Wednesday, May 9, 2012

What Do Google, Panda's and Penguin's Have In Common?

By Dino Adamou



Picture this: You've been working hard for the past year to make your site perfect in terms of SEO. You have keywords in your titles, lots of header tags, plenty of content, and a complex web of internal links that will make your site irresistible to Google. You sit back and wait and before you know the Google spider comes along, takes a good look at your site, and places you squarely on page five.

“Your site is perfect,” The Spider says, “TOO perfect.” Then he wanders away and places your competitors site on page one, laughing all the way.

That's right. Google is changing their algorithm again and this time it’s Penguin.

However, if you have been following the advice of this blog all along then you don't have much to worry about. We have said it a million times, if not more: Google likes sites that were designed with the reader in mind because that's exactly the types of site that readers like to visit. Readers don't want to see pages with weird link structures, keyword stuffed articles that provide no real value, and a squeeze page behind every link. They want ease of use and informative content, and Google is once again taking steps to make sure that's exactly the type of site that is showing up at the top of the search engine results page.

As usual, Google hasn't released the details of the new over-optimization penalty, and they probably never will. But hints revealed by their engineers have given us some clues to the things we should be watching out for:

Non-human targeted titles – If your website title tag is “camcorder reviews, camcorder info, camcorder deals”, then you might be in trouble. Make your site title user friendly, even in the best of times a keyword stuffed title tag only gave you a tiny boost to begin with, so ditch this tired old practice right now.

Bizarre internal linking – If you have a dozen pages on your site, and each of those pages is linked to from the front page a dozen times, each time with the same anchor keyword, then you might be in trouble. Organize your site for the reader, not for some mystical keyword algorithm that you will never fully understand.

Links from bad neighborhoods – Ads that offer 10,000 backlinks are always attractive, no matter how long you have been in this game. Private blog networks and link farms have been on Google's target list for some time now, and it only gets worse when the over optimization penalty comes along. Stop paying for bad back links and get out there and EARN some real ones that are worth 10,000 times more than the ones you paid for.

We could go on all day talking about shady SEO practices, but we don't need to. If you want to avoid Google penalties both today and tomorrow, you really only need to ask yourself one magic question: “Is this good for my readers?”

Informative content and well designed, easy to read pages are good for your readers. Pages optimized with nothing but search engines in mind are not. Start taking pride in the content and appearance of your pages and Google rank will naturally follow. The time and money you spend trying to shortcut your way into high rankings are far better spent EARNING your way to the top where your rankings are real and safe from penalties.

Remember, Google will get a visitor to your site once, the site itself is what will keep them coming back week after week. Do you want one customer to stop by today and never return, or do you want a cadre of loyal customers who you have to literally chase out the door at closing time? The answer should be obvious.




Friday, April 27, 2012

When You Don't Have The Luxury Of Time

By Dino Adamou


The scarcest resource for small businesses and new entrepreneurs is not money, it's time. Running a business means performing dozens of tasks every day, and most of them are not what the owner imagined themselves doing when they dreamed of running their own shop.

Running an effective marketing campaign as a small shop can be difficult. However, you have it easier today than all of the generations before you. Thanks to online marketing and social media, it is easier than ever before to get your message in front of thousands of eyeballs every day. All you need is a plan and a bit of focus.

Large companies use saturation techniques to get their message out. They not only go after the big advertising mediums like broadcast and print, they also pursue smaller opportunities like sponsoring community events. They can afford to plaster their name on every available surface, but you can't. This means that you have to work harder to target your marketing directly at your core audience, and use the most efficient means possible to do so.

In terms of cost efficiency, social media is the best option for low cost, highly effective advertising. This does not mean that you can just setup a Facebook page for your business and call it a day. In order for social media to work for you, you need to maintain an active presence in the community that your customers are also a part of. So you need to not only post and share on your own social media accounts, you need to go out and contribute on other pages as well.

