On my All Things SEO Blog I typically like to share basic to intermediate level strategies for businesses that are interested in improving their online visibility through SEO and other Internet marketing strategies. This post, though, touches on a deep, dark, evil, subject related to SEO that up until a couple of months ago I had never had to worry about, and that’s Negative SEO.
Unfortunately, one of my local organic SEO clients has been under attack from what appears to be a jealous competitor who apparently got tired of seeing my client in the No. 1 organic position for nearly every targeted keyword we optimized for in his local industry marketplace for going on almost 2 years now.
Instead of doing things the right way to promote their business locally online using ethical local and organic SEO practices, this competitor decided they were going to take the unethical approach of hiring a Negative SEO service to knock my client off their No. 1 pedestal by spamming them with thousands of low-quality links.
As one of Atlanta’s leading SEO consultants who has worked with numerous businesses around the country, I for one, am disgusted by the practice of Negative SEO and hope that Karma serves those who practice it.
Am I taking a risk voicing such a strong opinion to these practitioners who may end up reading this post and vow to “stick it to me” for talking smack about them? Probably. But it needed to be said, and I’m prepared to battle with the consequences.
Regardless of my passionate feelings on the subject, the point of this blog post is to educate those who may be under attack from Negative SEO.
What is Negative SEO?
Put simply, the goal of Negative SEO is to decrease the search ranking of a particular website, not by earning higher rankings with superior content and links – as reputable SEO companies strive to achieve for their clients – but by using deceitful practices that discredit the website being targeted with Negative SEO strategies, which I’ll outline in the next section.
Negative SEO Strategies
As a more complete picture, Negative SEO can be construed in many ways from attacking website code and server vulnerabilities for a targeted website, and of course, human error of leaving yourself vulnerable by joining public networks or not signing out of important programs such as Webmaster Tools.
The case my client and I are dealing with currently is related to link spam, which has been one of the primary discussion points for SEOs over the past 2+ years since Google released its Penguin Update. Penguin, released in April 2012, was an algorithm update that essentially penalized websites participating in unethical link building practices (spamming the web with back links) in order to achieve higher organic search rankings.
While Google’s intentions of ridding the search results of these spam practitioners was a necessity, it opened up another avenue for Negative SEO by enabling unethical SEOs to spam-bomb their clients’ competitors websites with low-quality links.
Going back to my client’s situation, over the past 2 months my SEO team has uncovered nearly 4,000 Negative SEO-driven spammy back links pointing to my client’s website, using anchor text ranging from Pornography-related terms to “Sex and the City Quotes.”
Yes, this Negative SEO has temporarily dethroned them from their top organic position, but fortunately for us, our team has the tools necessary to combat such an attack, and we’re determined to reclaim our client’s rightful place at the top of the search results.
Ways to Combat Negative SEO on Your Website
Preventive measures will always be the key to combating Negative SEO against your website. Staying on top of what’s being said about your brand or website, continually monitoring your website’s back link profile, and keeping your website code (don’t ignore your WordPress/Plugin updates!) and/or server up to date with the latest code bases and security patches to minimize the risk of a hacker attack are ways to stay one step ahead of potential catastrophe from Negative SEO attacks.
Back Link Auditing Tools to Combat Negative SEO
In the case that your website is being spam-bombed by a jealous competitor, you’ll want to constantly monitor the back links pointing to your website, as blasting out thousands of low-quality links in the form of blog comment spam, forum spam, and links from other non-relevant (and often times non-English websites) is a strategy often used by Negative SEOs.
How do you monitor your website’s back link profile? Check out these great tools below.
Ahrefs.com is a tool I use on a daily basis for competitive analysis, and now for Negative SEO analysis for my clients. Ahrefs.com claims to have the largest index of live backlinks of any of link checker tools online, and judging by experience, I’d have to agree but you have to have a paid account in order to get the quality results you’re looking for in a link checker tool.
Ahrefs.com inbound link reports have consistently produced the most amount of back links for my client’s website as compared to the other two tools that I will discuss, but I must say I thoroughly believe you need to utilize multiple link checker tools to get a more complete picture of your website’s back link profile.
The next back link analysis tool I use is SEO SpyGlass, which is part of the SEO PowerSuite by Link-Assistant.com.
