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Originally, people created blogs to be personal logs that they would use to express their thoughts and feelings. Over time, blogs have evolved and are now essential for any online marketing campaign. Blogs have changed the way businesses attract new customers and help websites rank higher on search engines — they have so many different benefits, in fact, that any type of business can benefit from having one. Let’s take a deeper look into how blogs are used to market businesses.
Attracting an Audience
The main goal of marketing is to interest consumers in what is being offered. Blogging is a great way to offer consumers quality information on a regular basis — content that keeps them coming back for more. Although there are different blogging strategies, the main point is to provide some value so people will want to share it and, in turn, increase your readership.
After a while, your loyal readers will trust you and be willing to purchase from your company without hesitation. The important part about blogging is to keep all the information relevant to your products and services so that you attract a targeted audience that will find value in what you are offering. It is important not to try to push readers into spending their money — that will only push them away. Create a well-designed blog and provide your audience with quality information. When they are ready, they will do business with you.
A large part of online marketing has always been about getting search engine traffic. Blogging can be an effective way to get a lot of content out on the Internet and have it optimized to rank well on the search engines, which, in turn, will increase your overall traffic. The higher quality your blog is, the higher you will be ranked, so be sure to use good SEO techniques that will keep your rank on a steady increase.
There are plenty of different SEO aspects to think about, such as keyword research and targeting, link building, competition research, and more, but the most important part is the quality of your content and how much value is being offered in the article.
Plenty of Different Strategies
When it comes to blogging, there are plenty of strategies that have brought businesses success. Depending on your niche, target demographic and marketing approach, you might choose to go with an aggressive guest posting campaign or you may choose to have only a weekly post on your website. It doesn’t matter which strategy you pick, it will be better than nothing. If you are new to the blogosphere then overtime you will eventually figure out what your target audience likes, what keeps them engaged, and how to convert them into customers.
An important part of any strategy is to get an audience before pushing your products or services on them. As I stated earlier, this will only push them away before they learn to trust you. Start out by giving them content they actually want to read and maintain a steady interaction with your readers. Interacting with them will make them feel more connected to your blog and can also give you insight on what they would want to read about next or how to improve your blog overall. Once you have a large and loyal readership, you can gradually begin to mention your products and services in the content to give them a little push to open their wallets.
Social Media and Blogs
Another incredible part about current online marketing is the interaction on social media sites. This means that if you make amazing content and have a social media profile, you can post a link of your article on the profile and more people will be exposed to it. Also, people will be able to share the link with their friends and family, increasing your visibility. The synergy between social media and blogging is incredible and, once you get the hang of it, it will increase your traffic and sales tremendously.
Ness Garcia would like to thank you for taking time to read this article. She is a blogger and an SEO expert who loves to share her passion for the Internet through her writing.
All businesses, big or small, greatly benefit from creating a strong brand. Companies usually want to brand their business websites so customers remember them and think of their goods and services when they need something. A brand identity can be anything like alphabet characters, logos, colors, tagline, font style etc.
A strong brand leaves a mark on the user’s mind. Strong brands always use something as a baseline to promote themselves. For example:
Branding a business website isn’t always that simple, but there are certain elements that can help you to get on the road to create a successful branding campaign. In this post we will describe how designing a website relates to the basic branding principles.
Express Your Brand’s Personality
To develop your brand’s essence, conduct an analysis internally. Analyze customers, competitors and trends in the industry you are in. How you are perceived? What are you great at? How are you different? What do you do? Is the purpose clear? Why does it matter?
Appearance is usually the first thing that many Web designers think about when the topic of branding comes up. Including features such as: business logo, website design, color scheme, images, fonts, business cards and stationery etc. Obviously, Web designers can provide a lot more assistance to their clients when it comes to appearance.
Provide Quality Content
Your website should keep your audience updated and informed, whether it is news or an update regarding your company. It is important to keep your website up-to-date and fresh. Remember that blog posts are likely to be found at a higher level in the search engine results and are also likely to be shared on social media. So, what you publish on your blog, may be what draws clients to your website. Everything that you publish is a reflection of you and your business. Details like customer service, history, contact info, news etc. can be added to establish trust and transparency between your company and the customer.
Convey your organization is professional and credible. Everything about your website should reinforce your brand. All the details you provide are consistent throughout the website.
Other important website aspects to consider:
Maintain Experience and Reputation
The usability and functionality of a site contributes to a clear arrangement of information. Make sure there are calls to action (properly placed and visible to the customers), the tagline defines your business identity and logic and your logo is in an appropriate place. All of the details of the site add up and contribute to the overall user experience.
Reputation has to do with how others perceive you. To build a good reputation:
Use and Reuse of Graphic Visuals
Consistent visuals and layout allows you to reuse more of your content, be it style sheets or images. This means your site will load faster because the user’s browser doesn’t need to download as many things — old images and CSS are already stored in its cache. It also creates signature recognition of the brand and continues to give a feel of consistency.
Uniqueness is one of the major aspects of creating a successful brand. Be prepared to bring new ideas to the table and utilize them effectively. Make your users’ experiences unique by offering a website that is uniquely displayed within the industry, otherwise the interaction will not be memorable. Do not follow others, instead, try to become the trend setter.
Building a strong brand is important for every company as well as for personal websites and blogs. The Web is an excellent platform to build your brand, so it is important not to ignore branding while working on your website. Use all the above techniques mentioned above to make it powerful and effective.
Neha Yusuf is a social and mobile app marketing expert Cygnis Media, a leading application development company in United States, offering iPhone, Facebook and Web applications development services.
As you make changes to your organic SEO strategy via keywords or on-site updates, it can be challenging to know whether you efforts are actually generating positive results. Because organic SEO can take weeks and months to show tangible movement in your search engine rankings, it is essential to know how to accurately track successes and failures as early as possible. Educating yourself about the key metrics that point to the overall health of your SEO efforts can save tremendous time, money, and headaches.
