11
Aug

Check To See If You Have Been Hit By Penguin For Page Over Optimization

Written by cormiston. Posted in Search Engine Optimization, SEO

Hit By Penguin for Over Optimization?

There is a lot of talk lately after Penguin came out, as well as several updates to the Penguin algorythm on what exactly is affecting a site to make it drop off for a single keyword.  I have written a little about my experiences with Penguin, but often get requests from new customers to look into why they are no longer ranking #1 for X keyword.  Each case is slightly different but have a common thread.

04
May

Penguin Update: The Good, The Bad, and the ?

Written by cormiston. Posted in Blog, Search Engine Optimization, SEO

Well, fellow SEO fanatics, we have experienced yet another crushing blow by Google.  Some of these changes effect work that many of us have been doing for years.  It’s time for change once again.  Here are the latest updates on how we should consider doing our SEO in the future.  I will first cover what happened and why, after which I’ll make a few suggestions on how to continue to be more effective in your SEO efforts moving forward.

21
Mar

Another great article on how Google is changing how it does search – Time to change your SEO Stragegy!

Written by cormiston. Posted in Blog, Search Engines

Here is another great article by Jackie Jones on how Google is changing how it does search…and fundamentally how this will change SEO strategies in the future.  Looks like it’s time to retrain the staff.

Google to Refresh its Search Engine Function

21 Mar, 2012By: Jackie Jones

 MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – Search engine giant Google is revamping its search formula over the next few months, utilizing semantic technology to display more facts and direct answers to Internet users’ queries, rather than just a list of multiple Web links.

The changes could affect websites that rely on Google’s current page-ranking results, while giving the search engine more ways to appeal to different advertisers, according to industry experts.

21
Mar

Google is changing it’s way of Searching Based on People, Places, and Things

Written by cormiston. Posted in Blog, Search Engine Optimization, Search Engines

Check out this article I ran across that talks about how Google is changing the way it associates your search queries based on People, Places, and Things.  I have always been a strong proponent of using semantic related words within the content of the site as well as articles.  If done properly and naturally, this helps readers get a better context of the topic, as well as serving Google a better idea of the entire scope of what you are focusing on.  With the information that it has from a variety of sources (including Google+) they are starting to include this intelligence with their search to provide more accurate and closely targeted results for users.

Google Gives Search a Refresh

-Wall Street Journal

By AMIR EFRATI

Google Inc. GOOG +1.60% is giving its tried-and-true Web-search formula a makeover as it tries to fix the shortcomings of today’s technology and maintain its dominant market share.

Over the next few months, Google’s search engine will begin spitting out more than a list of blue Web links. It will also present more facts and direct answers to queries at the top of the search-results page.

12
Mar

PPC Management and Google Compliance

Written by cormiston. Posted in Blog, PPC (Pay-Per-Click)

PPC is getting harder and harder to manage every day!

I found a great article written by Laura Betterly…an expert in the PPC world. She manages hundreds of clients and is always on the cutting edge of PPC.

Check out the article here ” Google Compliance and how It’s Changed PPC Management

23
Jul

Google’s New Emphasis on it’s Own Reviews

Written by cormiston. Posted in Google Places, Local Marketing, SEO, Social Media

Google has changed the layout of their Google Places yet again.  In fact…they have removed all references to other review sites except for user reviews from Google.  It is widely known the issues Google has had with Yelp, TripAdvisor, and other review sites in the past, it seems they have done away with listing these 3rd party reviews in lieu of their own. With the popularity of local search and the rush for placement, Google is constantly changing it’s features and placement of items on a regular basis.  Google announced this new look on Thursday and mentioned that there are still more changes to hit soon.  With a new emphasis on Photos to show the business and it’s products/services it’s clear that they are helping businesses target their audience who recognize their businesses from the pictures.

Some other changes are apparent with their new emphasis on their own reviews (big surprise).  It only makes sense that they trust their own reviews more than other sites because they can control the authenticity of these reviews easier.  With the rash of outsourced reviewers from countries such as India and the Philippines, Google is beginning to crack down on these bogus reviews in place of those placed from Google users.

