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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the “content is kind” expression that has dominated our discussions of SEO over the course of the last few years has been replaced by “quality content is king.”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

Google’s Quality Guidelines

Many people are unaware that there are large teams of people who are reviewing website content and providing feedback to Google in order to make the results that are returned when someone searches for something a little more relevant.  Google has made a business out of positioning the most appropriate information from a website in the top positions on their results when someone searches for a phrase.  It used to be that there were specific mechanical and code tricks that could be exploited in order to get into those positions.  In the early days of Google, the algorithm was just counting the number of times a phrase was used on a page or in the code.  It evolved into the position of the phrase, then the links to the page using that same phrase, and a whole host of other factors that could be exploited by seo companies if they were known.  All of these tricks are no longer able to be utilized successfully, and as a matter of fact will probably push rankings down for the phrase you are targeting.  Right now, Google is looking for the answer to a simple question, “is this content on this page the best answer to a searcher’s question?” Thats it, there is no more.

Google is using a lot of really technologically advanced ways to determine if your content is the best, and you are probably not going to be able to trick them.  Go into your content creation strategy with a single mindset, “I want to be the best resource available in the world for answers to specific questions.” If you are the best resource, you will get the best positions.

Here is how far Google has gone to make sure that the best results are delivered.  While the majority of rankings are derived from the analysis of your content by super computers and the comparison against everyone else’s content, there are wildcards that are not understood by machines.  In essence, there are still tricks that work, so Google employs people (yes, actual people) to review content and answer if it is the best.  If the information they provide fits within the list of sites that are being delivered by the machines, then it is a verification that the system is working.  If the people provide different answers than the algorithm, then Google makes an update in order to closer align the two lists.  This is going on 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

If you are interested in the guidelines that the quality assessors utilize in order to determine quality for Google, you can see the document here: Google Quality Assessment Guide

By | 2016-04-20T19:46:38+00:00 February 16th, 2016|SEO Educational Information|Comments Off on Google’s Quality Guidelines

Location Based SEO

Search Engine Optimization ServicesOver the course of the last year there have been many changes to the Google algorithm which have made it more difficult for SEO tracking.  Essentially, the complete integration of a local 3 pack into results, as well as the localization of the universal results delivered below it, have made it exceedingly difficult to track the actual positions that are delivered outside the local area of the tracking computer.  This means that if your business wants to rank all over the country for a specific term, you will probably not be getting true results for areas outside of your locality anymore due to the removal of the “area” functionality from Google.  Obviously this was done because not enough regular users found it valuable, and it was only being used by SEO services companies.  Why would a regular person care about a search phrase ranking outside of a local environment, unless they were tracking global results? Anyway, the takeaway is that if you are looking for results globally and are searching from Las Vegas for a business based in Las Vegas, you are probably not seeing the same things as someone in Boston.

Location based search used to be able to be checked by changing the city in Google away from the default area, which used your IP address to fix your position.  Now that this feature is removed, IP address dictates all searches to a certain degree, even if you geotarget the search with a city name.  While this makes it difficult for SEO firms to accurately track results, it is probably more valuable to actual customers.  There are several tools available which can provide less filtered results to your searches, mostly embedded into tracking software systems but some available as standalone products online.  Our favorite is  http://isearchfrom.com/ which provides a user the ability to search from a country standpoint, filtering local results through masking.  While this tool is currently functioning as of today, it may not in the future.

The best methodology for tracking phrases as they are seen outside of your local area is to periodically check them through an anonymizer system, but not to worry about it unless you are targeting specific cities (probably due to physical locations in drive up areas.) If this is the case, geotargeting through use of a city in the search will also do the job.  If you are simply seeking global results, track using an anonymizer at all times.

Your search engine optimization program should have been decided as global or local from the beginning anyway, unless there are special circumstances like a local business that also sells nationally through their website.  In these types of cases, careful structuring of the SEO targets so as not to kill national rankings with local ones is going to be necessary.  You also may want to split your programs across different websites, one local and one without local references.  This way, your results are not swayed by a localization aspect and can be viewed by Google as more of a national business.