The cool thing about SEO SpyGlass is it not only gives you the list of back links pointing to your website, but it also provides advanced data on the domain your site is being linked from, such as the Title Tag, Anchor Text, URL, PageRank, etc.
Open Site Explorer
Part of the Moz.com Suite of Pro Tools, the main feature about Open Site Explorer that makes worth while for combating Negative SEO is the “Recently Discovered” section of links that were added to the OSE index within the last 60 days.
Again, this is a paid tool that I don’t find to be as comprehensive as Ahrefs.com, but you’re going to need multiple link analysis tools to properly monitor your back link profile for Negative SEO, and this is a good resource overall.
Google Tools for Combating Negative SEO
While all of this Negative SEO business is focused on driving down the Google rankings for a targeted website, Google itself provides some great tools for preventing Negative SEO from having a long-lasting (or any for that matter) impact on your organic rankings, which I detail out below.
Google Webmaster Tools
The hub of Google indexation management and health motorization of your website, Google Webmaster Tools provides two sections of note that you’ll want to closely monitor for the affects of Negative SEO. The first section is the “Links to Your Site” section under the “Search Traffic” category on the left hand side.
Here you can identify links that Google is aware of that point to your website, including the negative ones. If you see any low-quality links that could potentially be harmful to the rankings of your website, take note.
The second section section within Google Webmaster Tools that you’ll want to pay close attention to is the “Manual Actions” section under the “Search Traffic” category on the right.
Here, Google will actually tell you if your website has been issued a manual penalty (major reduction in search visibility) because of unethical (or negative SEO) practices.
Google Alerts is a free service provided that enables you to setup custom alerts in (almost) real time for terminology that gets indexed/mentioned in the Google index.
Often used for online reputation management campaigns, Google Alerts are fairly customizable by phrase match or broad match queries.
If you configure an alert to send you a message anytime Google finds a new piece of content about your brand/website, you’ll be alerted right away and you can take that alert into consideration, as it could potentially be negative and drive down your organic ranking.
Google Disavow Links Tool
The crown jewel of the Google tools for combating Negative SEO against your website is the Disavow Tool. Released in October of 2012, the Disavow Links tool allows Webmasters to submit a report of all the links/domains that are pointing to your website that could potentially negatively impact your rankings and search visibility.
While Google suggests trying to rid the Web of the spammy links, sometimes it’s just not possible because of circumstances out of your control. So utilizing the Disavow Tool to notify Google that there are harmful links out there that point to your website and you do not what to be associated with them.
If it isn’t utilized properly, Disavow can cause more harm than good, so it is a tool that only advanced Webmasters and SEOs should use to prevent negative SEO.
Got a Negative SEO Problem?
So now that you’ve got the low-down on negative SEO, how it works, and what it could be doing to your search rankings, if you feel like your website might be under attack by a vengeful or jealous competitor, feel free to reach out to me or my company for more information and a free initial consultation.
In SEO, so much of the industry discussion centers around developing great keyword-centric content and building as many quality links as possible.
While these two topics are absolutely essential ingredients in successful SEO strategies, there’s a lot more technical HTML based components that also play into to creating SEO friendly web pages that rank well organically.
While this isn’t a comprehensive list but, below are 11 essential HTML tags that have a direct impact on your on-site (and in some cases off-site) organic SEO success.
On-Page Structure Tags that Impact Organic SEO Value
Meta <title> Tag
The most important tag on any web page, the meta <title> tag, similarly to a cover of a book, tells the search engines (and users) what the content of your webpage is all about – which is why it’s important to include your targeted keyword phrases in it! It’s also an important tag because it shows up at the top of your listing in the search results:
Meta Description Tag
While the Meta Description tag has no impact on how well your website ranks organically, it’s still a critically important HTML tag for organic SEO because it can convince users to click through to your webpage:
The <h1> tag is the first HTML tag that relates directly to on-page content structure. Think of the <h1> tag as the headline of a newspaper or blog article.
The search engines understand the <h1> tag to be the most important content header tag, and by using keywords within your <h1> tag, you give your site a better chance to rank organically for your keyword targets. Best practice tip: Only use one H1 tag per page!
<h2> tags signify breaks or subsections of your web pages that help organize content, assisting both your readers and search engines in determining what sections are important. Using both targeted and long-tail keyword phrases in your <h2> tags are also an SEO keyword-relevancy best practice for organic search.
