Is Blackhat Search Engine Optimization Damaging Your Website?

Blackhat SEO is the use of unethical tactics to boost a website’s rankings in a search engine. The term “blackhat” originates from Western movies. Characters deemed as the “bad guys” would always be wearing a black hat.

Today, when we see the term “blackhat”, it is usually in reference to those who use corrupt practices online. These include hackers, virus developers, and people who create websites to trick users. Did you know some companies that offer search engine optimization services use blackhat SEO tactics as a cheap alternative to providing the services promised to their customers? It is important to avoid these practices because most of them conflict with a search engine’s terms of service. This can result in your site being banned from search results as well as affiliate websites and networks.

Make sure your site doesn’t employ these techniques by following these simple steps:

  • Proper Keyword Use: Do not use irrelevant keywords just to get hits in a search engine. Your keywords should be clear and aimed towards human interest, not search engine interest. This also means, not stacking keywords. For example; “screen door, screen, door, door, screendoor, screen, screen”
  • Link Schemes: any links that’s only purpose is to to manipulate PageRank. This includes: exchanging money for links, creating partner pages exclusively for cross linking, or excessively link exchanging (i.e. “I’ll link you if you link me). This is against both Google and Bing’s Quality Guidelines for SEO.
  • Hidden content: providing different content or URLs to search engines than you do to human users. You could do this by tagging white text on a white background, or having text behind an image, setting font size to 0, or even using CSS to position text off screen.
  • Duplicate Content: Websites that have content copied from other sites are considered “duplicates”. Duplicate content also occurs when a website is built in a program with limited templates. If your website looks like all other websites built in a free web builder program, it is probable that it won’t display in search engine result pages.

 

By avoiding these examples of blackhat SEO, you can make sure your website isn’t violating search engine terms of service. Always practice ethical search engine optimization techniques with content geared towards users rather than search engines. This will keep your website visible for your desired audience. Happy optimizing!

DIY Tips for Finding Profitable Keywords for Your Business

As a whole, refining your company’s search engine optimization can be a big undertaking. However, like any difficult task, SEO can be broken into steps to help even the least tech-savvy business owner or marketer make their company more visible to their desired audience. As you may know, one of the most crucial steps to having your website rank higher in online search results is using the proper keywords when tagging your site.

Seems simple enough, right? Well, you can never get too simple. So, let’s break it down to help you pick the best and most profitable keywords for your business.

Step 1: Group Brainstorm

Set aside a half hour of time and gather a group of employees. Brainstorm different words they use when describing your company and industry. Write down as many as possible. Words that might not seem like the perfect match could be used creatively to set you apart from your competitors.

Step 2: Research

Try searching some of the terms you brainstormed. Does your business come up? Do competitors or similar products come up? This can be helpful for finding ways to set you apart from your competition. When you search keywords that are relevant to your your business, scroll to the bottom of the results until you see a section titled “Searches related to ________”, to help discover other keywords users are searching for similar results.

Step 3: Quantify Your Research

Now that you have a good list of words that apply to your company, it is time to see which keywords to use to create the most efficient tags. I prefer using Google Trends to see how many people are searching specific keywords and phrases in specific area, small or large. You can also use Google Adwords Keyword planner to help predict search trends for specific demographics. Additionally, you can see keywords your competitors are using to help set your business apart.

Step 4: Organizing Your Research

Now that you have compiled a list of Keywords that are relevant to your business, as well as statistical data about what your audience is searching, it is time to cross reference this information to pick your keywords. Keywords that have a high relevancy to what you want to promote, and also have a high search rate, should be at the top of your list. Whereas, words that are lacking in either category should move down. If you find words that are highly searched but aren’t relevant to your company, you might be tempted to try to make them fit. However, users will leave your site if it doesn’t provide what they had in mind while searching. You also might encounter keywords that are very unique to your business and are very relevant, but aren’t being searched as often. This is okay if it is something exclusive to your business. It can help users with extremely specific searches find your site. Just keep in mind that you won’t be appealing as much to mass searches.

Once you have completed all of these steps, you will find yourself with a healthy list of efficient keywords for your company. We at Sperling Interactive hope we helped you begin to navigate the road of search engine optimization. If you have any further questions, feel free to contact me at catherine@sperlinginteractive.com.

