The Focus SEO Strategy

Search engine optimization has changed over the years.  When it started as an actual business about 15 years ago, the process of SEO involved the positioning of keywords and phrases into a website.  Due to the crude nature of the algorithms that were used, things like “the amount of times a phrase is used” and “is the word used at the beginning of the article” made all the difference.  You would use a keyword as many times as possible on a website, put the keyword in the title and description, then link to that page from as many other websites as possible using the same keyword as the text of the link.  That process created rankings boosts, and Google began finding that they were not positioning the best websites at the top positions, and instead were simply positioning the websites that used a phrase more than another at the top.  There were many ways to automate links that were developed, as well as content that was placed on a site.  The job of the SEO was to utilize these automated processes to get as many links and as much keyword stuffing done as possible in as little time possible.  Luckily, Google evolved and is now assessing the quality of the information on a website as the ranking factor.  They understand what the words mean, so you do not have to use the same phrases over and over again.  They understand what the context of the link that is coming into your site is, so it has to be good or it has no value.

The evolution of SEO has not necessarily created a situation where SEO companies no longer use old tactics that no longer produce results.  There are many SEO companies out there who do exactly that, using strategies that have been proven to provide no results as far as rankings increases. So why do they use them? Because SEO is a business and as a business it has to have a product that is generated as quickly and cheaply as possible.  They do not necessarily care if you actually get results, because they are only trying to sign you to a short contract and expect you to quit when you see no results.  The actual business is the process of gaining new customers and then providing them with something that sounds like it will work.  They will use terms you have heard on the internet that used to produce results.  They will do “website audits” to correct SEO flaws but then do nothing to develop content.  They still do it the way it used to be done because it was easy.

Good SEO in 2017 involves being the best at what you do.  For the sake of a search engine, this means identifying the subject that your business is an expert at and then putting content on your website about that subject.  The content should provide value to people and should be easy to understand and read.  Google looks for the websites that have the best information on a subject and position it at the top of results.  SEO is the process of creating that good content, then letting Google know it is there.

Google understands that when someone finds something informative and important to them, they will generally use some method to save it.  This means linking to it in some way, either through social media sharing or bookmarking.  In addition to this, people who are creating content on the same subject might use that information and provide a link back to it.  This “verification” system is how Google understands how important something is, through the amount of saves and shares that happen linking back to the article.  The entire process of SEO is creating that content then linking back to it in a natural way which will provide a seed.  It will inform others that the content exists and they might then read it and link to it.  This process works and is the entirety of modern SEO, and if someone is going to do SEO for you and they are not talking about a content creation process, then you can assume that you are wasting your money.

So how does the Focus Internet Services SEO process work? For us, everything is based on content and the links going back to that content that seed it to the public.  We use a process where we create articles on websites exactly like this one, and then post them to the site.  From there, each piece of content is seeded through a series of bookmaking platforms that we use, usually 10-15 for each client.  Each article is posted on these platforms in order to let other people know the article is there.  In addition, we create articles just like the ones that are posted on your website and we post them on other websites.  The only difference is that those articles contain links back to your website.  We try to match the content topics as closely as possible, and link back to pages within your site that are about the topic at hand.  There is usually a better page in your website than the home page with regards to providing information on a topic, and that is what we link to.  These articles are then seeded in the same way that the onsite articles are.

How much work is done each month for a client depends on the budget, and how competitive the target subjects are.  Naturally, some industries are more competitive than others, and those types of businesses need more work to outrank the competition.  Exactly how much is necessary is nearly impossible to tell, and generally we will assess the competition and provide an estimate that we believe will develop rankings over a 6-12 month timeframe.  If rankings are not developing, it is generally because more work is needed.

Can we prove our process works? The answer is yes.  Below you can see an example of our own website as it progresses over a six month timeframe compared against other websites in our area.  For six months, no SEO work was done in order to prove that if you do not provide content to your website you will not miraculously move up.  As you can see, only a week before the date that the snapshot was taken we began the exact process of SEO that we use for our clients.  We provided onsite and offsite content that targeted the phrase, and linked back to it via social shares and bookmarks.  You can see the dramatic increase in rankings that happened to our site, which didn’t happen to any of the others.  This rules out any anomaly like an algorithm change which would boost everyone up.  Instead, you see what happens when the Focus SEO strategy is applied and when it is not in place.  Of course the results will be different for everyone depending on their industry, but this provides a generalized snapshot of how the process works.

Focus Internet Services SEO Strategy

Focus Internet Services SEO Strategy

By | 2017-08-30T00:47:08+00:00 August 30th, 2017|SEO Information|Comments Off on The Focus SEO Strategy

The SEO Strategy In 2017 Is Content Marketing

SEO has changed pretty dramatically over the years, primarily shifting from an automated strategy of developing links using time-saving techniques like Scrapebox, content spinners and signature links on blog post comments to a strategy of content development and distribution.  This is not due to SEOs becoming more interested in the value of presenting quality information, but instead has happened due to the reaction of Google developing methods of discounting SEO techniques that cut corners.  Google is reactionary, meaning that they have a working algorithm that positions websites in certain places due to a variety of reasons and elements.  This algorithm is constantly being updated to discount the elements that are created using methods that Google believes are not “best practices.” The idea of “keywords” comes from the obvious fact that if you write about a subject you will probably use specific words that describe that subject.  If you create a link to content on another website in the method of Wikipedia, you will create that link using those keywords in an attempt to make the link easy to understand.  Once SEO companies realized that using the keywords numerous times within a piece of content gained higher rankings, or that using the keyword in links that went to a website made that website seem more authoritative on a subject, Google began the process of analyzing the weaknesses of the algorithm that were being exploited.  If using the keyword numerous times in the content was the weakness that was being exploited, Google changed the method of analyzing the content’s subject.  If links were being exploited, Google developed a better method of analyzing the value of that link to the subject without completely eliminating that aspect of the algorithm.  If meta-data is being exploited, Google eliminates the value of meta-data.  This process of continually reacting to the methods used to specifically develop rankings using the least work possible has lead Google to employ tactics for understanding content that are so evolved t this point that there is almost no point in attempting to game the system.  The best SEO tactic is to develop content on a subject that you want to rank for, and then post it to the website that you want to develop rankings for.  Essentially, “being the best” at a subject is the best way to rank for that subject.