Accurate measurement of any SEO campaign varies significantly based on the actual business focus and its key objectives. There are, however, a few key performance indicators (KPIs) that quickly reveal the effectiveness of any SEO strategy. Read on for detailed tips on how to become an expert at reading your SEO analytics.
The KPI Trifecta
Within hours or days of an SEO campaign launch, start paying attention to the following KPI’s:
These metrics point to the overall success of your campaign, and any movement within them after an SEO launch can start indicating long term expectations of success or failure.
Never Underestimate the Power of Keywords
There’s no understating it; keywords are a critical KPI. Correct selection and utilization of keywords can help manifest a page one Google listing, which studies show can garner you up to 92 percent of the potential traffic. Your first step is to meticulously select your perfect keywords. Then, after integrating them into your site, social media profiles, and marketing materials, start measuring their impact. Here’s how to break it down:
Let’s pretend you’re tracking a total of 10 keywords. Two of your choices are landing you on Google’s first page. The other 8 need additional optimization. You’ll need to examine your on-site and off-site strategies to find ways to improve these results. Or you may determine that those particular keywords are too competitive, and/or not applicable enough to your website to bring you the results you’re after.
Understanding the power of your keywords involves far more than monitoring rankings. The impact of keywords on traffic is also essential. Always measure the quality of traffic you’re getting, and, of course, the volume. Remember that landing on the first page of Google for any search results is meaningless if the traffic you’re generating doesn’t convert.
To determine how your keywords are affecting your traffic, watch the metric that measures the amount of your traffic that is generated from organic search. Your individual business and SEO targets will help you determine how much volume can be expected. As an example, if you’ve launched a national campaign, you’ll obviously expect more volume than if you’ve targeted a smaller geographic region.
So how do you quantify the quality of your website traffic? Pay attention to key website metrics like bounce rates and pages per visit. Bounce rate is really the biggie – if you’re getting a double digit bounce percentage, or if you notice it increasing after a campaign launch, it’s a safe assumption that your traffic quality has diminished.
How Good is Your Website at Converting Visitors?
Cash is still king, and conversions are the easiest way to measure how successful your marketing and website efforts actually are. Don’t assume that conversions are black and white by definition, however, as this too can be a multifaceted metric.
Here’s an example: Many SEO campaigns have the goal to increase overall leads. Remember that conversions aren’t just tracked via the web, but also through any other communication channel, like phone calls, appointment or quote requests, and related correspondence. If all your business does is sell tangible goods, a conversion is a sale. Most sites, however, have diversification with conversions, so make sure you’re considering the big picture.
Additionally, as you know, marketing is not always a real-time action. Since not all of your traffic will be ready to commit after the first visit, measure conversions by other metrics like newsletter sign-ups, social media fandom, media downloads, and any other action that indicates engagement. All of these point to a sincerely interested visitor, and could certainly equate to revenues in the very near future.
How to Quantify Your ROI
Because conversions can be abstract and, in essence, without revenue out of the gate, it’s a super smart strategy to map out the value of a conversion before you launch any related campaigns. This is obviously very unique to your business, and you may also have cost structure tiers to help determine actual ROI too.
Always factor in the customer’s lifetime value as you consider ROI. This equates to the expected profits you can receive per converted customer over their life long relationship with your business. Limiting your calculations to a single transaction conversion is a narrow focus and won’t reveal your actual ROI.
It’s obvious that tracking SEO campaign success is not necessarily a cut and dry process, but if you rely solely on something like search rankings, you’ll be missing a good portion of the story your metrics are telling you.
What other metrics do you use to accurate track the success of your SEO tactics? And how soon do you start watching your analytics after a new campaign is launched?
Digital producer, game designer, Internet marketer and staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs, Tina Courtney-Brown has been shaping online businesses since 1996. She’s produced and marketed innovative content for major players like Disney, as well as boutique startups galore, with fortes including social media, SEO, massively multiplayer games, social networks and project management. Tina is also a certified Reiki practitioner, herbalist, nonprofit director and true cooking diva. Learn more at her personal website, or find her on Facebook and Google+.
Taglines are difficult things to pin down. Some taglines have a certain force, a certain efficacy that makes us remember them years or even half a century later. The best ones even stick in our minds long after everyone has forgotten what they were originally for. “Reach out and touch someone” remains a well-known expression today, despite the fact that it originated as a slogan for AT&T back in 1979.
However, it’s also all too easy to put out a tagline that ends up being derided as cliché. People cheerfully mock slogan-oriented culture and buzzwords with fervor, and they do have a point. This is a content-conscious society, and people are skeptical about outrageous claims or comments that they’ve seen a thousand times before. A good tagline must be both memorable and honest, focused on the brand and the truth about that brand. Remember the phrase “tag, you’re it,” with the stress on the you. Make the tagline about your brand, and nothing else.
Tag Tip #1 – Be Truthful
If you have to make up or exaggerate claims about your brand, then you have no confidence in it and people will be able to tell. Your brand must be able to stand on its own merits, period. Any other assumption is ridiculous, and while deception might profit in the short term, the damage done to reputations through falsifications lingers.
To that end, avoid making patently outrageous or unrealistic claims in your tagline. Don’t claim, “It will change your life” if there’s really no expectation it will. Take the example of a kitchen appliance brand range. Perhaps it will make life a little easier, or maybe more efficient for the purchaser. It is unlikely it’s going to change their life as a whole.
Instead, focus on what your brand can do.