Content Marketing and SEO

Similar to aiding your content to succeed on social media networks, it is also vital for your content to succeed with search engines as well. Although, two entirely different functions, SEO and content marketing do overlap and blend together. Think of it this way, SEO makes demands and content marketing is the solution to those demands.

With both helps, weaving SEO practices into your content will help make a good impression and move your website up the ranking list on sites such as Google.

Here are some tips and examples that content and SEO continue to work and blend together.

  • Use keywords – Use keywords naturally to identify your main keyword for the content. SEO demands keywords, and it is one of the fundamental components from it. For example, utilizing the keywords and tracking their rankings. For example, using a few synonyms, and a few related keywords and using them in your content, headers, and page content.
  • Use natural links– Building links is fundamental when it comes to SEO, and the only way to get linkback is having content worth linking to. However, be careful when linking as links from spam sources can hurt your site with search engines. Instead, build relationships with industry professionals who can share your content and link it to their primary resources.
  • Consistent – Consistent is key in both SEO and Content marketing. Fresh context gets indexed easily and ends up being registered on the older low-value content. Keeping it fresh and updated frequently is the only way to truly keep both combinations successfully working.

SEO is all about content marketing and content marketing is all about SEO. Remember creating content for your client and audience. Creating good content and having a good marketing strategy provides the information and answers that your target is looking for.

What is Content Marketing

 

Content marketing is a key to helping businesses plan for a reliable source of website traffic and new leads that help generate awareness to your brand.

Traditional marketing is no longer something that is used often or even effective anymore. With the times changing, technology is finding new ways to adapt and create new ways to promote businesses. It is a marketing technique to distribute valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract a specific audience. For example, content marketing, for example, involves the creation and sharing of online material– social media posts, videos and blogs.

There is several types of content marketing that can be used strategically and successfully when used the right way.

Infographics include charts and statistics, webpages used for SEO or even videos and podcast that help promote your service and products in a whole new way. Social media, however, is one of the primary sources to promoting your content because it allows you to interact with your audience directly. This also creates a great opportunity to survey what your clients want and need from you as a business, which only benefits your content even further.

Here are three ways content marketing is used within a business:

  1. Owned – Sharing your content on the brand’s social media channels is quick, customizable and easy to connect with your target audience.
  2. Earned – Social media works best when your audience shares your content with their networks.
  3. Paid – Social networks that allow paid advertising. Matching a network’s demographics with your brand’s persona will help you determine where to invest. 

Why is content marketing important to your business? Content marketing taps into awareness and research of the customer needs and wants. When it comes to content, it provides the consumer with a better solution that they didn’t consider before.

Tagline vs. Positioning Statement

When you think “tagline” what comes to mind? What about when you hear “positioning statement”? Do you know the difference between the two? If you don’t quite know what the difference between a tagline and positioning statement is, don’t worry; you’re not alone. Many people tend to get the two confused all the time. Today, we will clear up some of the difference between the two and their soul purpose. Follow along to get a better understanding.

Taglines:

Chances are that when you think “positioning statement” you may actually be thinking about the tagline. A tagline is made to express the value of a product or service to help improve the appearance and position of a brand. Its duty is to help portray what the company does and who they are.

When creating a tagline, you want to make sure that you can answer the following questions:

  • What do we do for our customers?
  • How do we better our customers’ lives?
  • What is our unique selling proposition?

Once you are able to answer these questions, it’s time to put it all together into a clever statement. A tagline should be clever and witty, so don’t be afraid to use a play on words. It should definitely convey your company’s personality, as well. How else will you make your business memorable?

Positioning Statement:

A positioning statement is much more complicated than a tagline. It requires more information in just as a memorable way as a tagline. The components of such statement are:

  • Target audience
  • The solutions it offers
  • Comparison to competitors
  • Unique selling proposition (USP)

Here is a template to help get you started:

“[Brand’s name] is for [target audience] looking to [explain the services] unlike others [related industry]. [Explain why your business is unique in, at least, 3 points].”

Are you having trouble coming figuring out how to position your brand? Contact Sperling Interactive for a consultation.

Industry Specific Social Site: AVVO

Are you an attorney trying to get your services out to the public, or are you a citizen looking for an attorney to help service your legal needs but don’t know who to reach out to? Avvo may be the solution to your legal needs! It is a legal service website where attorneys can offer a specific service with a fixed price and users can search and review lawyers the specific services they offer and pay the full price right on the website.