The third content header tag in line is the <h3> tag, which is given a lower value than the <h1> or <h2> tags by search engines. The H3 tags should be used in cases where you need to further break down your subsections into more specific topics. Optimizing these for longtail keywords is a smart move, but not to the detriment of well-written copy. Though it may be tempting to try to stuff in keywords, this can look spammy and be detrimental to your overall organic SEO success.
The Link Rel= HTML Tags that Impact Organic SEO
The Rel=Canonical tag is an essential guide for search engines to determine find which web pages are the most important and which should be ignored when they crawl your website, particularly in the case where you have duplicate content on your site.
Without use of the Rel=Canonical tag, you basically leave it up to the search engines to determine what pages are the most significant and should be ranked/indexed.
Assigning an author to your text moves your site from being an anonymously written website to giving weight to what your text and content is by attaching a specific author and their Google+ account to it.
While there has been no direct confirmation by Google, on Authorship being a ranking signal, it’s been widely speculated that Author Rank will be incorporated in the future. By developing your Authorship, you’re building trust with users and with Google and if Google deems you worthy enough, they’ll include your head shot next to your listing in the search results.
Where an author tag can give relevance to content through a personal perspective, the publisher tag does something similar for business. This can be used to great effect by any business or brand with a Google+ page. Using this tag ensures that Google establishes a connection between your Google+ page and your actual website, thus impacting overall SEO.
Though assigning a link as a rel=nofollow may seem slightly mean-spirited in the SEO stakes, it can actually be an important part of preventing your site from looking spammy, and thus deserving of a search engine penalty.
This was first developed as a way for webmasters to prevent blog posts from essentially becoming link farms for unscrupulous “black hat” marketers who were just looking to pass PageRank to websites. With Google’s recent penalization of Guest Blogging sites, the rel=nofollow attribute should be used more thoughtfully by bloggers who are blogging on sites that do not belong to them, and by blog owners who allow others to post on their sites.
The Crossing Your T’s and Dotting Your I’s HTML Tag Attributes
Link Title Attribute
Though it’s not an important aspect of the SEO puzzle, the link title is often confused with or duplicated anchor text. Essentially, the link title acts as a road sign for users and should be as descriptive as possible so they know what to expect should they click on the link.
This is particularly true when it comes to more general anchor text links such as “Click Here” or “More Info.”
Image Alt Text Attribute
By using your targeted keywords your Image Alt HTML attribute, you can increase the overall keyword value of your web page. Image Alt attributes also promotes higher rankings for your images in Google’s blended and image search results.
It’s sometimes so easy to forget that the little details can make a significant impact. So, if you’re a DIY SEOer, or someone who is relatively new to the industry, be sure you’re taking the time to optimize each of these HTML elements on your web pages. Doing so can keep your organic SEO program moving in the right direction.
NOTE: The Venue of this Meeting has Changed to:
IBM Security Systems facility
6303 Barfield Road NE
Atlanta, Georgia 30328
One of the fun things I get to do as an SEO consultant is I’m often invited to present/speak to local groups, classes, or at events around the metro Atlanta area.
Last week, I accepted an invitation to speak at STC Atlanta’s chapter meeting on April 15, 2014, in which I’ll be presenting on “Optimization and Getting Your Work Found in Google,” to this professional association for technical communicators.
— STC Atlanta Chapter (@STC_Atlanta) March 26, 2014
During this hour-long presentation I’ll discuss:
- the basics of how search engines work
- optimizing HTML documents, PDFs, and videos for better organic search visibility
- the importance of a website’s content structure and topical authority
I will also be fielding questions related to search and technical communication from the group during the presentation.
Want to Attend the Presentation?
If you’d like to attend the presentation, refreshments begin at 6:30pm, and the presentation will start at 7:00pm at the IBM Security Systems facility 6303 Barfield Road NE Atlanta, Georgia 30328. The presentation is free for STC Chapter Members and is $10 for non-members. All proceeds go to the chapter, as I’m volunteering my time for this presentation.
I hope to see you there!
Want me to Speak at Your Event?
As a consultant and small business owner (not to mention husband and father!), my time is very limited, but I do enjoy presenting to groups on SEO/search related topics and would invite you to contact me if you’re interested in having me speak at your event.