Tag Tip #2 – Be Bold
When developing a tagline, make a claim that illustrates your brand’s capacity. Consider the Timex tagline back from 1956: “Timex takes a licking and keeps on ticking.” Simple, direct and honest. Timex watches were built well, and thus could take a fair degree of abuse while still functioning. The statement was completely honest and compelling in its own choice of words. As an added bonus, this is another saying that’s moved into the common vernacular as an expression for anything that’s durable and reliable under duress.
Tag Tip #3 – Imply
Being honest and bold doesn’t necessarily require being simple. There are strong, direct slogans such as the aforementioned Timex tagline, but this is by no means the only step to take. Taglines can imply. After all… “got milk?” That powerful slogan from the early 1990s still elicits a strong, positive response today. Notice that there’s no direct claim in that tagline. It doesn’t outright say that milk is good, or even that not having milk is bad. It just asks if you have any. It leaves the work of the matter up to you to answer yes or no. From there, you begin to think if you’d like milk… and with two little words, the tagline has gotten you to do most of the work. In terms of branding power, it’s sublime.
Tag Tip #4 – Know Your Place
Don LaFontaine is legendary in the movie industry. He did the voiceovers for hundreds, if not thousands, of trailers in his lifetime. Sadly, he is no longer with us. He gave us the wonderful, iconic tagline, “in a world…”
You are not Don LaFontaine. If you’re trying to brand a movie with an opening tagline, do not use his line. It’s disrespectful of his memory, and disrespectful of your own brand, which deserves an original, creative effort.
This is an extreme example, but an important one. It can be tempting to refer to your product as “the next…” and fill in the noun. Or make a tagline that consciously apes another tagline. The problem is, unless you’re going for satire, people will recognize the disingenuous nature of the effort and respond poorly. Draw inspiration from prior ideas, by all means, but make sure that what finally comes out is a new line, reflective of your brand in its own right.
Tag Tip #5 – Embrace Brevity
Keep the tagline short. The second part of tagline is “line,” after all. It’s not motto, creed, paragraph, mission statement, article of faith or essay. If you can’t say the whole tagline in less than five seconds, it’s not a tagline.
For example, consider these: “We make money the old fashioned way — we earn it.” “There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s Mastercard.” Both are fairly long by tagline standards, but they can still be said in three seconds without sounding rushed. They go on as long as needed to do the job, and no longer.
Tag Tip #6 – Be Flexible
Sometimes a tagline just does not work out. This is alright; it’s neither a disaster nor the end of your reputation. Sometimes you’ll put together some words that sound great to you, but that everyone else just finds humorous. Consider the case of Iain Duncan Smith, an English politician known for his soft voice. He tried to brand himself with the phrase, “Don’t underestimate the resolve of a quiet man.” This was a great line in and of itself; however, due to the quirks of British politics, it led to people teasing him with shushing noises. He accepted this, and moved on.
If your tagline doesn’t work, move on to one that will. Just make sure you aren’t simply jumping from one bad ship to the other. Treat every misstep as a learning opportunity, and try to refine instead of making the same mistake twice.
Enzo F. Cesario is an online branding specialist and co-founder of Brandsplat. Brandsplat creates blogs, articles, videos and social media in the “voice” of our client’s brand. For the free Brandcasting Report go to http://www.Brandsplat.com or visit our blog at http://ibrandcasting.com/.
When I am optimizing blogs and websites with my content creation, I often feel like someone has placed me on the deck of an old, but capable sailboat has haphazardly pointed toward a horizon and then has suddenly thrown the line at my feet and shoved me off. A compass and a map, with coffee stains covering vital areas, is all I am holding in my hands. Even though l adore sailboats and writing, content creation and optimization can feel daunting, confusing and hard to direct.
Now, why would someone who is a professional content writer admit that optimizing and content creation can, at times, leave the creator feeling lost and disoriented? Mostly, because it is true (and if I am about to drown in the Atlantic I really need to start living an honest life.) SEO and content creation will never be completely figured out; I always say it is an art and a science. But like any true adventurer at heart, the unknowingness is thrilling and a huge part of the attractiveness of the job.
HERE ARE 9 LESSONS ON CONTENT CREATION THAT WILL KEEP THE SOS SIGNAL AWAY FROM YOUR DESK
1. Be Sea Worthy — You can’t fake good writing, just like you can’t fake swimming. Work hard at your writing. Don’t write just to arrive at your desired word count. Content creation isn’t just about working in those all-important SEO phrases and plugging your blog into WordPress. It is about conducting research and interviews so you can give your readers something worth reading.
2. Trust Your Crew — Rely on people who are smarter than you. Being able to find worth in the thoughts and ideas of every member of your crew is the mark of a successful captain. We all have something to bring to the table. If we are unwilling to hear and be heard we are missing out on some remarkable opportunities. Writers can be introverted and stubborn; like most artists, they can carry that endearing quality “if you don’t like my work then you are wrong.” But this is a destructive habit to fall into when you are creating content or employing SEO tactics. Things are constantly changing and if you can’t adapt you will fail. Remember, you never know what the tide is going to bring in.
3. Weather the Weather — Like rowing against the wind, sometimes you can work hard to tackle a specific or high-value SEO key phrase and then eagerly glance at the numbers only to see no movement or even a drop of improvement. This can be extremely disheartening. But you just have to keep rowing toward that horizon until you start seeing that tiny strip of land. As a content creator, a digital marketer or as a part of a SEO team, it is important to correctly manage the expectations of your clients in the beginning phase of your relationship so they know what to expect. Getting results through content writing takes time, even if luck is on your side and you are doing everything correctly. As long as you communicate this inherent limitation and set reasonable expectations, the waters will be clear and calm.
4. Stocking the Hull — Proper preparation is important before you set off on a long voyage. In fact, it can very easily be the difference between life and death. It is important that you educate and arm yourself with the correct knowledge before you embark on the exhibition of content creation. Here are three elements you should have in your writer’s helm before you embark:
5. A clearly indentified key phrase — Make sure you know your destination and what you are working toward and with; have this key word in your mind and cut and paste it at the top of your Word document so you can continuously glance at it. Don’t write a great creative blog and then try to force and jam the key words in, it will be obvious and it will turn readers away.
