The Most Common Business Blogging and SEO Mistake in the World

by Marcus Sheridan

Over the past week, because of my guest post on Social Media Examiner and due to the increased traffic here on The Sales Lion, I’ve had the opportunity to look at 28 business blogs that are doing their best to embrace this thing we call Content Marketing.

Yet out of these 28, I’d say 26 are making the same mistake again and again and again. In fact, because I keep writing the same diagnosis to business owners I figured I should start using my brain and simply write a post on the subject….Hence, an unexpected blog article on a Saturday afternoon.

It All Comes Down to Goals

But let me just cut to the chase by making this critical statement, one I earnestly hope you will take to heart for your business’ blog from today forward:

If you don’t have a keyword phrase goal for every blog post you ever write, you’re missing the boat.

In other words, if I looked at your company’s last 10 blog posts, from the title of the post alone could I clearly tell what your target keyword goal was for that post??

Yep, that’s the magical question, the one that 26 out of 28 blogs this past week clearly cannot answer.

People constantly send me emails wondering why they are getting little traffic with their blog posts. Usually, within seconds of looking at their writings, the problems jump off the page.

The Problem with Terrible Post Titles

Although there are some core SEO problems that most folks suffer from, terrible post titles takes the cake again and again and again.

There is a little debate as to whether or not blog titles should be more ‘witty’ (written to attract readers) or more ‘SEO oriented’ (written to attract the search engines).

I submit that it’s usually possible to achieve both, but for over 99% of all blogs in this world that have very few subsribers, SEO in the title should be the first priority. The reason for this is simple—SEO is the gift that keeps on giving. When you rank on the first page of Google for a particular keyword phrase, the new business and customers that can come from that one post can literally last for years to come. (I’ve experienced this many,many times.)

This is why most folks need to quit with the witty titles that make no SEO sense and start enriching said titles with a keyword phrase, preferably one of the long-tail.

For example, here is a really dumb blog title:

The Big Secret Your Pool Guy is Not Telling You

(As you might imagine, no one is typing in Google the keyword phrase “big secrets from pool guys”.

Now take the same blog post, and change the title to:

The Most Egregious Fiberglass Pool Warranty I’ve Ever Seen

The second title is not only keyword rich (fiberglass pool warranty), but it’s very attractive to readers as well. (It also ranks on the first page of Google for the phrase, as it’s an article on my swimming pool site.)

Real Life Examples: Can You Guess the Keyword Goals?

Let me show you some real life examples of what I’m talking about here. Although I don’t always write titles for SEO here on The Sales Lion, many do have a keyword goal. With my swimming pool company, EVERY article has a keyword goal. (Remember** Because I have so many subscribers here on TSL and it’s more of a ‘social’ niche, I can have more of a mix. With swimming pools not being a ‘social’ niche, it’s all about the SEO). I’m going to show you a blog post, and see if you can guess what the targeted keyword phrases were with each (before I tell you the answer below each image).

Keyword Goals: ‘Hubspot Reviews’ (#3 on Google Currently), ‘Hubspot Customer Reviews’ (#5 Google Currently)

Keyword Goals: ‘Blog Headers’ (#3 on Google Currently) ‘Best Blog Headers’ (#3 Google) ‘Blog Headers Designs’ (#2 Google)

video marketing tips

Keyword Goals: ‘Small Business Video Marketing Tips’ (Currently #1 on Google)

Keyword Goals: ‘Fiberglass Swimming Pool Problems’ (#1 Google), ‘Fiberglass Pool Problems’ (#1 Google)

Keyword Goals: ‘Inbound Pool Cost’ (#3  Google), ‘Above Ground Pool Cost’ (#3 Google), ‘How much do Inground Pools Cost?’ (#1 Google), ‘How much do above ground pools cost?’ (#1 Google)

State Your Keyword Goals and Watch the Results Follow

Hopefully, as you looked at each one of these blog titles, the keyword goal(s) of each became immediately obvious. This is exactly how it should be for your company blog. Remember, the key is that you always have a clear goal. Once you establish this one little habit, you’ll notice your organic search visit traffic will start to go up and you’ll rank for more and more keywords with each post.

Your Turn

How do you decide on your blog post titles? Is SEO something you think about and do you have a keyword goal(s) for each article? And if you’re not getting much traction with your blog and its SEO, just write down the url in the comments below and I’ll be happy to respond with a few suggestions in my reply.

Note****Most companies and bloggers don’t share articles like this one because it ‘gives away their secrets’. Frankly, I find this ridiculous. The fact that I’ve been so open about every success strategy I’ve ever had is likely the #1 reason folks trust me to guide their business when it comes to creating content for SEO, branding, and sales.

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{ 107 comments… read them below or add one }

John Garrett December 3, 2011 at

Man, I am so guilty of this.

Not necessarily trying to be witty with the post title, but being lazy with it.

I mean, after you’ve written a thousand words you should be able to come up with a decent title. Or actually you should have that title down with the keyword goal before you even start writing, correct?

A little keyword research up front could pay off big time down the road…

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Marcus Sheridan December 3, 2011 at

Yeah, isn’t that interesting John? We put so much time in a post and then let it fall short of its potential simply because we didn’t put the mental energy into the post title.

