Posts By: Curator
Our Marketing and Sales Teams explain why
As a local restaurant owner, you have a lot on your plate.
It can be difficult in your day-to-day to take the time to step back and look at your restaurant in a different way. Attending restaurant trade shows offers you the opportunity to do that!
“Trade shows allow a restaurant owner distraction-free time to learn how to increase their margins with new technologies that help save time and increase productivity. There are reasons the most successful businesses attend trade shows — they never leave empty-handed but with a new world full of opportunity!” says Doug Taverna, Sales Representatives.
Restaurant trade shows are the equivalent of Disney World for local restaurant owners. You’ll have the opportunity to meet other restaurant owners, learn new information, and meet companies — like Main Street Hub — that can help you grow your business and run it more efficiently.
“Where else can you find the latest trends in the industry, new menu items you hadn’t thought of, marketing opportunities you never knew existed, and classes and presentations on how to be more successful — all in one place? No one walks out of a restaurant show being less apt and prepared to seize the day for their business,” says Nik Norton, Sales Representative.
From national to local and restaurant-type specific to more broad shows, restaurant trade shows come in all different flavors. Trade shows can also remind business owners of things they should be doing or could be doing better.
“Going to restaurant trade shows gives business owners the chance to meet with the people that can help their business function and grow. It also gives new restaurant owners the chance to become educated about what it takes to keep a business running and keep customers coming in the door,” says Marisa Hernandez, Event Marketing Associate.
As Sales Representative John Lumby puts it:
“It’s the candy store that a restaurant owner can’t pass up.”
Want to meet the Main Street Hub Team and check out a restaurant trade show for yourself? Here’s where we’ll be this month:
Colorado Restaurant Show in Denver, Colorado on October 9–10th @ booth 314
Pizza and Pasta Northeast in Atlantic City, New Jersey on October 17–18th @ booth 628
Michigan Restaurant Show in Novi, Michigan on October 17–18th @ booth 313
Can’t meet us in-person but want to see how we can help your restaurant? Get started with us here.
Source: Main Street Hub
If you’re like most doctors today, you’ve begun to realize that a healthy online presence can make or break the success of your practice. Who you are online matters more than ever.
Around 84% of today’s patients say that they research new primary physicians and medical practitioners online before setting foot into a doctor’s office. This means that your patient knows what others say about you before he or she ever meets you.
This isn’t a passing trend. In fact, a study in the US National Library of Medicine reports that more than 90% of people now turn to online reviews before engaging in business with companies from any industry. As we move into 2018, these numbers will continue growing until almost all of your patients know your reputation before you know them.
When patients find doctors with excellent online reputations, they’re likely to spend more money to see them. In a recent study, 48% of patients said that positive online reviews can convince them to go out-of-network for treatment, as they value quality of service over care affordability.
If you don’t know where to start with your online presence, or if you’re not sure if you even have one, Status Labs is here to help! With 2018 fast approaching, The twenty-five tips below will help you better understand and cultivate your online reputation so you can improve your practice for the coming year:
1. Self-Assess Your Current Online Reputation
Have you Googled yourself lately? If you don’t know what’s being said about you or your practice online, you need to self-assess your current reputation. In 2017, patients commonly checked doctor reviews on websites such as Yelp, ZocDocs, WebMD, RateMDs, Healthgrades, Google Reviews and Angie’s List. If you find your practice on any of these websites, look at what patients are saying.
After exploring various review websites and the first few pages of Google, you’ll have a better idea of your current online reputation.
2. Monitor Your Reviews Proactively
Set up Google alerts that will email you whenever your name or the name of your practice is mentioned online. Read each new mention of your practice carefully and closely monitor your online reputation every day.
This proactive approach will allow you to better manage your image and improve the success of your medical practice.
3. Treat Every Patient Like a Reviewer
Remember that every patient that calls or comes to your practice is a potential reviewer. Treat each patient with the utmost respect, projecting the image you want your practice to have. For example, if you’d like patients to report courteous behavior and compassionate staff (and you do), go above and beyond to ensure each person experiences just that.
Remember, in today’s high-tech society, what you say to a patient could be posted online immediately.
4. Request Feedback
If you’re not receiving many online reviews, it might be because you’re not encouraging patients to leave them. Ask your patients if they’d be willing to leave reviews about their experiences online when you send them follow up emails.
