Strategy requires thought, tactics require observation. –Max Euwe
Max Euwe may have been a chess grandmaster, but the maxim he coined for the difference between strategy and tactics is more than apt when discussing the ever evolving strategy used by Google for devaluing SEO link building tactics. Google, the strategist, is always thinking of and considering new ways for which they can provide the most accurate and informative SERPs to their users. Meanwhile SEOs, the tacticians, must cautiously wait, watch, and observe for exactly what Google will deem as “link schemes.” This list of schemes has been steadily growing over the years, and has recently received a few new violations which were added to its guidelines.
The new link violation guidelines which were recently added are as follows:
It is becoming clearer by the day that Google does not like exact match, keyword rich, anchor text links. They have been steadily trying to take value away from its overuse to dissuade marketers from abusing what should be considered a simple “reference” online. By now it’s relatively apparent that many inbound links received by websites are indeed advertorials, at least in the sense of guest blogging.
This exchange consists of trading content for links, and while this seems simple and innocent enough, when you consider that a link is supposed to be a “reference”, it becomes quite apparent how that then becomes terribly skewed in the eyes of search engines. When you pay for a “reference,” it becomes an advertisement, which is then no longer a reference. Problem being, these links are still posed as references. This both misleads readers and confuses search engines results, and is the reason for these new link violation guidelines.
Now what this is not saying is that inbound links themselves are to be devalued overall, only inbound links that fall under their list of “link schemes.” The total penalty for engaging in a link scheme is dependent on the scheme itself, and its overall scope. In the end, when it comes to inbound links, Google wants them to be honest references, not advertorials. If it is an advertorial, that’s ok. Just let it be known. The worth of the content, if it’s good, isn’t taken away by the fact that it’s a marketing piece. In fact, if it’s worthwhile, it may even be more appreciated.
So what does this mean for people doing SEO? In all honesty, it doesn’t change much, except rather than scrapping 4 terrible guest blog articles together sourced to numerous low DA or PageRanked sites, you should be doing what is the honest approach. Writing quality content that provides a “real” value to readers. Naturally, if the content is good enough and you have used social media well enough to promote the piece, sites related to your field will find it and link to it.
If guest blogging is necessary to help build up your inbound link profile, simply don’t try to trick readers by failing to state who the article was written on behalf of. Don’t’ try to unnaturally inflate your rankings by using exact match, keyword rich, anchor text links. Use your company/website name, use the intended URL. This is all Google, and any search engine for that matter, is asking for. Less spam would be welcome by everyone on the internet. Sifting through heaps of trash sites to finally find one worth viewing used to be worse, and is getting better. But to help it along, we all have to do our part.
People often rag on Google for trying to be the “internet police.” But the internet is like the wild west, and in the wild west, those who cared most for their towns, and were able, stepped up to become sheriff. They were never appointed, people hated them for trying to instill law and order where there was once chaos, and some listened to them while others ignored their advice. Google is “not” the internet police, but they are trying to create order amongst the chaos.
Many people don’t like it, even though they know it’s necessary. So for all of you internet black-hat red-sash wearing cowboys out there, you would do well to remember the movie Tombstone. Order is being instilled, and to the general pleasure of most people who use the internet. If you continue to cause a ruckus, Google will find you, remove your black-hat, strip you of your red-sash, and devalue you with a rage previously unknown. For all you black-hat tacticians, Google is quite literally… your strategic huckleberry.
If you need help link building or coming up with a proper link building strategy, be sure to Contact Us today. Our in-house SEO experts have the knowledge and ability to help with the most difficult problems regarding link building and SEO.
If you haven’t built a mobile page or applied responsive design to your website, don’t expect to rank very high in mobile search. Our society relies heavily on mobile these days for getting around or getting quick information on-the-go, so if your site doesn’t load fast or look good on someone’s smart phone, Google isn’t even going to bother ranking your site very high, even if your regular website ranks well on a desktop.
The reason that your site won’t rank well is because user experience is a large factor in the Google ranking algorithm. According to James Barrese, CTO of Paypal, “96% of mobile users search for product information on their mobile device.” Unfortunately, if you don’t have the patience to wait for a website that takes 5 seconds to load on your mobile device, neither do your potential customers. This increase in bounce rate will have a negative effect on your mobile ranking.
Google has been rolling out ranking changes for mobile search and we can definitely plan on more in the future so it’s important to stay up-to-date on this. The preferred method for mobile-friendly websites is to apply a responsive design to your website so that it is able to adjust accordingly to different screen sizes. If a responsive design isn’t suitable for your website due to a more complex design and usage, then creating a separate mobile site would be your best course of action. Otherwise, you might miss out on the $20 billion of mobile transactions that PayPal expects to have by the end of this year.
Avoiding negative marks from Google requires more effort and refinement than just building a mobile page or applying responsive design. These are common mistakes that mobile sites have and how to fix them.
If your site could use some help with responsive design or optimizing the mobile page, contact us today at Customer Paradigm to learn how we can assist you.
Most people who manage a website have heard that they need to link build. But many are confused as to what exactly link building is and why it matters so much. This description should help to clarify a few of the broader and more important points to consider, and should ease some of the tension for anyone moving forward building up their websites inbound link profile.
Creating relevant, authoritative, and quality inbound links which point to your website for the purpose of raising keyword rankings, overall site rankings, and generating traffic to your website.
Consider the whole of the internet to be an actual physical room filled with only 100 people. If you walked into that room and asked, “What are the best running shoes on the market?” You will have some of those people make recommendations as to who you should speak with, while the quality and trustworthiness of those recommendations depend upon who is speaking.
Let’s say in total 50 people respond to your question. 2 of them were recognized and skilled competition runners, 5 of them have written books on running, 8 of them were recreational runners, while the remaining 35 people had no noteworthy running experience to speak of. Of those responding, who would you trust most?