Appreciate you bringing this up buddy and hope that your weekend is a great one. :)

Marcus

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Carmen Sognonvi December 3, 2011 at

Hey John I really think you hit the nail on the head here. I used to wait till after I had created my videos to come up with a headline, but nowadays I’m starting with the headline.

I find that when I decide on a keyword goal from the beginning, it makes my video/post much more focused, plus I find natural places to use the keyword in the video/post itself.

Marcus, thanks for this great tip!

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Henri December 3, 2011 at

I’m guilty of not optimizing my blog titles, even though before my blog, I built up my online business almost entirely on SEO, so it may be time for me to start incorporating more of this.

I see a lot of bloggers (not only business) throw SEO to the wayside, because they think it’s for robots, but what they forget is that behind the search engines are people looking for solutions to their problems.

Great post, and a great reminder ;)

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Marcus Sheridan December 3, 2011 at

Henri, great to see you again man. Yeah, it’s a tough balance sometimes. Take someone like yourself, with thousands of subscribers to Wakeup Cloud, sometimes ‘catchy’ is good. But, it’s tough to build long term traffic with just ‘catchy’. Google wants more, and I think the great ones in this field manage to please both sides— the man and the machine.

Thanks again for dropping in bud,

Marcus

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Matthew Hooper December 3, 2011 at

It is hard to target certain phrases with blog posts but I couldn’t agree more with what you said, “If you don’t have a keyword phrase goal for every blog post you ever write, you’re missing the boat.”

The hard part is doing the research. One of the important things to remember is making sure that you are targeting a phrase people are actually searching for AND that is relevant to your message. The research phase can take just as long (or longer) than the writing phase.

Great post!

- Matt

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Marcus Sheridan December 3, 2011 at

That’s true Matt, it’s very important to identify the phrases, which is also why I’m such a proponent of using the questions asked by consumers as the foundation of one’s blog. I think if we’re great listeners, and we truly ‘hear’ every question posed to us by a prospect or customer, then we are going to have unlimited long tails to produce content about.

But thanks so much for stopping by on a Saturday Matt to leave this comment, I can tell this is a subject you’re passionate about.

Come back again soon,

Marcus

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Matthew Hooper December 3, 2011 at

You’re right about the listening part. I find that I use my site almost like an FAQ. Whenever I notice that I am answering the same questions more than a few times, I end up writing about it.

…wait …what? It’s Saturday? ;-)

- Matt

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Martin December 3, 2011 at

Great tips here Marcus. Im on course to learning a bit on SEO and how to make the most out of it. And I leave here with one thing atleast, POST TITLE= Include Keyword goal . Plus I think it helps because a keyword is basically a potential search query so its a win win , you answer the query and you get traffic.
Martinsays:Thanks

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Marcus Sheridan December 3, 2011 at

Martin, that’s great man. Honestly, that’s the only thing I wanted people to remember from this post. I could have easily talked about many other SEO factors, but I want to correct the biggest problem I see before we start into all the other more technical stuff.

Thanks so much for the comment Martin and I hope your weekend is a great one.

Marcus

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paul wolfe December 3, 2011 at

Marcus

What you’re saying here is so true – and not just for posts. If you make videos and post them on YouTube then you absolutely have to create a title for your video that has a keyword goal – and attracts your target audience.

There’s also another layer that follows from this – whenever people link to any of your posts they will often use the title. The Google algorithm not only weights you positively for every link scored, but also for what’s known as the ‘anchor’ text. And obviously the title of your post makes good anchor text if it’s keyword rich.

Cross linking on your blog or website also helps as Google counts internal links too.

One SEO tip I used on my bass guitar website that worked really well – I renamed my ‘home’ page as How To Play Bass (my main keyword). And I have an anchor text link back to the homepage from every page of my website. (So at the moment we’re talking 300 keyword specific links – overnight that lifted me from Page 2 of Google to Page 1. Every time I add a page….there’s another link….and so on.)

Keep rocking bro.

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Marcus Sheridan December 3, 2011 at

Paul, all really, really good points, and I like a lot about what you said with respect to anchor text and how all of that plays into this. Also, what you did with your homepage was really, really interesting. Well played on that one sir. ;-)

Have a great rest of your weekend my friend.

Marcus

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Tom Treanor December 3, 2011 at

Marcus, I love it. I used to be better about focusing first on SEO, second on title “interest”. As I’ve become more active sharing on Social Media I’ve started to skew more toward titles that grab people. I think you’re right that the holy grail is to have the target keywords (as early as possible) in the title and also make it compelling.

My “Myth of Easy” post got great traction via social media with just that title. I realized though that the title was short and “not” sweet. So I actually added “Why you don’t want easy online marketing.” I guess I’m going to get all the people who want “easy marketing” and I’ll have to be the one to deliver the bad news!

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Marcus Sheridan December 3, 2011 at

Hey Tom, you’ve brought up a really great point. Sometimes, if we’re not careful, we’ll sacrifice over the long haul (SEO) in order to please our connections (social media).

BTW, ‘easy online marketing’ is a nice target keyword phrase, and I’m sure will prove more fruitful than the first title.