You will notice the BIG RED “Write a Review” button to encourage their users to write reviews right from Google Places.   This gives them greater control to manage people who post reviews for a restaurant in New Jersey from their office in Hyderabad, India.

While citation sites may still play a role in authenticating the place of business, it’s clear that external reviews are now gone from Google Places.  This is both good and bad.  Bad for all the companies who have accumulated excellent reviews from their customers (which no longer count towards their popularity), and good for companies who would like to get more reviews.

It has been very difficult for Social Marketing agencies to help companies instruct small business’s  loyal fans on how to write reviews.  They would have a lengthy instruction manual starting with how to sign up for an account on Yelp, or Judy’s Book.  Then end with a convoluted explanation on how to post the correct company name (spelled exactly like this…), address, and Phone number.  Now, it’s plain simple…..”Click the red button when you find us on Google Places”.  This should make it much easier for businesses to obtain more reviews.   This will also start a brand new wave of massive reviewing to rank their places listings.

So whether you are looking for a great restaurant in your area, or marketing for other companies….you can expect more changes to come with Google Places.

 

24
Jan

Get Your Facebook Fan Page Up On Google

Written by cormiston. Posted in Facebook

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

It’s no secret that Google and Facebook have a good relationship going on.  Google claims to have indexed over 503 million pages within Facebook, and that was in 2009!  So when  you’re looking at increasing your search engine ranking, particularly on Facebook, look to your Facebook Fan Page.  With some dashes of well placed SEO, you too can get Google to notice your Fan Page.

First, get a good URL.

When your Fan Page reaches 25 members, you can change the URL.  It’s a fairly easy process and we show you how to do it here (add link to other post).  Be sure your URL is easy and something people will remember when they go to search for you.

Create a Default Tab.

This is important because the default tab is what people will see when they first visit…and it’s what search engines will see as well.  Designating which tab you want is fast (go to Settings on you Page then select the tab you want as default).  If you designate your Welcome tab as default, you can put an engaging picture, to draw in fans, AND content hitting your keywords, to draw in search engines.

Another great Default Tab is a landing page, where you can draw in fans with great deals, information, or engaging offers.

Put a Facebook Like Box on your main site.

Again, it’s easy to put in a Like Box on your blog or website.  Facebook will even make the code for you if you supply it with basic information.  Go here to get started.

Fill in the About Box.

You know that blank box under the profile picture?  Be sure you put in your website and a sentence with a keyword or two.  This little area is accessible to search engines and is just one more opportunity to generate relevant content.

Write notes.

Take advantage of the Notes section on your Facebook page.  Content here can be searched for in Facebook, and if you include your key words in short notes, you can draw people to your page who search for those words.  Notes can be blog posts or even just short snippets of information, but take advantage of this place to add content to your page!

As you can see, there are several ways to get Google to take a closer look at your Fan Page.  The more Google crawls it, the more it will be added to your rankings.

While a Facebook Fan Page is not enough by itself to get you onto the first page of Google, it does help and, with a more comprehensive marketing plan in place, can help with SEO as well as help get your company’s information out there for millions of Facebook users.

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24
Jan

Blogging Platforms: #2 WordPress and Blogger

Written by cormiston. Posted in Blogging, Blogging Platforms

The logo of the blogging software WordPress.

Now that you’ve determined exactly what type of blogger you want to be, review your list and rank what is most important.  Is customization more important, or promotion?  Do you want to pay for premium services, or is free the only price tag you’ll consider?

Remember, we will review five well-known blogging platforms in the next few posts, and we’re looking at four categories: cost (free or paid host), customization (how much can you edit and change), promotion (high traffic or low search engine optimization?), and use (who would use it).

All of the blogs have the following: at least three privacy settings (public, private, and protected) and have the basic abilities to edit HTML, spell check, edit text, add widgets, the ability to set up RSS feeds, and many more basic features.

1. WordPress

Cost: WordPress blogs are probably the number one most common blogging platform on the market, with hobbyists and professionals alike because they are free and highly customizable.