This by no means is an argument against SEO, as you may have heard many times online.  Those frustrated with the inability to employ shortcuts to develop rankings fast and cheap have gone out of their way to spread the idea that there is nothing about SEO in 2017 that works.  This is obviously wrong, because Google is not positioning websites at the top of rankings randomly.  If SOMETHING is being used to judge the value of one website over another by a search engine, then “search engine optimization” is still an effective tool at getting to those positions.  The only thing that has changed are the things that Google is looking for, and the strategy you must use to convince Google that you are the best.  In the past it might have been the number of links that you had, and now that is no longer the case so you must abandon that strategy and move on to one that works.  The modern SEO strategy that develops rankings is content development, and the presentation of that content on your website.  There is no easy way to generate this content, you cannot steal it or borrow pieces of other people’s content then change it a little bit.  You can’t stuff keywords into that content and use tricks to make them more powerful like bolding the text or italicizing it.  Instead of concentrating on the tricks, just concentrate on the subject.  If you sell a product or service, you are an authority on that product or service.  Your competition that sells the same products are also authorities on that topic, and Google is going to put the website that it feels is the best authority on the topic at the top of the results.  Your job is to use your expertise in the subject to educate the public on that subject.  If you sell hammers on your website and want to rank for the phrase “hammers for sale” then write content on your website about hammers and selling hammers.  Write about what is unique about a hammer, and why you are the best choice for someone looking to buy a hammer.  Do more of this than your competition and you will end up at the top of the rankings.

The modern SEO strategy is actually a little more involved that just generating and posting content on your website, and actually involves how that content is distributed and how it is linked to by other websites.  Here is the best way to go about it in a nutshell.  Develop the best content on the subject that you want to rank for that you can.  Write it as professionally and in-depth as possible and then post it on your website in a position that is easy to find by people searching.  Then write other pieces of content on the same subject and post them on other websites that have a theme that has to do with this topic.  Posting this content to a website that has nothing to do with the topic just because they will let you post it there is literally wasting your time.  Google looks at the topic of that website to see if it is also an authority on the subject.  If it is an authority on hammers, then the posting of your content there has value.  If the website has nothing to do with hammers, then there is little value there, and Google will not give much consideration to the site.  Every place that you post content on your topic should be analyzed for the value it provides to you on your subject.  If it doesn’t provide any value and people would not go to that site looking for this type of information, then don’t waste your time.  When you have identified a website that has value to people on the topic you are writing about, then post your content and link back to your website from there.  Do not necessarily try to stuff keywords into those links, if it is totally appropriate then do it but if it isn’t then just put a basic link back to your site as the source of the info.  Get as specific as you can in these posts, meaning that if it is an article on the specific parts of the hammer, then link back to your site to a page that discusses the parts of a hammer.  Do not send every link back to your home page, because chances are that your home page is actually the least specific page on your topic in the whole website.  If you are convincing Google that the information is coming from this particular source, then name that source specifically with a link directly to that page.

The last step in completing the modern SEO strategy is “seeding distribution.”  This essentially means “getting the word out.” You want people to know that your content on your site exists, so you have to tell people about it.  Since social media is online, that is probably the easiest way to seed content that is online.  Go into social media profiles and talk about the content then provide a link to it.  Go into social bookmarking sites and spread the word.  Try not to just spam sites with links, and instead engage in conversations about the topic then reference the link where you discuss it more in depth.  Do this for each and every piece of content that you consider valuable, be relentless and do not try and hurry the process.  Basically, create the best content on a subject and then tell people about it.

Rankings in 2017 are developed using a content distribution strategy.  All content must be unique and trying to get credit for copied content is worthless to developing rankings.  Dumping a link into something that is posted on a million sites in the same format is going to get you only one link worth of consideration, whichever one Google finds to be the most authoritative on that topic.  SEO is about doing what works and not wasting time doing what doesn’t work.  Think about it that way, do the work and you will see the rankings develop naturally.

By | 2017-08-24T22:25:27+00:00 August 24th, 2017|SEO Educational Information, SEO Information|Comments Off on The SEO Strategy In 2017 Is Content Marketing

How Long Until My SEO Program Will Create Rankings?

One of the common questions that SEO companies are asked is “how long will this program take to produce results?” That is actually a difficult question to answer, because each case is unique.  What you have to understand is that there are many factors all in play at the same time, and all of these things effect how long it will take for you to rank on page one of Google (which is the goal.) What you have to understand is that SEO is actually a competition between your website and all of the other websites that are competing for that position in Google’s results.  The winner is going to be the webiste that satisfies Google the most with regards to the factors that are being considered, which is essentially “content” and “links.” A modern SEO program is essentially a “content creation” strategy.  This means that unique content on a topic that is being targeted is created and then positioned on your website, or on sites linking to your website.  The target topic is the thing you want to rank for in searches, and the content on that topic is positioned either on your website in order to convince Google that you are an authority on that topic, or offsite with a link back to your website.  This reinforces the understanding on Google’s part that you are an authority on the topic, because information on that subject that is found in other places on the internet is then linking back to your website.  This is a simplistic version of the way it works, but essentially that is what is creating the positions you have in search results.  If your information is  better than your competition, and the links coming in to that page are also better, then you will outrank them.