According to a 2016 survey, 70% of consumers said they’ll leave a review for a business if they’re asked to. If you’re concerned about asking for public feedback, know that requesting reviews rarely hurts a practice. In fact, more than 50% of patients report leaving positive reviews when they do rate a business. To compare, only 7% of patients write negative reviews.
5. Hire a Reputation Firm
If your online reputation has gotten away from you, or if perhaps you’re just too busy to take the necessary steps to improve it, you may want to seek out professional assistance by hiring an online reputation management firm. These firms staff teams of professionals who can keep your online image focused on the positive aspects about your practice so you can put your best foot forward when being considered by new patients.
Reputation firms can also offer advice on responding to negative patient reviews and on improving doctor/patient relationships online.
6. Address Critiques Objectively
Before you do anything about a critical review, address it objectively. Consider the situation from the patient’s point of view, from a legal standpoint and from the public’s point of view. Examine the most professional response and how you can minimize the damage to your reputation while respecting confidentiality laws.
If you are feeling heated and upset by a negative review, come back to the review later on.
7. Think Carefully Before Addressing Anyone Online
Nothing looks worse than a doctor arguing with a patient online. For example, if a past patient claims your practice missed a diagnosis, to dispute this online would breach doctor/patient confidentiality laws and cause you to appear unprofessional.
Instead, doctors are encouraged to ask the patient to contact the practice for a specific response while offering apologies. Always address reviews professionally and do what you can to make it right. Do not acknowledge that a patient was in your office, or that you provided treatment for both positive and negative reviews.
8. Don’t Create Fake Reviews
Filling a website with dozens of fake positive reviews might sound like the easiest way to improve your online reputation. Instead, this can quickly ruin a practice. Not only is this fraudulent behavior, but many review sites regularly scan for fake reviews.
If the authenticity of your positive feedback cannot be verified, the reviews may be removed and your practice may be flagged for fabricated reviews. It’s just not worth it.
9. Respond to Positive Reviews
When you receive a positive review, thank the patient for his or her kind words about your practice. Leave an uplifting, professional response that shows your commitment to patient satisfaction. Do not, however, share any patient information that could violate privacy laws.
Stay clear of phrases like, “It was great to see you,” or “Thank you for visiting the office.” Keep it vague and positive such as, “Thank you for the kind words.”
Patients prefer visiting practices that demonstrate active engagement with online reviewers.
10. Respond to Negative Reviews
Just as you should respond to positive reviews, you should also respond to patients who leave negative feedback. As previously noted, do not do so from an emotional state and always consider your response carefully. Ask yourself if anything you write violates confidentiality laws and if it shows your practice in the best possible light.
Most patients feel that it’s important for doctors to respond to all online feedback. In fact, only 27% of patients found it minimally important, or not at all important, for physicians to respond to negative reviews.
The right response can neutralize a negative review, preventing it from further damaging your reputation.
11. Don’t Get into Online Arguments
When you respond to a negative review, an upset patient might try to antagonize you into an argument. Regardless of what is said, even if the patient is lying, participating in an online argument will do worse for your reputation than the review itself.
Always respond professionally. If a patient instigates an argument, offer to discuss and resolve the matter privately, but do not otherwise engage in a dispute.
12. Promote Positive Reviews on Your Website
The positive reviews you receive can be your best marketing material. Promote positive reviews on your website, use quotes from happy patients in your marketing and draw attention to the good things your patients say about you. Before sharing or embedding patient reviews, however, always seek written consent from the patient to protect his or her privacy.
Remember, there is no better narrator for your success stories than a satisfied patient.
13. Be Extra Careful of Patient Privacy Laws
Patient privacy laws must be respected when responding to online reviews. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability ACT of 1996 (HIPAA) obligates every healthcare practitioner to protect patient privacy.
Information gained through any part of the patient’s care should never be published publicly without proper authorization. Best practice is to never confirm that the patient was seen by your clinic, according to Dr. Danika Brinda of Planet HIPAA. Instead, thank the patient for sharing feedback, and if necessary, invite further discussion in private.
14. Train All Staff in Customer Service Best Practices
Patients leave reviews about their entire experience with a practice, not just with their doctor. Train every staff member in customer service best practices and make it company policy to follow these practices closely. Each phone call, front desk conversation and nurse interaction should be handled with friendly, professional behavior.
When patients read reviews, they’re not always focused on the quality of healthcare that each review reports. It might surprise you to learn that a combined 48% of patients say they value the friendliness of the medical staff and the ease scheduling appointments over other information when reading online reviews.