Social media is an efficient way to reach customers, but it can grow out of hand just as quickly as any other form of marketing. Focus your efforts on one or two outlets, Facebook and Twitter for example, and save all of the second-tier social media hubs like Instagram and Yelp for the future when you can afford to hire a social media consultant.

Beyond social media, your company's website is a great marketing tool on its own. By populating your website with useful, informative content you build authority in the eyes of your customers. Look at the websites of top specialty stores like Home Depot and Best Buy. They are not just online catalogs, they also offer practical advice on how to use and select from the wide variety of products that they sell. The Home Depot site has tons of content that is useful for “Do It Yourselfers” no matter where they choose to buy their materials from. People looking for home repair advice stand a good chance of landing on the Home Depot site because of the informative content, and if they decide to go ahead with the project, then they are already on a site that sells everything they need.

Because of the dominance of Internet marketing, many traditional forms of advertising are becoming a lot cheaper. Do a little research and you will be surprised at how cheaply you can get an ad run on your local radio or TV stations, and they will often help you produce the ad. Digital printing technologies have given rise to thousands of smaller community focused magazines that are a great place to advertise your business for cheap and for little effort on your part.

Handling all of your own marketing can seem like a challenging, if not downright impossible, task for one person to handle. However, by focusing on quality rather than quantity, the small scale marketer can get a decent return on their advertising dollar. Look for ways to talk directly to people you know are potential customers and try to avoid just shouting from your rooftop and hoping that one of your customers walks by.




Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Why You Can't Afford Not To Spring Clean (Part 3)









By Dino Adamou




This week we conclude our series on Spring Cleaning with a look at keywords and monetization, two subjects that are very dear to every Internet Marketer's heart. Many of you may be a bit confused as to why your keywords or monetization strategies even need to be addressed, but read on and you will soon see why your site needs a bit of sprucing up in the way it makes money.

Keywords Never Change – Until They Do

The world we live in changes rapidly, and things that were cool and popular last year might be rather blasé by today's standards. As a smart marketer, you have been keeping up with all of the new trends and fashions and making sure that all of the new content posted to your site follows these trends. But what about the old content? Are you going to just let all of that work die? Certainly not!

If you have been following the rule of making sure that the content on your site is useful and informative to your readers, then much of your old content can be re-worked to reflect today's thinking. For instance, imagine that two years ago you had an article about weight loss strategies that had been written as a pre-sale page for an Acai berry trial program. The article covered the usual points of how difficult losing weight is, the obstacles we all face when trying to do so, and then at the end mentioned how great the Acai berry is in curbing your appetite. Back then, it got a lot of traffic and you made some great sales. Today it just sort of sits there as people have moved on to new ways of thinking about weight loss.

Which do you think would be easier, creating a brand new piece of content around your new product, or going back and revamping the original article instead? If you answered revamping, congratulations you are correct!

Note that you don't delete and repost the original article, you just update it in its existing location. You replace all of the mentions of Acai berries with your new product, and update the rest of the article with keywords that you have discovered work well over the past year. By leaving the original document in place, it retains its age and all of the backlinks that the article has earned over the past year that are still vaild.

By updating the article with fresh content, you update the keywords and give all the work you did last year a new lease on life rather than just letting it rot in Google's supplementary index until the end of time.

Monetization Makeover

Lastly, you need to look over all the ways that your site makes money and make sure that it is still working as best as it could be. The Internet is full of offers that you can promote, and perhaps in the past year a new company or product has been introduced that offers better commissions than the ones you are currently promoting. Perhaps the eBook that you have been selling for $4.99 has stopped moving and it is time to just start letting it go at 99 cents or perhaps even for free as a bonus add on to another product that you are creating.

