like navigation, sidebars and footers. Most content management systems take care of this, but it’s good to be sure top navigation, content, sidebar and footer DIVs use consistent names across your site.

Make your pages multi-platform friendly. This means they should look good on all major browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera, Safari) and on mobile devices and tablet. On different platforms pages do not have to appear exactly the same or even have the exact same content, but they should be easily readable and contain the documents central content.

Content

Content is the most important aspect of SEO. Search engines love to discuss and encourage high-quality content. High-quality content is a qualitative SEO buzzword encompassing many traits:

  • Unique – The text is original
  • Adds Value – It doesn’t regurgitate what’s already available. It provides new data or information.
  • Authoritative – The information presented is useful, accurate and complete.
  • Excellence – The content is well thought-out, written and presented. This includes, but is not limited to, the topic itself, language and grammar use, spelling and thoughtful use of graphics and images.

For an in-depth dive into content quality I recommend:

As for SEO copywriting itself, much has changed. In the past best practices included:

  • Insert keywords three times: in the 1st paragraph, in the middle and near the end. More often for long content.
  • Use different forms of the keywords: tense, prefixes and suffixes – like adverbs.
  • Replace pronouns with synonyms and related words.

While such guidelines should not be completely discarded, today there is no concise SEO copywriting formula. Yes, you should still use your target keywords in the headline and content. But search engines are far more adept at identifying topics and matching pages with appropriate queries. The modern emphasis for SEO copywriting is on quality and completeness.

Here are a few things to keep in mind.

When it comes to keyword relevance, diminishing returns are in effect. The first time a word or phrase appears on a page the search engine will think the page is relevant. The second time it appears it will think the page is more relevant. The third or fourth time the same keyword appears the search engine will begin thinking to itself, I already know this page is relevant for that keyword. The fifth or sixth time it will begin thinking, You’re trying my patience; this is getting spammy. This is not an exact science. It depends on the topic and content length.

Search engines know what unnatural writing looks like. After all, they have access to the entire Internet and Google has scanned over 30 million books.

Search engines want to improve their results. They are uninterested in replacing current search results with equivalent material, but very interested in ranking content that adds new or unique value. As an example, there’s a wealth of 450 word articles that say such and such is important, you should do such and such, then leave it at that. The new articles that will rank will explain what something is, explain why it is important, describe in detail how to do it, and show case studies or examples.

There’s a limited number of words and phrases in any language. Even results for good long-tail queries are competitive.

The other reality is that none of what I’ve written takes authority into account. Proper technical and content SEO is a necessity because so many businesses and competitors are doing it. It’s crossing T’s and dotting I’s. After that you have to publish content that appeals to readers enough for them to share it on social media and link to it…over and over again. You have to involve your audience, or create one.

I know you have the best products and services. I understand your company newsletter is exciting. But really? Why is yours different than that of every competitor or company doing the same thing?

Search engines like to rank content people share and link to. Succeed with that and eventually you can build enough authority, not only to rank your popular content, but to make less exciting pages, like products and services, rank as well.

Outbound Links

Ensure links do not point to bad neighborhoods.

Refrain from gratuitous use of keywords in anchor text. If a reasonable reader would find the anchor text useful or natural, then it is probably fine. Otherwise, rewrite the link text to correct this.

Unblock External CSS & Javascript

Google advises webmasters to unblock external CSS and Javascript that impacts the rendering of your page. Search engines want to understand how a page will look and behave, both on the desktop and on different advices. Blocking CSS and Javascript hinders search engines and may negatively impact rankings.

How I Wrote My WordPress Contact Form

I enjoy coding up scripts and tools. Today I added a contact form to this site. To make it I wrote it up in PHP.

I use the Allow PHP in Posts and Pages plugin, which lets me execute PHP inside WordPress. You can read more about it on the HitReach site.

The form itself is simple and the PHP mail script is pretty standard. I wrote my own security feature to prevent bots from spamming my mail. You could use a captcha plugin, but I wanted to write my own. The security code generates a random number between 1 and 10 and displays it in the form right before the submit button. As a user you must enter any two numbers that add-up to the displayed number. While it’s not sophisticated, this is a format few spambots know how to crack, so it is very effective.