Every member of your staff, even those who do not regularly interact with patients, should be trained in the company customer service policy.
15. Maintain a Social Media Presence
Social media is an excellent way to find new patients, engage existing patients and improve your online reputation. Maintain a social media presence that provides useful information, updates about your practice and helpful, respectful answers to patient questions.
Many patients turn to social media in their online inspection of a healthcare provider. If you don’t have a presence, you’re selling your practice short. Over 40% of patients report that social media affects their choice in a healthcare provider and facility.
Today, 31% of healthcare professionals have already turned to social media for professional networking. Join these businesses and shine brighter than your competition in 2018.
16. Keep a Regular Social Media Posting Schedule
Maintaining an effective social media account for your practice requires consistency. The right posting schedule will boost your traffic and help you find new patients.
Include your posting schedule in your organization’s social media guidelines to keep your staff on the same page. Over 30% of healthcare organizations provide similar social media guidelines to staff. If you do not have staff in charge of managing your social media, consider outsourcing the job to a reputation management firm.
17. Be a Thought Leader in Your Field
Don’t settle for being an off-line doctor. Become a thought leader in your field. A thought leader drives innovation and brings new ideas to his or her given industry. Such leaders become popular, well-respected professionals in their fields, which increases exposure and boosts their online reputations.
Becoming a thought leader isn’t something you can earn a degree for and be done with, it’s a process. You must establish yourself as a reputable professional, refine your skills and bring new, improved ideas to the field on a regular basis.
18. Keep Your Online Private Life Private
When your patients look you up online, you don’t want them to see your nights out with friends, family barbecues and casual social media updates. Keep any private online profiles restricted so only friends can view them and never post personal opinions, photos or videos on your professional accounts.
Ideally, your patients shouldn’t find your personal social media accounts even if they go looking for them. If you have private information online and cannot remove it, an online reputation company can help.
19. Register Your Name as a Domain and Secure Relevant Web Properties
Registering your name as a domain dramatically improves your search engine optimization (SEO) and it can even protect you from scandal. When potential patients Google your name, the domain that matches your name will appear at or near the top of the page. If you don’t own this domain, someone else could purchase it for their own means or even to use it against you.
For example, a disgruntled patient or competitor could buy an unregistered domain – i.e. www.DrYourName.com – and post false content about you there.
You’ll also want to secure other relevant web properties on professional website, blogging platforms and more.
20. Verify and Claim Your Google Business Listing
Claiming your business on Google provides a good starting point to control what’s displayed about you on Google searches. This includes business location, images, hours and reviews. Once claimed, you can use Google Business tools to improve your listing.
Visit www.google.com/business and log in with your professional Gmail account to create your free Google listing.
21. Read Reviews of Other Doctors to Identify Trends and Pain Points
Researching the competition is among the best ways for businesses in any field to boost their success. Read reviews from other local doctors so you can identify pain points and trends that impact what other patients are saying.
The more you know about how and why your competition succeeds or fails, the more information you have available to help improve your private practice.
22. Know Your Audience and Keep It Professional
Whether you’re posting on the company blog, your practice’s Facebook page or in response to a positive review, know your audience. Consider your patient demographic and use it to define how you present yourself. Also keep every post professional, clean and polite.
Doctors, more than many other types of professionals, must maintain complete professional presentation and neutrality.
23. Be Transparent
Transparency is possibly the most important aspect of a doctor/patient relationship. Patients currently have access to more information than ever. From medical billing, to staff/patient interaction, transparency can win many positive reviews when handled appropriately.
24. Temper Your Expectations
Remember, overhauling your online reputation is a marathon, not a sprint. If you start cultivating your online reputation now, it will not look perfect in five days. However, if you work on your reputation every day, proactively address reviews and continue to improve your practice, you could end 2018 with an excellent online presence.
To put it into perspective, Google typically recognizes index profile changes every two to six weeks. This means you can expect some small changes about every month, but you will not dominate the front page of Google after one long night of reputation repair.
The more time you can devote to this, the better. If you don’t have hours of extra time to devote to managing your presence, consider outsourcing to someone who does.
25. Treat the First Page of Google as Your Business Card
Whether you like it or not, Google results are the new business cards. It doesn’t matter what your traditional advertisements say if your potential patients find contradictory information on the front page of Google. Often, when a patient Googles a practice, he or she will look for another physician in seconds if the front page lacks information or displays negative reviews.
According to a 2016 survey, 88% percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations. Furthermore, 90% of consumers read fewer than ten reviews before forming an opinion about the business.