Customization: One advantage to WordPress blogs is that they are highly customizable.  You can change everything from the template to the layout.    In fact, there are so many customizable options on WordPress that sometimes you may be looking at a WordPress blog and not even know it.  (For example, I bet you didn’t know that CNN, Wired.com, and The New York Times all use WordPress blogs!)

Widgets are abound in WordPress, including widgets that let you track your blog’s statistics (ex. how many people visit, how many unique hits) with Google Analytics, set up an RSS feed, and block spammers with various apps.

And if you are looking for a platform to host a number of writers, then WordPress is one of your best options, as it can host numerous writers and admins.

One problem, however, is that WordPress is not as user friendly for new bloggers as other sites.  WordPress does not come as ready to use as other blogging platforms and you will have to upload several Widgets to make your blog more reader and commenter friendly.

Promotion: WordPress is one of the best options if you are trying to embed a blog to a website or have a domain name to upload it to.  For this reason, you’ll see WordPress blogs on websites for businesses and companies.

However, WordPress blogs must be tweaked to be SEO friendly and are also more likely to be targeted by spammers and hackers.  With that said, you will have to take a few additional steps in order to protect your account.

You can host a free blog on WordPress.com, but this means you’ll have blogtitle.wordpress.com in the name.  If you’re trying to avoid this, you can find a web host, but be prepared to pay a fee for the service.

Use:  WordPress is great for the recreational user and can also serve well for self-employed bloggers.  If you decide WordPress is for you, you will find that tutorials, tech support, user forums, and FAQ pages are exceedingly abundant with WordPress should you fall into any problems.

If you’re interested in a hosted WordPress visit WordPress.com.  If what you’re after is a download of WordPress to install on your own website, visit WordPress.org.

2. Blogger

Cost: Free as well, it’s easy to set up a blog – all you need is a g-mail account, which are also free.  The Blogger site prompts you to make an account, choose a blog name/URL, choose a template, and then you’re done and ready to post!

Customization: While Blogger is still a bit behind when it came to looking updated, recent upgrades have opened new templates for users and with some time you can make a pretty good looking blog.

If you want a professional looking blog, however, you will have to use a custom template made by third-party.  And unless you know some HTML, you will have to rely on the design options in Blogger or on custom templates available on the Internet to get the perfect look you want.

One issue with Blogger is that the widget choices are not as advanced or vast as other blogging sites.  However in a post coming soon, we will teach you how to add a Facebook share or Follow Me Twitter tab onto your blogger.

Also, Blogger will only give you one log in name for the blog, which means if you have multiple writers, you all have to share one username (an e-mail) and password, or have separate blogs.

Promotion: Blogger is hosted by Google and comes with it’s own host already.  You will have blogtitle.blogspot in the URL, but if you are a hobbyist blogger looking for your own place with no hassle, this is the place for you.

Another issue with Blogger is that it is not a great blogging platform if you are concerned about submitting your blog to blog services.  Blogger is a great blog if you aren’t concerned about high traffic to it.  However, if a paid blog is your dream then you may want to consider one of the other options.

Use: Blogger is great for recreational users who don’t care about having a high traffic blog, and if you decide to go for it, tutorials are available for help, as are user forums and FAQ pages.

If blogger sounds like more your thing, get started now by visiting Blogger.com.

Next up: Tumblr and TypePad.

24
Jan

12 Promotion Methods for Your Blog

Written by cormiston. Posted in Blogging, Search Engine Optimization, Social Media

Image representing Squidoo as depicted in Crun...

One of the hardest things about starting a new blog is attracting readers.  Unless you have the fortune of already being a well-known or well-loved blogger who has fans, you’re going to have to do a bit of work to get your blog out there and known to the masses.

1. Turn your posts into articles.

A great way to spread around links to your blog is to create articles out of your posts.  There are several free sites where you can post articles about a variety of topics, including EzineHubPagesSquidoo, and Buzzle.  By creating an article to post, you can advertise your blog in a resource line underneath the body of your text.  Provide a link and people will know where to go for more information.  This also helps by providing links to your blog that a search engine spider can crawl and find, helping your search engine ranking as well.