As a user, you are able to find the best attorney for you by clicking on the service gallery that matches the service you are looking for. There are multiple legal services offered on Avvo, some including:

– 15-30 minutes legal advising sessions

– Reviewing of legal documents, including immigration application

– Applying for US citizenship

– Create residential leases

– Filing for divorce

As an attorney, here is how it works for you:

Lawyers must select at least one service they would like to offer along with the fixed fee for each service. After being selected for your service, you must pay a per-service marketing fee for each completed and paid service. All attorney participation in the Avvo website are governed by Avvo’s Legal Services Term.

When a user searches for a specific service, they are required to click on their geographic location. This way, only local attorneys show up. Each client is local to the lawyer’s area. Unfortunately, attorneys are not available in all states. Here is a list of states where services are available:

      Arizona

      California

      Colorado

      Florida

      Georgia

      Illinois

      Massachusetts

      Maryland

      Michigan

      Minnesota

      Missouri

      Nevada

      New Hampshire

      North Carolina

      New Jersey

      New York

      Ohio

      Oregon

      Pennsylvania

      South Carolina

      Texas

      Utah

      Virginia

      Washington

      Wisconsin

If you are an attorney interested in joining Avvo, click here to visit their website.

Plugins We Like: WP Job Manager

In the past we have made a post on reasons why your company should consider posting job opportunities on your website. We have mentioned benefits like saving money, easy sharing, grabbing web surfers’ attention, and more (visit the blog here). Well, today we are highlighting our favorite job listing plugin, WP Job Manager. Not only does this allow you to post job opportunities directly onto your site, but it also allows you to manage those job listings. This job manager has many features that make the plugin one of our favorites.  

An important thing to point out about the WP Job Manager plugin is that it is very simple to set up and works well with many themes. One of the plugin’s best features is that it allows fully managing, categorizing, and adding as many job listing as available. When submitting the listing, it allows you to preview it first. You are also able to link each listing to either an email or website address to allow job seekers to easily apply. Job seekers can also be alerted whenever a new job matching is available through RSS links.

We asked two of our designers, Phil and Jose, for some insight on the WP Job Manager plugin and how they felt about it. Even though this is a great job management plugin, they both agreed on one flaw: it is difficult to customize. According to Phil and Jose, once the plugin has been added, it easily grasps the theme of most templates but it can be difficult to adjust it to customized websites. However, they both agree that once it is implemented, it handles data well and does a great job at managing an unlimited amount of job listing and applications.  

Link Building 2015

What is link building?  How does it impact SEO?  And why does it seem so confusing? According to a recent survey(2015) on Moz Online, 80 percent of companies engaged in SEO are spending more than $1,000 a month on link building. These are impressive numbers!  So, while it may be constantly changing, and every company may have a completely different SEO program of link building, it is still alive and well in the realm of business marketing.  Let’s look further into link building and why your SEO program continues to need this strategy.

What is link Building?  Link building can increase the number of high-quality links pointing to a website, in turn increasing the likelihood of the website ranking highly in search engine results. Link building is also a proven marketing tactic for increasing brand awareness. Since the late 1990s search engines have treated links as votes for popularity and importance in the ongoing democratic opinion poll of the web. The engines themselves have refined the use of link data to a fine art, and use complex algorithms to perform nuanced evaluations of sites and pages based on this information. Google considers links valuable in its ranking algorithm because they’re an indication of trust, credibility, and authority. When another website links to yours, it means they found something valuable on your site, and that makes you more valuable by proxy. While Links aren’t everything in SEO, search professionals do attribute a large portion of the engines’ algorithms to link-related factors (see Search Engine Ranking Factors 2015).

Link building seems to change as the search engines change their parameters. There are many ways to build links in 2015/2016. Here are just a few of the ways to build links to increase your SEO ranking.

  • Natural Link Building – Links that are given naturally by sites and pages that want to link to your content or company. Maybe they have seen your “How-To” videos, read your blogs or enjoy the content on your site.  In any case their link to your company is natural and ranked highly.
  • Manual “Outreach” Link Building – The SEO creates these links by emailing bloggers for links, submitting sites to directories, or paying for listings of any kind.
  • Self-Created, Non-Editorial – Hundreds of thousands of websites offer any visitor the opportunity to create links through guest book signings, forum signatures, blog comments, or user profiles. These links offer the lowest value, but can, in the aggregate, still have an impact for some sites.

