Archive for the ‘Case Studies’ Category

Using BuzzStream to Avoid Disavowed or Blacklisted Domains

Today’s post on keeping track of disavowed and blacklisted domains comes from BuzzStream customer and friend, Martin Woods of WMG

It’s blindingly obvious that you shouldn’t make the same mistakes twice, especially when it comes to a Google penalty. According to Matt Cutts, the consequences for the second breach of their terms & conditions are even more severe than the first.

Google

But how do you keep a track of all the websites and contacts which you don’t want to work with? It’s especially hard when you are a large outreach team working on multiple campaigns at the same time, as it’s vital to keep everyone working holistically.

Typically if you have completed one or more Google Disavow files, you will have a long list of sites which at best will offer no link value and at worst could land you with another Google penalty. This guide will show you how to store, manage and use a list of websites and people whom you do not want to be affiliated with in any way.

This data can then be used with the new BuzzMarker Chrome Extension to quickly identify blacklisted domains that shouldn’t be contacted when you and your team are browsing websites.

 

Eliminate risk using BuzzStream to flag blacklisted domains

BuzzStream to the rescue!

One of our biggest challenges and our biggest opportunities is to make data more accessible across our business. That’s why we at WMG use BuzzStream to record and store our contacts, making the data more accessible across our teams and easier to use to inform campaigns and decision making.

 

Keeping things structured and tidy in BuzzStream

Before I explain how you can use Buzzstream to flag/blacklist domains and contacts with whom you do not want to work with, I will explain how our team structures our BuzzStream account. (Editor’s note: Since BuzzStream is so customizable, your account and project setup may be structured differently than WMG’s.)

As a large SEO agency such as ours with hundreds of clients and thousands of projects, we need to keep BuzzStream obsessively tidy. I personally recommend the following structure to keep things easy to find:

Orange indicates a folder and blue indicates a project.

Archived (Old Clients)

  • %client name%
    • %project url%
      • %client name%-%project url%-%date created%-%project number%-%project name%

Clients

  • BuzzStream
    • Buzzstream.com
      • BuzzStream-buzzstream.com-2014-05-#4-Existing Customers

Prospect Lists by Niche
Internal Projects
z Domain Blacklist/ Approved List (I use a-z to sort this folder to the bottom)

  • BLACKLIST OF DOMAINS
  • APPROVED LIST OF DOMAINS

 

The advantage of using this structure is that it’s easy to move clients and projects around, and it’s nice and simple for our outreach team to understand which project they’re working on. We also use a campaign planner that generates folder and project names based on strict naming conventions; this ensures that law and order are maintained within our BuzzStream account.

01

BuzzStream filter system

Create custom fields for websites to record why a domain has been blacklisted or whitelisted

We use custom fields in BuzzStream to create checkboxes that describe the reason why a person or domain has been either blacklisted or whitelisted. This ensures everyone in the future will know exactly why the site does or doesn’t meet our quality standards and why they should or shouldn’t make contact.

 

02

Customize fields settings

For clarity, I have two separate custom fields. The first is for why the domain was flagged under a blacklist, and the second for if the team have reviewed a flagged domain, but only found something small (like some comment spam). After all, we wouldn’t want to not work with someone like the BBC because of a link disavowed at the URL level.

Blacklist Custom Field – “Does the Domain Break Our Link Quality Guideline Issues?”

 

03

A custom checkbox field for use in clarifying why a site hasn’t passed our quality control settings

Whitelist Custom Field – “Passed Quality Control”

04

– A custom field for when (date) the site passed a quality control review

Create two separate projects for the blacklist & white listed domains

I recommend creating two separate projects;

  1. ‘APPROVED LIST OF DOMAINS’ (previously flagged in a blacklist for some reason).
  2. ‘BLACKLIST OF DOMAINS’ (if you name your folder starting with a ‘z’ it will filter to the bottom of the list keeping it out of the way).
05

Blacklist/whitelist projects

Create website type & relationship stage – “Previously Blacklisted”

I like to flag a domain in as many ways as possible to reduce the chance of mistakes when it comes to domains which break our quality guidelines. Therefore I also create a custom Relationship Stage -“Rejected / Blacklisted Domain” and a new Website Type – “Previously Blacklisted/Disavowed” to make it crystal clear to anyone looking in the project in the future.

 

06

Custom Website Types

A domain can only have one relationship stage and one website type (via Dropdown) at any one time, so there is no confusion. Then, if the domain is cleared in the future it can then be changed to the correct ‘Website Type’ global identifier.