6. Your First Mate — Your clients shouldn’t be merely online connections. You should have their phone numbers and have established the type of relationship with them that you feel comfortable picking up the phone and asking them a question about a blog or an infographic you are working on. The worst and most disastrous word a writer can hear is: re-write. But having free and comfortable communication between yourself and your clients means you can ensure you are all on the same page. Also, you might be a great writer with a Pulitzer waiting in your future, but that doesn’t make you the authority on every single subject you are writing on. To establish your clients as thought-leaders in their industries, you need to tap into their years and often decades of experience. Then your content will be engaging and smart, making your clients, and you, look knowledgeable to your online audience.
7. More Like Guidelines Anyway — Remember to be flexible and follow the signs — things are always changing. Don’t doggedly keep doing the same thing if it is not getting you the results that your clients need. Be adaptable, not frustrated. Be proactive, not stubborn. Like the sea, SEO and content creation will always be rising and falling and changing. Learn to flow with the tide.
8. The Captain Stays with the Ship — Anyone worth their salt knows that. Stand behind your work and make sure it goes live. If you write a blog but it never goes live because it’s gotten lost in the approval process or in the scuffle of digital paperwork, all that time and effort was wasted. Make sure to fill out the SEO titles, tags and meta descriptions out properly as well. There is a lot to blogging that goes on behind the scenes, make sure that you fill out all the details so that your page or blog will be properly optimized and be set up to do its job.
9. Davy Jones’ Locker — Sinking under the weight of a million tasks that need to be completed yesterday, you can feel like you are sinking deeper and deeper. Demanded and scheduled creativity doesn’t usually flow as fluidly as we would like. One helpful tactic that I apply is to give myself a set time. “By 3:30 I am going to have 500 words written.” By setting this small, simple and obtainable goal you do two things: You do yourself the favor of keeping yourself focused and on track. The second helpful tactic I can offer so that you don’t feel like you are drowning will take you back to college. Write an outline. I know, I know, you don’t write that way, but if you can tweak your processes just a little bit, you might find it extremely helpful. Fair winds and a following sea, my friends.
Stephanie Drescher is a content writer and professional blogger for Solutions 8, Arizona’s fastest growing digital marketing firm offering: web development, SEO, social media, content creation and much more.
After 16 years of helping other businesses achieve a greater prominence for their websites, the past 2 years of insanity has given me pause to contemplate the future.
Clearly, Google is intent on rendering my chosen vocation irrelevant. The previous ability to attain decent rankings has been eroded as Google eats away at the foundations of SEO and progressively eliminates legitimate opportunities to be a “tall poppy” on the www.
Over the years, I’ve nurtured a great many websites for a number of wonderful clients in a broad cross-section of genres. Of those, none seem unaffected by Google’s erratic rampage since 2012. Like most serious SEO practitioners, I believed that Google’s underlying intentions were for the greater good. Like many others, I have worked hard towards understanding and promoting the gospel of St. Google, striving to meet the guideline revisions and the amended terms of service.
I am deeply and bitterly disappointed by the outcome of the past 2 years of changes.
There’s a growing awareness and consensus across the internet that we’re ALL being screwed, whichever side of the belief divide we stand. The game is getting harder and the penalties more severe. The self-appointed umpire keeps changing the rules to suit its own end-game and there is no sign of any respite on the horizon.
An early retirement holds an increasing attraction. I’m 60 next birthday, and growing orchids is beginning to seem like a far more rewarding and infinitely less stressful occupation than SEO!
Did The Devil Buy Google’s Soul?
Others have touched on the fair-mindedness of the early Google, and the democratic way it enabled mom and pop enterprises to flourish in a “Level Playing Field” environment. There was once a time when start-ups with some nous could easily outperform the big-budget corporate players. Working smarter allowed many new businesses to flourish into large-scale enterprises. Many people owe a lot of their success to that earlier, nicer Google – but now it is apparently time to pay the piper!
“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” – Keyser Söze
The democracy and spirit of fair play has now completely gone and the Mammon-worshippers at Google HQ have apparently sold their souls and crossed over to the dark side. Not since the early days of America has a single entity wielded so much unchecked and unrestrained power over so many other businesses. Back then, it was national domination by a handful of wealthy, ruthless men. Now it is global domination of the information superhighway by a single ruthless toll collection company.
Clearly, the world is in dire need of a 21st century Theodore Roosevelt. I wonder what he would have to say on the ruthless manner in which Google has treated the businesses which have provided the content that allowed it to grow stronger.
Perhaps this quote has relevance? “No man is justified in doing evil on the grounds of expedience.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Basically, webmasters’ and site owners’ best efforts to abide by changes to new guidelines and comply with altered terms of service since 2012 have pretty much been a waste of time. The imperative of Google delivering a greater return to its shareholders has taken precedence over fairness and search quality.
The so-called quest for best possible SERPs results gave Google an initial moral advantage, whereby the Panda/Penguin nay-sayers got dissed as black-hat SEO’s suffering from sour grapes. Is there anyone left who really and truly believes that Google has any credibility left in their public statements about striving to give searchers the best possible results?
It looks more like Google deliberately, knowingly and with malice aforethought set out to construct a scenario where they could portray punishing “the evil-doers” as a means to legitimize the inevitable collateral damage to the general website population. Anyone who whines about it publicly is automatically assumed to be an evil, black-hat SEO, or an employer of the same ilk.
Has Google Annexed the Information Superhighway?
The question has kept popping up in my subconscious more frequently this year. It has been a catchy phrase I’ve been steadfastly resisting articulation of, but as year’s end nears with no end to the insanity in sight, I can no longer hold it within my breast.