If your online reputation is less-than-perfect, launching a proactive approach will improve your practice’s success. Online reviews are a modern concern for practitioners in all fields of healthcare and the number of platforms used to facilitate patient reviews is rapidly increasing.
Whether your reviews are positive, negative, or nonexistent, knowing what’s out there is the first step in protecting both yourself and your practice.
Status Labs is the premier digital reputation management firm, with offices in Austin, New York, Los Angeles, London and São Paulo. For more information visit StatusLabs.com or sign up for a Free Consultation.
Source: Status Labs
Posted by randfish
Plenty of websites that make it easy for you to contribute don’t make it easy to earn a followed link from those contributions. While rel=nofollow links reign in the land of social media profiles, comments, and publishers, there’s a few ways around it. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand shares five tactics to help you earn equity-passing followed links using traditionally nofollow-only platforms.
Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to chat about how you can get SEO value from nofollowed links. So in the SEO world, there are followed links. These are the normal ones that you find on almost every website. But then you can have nofollowed links, which you’ll see in the HTML code of a website. You will see the normal thing is a href=somewebsite in here. If you see this rel=nofollow, that means that the search engines — Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. — will not count this link as passing link equity, at least certainly not in the same way that a followed link would.
So when you see these, you can see them by looking in the source code yourself. You could turn on the MozBar and use the “Show nofollow links” on the Page button and see these.
What sort of links use rel=nofollow?
But the basic story is that you’re not getting the same SEO value from them. But there are ways to get it. Recently you might have seen in the SEO news world that Inc. and Forbes and a few other sites like them, last year it was Huffington Post, started applying nofollow tags to all the links that belong to articles from contributors. So if I go and write an article for Inc. today, the links that I point out from my bio and my snippet on there, they’re not going to pass any value, because they have this nofollow applied.
A) Social media links (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.)
There are a bunch of types of links use this. Social media, so Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, which is one of the reasons why you can’t just boost your linked profile by going to these places and leaving a bunch of links around.
B) Comments (news articles, blogs, forums, etc.)
Comments, so from news articles or blogs or forums where there’s discussion, Q&A sites, those comments, all the links in them that you leave again nofollowed.
C) Open submission content (Quora, Reddit, YouTube, etc.)
Open submission content, so places like Quora where you could write a post, or Reddit, where you could write a post, or YouTube where you could upload a video and have a post and have a link, most of those, in fact almost all of them now have nofollows as do the profile links that are associated. Your Instagram account, for example, that would be a social media one. But it’s not just the pictures you post on Instagram. Your profile link is one of the only places in the Instagram platform where you actually get a real URL that you can send people to, but that is nofollowed on the web.
D) Some publishers with less stringent review systems (Forbes, Buzzfeed, LinkedIn Pulse, etc.)
Some publishers now with these less stringent publishing review systems, so places like Inc., Forbes, BuzzFeed in some cases with their sponsored posts, Huffington Post, LinkedIn’s Pulse platform, and a bunch of others all use this rel=nofollow.
Basic evaluation formula for earning followed links from the above sources
The basic formula that we need to go to here is: How do you contribute to all of these places in ways that will ultimately result in followed links and that will provide you with SEO value? So we’re essentially saying I’m going to do X. I know that’s going to bring a nofollowed link, but that nofollowed link will result in this other thing happening that will then lead to a followed link.
Do X → Get rel=nofollow link → Results in Y → Leads to followed link
5 examples/tactics to start
This other thing happening can be a bunch of different things. It could be something indirect. You post something with your site on one of these places. It includes a nofollow link. Someone finds it. We’ll just call this guy over here, this is our friendly editor who works for a publication and finds it and says, “Hmm, that link was actually quite useful,” or the information it pointed to was useful, the article was useful, your new company seems useful, whatever it is. Later, as that editor is writing, they will link over to your site, and this will be a followed link. Thus, you’re getting the SEO value. You’ve indirectly gained SEO value essentially through amplification of what you were sharing through your link.
Google likes this. They want you to use all of these places to show stuff, and then they’re hoping that if people find it truly valuable, they’ll pick it up, they’ll link to it, and then Google can reward that.
So some examples of places where you might attempt this in the early stages. These are a very small subset of what you could do, and it’s going to be different for every industry and every endeavor.
