Category Archives: internet marketing

Is Linking Dead?

With the way things have been progressing online, it’s not much of a stretch to think that some of the old ways have gone to the wayside for search engines. Google, Bing, Yahoo and all of the others out there need to choose a metric of sorts where by it allows them to determine what is relevant to certain topics and categories. The long running, and highest contributing factor since the beginning, has been linking to websites; both those which are relevant to your business and those which may help your positioning. It’s a very simple formula really, site A compiles a great deal of information about cogs and becomes known across the country as the top producer and information source for them. Site B, is a reseller of site A, and as such provides a link directly too site A, helping cement their positioning online as the top purveyor of the cog industry. That’s a very basic example, multiply that a trillion times and you’re beginning to see the beginnings of the internet, and how linking works to sort out the web.

Over the last couple of years especially though, the social web has made a big splash. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, all social sites which are being hooked by the spiders and are being more frequently plugged into your search results. Some companies out there like to make the correlation that the larger the web has gotten, the more community focused people have become. Instead of searching out for the best cog company, people are asking their friends on Facebook and Twitter for example. It was a shock that ran through the SEO industry to think that the value of links was going to be tossed away, all because people suddenly had the ability (not that they didn’t already) to ask their friends for their opinion. It’s a (non)issue that continues being blown out of proportion by the unseasoned search experts out there.

Bet a very simple truth is this, the weight that linking and back linking to websites sin’t going to go away. Not just yet, and not in the near fore seeable future at any rate. That’s not to say that social signals and social linking isn’t going to become the heavy weights at some point, but that point is not today, not next month, and not next year.

AdWords Upgrades on the Horizon

It’s simply another method which you can use to become a more trusted business online, but Googles AdWords advertisements are sometimes met with ire. With complaints of search privacy and too many advertisements, Google is about to roll out a feature which should help clean up your browsing in the near future.

The newest feature to begin rolling out, is one which directly, and indirectly affects your browsing. Ads which are displayed on Youtube have had a small [x] in the top corner which allows you to close the ad so you can continue watching your chosen video uninterrupted. This muting feature, is currently now on its way to all ads served on the AdWords display network. Display ads are visually driven ads, often pictures or a short gif, as opposed to the purely text ads you often find attached to search results on the Google results page. By allowing users to be able to mute ads, it’s allowing a few things. You’re telling the search engines that you’re not interested in seeing ads from that ad group any longer, and a link to an Ad Preferences page where you can tell Google the types of ads you don’t want to see. By using the ads preferences page you can tell Google exactly which types of ads you don’t mind seeing occasionaly on your browsing adventures, and which types you explicitly don’t want to see.

With the idea of being able to mute display ads, you’re also saving advertisers money, as they don’t have to pay for ads which are served to individuals who aren’t interested in them, and you don’t have to continually filter out advertisements in an ad group you don’t want to see. All in all it’s a solid step forward for both parties online, the advertisers and the consumers.

The Common Mistakes of SEO

There’s a lot of mistakes that can be made with your search engine optimization campaign if your chosen provider isn’t totally on the ball. In the coming blog, I’ll discuss some of the simpler mistakes, how to spot them, and hopefully with that knowledge in hand, they will be avoided.

One of the primary mistakes that can be made when beginning to optimize your site, can actually be the combined fault of both the site owner and the SEO. Failure to conduct proper keyword research on your site, and on your competitors sites can actually hamper your efforts online. Improper keyword research can even lead to you creating or posting content which is improperly optimized, and your brand or website can become associated for the wrong terms. If the wrong terms become indexed it’s not just your current ranking which can be effected, but your long term can also be via backlinks from other websites. As an example, if you create a great document, well written, not too spammy and highly relevant, but for a topic unrelated to your website and someone finds and links to it; the search engines will index and categorize that link. If your website becomes the target for irrelevant backlinks, it begins to affect your authority on your niche market, especially if backlinking site is completely different from your business. So if you’re not sure which keyword phrases or targets you should be going after, allow your SEO experts to do their research and present you with a solution.