Not only do you have to make sure that the offers that you are promoting are still the best you can offer, you also need to make sure that all of them still work. If you are promoting a wide range of products on your site, you need to go through and make sure that all of those links still work. If you have a high traffic page that is directing people to a product on Amazon that no longer exists, then you are letting money literally fly out the window. Unfortunately, you can't use many products that double check link validity because in most cases, the page that contains the dead product is still a valid page, it just is no good for your purposes any more. So you have to go through and check the links by hand. Time consuming and tedious, but in the end, worth if it you rely on people clicking off your site to an affiliates to earn your income.

Conclusion

We covered a lot of ground in this series and gave you quite a bit of work to do. But if you take the time to knock out these chores then you can spend the rest of the year focusing on new products and promotions and not having to constantly go back and change things on your old sites. Get it all down now, get it done right and you will feel a lot less stress in the months to come.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Why You Can't Afford Not To Spring Clean (Part 2)

By Dino Adamou




Spring is in full effect and if you read last week’s blog entry then you have gone and corrected all of the duplicate content issues with your site in addition to having cleaned out your attic. While you are waiting for Google to catch up and properly re-index your site, we can move on to the next steps in our Spring SEO checkup.

Last week we focused on pretty much one issue, duplicate content, so this week we are going to move a bit quicker. Everything on this list is pretty easy to fix, you just have to take the time out of your busy schedule to actually do them.

Check Your Loading Times

Ever visited a website that takes forever to load? How long did you wait? Probably not very long and neither will your customers. Not only do slow loading sites drive away potential buyers, they can also hurt your Google page rank if it’s not addressed.

For example if you are using WordPress, the most likely reason you have a slow site is due to having too many plugins (or one very bad one). Take a few minutes to go through your list of plugins and remove the ones you no longer need and verify that the ones you are keeping are up to date.

Quickly Check for Common Problems

From page titles to the HTML tags used to define your section headings to the proper use of redirects, there are about a million tiny things here and there that affect your SEO ranking and the experience that visitors have when they come to your site. Finding all of these things on your own could take weeks.

Of course I wouldn't have said something so ominous if I didn't have an easy solution. That solution is Nibbler. Nibbler is a service that checks your website for common errors, problems, and opportunities. It will give you a summary of bad stuff AND good stuff like facebook likes and whatnot. It's free, so there is no reason not to give it a shot.

Check for Mobile Readiness

I could list a bunch of statistics about how important it is to have a mobile version of your website, but you aren't stupid, you already know this, so I won't. However, designing a site for mobile browsers is a bit trickier than designing a site for our trusty desktops. Most of today's modern desktop browsers are very forgiving when it comes to HTML errors and bad CSS. Mobile browsers are not so forgiving. Bad HTML or CSS that Firefox lets you get away with on your non-mobile site might cause your site to look like complete trash on an iPhone.

Once again, a free service comes to the rescue. MobiReady checks you web page for mobile device compliance, lists where your site violates common mobile device best practices AND shows you what your website will look like on a variety of mobile devices. Armed with this information, you can tweak your site so that it looks good no matter if your visitors are sitting at home or in their doctor's waiting room.

Wrapping Up

Now you are armed with the information you need to make sure your site is free of errors and is compatible across a variety of devices. Does that mean it's time to kick back with a Mojito and watch the neighbor kid cut your grass? No. In our concluding Spring Cleaning entry to the series we will talk about your favorite Internet Marketing topics – keywords and monetization.

Are there other services that you use to check your page for errors and compatibility? Let us know in the comments section.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Why You Can't Afford Not To Spring Clean

By Dino Adamou





Spring is here and it's time to do an SEO checkup on your website. As you recall from reading this blog, and every book ever written on Internet Marketing, Search Engine Optimization is one of the most important drivers of your website's success. You might have started off with good SEO practices a year ago, but over time we all get lazy or the software that we rely on does things we didn't expect and suddenly our website is not that great in Google's all seeing eye.

But don't worry, cleaning up the SEO on your site is a lot easier than cleaning out your attic, which you should also be doing this Spring. In this series of articles we will help you make sure your site is still in good shape.