When you’re building an SEO campaign for your website, there are a variety of tactics that you can engage in in order to drive higher levels of inbound traffic.
While many SEO marketers hone in on the keywords that have the highest search volumes as a way to generate inbound traffic, failure to recognize the value of longer phrases, less trafficked phrases (longtail keywords) to generate traffic can take away a world of opportunity.
Longtail keywords give you the ability to get more specific with your user’s searches, essentially widening your net to reel in those all-important page views and potential customer interactions.
What Are Longtail Keywords?
There are two types of keywords that you should pay attention to when you are building a campaign for inbound marketing. There are “head” terms, which are popular and frequently searched for, but are oftentimes more generic, as well as Longtail keywords that allow you to make your search terms more specific. For example, using a term like “sofas” would be a head term, but “compare prices of La-Z-Boy sofas” would be a longtail keyword. Longtail keywords are typically three words or longer.
Why Use Longtail Keywords?
In a word? Opportunity.
While many marketers generally go for head terms and more generic keywords, these are often much more competitive to rank for – and often times not as valuable for driving conversions. Longtail keywords are less competitive to rank for in organic searches, making them a great value for any online marketing campaign.
The return on investment can also be seen when setting up pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns, as longtail keywords are less expensive to bid for on the whole. Lastly, when a customer is searching with a longtail keyword, they’re usually more likely to be looking to purchase and are oftentimes more easy to convert into a sale.
How to Find Quality Longtail Keywords
Start by trying to think as someone who would be searching for your product or service. What kind of terms would they use to search?
From there, there are several research tools available to help you identify quality longtail keywords for your SEO campaign. Among them are:
Another creative way to identify quality longtail keywords is to start typing your keywords into Google’s search bar, which will serve up suggested searches for you that may be relevant to your company’s product or service.
How Do You Use Longtail Keywords To Generate Inbound Traffic?
After you’ve discovered the longtail keywords that you want to add to your campaigns, it’s important that you develop high quality content for your website revolving around these longtail phrases that will help you generate the maximum amount of inbound traffic.
You can do this by building out a cluster of pages that are highly related within your website’s hierarchy that strengthens your keyword relevancy for core keywords by utilizing the longtails on your cluster pages.
(i.e.: Tattoo Removal, Does Tattoo Removal Hurt?, Tattoo Removal for Dark Skin, How Does Tattoo Removal Work?)
Another great way to target longtail keyword phrases is by utilizing these phrases in your blog posts. Focusing on well-written, SEO friendly, high-value blog posts can lead to tons of high quality traffic that helps solve a problem, need for your readers, and in turn builds up your credibility with them (which makes them more likely to buy from YOU.)
So, before you look at jumping into the PPC bidding wars or targeting the same highly competitive keywords that everyone else is going after, take some time to consider how these longtail keywords can offer up a huge amount of value when it comes to inbound traffic and sales conversion.
Whether your business is in retail, healthcare, or consulting, Atlanta has competitive search markets for countless industries and professions. To get your Atlanta SEO strategy flowing in the right direction, it’s important to have your resources in a row.
In this gem, you’ll be treated with a wealth of tips and resources to empower your local SEO strategy in 2014. So bookmark this page and use it as a guide to inspire the creative process behind your company’s Atlanta SEO strategy.
Local SEO Gold Worth Digging Into
So you want some local SEO goodies that will take your Atlanta business to the next level in local search? Of course you do!
Below are a few great resources worth checking out. We’ve broken them down into on-page SEO and off-page SEO resources, the primary subsets of a standard local SEO process.
On-page SEO Resources
Understanding Schema is extremely essential in building an authoritative local search presence in 2014. Schema.org is something you or your webmaster needs to study and understand for technical SEO. In short, using Schema enables you to better communicate what your website is all about to search engines, and thus empowers your business’s ranking potential. It’s a bit code-heavy, but it’s definitely something you do not want to neglect.
SEO Copywriting & Content Optimization
Beyond the technical SEO aspects of your website, the visible and more creatively-influence content is equally important. Establishing proper keyword relevancy with on-page optimization and SEO copywriting is important to lay the foundation of a well optimized website. Visit the SEO Copywriting Blog at OrganicSEOCopywriters.com for a wealth of resources to help you learn the best practices of SEO copywriting.
