November 2012

Great 21st Century Scams: Search Engine Optimization

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seo scam 300x225 Great 21st Century Scams:  Search Engine Optimization

That’s right – you read it here first!  Search engine optimization is a scam.

Just kidding!  SEO is actually one of the key components to the success of your company in the present and future.  How key is it?

If you don’t do it, your business will fail.  It’s not a matter of if, but when.

But, the good news is that you have time.  Although it’s very beneficial to have right now, it’s not yet essential.  Why will SEO eventually be essential?  I’ll show you in a few simple steps:

  • Around 80% of consumers first learn about businesses, products, and services they need from the internet first
  • Many other companies, and soon most, are doing it, and are climbing to the top of the search engines
  • Google returns the best search results, and currently controls about 90% of the global search market

For those reasons, SEO is essential to perform.  And, if you get in on the game now, you will be ahead of much of the competition.  If you wait, you are either going to lose out on profits while you try to figure out how to catch up, or you are going to have to spend much more money than you wanted to regain your competitiveness.

The Future of SEO

The largest SEO company currently is valued at around $100 million, making it, in the grand scheme of things, a fairly small company.  But, eventually, and I can’t promise when, every business will have either an in-house SEO team, or they will hire someone else to do the work.  These educated guesses are based on the information I presented above.

Get in Now – SEO’s Cost Will Only Increase 

The cost of search engine optimization can only go up from where it is now.  On a cost-per-lead basis, it’s actually much cheaper than any other form of advertising, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have an associated expense.

Why will SEO only cost more? 

Because, as I noted earlier, more and more businesses are going to keep discovering its value and continue trying to grow.  As a result, there will be more competition for the same keywords.  Of course, more revenue-increasing keywords will continue to be added, but there will be more competitive terms that are the mainstays of each respective industry.

In addition to that commonsense argument, Google is constantly changing its algorithm.  Its goal is to rank the highest quality, most relevant, and timely content near the top of the search engines.  How it goes about that decision is much more complicated and takes more work than it did five years ago, and you can bet that process will only increase in complexity.

After all, if Google gets lazy, it will go the way of other search engines that used to be big players – Excite, Hotbot, Web Crawler, and Yahoo!  You probably don’t even remember the names of most of these, but you definitely know Yahoo – and that search engine is basically irrelevant in the modern age.

Thanks for reading this article, and keep in mind to dedicate yourself to SEO as soon as possible!

Dan StelterGreat 21st Century Scams: Search Engine Optimization
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4 SEO Myths to Look out For

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seo myths picture 300x198 4 SEO Myths to Look out ForThe world of search engine optimization is untamed and wild – companies are doing dramatically different things.  Most companies try to do the right thing, but every industry has its fly-by-night types just waiting to get their hands on your money and run off with it.  Still others provide you with some “quick wins” so you can see what they do “works,” only to leave later on when you are wondering why your business isn’t making any money or saving time as a result of their efforts.

Here are some of the myths you might experience while you are out there talking with different companies:

  • Guaranteed results.  A few disreputable companies will provide you with guarantees.  Companies who know what they are doing don’t guarantee results because they know Google is unpredictable and takes a certain amount of time in order to gain ranking.

What that timeframe is, however, is unknown – it could be as short as 1 month (if you’re really lucky) or as long as 12.  If a company guarantees results, make sure they have a clear policy on what happens if they don’t achieve those results.  Otherwise, they’re just trying to blow up their promises so you buy into them and give them money.

  • The more links, the better.  This statement is by and large true, but only to a small degree.  These days, Google is all about the quality of your links, not the quantity.  A quantity of quality links is best.  However, Google now looks more for link earning than it does link building.

Basically, you can think of it this way:  the more work you put into getting the link, the more Google will like it.  In terms of quality, the best links you can get are at highly reputable websites that focus on a great user experience.  If the site appears to be low-quality, abandoned, or has numerous ads interfering with your experience, you can safely assume it’s not a great website to get links from.

