The Land of the Penguin, Everything is Black and White
Over the past year or so, Google has pushed some major changes in the form of an algorithmic update called Penguin (and just before it, another called Panda) that had a pretty single-minded purpose; to draw a line in the sand and call everything on the wrong side of the line ‘black’. Penguin actually changed almost nothing about the rules of good website marketing (though Panda did) — Penguin’s (very nearly) single purpose was to punish specific kinds of link-building behavior.
Google refers to the links it punishes as “questionable”. According to the law of the Penguin, a “questionable” link is one that:
- Has anchor text that is an exact match to the anchor text in the majority of your incoming links, particularly if the content that is linking is low-quality content.
- The link comes from an auto-approve, non-moderated blog — again, particularly if the content on that blog is of lower-than-average quality.
- OR, the link comes from a web site that has a significant number of outgoing links and no real traffic to speak of. (BuildMyRank, anyone? BuildMyRank deindexed)
These things seem relatively banal and minor, but if you’re a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) wonk, you’re already wincing. You can see between the lines that most links that may have been the SEO-baseline before Penguin are now out:
- Autoblogs? Nope.
- Site directories that few people use (i.e. a lot of them)? Useless.
- Even ubiquitous SEO toolbox items like optimizing for a specific keyword on each page got hit
- now you must spread your keywords around on every page or you’re flirting with the Google sandbox.
The result of the Panda / Penguin double-punch has been profound across the field of SEO. It’s no longer about ranking as high as you can, as quickly as you can. It’s not even about deep research into your competitor’s backlink structure so that you can out-backlink them in an Olympic-style speed-back-linking event. (If you did SEO… Read the rest
Not that long ago, it wasn’t all that difficult to optimize a website for a search engine. Before there was Penguin or Panda, there was color. Or rather, there were shades of gray – areas that weren’t quite white-hat but weren’t black-hat enough for Google to penalize you for using them.
SEO wasn’t easy, per se, but it was easier.
The rules were more simple:
- Post decent content.
- Optimize your content for high-traffic, low-competition keywords with selling connotations.
- Don’t use obvious black-hat techniques like link-bombing.
- Build backlinks to your website. The more the better.
- Pack your keywords as dense as Google will let you (about 2% for most niches).
There were obviously details for each of these rules, but by and large, you could become an ‘SEO expert’ in a matter of weeks if you dedicated yourself to learning them. It might take a while to actually optimize a website, but it could actually be done by a single person working just a little overtime full time for a few weeks.
The most difficult parts of ‘old style’ SEO were producing content, some folks even outsourcing to writers off shore, like in India and the Philippines that spoke (or rather wrote) English just well enough to get Google to understand what they intended their topic to be. You could outsource an article overseas, and while with most of this content any English-speaking human that read it would laugh and click away, the search engine spiders didn’t mind the off syntax, so it worked.
Link-building was largely a matter of using automated systems that could mass-produce backlinks for you and hiring more outsourced link-builders to create those links that couldn’t be automated. SEO companies in the US often did the ‘hard’ work of producing quality content – the pieces that you expected people to read and that you put your company logo on – while they outsourced other content.
Then along came Penguin and before that its older brother Panda, and everything changed. Since we’re going to focus specifically on the Penguin update next week, let’s do a little bit of ‘in-between’; the… Read the rest
In any type of business there is always competition, some industries just face more of it than others. If you are like most people then you probably have a hard time dealing with the stress brought on by your competitors. If you feel this way about competition it is completely normal but if you know how to use your competitors to your advantage you can almost always turn this into a positive feeling. Competition isn’t all bad because it helps us to better ourselves or our business because it plays off our relentless desire to be the best that we can be.
With Search Engine Optimization the goal is to have your website ranked the highest and receive the most traffic or conversions. Being the most prominent and relevant website is crucial to the success of most businesses. The competing websites that you encounter when performing your SEO may seem like a bad thing, however they can almost always assist you in making better internet marketing decisions. It may seem sneaky to spy on your competitors but it has become a common practice and competitive analysis is a crucial component to website marketing. Knowing who your competitors are and how they are conducting their SEO can provide you with some very valuable marketing data. Below is a short list of how you can benefit from exploring the trends and movements of the top competitors for yours or your client’s website.
Social Media is probably the easiest place to start. Check out what social networking sites that your competitors are using and see which ones would be beneficial to your website. In addition see how they are using these sites to communicate with their audience and what type of content they offer on their social pages. Identifying how your competition is using these platforms is a great way to get an idea of what people like, what they don’t like, what is successful, what isn’t successful, and what you can be doing that they aren’t.
Meta… Read the rest
A lead capture form is often the highlight of a landing page. These forms are the most important elements to driving customer contact and capturing new leads. The lead capture form is an absolute necessity and can often make or break your landing page. Without a lead capture form the landing page remains just another hurdle between you and your prospective clients. If you don’t already have a lead form posted on your landing page then we advise that you make creating one a top priority.
The following are some of the critical elements that every lead capture form should have along with some extra tips for improving your landing page:
Basic Landing Page Tips:
The real measure of a successful website isn’t the number of visitors but rather the number of conversions. A conversion is when a visitor comes to your site and performs a certain task. These desired actions could be purchasing a product, getting a quote, signing up for a newsletter, or any other specified goal. Upon landing on a page, customers consider if they are in the right place, the trust level they have for the site, the amount of time the process will take, and the potential benefit from the conversion. The landing page should address these concerns and then proceed to display your introduction copy, any media content, product information, customer testimonials, and lead capture forms.
- Create a headline or tag line that really captures the interest of your visitors. A strong headline should urge potential customers to stay longer, learn more, and influence them to provide their contact information.