Also, check out the SEO Copywriting eBook by CopyBlogger.com. Polish-up your SEO copywriting craft a bit further with this phenomenal resource by one of the most reputable sources for on-site optimization.
Off-page SEO Resources
Get Listed, for Links & Citations
The most authoritative businesses in Atlanta who are dominating their local search markets are often times listed on many local directories. To ensure your SEO efforts are up to par, check out the Best Local Directories for SEO at LocalSEOGuide.com. This is your local SEO laundry list of directories you should strive to get your business on (when appropriate.)
Another great resource to find and ensure the accuracy of your business’s directory listings is GetListed.org. Powered by Moz.com, one of the most credible websites for local SEO enlightenment is GetListed.org. Just plug n’ play and you’re on your way to finding the righteous path to SEO success.
Also a fantastic tool (and ongoing program if you have the money to invest in it) is Yext.com. With Yext, you can add your business (or verify its accuracy) on over 30 of the top local directories. This platform can save hours and hours of manual labor. Even if you can’t afford Yext, it’s still worth doing the free scan to see where you business needs improvements.
Get Social with Google+
Dive into this great read titled 10 Guaranteed Ways to Get More Google+ Page Followers from Hubspot. A major contributor to your Atlanta SEO rankings is local business’ reviews on Google+. Gather more followers on this emerging social media platform and increase you’re business’s potential for more reviews.
Have you been around the SEO block a few times? Perhaps to the point where your site might be at risk of over-optimization? Plug-in your domain at Pixel Groove’s Google Sandbox and Penalty Checker Tool where you can determine if you site has been flagged. Here you can determine if you need to rethink your link building strategies and how to re-approach off-page SEO.
Well there you have it folks – a solid list of weapons you can’t incorporate in your Atlanta SEO arsenal. Stayed tuned for more great SEO wisdom and insights.
I’ve recently accepted an invitation to speak to a group of college students at Georgia Highlands College about using Social Media (LinkedIn in specific) to help these students find jobs after they graduate.
The presentation will be a part of Georgia Highland College’s Passport to success program – a 4 day career preparation program that gives students tips on brushing up their resumes, how to dress/prepare for job interviews, etc.
The presentation I’ll be giving to the students will be instructing them how to keep clean Social Media profiles that recruiters and HR professionals will be scouring before they decide who to interview/hire. I’ll also discuss how to use LinkedIn as an effective networking tool to reach out to recruiters and hiring managers who are looking for qualified candidates to fill positions within their organizations.
The Passport to Success fair runs from October 7-10, 2013, and I’ll be presenting at GHC’s Paulding Campus in Hiram, Georgia on October 9. I’m looking forward to fielding some great questions and to building some relationships with local college students!
I’ve noticed a trend in my consulting business of late that more and more businesses are interested in my SEO coaching services rather than a full-on SEO program.
Hiring an SEO coach to complement the DIY SEO efforts can be ideal for some businesses that have a marketing staff with technically savvy employees.
DIY SEO helps keep costs down over hiring a professional SEO consultant to manage your entire campaign, so long as you’re able to efficiently manage the SEO process in-house.
That said, I’ve put together this list of 5 must-have tools for DIY SEO, should you choose to keep your SEO efforts in-house.
Google Adwords Keyword Planner
If you’re conducting a DIY SEO campaign, you’re most likely already in-tune with who your potential customers are and what they might be searching for to find you online.
That said, the first task to address in DIY SEO after you’ve identified your target audience and come up with a rough draft site map of your website is to conduct keyword research around your business’ products or services.
A great tool to conduct this keyword research is the Google Adwords Keyword Planner. It’s free of charge easy to use.
Then simply start typing in relevant keyword phrases at the top of the page, and click on the “Search” button to get a list of suggested keywords to target and what their monthly search volumes are.
An SEO Friendly Content Management System
Most companies don’t have a full time development staff to manage their website content updates, so it’s more than likely your marketing team will need a dynamic website that’s built on an SEO friendly content management system (CMS) in order to make site updates.
It’s important to make sure that the CMS platform your company chooses to build its website on is fully equipped with everything you need in order to execute your DIY SEO strategy. If you’re using WordPress, you need to make sure you have a reputable SEO plugin such as the Yoast WordPress SEO pack or the All-in-One SEO pack. Both of these SEO plugins give DIY SEOers the ability to manage the essential on-site SEO elements for DIY SEO including Meta Titles and Descriptions, SEO Friendly URLs, Canonical URLs, etc.