The question of “how long until I outrank my competition” depends on how much work we are doing targeting this particular subject and how much work your competition is doing on the same subject.  Basically, it comes down to the challenge of creating original content that is better than theirs, along with more links than them and better ones.  We can only speculate as to how much they are doing, because we cannot see everything that they are doing on their site, or how many links they have.  We can use software to analyze their website and get an idea of the links they have, but we cannot see everything, only Google can.  Software that we use will find some of the links they have, but will rarely find all of them.  All of these links are a factor with regards to rankings, so we  need to concentrate on doing more than them.  If there are many competitors in the space, and they are all developing content and links, we are going to need to do more than them all.

How competitive a keyword or keyphrase is decides how much work is necessary.  Something that is going to make a lot of money for the businesses that are on the first page is probably going to be quite competitive, as all those competing businesses understand the value of being on the first page.  This means that we are going to need to catch up to them all, and then eventually do more than them in order to outrank them.  One thing that many people assume is that we can just do a ton of work in a short time and then that volume will make us surpass the competition.  What must be understood is that Google is looking for “natural” things.  Google does not want to put the websites that are targeting rankings into their results, and instead they want to put the websites that provide the best information on a topic.  If you make it obvious that you are targeting rankings and your seo program is specifically to rank for a certain phrase, Google will actually push you backward in rankings as a penalty.  We must approach seo in a way that looks like the natural things that a business would do on a website, providing information on their expert topic over time and external websites linking to that content over time.  If all of the information shows up in a short time and then stops, it looks completely artificial and will not accomplish the goal.  A good seo program builds authority over time, and reinforces that authority by continuing to publish.

So the factors that come into play are essentially how much work are we doing vs everyone else that is targeting this same topic.  When you view it this way, it becomes more of a discussion of how competitive the phrase is vs how much work we  can safely do each month without appearing unnatural.  In many circumstances, the “how long will it take” discussion is completely decided by the client budget, which limits the amount of work each month.  If a phrase is competitive and we are only doing a small amount of work, we can expect it to take many months or even years to overtake the competition, if we do at all.  If we are using a projection of competition vs the safe amount of work that can be done, it will generally take somewhere between 6 and 9 months to see a page one ranking if a website is brand new.  If it has been established for a while it might take less, but generally it takes around 6 months to establish authority on a subject that Google has not considered you for at that point.  If you are already considered an authority it may be less time, however you also must understand that moving from a deep page number up to a first page is actually easier than moving from the top of page 2 onto page 1.  The real competition for a phrase is generally found on the first 2 pages or results.  So it might take 6 months to get rankings on page 1 and then another 6 months to move from number 10 to number 2.

Basically, the “how long does an seo program take” is answered speculatively.  We look over some factors like your existing website and the competition, and we make a judgment call as far as how much work we think we can safely do without garnishing a penalty.  If this amount of work is more than your budget allows, then the process will take longer.  If it is within your budget, it will probably take about 6 months or so to see results.

By | 2017-08-24T22:25:02+00:00 July 17th, 2017|SEO Educational Information, SEO Information|Comments Off on How Long Until My SEO Program Will Create Rankings?

SEO In 2017

SEO has changed quite a bit over the course of the last few years, and many people attempting to optimize their website in order to gain higher rankings will now find themselves frustrated as they try everything they have been told or read online, only to have their rankings remain stagnant, or potentially even dropping to lower levels the more SEO is done.  While there are many reasons that this can happen, we must keep in mind the SEO signals that provide value today along with those that do not.  We must also understand that the “content is kind” expression that has dominated our discussions of SEO over the course of the last few years has been replaced by “quality content is king.”  Lets take a look at how we got to this point, and how things have changed.

You used to be able to create rankings for specific keywords using a combination of meta-data, content and links.  In the early stages, Google concentrated on identifying low quality links, or those that could be easily manipulated in order to flush out websites who were trying to rank vs those who were legitimately providing quality information.  It used to be that you just needed links form other sites, and morphed into needing links from sites that were in the same genre of business as you, or maybe the same geographical location.  This was soon exploited by SEO companies and the focus shifted to links coming from high quality websites in the same genre of business that wrapped the link in text that was on topic for the keywords that were used in the link itself.  This became difficult to manipulate, and as such proved to be a viable ranking factor for Google.  In addition, Google began looking for text on websites that was on topic, and began devaluing things like titles and descriptions as it got better at understanding what the theme of the article was.  While titles and descriptions are still a viable ranking factor, they have very little weight now compared to the past, and obsessing about writing “SEO perfect” titles and descriptions is now going to not create the rankings boosts that it once did.  Chances are changing the titles and descriptions of your content and posts might move you up one place, but rarely is it going to create any more of a move than that.  Most of the time it will not do anything at all.

So what do we need to do for SEO in 2017? Concentrate on content both on your website and off of it.  Do not bother posting content that is less than 500 words, and make sure it is completely unique and hand-written.  We like to split our content 50/50 between onsite and offsite, and we like to link back from the offsite content to targeted pages within our site and not the front page.  Use a diverse set of linking phrases, and avoid using the exact same linking phrase too much.  Keep your text diverse and make sure that you post often.  Keep in mind that SEO takes upwards of 12 months at this point, where we used to quote 3-6 months we are now saying 6-12.  Google is using very developed methods of understanding your content and it is not going to shoot you into a number one position with one article on a subject.  You are going to have to be diligent, always have a point, and make sure you provide good information on the topic.