Thanks for chiming in on this one bud, it’s an important subject for all of us.

Marcus

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Cheryl Pickett December 3, 2011 at

There is definitely debate about this one. There are people who do teach to write for people first, meaning the clever/creative and I understand their point of view as well as yours.

But I think your best point here (and one that I don’t think I’ve read before) is that it is based on how your audience comes to you, whether it’s more social or search based.

Honestly, I’d be more attracted to the “secrets of the pool guy” title if I were reading, but you’re right in that I would not find it by searching for that. It would also depend on if I got to the site looking for a particular piece of information, which is where the keyword driven benefit would certainly be the case, or if I got there some other way and was poking around just getting a sense of things. I think a balance is definitely a good thing for most.

I also know I need to add more keyword to mine so I’m on the list of the guilty in this post for sure :-). Thanks as always for the helpful tip.

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Marcus Sheridan December 3, 2011 at

There is debate, yes Cheryl. My firm belief, at least for the non-social niches, is that we should write titles and meta descriptions with the search engines in mind, then the content of the article with the reader in mind. For me, everything I write has the goal of helping me over the long haul, not the short. That is why I’d rather have a post get 100,000 views over the course of 1 year, versus a post that gets 25,000 its first week, then 10,000 the rest of the year. Make sense?

Good luck with refining your post titles Cheryl, it will make a big difference over the long haul,

Marcus

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Tony Sunzeri December 3, 2011 at

Sup Marcus? Great post. Implementing this tactic on day one at my new sales and marketing job Monday. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I see you playing offense as opposed to defense. Blogging transparently is not pushing, but contextualizing topics. It is not designed to close the deal today, but is building lifetime value. Thanks for this common sensical approach. Why do I make it so complicated, when it’s not???

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Marcus Sheridan December 3, 2011 at

Really loved this comment Tony, because it hits the nail on the head. Clearly, we make SEO and blogging out to be much harder than what it is. And yes, the content starts the conversation, that’s all it does. Then, the longer the conversation goes, the more chance of getting a date. ;-)

Good to see you bud,

Marcus

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Mike Holman December 3, 2011 at

Couldn’t agree more about how important titles are. Search engines read them and they are the first thing potential clients see when they see your article in the search engine results page.

Bottom line is that you should use the title to describe exactly what the post is about. That should get the main keywords into the title.

Any humor, subtleties, inside jokes etc should be left for the article itself because search engines won’t get the joke. :)

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Marcus Sheridan December 6, 2011 at

Right on Mike! Completely with your approach here bud and I’m grateful you stopped by to share,

Marcus

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Rebecca Livermore December 3, 2011 at

Excellent post, as usual, Marcus.

I had to make this adjustment when I transitioned from writing for print magazines to writing for the web. I’ll admit that it was really fun to come up with witty titles for magazine articles, but now that I’ve transitioned to writing web content almost exclusively, if I have to choose between being witty and being found, I’ll opt for being found.

Of course, there is still plenty of room left for wit in the body of our blog posts, as long as our posts have plenty of substance as well.

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Marcus Sheridan December 6, 2011 at

Yeah Rebecca, I bet that was a major change- going from writing ‘hook-em’ headlines to dumming it down enough for the search engines to fall in love with it. :-)

And yes, we can do some amazing stuff in the body of our blogs!

Thanks again Rebecca,

Marcus

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Raj December 4, 2011 at

I do target keywords in the title, but sometimes those keywords are heavily contested. In such cases, I guess its better to target a smaller/ narrow niche keyword in order to see effective results. What would your suggestion be on the keyword strategy for topics that have huge competition?

Attractive and interesting title names have a higher click through ratio – This is increasingly becoming an important part of search engine ranking.

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Marcus Sheridan December 6, 2011 at

Nice points Raj, and I appreciate you asking the question as well.

As you mentioned, the longer the phrase, the less competitive, so those are the ones I go after. In fact, I think if content producers are titling their posts as if they were questions posed by a customer, that’s the best method and tool out there.

Best,

Marcus

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lindsay May 26, 2013 at

there is still one question lingerin in my mind. if you are a local business do these blogs get sent to everyone out there? therefore disqualifying them as local prospects? do you seo your titles for the city you work in? cause your pool business was local.

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hypnodude December 4, 2011 at

Marcus you are 100 percent right. While the traffic to my website is zero compared to great sites like yours I have to admit that putting the main keyword on the title of the post really makes the difference and sometimes gets me not only on the first page of Google but at times as the first result, try searching for Undercover Hypnosis :). And this even if I have a small website which gets slapped any time there is an update in their algorithm, which I usually recover in a week. I don’t have viral results but using this techniques, and writing decent content, allows me to increase traffic week by week.

If there is one Seo technique to use this is certainly the one, great post.

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Jens P. Berget December 4, 2011 at

Hi Marcus,

I discovered that I was doing this mistake a while ago. My blog has a mix, because it’s also a social part of what I’m doing, and not just about business. But after I started thinking about SEO, what I’ve done is to buy and install seopressor (plugin) to write better content for search engines, and I’ve started using Clicky instead of google analytics, in order to get a better overview of what’s happening. These two steps have helped a lot.