Here is my code. If you use this remember to replace <?PHP with [PHP] and ?> with [/PHP].

<?PHP
//Checks if the mail form was used.
if(isset($_POST['email'])){
//Checks if the security numbers add-up.
if($_POST['numb1'] + $_POST['numb2'] == $_POST['numb3']){

//Shows the thank you message.
echo "<div style='margin:50 10 50 10'><h2>Thank you.<br />We'll be in touch shortly.</h2></div>";

//Writes and sends the mail message
$to = 'mail@address1.com, mail@address2.com';
$subject = 'You have an inquiry!';
$message = $_POST['email'] . "\r\n" . $_POST['person'] . "\r\n" . $_POST['website'] . "\r\n" . $_POST['message'] ;
$headers =
'From: mail@address1.com' . '\r\n' .
'Reply-To: mail@address1.com' . '\r\n' .
'CC: mail@address2.com' . '\r\n' .
'X-Mailer: PHP/' . phpversion();
mail($to, $subject, $message, $headers);
}
//If the security numbers do not add-up, says sorry.
else { echo "I'm sorry. " . $_POST['numb1'] . " + " . $_POST['numb2'] . " does not equal " . $_POST['numb3'] . ".";}
}
?>

<! -- The HTML form starts here --/>
<form action="http://schmitzmarketing.com/contact" method="post">
<span>Your email...</span><br />
<input required type="text" name="email" />
<br />
<span>Your name...</span><br />
<input required type="text" name="person" />
<br />
<span>Your website address...</span><br />
<input required type="textbox" name="website" />
<br />
<span>How can I help?</span><br />
<textarea name="message" rows="10"></textarea>
<br />
<div style="width:75%;margin:0 0 0 0;float:right;">
<span>A quick test to see if you're human...</span><br />
<! -- Here is the security part of the form. It uses PHP to generate a random number. -- />
<input required type="text" name="numb1" maxlength="4" style="width:150px;" /> + <input required type="text" name="numb2" maxlength="4" style="width:150px;" /> = <?PHP $numb3 = rand(2,10);echo $numb3 . "<input type='hidden' name='numb3' value='" . $numb3 . "' />"; ?>
<br />
<input style="letter-spacing:2px;" type="submit" name="submitted" value="Get in touch..." />
</div>
</form>

SEO as a Practice

Occasionally I write or say things that vex some SEO colleagues. Recently I said UX (user experience) is not a big ranking factor and shouldn’t get lumped in as SEO. Sacrilege? I don’t think so. An admonishment on other SEO practitioners? Not at all. And as you’ll see, in the end we usually make the same or similar recommendations even if it’s for different reasons.

There’s SEO and There’s Not SEO: It’s All SEO

t-shaped-seo

In the diagram above I say that SEO includes anything that improves nonpaid visibility and traffic in the search engines. I think we can all agree on that. SEO as a discipline has a lot of depth. You must understand the ranking factors and how to optimize for them. You need to identify and target keywords. You have to register local businesses and add machine-readable markup into shopping carts. Optimize title tags and write attractive meta descriptions. The list goes on. Depth.

There is breadth. UX and design, copywriting, social media, analytics and more. These are all part of search engine optimization too, important parts. They are also deep topics in their own right. Being an expert in SEO does not make me an expert in UX or conversion optimization. I can tell right away whether your HTML is optimized for SEO and I can train your web developer. That does not mean I am an expert web developer or that I should rewrite your code. Likewise, a coder who knows how to make HTML search engine friendly or copywriter who knows how to include keywords; these are not SEO experts.

An individual (and most digital agencies for that matter) can be expert at more than one deep discipline. None can be expert at all. The true SEO authority practices the depths of SEO and informs and influences the breadth of Internet marketing.

Things That Influence Ranking Factors are Not Ranking Factors

As an agency or consultancy it makes sense to bundle deep SEO skills and services that impact SEO for marketing and sales purposes. As a practitioner one needs to know the difference. Setting unknowns and secret sauce aside, from an SEO theory perspective, either it’s a ranking factor or it isn’t.