Do that enough and rankings will come over time.

By | 2017-06-26T23:39:08+00:00 June 26th, 2017|SEO Educational Information, SEO Information|Comments Off on SEO In 2017

SEO Marketing For Vape Shops

How do you market your vape shop? There has been a huge issue with getting the word out about your shop since Google made the decision to eliminate the possibility of using PPC campaigns for anything that is potentially comparable to tobacco shops.  Google clearly states that “products designed to simulate tobacco smoking,” is not an acceptable advertising category, and as such you will not be able to use Google adwords to get positioned in searches that people do for vape shops in their area.  There are only two other online options available, SEO and social media.

While there is always advertising in industry magazines, the vape world now faces the same marketing challenges as cigarette manufacturers, even though the products are utterly different.  While we can debate all day long if they should or should not be allowed to advertise and if the products should be considered in the same light as smoking products, the fact of the matter is that it is a legal business to sell these products within certain restrictions, and as such the businesses need a method of letting potential customers know that they exist.  The demographic of vaping enthusiasts is generally younger and connected, which translates to the online mediums being the ones that are appropriate.  When limitations are placed on the very medium that the potential customers are using, alternative mechanisms must be found.

Search engine optimization for vape shops is challenging.  This is because the same issues that prevent marketing in paid search on Google also causes general limitations on the places that article marketing can take place.  There are only two components to SEO, onsite content and code manipulation and offsite link building.  Google looks at content on websites that have links embedded into it and considers the topic of the article as well as the general topic of the website itself.  SEO companies utilize these spaces where they can create content on a topic and post links into it in order to get Google to recognize the validity of the content on a specific website.  If we want Google to recognize content on our website as being about vaping, we create content on other websites about vaping and then link back to our content on our website.  There is really nothing more to the process than that, except for the fact that the content also must be more informative and important for readers than everyone else’s content.  The issue arises when the typical places where you can post articles with links will also not allow content on the subject of vaping in the same way the Google does.  This severely limits the places from which we can generate links, and we will typically have to create the majority of our SEO weight with onsite content itself.  This is going to mean that we are going to need lots of blog posts on our website that are very informative about the subject of vaping and the products that are involved.

Social media is the other legitimate source of marketing for vape shops.  Creating social media profiles is not enough, you are going to need continual engagement in order to keep your customers interested, and keep them spreading the word.  You are not going to be able to do paid search on Facebook either, so the amount of people you reach with your message is going to be decided by how much your followers ike it and are willing to share it.  You are going to need a social media plan, and you are going to need to execute that plan with regular posts on social media sites.

Se can help you with your SEO and social media for your vape shop.  We have experience in this space and have performed both services for clients successfully.  Contact us today to discuss how we can help get the word out for your business.

By | 2016-10-28T19:04:01+00:00 October 28th, 2016|SEO Educational Information|Comments Off on SEO Marketing For Vape Shops

Keyword Stuffing And The Impact On Search Engine Optimization

In the past, search engine optimization (SEO) was an exercise in keyword stuffing.  What this means is that in the beginning stages of the processes that later became known as “search engine optimization,” the search engines themselves were quite crude in the factors that actually made up the rankings.  The most gratuitous examples of this is that one of the major factors that used to decide position within SERPs of a website was the sheer number of times that a term was utilized within the text of the site.  Google would count the number of times that a specific term was used within the crawled pages and put that website at the top positions for searches for that specific term.  When it was discovered that this is the process that Google was using, people who wanted their websites to be at the top of the results for a specific term simple used that term as much as possible within the site.  This became problematic, as natural speech and writing patterns are completely opposite, and would not be very usable if a word or phrase was simply repeated over and over again.  The text might trick the search engine into placing the site at the top of results, but the text on the site itself would do little to help the person who performed the search to find out the information they were searching for.  This lead to “offpaging” and “whitetexting” which are simple code tricks to hide the repeated words, either positioning them in a place that is not directly displayed when the site loads on a computer, or by making the repeated text be the same color as the background, so as not to display it to readers.  These tricks once again did the job of getting a website to the first page of a result, but provided poor results for users.  People must understand that Google’s motivation is to provide the results that satisfy customers the most, because their business is providing information that satisfies customers.  If they begin providing results that are not satisfactory, they will lose customers to competing search engines.

seoGoogle moved quickly away from using the simple analysis of text as the only ranking factor, and began experimenting with judging a website on the actual value it provides to human beings.  This was accomplished using a “crowd sourcing” model, where the theory that if something is important to people, they will bookmark it in some way in mass.  Google found that if information is important on a subject, then other websites that are providing information on that same subject would naturally link to it, or specifically to that content.  The combination of text analysis and inbound links provided good results for searches for a period of time, until search engine optimization companies realized that they could manipulate the inbound link profile of a website as well.  Search engine optimization became an exercise in not only putting keywords into a website but also creating links into that website from other websites.  This was typically accomplished through the use of blogs, where users had the ability to comment directly on a piece of content.  The process of building thousands of “signature links” was the easiest method of accomplishing this goal, essentially using software to crawl the internet seeking blogs that would allow a comment to be posted along with a link to a website in the signature field of the comment poster.  By placing the information into the software, a search engine optimization company could create millions of links to a website in a short amount of time, the majority of them being placed on blogs that had nothing to do with the subject.  Crackdown by Google on this method lead to the actual creation of thousands of websites using free services, essentially due to the fact that if Google can recognize that the signature link is the way the SEOs are manipulating things then to devalue those types of links.  Google placed more value on actual blog articles that included links instead of signatures, which lead to the process of “blog farming.”  This method of manipulation was the utilization of massive collections of blogs that had been created and were willing to sell space within their posts to people who needed links to a website.  They would generally require a minimum amount of text, a link and a payment of a certain amount of money to post the content within their space.  While this was quite effective for a long period of time, it was destroyed as a process when Google suddenly identified the major blog networks and not only devalued the links coming from them but actually penalized websites who used them.