1. Quora contributions
But Quora contributions, especially those if you have relevant or high value credentials or very unique, specific experiences, that will often get picked up by the online press. There are lots of editors and journalists and publications of all kinds that rely on interesting answers to Quora questions to use in their journalism, and then they’ll cite you as a source, or they’ll ask you to contribute, they’ll ask you for a quote, they’ll point to your website, all that kind of stuff.
2. Early comments on low-popularity blogs
Early comments especially in, I know this is going to sound odd, but low-popularity blogs, rather than high-popularity ones. Why low popularity? Because you will stand out. You’re less likely to be seen as a spammer, especially if you’re an authentic contributor. You don’t get lost in the noise. You can create intrigue, give value, and that will often lead to that writer or that blogger picking you up with followed links in subsequent posts. If you want more on this tactic, by the way, check out our Whiteboard Friday on comment marketing from last year. That was a deep dive into this topic.
3. Following and engaging with link targets on Twitter
Number three, following and engaging with your link targets on Twitter, especially if your link targets are heavily invested in Twitter, like journalists, B2B bloggers and contributors, and authors or people who write for lots of different publications. It doesn’t have to be a published author. It can just be a writer who writes for lots of online pieces. Then sharing your related content with them or just via your Twitter account, if you’re engaging with them a lot, chances are good you can get a follow back, and that will lead to a lot of followed up links with a citation.
4. Link citations from Instagram images
Instagram accounts. When you post images on Instagram, if you use the hashtags — hashtag marketing is kind of one of the only ways to get exposure on Instagram — but if you use hashtags that you know journalists, writers, editors, and publications of any kind in your field are picking up and need, especially travel, activities, current events, stuff that’s in the news, or conferences and events, many times folks will pick up those images and ask you for permission to use them. If you’re willing to give it, you can earn link citations. Another important reason to associate that URL with your site so that people can get in touch with you.
5. Amplify content published on your site by republishing on other platforms
If you’re using some of these platforms that are completely nofollow or platforms that are open contribution and have follow links, but where we suspect Google probably doesn’t count them, Medium being one of the biggest places, you can use republishing tactics. So essentially you’re writing on your own website first. Writing on your own website first, but then you are republishing on some of these other places.
I’m going to go Forbes. I’m going to publish my column on Forbes. I’m going to go to Medium. I’m going to publish in my Medium account. I’m going to contribute Huffington Post with the same piece. I’m republishing across these multiple platforms, and essentially you can think of this as it’s not duplicate content. You’re not hurting yourself, because these places are all pointing back to your original. It’s technically duplicate content, but not the kind that’s going to be bothersome for search engines.
You’re essentially using these the same way you would use your Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn, where you are pushing it out as a way to say, “Here, check this out if you’re on these platforms, and here’s the original back here.” You can do that with the full article, just like you would do full content in RSS or full content for email subscribers. Then use those platforms for sharing and amplification to get into the hands of people who might link later.
So nofollowed links, not a direct impact, but potentially a very powerful, indirect way to get lots of good links and lots of good SEO value.
All right, everyone, hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of Whiteboard Friday, and we’ll see you again next week. Take care.
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Ninety-six percent of employers say continuing education improves job performance, according to a 2016 study by Evollution.
That’s what George Niver, CTO of OneBoat, Inc, believes, or came to find sometime between his first attendance at Bruce Clay SEO Training in 2004 and his eighth time taking the course in 2017.
How Annual SEO Training Helped George Niver Climb His Career Ladder
George Niver is an eight-time student of our SEO training course. So we interviewed him to hear more about why.
First, his story. In 2002, he was working in IT as website manager for a nonprofit. An SEO consultant agreed to give him the recommendations if he did the work.
He decided to enroll in some in-person SEO training himself, which led to doing more SEO for his company and eventually led to contract SEO work.
Businesses, as it turned out, were hungry for his ability to attract new customers through search engines. He was hired as an in-house developer at OneBoat, Inc (at the time Destination Commerce Corporation) to work on their site for the Outer Banks, NC, region.
“My boss told people that because of SEO we ranked No. 1 for hundreds of keywords in the Outer Banks even though the competition is getting stronger,” Niver said in a recent interview.
Niver says that he attends our classroom training course every year because it allows him to keep “in constant touch with what’s happening with the search engine changes.”
It’s also because, sitting in a room face-to-face with a trainer, he gets to ask tough questions and get an expert reply.
In 2009, OneBoat, Inc promoted Niver to CTO. Today he manages the digital marketing of 50 websites, develops new markets, and still focuses half of his time on SEO.