You could also choose another SEO friendly CMS such as Exponent CMS, which is my personal favorite, that has each of these SEO friendly features self-contained within the system.
Another great free tool provided by Google is the Google Analytics, which allows you to continually monitor you website’s traffic to help you identify trends and traffic sources. For those who are conducting a DIY SEO campaign, Google Analytics is essential for tracking the organic search traffic that comes to your website from your DIY SEO efforts.
In addition, you can set up Goal Conversions that tracks important visitor conversion activity such as an online sale, a contact form submission or an email newsletter signup. Staying on top of your website’s analytics can give you the information you need to make any necessary tweaks to your DIY SEO plan and to track its progress over time.
Webmaster Tools are an essential configuration resource for DIY SEO that you’ll need to effectively manage how your website is indexed by the search engines. Once you’ve verified ownership and installed webmaster tools onto your website, you can get access to a bevy of information of how Google sees the overall health of your website.
You can get information on crawling errors and Robots.txt notifications that a search engine spider encounters, as well as get a better picture on what relevancy your website has on certain keywords and the traffic/impressions that you’ve garnered from them.
You can also submit XML sitemaps for your website that tell Google about each page on your website, how often they’re updated, etc. Webmaster Tools also allows you to request that certain pages be removed from the search index.
Moz.com Pro Tools Suite
No I’m not a paid endorser of Moz.com’s Pro Tools, but I’ve found them to be a great resource for a variety of on-site and off-site SEO metrics, and if you’re doing a DIY SEO campaign, I highly recommend you subscribe to them.
Yes, there is a cost to the Moz.com Tools, starting at $99/month for up to 5 campaigns, but I’ve found the insight they provide to be well worth the cost.
There are multiple features to the Moz.com Pro Tools, which include:
- keyword ranking and organic traffic data reports that run once a week
- a letter grading (A to F) on the effectiveness of the on-site SEO that you’ve done for certain keywords on a page by page basis
- crawl diagnostics that identify critical errors, warnings, and notifications that you need to be aware of on your website that might hinder your DIY SEO efforts
- competitive link analysis that allows you to compare your website’s link profile authority with up to 3 of your competitors
- the Open Site Explorer tool which allows you to analyze your back link profile, as well as the link profiles of your competitors
- a social dashboard that tracks social engagement such as Retweets, Fans, Likes and Traffic
If you’re going to take on the task of planning an executing a DIY SEO campaign, make sure you’re well equipped with helpful tools that can assist you along the way.
One of the primary challenges that businesses face in online marketing is keeping their existing customers engaged with their brand, as well as being able to interact with potential new customers who visit their websites.
Below we list several website optimization methods that can help make your website more interactive for users to help your business achieve this level of engagement with site visitors.
Produce Content Worth Reading
The most beneficial strategy you implement to make your website more interactive is to develop content that is worthy of interaction.
No matter what format you post your content, whether that be in the form of a sharable video or in a blog post that allows commenting from users, if the content isn’t valuable or interesting to a user, they won’t be compelled to interact by leaving a comment, liking your posts, or sharing your content with others.
Integrate Social Media Elements
Integrating social media elements into your website design is an excellent way to make your website more interactive.
Among the social media elements you can implement to make your site more interactive for users are social sharing icons so your site visitors can easily share your exceptional blog posts, videos, web pages easily with their Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ or Pinterest contacts.
Integrating other social media elements such as your Facebook or Twitter feeds, so that your social media pages are easily accessible, or integrating “Sign in with Twitter” or “Sign in with Facebook” login options also makes your website more interactive – and socially relevant.
Provide Incentives to Your Site Visitors
Keeping your site visitors engaged by offering incentives to keep coming back to your website is a great way to make your site more interactive for users.
Offering them discounts on services, awarding random giveaways for liking or sharing your content, providing coupons or free information when they sign up for your company eNewsletter or a free eBook are all excellent ways to make your site more interactive for users.
Make it Easy to Contact You
This might be a simple suggestion, but it goes a long way for the overall effectiveness of your website for users. Ask yourself some of these questions:
- how easy it is to find your company’s phone number or email address?
- is there an easily accessible contact form allowing users to get more information about your products or services?