2. Alt Text

Label the alt text on your pictures that are featured in your posts.  A great post on Social Media Today talks about the importance of labeling your alt text.  Labeled pictures help your images get pulled by major search engines when someone searches under for those keywords reflected in your label.  Here’s a great tip sheet on how to choose labels.  And don’t forget, that posting pictures to your blog is always preferable to no pictures, as pictures increase the value and quality of your content!

3. Sign up for a subscription service.

People still rely on e-mail to know about the newest and latest products, and your blog posts are no different.  Services like Feedburner will let people follow you and will send them an e-mail when your blog is updated.  There are other services if you want more control over your lists, but having an option to be updated by e-mail is a good idea.  Plus, e-mail brings on the possibility of readers forwarding on your post to a non-subscribed friend.

4. Build links.

This one may be intimidating for new bloggers, but one way to get readers to come to your blog is by exchanging links with similar minded blogs.  Is your blog on movies?  Look for other comparable movie blogs and ask if they want to switch links with you.  Post intelligent comments on other blogs, engage in other blog communities, or include links to your blog in you Facebook page, Twitter profile, etc.  No one likes a spammer, but people are generally reasonable about helping.  Link to small sites without exchange, and chances are, they’ll link to you in return.  Beware of linking to big sites, however, as they may not even realize you’re linking, and there’s a good chance they won’t bother returning the favor.

5. Optimize!

Just like search engine optimization for websites, optimize your blog for search engines.  There are several ways to do this that we list in a previous article written (ADD LINK TO SARAH’S ARTICLE).

6. Ping your site.

There’s debate about how useful pinging actually is, but it never hurts to send a ping out to services and search engines to let them know that you’ve updated.  That way, your website is updated in search engine rankings and the service will include your newest post with your new keywords when someone does a search for them.  Here’sa great way to ping with one click.

7. Set up other social media sites.

Set up a Youtube account to display video you want to share.  Create a Twitter account and update it daily, if not more than once daily.  Make a Facebook Fan Page and start advertising to your friends!  By having these sites set up, you are reaching a wide and varying audience at times.  Each of these sites allow you to post a link to your site in your Tweet/update/profile and you’re just creating more links on other sites for those search engines to find.  And be sure to add widgets and plugins that let people share your post on Twitter, Facebook, Digg, etc.

8. Invite guest bloggers.

Do you know someone who blogs about the same topics as you, and has a fan base?  Ask them to submit a short blog post.  They may or may not agree, but if they do, chances are they’ll let their own followers know where to find the post and you can get some of their traffic.  Maybe a few will even stick around!  Be sure you get permission to edit their post, however.  Disagreements about this can be nasty and you don’t want to be locked into posting something blind as what they submit could be complete junk.

9. Go to conventions.

If you can afford it and are serious about your blog making it, consider going to conventions.  Believe it or not, there are blog expos, conventions, and fairs out there that you can appear at and meet other bloggers.  This is a great way to network and can help you find that guest blogger.

10. UPDATE A LOT.

No one likes great blogs that only post once a month.  Update at least once a week, it not more, and while you’re at it…

11. Write quality content.

The occasional LOLCats post is ok, and posting a great joke isn’t bad either, but write content consistently that is interesting to your market and readers.  If you’re writing about painting, write about it!  Use your own voice and write what you find is engaging and interesting.  If you enjoy writing about it, your passion will shine through and draw readers in.

12. Create a brand that people want to follow.

Respond to comments made.  Engage people on Twitter.  Address issues people have with your website.  Acknowledge your readership and audience and let them know that you paying attention!  People follow brands because they like what they promise.  Create your blog like you would a brand by offering something people want and something they can rely on for that want.  Be receptive and don’t put out the idea of having your readers interact with your blog.  Post a poll or ask what they’d like to see, and don’t ever forget that your audience is there!  After all, they can spread the word as well if they like what they see.

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