Fast forward to today, and the technology that is being employed by Google and other search engines in order to provide the results that you see when you search for something.  While inbound links and text on a website are still the major ranking factors, the analysis of these two factors has become incredibly effective at weeding out those who are simply trying to manipulate results and those who are legitimately trying to provide information.  High tech analysis techniques using AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning are intersecting with crowd sourcing of satisfaction to form a state where search engine optimization is almost impossible to mechanize in a natural way.  Essentially, being “natural” in the presentation of the text and links that are being manipulated is the most important aspect of SEO, not only to increase rankings but also avoid penalties.  Google has analyzed and interpreted these factors to identify what the patterns of those who are attempting to simply gain higher positions look like, and devalue anything created in these patterns.  As an example, the term “content is king” is important because it reflects the shift of Google’s analysis of the importance of a website away from the sheer volume of inbound links and onto the text within a site as the most important aspect.  This is because the machines of Google are becoming better and better at analyzing that text in search of patterns that will illustrate that it is actually manipulation and not presentation of good information.  If you simply need to write a bunch of text using a keyword and you will rank for that keyword, then the pattern of those who want to manipulate things is to do as much as possible with the least amount of work.  This will probably mean large amounts of pieces of content within a website that utilize a minimum amount of words, whatever that minimum is perceived as.  You will see lots of articles in websites now that are around 400 to 500 words, simply because that is the perceived minimum that Google is looking for in order to not raise a red flag that this content is simply for manipulation.  Google now prefers longer articles, statistically showing that articles that are over 1500 words long will provide better value than shorter ones in terms of ranking.  The reason this is effective is that it is easy to create short articles that have very little information for a cheap price and a small amount of time spent writing them.  It is far more difficult to create a 1500 word piece, or one that is even longer.

Google has now employed a method of understanding the natural utilization of specific terms within content in order to identify “keyword stuffing.” What this means is that Google analyzes the content, counts the words and compares it to an understood pattern of how many times a specific term would be utilized within an article of that length.  It also looks for known synonyms, or alternative versions of that phrase or term, which is typical in a natural pattern of writing.  Few people concerned about quality of information are going to use the same term over and over, and will instead use natural variants of that term when it is appropriate.  Google now understands that a variation of a term still counts towards the amount of times that the specific term is utilized, leaning towards natural forms of writing over keyword stuffed articles.  TF*IDF stands for “term frequency–inverse document frequency”.  This means that Google is looking at your content and analyzing the number of times a specific term or a variation of that term is utilized, compared against the total number of words within that document. It then compares it against inverse document frequency, which measures how common a term is across all known documents on the internet.  This way, Google can crowd source an understanding of typical writing patterns on a subject in order to determine if content is being written for information or for rankings.  Documents which are created in order to provide valuable information on a subject are given priority and those created to manipulate rankings are devalued.

So where does this leave us with regards to SEO? There are those who now say that SEO as a process is dead, and these new technologies make the process have no value.  I personally do not believe this, due to the fact that if there were no process that can manipulate rankings, then rankings would be random.  SEO as a process is now based upon creating the content that provides valuable information on a subject, then letting the internet know the content is out there.  Instead of trying to create links to content in a mechanized way, concentration on creating valuable content is the process, allowing the linking, social media mentions and shares, and bookmarks to follow naturally the way Google wants it to.  This process becomes “search engine optimization” when it is utilized specifically to create better rankings for a website.  For example, if you want to get a dentist’s website to rank higher, instead of trying to use the word “dentist” over and over again in short articles on the site, it is far more effective to create content explaining the processes, techniques, and methods that the dentist utilizes in order to treat patients.  Google understands that this website is important for dentistry, places it into results for searches for “dentist” and then potential customers find the site when they Google that term.  This is the modern version of SEO, essentially looking at what Google wants and then providing it for a client.  In a nutshell, Google wants a website to provide the best information on a subject, and the modern SEO’s job is to make that website be the best on that subject.

By | 2016-09-21T16:04:46+00:00 September 21st, 2016|SEO Educational Information|Comments Off on Keyword Stuffing And The Impact On Search Engine Optimization

The Importance Of Having A Viral Plan

Does your business have a “viral plan?” Do you even know what a viral plan is?

Any business who is interested in rankings for their website or exposure for their products should have a simple plan for the unexpected success that the internet provides from time to time.  If your business has hired an SEO company who is working toward trying to improve your rankings, you have put in place a system where someone who understands how SEO works is manipulating things for you in order to assist your business in improving the positions on search engines for phrases that are important.  If you have ever hired a marketing agency, PR firm or any other entity that promises to use their talents to gain exposure for your business, then you can benefit from a basic viral plan.  The plan can involve numerous scenarios that will come into play if “viral success” is achieved by some project that you are attempting to “make go viral.” The plan can also be as simple as knowing what to ask for if something that is associated with your business “goes viral.”