First off, let’s look at the content. The big problem with sites that have been around for a long time is that they start to develop pages of duplicate content, and we all know how much Google hates duplicate content. If you did not setup your content management system (CMS) properly, or you went and made some drastic changes to it in the past year, then you might very well have duplicate content in the eyes of Google.

Imagine that last year you set up your WordPress blog and didn't know much, so you just set it up with the defaults. Six months later you read an article about using a better Permalink structure within WordPress so you run over to your blog and change those parameters. All good, right?

Maybe not.

Yesterday you had a page with a URL of:


Then you changed your Permalink structure and that page is now called:


But what does Google see? Google sees that you have a new page on your site (the second one) and that the first one is just on vacation for now and will probably be back later. So Google keeps both sites in the index.

Eventually, after many months, Google will get the hint and drop the first URL from the index. But until then, as far as Google is concerned, you have two pages with the exact same content.

Is it a big deal? Yes, and here's why.

The page with the dumb URL came first. Then you changed the URL for that page, but Google doesn't know that it changed, it thinks that the page with the cool URL is a NEW page that just duplicates the first one. So the first URL (that no longer exists) gets a higher priority in the search engine because the second page (which does exist) is obviously just a shameless ripoff of the first URL.

Eventually, Google will sort it all out and everything will be peachy. But how many customers will you lose in the meantime? Probably a lot, so we need to fix it right away.

In order to find out if have old pages that are getting a lot of hits despite not existing anymore, you need to look at your server logs or (a better choice) Google Analytics. Analytics will show you all the pages on your site that are getting hit and returning 404 (page not found errors). Then you need go back, recreate those pages and set them up so that they redirect to where you want them to go. So if you changed the URL of a page but the old URL is still getting a lot of traffic, you make the old URL valid again but setup that page to redirect (automatically forward the user) to the NEW page.

This idea is practical if you only have one or two pages to worry about, but what if you change the whole link structure of your site? Then the best you can do is set it up so that all pages that would normally return a 404 (page not found error) would instead redirect to your home page.

If you are using WordPress, you are in luck. There is a plugin in that automatically creates 301 (page has moved) redirection pages when the URL of an existing page changes. A 301 error tells Google “hey, the page is still here it just over there now, okay?” Google likes 301 error messages and using the Redirection plugin you can change your permalink structure as much as you want without losing any Google “link juice”.

So that's the first thing you need to do. Go grab your server logs or check your Analytics account and find all the places that visitors are coming into your site that are returning 404 (page not found) errors and do something about them.

In our next post we will continue on our SEO checkup. In the meantime you can tell us how you handle moving content around on your site in the comments section.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Don't Say We Didn't Warn You!

By Dino Adamou





There's an old saying about not putting all of your eggs in one basket that a lot of Internet marketers seem to be ignoring. Despite the calls for reason that you will find on this blog and other experienced marketers, too many IM'ers fall prey to the “Next Big Thing” and throw all of their resources at it and let the fundamentals be damned. This is a losing strategy that is, once again, coming around to bite people in the you know what.

Of course the “Next Big Thing” for the past few years has been social media, and that means Facebook for the most part. If you have been trying to market a product or service online recently, you have no doubt been bombarded with sales pitches about a new product that will tell you how to score big with Facebook. These sales pitches can be quite tempting, mainly because everyone you know has a Facebook account, even people you don't normally consider “computer savvy”. With so many people on Facebook and other social media outlets, it just HAS to be a gold mine, right?

Wrong!

Facebook is important. Social media is important. Concentrating solely on these things is a dead end. Anyone who has ever built a successful business will tell you that focusing entirely on one aspect of marketing while ignoring others is a recipe for disaster

Facebook is sticky. What I mean is that when someone is on Facebook they want to stay on Facebook. They don't want to click off of the site to read your squeeze page. They want to stay right where their friends are. Getting people's attention on Facebook is not so hard, but once you have it is, it is difficult to convince them to do anything that doesn't involve reading about their friends, browsing pictures, or playing Farmville.