You would probably trust the opinion of professional runners first, the authors second, the recreational runners third, and everyone else last. In essence, the professional runners opinions will way far more than everyone else’s because they are the authority on the subject. The weight given to the two opinions of the professional runner will be much heavier than all 35 people combined who knew nothing of running at all. Perhaps 1 professional runners opinion is as good as 3 of the authors, or 3 of the authors as good as 5 recreational runners.
This example and the numbers used are purely arbitrary, but explains clearly enough how link building is used. Each of the people in the room has a “score” associated with their knowledge on certain subjects and topics, and that “score” changes for each person as the topic changes. A professional runner may know nothing about dog training, and as such, their opinion on that topic would not matter.
The people in this example represent websites, their recommendations are links. If you owned a shoe store, it would behoove you to be recommended first by the professional runners, then the authors, then the recreational runners. It would do you very little good, and may even be damaging, to be recommended by people who have little to no knowledge about running. Because in the end, what is the worth of their opinion?
In this sense, you want to find websites who deal in the same things your website deals with, is trusted overall based on their authoritativeness and expertise, and other people refer to it often when dealing with those same or similar topics. Then when someone enters the room and asks a question about something you deal in, only the best recommendations come forth. The number of these recommendations and the quality of them determine your overall ranking in Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) for certain keywords and keyword phrases. In this way, by building your quality recommendations (links), SERPs will direct traffic to your website.
When determining the value of a link, there are numerous factors that Search Engines take into consideration. As such, you need to keep them in mind as well when building up your inbound link profile. Currently, those factors include what follows below, but as time progresses, there will no doubt be other factors included. As an example, social media has in recent years taken more of a prominent role in providing link value than ever before.
If you need help link building or coming up with a proper link building strategy, be sure to Contact Us today. Our in-house SEO experts have the knowledge and ability to help with the most difficult problems regarding link building and SEO.
Everybody wants their website to rank on the first page of Google but is it even possible? If your business is trying to rank for generic terms like, “bicycles,” then it’s time to restructure your online marketing strategy. The outlook on Google’s search algorithm is a more precise return on search queries that cater to the user’s IP address. So, “bicycles” returns Google Shopping, Local Listings, the highest ranked bike websites, and bike companies located in your city.
In order to increase your site’s chances of showing up on the first page of search engines, ask yourself the following questions:
From here, identify what IS your business’s niche. This is similar to a branding exercise. The more specific you can get, the better (i.e., lightweight mountain bikes).
However, if you have more than one specialization, then consider spreading out your eggs rather than putting them all in one basket as you risk losing out on business if you have some pretty awesome BMX bikes too. It is not recommended to try to rank for all the products and services you offer as this is near impossible and decreases your chances of ranking for much—stick to your hero products.
Once you’ve decided on your company’s niche, the next branding exercise is: Who’s your target? Are you a local business that only caters to one or two cities? Are your products only for children but geared towards parents?
Branded long-tail keywords are Google’s favorite search terms and if you’re still building your brand, then focus on location and product detail for your keywords, i.e. boulder children’s strider mountain bikes. But wait, is this how people phrase things when they search? Many businesses make the mistake of constructing keywords using industry terms and assuming that’s how their consumers also speak. There’s a fine line between being too specific and too generic when it comes to keywords. “Boulder mountain bikes for kids,” is a much more likely search term people might type in.
In general, identifying keywords that are in between being too specific and too generic, are long-tail, what people are searching for, and less competitive, will make it easier to rank for. If this is a headache, don’t worry, Google’s Hummingbird update tells marketers to rely less on keyword ranking, though keywords in general are still important. Instead, businesses should focus on creating high-quality content that is relevant to their target market and posting them on their websites.
People come to search engines like Google to help them find out more information about something. Google bots look at every single website every single day analyzing what type of information is available on each website so that they can be indexed and ready for Google to return. The more people that come to your website, stay for a while, and return for more, indicates to Google that your website is indeed helpful, interesting, and a resource so it is rewarded with a higher ranking.
When businesses provide high-quality content that is published regularly, not only are they seen as an authoritative resource, they also now have multiple paths of entry from users onto their site. Remember to focus your blogs around your niche and branding. Maintaining an updated onsite blog is a good option for doing this and when you’re writing blogs, make sure that you’re writing for your target audience and not for Google. The voice and flow should be natural and not keyword stuffed. Also consider the layout and design of your articles—large paragraphs, small fonts, and no images is an eyesore.
Once your blog is published, be sure to share through social media, emails, and especially Google+. Anything posted to Google+ is automatically indexed and pulled up alongside your website in search results. Through these means, you’ll be able to build your audience, allow for engagement, and increase your rankings as an authoritative site.
If you would like some help identifying what your company’s niche and hero products are, or would like help with your content marketing, contact us today for a FREE SEO analysis.
For many local businesses, showing up in search engines is a pretty big deal when it comes to gaining new customers and retaining previous ones. You may think that all you have to do is submit yourself to a directory or just put your address on your site but there actually a lot of factors that go into how close to #1 your business’s website will rank in search engines.
The basics of making sure your site ranks for local search are still the same:
Google is trying to create their own version of Yelp Elite Squad by recruiting “City Experts” to review on Google+. These City Experts’ reviews will be part of the larger group of authoritative reviewers, which is rated as #3 for making a difference among competitors. Yelp’s Elite Squad typically gains more trust by others in the community for their reviews compared to ordinary reviewers. In order to qualify for being a City Expert, you must be incredibly active on Google+ and Maps by writing at least 50 reviews at 5 reviews per month as well as uploading pictures of local places.
Google also considers these other factors when considering your website’s position, which mainly support the primary factors above.
As for local search optimization efforts, some of the worst offenses you can make according to Google are to use call-tracking numbers and keyword stuffing business names. It looks more and more that Google is really honing in on providing a good user experience for searchers. Those who practice Black Hat SEO are getting phased out as honesty is and always was the best policy and being popular also helps.