- does your website offer a live chat feature for users to immediately interact with someone in your organization who can get them the information they’re looking for?
If the answers to these questions aren’t positive, you’ve got room to improve when it comes to making your website more interactive for users.
These website optimization strategies are just the tip of the iceberg when making your website more interactive. If you’d like to learn more about optimizing your company website or effective website design strategies, contact me today for a free consultation.
In small business, every decision is a major one. Hiring the wrong employee, choosing the wrong vendor, or spending your marketing dollars in the wrong place can set you back dramatically.
For small businesses that see great opportunity to expand their client base online, choosing a competent search engine optimization (SEO) consultant to make their investment is essential.
SEO is the process of building a website’s relevance, credibility and authority with the search engines. These three objectives work to develop higher natural rankings (and in turn more search traffic) for the website when users search for specific keywords. Small businesses often times work with SEO consultants to help them achieve these objectives, but not all of them end up achieving their ultimate goal.
Why, you ask? Because not all SEO consultants are built equal. The truth is, some folks out there who market themselves as “SEO experts” simply just throw up smoke screens (and excuses) in front of their clients until the money runs out.
If your small business is in the market for a competent SEO consultant to help execute a small business SEO strategy, here are 5 questions you should consider asking them to help qualify their competence:
1) Do You Guarantee No. 1 Rankings?
This question will quickly quickly help you determine whether the SEO consultant is worthy of your trust. The fact is, No SEO consultant can guarantee natural rankings because they aren’t the ones who own the search engines! If you run into a consultant who promises you No. 1 rankings, you might want to think twice about their credibility and whether or not you want to do business with them.
2) How Do You Build Rankings For Your Clients?
SEO isn’t brain surgery. Be wary of SEO consultants who overuse SEO jargon and a mess of other technical terms to explain how they execute their clients’ SEO programs. Yes, SEO is a practice that is based on a multitude of different factors, but it can easily be explained in layman’s terms.
Make sure that the SEO consultant covers both on-site and off-site strategies that they utilize. Among the topics your SEO consultant will discuss are:
- Keyword research and competitive analysis
- Meta tag optimization and optimization of on-page content
- Off-site strategies such as Content Marketing, Social Media, Blogging, etc.
Be sure they don’t subscribe to any automated SEO linking networks to help build rankings for their clients – these programs to far more harm than good.
3) How Important is it that I get Involved with Social Media?
Nowadays if your Internet marketing strategy doesn’t include social media, your strategy isn’t living up to its full potential. Social media signals and social sharing is a part of how Google ranks your website’s content. The more it’s shared, Liked, Tweeted, and +1ed, the better the opportunity it will have to rank toward the top of the search results.
Social media also affords businesses an opportunity to increase the awareness of their brand with both prospective and existing customers. Keeping consumers engaged with your brand through social media by asking them questions, giving away freebies, Re-Tweeting them or giving them a mention helps to build trust, long-term brand loyalty, and keeps your company Top of Mind. While this doesn’t pertain entirely to SEO, the consultant should be aware of the power of social media can have for small businesses in growing their online presence.
4) Can You Provide Examples of Your Work?
This question’s purpose is multifaceted. First, it helps you determine the quality of work that the SEO consultant has produced for other clients, including how competitive the keywords were they achieved rankings for and what industries they’ve performed SEO for before.
Secondly, the answer of this question can give you a better idea of the typical caliber of client the SEO consultant works with and what the consultant’s fees might be to take on your project.
5) What Reporting Should I Expect and How Often?
Staying on top of the overall performance of your campaign is a must – especially for small businesses. Knowing where your marketing dollars are being invested and what you’re getting in return for that investment is an important expectation to have when selecting your SEO consultant.
Among the reporting you should expect from your consultant are:
- Website traffic reports segmenting Direct, Organic and Paid search referrals
- Ranking reports for your targeted keywords for the three major search engines (Google, Yahoo!, Bing)
- Link Building/Content Marketing reports: What articles where submitted and where.
- Citation Building Reports: What local business directories were claimed, optimized, etc. for the time period.
- An analysis of the performance and suggestions moving forward.
The frequency of these reports might vary from report to report. Some of these reports could be delivered on a weekly basis (Traffic, Keyword Rankings), while others might be delivered on a monthly basis. Be sure your SEO consultant has a well-structured reporting system to keep you well informed on the performance of your campaign.