He credits continuing education with greater perspective:
“[Annual attendance] has a spiraling effect of getting more grounded each time in certain things that I may not have been aware of. The breadth of what I do at work has expanded because of taking the course regularly. My knowledge increases, and my interest increases in different directions.”
Industry-Wide Trends toward Continual Training
Niver’s story is exceptional but it isn’t unique. We’ve also leveled-up whole marketing and IT departments with on-site group training.
Some companies build SEO training into their annual education. We’ve seen our fair share of students who come back every year for a technology update as part of their continuing education.
With hundreds of search engine rankings signals, changing algorithm updates and even a mobile-first index looming with Google’s search engine, can you say with confidence that you understand and know how to respond to these events?
Periodic search engine optimization training is a best practice for professionals in the digital marketing industry. It’s investing in yourself and your people.
It prepares you to think and respond strategically to anything the search engines like Google can throw your way, and helps keep your company up-to-date with the changes that we see each year in SEO.
If you do not understand SEO to the core, then your website, its rankings and visibility will suffer. Uninformed and careless decisions will be made with your website that can cause it to be impacted in the search results.
You Need SEO Training If …
SEO training is important for more reasons than you may think. You’ll get value from SEO education if:
- You want various stakeholders to have intelligent conversations about and make unified decisions regarding website changes and anything that will impact SEO.
- You are not satisfied plateauing at No. 5 in the search results – you want to know how to be a top-ranking source of information for your customers, and increase your visibility across the different elements on search results pages.
- You want to build SEO education into annual continuing education goals.
- You want people who are managing teams to deeply understand SEO. They can then use this important skillset to make strategic decisions and better work with their team members.
- You have new additions to your team or roles are changing hands, and the new people need to get up to speed about SEO best practices.
- You are working with an SEO vendor and want to know how to evaluate and intelligently implement their recommendations.
- You have a website that’s suffered a search engine penalty and you want to understand what it is and how to go about fixing it.
Who can benefit from SEO training?
- Marketing manager: Understand how SEO techniques fit into the broader digital marketing mix, and empower search wins from the top down.
- SEO professional: SEO best practices are constantly evolving; hear from SEO industry leaders what changes mean the most. An in-person classroom setup will best suit the SEO’s needs.
- IT professional: Support your organization’s search engine discovery, crawlability and accessibility.
- Web developer: Set yourself apart with SEO knowledge that can help improve the rank, reach and conversion of websites.
How to Choose SEO Training
When choosing training for yourself or your company, consider this:
Read the reviews. Students are likely to give the most unbiased feedback.
Research the trainers. Are they in demand in their space and/or did those with an extensive background in both theory and practice design the course?
SEO training comes in many different flavors. Each type is viable and the best fit depends on your resources, availability, budget and learning style.
- Conferences: Conferences are good for more general training. However, with conferences, it takes some background knowledge and intuition to read between the lines and pick up on the nuances of what is being taught. Conferences are great for learning what has changed within the search marketing industry, but generally do not teach you the fundamentals of the SEO practice. SMX conferences are a great place to start. (And you can often find a one-day training workshop there on various digital marketing disciplines).
- Online training: Video training classes like those offered by Market Motive are a good option for people who like to learn at their own pace without a high degree of interactivity. Online training is also good for groups of people and perhaps companies with limited budgets for continuing education. Typically, these classes are one-off trainings on specific topics, not a “soup to nuts” educational program. Be sure that you block interruptions like email so your focus is where it needs to be.
- In-person training: In-person training is typically highly interactive, and is designed with a classroom-type curriculum, often taking a deep dive into a discipline over the course of one or several days. In-person training can sometimes happen at your place of business, and in many cases, requires travel and time away from work. However, the scope of knowledge transfer is usually very high. I may be biased because we run in-person SEO training here at Bruce Clay, but I believe it to be the most effective.
I should mention that a portion of people get their SEO knowledge from the tools they subscribe to. But it isn’t enough to know how to run an SEO tool and cross off the list of tasks or recommendations it is giving.
The Canary Wharf Executive Development Centre gives the following tip to those sizing up training:
You need to ensure that it is producing knowledge & skills that your employees can use immediately to have a bottom line impact – and, therefore, create a tangible ROI as soon as the training ends.
It’s not enough to take a course or send folks to training. You have to ensure that you walk into the course ready to get the most from the experience:
- Come with real-life examples of problems you’re facing, and get feedback from the instructors on them.
- Establish a goal for yourself ahead of training, like learning more about a particular aspect of SEO or being able to teach your team when you get back.