The first part of the discussion is obviously to define what “going viral” means, and understand why it is important to plan for it even if it is unlikely.  Advertising agencies like Focus Internet Services are contracted all the time to “create viral marketing,” but what that means has to be accurately defined so there is no misunderstanding on the expectations or the results.  “Going viral” on the internet means that something that you have produced begins to be shared across social media or news outlets from person to person, without you being in control of it.  You gain exposure for your business because that thing that you created is not just being seen in a timeslot you paid for, or in an edition of a publication that cost you money.  Instead, it is picked up by regular people who then share it with their friends for a wide variety of reasons.  The content might be funny or witty, it might be important or groundbreaking, it might be shocking.  There are a million reasons why something might be shared from person to person, but what you need to understand as a business owner interested in “viral marketing” is that there is no way to force the process.  You are asking the public to voluntarily share your information with their friends.  The first question we would ask you when you are considering viral marketing is “why would anyone take the time to share this?” If you can’t answer that you personally share things like this from other companies, then why would someone share yours? Are you paying them? Are you making their lives better? Are you making them look cool to their friends? If you can’t answer these questions, then you probably won’t have much success.

Viral marketing specialists do two things, they create the content that is LIKELY to be shared from person to person, and then they create the SEED that people can find it.  What this means is that the people who specialize in “social media” consider the things that are most likely to be shared, and attempt to create content related to your business that has these elements.  They will then associate your business with that content in an obvious way (because if your content goes viral and there is no way for people to know that you made it, then you just wasted your time.) Most of the time, this concept has to be more clever than a credit on the bottom or a banner in a video.  People are very unlikely to share obvious advertising from companies unless it is something that stands out from the thousands of other advertising pieces they see every day.  After they create an attribution mechanism for the content, then they create the seeding.  What seeding involves is getting the message to the first people who might share it with others.  Most likely, this seed will come in the form of spreading the content through established social media profiles or posting it to a group that has a large viewership.  An example of a social seed would be asking Kim Kardashian to share your content on her Twitter feed.  She will probably be willing to do something like that for a large amount of money, but unless you know her that will probably not work.  She is asked to do that very thing every day by hundreds of companies just like yours.  You will probably need to recreate some smaller method of doing the same thing, perhaps contacting influencers within a certain subculture and sharing with them.  Perhaps that will mean establishing large follower lists on your own social media platforms and then sharing your content across those channels.

Having a plan for viral success involves knowing what to do when something does go viral, either by accident or because you seeded it.  What exactly are you trying to gain from this exposure? Do you want people to go to your website? Then you better put a link to your website in the content itself.  Do you want them to call your phone number? Then your phone number better be in that content.  Do you want them to link to your website? Then you better make them link to you.  Expecting people to work for you is a recipe for failure, you need to define what you want and be ready to ask for it.

Ceci Negron photographed by Felix Rust Photographers

Ceci Negron photographed by Felix Rust Photographers

This is the point where I will provide an example of how not having a viral plan can add up to huge missed opportunities.  A friend of mine named Felix Rust is a photographer in Boston.  He struggles like all photographers do to get the word out that he is good at his craft, and make potential customers know his business exists.  He has worked at SEO for several months in order to rank locally in the Boston area for certain phrases that describe his photography business, so that people Googling those phrases can find him and hire him.  The typical SEO process involves creating compelling content for your website and getting good links back to that content from established websites.  The process is laborious and not very sexy.  It involves lots and lots of writing and then basic seeding of those pieces of content in order to possibly gain a few links back to the site from other websites who found that content interesting.  While he had a certain amount of success, everyone who does SEO for a living knows that links from big websites or trusted outlets on a subject are worth their weight in gold.  A thousand little links might not have even close to the power of a single, big link with regards to rankings.  SEO guys dream of getting links from big media outlets because it makes the process so much easier.  These types of links are almost impossible to get, so we try but most of the time we expect to fail.

Felix did a photography project for his daughter’s school where he took “yearbook” photos of the children.  The plan was to have a little fun and create a yearbook experience for children that probably wouldn’t have a “yearbook” like you get in high school.  Instead of trying to just take the same boring photograph over and over that a yearbook photographer is tasked with taking, Felix decided to be a little more creative and fun.  He asked the children to make faces, act silly or do whatever they wanted to do.  He would create that “yearbook style” photograph for them, using the silly photo poses that they provided.  Sounds like a fun day, and everyone was happy.

Felix started getting phone calls and emails from huge media outlets one morning, ABC, CNN, Cosmopolitan, Boston.com, Mashable and many others.  They had begun to discover a particular photograph of a little girl named Ceci Negron making an angry face in her cute “yearbook photo.” They wanted to print stories about the “little scowling girl” and how cute she was.  Naturally, when asked by such big players, Felix gave permission to use the photograph.  The news spread far and wide, and more and more outlets started running the story.  Felix’s work was now being nationally recognized.

The need for a viral plan comes at times like these, when the unexpected successes happen.  Felix called me after the stories started showing up online, and asked what to do to leverage some of that popularity in order to promote his business.  While there were certain things we could do in order to link his business to the photograph, people reading the stories are probably unlikely to seek him out in order to patronize his business.  Most likely they will read the cute story and then click to the next one.  A viral plan means understanding how to gain benefits from things you have created.  In this case, I advised him that if he had secured a link to his website from huge media giants like ABC and CNN within a story about photography, there is a good chance he would never have had to do SEO again.  The plan should have been to ask for a link to his website in exchange for them using his photograph.  Some would have told him no, and in that case he could have negotiated some sort of other credit, but the point is that some would have said yes.  This would have created clickthroughs to his website where people can learn about his projects, and Google would have seen links from large, credible sources to him about photography.  SEO would have been a cake-walk from that point on.

