Gnome Likes: Unicorn Linkbait, Update Hysteria & International SEO

Before I dive into the exciting week that was in Internet marketing, I have a quick story to share with you.

Last Monday, I realized that Bill Slawski (founder of SEO by the Sea and one of my favorite people in SEO) is doing a weekly SEO recap on the WebiMax Blog.

Being the upstanding netizen that I am, I reached out to him on Twitter to express my support. And here’s a quick transcript of the conversation that ensued:

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen! It’s Slawski vs. Webb… in a battle for SEO recap bragging rights!!!

Exclamation points aside, I genuinely respect Bill’s work, and I’d love to see both of our recaps succeed. Having said that, THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE!!!!

And on that note, let’s look at a few of my favorite posts from the past week…

Unicorn Meat and Monster Feet. 9 Exceptional Examples of Linkbait Products

Without question, this post wins my coveted “Best Title” award. I mean honestly, how can you go wrong with unicorn meat and monster feet?!

In the post, Mark Porter gives 9 examples of products that have attracted a significant number of links (and generated an impressive amount of social engagement).

I encourage you to read the full post for all of the linkbait examples, but here’s my favorite:

Unicorn Meat

That’s right: canned unicorn meat! This hilarious product has attracted more than 500 linking root domains and generated close to 20K Facebook shares and 1500 Twitter tweets. That is linkbait at its finest.

Google’s Cutts: The Next Penguin Update Will Be Big

Every week, it seems like there’s a new SEO-related controversy brewing, and unfortunately, this week was no exception.

On Wednesday, Matt Cutts was the keynote speaker at SES San Francisco. During the keynote, he answered questions from the audience, and when asked about an upcoming Penguin update, he gave this response:

You don’t want the next Penguin update… [the Google] engineers have been working hard.

He also predicted that the next wave of updates would be “jarring and jolting” for webmasters. As you can imagine, this caused the SEO community to erupt (as is often the case when Matt speaks publicly), and the interwebs were quickly filled with FUD about upcoming updates.

Matt has subsequently clarified his comments, basically comparing the current version of the Penguin update to the early days of the Panda update. The bottom line is that it will take time before the Penguin update becomes as consistent as the Panda update.

In the meantime, expect a certain degree of SERP chaos as Google irons out the bugs.

For even more information about Google’s latest updates, check out Everything We Know About The Penguin Update and Demystifying Google’s June & July Algorithm Changes.

Writing Email Subject Lines: 6 Ways to Improve Your Open Rate

One of the oldest and most pervasive forms of Internet marketing is email marketing. And one of the most important performance metrics for email marketing is the open rate because if no one opens your emails, you might as well not even send them.

In this post, Joanna Wiebe presents 6 ways to help you improve your open rate and convince people to actually read your emails:

  1. Get Permission – Clean Lists Are Worth the Work – An easy way to improve your open rate is to ensure that your list is full of people that actually WANT to receive emails from you.
  2. Only Send Emails Where There Is More Value for the Recipient Than for You – People only want to read your emails if they offer value (i.e., they genuinely help the reader).
  3. Use Words the “Lizard Brain” Hears – Your subject lines need to tap into your audience’s primal instincts and connect with them on an emotional level.
  4. Make Sure They’re Expecting Your Email – Sending your emails on a regular schedule helps promote consistency and trust.
  5. Remind Them That They Know + Trust You – Write your subjects so that they feel more personal (e.g., “You signed up 2 weeks ago — how’s it going?”).
  6. Keep It Short and Casual, Like a Friend’s Subject Line – Look at the emails you receive (and open). Try to make your emails follow a similar format.

An International SEO Implementation Tale – Sitemaps: rel=”alternate” hreflang=”x”

This is one of the shorter posts in this week’s recap, but it is also one of the most valuable. Before I describe its contribution, allow me to describe a problem.

Let’s assume you own a large ecommerce site that operates in numerous geographic locations (e.g., US, UK, NZ, etc.) and uses a different top level domain (TLD) for each location. Ideally, you’d like the correct TLD to appear in the search engine results, depending on the geographic location of the searcher (as opposed to the same TLD appearing for all searchers, regardless of their location).

But how do you accomplish this?

The answer to that question is the basis of this post by Pete Handley. First, Pete describes a way to handle the aforementioned scenario using rel=”alternate” hreflang=”x” tags in the head section of various pages. However, this approach requires a lot of work and a significant development effort.

Next, Pete provides a far more elegant solution: an XML Sitemap that uses rel=”alternate” hreflang=”x” elements. Using this approach, all of the appropriate mappings are abstracted into the Sitemap, which avoids the massive modifications required in the previous technique.

For more information about this XML Sitemap-based solution, consult the full post or Google’s documentation on the subject.

8 Link Building Tips – Whiteboard Friday

In this week’s edition of Whiteboard Friday, Paddy Moogan offers 8 excellent link building tips… in only 5 minutes! Do yourself a favor, and watch this video:

Now It’s Your Turn!

I hope you enjoyed this week’s recap, and I’d love to hear from you in the comments. What were some of your favorite posts this week?


steve
About The Author:  is an SEO audit specialist at Web Gnomes. He received his Ph.D. from Georgia Tech, where he published dozens of articles on Internet-related topics. Professionally, Steve has worked for Google and various other Internet startups, and he's passionate about sharing his knowledge and experiences with others. You can find him on Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn.


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4 Responses to “Gnome Likes: Unicorn Linkbait, Update Hysteria & International SEO”

  1. Mark August 18, 2012 at 2:33 pm #

    Thanks for the shout out Steve! Really glad you enjoyed the article.

    Nice roundup, it certainly has been a busy week with plenty of content and announcements, I bet it was tough picking your fav pieces ;)

    • steve August 18, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

      It was my pleasure, Mark. I really liked your examples :-)

      I have a hard time picking favorites every week, but now that Bill and I are “competing,” I have some extra incentive ;-)

  2. Bill Slawski August 18, 2012 at 4:14 pm #

    Nice start, Steve. I’m going to have to up my game.

    You included a couple of posts that were favorites of mine this past week – especially the one on hreflang which is proving to be really useful, and it was nice to see an actual case study from someone on it.

    • steve August 18, 2012 at 4:25 pm #

      Thanks Bill! And don’t up your game too much… I’m still playing catch-up :-)

      The Sitemap hreflang post was definitely one of my favorites. Your rank-modifying post was another favorite, but I didn’t want to bias the competition ;-)

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