- Have a strong call to action that stands out and instructs your visitors to perform your requested action. A good call to action is found above the fold and will help urge your visitors to take immediate action.
- Makes sure that your landing page is visually appealing and easy to understand. Use visual cues to
… Read the rest
Adding a visual interest to your blog is a great way to attract an audience and it also serves to break up some of the more text heavy articles. However using an image on a blog can be a little tricky due to copyrights. Now of course this doesn’t apply to people who create their own custom images or showcase their personal photos. For the rest of us it is important to know how to protect ourselves from any possible infringement. The following is some background on copyright infringement and the best practices for avoiding it when applying a picture to your blog.
Basic Creative Commons licenses
Blog Pictures – Why Images are good for your blog:
As the saying goes a picture can speak a thousand words, having an illustration that is relevant to your content add a level of detail to your content and often influences readers to read your article. Utilizing an image on your blog can also help increase SEO value with the use of Alt attributes. ALT attributes help the visually impaired readers who use screen readers and may provide bonus points with Google.
The best types of images to add to your blog:
- Eye catching photos – Something that relates to your article or can be used as an interpretation of the article’s title.
- Photos with people in them – Displaying a relevant image with people also helps the audience connect with the theme of the article.
- Screen Shots – Screen shots are probably the best way to depict the topic of the article because more than likely it will be a screenshot of the subject that you are talking about. For example if you are writing a tutorial you can provide step by step screen shots. Additionally, if you are talking about a specific software application you can take a screen shot of their company logo or user interface. A good screenshot tool to have is GreenShot.
… Read the rest
As we have mentioned numerous times before one of the most important aspects of Search Engine Optimization is accumulating high quality backlinks. Backlinks are incoming links to your web pages and serve as an essential building block of a successful SEO strategy. Also known as inbound links, backlinks are important because they help indicate the popularity of your website and help to direct or drive in a high amount of new traffic. Websites are determined more relevant depending on the types of website as well as the quantity of websites that provide a backlink. Search engines like Google will often contribute more credit and place a higher rank on a website that contains a higher number of good quality links.
Search engines determine the relevance of a website associated with a keyword according to its collection of backlinks and the anchor text used within the backlink. The anchor text of a back link is very important when gathering these links because it denotes the subject of the page and helps target your specific audience. One of the ways to acquire a backlink is guest blogging efforts. As we briefly mentioned in our past blog post, guest blogging is when another website hosts one or your articles or when you showcase an article from another blogger.
Why Guest Blogging:
Guest blogging is a great device to drive in traffic to your website and allows you to network with other bloggers from your industry. Besides driving in new traffic and networking with other bloggers, guest blogging also helps with branding and getting your name or company in the spotlight. Guest blogging is also helpful in building your social media profile and gaining more industry experience.
When to Guest Blog:
How do you know when you are ready for guest blogging? You should wait until you have established a well written blog and have confidence in your blogging abilities. When you guest blog you should do it… Read the rest
Updating a website refers to the addition or modification of content as well as the actual design and layout of the website. Stale websites can quickly discourage web visitors and are one of the major reasons behind high bounce rates. A bounce occurs when a visitor quickly views the page that they have landed on and then decides to leave the site rather than exploring its other web pages.
How often should you be updating your website:
So, how often should you be updating your website? There aren’t any set expectations for how often a website should be updated. However it is suggested that you perform updates as frequently as possible in order to prevent your website from looking dated and losing your valuable web traffic. It is recommended that you try to update your website at least 1 to 2 times a month. These weekly or monthly updates should be designed for only adding or refreshing content unless the entire website’s design is fatigued. As long as you develop a site that is both visually appealing and easily accessible then your primary updates should focus solely on your content.
When asked, most webmasters and search engine marketers agree that the more you update your content the more impact it will have on your Search Engine Optimization. Updating is especially helpful when it comes to blog content. Continuously adding new blog posts leads to more of your pages being indexed and draws in more visitors and potential customers.
Reasons for Updating Your Website:
- Updating provides your visitors with a visually appealing user experience.
- Updating your website establishes fresh and relevant content.
- Updating helps your website get indexed more often.
- Updating attracts new traffic.
- Updating increases rank and influences other websites to link to your website.
Tips for Updating Your Website’s Design:
… Read the rest
- Apple’s iPhone4s from www.apple.com Oct 2011
Apple’s much anticipated October 4, 2011 press conference was rumored to be the public’s introduction to the iPhone 5. Leading up to the press conference Apple advertised with the phrase “Let’s talk iPhone”, which added to the already growing iPhone 5 rumors. During the press release Apple did talk about iPhones but not the one most consumers expected. The press conference may have left iPhone 5 enthusiasts disappointed but still delivered an amazing iPhone 4s.
The 4s offers many new features that should keep customers satisfied until the iPhone 5’s eventual release date. Although the iPhone 4s offers new and exciting features some people are still wondering if it is worth upgrading. The following guide includes some of the new features of the iPhone 4s to help you with this decision. The iPhone 4s will be available from $199-$399 next week on October 12, 2011.
Dual-Core A5 Chip:
The Dual-Core A5 Chip delivers the fastest and most powerful iPhone to date. The A5 chip allows for 2x more power and 7x faster graphics. The new chip makes the iPhone 4s faster and more responsive when launching applications, web browsing, and gaming. The Dual-Core A5 also provides users with an even longer battery life than any previous versions.
Siri Intelligent Assistant:
Siri, probably the most exciting of the new features is an intelligent assistant that allows users to control their device using their voice. Unlike most voice activation software, Apple claims that Siri not only understands the words that you say but also understands what you mean. Siri does what you tell it to do or locates the information that you request all by simply clicking on the microphone icon and speaking. Users can do things like ask about the… Read the rest