- Look for a channel — a community or support structure — that allows you to continue your development after the course is done through questions and peer/instructor feedback.
At the end of the day, with SEO training in particular, you want to ensure it’s conducted by a reputable brand that believes in ethical SEO practices. At the end of the course, the goal is that you can go back to work and be better at SEO.
What Happens When You Invest In Yourself
There’s an old saying in business that the CFO says to the CEO: “What happens if we spend money training our people and then they leave?” The CEO’s response: “What happens if we don’t and they stay?”
SEO training is a competitive survival tactic, and if you are a marketer or manage an in-house team, training is mandatory. It’s an investment in the future of your career and business.
George Niver attends training each year to stay on the pulse of SEO and also to spark new opportunities:
“I have eight sets of manuals. It’s obvious as Bruce is going through the course, how many things have changed in the manual since the last year. When I’m sitting there listening to the class, I’m continually making notes or writing suggestions about which clients could use certain things that have changed in the last year. It’s inspiring to hear what’s changed in the last year. It’s important to what I do every day.”
Introducing the Early Bird Discount
Today, in our 18th year presenting in-person SEO training, we’re announcing a brand new discount among our special offers: the early bird.
Apply an early bird discount when you sign up for SEO training a month or more before the training date.
The early bird can be combined with other deals, like the returning student 25% discount or the multi-student discount where every student after the first is $300 off.
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Source: Bruce Clay
An activist group posted an online petition urging then-Presidential candidate Mitt Romney to reject Nevada billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s campaign contribution. The petition linked to an AP story, which in turn linked to a court filing alleging that Adelson OKed his hotel empire chasing prostitution revenues. Adelson claims the petition defamed him. The defense won in the district court (my prior blog post) based in part on the fair reporting privilege to defamation, which gives extra protection from defamation for reporting on court filings.
On appeal to the Second Circuit, the court certified two questions to the Nevada Supreme Court, including:
Does a hyperlink to source material about judicial proceedings in an online petition suffice to qualify as a report for purposes of applying the common law fair report privilege?
Because the petition linked to the AP story, not directly to the court filing, the Nevada Supreme Court rephrased the issue:
we must consider, as an issue of first impression, whether a hyperlink in an Internet publication that provides specific attribution to a document protected by the fair report privilege qualifies as a protected report for purposes of that privilege.
(Only a lawyer could write a sentence like that!)
In a sentence that could have been written at the turn of this century, the court starts by celebrating the virtues of a hyperlinked web:
Hyperlinks provide strong attribution because they allow direct access to underlying materials, are intuitively easy to use, and are extremely prevalent online. A reader can click on a hyperlink and immediately determine whether official proceedings are implicated.
But not everything is aces with hyperlinks:
However, there is a drawback to hyperlinks as attributions—an average reader must identify a hyperlink, understand its importance, and ultimately open the link. When a hyperlink is not found, understood, or opened by a reader, it has failed as a source of attribution.
So the court is interested in whether readers will sufficiently notice any hyperlink to the source materials, prompting the court to digress into the “clickwrap”/”browsewrap” online contract formation rabbit hole, with cites to Specht, Nguyen, Zappos, & Fteja. With little gained from the digression, the court considers whether the petition’s link to the AP story was sufficiently prominent to readers:
Although the AP hyperlink was in the second of four textual paragraphs in the petition, it is important to note that the hyperlink was placed in the same sentence as the content it purported to support. That is to say, the AP news article supported the proposition that a report existed stating that “Adelson ‘personally approved’ of prostitution.” Thus, although the hyperlink was not conspicuous in a general sense, when reading the specific sentence the hyperlink functioned like a footnote. For this reason, we conclude that the hyperlink was conspicuous in the context of supporting a specific claim.
Furthermore, the textual explanation accompanying the hyperlink notifies readers that the petition draws upon other sources. The sentence in which the hyperlink appears states: “But this week, reports surfaced that … Adelson ‘personally approved’ of prostitution in his Macau casinos.” The sentence includes the qualifier “reports” and provides the operative hyperlink over the text “personally approved,” which is quoted. The hyperlink also provides support for the text it covers (i.e., the AP report supports the proposition that Adelson personally approved of prostitution). Although there were other hyperlinks in the sentence, we conclude that the textual references help make apparent to an average reader that the petition draws information from another source. Also, because the AP hyperlink is contained within the same sentence, an average reader interested in what the “reports” stated would simply click on the AP hyperlink to learn more.