Earlier this year, Google unveiled voice search in the form of a small microphone on the right side of the search bar. Since then, it has quickly improved in quality for conversational speech. With the popularity of Siri for iPhone, Google and Android users will benefit from a competitive product for ease of use.
The highlight of conversational speech is just that, we can search for things in a more natural manner as people tend to talk in complete sentences and not short or long-tailed keywords. Voice search has a few flaws in comprehension but it continues to improve week over week. You can see it thinking in action as it tries to decipher what you say into something that actually makes sense.
Google also rolled out Nutritional Search, which currently allows users to ask what the nutritional value of over 1,000 fruits, vegetables, meats, and meals are. You can ask specifically what the calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium, protein, etc. of different foods are and it also give the serving size as well as a Wikipedia definition of it.
Although Voice Search may at first seem like just a fun added benefit from Google, the behavior of people show that local-based Voice Search is gaining in popularity. Imagine you are walking around downtown to meet up with a friend and you get distracted and go off-course. Then simply pull up Voice Search on your Android and say, “Where’s the Denver coffee shop?” No need to type in, “Denver coffee shop.” Then choose the location and go.
Google will also remember your previous searches to help give you more educated results when using Voice Search. With these things in mind, local businesses ought to keep their local onsite profiles up-to-date on their websites, Google+, Yahoo!, Bing, etc. Optimization for Voice Search will be focused on search phrases and a FAQ type manner.
Big brands and enterprises that struggle to rank with highly competitive terms should look to Voice Search for help, even if they do not have brick and mortar stores. Similar to local Voice Search, enterprises will have more success by targeting Voice Search phrases and FAQ language on their sites. A focus on branding with long-tail keywords reinforces consumer perception that your brand is the resource and go-to for information. This also follows the new keyword strategy that Google is pushing marketers towards by omitting keyword search queries with the “(not provided)” section, which is a return to branding and trust.
As we are living in the “one screen world” where all are screens are becoming more streamlined to provide the same information but on different sizes, optimizing for mobile search, utilizing Voice Search, and providing a great user experience is the direction that SEO marketers need to focus on.
If you have any questions on how to optimize for Voice Search or need help with your local search, please contact us today.
On November 11, 2013, Google is making some changes specifically for Google+ Page Owners and Managers. There are three main points that they highlight:
The only one of these that is actually an update is the first one. The new Google Terms of Service explains that your Google+ Profile and photo can appear in various forms on the web through Google, which they refer to as Shared Endorsements. Any action you take on Google+, whether it’s making a +1, commenting or posting, following, writing reviews, etc. may be used in advertising and be seen by friends, family, and other connections. Also, if your Page follows another, yours may appear if it seems relevant and useful to users looking at the other Page.
These Shared Endorsements create a better experience for users that you know by allowing your content to surface contextually based on what people are searching for or doing if it might also be interesting to them. Shared Endorsements are basically, “recommendations,” that you passively make based on your actions on Google+.
For those who are not interested in participating fully in Shared Endorsements, you can limit or turn it off through the Page’s dashboard or Settings. If you manage multiple Pages, each page has its own setting to control.
Updated 10/14/13: Google has since removed the (not provided) section from Analytics altogether.
You may have noticed the “(not provided)” section has been gradually increasing for your website in Google Analytics and you can thank Google for that mysterious section. This “(not provided)” protects the privacy of users by adding an SSL encryption to search terms, which began in 2011 with users who were signed into Google. It has since continually expanded its reach of coverage to the most recent Hummingbird update and finished off by having internet marketers in a panic after the switch from AdWords Keyword Tool to Keyword Planner. This change threw many people off but with some insight into “(not provided)” and Hummingbird, this seemingly unruly decision by Google makes a little more sense.
The focus of the Hummingbird update is to encourage businesses to provide content on their sites that are more of a question/answer theme. Google is much better at understanding concepts, complex questions and relationships between concepts. The original goal of Google was always to provide results (answers) to search terms (questions) people look for. This doesn’t mean to literally have a Q/A on every page.
By providing more quality content that answers user questions, a website in turn has many more entrance paths for people to come to their page, including new and unique visitors. You can check out how significant the “(not provided)” stat has become by logging into your Google Analytics account, click on Reporting, go down to Acquisitions on the left-side navigation, choose Keywords, then Organic. As you’ll see, Google really wants us to quit focusing on keyword rankings.
It seems that (almost) everything Google does is to improve the overall experience to its users. The increase of “(not provided)” and Hummingbird work together to encourage marketers to stop focusing on just increasing rankings and refocus on providing a better experience for visitors of websites. When the focus is on the end-user, you realize you need to look ahead at why the user would want to come to your site, which should be because there is really good, engaging, and relevant content that answers questions they may have.
Businesses who focus on quality onsite content understand that having interesting topics and answers is what gets people to their site and coming back for more. This encourages businesses to turn their attention to branded long-tail keywords. Before the internet, people perceived legitimacy and trust with brands. Google is bringing us back to the basics to focus on branded keywords. Focusing on keyword traffic and rankings was a distraction to the primary reason for search engines in the first place.
For SEO companies and businesses that always understood that everything should be about providing a better experience for the customer, this doesn’t change much. It does show as a very healthy reminder to others that just trying to rank #1 shouldn’t be the primary focus of SEO. Google has always stated that content is king and this merely reinforces that content is king…on your website. Link-building through off-site blogging is still a large factor in the trust of your website but it has become much more difficult in the last couple months.
In terms of AdWords where the new Keyword Planner resides, many marketers have noticed and are suspicious of the quantity of traffic that now shows for many keywords. It is thought that the significant decrease in traffic for certain keywords is a result of Google combining computer search traffic with mobile and tablets. However, it just doesn’t make any sense why search volume would drop instead of increase.