 

Upload a single domain which you would like to blacklist

The reason for adding only one domain at this stage is that we are going to be uploading potentially several thousand domains (depending on your Disavow/blacklist), and it’s best to upload it as a CSV rather than trying to import via copy & paste.

Select “Add from List of URLS” and enter one of your domains which you would like to blacklist.

 

07

Select “Add from List of URLs” to import a domain to blacklist

Make sure that you select the relevant data (see below), at this stage it is also possible to add a Tag to the website which we’re importing. You can do this now, or at a later stage. I suggest tagging it in capitals to make it stand out from your other tags used to identify a domain. E.g. PREVIOUSLY DISAVOWED/BLACKLISTED DOMAIN.

08

Mark the domain with any relevant information

If you have forgotten to categorise anything don’t worry, that is the beauty of BuzzStream, we can do it later!

 

Export the BLACKLIST OF DOMAINS project

 

09

Exporting websites from a project in BuzzStream

At the moment there is currently only one domain to export, but in the future if you wanted to export all the domains then you can do this by clicking the check box above the one highlighted in red and clicking the ‘Select all’ link.

Select the following columns to export:

  • Website Domain
  • Website Type
  • Tags
  • Relationship Stage
  • Does The Domain Break Our Link Quality Guideline Issues?

Add a list of all the domains which you want to blacklist

10

Add the rest of your disavowed domains to your database export

Be careful to only add domains you want to blacklist and not URLs of particular pages, if you have any of these in your Disavow file.

Free Excel Tool – Disavow file to whitelist cross-checked blacklist

The majority of people will most likelyuse a Disavow file as a source for their BuzzStream blacklist. I have created a small Excel tool which automatically convert your disavow file into a BuzzStream friendly list of domains which you can copy straight into your exported BuzzStream (Figure 10). This will stop any risk of disavowing domains which you have in a white list, or that you haven’t disavowed at domain level.

 

11

Disavow list to blacklist tool

To use this tool, paste the list of rows from your disavow file into the red cells, copy all the rows in the green cells and then paste these into the A Column of your BuzzStream export.

Flag the added domains

Now it’s time to flag the new domains which we’ve just added from our cleaned Disavow list. Duplicate the cells from row B2 to the end of the named columns (highlighted in Orange) down the page for all the domains which you’ve added.

 

12

Finished populated BuzzStream blacklist database ready re-import

Re-upload the blacklisted domains project back to BuzzStream

Now it’s time to let BuzzStream do all the hard work. We re-upload the file using the ‘Import from Existing File’ option from the ‘Add Websites’ dropdown within the websites tab. Making sure that you have selected the correct project (top left), you don’t want to mix up your list and make it segmented.

13

Import back to project

In the box that pops up select Match My CSV (below) and upload the file.

14

Select the type of template to upload

Select‘Auto-Update Existing Contacts’ and make a final check that you are uploading to the correct project – ‘BLACKLIST OF DOMAINS’

15

Configure the upload

Let’s have a cuppa

Now this is the most important bit, make sure not to miss it out…

Sit back and have a lovely cup of tea, I would personally recommend Yorkshire Tea. This is perhaps one of the best things about working at WMG; we only ever buy Taylors of Harrogate tea! It would be wrong to buy anything else when we’re based in Harrogate with the world famous Betty’s just down the road.

Once BuzzStream has does all the hard work processing the data, you can go in and see the fruits of your labour.

And that’s it

Now you can identify a blacklisted domain in any new project quickly and easily from either within BuzzStream, or using the new and improved BuzzMarker Chrome Extension.

 

17

How to identify a previously blacklist domain in BuzzStream

 

18

How to identify a blacklisted domain in BuzzMarker. *please note I chose the domain 0000web.com to use as an example because it no longer exists, I am not implying that this domain should be blacklisted.

Conclusion

If you find a domain in your blacklist that shouldn’t be there after reviewing the website again in more depth, you can easily move the domain from your global BLACKLIST project to the APPROVED LIST OF DOMAINS project which we created at the beginning.

If you do this, remove the tags/fields assigned to it that flag it, and populate the custom field which we created called ‘Passed Quality Control’ with a date. This ensures that in future, you’ll know when the domain was whitelisted; domains can change and what was once a good domain can easily become a bad domain…

Happy Outreach!