What services/products are you using for SEO?

Awesome post Marcus.

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Marcus Sheridan December 6, 2011 at

Hey Jens, great comment man. I hadn’t heard of SEOpressor, but I too am using Clicky pro version.

As for my SEO, I mainly use Hubspot. It has a plethora of SEO tools and in my opinion it’s one of Hubspot’s strongest assets.

Thanks so much for dropping by bud,

Marcus

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Josh Sarz December 4, 2011 at

Extremely helpful post here, mane man. I believe I’m making this mistake on some if not a lot of my blog posts at sagoyism. I’m going to take this advice to heart and work on the tiles of my future posts, guest posts, etc.

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Marcus Sheridan December 6, 2011 at

Sounds good Josh, it may take a little time to find the right balance, but I’m sure you will. Keep working hard my friend. :-)

Marcus

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Danny Brown December 4, 2011 at

Keywords and SEO are definitely key for business blogs, as long as they’re done right. Crappy robotic SEO is more galling to me as a reader than no SEO optimization. Depends on goals too – for my own blog, I don’t bother too much with SEO, yet for the For Bloggers By Bloggers resource site, we’re more aware of targeting readers and engines. Cheers!

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Marcus Sheridan December 4, 2011 at

I agree robotic SEO can be a killer Danny. My feeling is we write titles (in most cases) for the search engines and we write the article for the people. By so doing, both parties get what they want, and the opportunity for more visitors goes way up.

And a great example for with Bloggers by Bloggers. I could tell weeks ago when it started that there were some clear SEO goals for many of the posts based on the titles alone, and I’m sure that’s made a huge difference in your overall traffic.

Thanks for dropping by DB,

Marcus

Marcus

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Margaret Adams December 4, 2011 at

It’s not that we don’t know intellectually what to do. It’s the application that matters. That’s why your examples are so helpful.

Thank you for the insights.

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Marcus Sheridan December 4, 2011 at

You’re so kind to say that Margaret….and yes, it’s the application that takes the cakes.

Thanks so much for stopping by,

Marcus

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Ryan Hanley December 4, 2011 at

SEO in titles was a big problem for me… I thought I was being so witty with the way I titled my posts but then when I would look at my Search Traffic what I thought were my most boring Titles “When to Drop Collision Coverage” and “Sump Pump Failure” were getting the most Search Traffic by Far… not even close actually.

I have since started to remedy this problem… Marcus I love that you give this information away for free. I agree that for business blogs SEO titles are the most important because consumers are looking for less personality and more information… Not that personality isn’t important but the Goal is to get found.

Most people don’t google search for Witty blog titles…

Thanks dude!

Ryan H.

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Marcus Sheridan December 4, 2011 at

Most people don’t google search for Witty blog titles…

And that, my friend, sums it all up perfectly. It ain’t about wit, it’s about getting eyeballs reading your stuff. Good SEO does just that.

Hope you have a great week brother,

Marcus

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Steve@Affiliate Marketing Tips December 4, 2011 at

Marcus,

You are absolutely right about this (of course). While doing SEO in your articles can be an afterthought and come second to writing a kick-ass article, it you need to think about it in the title.

I would say that if you have a specifically catchy title that is not SEO optimized (but really good otherwise) you can still get away with it if you ensure your “slug” is keyword rich. (for anyone who doesn’t know…the slug is the actual words in the URL)

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Marcus Sheridan December 4, 2011 at

Nice point Steve. When I was writing about it, I thought about delving into meta descriptions, slugs, and a few other SEO related items, but elected instead to stick with a keep it simple approach for blog titles.

But absolutely, slugs make a huge difference and can make up for a poor title at times.

Great to see you Steve!

Marcus

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Sarah Arrow December 4, 2011 at

Hi Marcus, there is a way around this as the SEO friendly titles are not the ones that will catch your eye on Twitter or another social media channels. The way to do this is the have the witty fun headline in your post where you usually keep it. In the SEO settings of your theme (usually Genesis / Thesis have this built in) add your SEO friendly title and a reader friendly meta description. Using this method means you have the best of both worlds.

Other people suggest changing the headline after it has been sent via your RSS feeds but I find the two headline method works really well and speaks to the social potential customers / second customers as well as enabling you to be found more efficiently. Try it and tell me what you think.

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Marcus Sheridan December 4, 2011 at

Sarah, this is a really interesting point and honestly I’m kind of understanding what you’re saying, but the part that confuses me is where you talk about ‘SEO settings’. I’m using Thesis, so is that the specific phrase, because I haven’t used it before to ‘please both sides’? Have you considered do a video post on this maybe? That’d be sweet!

Thanks so much for the comment Sarah,

Marcus

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Keith December 4, 2011 at

Marcus, if you have some time out of your busy schedule, I’d love if you could give me some constructive criticisms for our low traffic business blog:
http://www.laserpainsolution.ca/blog

Been reading your blog posts for several months now and you always manage to teach me a thing or two about how to improve our business blogging.

Thx Marcus!

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Marcus Sheridan December 4, 2011 at

First of all, thanks so much for the kind words Keith, that means a lot to me.

I’m going to check out your blog on Monday and come back with anther reply.