Is Google the Anti-Christ of the Internet? Has it been residing amongst us since 1997, carefully preparing for its nefarious end-game of global domination? Infiltrating the internet in the guise of the oft-quoted “benevolent curator” and surreptitiously acquiring enormous wealth and vast international power in readiness for the day of revelation.
All the while slyly buying up, neutralizing or stifling its competitors while recruiting hordes of acolytes and fervent believers in its avowed cause. Finally, with all the exits blocked and the dissenters surrounded, it launches a carefully scripted strike against all those who either agree or disagree with its assumption of internet dictatorship.
If all of that seems a bit far-fetched, the reality for many internet businesses is that they’ve been carpet-bombed with incendiary algorithms without an opportunity to properly defend themselves. To many, it may seem like Google implemented an internet Pearl Harbour assault in 2012 and for the past two years we’ve all been taking hits, bandaging our wounds and trying to dodge the never-ending stream of logic-bombs. Google’s Disavow Tool is as much use as a leaky gas mask in a Syrian chemical strike, and the webmaster tools Incoming Links data as helpful as taking the proverbial knife to a gunfight.
Your business can be virtually eliminated overnight and you won’t ever really know why! Hell, you won’t even rate as a recorded KIA or MIA statistic, let alone have the opportunity to draw a weapon and mount a credible defence. Nor will you (or your site) be medivac’d out for attention. Remember how they CLOSED the Reconsideration Request option to all webmasters who have NOT been issued a Manual Penalty. I guess they got tired of listening to moans of agony from the grievously wounded…
That is not the sort of situation one expects in the free world. Whatever happened to “Do No Evil?” Did the CEO’s trip to North Korea inspire the new dictatorial approach to internet dominance?
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” – Edmund Burke
Repression of the Human Competitive Spirit?
Deliberate repression of effective competitive effort has been put in place across the search engine rankings industry. That’s the only explanation that makes sense in terms of Penguin. There were far better, easier and less combative options available to Google to deal with so-called link manipulation epidemic. Simply ignoring any that were deemed inappropriate would have avoided the generation of the vast ill-feeling and frustration worldwide towards Google. History shows that as soon as allegedly dodgy SEO techniques become totally ineffective, they quickly fall by the wayside. Hidden text, keyword stuffing and all those other little titbits that once helped are long gone!
Google has worked hard to eliminate opportunities to compete effectively against other sites.
Let us NOT forget that GOOGLE themselves created the importance of links to website ranking success with Page Rank!
An entire industry grew up around that all-important aspect of website rankings. Individual site owners were left with little choice about entering into link competition. If your main competitors are enjoying success at your expense, and it is clear their dominance is based on more/better links – what should you do? There were only ever two choices:
“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Retrospectively, a decade and a half after initiating the mission-critical linking imperative, Google set out to harshly punish all and sundry for their completely natural and genetically-programmed desire to do as well or better than others! We are human, therefore we compete!!!
Google has many times bragged about its ability to detect manipulative linking schemes. It chose to mete out punishments when it could have simply eliminated the effectiveness of the link schemes! Closure of loopholes is one thing, severe penalties for elements that are not completely within the owner’s control are another matter entirely.
The current Google environment is unfair, unwarranted and clearly unnecessary – unless there’s an underlying game-plan in play that the average website owner is not a party to?
Google Profits Soar as Panda/Penguin Bite In
Contemplate for a moment the trauma of having your site disappear without trace from the search engine results pages in the space of a couple of days. No longer being visible means global oblivion, slashed revenues and for some businesses, eventual closure.
This has occurred multiple times across various sectors over the past 2 years as Google has rolled out a series of punitive attacks on sites it considers are in breach of its NEW Terms and Guidelines. Never mind if you don’t know what you did wrong. Never mind if you were actually sabotaged by a competitor!
This effect has occurred to hundreds of thousands of previously successful websites. By design, content and proper internal optimization and perhaps a few more links than their competitors, these sites had for years enjoyed top positions for a broad range of appropriate keyword search phrases. They were enjoying commensurate visitor volumes per month. Free organic traffic. Obviously, that is not a mechanism that maximizes Google’s revenues, but it has been the model under which the Internet operated since its inception!
The scenario above is not a minor dip in the rankings – this is a 70% overnight drop in Visitor Traffic, despite the site being a reputable, high-ranking site with good links from prominent sites. Google Panda and Google Penguin algo’s have delivered double-strike death blows to many sites, and if yours is among those affected, good luck in sorting out the underlying reason and issues.
Protestations to the conspiracy theory notwithstanding, over the same period of same time Google revenues and stocks have risen sharply! See;
Is that the complete coincidence which Matt Cutts would have us believe? C’mon Matt – don’t pee on my foot and tell me its raining! There’s an old adage that – “Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence and thrice is enemy action!”
That would be in severe contrast to the financial experiences of the majority of the people who have traditionally provided Google’s underlying search CONTENT!!!
The words of Theodore Roosevelt echo here as well… “The things that will destroy America are prosperity-at-any-price, peace-at-any-price, safety-first instead of duty-first, the love of soft living, and the get-rich-quick theory of life.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Incoming Links Can Kill Rankings & Traffic
Google seems to have set out on a jihad to punish EVERYONE they suspect has done anything to boost the number of links to their websites in the hope of improved rankings. Via the Penguin algorithm, they have systematically demoted websites for any links they deem inappropriate. In essence, a severe penalty for your so-called manipulative linking efforts.
Escaping the penalty is tough, requiring you to make superhuman efforts to get links removed by contacting the sites that link to you. To make that task even harder, Google WON’T tell you WHICH links are a problem, let alone WHY they might be a problem!