The AP hyperlink, as a specific, active, and accurate attribution, provides average readers notice that the petition draws from a summary of judicial proceedings because the petition’s text indicates it is based on “reports” and the hyperlink’s placement and function allows for it to operate like a footnote. Therefore, we conclude that the online petition, as it existed when Adelson’s complaint was filed, fell within the purview of Nevada’s fair report privilege
With this, the Nevada Supreme Court sends its answers about Nevada defamation law back to the Second Circuit, where it appears Adelson is likely to lose his case.
Hyperlinks as Citations. This opinion dealt with a niche-y defamation law issue (the fair reporting privilege), but I see it as part of a broader legal trend. When I first blogged this case in 2013, I wrote: “if you support your negative factual assertions with hyperlinked citations, you can reduce the risk of a successful defamation claim.” Other cases in this genre include Ayyadurai v. Techdirt, Redmond v. Gawker, and Seldon v. Compass. Similar to what you learned in 7th grade math: if you’re treading into possible defamation litigation zones, SHOW YOUR WORK.
Related: linking to defamatory content isn’t defamation (e.g., Slozer v. Slattery, Life Designs Ranch v. Sommer) and is protected by Section 230 (e.g., Vazquez v. Buhl, Directory Assistants v. Supermedia).
Link Rot. In a troubling footnote, the court discusses the negative consequences of “link rot” (citing Prof. Jonathan Zittrain): “If a hyperlink fails to connect a user to its underlying source, it will not bring a document within the fair report privilege.” I don’t think the court thought this through. Read literally, it means the exact same material could be not defamatory on day 1, become defamatory on day 2, and possibly (if the linked URL gets restored) go back to being not defamatory on day 3–even though the content itself hasn’t changed at all, even though the author can’t control what happens on remote servers, even though the author may not know about the link rot, and even though the author may lack the technical and legal authority to fix a broken link (if, for example, a third party publisher isn’t able or willing to update the content). The “link rot” discussion was clearly dicta because the link hadn’t rotted in this case, so I hope any future court encountering the issue will think this issue through more carefully. Among other reasons why a future court might reach a different conclusion: the link might still work in Internet Archive; or a simple Google search might allow the reader to find the source despite the link rot.
[Jargon watch: this opinion, and the district court opinion from 2013, are the only two cases I found in the Westlaw database containing the phrase “link rot.”]
What Do Readers Expect? The opinion turns on whether an “average reader” would understand that the underlined phrase “personally approved” was a hyperlink with supporting information. Without any empirical evidence to bolster its views, the court treats Internet users circa 2017 as savvy enough to interpret underlining in web pages as signals of hyperlinks. While this conclusion seems unassailable, note that it depends on technological facts that weren’t before the court and that change over time (i.e., would courts have reached the same conclusion in 1997?). Thus, the court made the same kind of assumption that the Second Circuit made in the uncited Meyer v. Uber ruling on contract formation in the mobile environment, when it reached an almost identical conclusion that “a reasonably prudent smartphone user knows that text that is highlighted in blue and underlined is hyperlinked to another webpage where additional information will be found.” I think both courts reached the right conclusion, but I am troubled by the inherent precariousness of appellate judges making assumptions about what average or reasonable online consumers would expect.
Billionaires and Defamation. What’s the deal with billionaires losing defamation suits (a topic I’ve blogged many times)? Is it that they are targets for harsher criticism than the rest of us? That they have thinner skins? That they can afford defamation lawsuits? (It is, after all, a sport of kings). That they are used to winning? That they expect to drive defendants into submission through expensive litigation, regardless of legal merits? I don’t fully understand the dynamics.
I do know that unsuccessful billionaire defamation lawsuits are one of the best reasons to support anti-SLAPP laws, because the laws change the economic calculus for defendants (though the risk of a fee shift won’t deter billionaires) and speeds up resolution of unmeritorious lawsuits. Nevada recently upgraded its anti-SLAPP law and successfully thwarted a different billionaire’s (Steve Wynn) efforts to undermine it. That’s the good news, but too many Americans still lack anti-SLAPP protection and are reluctant to discuss billionaires candidly due to the risk of being sued, meritoriously or not. So I see this lawsuit as another good reason to support a federal anti-SLAPP law to level the playing field for all of us.
Case citation: Adelson v. Harris, 2017 WL 4294562 (Nev. Sept. 27, 2017).
Source: Eric Goldman Legal