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Targeting Mid-Level Influencers with FollowerWonk and BuzzStream

As marketers, we often talk about building relationships with influencers. Sometimes, though, it makes more sense to connect with the people in the middle. They’re usually pretty persuasive to their small followings, but they just haven’t hit “major influencer” status yet. Here’s a walkthrough of how you can use FollowerWonk and BuzzStream to find and reach them, using a real-life example, a campaign from our recent ebook launch.

 

Targeting-InfluencersTargeting emerging influencers and niche experts can lead to campaign success.

When we launched the Advanced Guide to Content Promotion last month, I created a tiered outreach strategy to promote it, heavily focusing on “emerging influencers” and “niche experts.” Together with some paid amplification efforts, that strategy helped us earn thousands of views and hundreds of shares. I relied heavily on FollowerWonk and BuzzStream to do it.

Prep Work: Strategy, Personas, and Goals

Just like we recommend in the book, I began by identifying and prioritizing target audiences. Getting in front of (and helping) “Forward-Thinking Link Builders” was my primary goal.

Creating the top tier prospect list was easy. I know our industry pretty well and could easily list twenty heavy-hitting SEO super influencers (and, lucky for me, BuzzStream already had a relationship with most of them).

But the bulk of my list needed to be what I call “emerging influencers” and “niche experts.” These aren’t the superstar CEOs, but the people who are a few years into their career. They’re beginning to develop specialities and personal brands. Some of them might be managers, others not, but they’re all still pretty close to the daily work of content promotion, link building, strategy, and outreach.

I cared most about these guys, because they’d be the ones who would find the most value in our guide. (It was written with them in mind.) They’re also the ones who can be very persuasive inside organizations and on teams. I did hope they’d read and Tweet the guide, but, really, I wanted them to read it, learn from it, and share it with their coworkers and bosses.

 

Using FollowerWonk to Find Influencers

Using tactics similar to what Richard Baxter shared in his 2013 MozCon presentation (this is sort of like what he did, but reverse) and lessons my teammate Matt Gratt learned with targeted Twitter advertising, I decided to use FollowerWonk to build our list of emerging influencers and niche experts.

 

Influencers-Followers

We started with influencers and used FollowerWonk to find their audiences.

 

First, I brainstormed groups of two highly specialized experts for various disciplines (e.g., Paddy Moogan and Jon Cooper for link building; Adria Saracino and Kelsey Libert for content and outreach). I was familiar enough with the industry to do this without the help of any tools, but had it been a new industry, I would have turned to BuzzSumo.

I loaded each duo and the @BuzzStream twitter handle into FollowerWonk to get a list of people following the three accounts.

It was important to me that I only selected people who were already following @BuzzStream, because it meant I could be confident they were at least somewhat aware of us and had, in a sense, opted in to hearing what we have to say.

Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 7.40.19 PM

We focused on the people who followed all three accounts.

I always chose to pull the triple-overlap group. (If you follow Paddy Moogan AND Jon Cooper AND BuzzStream, you’re probably quite interested in link building.) And, in some cases, I pulled groups that followed only one of the influencers and BuzzStream.

I created a bunch of Excel reports in FollowerWonk and downloaded them all.

 

Cleaning the Data: Filtering the List

I combined all of the documents and then removed duplicates (there were a lot.) Next, I sorted by follower count. A lot of the superstar CEO influencers floated to the top of the list, and I deleted them out, since they’d already been accounted for elsewhere. I also deleted anyone who had less than 150 followers.

Using Excel’s filters, I got rid of inactive accounts by excluding people whose most recent tweet was earlier than Jan 2014 and people who had tweeted less than 100 times. To address spam accounts, I only included people who had a follower number greater than the number of people they were following.

Basically, I whittled down my list until it had about 100 people, which was a reasonable amount of outreach for the time I had allotted.

 

BuzzStream for Outreach and Followups

I saved my doc as a .csv and uploaded it to BuzzStream (Note: I was working in the People section of BuzzStream, not the Website section.) BuzzStream automatically matched FollowerWonk fields to contact records.

I tested a few different outreach templates and personalized them pretty heavily. Since I’m an active member of the community I was reaching out to, it was easy for me to bring up personal connections. I could mention conferences we’d both attended, stuff they’ve written that I liked, friends we had in common, etc.

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 2.08.37 PM

Sending outreach in BuzzStream.

 

The template that performed the best was personalized, fairly short, and featured a friendly request for a share.

 

Our Results

Response to the guide was very positive. Lots of people shared on Twitter and a bunch let me know that they’d also shared with their teams internally. We got a lot of views, and — with the exception of a small list of things we’d do differently next time — we deemed the project a success.