Some people speculate that this is all just Google’s way of getting marketers to use AdWords more since PPC is their main source of revenue. Whatever the motive may be, we need to look at the big picture of what purpose Google serves to their users and since Google dominates the search engine world, we just need to roll with the punches.
We focus on quality onsite content in addition to off-site so the core values don’t change much for us. However, we are happy to continue focusing on creating quality, relevant, and interesting content on our client’s sites with long-tailed keywords. In addition, we’re excited to continue being creative for our clients and their customers through designing infographics, shooting videos, managing social media, and overall, focusing on strengthening their brands. For us, these new updates are just about getting back to basics.
If you would like some help with your internet marketing SEO strategy in regards to the Hummingbird and “(not provided)” changes, contact us to find out how we can help.
It can be frustrating when you’re trying to browse a website and get a message like, “404 Error: Page Not Found,” or “Oops, looks like something went wrong. 500 Error.” Once people come across a message like this, they usually give up and leave the site. What’s more frustrating is when these errors occur on your own site. Where did they come from and how can we fix it?
404 Errors pop up in a few circumstances, either due to user error or webmaster error. A user that types in an incorrect URL will result in a 404 Error. Make sure that the URL is typed in correctly and everything is spelled right. If everything is indeed spelled right with proper hyphens, underscores, and capitalization, it may be a webmaster error then.
The URL may have been edited incorrectly or changed by the webmaster. If this is not the case, 404 Errors also happen because a website moved to a different content management system and/or a page was deleted but not redirected.
If the error isn’t user error, 404’s are corrected by the webmaster. As mentioned before, the syntax of the URL should be double checked and corrected if this is the cause of the error. Otherwise, create a 301 redirect, which tells the server to automatically go from page A (no longer exists) to page B (an existing page).
500 Errors are due to the server failing to return a valid request. There is not an exact reason this happens, rather, 500 Errors occur because of a typo in the coding of the website. These typos can be missing brackets or semi-colons. There could be an extra space added to the code, malformed code, or is coded in the wrong order.
The developers need to double check their coding or identify the error through the error log in order to correct this. Once they debug the code, the 500 error will no longer show up and the page will successfully load.
The best way to make sure these errors aren’t showing up on your site is to regularly check your Google Webmasters account and check for crawl errors. Once you have this list, you’ll be able to go through and apply the proper fixes to the errors.
SEO goes beyond increasing your website’s rankings in search engines; it looks to improve the overall health of your site through website diagnostics. Website diagnostics looks at the technical side of your site and how it affects user experience, which is how helpful and easy it is for somebody visiting your webpage.
A website that is easy to use and relevant to the visitor results in better leads and conversions. Your conversions can be anything you think is valuable to your company such as completing a sale, signing up for a newsletter, liking your social media page, filling out a contact form, etc.
There are many companies out there claiming to provide a great service by notifying you of whether or not your site shows up in search engines, providing mass link backs to your site or how your site looks on a pc, laptop, tablet, and mobile. They often will charge you upfront to run a diagnostic. However, most of the information is already available to businesses and some SEO companies exercise black hat SEO tactics to push search engine rankings as well as instill fear in clients.
We at Customer Paradigm do our best to always adhere to white hat SEO methods so that our clients’ websites remain healthy and are not punished by the frequent Google Penguin and Panda SEO updates. We provide free diagnostic reports that highlight the most important technical strengths and weaknesses your website currently has as well as what your competitors are up to. The primary key to improving your website ranking is by improving the health of the site and the user experience. The goal of the website diagnostics is to recognize any potential issues before they become a big problem.
Every single day, Google bots are crawling every page of your website to check out what kind of content is on there. They search through the text and html for certain keywords and information each page provides and decides how relevant this page would be to people looking for information in search engines. The goal of Google is to provide relevant information to the users. If your website is relevant with fresh, updated content, Google rewards those sites with higher rankings. If your website has little relevant content and barely has any updates, then it will drop in rankings.
In addition to having relevant content, how well a site is built and designed for an easy and friendly user experience is also taken into consideration with search engine ranking. Our diagnostics team addresses errors that appear since they affect user experience quality through things such as meta data, links, and 404 errors. We’ll also let you know if your site is not being indexed by Google and any other important things to note on your site.
Once all the basics diagnostics are covered, we go beyond the essentials and continue to look at the overall user experience that each website has. For e-commerce sites, it’s essential to identify why sales aren’t increasing and where and why users leave the site. For every type of business, it’s important to instill branding throughout the website and form a trusting relationship with users in order to get more leads into conversions.
A great SEO company will address these issues with you and talk about plans to continue to improve your website over time. It doesn’t end there either; SEO extends itself to offsite link building, social media, and more to improve page rankings. It’s important to understand that SEO is not something that happens overnight, over a week, or even over a month. Quality SEO improves websites over the course of several months or more for long term website benefits and organic search engine rankings depending on the size of your site.
Similar to the health of a person, you cannot take a pill that will make you healthy in a day or week. Rather, improving one’s health requires in-depth improvement of the body and mind, which gets better as time goes on, so long as that person continues to work on their wellness on a daily basis. For online businesses, it all starts with a website diagnostic to identify which areas need improvement before real progress can take place.
Google is shutting down the Google+ Local app for iPhones on August 7th, 2013. Despite being a popular product, Google is already redirecting people trying to download Google+ Local app to the Google Maps app instead.
The Google Maps mobile app has the same features as Google+ Local and more. Streamlining to Google Maps mobile makes more sense since it is used much more regularly than Google+ Local. The switch over provides a more interactive experience, similar to what the New Google Maps has done for the online browser experience, since all the features of Google+ Local is available on Google Maps plus the ability to add photos.