Also, you don't own Facebook. This means that you do not have control over the policies, procedures, and layout of Facebook content. At any moment, Facebook can decide that they don't like what you are promoting and all the hard work you put into cultivating a Facebook following can be wiped out. We've seen it happen on YouTube and we will see it happening on Facebook.

This is why you have to incorporate social media as just one part of your marketing strategy. While Facebook is fun, you still need to be working on link building, search engine optimization, and (most importantly) providing useful content and services to your readers. A stool that has three legs is a lot more stable than a stool that has only one leg, and a multi-faceted marketing strategy is going to pay off a lot more than one that tries to take the easy way out and put all of its eggs in the Facebook basket.

Social media is an important piece of your marketing strategy but you need to keep it in perspective in relation to all of your other marketing efforts. The more marketing approaches you use, the more trails that you create for people to follow that will lead back to your site.

Have you had much success with Facebook or other social media? Or did you put a bunch of time and effort into the sites only to see your traffic numbers remain flat? Tell us about it in the comments.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Are You Still Making These Link Building Mistakes?

 By Dino Adamou









Despite what the person who sold you that eBook may have told you, there is no one simple and easy way to get a higher ranking on the Google results page. Blasting out 500 word articles that are loosely related to your niche won't work. Putting comments on 1000 blogs that forgot to turn on CAPTCHA won't work. Buying 10,000 Facebook likes from some guy named SlimShady39 on Fiverr won't help you either.

The fact is, Google and the other search engines are always going to be at least one step ahead of the people who try to find a magic bullet to get to the top of the list. Google is your girlfriend's dad and he can spot bad boys a mile away. If you want to get the blessings of the Google then you are going to have to put on a suit and tie and look your best, and that means having a diversified linking strategy.

By now everyone knows that outside of content, back links are the key component to building search rank. Back links are marks of approval from other sites, and Google likes to see sites that have a good reputation. Naturally, a ton of people figured out they could create hundreds of sketchy looking websites and then just have all those sites link to their money page and get a good rank. Then the next day Google figured that out too and started penalizing them.

So you need to get quality back links from reputable sites. The best way to do this is through content syndication, wherein you take useful, relevant content that readers will love and get it onto as many similar sites as possible. That content includes a link back to your site, and Google sees it as a mark in your favor and gives you a little bump on the results page.

The site that your link originates from is just as important as the link itself. A link from a site that accepts spun or PLR content that is already posted all over the Internet is not as good as a link from a site that actually has someone approving and editing the content before it gets posted. Google knows where the bad parts of the Internet are, and it knows to discard those back links. Don't let Google see your site on the wrong side of the tracks!

By now you are furiously flipping through that eBook again where the guy says that spinning articles and posting them on article directories is still a valid strategy. There are two bits of evidence that prove him wrong:
  • If you go to Google and type in “how to lose weight”, one of the most profitable niches around, you will notice that all of the links on the front page are from reputable sites that offer real advice and real strategies for losing weight. The sites that promote Acai berries and other weight loss magic bullets are nowhere to be found, despite the fact that there are millions of them all over the Internet.
  • The fact that the guy recommending this strategy is selling eBooks instead of websites.

 Quality is still king. Quality content and quality back links from quality referring sites. Link wheels are a way to get these links and keep them under your control and management.

With the ECOPYWRITERS Link Wheel, you will get a 10 spoke hub for a total of 20 QUALITY back links, each worth over a hundred times more than back links you get from spamming article directories and free for all link sites. These back links WILL help improve your search rank, bring in more traffic, and make you money.

Visit www.ecopywriters.com/linkwheels to get started or to contact us with any questions you may have. Don’t spend another day wasting time trying to get back links from random backwater sites that won’t boost your traffic or improve your sales. 

Contact ECOPYWRITERS now and get started on a REAL link strategy that has proven results.