Clearly, sorting out the link portfolio accurately is even beyond the skills of many experienced SEO practitioners. I regularly receive, on behalf of my clients, requests for links to be removed. The requests are indicative of the widespread and bewildered FUD factor in play! When the SEO guy for a fishing lodge is asking a nearby fishing charter operator to remove their link to the lodge, you know there’s a serious problem of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt in all quarters.
Webmaster Tools Can Help?
Sure, Google does give you some meagre, trash-quality data in your Webmaster Tools account to supposedly “help” you – but their attitude in doing so is clearly more along the lines of “You got yourself into this mess, so best you figure out for yourself how to get out of it!” Google applies the presumption of guilt and we are all placed on the defensive – but there is no proven and assured defence available. For the average non-tech-savvy site owner, it is simply too hard to comprehend what the hell is going on, let alone accurately analyze the situation and effectively apply the current ‘correct’ remedies!
Dysfunctional Disavow Tool?
With equal lack of compassion, Google provides a Disavow Tool that seems less about helping you than an opportunity to further humiliate you via the requirement to confess your alleged sins as part of the request process. Sternly-worded warnings give one the impression that they consulted the Surgeon General on the text, and that inappropriate use is guaranteed to be harmful to your health! A positive outcome of using the Disavow tool remains a pipedream for most webmasters. In fact, it feels that more often than not your confession is taken and then turned over to the Internet police to be used against you!
After a year or more of efforts to deal with whatever you guess might be wrong with your link portfolio, the next iteration of the Penguin algorithm is just as likely to further downgrade your site’s rankings as it is to improve it! Regardless of how hard you’ve tried to do the right thing, improvements are often short-lived, and erased on the next iteration of either Penguin/Panda. Most ranking graphs for 2013 will look more like the 2008 stock market charts – raggedly, jaggedly downwards. Traffic stats are likely to mirror the Big Dipper roller-coaster profile.
Eliminate the Positive & Accentuate the Negative!
It seems clear enough that unethical webmasters and SEO’ers are taking advantage of the situation by generating low-grade links to competitor’s sites. Who in their right mind expected otherwise? It is far easier and cheaper than resolving your own problems and it clearly works! Dragging your competitors down below your level is not exactly rocket science! At the same time, Google remains in a state of denial that negative SEO is very likely at all, let alone being done on any measurable scale.
Really? Did it not occur to anyone at Google that those black-hatted villains whose eradication they seek might see this as an opportunity? Google says it is unlikely to happen! Therefore, proving the opposite equals a chance to humiliate Google and achieve gains for your site / your clients’ sites at the competition’s expense and with minimal cost and effort. That’s a win, win, win, win right there! No serious thought to that scenario at all, over at Google HQ?
Low Quality Content Can Kill Rankings
Well, that has been the long-postulated objective of all the changes. Content is King! What a crock of crap that is proving to be. Take a look at Google.co.nz and search for “polished concrete”
Note that the site that ranks #1 is polishedconcrete.co.nz. Join the link back up to view it, or click from SERPs link.
That this site stands head and shoulders over superior sites is inexcusable. Moreover, there are a couple of other dreadful sites that also do quite well within those results.
Search for “seo company” on Google.co.uk. At the time of writing, the #1 site was only registered in Aug 2013, and is quite possibly an example of the effectiveness of the “churn & burn” approach to top rankings.
This makes a complete mockery of all the statements of good intent that Google has issued in its quest to only reward Good Content over the past two years!
An Orchestrated Litany of Lies!
A recent humorous analogy between Matt Cutts and Jay Carney gave many people a good chuckle. It was funny, but not without its serious aspect! Regardless of what they personally know or believe, Matt & Jay have been spoon-feeding all of us from the same proverbial crock of excrement for the past couple of years. “Keep drinking the Kool-Aid” jokes aside, I am at a loss as to how they can stand up in public with a straight face and keep repeating the same patently untrue drivel! As another old quote goes “I would not call him a liar exactly, but he sure does handle the truth in an awkward fashion!”
Was the Game Worth the Candle?
The worldwide website ranking carnage and collateral financial damage to honest businesses is clearly NOT a sacrifice worth the garbage search results Google is currently giving us in return for the pain! What did Google actually achieve here?
Google has wiped out 60 – 70% of visitor traffic on vast numbers of damned good websites whose owners worked harder and smarter than their competitors to provide good content and whose only crime appears to be that they probably did a bit extra to compete by generating some links they hoped would help promote their businesses.
They have slashed the income on hundreds of thousands of legitimate online businesses in the process of targeting an infinitely smaller number of “bad guys.” Collateral damage on that scale goes way beyond irresponsible.
They certainly, demonstrably and unequivocally made the SERPs WORSE in most instances- EXAM RESULT = EPIC FAIL!
Google – I say “SHAME ON YOU!” There was a long period of time when the best sites rose to the top, and those who were too lazy, incompetent or inexperienced had to pay to be seen in sponsored listings. That always seemed fair enough. Now, it seems that the crap is on the top of the results by default, and the good sites must pay to be seen in the sponsored lists.
Because the topmost organic results are crap in many search genres, searchers are now forced to pick though Sponsored Listings in the hope that they will find something decent. That’s clearly an ass-backwards, counter-intuitive approach to search that directly contradicts Google’s own, oft-stated goals of delivering the most relevant results to searchers!
In sifting through some SERPs results, it often seems that the worst results occur more in searches where competition and pay-per-click costs are higher. That’s an aspect of the current situation that warrants some further exploration.
Does Reverse-Engineering the Changes Explain the Strategy?
What if you were looking for the fastest and most effective way to convert long-term successful (organic ranking) business sites into Adwords clients? What if Google decided that those previously successful sites should “pay their dues” for Google’s contribution to their online successes? Then, the Panda / Penguin strategy makes a lot more sense.