Having a viral plan is as easy as understanding how to get some form of benefit from work that “goes viral.” Not everyone is going to understand how to gain the maximum benefit when exciting things happen, but just like they tell you in the crime movies, “don’t say anything without talking to a lawyer first.”

If you want to hire a great photographer in the Boston area, contact Felix Rust Photographers.  Maybe your child will be the next Ceci Negron.  See, that’s how it should have been handled.

By | 2016-07-19T23:07:58+00:00 July 19th, 2016|SEO Information|Comments Off on The Importance Of Having A Viral Plan

Google Misunderstands What My Business Does, Will It Hurt My Rankings?

Google rankings

Google rankings

Recently, our business started getting phone calls from people in Las Vegas and in Lake Havasu who were asking how much it would be to install internet into their houses.  We explain to them that we are an “internet marketing service” that provides marketing for businesses using internet spaces.  When we ask them how they found us, the reply was always the same, “we found you on Google maps when we Googled internet services.” This obviously explains the issue, and why people would call us.  Google has obviously placed us in a category of businesses that provide services that we do not offer, and even though we have gone to great lengths to make sure people understand what we do, Google itself does not understand that “internet service” might mean something different than installing internet in homes.  The immediate question that we had to figure out is “will this effect the rankings for the things that we want to be presented for?”  If Google misunderstands what my business does, will it hurt my rankings for the searches that actually do describe the services we provide.  The easiest way to answer this question is “yes and no.”

When we looked into the maps rankings for “internet services in Lake Havasu” we found ourselves at number one.  Typically, this would not be an issue unless we had lost rankings for better descriptions.  This means that if we noticed that Google did not rank us for “internet marketing service” there would be a problem we should address.  However, this was not the case and we were still presented at number one for all of the searches that accurately describe our services.  So why would it be a problem if everyone who you wanted to find you was finding you, and extra people who you were not targeting would find you too? Why is extra traffic that has no cost and takes no effort a bad thing? The answer is in the “bounce rate” and “user engagement.”

SEO is a process of streamlining the message of a website so that Google not only understands it but also views it as more important than everyone else who is competing for the same words.  You literally have to use every tool at your disposal to make the message more clear than the next guy.  This is going to entail content and code and links and every other thing you can tweak to your advantage.  Something like an “alt tag” being missing on a photo might not be a big deal, but when you are being compared to another site that has used them appropriately it might make the difference between number one and number two.  For this reason we must consider what people are doing when they land on our website, because Google has stated that they consider user actions as part of their ranking factors.  If people go to a lot of pages of a website and stay there for a long time, Google thinks that this proves that people are finding the information they are looking for.  They believe that the website is more accurate and more meaningful if people stay longer on it than on other sites.  This might also be the difference between number one and number two.

This forces us to consider ancillary traffic to a website as a negative thing.  If you drive a whole bunch of people to a website by promising them something that isn’t there, they are going to land on the page and then immediately exit because they did not find what they were looking for.  Their actions are showing Google that the site is not very good information and as a result rankings might be effected negatively.  When Google is misunderstanding that the SEO and internet marketing business is not the same thing as the internet installation business, the rankings for both may be harmed if the site itself attracts customers looking for the wrong things.

While it is not clear at this point what effect this will have on a website’s rankings, we have to assume that Google will get better and better at understanding the nature of the business by the content on the website.  While this may be flushed out in the future, the current rankings would seemingly be negatively effected by this misperception.  For that reason, our judgment call would be to take steps toward better defining the understanding that people have of the business when they see it presented on Google’s results, even if it is in the wrong category.  While we couldn’t care less if Google presents us for something wrong as long as they also present us for something right, we also want the people who see the business listing to not click through if it is obviously a mistake.  For these reasons, we modify the title of the business and the description to include more specific language that describes our service line.  This will reduce the amount of “accidental traffic” and streamline the existing traffic to being people who are actually interested in our products and services.

By | 2016-07-19T21:58:29+00:00 May 18th, 2016|SEO Information|Comments Off on Google Misunderstands What My Business Does, Will It Hurt My Rankings?

Titles and descriptions for SEO

SEO titles and descriptionsThe basics of SEO (search engine optimization) is the manipulation of “on site” elements to your advantage.  This means taking every piece of the website that you can control and making sure that Google sees something in it that is relevant to the terms you are targeting.  SEO itself is the process of manipulating things in order to have Google realize that your website is important for a word or phrase that you are targeting.  This means that if you sell shoes, you are going to want to target the word “shoes” and all of the variations of it that people use.  That way, when people search for “buy shoes in Las Vegas” your website will come up on the first page of Google results (provided you are in Las Vegas, of course!) The process of SEO for a website that is representing a business that sells shoes in Las Vegas targets these kinds of phrases using a variety of techniques which can be divided into two categories, on-site SEO and off-site SEO.  Off-site SEO is using various methods to generate links back to pages on your website from other website, as well as citations, mentions and reviews from other spaces which either use your brand name or use keywords as the link text.  For the purposes of this article I will concentrate on “on-site SEO,” and discuss the importance of different elements you can manipulate on your website in order to influence your rankings.