A mistake which is often overlooked because it isn’t painfully apparent, is when you’re having a website built or revamped, that it’s constructed in such a way that it impedes the search engines ability to index your site. Having a website which encourages intuitive use by the user, as well as the search engine spiders is very important to help propel you to the top. If you’re building a website with images or scripts as navigation, the users may be able to work out how to process it, but search engines don’t see things the way users do. If there is no way to identify the menu or page elements, the spiders will guess, or disregard the pages. That’s a dangerous place to put yourself for the sake of design, because it doesn’t matter how pretty or fun your site is if it can’t be indexed. A third common mistake which site owners get caught up in is lack of updating the site, either via consistent content updates, a blog, active forum or even a twitter feed. Building and launching a business website isn’t just a fire and forget enterprise with which you have one shot to be indexed and ranked, you should be working on your site and it’s content in a constant cycle. Either a blog every day or so, a forum update for members or a few tweets here and there during the day, engaging your clients and customers. If you allow your site to become stale and never udpate it, you’ll slowly be pushed further and further into the index by others in your space who do.

Lastly, even though we’ve already discussed the construction of your website, a last point to mull over. You cannot build a website purely for user interaction that is highly graphical with no actual content and expect to rank in the top of the searches. But by that same note, you cannot build a website with only the search engines in mind as all text and no user support or interaction. So while your site can’t be all flash and no substance, it also can’t be comprised of all substance with no flash, users will visit and never return due to poor user interaction. It’s a balance that needs to be met, and if your current SEO can’t help you with your existing site, call the search experts and we’ll have you flying in no time.

Protect Your Back Online

If you’re the owner of a small business, often times one of the best way to generate content for your website is to have an active blog where you can make postings about your product or services. It also allows your customers and clients to ask any questions which may be on their mind at the time, and can give your professional site a friendlier feel.

But with all good things, especially with the anti-spam algorithms that the search engines have running, it’s a very good idea to know how to mitigate the possibility of having your web authority tarnished. It’s not just the cheaters at the search game who get caught, more often than not it’s websites and businesses that follow the rules, but just happen to forget a very important step, moderation. Moderating the comments on your blog or any forum threads you may be actively participating in is greatly important, as nothing on the internet is truly private. If a thread you’re active in begins to get spammed, your name and business could be caught up in an anti-spam net, and you could end up devalued simply because you were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

If you have your own company blog, and you allow comments on your postings, it’s a good idea to have comments allowed so as to encourage discussion on your website. It’s a very good idea however, to also have a firm hand where moderation is concerned of any and all comments which are placed on your site. Blog spam comments are easily spotted however, as they’re usually placed automatically by bots roaming across the web. Their posts are typically poorly written, although some might surprise you, and contain a few links to sites which have no bearing on your own. There is thankfully, a rather simple way to deal with comment spam if you have a highly active forum or blog, and don’t have the time to moderate all of the discussions or comments occuring. You can simply add the NOFOLLOW meta tag to your discussion pages or directories, it’ll tell the spiders to simply disregard any outgoing links on the pages and you can let the discussion flow. It’s a simple line of code which allows you to protect your sites page rank, as well as it’s online profile with the search engines.

Keeping Track Of Your Website

At present, there are a couple of different sets of active penalty systems being tossed around on Google. There’s the Penguin update, and the link penalties which are being levied against sites with strange link profiles. If you’ve noticed a backtracking in your site position, how are you to know which way to proceed? Let’s have a quick look and see if it can be narrowed down some.

Firstly, the Penguin update which is still running around, seemingly causing mass havoc with some site owners. The most recent version of Penguin in the wilds of the web are searching for unnatural backlinks, a tighter field of view when looking for fresh content, better page title generation (if your page doesn’t have one), and better detection of hacked websites and pages. Note as well, that all of these algorithm changes, and much more, all run automatically as the spiders break down your site. If you’ve received no notification in your webmaster tools area, chances are you’ve been hit by a Penguin drive by.