Accuse the successful of misdeeds, punish them harshly. Watch in amusement as they grapple for answers and solutions – and keep adding new twists via those dreaded algorithm changes to keep them off-balance as revenues drop. As traffic and revenues go into unrestrained free-fall, watch them come crawling into the fold – cap in hand – and sign up for Adwords accounts so they can stay in business!
At Google HQ, sit back and watch the stock prices and revenues accelerate upwards as the strategy steadily kicks into hyper-drive.
As conspiracy theories go, this one seems to have quite a lot going for it.
Google has been the darling of the internet for a long time and with good reason. They’ve had all the love and attention, and we’ve all gone along for the ride to our mutual benefit. It has been a truly mutual love affair – Google has helped us, and we have helped them.
Are the Branding Strategists at Google HQ all on extended vacation? Does no one comprehend how quickly one can go from internet hero to zero? What the hell is the boss doing while the techno-geeks and accountants are busily destroying the company’s reputation with reckless alienation of content providers and excessive greed in driving Adwords revenues?
The WIIFM Factor
What’s in it for the rest of us? The WIIFM factor is an important but apparently overlooked factor in all of this. If the previously satisfactory symbiotic relationship is being cast aside in favour of one-sided revenues, the whole house of cards will inevitably come crumbling down.
If we as “content providers” are getting the shaft while Google’s shareholders are getting the gold mine, there’s going to be a revolution against the arrogance of that particular decision! Perhaps people are going to start calling for “Google-Free Days” and “Google-cotts” in protest?
One would hope that someone at Microsoft or Yahoo is awake to the opportunity to regain some market share. While Google is shooting itself in the foot, is there a young gunslinger in the wings, preparing to challenge the greedy baron?
Website owners have a right to a fair deal, and Google seems to have overlooked our importance in the overall scheme of things. If Google wants to have paid search as the dominant content element in its SERPs, then it should be honest and transparent about it. If Google is destined to become mostly a PAID ADVERTISING Search Engine that places no ranking value on merit-based content, that’s fine. Good luck with that – the rest of the world will quickly move on.
Bing will prosper accordingly, perhaps Yahoo will launch a real search engine of their own.
Ben Kemp, a search engine optimization consultant since 1997, is a specialist in website redesign, and a veteran of 25-plus years of experience in the IT industry. Web: www.ComAuth.co.nz + www.Website-Redesign-Company.co Email: support@Website-Redesign-Company.co
With the holiday season glimmering brightly ahead, shoppers across the Internet are using unique search terms. Marketers need to take advantage of this and perform keyword optimization around these holiday terms. Take the time to do some solid keyword research, and when dealing with an eCommerce site, get creative.
It’s also necessary to start planning early. Don’t wait until late November to start publishing holiday-focused content; you might miss the users who begin shopping early. You also might be too late for the search engines because it could take a couple weeks for them to index your new pages.
This is the prime time to start optimizing for holiday keywords. Here are some steps and ideas to get you started:
Know the Popular Sales Days and Plan Accordingly
One of the very first steps and considerations involves brainstorming keyword ideas based on the important holidays. The primary holidays include Thanksgiving, Christmas or Hanukkah and New Year’s. To draw in customers when they’re beginning their searches for these holidays, your eCommerce site should have landing pages optimized for keywords related to them. Your terms can be something like this:
You should also plan for the top retail sales days. There will be a lot of search volume on these days for sales and specials, so your keywords for Black Friday or Cyber Monday can include something like “Black Friday sales.” Optimizing your categories and landing pages for terms related to these sales days should be your go-to step when targeting holiday traffic.
Prioritize the Products You Want to Promote
It’s impossible for you to rank for every product you sell, so you’ll have to prioritize. Think about which of your products best relate to holiday search terms, as well as which products are most likely to sell and increase your profits. These products could be your best sellers or products you genuinely feel would make good gifts.
Start creating new pages based around your prioritized products and gift ideas, and then optimize the pages for holiday search terms such as “Gift Ideas for Your Husband.” You could also plan to organize the products on each page by price, making the shopping experience more convenient for your users.
This article even suggests creating gift baskets to help you optimize for other holiday terms. The products you prioritized can go into these baskets. Baskets will attract customers looking for easy shopping, especially if you have pages optimized for terms like “Movie Lovers Gift Basket” or “Wine Gift Basket.” Once you have a couple of ideas for gift basket names, you should definitely check Google AdWords to analyze the search volume for these terms.
Research Last Year’s Top Terms
Last year’s top terms could help your SEO efforts this year — they may be terms that are used heavily throughout this year’s shopping season. Google AdWords reveals that “Secret Santa gifts” is a term that was increasing in search volume in 2012. Knowing this data could help you put appropriate products on a “Secret Santa Gifts” page on your site.
But if you immediately think this type of term doesn’t fit into your company or campaign, pause for a minute and think. Be creative — almost any product can be optimized to fit into a gift idea category for a specific industry.
Optimize Your Content
This should be a no-brainer, but after you finish conducting your keyword research, determining the products you want to promote and creating your site’s new pages, start optimizing your content. This involves optimizing your URLs, meta descriptions and titles with the targeted holiday keywords.
You may also find your pages’ SEO value increasing if you add small blocks of copy to each page with the targeted holiday search terms. Most users will enjoy reading descriptions or information about your gift ideas.
If you have a company blog, start writing a few posts based around the holiday season. If you relate the posts to your business and link to the gift pages you created, you’ll help boost site traffic and hopefully conversion. You can also talk about your specials or deals to attract users to buy your products.
It’s also important to reach out to other bloggers on the Internet, and look for guest blogging opportunities. Write some articles with valuable, focused holiday content that can help you build links to your products.
