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The first Content Collective of 2014 should, by all rights, be filled with list after list of social media, content marketing, and SEO predictions for the coming year. We could have done that, it’s true, but if there’s any lesson that everyone should have learned during 2013 is that nothing in this industry is predictable.

So, along that them, instead of collecting and sharing a lot of the same lists of predictions, we’re going to take a look at a wide range of content from around the web that addresses some actions you can take right now to improve your marketing campaigns, work better with your clients, and how you can turn your rankings around and get back in the game.

3 Client Communication Tactics That Keep Everyone on the Same Page

The level of communication – clear, transparent communication – is one of the key factors of a long, effective relationship between SEOs and their clients. Unfortunately, if there’s one thing that seems to keep coming back to sting the average marketer, it’s the lack of efficient client communication.

In this article, Chelsea Adams takes a look at three simple tactics that will help everyone stay on the same page. It’s not about reinventing the wheel, she says. It’s about doing the job. It begins with educating clients early, letting them know the realities of their situation, and helping them understand that there are ways to deal with problems that may arise. Then you need to ask about their plans and goals beyond simply improving ROI, and then make light interaction a part of your routine.

You don’t have to write a novel every time you send an email, and your calls don’t all have to be of ground-shaking importance. You simply have to make sure you stay on top of the emails and make regular calls. Just get it done.

The Anatomy of a Perfect Evergreen Blog Post [Case Study]

Evergreen content – the stuff that lasts forever. The content that just keeps on giving. Sure, we all want it, and it should be part of our content strategies, but asking a writer to “create some evergreen content” is a lot like asking them to “write some viral articles.” In other words, sometimes we hear these terms and think it sounds like a great idea, but in truth the idea is so nebulous that it’s impossible for a writer to sit down and choose to write something that is “viral” or “evergreen.”

Or is it?

In this article, Alesia Krush takes a look at some of her best-performing articles and figures out what they had that made them perform so well for so long. She then gives some actionable tips on how you can plan and execute your own evergreen content marketing strategy.

Rap Genius is Back on Google

Manual actions from Google have been the bane of many websites throughout 2013, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to let up any time soon. The sudden loss of rankings can be detrimental to a company and harm their long-term goals and strategies.

All is not lost, however. It will take some work, but it is possible to get the penalty removed and get back in the game. Case in point: this article. This is a great look at how one company looked at its SEO strategies, discovered what it was doing wrong, and how they went about clearing things up and getting back on the Google’s good side.

Should you spend time on link removals?

Just as I was about to publish this Collective, someone in the office shared this last article with me. Since it fits very closely with the above article on removing a penalty, I felt like this was worth a closer look.

There’s been a lot of talk and theorizing on how to get out of a manual penalty. Once you get put in the penalty box, it seems to take a LOT of work to get out. Google tells you in the alert email that they recommend you take some time removing any and all of the links that you can before submitting a reconsideration request.

But is removal really the way to go?

The debate here is whether or not you should go through the trouble of getting webmasters to remove or link or just use the disavow tool. Google claims it wants to see you doing a little work to remove useless links from the web, but at the same time, Matt Cutts said that it was fine to use the tool even if you haven’t received the manual penalty. Check out this article to see how one company used the tool to remove around 60 manual actions. What do you guys think about link removal versus disavowing links?