The outreach has proven successful in other ways, too. So far, it’s led to people pinging us when they have content of their own that our audience might like, a delicious coffee meeting that involved insightful conversation about the industry and our work, and a bunch of shoutouts in presentations and blog posts.

 

Conclusion

Getting linked to or written about on huge sites is great, but sometimes smaller niche blogs make more sense for your business. Going after the mid-level influencers and niche experts can drive the right views from the right people (and great links, too).

How do you create prospect lists? Where do you go to find influencers? Leave a comment below or talk to us on Twitter.

 

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How to Use Buzzstream to Clean Up Your Link Profile

Today’s guest post comes from one of our favorite customers, Wayne Barker, SEO Manager at Boom Online Marketing. You can connect with him on Google+ and Twitter.

With the recent updates Google, it is more important than ever to know who is linking to you and how they are linking to you. Link pruning has been on a lot of smart SEOs agendas for years – or at least being incredibly familiar with your backlink profile.

However, following the surge of Webmaster Tools ‘Love Notes’ and the Penguin update, link removal has become necessary for many sites.

I have recently been working with a client that has a domain that they can’t just ditch like Matt Cutts suggested a while back – the simple fact being that it cost a shed load of money. So what do you do in that situation?

Whether you have had an unnatural links warning or you have been hit by Penguin you need to start looking at cleaning up your link profile.  

Link profile cleanup has some interesting requirements:

  • you need to get rid of as much garbage as you can
  • you need a way to organise this, as you potentially looking at thousands upon thousands of links (if not more!)
  • you need to document what you have done (for an unnatural warning you need solid documentation for Google, for Penguin you need it for your own records and potentially for Google further down the line)

Although there are plenty of tools that seem more than capable of helping you out with this this problem for your site or a client site, I chose to use Buzzstream because of my familiarity with the tool and I am already a paying user.

Here is run through of how you can use Buzzstream for link removal rather than link building or blogger outreach.

Gather your data

You aren’t going to get very far without some solid data. If you are looking at link removal, then the odds are good that you are in trouble with Mr Google himself. Head over to Webmaster Tools and download all the link data that Google is going to give you. The odds are that the issues that you have with your link profile are lurking in the somewhere!

(more…)

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Case Study: How eLocal.com Builds Partnerships with BuzzStream

 eLocal.com eLocal USA LLC - The easiest and most convenient way to find local businesses online. Search our top national directories and city guide.Sam Bookler is the Director of Online Marketing at eLocal USA, an Internet advertising company that connects consumers with local businesses.  eLocal owns and operates some of the nation’s top online directories as well as OnlineCityGuide.com (“OLCG”), one of the oldest online city guides.  eLocal’s directories help consumers find businesses in their local neighborhood (from roofers to plumbers and lawyers to dentists).  

Our Workflow

We have a team of business development specialists who manage a lot of different professional contacts. When we started, we were using Excel
spreadsheets. However, as time went on and we started dealing with more and more partners, it became difficult to cross check and update our database. We found a few of our specialists attempting to work with the same prospective partner!  It was becoming unmanageable, so we needed to find a system that would allow for easy input and cross referencing.

We focus on developing quality partnerships, where we can develop long-term relationships.  To do this, our Business Development Specialists perform extensive research to find online organizations that are a good fit. We use BuzzStream’s Link Buzzmarker to tag all our contacts and get them into the database.  BuzzStream then cross references all the contacts among our business development team to make sure no two people are working with the same organization at the same time.  We manage all of our communications in BuzzStream, which allows us to effectively manage both present and prospective partners.  We’ve found that adding Buzzstream to our process has substantially cut down on time we used to spend updating excel sheets and cross-referencing contacts internally.

Why we Chose BuzzStream

We follow a lot of leading SEO, social media, and business development blogs and websites. BuzzStream kept popping up across these sources, so we reached out during the site’s launch and became members of its private Beta release. We conceptually liked the service BuzzStream was offering, and we particularly liked how its team was very responsive and professional.  However, at the time we didn’t have a large team of business development specialists, so we didn’t become full-fledged members. As eLocal’s business development team grew, it became more cumbersome to manually manage all our partner contacts. At this point, we knew BuzzStream was the right fit for our needs.

Our Favorite BuzzStream Features

Our experience with BuzzStream has been great. Not only is the system top notch, but the BuzzStream team has also always valued our input and works to regularly add new features and functionality.  We love how Buzzstream is a very easy, reliable system to use for managing the contact information and relationship stage of potential web partners. It cross checks all members of our business development team to make sure no one is working on the same partner, which is really important.  Also, in the cases where we receive links from partners and would like to track them, BuzzStream notifies us when there are changes, removing the need for any manual reviews. This makes our workflow more efficient.