  • The search engines can be tricked.  Actually, you can trick search engines for a period of time.  However, Google is smart enough to catch on to deceptive SEO practices, like placing white text on a white background to get more keywords in.  If Google’s algorithm can’t figure it out, Google has thousands of employees manually reviewing websites for black hat SEO practices.  If someone promises fast rankings, you might very well be the victim of black hat SEO.  Once Google finds out about your actions, you will find yourself penalized in the search engine rankings, or banned altogether.
  • Outbound links hurt you rankings.  Not all outbound links hurt your rankings, but some do.  The question to really consider is, “What is the quality of the site you are linking to?”  In the past, some people tried to trick Google by creating tons of low quality websites, and then linking them to a targeted high quality one.  That doesn’t work anymore, as Google wants quality websites, not deceptive ones, at the tops of its rankings.

 SEO is Much More Complex, But now You can Protect Yourself

You could hear many other different deceptive practices than this.  However, this gives you an idea of what you might encounter, and why you should run the other way if you do encounter these situations.

Dan Stelter4 SEO Myths to Look out For
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Are You Protecting Your Website from These Google Updates

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google updates seo picture 300x300 Are You Protecting Your Website from These Google UpdatesIn the last weeks of October and the first weeks of November, Google released four separate updates, which affected the rankings of many websites.  Matt Cutts, Google’s head SEO spokesman, had been warning the SEO community about these updates for some time.  What were those updates and how did they affect websites?  Learn more about them by reading below:

  • Penguin #3.  Get ready for Penguin to be really nasty now and in the future.  Even though this update didn’t significantly update the rankings of many websites, it did have a small effect, and Matt Cutts has warned more will be coming in the future.
  • Penguin targets websites which have been overoptimized with too many low-quality back links.  In the past, less-than-ethical SEO professionals would build links from very low-quality websites, and Google would give those links a fairly decent weight.  That’s no longer the case, so be prepared.
  • Panda #20.  While Penguin focuses on reducing the rankings of overoptimized websites, Panda reduces the rankings of low-quality websites.  “Thin” content, or content that supplies very little value to searchers, received a beating in the rankings from Google.  In the Panda series, this update is #20 and impacts 2.4% of all English searches.  You can bet Google will continue to refine this aspect of its rankings algorithm again in the future.
  • Exact match domain (EMD) update.  It used to be that Google would rank websites whose domain name exactly matched their primary keyword highly.  Recently, Google also found that websites lower in quality with an exact-match domain name were able to rank higher than websites higher in quality with a non-exact-match domain name.  This update reduces the effectiveness of exact-match domain names.
  • Page Layout #2.  Many searchers were complaining to Google about websites with a number of ads viewable above the fold would rank highly in the SERPs.  People also don’t like scroll down to find the content they need at a website.  Your site can now receive a small penalty in the search engine rankings for having too many ads above the fold.

What is the Overall Point to Take Away?The overall takeaway from this article is that your site should always, always focus on the best possible user experience.  Not only does optimizing for the best user experience keep visitors more engaged with your website, but it boosts your search engine rankings too.  In general, you can look at it this way:  if it annoys you, it would annoy your visitors too.

Dan StelterAre You Protecting Your Website from These Google Updates
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6 Simple Ways to Take Advantage of Google+ for SEO

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googleplus icon 6 Simple Ways to Take Advantage of Google+ for SEO

With every month passing by, Google changes its SEO strategies slightly.  There’s always something new you can do in order to optimize your site a little better.  Google+ is becoming a stronger player in SEO.

Why?  Google is slowly increasing the SEO value social sites pass.  It’s not essential to be active on social sites yet, but it may be in the years ahead.

Additionally, Google+ is experiencing insanely rapid growth.  Because of Google’s already-established reputation, Google+ is expected to have around 500 million users by the end of 2012 (compared to 1 billion for Facebook), which is astonishing, given the platform was launched in summer of 2011.

With all of that background information in mind, you can now see why optimizing your Google+ profile is important to do.  Even better is the fact that none of it is hard to do at all.