Android users have nothing to worry about as Android is already a Google platform with Google Maps. In addition to Map, Directions, and ability to Call, users can write and look at reviews, see popular things people are talking about in regards to businesses, Street View, and photos.
In Search Engine Optimization (SEO), a one-size-fits all approach doesn’t work.
Why? Different markets are different.
Competitive industries — where a ton of companies are competing for a top search engine spot — take a lot more time and effort to achieve results.
This info graphic uses a 2×2 matrix to help you understand what’s required for success.
I’ve broken the 2×2 matrix into two different axes:
Here’s how this matrix for SEO breaks out:
If you are in a highly competitive space, a minimal budget will not achieve
tangible results. It may keep you from sliding further downhill, but spending
a few hundred dollars a month won’t make much of a difference.
In a highly competitive space, strong results require great considerable effort, and may take time to achieve. In most cases, all of the companies with top rankings are actively engaging in search engine marketing. They’re adding content to the site, using social media to generate more traffic and interest, email campaigns to get past customers to the site.
And the difference can be dramatic. For example, one of our customers is one of 58 companies in a small town in Colorado, focusing on white water river rafting. The difference between 1st place on Google and a second page result is the difference between a successful company with multiple trips running each day (instead of a company that runs 1-2 trips a month for customers).
If you’re in the high competition space, your competing against other companies
who have also hired SEO firms, or have learned how to do this themselves and
spend considerable internal time on SEO.
If you are in a non-competitive space, then good results can be achieved with minimal effort.
Perhaps your space just doesn’t have a lot of people competing for a top position.
This is wonderful, and it’s low hanging fruit.
If you are in a non-competitive space, with high effort and budget, you can dominate the search category.
Instead of just one result when someone searches, you can dominate the top 3-4 positions and enjoy considerable success. And further cement your status in the space.
Do you know where your company falls in the search marketing arena? Competitive
or non-competitve? If not, call Customer Paradigm at 303.473.4400 or click
here to have a real person contact you now >>
Google’s new Google Maps interface launched to the public on Tuesday, July 16, 2013. It is beautifully laid out and most certainly appeals to the visual senses with very clean photography. This new version is an integrated combination of Google Maps, Google Earth, Google Places, and Google+, which definitely encourages users to get wrapped up in the Google world of search and social media. Zoom in to Street View or zoom out to see the Earth with the stars and galaxies behind her. The new Google Maps redefines and condenses what users look for when searching out new places.
The search bar does more than recommend what others commonly search for; it shows your recent searches, search results from top reviewers, where people in your Google+ Circles have been, top results, and related searches. Also, a related paid ad may sit below the information box. The map is then populated with cute little icons coded by business type and sized according to relevancy. You’ll notice smaller text below the name of the location, which I’ll discuss in a moment. Then there are purple squares shown, which are paid ads.
Browse through the various locations and you’ll notice that the small text you saw earlier is actually “What People Talk About” pulled from the Google Places reviews. For restaurants, it’ll recommend dishes, something unique about the place, and more. This is featured on the information cards that pop up when you click on a location, which also gives a summary of business info, reviews, ratings, photos, an option to ‘Save’ the place, and a link to a menu if it’s a restaurant.
If you click to the business’s Places page, there’s an option on the right hand side to “Visit This Place” by creating a G+ event invite. Visitors are encouraged to write reviews, upload photos.
Once you choose the location you want to get to, a link to the directions is easily accessible and, like the old Google Maps, you can choose the method of transportation: car, public transit, bike, or walking. There’s even an option to check out what traffic is like in real-time before you go.
Street View was a big feature that people loved to use and people can see how much more crisp and bright the images now are. You can see people’s faces. But get this, it’s easier than ever to explore a new city or region when you switch to “Earth” view on the box on the lower left corner. Google Maps switches to a Google Earth experience and you can zoom in check out 3D buildings by tilting the view and spinning it around. It has a Sim City feel to it when looking in between the level of a helicopter and Street View.
After you’re done exploring that feature in awe, make sure to check out the carousel on the bottom right, which has a photo tour. The photo tours are an image, 360 images, or videos.
Google seeks to provide people with a great user experience, bringing information to the user rather than the user having to work hard to find information. The new Google Maps brings together the tools people enjoy into one place—it’s a tool to search for a place, find out where it is, see what it looks like, learn what it’s about, learn what other people think of it, go there, share your opinions, and get other people to go there too. Google definitely knows the importance of the overall story of a person’s experience and how much it means to share it with others.
Please join our Google+ page to stay up-to-date on Google.
Another Google update has been announced by Matt Cutts, head of Google’s web spam team and our face for all Google algorithm information. This one has been lovingly named “Google 2.0″ courtesy of the internal Google team. As always we don’t know how much the changes will affect your rankings, and as always the affects are determined by your SEO practices.
Below is the a short YouTube video by Matt Cutts on Google 2.0. Keep reading for what this all means for SEO, both recovering bad past work, and moving forward with white-hat ethical SEO from here.
For the best of every business, I hope that your employed SEO company is bringing you forward thinking SEM tactics, such that you are not worried at all after watching that video. If you are unsure at all, please contact us and have us evaluate your current tactics and link-profile.
With every change there is momentum towards great loss for some, and great opportunity for others.
Too often I am seeing people write about what needs to change in order to abide by the new “algorithm law” and if great SEO/SEM companies were to focus on what really matters, we might never care about algorithms given our unconditional affection to drive a flawless user experience for your industry.
To focus on the good before the bad, there is a great opportunity for websites who are an authority in their industry to jump in rankings. With the highest of hopes we would love to hear that you have moved forward with white-hat link building practices to not deter your authoritative site from jumping.
Matt Cutts said, We’re doing a better job of detecting when someone is more of an authority on a specific space… And try to make sure that those rank a little more highly if you’re some sort of authority or a site, according to the algorithms, we think might be a little more appropriate for users.