The second current most common way that sites are being hit, is with what is called an unnatural link penalty. The key difference between this method and Penguin, is the link penalty is manually handed down against your website. If you pay heed to your webmaster tools notifications (you did remember to set that up right?), then just follow the steps in place to correct the penalties levied.

Or as I saw it put so succinctly:

Unnatural links is more about link networks, paid links, blog networks and unnatural link patterns.

Penguin is more about low quality links with weird looking anchor text, plus other over optimization related link building techniques.

In the discussion that has followed, it has been noted that the two seem to be inter-related to each other, so be sure to keep tabs on your websites performance, and don’t ignore the notifications you receive. You’ll only be sinking yourself faster should you choose to ignore any warnings or messages.

White and Black – Key Difference in the SEO Game

Search engine optimization, it’s the big marketing buzz word of the last 5 years or so. And what was once known as a highly technical, and relatively unknown business tactic has become a medium embraced by the masses. So well embraced in fact, that it’s become more and more populated by people who barely understand what the term means, let alone how to properly implement it on a clients site.

It’s becoming ever more obvious when we speak with prospective clients, that their first introduction to the world of SEO wasn’t all it is cracked up to be. The most common way to be taken in is usually with your webhost, offering what seems to be an amazing suite with submissions to directories and search engines. What these small, and sometimes large companies don’t seem to realize, is that directories don’t carry much influence with the search engines, and as for being submitted to them, well it’s not a process that exists in so many words. This scenario, as bleak as it may seem, is the best case scenario unfortunately.

The worst case scenario, and we’ve run into it a few times, is a client who’s been attracted to the false promises, and ‘darker’ side of SEO. The black hat entrpreneurs, if you can call them that, lure in their clients with promises of page 1, top 10 positions and quick return on their investment. The problem here, is the tactics that employed often destroy the online reputation of the company, and lead to the website often being removed from the index. When we’re engaged with a client in such a predicament, we’ve actually had them start over entirely, new url, new website, the works.

Key points to remember about legitimate search engine optimization are: It is not a one shot deal that will place you in the top rankings
It is a long term, high ROI solution
It is the highest ROI marketing solution when the costs and gains are weighed
And a real SEO expert will engage you as a client, to help you create content, and create an online experience to help bring qualified visitors consistently to your site.

Don’t be fooled by get rich quick schemes where SEO is concerned, it doesn’t work, it doesn’t exist and anyone who is trying to sell it to you should be black listed in your contact book.

Search Market Share Numbers & Transparency

With all of their updates that have been applied in the last while, Penguins, Pandas and who knows what else is coming, it’s becoming fairly common to read the occasional article on how poorly Google is faring as a search company. The news headlines are even beginning to creep into mainstream media more and more often, especially with Google+ trying to creep into Facebook territory.

But when you start to look at the numbers, year over year, nobody is really going anywhere. Where online search is concerned, just over 2/3 of the users choose to use Google as their search engine when looking for information online. The Bing/Yahoo machine (since Bing provides all of the results for Yahoo) stayed at a near 30% search share for the month of May, overall a loss of search share for the duo. Bing remained constant from April, and gained from a year ago, but since they’re filling the role of search engine for Yahoo, it is only logical to lump the pair together. The remainder of the search market is taken up by everyone else, Ask, AOL, and all of the other smaller engines out there like DuckDuckGo. These numbers are relevant to the desktop search market.

The mobile search market is much different than the desktop variant. While there maybe a much more varied platform base in the mobile market, it is absolutely dominated by Google, taking up the monster share of 95% of the US market. It seems that regardless of how much some SEOs decree the death of Google as a search engine, that the general user disagrees. At this point in the life of the web, the original search engine, is still the best search engine, going by the numbers. Your personal use and interpretations will vary somewhat from the general public.