When we design a new website for a client, the very first thing we do upon launch (provided they are also an SEO client) is to do as much “on-site SEO as possible, in order to get a benchmark to experiment from.  Probably the most difficult thing to wrap your head around is that your rankings are decided by two things, your SEO and your competition’s SEO.  Rankings are determined by how well you have convinced Google that you are important for a keyword compared to everyone else who does the same thing.  If you are unique and are the only one selling something, then Google will probably figure it out pretty quickly and you won’t need any real SEO in order to rank at the top of the results.  This is not the case for most businesses, and in most situations there are many others selling the exact same things as you.  Even if you have totally unique BRANDS, you are still competing for the general term “shoes” when you are looking for customers who have never heard of you.  This means that you are going to need to do more SEO work and provide better content than all of the competition you want to rank higher than.  The first place to start is by making sure you have covered every base that you have access to on your website, including images, titles, descriptions and text content.  The process is pretty simple to start with, you take each one of these elements on your site and you manipulate it to involve the targeted phrase.  Every image will get alt-text and descriptions that have a variation of that keyword.  Every page on the site will involve information about that keyword.  Every page will have a unique title and description that involves that keyword.  As a general rule, you do not want to appear spammy by stuffing the exact keyword into everything, and instead just use some variation of it in natural ways to describe things.

When it comes to titles and descriptions of pages, the question always becomes “how important are the titles and descriptions of a page with regards to ranking?” This question is especially confusing because Google is always changing things in their algorithm, and the importance of one element bight go up or down depending on how well they believe the rest of their analysis can determine what your site is about.  The easiest way to understand why they do this is to think of the SEO industry in general.  Our jobs are to make a website come up high in search results, while Google’s job is to make the best site come up high in those same results.  Our clients might not be the best at something, and in many cases they are attempting to gain results for something that they are actually very weak in, just because it will mean more sales.  For this reason, Google views much of the SEO process as the enemy to their process.  Our job is to manipulate things in order to get our way, using what we know about THEIR process to do it.  For this reason, Google absolutely HATES the elements that we have an ability to control easily and with little effort.  Of course you are going to say in the titles, descriptions and alt-data that you sell shoes, but Google needs to determine if you are the BEST at selling shoes.  For this reason, Google has to look at when you tell them you should rank for, but doesn’t put a whole lot of emphasis on it.  A long time ago, Google considered the meta-tag “keywords,” which was a list of words that you told them that you should rank for.  It got so abused by people trying to rank for things that they were not the best at, that eventually Google ignored it completely.  Now, if you fill in the meta-keywords, it provides absolutely no value to Google, and your rankings will not change in any way by having it there.  So the question then becomes “how important are titles and descriptions to rankings at this point?”

Right now (as of May 2016) titles and descriptions are still considered by Google as somewhat important, but not nearly as much as they once were.  The rankings of a website used to be determined by the titles, descriptions and links that matched keywords coming into that page.  Now, you can manipulate titles and descriptions all day long and only see tiny moves in rankings when you do it.  For this reason, we understand that Google is still considering them as part of the algorithm, but not putting too much weight on them.  For this reason, we do track the effects of changes, but do not put all that much time into it.  You have an element at your disposal that has a slight influence on your rankings, so you might as well use it….just don’t go crazy changing it every day because it probably isn’t going to move you all that much in the rankings.

As an experiment, we have been tweaking the titles and descriptions of this site every five days or so in order to see the effects of different combinations of titles and descriptions on the rankings for “seo company Las Vegas.,” as well as variations of that phrase.  While there is merit and value in placing that exact phrase closer to the beginning of the title and description, as well as using a variation between the title and description.  We noticed dramatic changes with regards to targeted cities with almost no competition, but within a competitive landscape like Las Vegas, we found only slight variations in rankings, perhaps moving up or down one position or so.  While the difference between position 11 and 10 means first page or not (which is very important) the difference between position 11 and 12 is really not so much of a big deal.  Once the site is ranking in the top 5, these slight tweaks will have little to no effect at all.

The moral of the story is to use all of the onsite elements that you have access to, and track where you rank when you do it.  A few weeks later, look at all of those sites that rank higher than you and see if you can figure out a common element that might be making that happen.  Are they using the keyword earlier in the sentence? Are they using a variation of the keyword and you are not? Consider all of these elements, and if you see something that makes your titles and descriptions different than theirs, then change yours to be more in line with theirs.  Wait a few weeks and see if your rankings have improved or not.  If they have improved or moved down, then see if there is something else that you are missing that they are doing.  If you don’t move at all, then you have probably got as much value as you are going to get out of the titles and descriptions.

By | 2016-07-19T21:58:38+00:00 May 10th, 2016|SEO Information|Comments Off on Titles and descriptions for SEO

JebBush.com

A couple of months ago we wrote an article about the fact that Donald Trump was tweeting about Jeb Bush (while he was still in the race) and alluding to the fact that he had purchased his website and rerouted it to show Donald Trump’s campaign site.  We did a little digging and found out that this was actually a large scale publicity stunt designed to make Bush appear completely out of touch with the modern world, and therefor questionable as far as his intelligence.  How could someone running for president forget to renew his website, only to have it secured by a much more competent candidate? How could Jeb Bush be so unbelievably out of touch that he would let the very mechanism that he uses to generate campaign funds slip away on a clerical error, and forgetting to renew it? The answer is that it never happened, and Trump simply orchestrated a way for himself to look smart at the same time as making Jeb look stupid.  Trump purchased the rights to JebBush.com which had been owned by a totally unrelated company for years, in order to redirect it to his own website for as long as necessary.  JebBush.com was never the campaign website of Jeb Bush, and instead was simply a url which was owned by someone else willing to rent it to Donald Trump for a month.

Want proof? Go to JebBush.com today, now that it is no longer relevant to making Jeb Bush look unintelligent and Donald Trump look smart.  A businessman knows that there is no reason to pay rent on  spaces that do not have any value.  Today, JebBush.com is right back to being what it always was, a clickthrough ad space squatting on a politician’s name.

By | 2016-05-05T21:36:03+00:00 May 5th, 2016|SEO Information|Comments Off on JebBush.com