Lastly, we’re impressed with how reliable the BuzzStream staff is. If you have a problem, they respond promptly and do everything in their power to fix it. You can’t say that about every business, and it is something we’ve grown to love about BuzzStream.

What We’d Like Added to BuzzStream

We always love more data and so we’d like to see additional SEOmoz metrics, such as page authority, added to each link’s details. Being able to get the data on all live links on a domain would be helpful, rather than needing to visit each specific page a live link is on. Lastly, as far as data, we’d like to be able to export all the “Notes” we keep on our contacts. We back up our information frequently, but notice it doesn’t export all the notes if you have more than one. This is an important feature for us, so being able to save that would be very valuable to us.

From an organizational standpoint, we’d also like to have the ability to flag a date directly in the column interface, which could then be sorted by date. This would provide us with a great way to monitor upcoming meetings directly from the dashboard view.

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Case Study: How Content Customs Conducts Large-Scale Link Building With BuzzStream

Corry Cummings, owner and founder of Content CustomsCorry Cummings is the owner and founder of Content Customs, an Internet marketing company specializing in content writing services.

About Content Customs

We conduct large scale link building for over a dozen different companies…What’s made us successful and what we think makes us stand out is that whenever we reach out to someone, we personalize it to the specific needs of each website owner, blogger, etc. Our approach with everything that we do is all about quality. We leverage our content creation skills and resources to build links.

As part of our link building efforts, we reach out to tens of thousands of websites to try to get placement in the areas we’re targeting.  Managing our activities was actually really simple when we were only contacting a few hundred sites, but when you scale this up, things can get out of hand.   It’s also very difficult to stay organized and maintain the quality that our clients and partners demand.  BuzzStream allows us to keep things organized, and to hit the scale we need. We have over 30 individuals who collaborate on link building projects at all times. This would never be possible to do efficiently without a tool like BuzzStream.

Our Workflow

For us, it’s really all about building relationships with other blogs and website owners. We have the resources to create high quality web content for a very reasonable price. That is valuable to many website owners. We want to reach out to them and see what we can do to get our content out there, which will in turn get more inbound links pointing to our sites (and our clients). We primarily use BuzzStream as our database for link opportunities and a workflow system for managing our outreach efforts.

We spend a lot of time researching sites that could potentially be link partners in the future. Our research team spends all day every day adding sites to BuzzStream. When they add a site to the database, they use Tags to categorize them.  We hold a high standard for sites that we are willing to work with. That enables us to basically just look for sites that hold those standards. Since we do such a high volume of link building, we are able to add any site (no matter what the topic) to BuzzStream because we know as long as it is a high quality site, we will have a place to contact and reach out for various opportunities.

When we’re working on a specific project, we use Filters to find the right opportunities for the client and then we move our contacts from our main database to a specific project. As we conduct outreach, we take advantage of BuzzStream’s relationship stages to manage workflow and we take a lot of notes with the note feature.

Why We Chose BuzzStream

It’s actually pretty simple for us…We’ve used a lot of different tools, and there really isn’t anything out there that compares.  BuzzStream is way ahead of the game when it comes to link management tools.  Even if there were comparable products, I doubt we would find another company that would work with us as closely as the Buzzstream team does. We have the need to scale very quickly, and BuzzStream has been flawless when it comes to working with us on that. When we have feedback and concerns about future developments of the product, our voice is heard and the feedback is actually put into work on new features.

Our Favorite BuzzStream Features

The ability to organize and track all of our contacts is absolutely huge for us. We don’t use all the bells and whistles that are offered.  The basics are key. Tracking our progress, and keeping notes on each of our contacts really is a huge time saver. BuzzStream also does a great job of pulling in the site metrics, which saves a lot of time. We have to know who we have already contacted, and who has been added to each project. We want to make sure that one of our team members is not contacting the same site that was just contacted yesterday for another project. That can get messy, and would happen consistently if we didn’t have Buzzstream.

What We’d Like Added to BuzzStream

The only way to check for live links right now is on a specific page.  If there were a way to check an entire site for our links, that would be extremely beneficial for us (and I am guessing most other BuzzStream users).  We’d want BuzzStream to  automatically find all of the live links that we have and add them to the contacts/potential link opportunities that we have added to BuzzStream. The ability to have custom statuses would also be nice. In other words, a way to change and add more relationship stages.

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