Hopefully, that is great news for your business!
This update is also great news if you have been engaged in good link-building practices, all the websites which are buying into link farms or the “too good to be true” promotions of 10,000 unique links built every month should be greatly affected by this update. No one knows how substantial the effects may be.
I like that Google has been updating and advancing tools within Google Webmasters.
That being said, more functionality will be added to Google Webmasters:
Google is going higher up in the chain and beginning to deny value to link-spammers and companies engaging in these practices.
Google Penguin has always been about link-building and preventing webspam.
If you dominate a particular keyword, such that you have multiple listings show up on a page which are referred to as “clusters of listings” your website will show up less and less as you go more pages back. For example, it is highly desired to have clusters of listings on the first page because you will more than likely receive more clicks due to a great amount of positions you hold both organic and AdWords.
But, as a user goes back deeper into listings it will become more rare they will see your site.
This change, I assume is due to creating a better user-experience. For example, a user would only be driven to dig deeper into listings on page 2+ if the dominant site (cluster of listings) is not helpful for their query. Therefore, as you dig deeper down into listings, it would create a less useful experience by displaying more listings from the same website.
We are excited to see what the results of this algorithm are. One beacon of hope for many websites Matt Cutts says if you are engaged in high-quality link building practices then this algorithm is not an issue.
If you are concerned with your current SEO company or practices, please contact us and we’d love to help evaluate if you are engaged in white-hat ethical SEO practices with a forward thinking mindset.
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What Are 301 Redirects and Why Do They Matter
301 Redirects are the most important action that can be taken when moving content from one URL to another while maintaining PageRank as well as search rankings. If done properly, the value will be transferred over slowly, meaning the value from the old URL will not be apparent immediately after the redirect has occurred. Through the slow transfer of old value to a new URL, bots are able to determine if the new page correlates in context with that of the old URL. If the context between the two URLs is not the same, the value should not be switched over since they are not, in fact, the same.
Proper use of 301 redirects increases user experience by not showing a 404 error when attempting to land on a page that is not available. A 404 error page for a user essentially means they’ve found a dead end and need to choose a new path. It is also important for your overall site health to fix any 404 errors. This can be done by either setting the Robots.txt file to no-follow for that URL, or implementing 301 redirects to the correct functioning URL the user would have intended to land on.
301’s, beyond increasing the user experience and overall site health, tells search engines that any link juice being given to the old URL should now be given to the new URL. In essence, it makes it so you don’t have to do the work of building up PageRank for a URL from the start, since some previous value of the old URL will be transferred over to the new one.
There is no limit to the number of 301’s that can be done for a website, however, Google does limit the number of “steps” it will take down a 301 path. For instance, let’s say you want site A to redirect to site G. It’s best if you simply redirect A to G, and Google bots will even follow you if you redirect site A to B to G. However, Google bots will not follow site A to B to C to D to E to F before finally reaching G. Google bots understand this is excessive and will simply end the silly goose chase. These excessive redirects gives warning that something fishy or Black Hat is occurring since rarely is there a need to redirect a site 2 or 3 times before reaching the actual intended URL.
How To Do 301 Redirects in WordPress
Considering that there are different ways to do 301 redirects for different development programs, we are just going to focus on one, that being WordPress. Essentially, the two methods that are used for WordPress to do redirects are the Redirection WordPress Plugin, or manually redirecting from the .htaccess files.
WordPress Plugin Redirection: This plugin found on the wordpress.org site is one that manages 301 redirections and tracks any 404 errors that may be present on your site. This plugin is especially useful when attempting to migrate pages from an older site or when changing the directory location of your WordPress installation files. The WordPress Plugin redirection can be found Here.
If you view the features included in the plugin, you will soon realize its awesome versatility and how it makes 301 redirects quick and easy. It also gathers information that would otherwise need to be done manually, such as giving statistics on how many times a redirection of a specific URL has taken place, the dates and times when those redirects occurred, who issued the redirect, and where that URL is being found which generates the traffic to your site. Overall, it’s a rather useful and crafty tool, one where if you have a WordPress website, it would behoove you to install the Redirection plugin. The only word of warning for the plugin is that if there is a WordPress update, and the plugin was not updated by the developer along with it, the plugin may very well fail you. In that case you would have to do the redirects through the .htaccess file manually, which is what we will get into next.
.htaccess File For Static Redirects: For those of you who would rather do it manually, perhaps for the sake of thoroughness, perhaps so as not to rely on plugins, but either way, it is definitely a bit more difficult to write them all in by hand as well as time consuming. With that said, let’s jump right into it by first discussing a few important aspects of using .htaccess to do redirects.
Once these above points have been recognized, it’s time to do the redirects themselves. To start you open up the .htaccess file. At the end of the file, or next to other redirects if they are present, you write in exactly how it is written below, so as an example:
redirect 301 /(error URL)/ /www.url.com/(redirected URL)/
Notice the space between /(error URL)/ and /www.url.com/(redirected URL)/, without that space, you would essentially be saying the URL you want redirected is /(error URL)//(redirected URL)/ and did not state the where it is to be redirected. Without including the space, you will certainly receive a 500 error.
You then continue through all of the errors that are coming up in this manner, going through them one by one, and checking to make sure each has been redirected properly. It’s simple enough, but can become a large hassle the more errors there are to deal with.
If you need help with 301 redirects, improving your site health, or any other SEO concern that may arise, and are looking for an SEO consulting firm to assist you, be sure to contact CustomerParadigm.com right now! We’ll be able to help you whether you’re an old and/or established website looking for improvements, or a fresh and brand new one looking to start things off on the right foot. We have the experience and knowledge necessary to deal with any and all SEO problems, helping you to rank better for specific keywords, receive more traffic, increase brand awareness, and allow for better opportunities to increase conversions.