Thanks again,

Marcus

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Ameena Falchetto December 4, 2011 at

Thanks so much for this Marcus. It’s an important reminder!

I stumbled across this purely by accident with my other site – I would use a question as a title and answer it – then as time went on I realised how my organic traffic was increasing dramatically.

I’ve decided to go back and redo the titles on some of my posts where I sacrificed keywords for clever titles …

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Marcus Sheridan December 4, 2011 at

Nice observation Ameena, questions are an essential element of SEO, and sadly overlooked by most, yet they are exactly what the customer is looking for.

The fact that you’re going to go back and rework a few post titles makes a whole lot of sense (and if you need any help, let me know)

Talk soon,

Marcus

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Adam Clarke December 4, 2011 at

When I first started out online I started knowing that people ask questions and search for things in unique ways though information is going to be returned differently depending on how a person looks for it. So naturally there may be content with all the answers someone is looking for but it may have a catchy human directed title like you gave in your example that unfortunately may not be found by those looking for [fiberglass pool warenty] even though it may be of interest to them. This is a very important idea for creating great content that will get better visibility.

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Marcus Sheridan December 6, 2011 at

Thanks for that Adam, appreciate comment bud and keep up the great work with you Titles. I did notice they had a pretty clear keyword phrase goal with each.

Marcus

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Greg Minnick December 4, 2011 at

I’m still new to keywords and struggling with how blogging works. This has my vote for the best article you’ve written in a while, Marcus.

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Marcus Sheridan December 4, 2011 at

Greg, so glad to hear that bud. In fact, I think I’ll be writing more and more ‘common sense SEO’ articles as time progresses. Thanks for all my friend, and talk to you soon.

Marcus

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Geoff December 5, 2011 at

Hey Marcus, I’ll admit, I’m very guilty of not properly including keywords in my post titles and I need to get better. I tend to lean more towards a catchy phrase (or dare I say linkbait). But I like your “egregious pool” example, and I think I’ll try to incorporate my keywords more in the future.

In fact, more often than not I work on titling a post after I write it….perhaps I should try to title the post first so that my SEO (and keyword repitition) can sync up better? Do you normally title first, write second or the other way around?

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Marcus Sheridan December 6, 2011 at

Hey Geoff, great to see you bud and really appreciate the question.

To be honest, sometime I do the title first. Sometimes I have an idea, and end up writing the post first, then the title. Frankly, I guess it’s about 50/50.

I guess my point is that as long as you pay attention to it, and really make sure you have a keyword goal, you’ll be in great shape and the blog will start to pick up.

Good luck Geoff, and I hope you’ll come back again.

Marcus

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Jason Mulholland December 5, 2011 at

Marcus,
Great post and insight. I am 100% guilty as charged, and working to remedy this over the holidays. Our company has been blogging for a few months, and I’ll admit, no traffic to speak of. I started our blog on Tumblr because I heard it was an easy platform to get started on…but I haven’t been all that pleased so far. Thinking of switching to Word Press. We were going to host on our website, as I know it is better for SEO, but the cost for doing so was outrageous just to get started.

Our blog is http://www.metrohsnblog.tumblr.com. I would appreciate some contructive feedback.

I just became a fan and reader of your content since the SM Examiner post – loved it. Thanks for all your contributions!

Jason

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Marcus Sheridan December 6, 2011 at

Jason I can tell you right off hand that self hosting with wordpress is the way to go. And honestly, it shouldn’t be that expensive in most cases. There is just so much you can do with WP, so many plugins, so many opportunities etc.

Regarding your site, I just took a look, and you’re right. The titles are often times seriously falling short. For example, you should clearly change the post: “Hmmm, How Am I Gonna Ride That Tractor”.

On the other hand, the post “Benefits of a 1099 Therapist are Many” had an OK title, but it more seemed the title should have been “What are the differences are between a 1099 contractor and a W-2 employee?” –btw, that would make for a nice long tail phrase, posed as a ‘vs’ question, which is a great way to go about with your content.

Hope this helps a little Jason, make sure you’ve downloaded the eBook here as well because I think that will help quite a bit.

Best!

Marcus

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Bethany December 5, 2011 at

Hi Marcus

I think a lot of bloggers add the page title as one of the last things they do. I’ve been using the keyword tool Keyword Sniper Pro to good effect, it allows me to see monthly search volumes and competing pages for a keyword phrase at a glance. Once I have a good title decided, I then start to write my article.

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Marcus Sheridan December 6, 2011 at

Bethany, so great to see you, and I really appreciate this comment as well. I’ve actually not heard of the Keyword Sniper Pro, but I’m glad to hear that it has been working well for you.

Keep up the great work,

Marcus

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Davina K. Brewer December 5, 2011 at

Big shout out for Ryan’s “people don’t search for witty titles.” Genius and true. Yet they click them, they tweet and share them. There’s a part of me that does think of keywords and SEO as I write but the creative part wants interesting, clickable, shareable (short) titles too. I have been using an SEO plugin to optimize post descriptions, use keywords. I do need this, and to think more about what my keywords should be. Not Danny’s robots but what’s really going to get searched, found by the right audiences. FWIW.