The 6 Simple Tips

  1. Build a link to your website from your profile.  You can easily insert a link with the anchor text of your own choosing from your Google+ profile.  Keep in mind, that if people regularly engage with you on your profile, share your posts, or that link directly to your profile, the value that link passes to your site increases.
  2. Place links in your posts.  But be careful not to get carried away!  If you do a link for every post, Google gets somewhat ornery.  It wants what it calls “natural” links.  The best way to think about natural links is this:  think about relevant content you can offer your followers, and if a link to your site fits in, then post it.
  3. Your new content is indexed fast.  Depending on the site, Google can take a couple weeks, or even up to a month, before your content is added to its search index.  No one knows the specifics for Google+, but people have witnessed content posted to Google+ has been indexed almost instantly.  In any case, Google’s goal with the platform is to compete with other social media sites, so why wouldn’t content here post any faster?
  4. Use it.  Currently, 1 out of 4 people who use Google+ once per month.  This number is increasing, but the general point is that by being active and posting valuable content for your audience, you are immediately putting yourself at an advantage.
  5. Optimize your profile picture for conversions.  Test out different profile pictures.  Make sure to track the click-through-rates from your profile to your website in Google Analytics.  Eventually, you’ll land on one that outperforms all of the others.
  6. Edit your posts as needed…anytime.  At Facebook, you have a limited amount of time to edit your posts.  At Twitter, you can never edit them, only delete them.  If you put out a post and think it should succeed, but the post hasn’t done so, you can edit just about everything about it.  Typically the headline is the best place to start, as that’s what appears in the SERPs.

If You Have Time, Do It

Any SEO value you can pass your own site helps, so the moral of the story is:  if you have time available do it.  Who knows, your next post could go viral and attract extensive attention.

Dan Stelter6 Simple Ways to Take Advantage of Google+ for SEO
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SEO: Optimize for Clicks, as Well as Rankings

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photodune 2745038 optimization xs 300x218 SEO:  Optimize for Clicks, as Well as RankingsAs Devenia has grown as an SEO company, we’ve expanded our ability to provide value to our clients.  Our core expertise lies in helping websites rank highly for their targeted keywords, and to that end we have been very successful.  In addition, we’ve also been helping our customers optimize their conversions.

Our experience has been that previous SEO companies some of our clients have worked with have helped them optimize well for rankings, but not for clicks.  What are we talking about?  Let us show you some examples to help you learn more.

Strategies for Click Optimization

  • It all begins with your title.  Every SEO professional will tell you to have a keyword-rich title – and that’s good advice.  In addition to getting that keyword-rich title, however, the title should be attractive for searchers.  An example of a good SEO title that doesn’t compel people to click is, “Suede Sofas Available at Company X.”  As a searcher, I wouldn’t be too excited to click on this title.  However, change that title to “Free Shipping on Suede Sofas at Company X,” and now I’m ready to click.  You have to tell me what’s in it for me in the title.
  • Action-oriented META description.  Most SEOs don’t even talk about META descriptions.  Why?  Google officially announced a while back that META descriptions provide no SEO value whatsoever.  But they do provide serious click value.  What should you do?  The META description should include the keyword because the keyword is bolded when users search for it, making it easier to for them to find in the SERPs just after they have searched.  Then, the META description needs to be action-oriented.  Going back to the suede sofas example, you would say something like, “Browse our ultra-fine, comprehensive selection of suede sofas.  Each sofa is hand made and is guaranteed to last 20 years, or your money back.”  That description tells searchers what’s in it for them, giving them extra incentive to click.
  • Creating attractive content on the landing page.  After you’ve gotten people to click through, the final step in click optimization is to have attractive landing page content.  Many SEOs fall into the trap of simply regurgitating the keyword in the content a few times in order to rank well.  It is important to get the keyword in the content, but it’s also important to make the content interesting.  Most e-commerce sites, the type of site that would be selling suede sofas, have little to no content.  But, each e-commerce page should have content on it, both for SEO and click optimization.  For our suede sofas example, you would describe the attractive benefits each offers to prospective buyers.  So, you would talk about the fine craftsmanship, what makes these sofas so comfortable, why guests will like these sofas, and you might also answer common objections people might have about buying them.

All This Fine-Tuning Adds up to More Clicks

The net result of optimizing these parts of content is more clicks.  The saying goes, “SEO gets them there, but content keeps them there.”    Together, SEO and click optimization generate what you want:  increased revenues.

Dan StelterSEO: Optimize for Clicks, as Well as Rankings
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