It’s nice to look back twelve months and take a look at the numbers.
For one of our SEO clients, here’s a quick snapshot of the increase in traffic:
Here is an overview of the increase in traffic year over year, for January 2012 – January 2013:
On October 16, 2012 Google has responded to the cries from websites who have lost their search engine ranking positioning due to an unnatural or spammy link profiles. A spammy link profile can be created without you lifting a finger or engaging in any black hat SEO tactics, or link-building scams. It can simply be born from “unnatural links” that direct back to your website.
For example, you are the owner of a flower business which sell bouquets of deliverable flowers and suddenly as a result of your poor link profile, your natural traffic is gone. You begin to panic, that’s thousands of dollars in revenue you’re losing every day. You begin to do your research and find that many websites not in your industry or related to you are linking back to you. This is frequently an issue when companies engage in black hat SEO tactics that gain links through spammy comments from anywhere they can. Being as smart as you are, you ask the important questions, “How did these poorly related links start?” “What do I do now?”
As they look through their link profile they begin to identify thousands of inbound links from unrelated sites such as house building, mechanical, adult content and more. It’s coming up on Valentine’s day, the day of their biggest sales and showing up on rankings is important. What do they do?
With any issue it is important to look at the symptoms, identify the issue, and then take action. In this case, your symptom is that you have lost all search engine traffic to your website. The issue comes down to one of two: you are engaging in SEO practices that are building you spammy link profiles, or, you are not engaging in SEO practices and the poor links are being created naturally.
If you are paying for an SEO service, call them now and let them know you have received a notification that your website has received an unnatural link profile notification and your search traffic has dropped dramatically. Request a link profile analysis and instruct them to stop all link-building for your site. After you have received your link profile and have gone through it to mark all inbound links which you believe are hurting your profile, send it back to your service and request to have them fix the situation. (Note: This is a very long process. It is easy to have your links go up on a site that is poorly managed, but having the moderators search through the site for you is a very difficult task that rarely gets done.)
If you are not paying for any SEO service, and poor links have been born naturally contact us today or call us at 303.473.4400 to talk to a real person about your unnatural link notification. We will analyze your website and your link profile, and help you work to bring your site back to full traffic.
To help the process be easier as you go, create a .txt file with all the links you are working on and their status. The best format is to have a commented out section stating the progress of that link. For example:
#contacted admin 5 times, last contact October 22, 2012
As noted above, if you begin to clean your link profile it will be a long process and if it isn’t tell me how you did it. First, you must contact the moderators or site admins of each root link and the more work you can do to get rid of the link the better. For example, anticipate that the moderators are not going to be very happy that you are saying their site linking to your attributing to your poor traffic. That’s not exactly a compliment to them. The best strategy I have come across is being as courteous and helpful as possible.
Explain that you are trying to tailor your link profile to domains relative to yours. Find the exact page on their site and let them know the anchor text which is linking to your website and request to have it removed. If the moderator or site admin is polite enough they will e-mail you and let you know it has been done. If not, continue to check in on the link periodically.
Remember >> Persistence and Patience
Google doesn’t want your website to fail, if you have been hit with a poor link profile. Sometimes it just comes down to the mistake of signing up for an all inclusive SEO package with too many confusing points to begin with. You hoped with all their beautiful testimonials circulating throughout their site that there was some truth to it. Who can blame you? Unfortunately, there are plenty of SEO companies who do not keep up on the new algorithm changes and still engage in old tactics that now cause harm to your business and more specifically website traffic.
Only after you have contacted all the administrators to have your links removed and have been persistent and patient, should you turn to the Google disavow tool. It is important that you understand this should be your last resort. Google has made it very clear that this should not be used loosely to heal your link profile.
Now that we are on the same page, here’s what you need to know about the Google disavow link tool.
Make sure you have your website set up on Google webmasters >> Google.com/webmasters/
If you already have that set up then you can visit the Google Disavow Link Page >> Here
Select the website from the menu in your Google webmasters tools which you would like to clean up the link profile for.
You will then be prompted to upload a file which contains all the links you wish to disavow.
The Google disavow file is a very simple .txt file
My first warning, I say be careful for a reason. Matt Cutts from Google has said once a link has been disavowed, re-avowing a link will take a lot longer. So make sure that the links you wish to disavow have been properly identified as a spammy link.
It has been recommended to create this file while working on cleaning up your link profile (as mentioned above). It is important to add comments and work on the status of your requested disavow links, this one, keeps you organized, secondly, lets Google know you have been working on it.
Here is the format:
# Note about your Progress such as: Contacted siteadmin of badlink.com on 10/22 and have had no response
# Comment about next bad link
The disavow links can be used on two levels. You can disavow links on a site wide level in this case you would put the root domain on its own line in the example file shown above. Or, you can request disavow links on specific pages within a site. This would be used for example, if you have built one good piece of content and have sourced it to that website, then you engaged in poor comment spamming throughout the site on irrelevant topics.
The disavow file will work similar to a .htaccess file for your website. You will be able to upload, download and modify the existing file if there are changes you need to make.
After all the long work and organizing, you’ve uploaded your disavow list, now how long? According to Matt Cutts from Google it will take 2 weeks to a month for Google to crawl your requested disavow links and re-index your site.
It is important to know that Google will treat all the disavowed links as “strong suggestions” treated similar to a “no follow” tag on a link.
I hope that this guide has helped you understand the steps you should take if you receive an unnatural link profile warning from Google or have experienced a dramatic drop in natural traffic. It is important that you employ companies that engage in white-hat SEO tactics and are constantly working and staying plugged in with that’s new and next with Google. If your website is a victim of poor link-building please contact Customer Paradigm today at 303.473.4400 to talk to a real person and have your website analyzed. Work with our professional SEO team to get your site back to health and move forward with solid proven SEO tactics today.