These five questions will go a long way in helping your small business determine which small business SEO consultant is the most qualified to take on your project! If there is any way I can be of help to you in your SEO endeavors, feel free to drop me a line!
Despite what some search engine optimizers might believe about the value of article marketing as a viable resource for SEO campaigns, it is clear to me that articles definitely hold significant value. It was really a knee-jerk reaction for SEOs to discredit the use of article marketing for off-site optimization in a post-Penguin landscape.
I can see why some of the SEOs (that got penalized by Penguin) believe in this negative stigma for articles, but the way SEOs were using articles (spam) prior to Penguin and the way articles should be utilized now is the main reason why I still see the inherent value of article marketing.
The key to the value of articles nowadays is the same key to any content that is produced in a post-Penguin world. Content needs have value!
Well-written and well-optimized articles still have great value for organic/natural search, and for multiple reasons. If an article has value it can have one or multiple benefits, including:
- Becoming link bait for users who enjoy the content (authority)
- Providing contextually relevant content for carefully thought-out back links to your money pages (relevancy)
- Your article being shared with other users (viral content)
Again, the key to article marketing in today’s SEO landscape is developing high quality content that is both interesting and valuable to readers.
So if you think you’re up to the task of crafting this level of exceptional content for article marketing, here are my 5 favorite article marketing platforms that you should give a try.
Ezine was the first article marketing platform I ever tried out. At first I was a little put off by Ezine’s slow-to-publish ways after submitting my article content, but after awhile I really saw the value in Ezine because they CARE about the articles they publish. They have a rigorous quality assurance process that takes several days (for basic memberships) to get through once you’ve submitted your article for publishing, going through three separate reviews before it’s allowed to be published on the site.
Ezine is a very popular article marketing platform with nearly 460,000 authors who contribute great content to the site, of which I am one of. As an expert author you’re allowed up to two links in your author profile per article that you submit, which is nice for contextually relevant link building.
Squidoo is my favorite platform for article/content marketing because it is highly interactive and allows for multiple forms of content within one “lens.” With Squidoo, you’re able to upload images and videos that complement your text articles to give the reader a more visual experience. Squidoo has several built in modules that allow you to expand on your text content by adding link lists, social media, news feeds and ecommerce product feeds (Amazon, etc.) to your lenses to further your user’s understanding (and enjoyment) of your content.
Squidoo also has built in social sharing icons, as well as a community of users who are able to like your content and leave comments about it which obviously shows the value of your content. Coincidentally, some of the most powerful links back to my website come from Squidoo because of the high PageRank that the lenses are able to achieve. This is a great platform!
Tumblr is an interactive blogging platform that is great for creating your own blogs to post and share your articles on. Tumblr is totally free and is a network of nearly 77 million blogs (of which I run and post on several.)
The nice thing about Tumblr from an article marketing perspective is that it’s also a social type of network that allows users to subscribe to other Tumblr users’ blogs so they can follow each of their latest posts. Users can also re-blog your content on their blogs which is great for more social sharing and visibility among users.
Go Articles is another free article marketing site that allows you to submit your content. I don’t particularly care for the user side interface of Go Articles for submitting your article posts (I find it clunky and sort of a pain) but this platform does have some advantages.
In a post-Penguin world, having a highly diverse back link profile is critical, and with Go Articles you’re allowed up to 3 links per article, but any links you put in the body of your articles is assigned a “no-follow” tag. This is good for diversity, but if you’re going to spend the time creating great content, you at least want one good “do-follow” link for your efforts, which Go Articles allows you to insert in your author bio information.
Because most websites don’t want ho-hum content posted on their websites, guest blogging has always been a great way to generate high-quality traffic to your site. With the need for contextual relevancy when generating back links, seeking out other websites relevant to your industry to contribute your content to has become essential for building authority for your website.
The other website likes it because they’re getting well-written and valuable content for free. Search Marketers like it because it increases brand awareness and gets you a free relevant back link (or two) to your site. It’s a win-win situation for both sides.
If your SEO consultant tells you that articles no longer have value in helping you achieve top rankings, they were the ones looking for short cuts to get them. Articles are absolutely relevant for SEO today so long as they have something of value for the readers. Marketing great content is the future of SEO. Those who don’t “buy in” will soon be weeded out.