Pogo sticking may be a ranking factor. When search engines see people bounce from certain result placements they can use the information to improve their SERPs. I know user experience, something Google obsesses over, influences bounce rate. But does that make UX a ranking factor? In this example, the ranking factor is still bounce rate.

I will concede when enough elements in a deep discipline are ranking factors or impact multiple ranking factors, then we might as well talk as if that discipline is a part of SEO. Such is the case with content marketing and, perhaps, social media.

But in general, one or two truths ought not be used to categorize an entire discipline as belonging to search engine optimization.

Why is this important for the practice of SEO? When we isolate the ranking factors we can create objective hypothesis and test solutions.

In the case of bounce rate, the issue may be UX or design or content or copy. Anyone might fix the obvious. For the rest, the correct method is to create hypothesis and test, even when applying best practices. In this example I may think the copy is to blame, but if I rewrite it without testing how am I to know? Perhaps adding a couple stunning images will solve the problem?

As an aside, you don’t have to test everything. Practitioners do plenty of things without testing. Different businesses test different things based on activity and budget. Use knowledge and experience to make sound judgments.

Customize SEO; Every Site is Different

Early on in most SEO engagements, after completing the audit, I rewrite and optimize title tags and meta descriptions. I organize h# tags and add image alt attributes.

But why?

Are these best practices? Are they low hanging fruit? Easy to implement? A way to gain a new client’s trust before moving making more aggressive recommendations?

Why work in a certain order?

Beside the obvious question of why would you want a client that does not trust you, any SEO work should be prioritized for three reasons:

Venn Diagram: Impact, Ability & Willingness

  1. The impact it will have on visibility and traffic
  2. Your ability to implement the recommendations
  3. The client’s willingness to implement the recommendations

Impact

Imagine throwing all of your recommendations onto a SCRUM board then deciding which tasks to complete during the next sprint.

  • If your client is an established brand with inbound link authority you may decide rewriting title tags is the best way to go.
  • If the brand lacks enough authority to compete you may decide that getting content marketing and social media moving is more important.

You will still do both tasks, perhaps even within the same sprint. The roadmap is the same. The priorities are optimized.

Ability

You can’t go out and get influencer links on a whim without building up to it first. You cannot create new graphic elements without a designer.

No matter how impactful an SEO task will be, you must be able to do it before adding it into a project sprint.

Willingness

Both you, as the SEO or agency, and the client must be willing to implement a recommendation. There may be good reasons to not add a task to the sprint board. You may not have the necessary time, talent and budget.  Perhaps it’s high-risk or conflicts with business objectives?

You Don’t Have to String It Out

An SEO consultant cannot focus only on the most important thing. There is always less time available than work to do. Usually within a project sprint you will have one or two major tasks then fill-out the rest of your available time with smaller ones.

Being a businessperson you want to retain good clients you enjoy working with. This does not mean you should string out important tasks in serial or even work equally hard over the long-term. As you get past the most difficult projects and tasks, and gain momentum, it should get easier. That’s the flywheel effect. And your momentum; that will bring new projects within reach. Again, it’s the ability circle on our Venn diagram.

Discipline vs. Practice

As a discipline we possess a large body of knowledge to apply to SEO. But in the end the practice of search engine optimization is a craft. Like an artists or carpenter, skill and success comes from both knowledge and experience. That’s why we call it a practice.

Oh, and the UX thing? Yes, Google uses page speed, ad placement and some other user experience signals as ranking factors. And yes, Moz includes User Experience and Usability as a chapter in their beginner’s SEO guide. But even Moz calls it a “second order” influence.

Usability and user experience are “second order” influences on search engine ranking success. They provide an indirect, but measurable benefit to a site’s external popularity, which the engines can then interpret as a signal of higher quality. This is called the “no one likes to link to a crummy site” phenomenon.

Also,

Web pages do not exist in a vacuum – real human beings interact with them. Search engines use data to “observe” how people engage with web pages, and this gives them incredible insight as to the quality of the pages themselves.

So while UX is important to SEO, for the most part it’s the quantifiable visitor engagement data is what actually influences the algorithm.

And you can be sure I’ll make user experience recommendations, especially if your mobile site isn’t in order.