Optimize Your Pinterest Board
Pinterest can be one of the best ways to promote your gift and holiday content, especially since you can link to your new holiday site pages and optimize for your target keywords in the titles and descriptions of the pins and boards. Create “gift idea” Pinterest boards, and include pictures of the holiday products you’re promoting to drive traffic to your site.
And be extra creative with your Pinterest boards. One idea is to create idea boards based around different people and include products that match up to each category. For instance, you could create boards titled “Holiday Gift Ideas for Him” or “Holiday Gift Ideas for Your Boss.” Categories like this can help you optimize for targeted holiday keywords and, if you’re successful, your Pinterest board could be listed in the beginning of the search results.
Now is the time to start optimizing your site for holiday keywords. Make sure you start in enough time to brainstorm creative ideas and perform thorough keyword research. There are so many ways to take advantage of holiday search terms — what are you doing to prepare your SEO for the season?
Should you use malware protection software in conjunction with your anti-virus software? The answer is yes, and you should find out why.
If you are a computer owner, unfortunately, you are at risk of being infected by viruses or malware. There are a plethora of other threats and con-artists, hackers and spammers to look out for as well, but anyone can be affected by malware. Whether your children are trying to find coloring pages or your mother is looking at uploaded pictures, virtually no place is safe. What are the best tips to protect yourself from being infected by viruses or and/or malware.
The first step after the initial setup of your computer is to make sure you have anti-virus and malware protection setup. The operating system will also have a firewall, which will need to be turned on. You can actually download a free antivirus tool for malware protection that works in conjunction with your anti-virus software. Together, these tools should take care of virus and malware protection for your device.
Updates simply cannot be overlooked. They are especially important when it comes to protecting your computer, files and identity. There has been some speculation surrounding installing updates after a one-time operating system update caused computers not to reboot after installation. Computers and technology have come a long way since that time and it is necessary to install updates to keep your system running properly. Updates do happen frequently but only companies that have removed bugs or glitches from their programs release them. Not updating a system will only slow your computer down.
Along with protection software, pop-ups should be blocked to keep your device running smoothly. This is not something that will happen automatically, however. It needs to be set up under your computer settings. You can give your computer permission to accept pop-ups on certain sites but the blocker is a great tool in protecting you from going where you should not.
It is like telling someone not to hit the red button; of course, they are going to hit the red button. It is important not to click on any additional links or pop-ups that come onto your computer screen, even if you think it is legitimate. There are such attacks called ‘drive-by’ attacks, which may come off of very secured and well-known browsers. Your malware protection should flag you before anything happens. Also, if you receive any e-mail from a name you do not recognize, do not open it. This also goes for e-mails that seem slightly awkward and are from people you know — these are generally associated with social media sites. Just because something says ‘follow this link’ do not do it until you are 100 percent certain you should.
Choose an Alternate Browser
You don’t have to use the browser that is pre-installed on your computer. There are alternate browsers that can be chosen and used. It may not be a bad idea to choose one that had security in mind when it was created. Some Web browsers are better at detecting malicious activity and will flag you if you are going into ‘bad’ territory.
With all this talk about malicious activity, it has not been mentioned to use an anti-malware software. Free malware programs work to an extent, but you should upgrade to a malware removal software to ensure that nothing stays on your computer. It is wonderful to be alerted if a site seems suspicious as well as to be able to conduct a scan but sometimes the free programs cannot fully remove everything. Anti-malware and anti-virus remain two separate software programs. In due time, they will merge into one unit, but until that time has been reached, it is wise to run both on your operating system to ensure maximum-security benefits.
Honestly, this is not rocket science. Common sense will go a long way with computers and the more frequently you use them, the easier this all becomes. Learning about how to protect your computer is not a difficult task and is well worth looking into. If you have the money to invest in a computer, investing a little time to have it run properly is worth it.
James Edwards has been associated with the IT industry for the past five years. He is working as a tech support specialist in NYC. Besides system troubleshooting, he loves to write articles related to computer security and educates people about cloud antivirus software in order to keep their PCs safe from malware and viruses.
Today, search engine optimization (SEO) involves many different strategies used across multiple channels including your website, social profiles, mobile campaigns and other digital properties. But as the search engines continue to upgrade and improve their algorithms, businesses must quickly adapt and make the changes necessary to stay relevant (and ranking) in the search engine results. Search engine algorithms change constantly, and it can be hard to tell fact from fiction. Here are five SEO beliefs that may have been true in the past, but are simply not true anymore:
Keywords are No Longer Useful in SEO.
Way, way back when search engines were first invented, businesses could specify what their websites were about by using a “Keywords” meta tag in the Web code. Not surprisingly, people began stuffing keywords in their meta tags hoping to trick the search engines into ranking their sites higher. Search engines have not used the keywords meta tag as a ranking signal in years, but that doesn’t mean they don’t pay attention to keywords. Today, the search engines expect your keywords to appear in other places (like title and description meta tags), but they must also appear in the visible content of your Web page. The number of times a keyword is used on a Web page is still an important ranking factor for the search engines; however, over-using keywords is a negative ranking signal and can actually hurt you in the rankings.
Internal Links Do Not Matter in SEO.
Inbound links (links coming to your website from other quality sites) are an important ranking signal, but internal links — links among the pages of your website — are also important to the search engines. The search engine “bots” that crawl your website access your internal pages by following links, so make sure your site’s navigation system is well organized, coded properly (no broken links), and is consistent among all the pages of your website.
SEO is a One-Time Thing.
Just like other types of marketing, SEO is an ongoing process that requires adjustments to be made over time as the Web evolves. You can’t SEO your site once and then forget it. The search engines change their algorithms all the time, new technologies emerge, additional platforms are developed, and search behaviors shift, meaning you have to continually evolve your SEO strategies as well.
Lauren Hobson is president of Five Sparrows, LLC. Five Sparrows provides professional website and online marketing services to small businesses and non-profits.