By | 2016-02-09T19:49:43+00:00 February 9th, 2016|SEO Educational Information|Comments Off on Location Based SEO

Invest in SEO

It is wise for a new company to hire the best SEO  that they can afford. This is because search engine optimization is the single most effective form of advertising available to businesses. Search engine optimization puts your website in view of customers who are specifically looking for your type of products or services, as opposed to a random grouping of people who might or might not want what you sell. If a person specifically asks to be shown a list of local businesses that sell a certain type of product, and have actually used energy to search for these businesses, then they are very engaged and are looking to make a decision as to who to buy from. For you not to be presented in that list is missing a great opportunity, and unfortunately you are not put into that list by simply having a website. Your website must be the best of the list, and that is where search engine optimization comes in.

By | 2016-04-20T19:49:17+00:00 December 18th, 2015|SEO Educational Information|Comments Off on Invest in SEO

Faith Based Seo Company

I heard about a seo company that uses a strategy called “faith based seo.” We have not been able to figure out exactly what this means at this stage, but believe that they are actually doing nothing but praying for rankings. While this may seem strange to you, it actually is probably just as valid a strategy as many others that are currently being used. In reality, Google is now looking for valid links and good quality content that makes sense to people and is usable in their daily lives. The search engines are far to savvy at this point to fall for the old optimization tricks that were used to gain rankings in the past. Today, search engine optimization experts are more content creation companies than anything else, because the only strategy that works to developing rankings at this point is to be the best. Maybe you could pray as well.

By | 2016-04-20T19:49:45+00:00 December 18th, 2015|SEO Educational Information|Comments Off on Faith Based Seo Company

Put Your Faith in Seo

I was reading today about a seo company in the south who have a strategy called “faith based seo.” At first I thought they were talking about praying for rankings, but in reality they were discussing the fact that the client must have a lot of faith and trust in the process of search engine optimization. There is so little that happens out in the open with regards to search engine optimization, and the content that is produced for a website is generally the only real and tangible elements that a client ever gets to see. The rest all happens in the background, with strategic links being developed, social media exploration and development, and ongoing “fattening up” of the web that connects the client’s site to others that are like it. You very simply need to have faith that the process works, and will work for your business. If you want to pray for rankings, it probably won’t hurt either.

By | 2016-04-20T19:50:14+00:00 December 18th, 2015|SEO Educational Information|Comments Off on Put Your Faith in Seo

Who is the Right Seo Company for You?

If you own a business, you have probably heard of search engine optimization and the fact that the businesses who rank on the first page of a search engine get almost all of the traffic associated with searches for the terms that describe their products. This simple fact illustrates a large need for businesses to not only have a web site, but also to have it rank on the first page of a search engine for appropriate terms. Unfortunately, the web site is easy but the ranking isn’t. Getting to the first page of a search engine is being recognized as the best web site in the world with regards to that term. A keen understanding on the part of the SEO company as far as what is being looked for by search engines in order to make the decisions of who gets placed in which position is crucial, and if you choose the wrong company you will probably fail.

By | 2016-04-20T19:52:02+00:00 December 18th, 2015|SEO Educational Information|Comments Off on Who is the Right Seo Company for You?

Why Hire an Seo Company?

One of the questions worth asking if you are a business owner who gains any business from people finding your business on the internet is “should I hire an seo company in order to improve my rankings to my website? The answer is always yes if there is any competition for the keywords that fuel your website traffic, as there is almost no way to “accidentally” outrank another website unless they are also doing nothing. Although links will naturally get created for good quality content that exists on your website, there is almost no chance of those links getting created in decent volumes if there is no program in place to spread the word about the content. You can think of it as online public relations, spreading the word about the quality of your website, and the rankings will improve based upon search engines knowing that the quality is there.

By | 2016-04-20T19:55:52+00:00 December 8th, 2015|SEO Educational Information|Comments Off on Why Hire an Seo Company?