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Ryan Hanley December 5, 2011 at

Davina,

Thank you. I think a blog author needs to mix titles based on the purpose of the article which I think goes back to what Marcus is talking about.

If the article is meant to bend the readers mind then I think a clickable, shareable, tweetable Title is most appropriate.

If the article is meant to teach, build trust, and convert readers then I think it should be SEO friendly.

This is just a thought… Something that deserves more debate. Your thoughts on that?

Ryan H.

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Davina K. Brewer December 5, 2011 at

Not every post needs to hit every goal, learned that from Mack Collier and others. And you are right about why – some posts are SEO, some education, reach, some humor and community. All are to serve the blog goals which are often designed to serve the business. I’m a selfish little snot Ryan and really do try to write things I think my readers, lurkers, potential clients, almost anyone could appreciate and get value; sometimes my SEO takes a backseat to that, so room for improvement.

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Marcus Sheridan December 6, 2011 at

Just to add, the ultimate technique here, in my opinion, is an author’s ability to do both. I think about 80% of the time, great SEO and some decent wit are compatible.

Again, thanks for always rocking the conversation Ryan.

Marcus

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Marcus Sheridan December 6, 2011 at

That’s exactly it Davina– you’re thinking about SEO. It’s on your mind. You’re trying to achieve both. I believe that’s the perfect mix and my biggest point to this post was that we simply cannot just throw the concept of clear, concise, and keyword rich titles out of the picture….especially if we want long term results.

Thanks for dropping by lady, and congrats on a wonderful season by the Tigers. :)

Marcus

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Inge Woudstra December 5, 2011 at

Marcus,
Oooh! This is such an easy to get article, your examples are great. I have been ‘doing SEO’ for about 2 months now. However I thought I had to have 3 key phrases and get each page and blog to include those 3. Now I understand that each blog I write can be targeted at a different keyword. Is that right? As long as I include something with a long-tail so as not to target very competitive keywords. Love some of the comments too, as I work in Wordpress, and could use the method Sarah Arrow describes.

I would love a bit of help on my latest posts, do have a look if you can find some time. Most of the blogs are written by others but edited by me, so I can easily change titles.

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Marcus Sheridan December 6, 2011 at

Hey Inge, sounds like you’re on a great track here to do some excellent work with your content, and the fact that you’re focusing on SEO is excellent. If you haven’t already done so, make sure you download my free eBook, because it does talk quite a bit about this subject, the long tail, and how to dominate with search.

Again, good luck Inge!!

Marcus

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Lori Gosselin December 5, 2011 at

Hi Marcus,
I’m just getting into SEO, so it’s all new to me. I was fortunate to win the SEO book on Brankica’s site last week, so I’ve 297 pages to pour through. The thing is that sometime, for the sake of community building, I have to sacrifice SEO. I find different types of posts/titles work because a variety (which will include some I can’t work SEO magic on) will bring different people into the conversation. So for me, it’s a mix. Still, I can hardly wait to get into the book and learn a lot about SEO!
Lori

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Marcus Sheridan December 6, 2011 at

First, congrats on the book Lori, that’s awesome! Second, I actually think you have a very solid SEO strategy. Most of your blog post titles are written in a question format, long-tail, and are very clear as to what the article is talking about. So from that perspective, you’re really doing a great job. :-)

Keep up the wonderful work Lori!

Marcus

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Jack@TheJackB December 5, 2011 at

I hate the emphasis on SEO. Hate it, hate it, hate it. And in case that is not clear I hate it because it destroys blogs.

People stop writing good content and start posting How To Write The Most Incredible Blog Post That No One Will Ever Read Because KeywordS Stuffing Buffoonery Has Killed It.

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Marcus Sheridan December 6, 2011 at

I don’t know Jack, I built my entire swimming pool blog writing title for SEO and articles for people, and it paid huge dividends. The way I see it, we can’t expect Google to know what the heck we’re writing about unless we clearly state what that is. All Google really wants is to give the best search result to customers. What I’m saying is I believe there is a good and a bad way to do SEO. But that’s also why Google keeps getting smarter, hacks keep getting sandboxed by the big G, and sites like mine never have to worry about a panda update because they’re built to teach.

Regardless, love your passion bud. ;-)

Marcus

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Alex December 6, 2011 at

I understand that each blog I write can be targeted at a different keyword. As long as I include something with a long-tail so as not to target very competitive keywords. Nice post.

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Beth Kinder December 6, 2011 at

I loved this post! It was exactly what I needed explained in SIMPLE terms! I couldn’t get this keyword thing, and it seemed so complicated when I’d read up on it. Once again, my friend, you’ve helped a sista out! And if you look at today’s post from my blog you’ll see it didn’t take long for me to implement! Sha-BAM! :)

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Marcus Sheridan December 7, 2011 at

I’m a simple guy Beth, so I had no choice but to write it that way! ;-)

But seriously, so very glad this helped.

Big smiles,

Marcus

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Bernard Haynes December 6, 2011 at

Marcus,
This is the first time I have view your site and it is great. I love this article on SEO. I am new to this blogging thing. It can be so overwhelming with all the different stuff. I am working on redoing my blog website in Wordpress starting Jan. 1st. I This article was a great help. I will be reading more of your stuff.