Techniques to Increase Traffic to your Site

One of the most frequently asked questions from businesses is,  “How do we get more people to visit our website?”  At Sperling Interactive this is one of the things we successfully help our clients with regularly.  As marketers, we understand that what every business wants is more customers.  One of the best ways to get that is by having more people visit your website and convert into customers!  Here are some of our top tips of simple things that you can do to increase traffic to your website.

  1. Advertise Your Site – This may seem fairly simple but many companies forget that there are a multitude of channels through which to advertise.  Free business listings is the first place to start.  Be sure to have all pertinent information about your company in the listings including an easy link to your site, your phone number and google address. Paid search, social media advertising and display advertising are all excellent ways of attracting visitors, building your brand and getting your site in front of people. Adjust your paid strategies to suit your goals – do you just want more traffic, or are you looking to increase conversions, too? Each paid channel has its pros and cons, so think carefully about your objectives before you decide.  We can help you find the right channel for your desired audience.
  2. Social Media – Do you have great content on your site that you would like to promote?  One of the best ways to increase traffic to your website is to use social media channels to promote that content. Create links on your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram pages.  Give tidbits of content on these sites and encourage viewers to visit your main site to get more information.
  3. Keywords – Specifically Long Tailed Keywords are optimal for attracting customers to your site.  Drive target searches to your site by using very specific and focused keywords.  Long-tail keywords account for a majority of web searches, meaning that if you’re not targeting them as part of your paid search or SEO efforts, you’re missing out. Use Google’s Keyword Tool to find long-tail keywords that match up with your content or, even better, write content unique to your brand.
  4. Blogging – They say that content is king, so be sure your website has valuable content that viewers will want to access.  Blogging about your business field will draw customers to your products or services and give them a sense of your company’s voice through your blog.  In addition, search engines reward companies who are getting high-quality, consistent content coming from them.
  5. SEO – Optimizing your content for search engines is still a valuable and worthwhile practice. If customers are not able to find your company then the game is over.  Sperling Interactive has many techniques that will help your company be found.  Contact us today to start planning your SEO and Marketing strategy to increase traffic to your website.

The Power of Blogging

Is blogging really a necessary part of a business marketing plan? Successful marketing leaders know that a content publication strategy can increase visibility, sales and leads.  Blogging is one major component of that strategy.  There are well over 150 million blogs on the internet currently, growing larger every day.  These are big numbers to absorb, even bigger considering blogs didn’t even exist 20 years ago.  In the marketing world, blogging has hit it big yet people still seem puzzled by the impact of blogging on business. Let’s take a few minutes to look at the power of blogging for your business.

  1. Increase in Search Engine Traffic/Rankings – Search engines love fresh content. What better way to provide frequent content than with blog posts. By blogging consistently, you give Google and other search engines new content to index and you create opportunities to plug in those all-important keywords to increase your visibility on search engine results pages (SERPS).(Source Open Vine) This increase in traffic can mean an uptick in conversions from leads to customers.
  2. Become an Authority in your Field – By sharing industry related information and “how-tos” you will develop a name for yourself and your brand as an expert in your field.  As you build up an audience for your blogs, you may find that customers refer to your information as a resource.
  3. Show your Personal Side – Blogging creates a unique opportunity to not only show off your expertise but also how a human and personal side to your business.  Readers will get to know you and your company through your voice in each blog.  That is why it is very important to keep blogs real and down to earth.
  4. Fast Feedback – When something new and exciting happens in your field, a blog can be a great place to have conversations about that event.  Ask questions and converse with your viewers about the news as well as gain valuable feedback about the changes.
  5. Leads and Conversions– An active blog sends a signal that your business is alive and well to the search engines as well as generating leads.  Research shows that the more pages a site has, the more leads it gets. According to Hubspot, businesses with 401-1000 pages of content get 6x more leads than those with 51-100. In simple terms, the more you blog, the more leads you generate. More content means more form submissions, more email opt-ins, more quote requests, and ultimately, more sales. (Source Forbes)