Google, the Government, and you

Going over the search share numbers, it’s very plain to see that Google is sitting on the largest share of the pie, by a very clear margin. Being a company of such a huge size, with such a massive market share, makes you an impressively large target to take aim at. A couple of years back, in order to make information more available for view, Google began a new feature they dubbed as a transparency report. The introduction of the information was to give the general public an idea as to the types of removal requests the company faces on an ongoing basis. They’ve released their fifth data set, which gives a fairly clear timeline of events and online postings, and in their blog post from yesterday, Google has noticed a disturbing trend.

“We noticed that government agencies from different countries would sometimes ask us to remove political content that our users had posted on our services. We hoped this was an aberration. But now we know it’s not.”

It should be no surprise that governments are keenly interested with online activity and online content, it was only a short time ago that portions of the internet went black in opposition of the proposed SOPA bill. But even though governments have been requesting blog posts, videos, and sometimes even entire websites to be removed from the index, in the end they are just that; requests. And with the nature of requests, can come denial, which is what Google has been doing with most of the requests they’ve received. You can delve deeper into the report by following this link and it’s safe to assume that other search engines often receive the same requests to remove content from their index as well.

Yodel in Canada, God Help us

This is a great funny story I came across, People Beware!!!

I received a telemarketing spam call today from someone working for Yodel claiming that he could help me advertise my business on the internet. Now, considering we are a comprehensive internet marketing company and are really good at what we do, I chuckle a bit whenever telemarketers insist on pitching me with marketing products. I got double the comedy with this guy from Yodle, who was actually trying to sell me on my own list of services. Strike 1 for Yodel, they definitely could use a refresher course in filtering out bad telemarketing prospects. Maybe start by removing from the list companies that provide the same services you are trying to pitch.

I overlooked their horrible telemarketing routine out of curiosity. What about their internet marketing product, I wondered? Is it possible that they’re bad at telemarketing because they spend most of their time doing great SEO work for small business?

Sadly, no. There wasn’t an intelligent reply to any of my questions from the telephone sales representative on the other end of the line. In fact, after asking him multiple SEO and internet marketing questions it was clear that the person I was dealing with had little to no experience with internet marketing at all. That’s fine, most people don’t, but if you’re going to try and sell a product shouldn’t you at least understand what it is and how it works?

I spent a while with this poor kid on the telephone trying to convince him to look for a better job. Look, I used to do telemarketing in my youth. It was a good industry ten years ago and a viable advertising option before the advance of the internet. These days, however, it’s a giant waste of time and resources. What kind of people actually buy anything over the telephone these days? I do all of my business either face-to-face or on the internet after performing some pretty serious research. There’s zero chance that I’m buying anything over the phone from some kid making $8 an hour who just cold-called me, especially something as complex as internet marketing products.

After I had my fun with their telephone sales rep. I decided to research on Google. That’s when I found a ton of complaints on this company… Yodel appears to be causing a lot of problems for local businesses. Take a look at this rap sheet:

Yodle Complaints
Yodle, ReachLocal, Yext – Scams?
Yodle.com – False Advertising
Yodle-Scam Or Incompetent?
Yodle, ReachLocal, Yext – Scams or Just Hard To Please Everybody?
Yodle.com Complaints & Reviews – They promise the moon but can’t meet half of what they promise

If you keep searching Google for Yodle Scam you’ll notice hundreds of additional posts by people who have had a negative experience with this company. Who are these clowns and why are they giving my industry such a bad name? I can already see the wave of clients that will come into my office needing me to rescue them from the poor services provided by Yodel. It happens practically every day, clients telling me about the money they’ve wasted on internet marketing that didn’t work. Well, of course it didn’t work, you bought internet marketing from a telemarketing call run by an amateur who has no clue what he’s talking about.