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Marcus Sheridan December 7, 2011 at

Hey Bernard!! So thrilled you took a moment to introduce yourself and leave this comment. Yes, all of this social media ‘stuff’ can be a little confusing. I was in your shoes two years ago, so trust me when I say there is hope. ;-)

Good luck with your site redo!!

Marcus

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Commodity Tips December 9, 2011 at

Thanks for sharing this great piece of information. Do keep us update with some more great information

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Jimmy December 14, 2011 at

Hi Marcus,

My way of writing post is to first look at my title idea. After that, I will hope over to keyword research to assess the most relevant, popular and low competition keyword phrase. Once I have this, I will rewrite my title to this. Only then will I start writing my article. Is this a good way forward.

BTW, is there a simple way to check google ranking for keyword phrase I am using without looking page after page on google?

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Marcus Sheridan December 14, 2011 at

That’s a great way to go about it Jimmy, good stuff man.

As for checking your Google Ranking, the easiest tool I’ve seen is the Fire Fox Plugin called ‘Rank Checker’. It’s free and works awesome. You’ll love it. Good luck!

Marcus

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Irish Cottage December 30, 2011 at

Very interesting perspective Marcus. I’m thinking about a blog to help drive traffic to our Irish cottage vacation rental. We have lots of nice activity style stories and photos to string together and your insights certainly give food for thought about how best to go about the blog process from a SEO point of view -thanks!

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Dr.Rajka @ExpatDoctorMom January 6, 2012 at

This post is timely for me as on my Website Goals list for 2012 is SEO. I would have to say that in the beginning I didn’t think about it at all. Then, I started to try (operative word TRY!) to write copy to attract readers. But now, will try and do both.

Whole heartedly agree with you on SEO being the gift that keeps on giving. One of my first posts in “My Projects” category was one entitled “Logo Design 101 talking about how I had my logo designed. 1 year into blogging and all of sudden this one post started receiving A LOT of attention out of the blue. I just checked the post is not ranking now on google but it must have been in the fall!

Did you notice I put my rebranding in my name on the comment? I am trying it out.

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Gary Fage January 24, 2012 at

Hi Marcus,

My numbers are creeping up as I have increased my blogs to 2 a week, but still don’t seem to be able to get people to sign up by email, I currently have about 40 subscribers . I wondering if my post are too diverse and if I should try to be more focused. Any feed back would be most welcome.

Many Thanks for the great work you are doing.

Gary

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MamaRed February 24, 2012 at

Whew, this is good stuff Marcus. Of the skills I’ve developed over the years, this is definitely NOT one of them. Thanks for writing the original post and comments to the posts. All of it was enlightening. Since I didn’t have a goal for my site or blog (yes, a BIG no-no), I didn’t have a goal for posts. So I did the “cute title” thing. Your post has given me something to start with. Funny, I can weed my way through thousands of pages of content to find commonalities and ways to repurpose and use technology to make life simpler and more consistent and have a clue in Hades about this stuff!

I love your style and approach. Have no clue where I found you and am sure glad I did.

Muah!
MamaRed

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Lynn February 25, 2012 at

Great practical advice. Lots of examples to look at.

Would appreciate your review of my blog and a copy of review sent to: poipuproperty@gmail.com

Aloha from Kauai……Lynn

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Allison April 4, 2012 at

Can you give my site a look? I’ve been struggling to pick up traffic at all.

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Linda Dippenaar May 8, 2012 at

If I am writing a series of blog posts and I use the same title but just add (1 of 4, 2 of 4 etc), will this harm my SEO rankings? I heard that Google will ignore the second title as it’s basically the same as the first one.
Thanks!

Example of posts:
Sales Managers – Hiring winning Sales People (1 of 4)
Sales Managers – Hiring winning Sales People (2 of 4)
etc

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Marcus Sheridan May 8, 2012 at

You can do that Linda, but I would have a different title (keyword phrase), for each of the posts. And remember, just because they’re different titles, doesn’t mean they’re not a series.

Good luck!!!

Marcus

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lindsay May 26, 2013 at

yes, what is the main message of each article, and make the title geared to that

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amir_uk@hotmail.com May 24, 2012 at

Social media networks is one of the best and plays an important role to increase traffic on your website so social media network provides good plate-foam that freely communicate in all over the world.

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Jonathan May 30, 2012 at

Cool post Marcus but I have a question. The bulk of my posts are written with particular keywords in mind but I’m trying to understand something. I get the concept of having a target keyword in my post title but how do I get my home page (or any page) to rank for my sites primary keyword when it comes to titles without just using spammy derivative keyword titles? So for example. Lets say I’m trying rank for ‘apple picking’ and I’ve already written posts including the words ‘apple picking tips’, ‘apple picking songs’, ‘apple picking books’ etc but 50 posts on I’ve run out of that type of keyword so I’m doing stuff like ‘how tell if fruit is ripe’. Sorry, this is kind of a bad example but I’m managing to rank for the things like ‘tell if fruit is ripe’. but what I really want my site to rank for is ‘apple picking’. So I’m getting long tail traffic which I like but my main keyword is slipping in the SERPS. I hope I’ve managed to put my question in way that makes some sense. (I’m also talking in the context of having dropped from position 15 to position 140 after a little link building campaign post penguin so I’m trying to recover by adding lots of content but I’m worried about titles). I’m considering just placing the equivalent of ‘apple picking’ at the start of each and every title on my site. Am I making sense here or do I seem a bit nuts?

