Each week, we scour the web to uncover valuable articles and blog posts for our readers on the topics of inbound marketing, local optimization, search optimization, social media, and much more.

Search Optimization

Although SEO is an incredibly useful tactic to gain visibility, a host of other practices have popped up in order to streamline the process. Webmasters often attempt to spread links and gain exposure under the guise of supposed “content marketing.” If you’ve seen a comment that included an unsolicited link to another site, you’ve certainly experienced this. Krystian Wlodarczyk sheds light on the practice of SEO spam.

SEO is determined by many factors, most of which are technical in nature. In order learn how search engines work to rank, it’s important to come up with a model of operation in order to pinpoint where best to focus your technical efforts. Scott Stouffer comes up with another smart post on the future of SEO tech.

A smart SEO doesn’t ask for links right off the bat (this is what we in the industry call, “spammy”). A skilled marketer offers value upfront in their emails. Simply put, you must give in order to receive, and always expect nothing in return. Stephanie Beadell pens a terrific post on outreach.

There’s a certain level of search optimization every website should have in order to get indexed or reach adequate visibility. Unfortunately, a good deal of websites fall into certain traps that can hinder their traffic. One of these such traps? Page speed. Learn the rest from this blog post by Chuck Aikens.

Social Optimization

Your social marketing dollars should be invested properly in order to deliver the best return. Putting time into social media content on the appropriate networks can yield significant returns for your marketing. Nolan Wilson expands further on where to invest for social media.

Social strategy is a big focus for companies this year. Should you focus on your content or your relationships? Likes and retweets or conversations? Several different experts plan on employing these strategies over the course of the year in the hope of seeing increased engagement towards their brands. Ben Murray compiles their opinions in a post.

There tends to be much talk about the traffic numbers we see, but how about the audience we don’t see? Social media links and mentions end up barely visible to brands — meaning people who share your posts are a quiet minority that you should be taking advantage of. Mark Schaefer delves deeper into gray social media in a post.

Believe it or not, a lot of people don’t track their social metrics. They assume that it’s an immeasurable game, but in reality you can drive conversions just by simply tracking your progress. Spending time analyzing who you tweet and what you tweet can result in great gains down the line. Yoav Vilner shares four tools to help drive social traffic.

Local Optimization

Okay, so we know you want local links for your website, but how do you determine which links are the right ones to get? For that you’ll have to do a questionnaire analysis on your business. Do you offer discounts, and to who? What other businesses do you refer customers to? Phil Rozek posts the full list of questions in his post.

2015 is a new year for local SMBs. With so many search-centric platforms out available for use, it can get a bit overwhelming to determine the best course of action. Nonetheless, tried and true tactics will always prevail for your business. Collecting your local citations, crafting local content, and expanding your local presence are great ways to grow your local reach. Helen Stark highlights seven local tips to try this year.

Local search sites are adding businesses services at an increasing pace, including those that speed up the purchasing, transactional, and booking process for customers. Ultimately, this increases the retention rate for the SMBs that submit their sites to these local directories. Joe Morsello has the full story.

Email Marketing

Email is a complex beast. You have to take into consideration email subject lines, content quality, time of day, and so on. It’s also very risky to send emails on a regular basis to a large amount of clients. Your emails could be flagged as spam, blocking your messaging from ISPs for good (or at least, for a long time). It’s imperative that you know the best practices for email, whenever you decide to send it. Lee Munroe offers his best advice for email designers and developers.

When exactly is the optimal time to send your email? This depends largely on your audience, their online activity, the type of content in the email, etc. Janet Choi gives her advice on testing to determine the best window to hit the “Send” button!

Learn how Christopher Gimmer set up the launch of his stock photo website by collecting almost 1,500 emails. Here’s a hint: lead with value, and build virality into your product.

Content Marketing

Should you distribute your videos on YouTube or Vimeo? No before you jump to conclusions, they both have their pros and cons. YouTube is a much more public and open platform, but that leaves you victim to a lot of potential spam. Vimeo is a more professional video network, but is fairly closed, potentially hindering your videos’ reach. Ashley Faulkes posts the full list of pros and cons in an article.

Some aren’t content simply publishing content – in fact, most people publish content with the end goal in mind; more traffic. A great way to facilitate that goal is to upgrade your content. Outfit it with share buttons in a variety of ways with the apps included in this post by David Kovacs.

If you look for it, the philosophy behind Valentine’s Day highlights some of the most important aspects of successful content marketing. Thank people who share your content, give your readers gifts, and always seek to surprise and delight! Yael Kochman gives us the lowdown on effect content marketing.

You don’t want to put all your eggs in the same basket with content. Differentiating yourself on each platform puts you far ahead of the pack. It highlights your awareness to the fact that your audience is made up of several segments, and you’re catering to each one. Andy Jamieson highlights all five ways to enhance your content efforts.

Mobile Optimization

Google’s cracking down on the mobile-resistant webmasters! Make sure you’re not one of them — one of the best ways is to make your website work on almost every device, as well as creating a way to make your checkout as frictionless as possible. Henry Kim goes into full detail in a post.

As we continue towards the path of immense mobile usage, specific trends are popping up in the mobile industry. In addition to improved user experience, app analytics and mobile payments are expanding at an exponential rate. Learn more about this year’s mobile trends from Mobile Tech Force.

Although the transition to mobile is difficult, a few small changes in your online reputation could prove profitable for your business. For example, 68 percent of mobile users use their devices at home, giving you prime opportunity to design around that experience. John Boitnott helps your business prepare for mobile in a post.

Conversion Optimization

AB tests can teach you a lot about your business. Even the tests that don’t do particularly well can do a lot to inform business decisions – they don’t have to be statistically significant to make a difference. Allison Sparrow continues with the lessons she’s learned from last year’s AB tests.

Optimizing your value proposition will give you the best bet to improving your conversions. Focus on the benefits to the customer. The features and latest bells and whistles aren’t going to entice customers as much as they will put them to sleep. Clearly stating your VP for them to see will result in more signups. Giles Thomas puts out an incredible guide on this subject.

How do you reduce friction on your landing page? Don’t make it so long – let it be easy to read and simple to understand. Form fields are also another popular form of friction to crack down on. George LaRochelle puts out the full list of friction aspect to learn from.

Reputation Management

The best thing you can do to add value to your customer base is to have a positive reputation on which to thrive. You can do this by gathering reviews – 85% of consumers claim to read online reviews for local business. Learn more about building a positive rep by Drew Hendricks.

The list above includes some of the most interesting articles we caught in our streams this week. If you want to share other great inbound marketing news, please let us know below in the comments.