If you’re approached via this method by an internet marketing firm you can almost guarantee that they don’t know what they’re doing and won’t help you – stay away! Our company generates 99% of our own internal leads from internet marketing and referrals because hey, we’re very good at what we do. We NEVER setup an internet marketing campaign without first meeting with our clients face-to-face. Our internet marketing experts will learn the details of the business we are representing, then offer customized solutions that perform rock solid for the unique internet marketing needs of that company. Isn’t that the way it should be?

Why did Rogers hook up with these guys? That’s right they want to be the new YP

Getting Re-Indexed and Search Dominance

We’ve been over the steps of what you need to do when you’ve been penalized and dropped from the index, but once you’ve followed all of those steps, you might be wondering just what’s next? To recap quickly what you should do, first go over your email (which you most undoubtedly have) and follow their major points of issue. If it’s bad backlinks, do your best to have the removed. Spammy content? Get a handle on it and rewrite it. Found out your SEO is playing the black hat game of gaming the engines instead of working with them? It’s time to drop them and call the real experts in search. After all of those steps, you resubmit your site for inclusion.

But once you’ve done all of that, it’s in the hands of the search gods. It’s where you need to sit on your hands, and wait for them to decide if you’ve done enough, to be reindexed and included back into the search rankings. What some people don’t realize though, is sometimes the search engines don’t fully clean your record, it may only be a partial pardon, incentive really to clean the rest of your act up. Just like search engine optimization isn’t just a black and white industry, neither is directing traffic at Google or Bing.

So, just how relevant is too relevant? It’s a question being asked lately as more and more often, the results page tends to be over taken by the same website. There was a short video put out by Matt Cutts and the Google team, trying to describe just what’s going on.

The method for displaying these newer results however, have been getting under users skin however. How diverse do the search results really look, or seem, when the top three or four, and sometimes the entire page, is taken up with a single result? Relevance to the search query is obviously which drives Google and other search engines to deliver their results, and the better refined they the better it is for the end user. Have you had any instances recently where the search results page has been dominated by a single result?

The Search Algorithms and Your Website

The web is a huge place, full of anything you can think of at any given time, because chances are if you can think of it, someone has made a website or web page for it somewhere. It could be as common as people writing about the latest movie or song, or it could be as low key as a new local band for instance, but if you were to hit up a search engine you will almost always find at least a webpage about it.

And with all of the billions and billions of web page and websites out there, it creates a market, and with any market comes the marketers. Search engine optimization, adwords, white hat, black hat, when you start reading about the industry you will find yourself running into terms which become more and more unfamiliar as you go. It’s no wonder that when you start having the conversation with a prospective, or sometimes even existing client, that the question comes up “Do you know how Google/Bing/Yahoo works? Can you promise me number 1?” Now the polite, short answer to that question is “No” and the long version is “No, we can’t promise number 1″. And then the inevitable happens, they utter the beginning of the worst phrase you can hear as an SEO “But I read/heard/was told that..”

Here’s the short reason why we can’t guarantee you number 1 in search for your business: the web and the search algorithms are always changing. When Sergei and Larry initially created the Google algorithm to run around and start indexing the web, it wouldn’t be a surprise to hear they never imagined it would get so massive. It’s rumored that the algorithm that runs now has somewhere between 250 and 300 ranking factors in it as it parses your website. And some of the confusion for those on the outside of the market, is when they read an article about how someone has cracked the algorithm to always rank on the top. I apologize for being up front, but anyone who tries to tell their clients that is a conman. At this stage of the search game, with as long as the algorithms have been changing and adapting, I doubt there is any one person employed by Google or Bing, who can sit down and tell you just how it works. Because at this point, they are just too big, too complex, and take into account so many different points that it’s mind boggling.

So your best course of action, is to adhere to the KISS principle, Keep It Simple Stupid. Don’t get crazy with your site, don’t get too smart with your content and follow the best practice guidelines; and you’ll be okay.