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Agus June 18, 2012 at

wow. so i must use keyword in every post. i think i have done that unconsciously.

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vilson June 22, 2012 at

Hi Marcus,

I have read your entire article and you are doing nice post. Thank you so much for sharing this kind of SEO strategy with us but you are talking about only for the title and according to me I think if we are also mention keywords in content 1 or two time then it will be also very benefit for ranking what you say about this ? Am I right?

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Steve Wilson June 25, 2012 at

I am not saying it isn’t perfect at all. In fact it is informative enough for me. i love it. still many thanks to you.

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Tommy Griffith July 3, 2012 at

Really great post. I loved the example of the fiberglass pool warranty. I would go so far as to say that, on the other end of the spectrum, I hate seeing blog post titles that are just FILLED with keywords. Just packing in keywords, and driving down your CTR is probably the dumbest thing I see being done over and over again.

It’s amazing what 2 minutes of keyword research prior to publishing can do to your traffic, particularly for long tail keywords.

Tommy

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Esther July 23, 2012 at

Many thanks for sharing this information and I would like to be kept up to date on any more SEO tips.

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Esther July 23, 2012 at

Many thanks for the information and I would like to be kept up to date on any more SEO tips.

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Evan August 1, 2012 at

Interesting indeed. I too agree with you on going for a Keyword focused blog headline and in text as well.

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Ciara Jaen September 7, 2012 at

Your ideas are great. I will keep this points in mind when posting, specially on my titles and keywords. This post is very helpful! Thanks Marcus!

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Thorbjørn September 12, 2012 at

Hi Marcus, interesting post. In the start I was writing my posts from keywords. But I found it was killing my creative juices. Also the main way I get traffic is through participation in social media, so having a catchy title is important. What do you think?

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lindsay May 26, 2013 at

I may offer some insight, people are more likely to click on titles that match their exact query. So in response I would say there is plenty of space for creativity in the body of your article. that’s what I do. Hope this helps.

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Larry Levenson September 13, 2012 at

Marcus, really enjoyed this post about titles. You definitely got the message across! We’re quoting you and linking to this article in a post that we’ll publish today. Great work, my friend!

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Marcus Sheridan September 15, 2012 at

Sounds awesome my friend, hope it all helps!!!

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lindsay May 26, 2013 at

like the SEO title my friend!

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Derek Levi September 23, 2012 at

Marcus when are you gonna post some more articles like this? Or do you have anymore available now?

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elena October 18, 2012 at

nice post describing the importance of good title without sounding stupid or spammy…

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Nicolas November 27, 2012 at

Hi Marcus
Found out about you thanks to Spencer Haws’s podcast with you. Awesome blog you have here, and I can see this particular post gives more insight on what you actually commented during the interview with Spencer!
I am going to try to follow that from now on for my blog http://www.youeverysecond.com. You said above that you could have a look and give some advice… Well i wouldn’t mind. I am trying to have nice blog titles that could push me up in Google’s ranking, so i choose some kw i could “easily” rank … bu the point is I really think they are not really user-friendly… Check this section out: http://www.youeverysecond.com/category/improve-your-productivity/

Nicolas.

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Jen March 2, 2013 at

Hi Marcus,

I am new to blogging and want to make sure I am writing great titles. Can you check out my blog and give me some feedback? http://Www.ourholisticjourney.com

Thanks!

Jen

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Camari Ellis March 27, 2013 at

Hey Marcus,

Great Post! I am clearly doing something wrong. This post and yourE-Book are reshaping how I think about content marketing.

Check out, http://www.askcamari.com, I would love to get you feedback on my blog.

Thanks Again,
Camari

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TOPIL March 31, 2013 at

Actually this is exactly what I am starting on doing right now for a personal injury blog. I have been trying to figure out good attention grabbing titles prior to even writing anything. So I started with a top ten list. Who doesn’t love a good top ten list?

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Tom Horn May 19, 2013 at

Hey Marcus, I’m reading your book and learning a ton! Can you take a look at my blog and tell me what you think?
http://www.BirminghamAppraisalBlog.com
Thanks for any suggestions you can offer.

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lindsay May 26, 2013 at

ok here is mine,

The Truth About 5 Star Ratings On Yelp For Massage Businesses in Toronto.

I was really smug with myself with this SEO title. As so many go to yelp for the authority on decision making I felt I should shed some light onto the TRUTH of the five star ratings.

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Sunil Singh June 17, 2013 at

A lot of thanks for written this article to anyone want to my website optimize ethical ways after penguin and panda what can I do for my webpage optimization http://www.miraclewebsolutions.com/seo-services.html

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Gold Coast SEO Services March 4, 2014 at

This is really great! Thanks a lot for this very informative post. Well I was astonished of the things that I still don’t know about SEO. That’s why maybe I am prone to mistakes in doing SEO. Thanks a lot for this!

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