Magento is now a proudly offering the Google Trusted Store Badge. With Google’s great reputation of advancing the internet, there is a trust associated with their brand. As they continue to increase users experience with every click across the internet, we now see a visible rating for quality.
There are not many forms in which Google rates websites. At least not visible to the common public. We do see the ratings on Google local pages, but that is a reflection of user ratings.
The Trusted Store Badge works as a “report card” of how well your eCommerce store performs. In order to earn the badge your site must exhibit fast, reliable and responsive customer service. Once your website has been approved, you will receive a grade. The badge will hover in a fixed position at the bottom right of your screen so it is visible during the entire shopping experience on your eStore. Upon hovering over the badge the grade will show. Below is a screenshot of the hover view from http://www.dickblick.com an art supply eCommerce store.
Google has many case studies which support the benefits of having the badge >> View Here
There are many resources for installing the badge onto your eCommerce store. Many people are coming across bugs trying to replicate the codes. My best advice is follow the steps that Google has put in place.
If you use Magento >> Get the Badge Here
Through Google >> Get the Badge Here
Although you are able to receive the badge through any eCommerce store, this is where people are coming across bugs trying to replicate the code for their own eCommerce platforms. Currently Google has easily integrated this feature with the three following eCommerce sites:
If your current eCommerce store does not have the full functionality you are looking for, consider migrating your eCommerce site to Magento. Magento is a eCommerce platform that was designed with eCommerce in mind and is tailored to maximize sales and usability.
There’s nothing more frustrating to a user who is trying to find a page on your website and up pops the lovely and usually creative 404 error page. As creative and funny as your 404 error page may be, there is nothing more disheartening to the user than attempting to find the information they need and be faced with a wall. There are two real issues at hand with a 404 error page, first being the risk of losing a potential clients, second being the loss in SEO value to your website. I will go over both of these issues in length and tell you why it is important to maintain the health of your website and the ways which you can do this.
A 404 page is an error page that results when a page does not exist. For example, if you were to create a page and the page were to be removed from your website, and the URL was to be requested again a 404 error page would result. Another way 404 errors can arise is the changing of pages, for example on a basic html site if you changed the services page from services.html to Services.html the old page would result in a 404 error unless both pages were kept. The only way these errors are shown is if the previous URL’s have been indexed.
If you want more site traffic on your website, you should always be providing great service. Referrals and recommendations are the main contributing factors to a strong conversion. Have you ever tried out a new restaurant and what you intended to order they are out of? It lists the item on their menu, but whenever you order it, the waiter informs you they can not fulfill that request. This is essentially a 404 error in the restaurant. You know it exists because the menu shows you it does, just as Google knows it exists because they have crawled it and seen it. But when you order it, the request is not filled. Luckily in a restaurant the waiter is able to notify the staff that you are out of the ingredients to produce a certain menu item, and it is quickly brought to the staffs attention. Even better, the waiter is able to suggest other items or compensate a potential client for a meal.
In the website world, you do not have a waiter that quickly informs you when you are not providing a request. You don’t have the opportunity to reach out to the potential client and offer them a page they could request instead. With the inability to interact and maintain clients, it makes it even more important to monitor and have “waiters” that monitor the health of your website. This is why hiring an SEO service is fundamental to keeping the marketing of your website running smoothly to avoid losing potential clients.
As always Google’s goal is to produce the most valuable websites for any given search query. The websites are determined based on a complex algorithm which dictates the strength, usability and how relative a website is. When Google crawls your webpages and finds broken internal links which lead to 404 errors as a result the SEO value is decreased in the usability metric.
Why is SEO value decreased?
For one the usability is less, because the internal links don’t lead anywhere. Second, the indexed page content has been lost which also decreases the SEO value because your page does not hold the same amount of information as it once did. Even if you have a page that has been renamed, the page authority begins to accumulate from the starting point. If Google crawls your website many times and it continues to run into the same errors, your page can be penalized.
If you are interested in finding how many 404 errors your website we are offering a free SEO analysis.
There are many ways to identify 404 errors, but I am going to go over the 2 that are most frequently used.
1. Crawl Reports
A crawl report is a diagnostic report which goes through your website similar to a Google bot and produces all the broken links or indexed pages that result in a 404 error. Crawl reports also produce other SEO information which may hurt the productivity of your website. If you are interested in a free crawl report fill out this simple form >> Here
2. Google Webmasters
Google webmasters tools will identify the health of your website. If you go to http://www.google.com/webmasters/
Sign in –> Health –> Crawl Errors
Google will only show crawl errors as they are found by Google. With a crawl report you are able to have the advantage of identifying crawl errors before they get to Google and you are penalized with a devalued SEO score. Another disadvantage to Google webmasters over a crawl report is the need to fix each error manually. This is not a disadvantage if you only have a few 404 errors, but when you are handling thousands it can quickly become a cumbersome task.
There are many methods to fix 404 errors, again I will go over my personal recommended methods.
1. Hire an SEO service
If you are one of those business owners that wants to handle everything on your own, guaranteed you can be doing better things with your time like looking forward to where your business will take its next steps to continue to grow and keep up with the times. Handling your 404 errors is a constant process of monitoring and checking the health of your website. Trying to handle 404 errors on your own can result in internal errors and an unintentional de-indexing of a webpage.
2. Create 301 redirects
A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect which can be performed through your .htaccess file. A permanent redirect is saying to Google, “this is what the URL used to be, but now when it is requested I would like you to produce this new URL”.
This is done through your .htaccess file with the lines of : old URL/ New URL
3. Remove pages from Index
If the requested page is resulting in a 404 error, you can completely remove the page from being indexed and followed. This can easily be done through many CMS.
If you have any questions regarding your 404 errors please feel free to comment, fill out the contact form below or call us at 303.473.4400. If you are interested in quality white hat SEO services see what Customer Paradigm has to offer >> here.