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Cyrus Shepard – High ROI Content Strategies – @cyrusshepard

Good morning from Day Two of Mozcon 2012. After a killer API/Tools presentation by Richard Baxter, Cyrus Shepard impressed the crowd with a great presentation on High ROI Content Strategies. Here are some notes and highlights from his presentation:

Past, Present & Future

Cyrus started off by talking about the past and the future. The SEO community has seen lots of changes from Google and Bing targeting SEO. We’ve seen some techniques vanish, specifically around low-quality link building such as link farms, general directory submissions, article marketing, and others.

Google is changing on some of the non-spammy best practices like title tags. They regularly change your title tag in the SERP’s. Now they are aggressively targeting popular link building techniques like infographics that are being abused. Even anchor text is changing. SEOs are building links with the anchor text “click here.”

Stay Ahead of The Curve

One of the underlying themes to Cyrus’ speech was that we need to stop chasing what Google is changing. We need to be where Google/Bing are today, not using practices that they are trying to kill.


Some marketers feel like Google+ is a third sock. Cyrus realized that it’s not a social network, is a knowledge network. And Google+ has given us things other social networks don’t:

  • Followed profile links in your profile introduction
  • Profiles have PageRank and are indexed
  • More circles = more links to your profile page
  • Links in posts are followed and help get indexed quickly

Tip: Utilize Google+ profiles and posts to support your link building efforts and speed up indexation of new content.

Google+ is real content that’s indexed on the web like a blog, not just a social network.

Google+ is the only major platform with author photos. Cyrus tested different photos of himself and tracked changes in CTR in Google Webmaster Tools.

The results? He ended up increasing CTR on one of his sites by an average of 35% over time. There isn’t a magic picture or color that applies to all sites. It changes depending on your audience and demographic.

Tip: Test and optimize profile image – how many links would it take to increase traffic 35%.

Tool: Allmyplus.com – gives you stats on all your Google+ posts.


Cyrus has relied heavily on infographics but says they are becoming overplayed. Too many people are building poor infographics and manipulating link profiles by forcing embeds with keyword anchor text.


  • Never use widgets to force anchor text. Links will instead be natural and editorial.
  • Don’t link to the homepage. If you ever need to cut a page due to a Penguin problem, it’s easy to 404 a subpage but not your homepage.

eBooks Beat Infographics

1. Easier to produce – like a really great blog post

2. Less expensive – $250-$500 to produce one vs $500-$1000 for an infographic

3. Evergreen content – infographics peak. Ebooks provide value for years if quality is good

4. No saturation – Link sources generally are higher quality

5. eBook Directories build additional links

6. Can be repurposed into blog posts, webinars, etc.

7. Not on Google’s (Matt Cutts) radar yet

Press Releases

Cyurs estimates that 99% earn no editorial links and you actually could be hurting your chances at ranking by putting your exact match anchor text on a flood of duplicate content, low-quality sites.

There are times to use press releases though. Use it the way it was intended by announcing important things and linkable assets, not building links.

  • new, useful and newsworthy
  • tools
  • guides reports and ebooks
  • free giveaways
  • videos
  • data visualizations

You should hire a professional on some services like Contently, odesk, feelancer.com, guru, elance, etc. Find someone with a history of getting content placed on REAL sites.

HARO – 3 steps to success:

  1. Use Gmail canned response for efficiency
  2. Link to expert author page to show qualifications
  3. Link to your top articles to establish you as an expert, reports may also link to these articles

Anchor Text

Google doesn’t need anchor text as much due to better signals from the linking page:

  1. keyword proximity
  2. reading level
  3. title tag
  4. page relevance
  5. domain relevance
  6. inbound links
  7. author authority
  8. contextual analysis
  9. block analysis
  10. term weighting


It was a really great speech from Cyrus with some actionable tips and awesome insights and theory into the way things used to be, the way they are now and the direction we’re going in the future.

Stay tuned from more 2012 Mozcon wrap-ups today and tomorrow!