Saturday, August 18, 2012

Cheap yet costly SEO mistakes

How important is it to monitor your internet presence?

Unfortunately many individual and businesses assign the task of their website and internet marketing to an employee in their company or hire a service, and then just assume it will be fine.

Unfortunately, employees get distracted with other firm matters, or leave the company for another job; and with the ease of web templates, just about anyone advertising themselves as an internet marketing expert can give the impression that they know what they are doing.

What could possibly go wrong?

This week when monitoring the internet presence of a few potential new clients, I discovered a handful of dangerous yet preventable errors. Unfortunately this errors are more difficult to correct once they are online. With the change in search algorithms changing regularly, what worked yesterday may now seriously work against you today. What I discovered aren't tactics that a knowledgeable webmaster or internet marketer would use, especially since the introduction of Penguin and Panda.

 * Black-Hat Techniques.
Be cautious of companies that promise immediate first page Google ranking. “Black hat webspam” is referred to as techniques where the intent is to look for shortcuts or loopholes that would rank pages higher than they deserve to be ranked according to webmaster guidelines. Use of Black Hat webspam, once discovered by Google and other search engines, can get your site penalized and potentially de-listed. Short term exposure on the first page, could result in log term penalty.

* Bulk directory service.
This weekend as I did my internet research on a few new referrals, I found one company listed on several sites, but with a wrong phone number. In fact it was the phone number of the company they hired to provide their SEO. Their company name, address as well as the photos were correct, however someone calling the number listed would not have reached them. This happens when a bulk listing service is used. The bulk listing service uses the account holders phone number to verify the listings on directory pages such as: yellowpages, yahoo local listings and other popular online directories. The solution if you use a bulk listing service, is to have an account set up exclusively for (you) the client by the SEO company, and have the bulk service company phone verify your actual phone number. It's an extra step that involves someone at your office answering the phone and listening to a computerized code; however, those few minutes could save you from lost clients calling the wrong phone number. You also want to make sure that you are being listed on only legitimate sites and not content farms, which will also work against  you. The SEO company can still manage the account, however, the account is one of your internet assets. ( I've written about the importance of your ownership of your internet assets in another post.)

* Paid Inbound Links:
Years ago, cross linking (you list my website on your site, and I'll list yours on mine) was a popular way to increase traffic and give the impression of a site being popular. That tactic was quickly disregarded by all search engines and cross-lining was soon replaced by purchased inbound links. For a fee you could have your company and website listed on numerous worldwide sites which would offer a guarantee of high volume traffic to your site. This volume, again, gave the impression that your site was popular and therefore would rank high in search results. With the release of Penguin, these kinds of marketing ploys are considered web spam, an artificial inflation of the relevance of your website. Google penalizes sites for being deceptive and your site may not only lose it's ranking, it can also lose it's place in Google's index. People tend to forget that Google owns the database that indexes the search results. If you are no longer in the database, then your site will only be found by someone with your specific web address.

* Article Sites. 
If you enjoy writing, article marketing was once a long-standing highly used tool to post your same content several different sites with a link back to your website. This practice no longer has the search popularity it once had and at worst, it can cause your site to be penalized by Google and therefore not show up in search results. There are a few legitimate, well respected sites to post your informative articles and receive search benefits.

 * Content Farms. 
No time to write? Thinking about hiring someone to write your articles for you, or reposting someone else's article, blog or news story to add content to your site? These are all considered farming by Google's algorithm Panda.  Ghostwriters have a similarity in their writing and seldom provide unique content to their clients. Instead they rewrite certain phrases, leaving the bulk of the article or blog appearing very similar to the one they wrote for someone else. Using someone who writes exclusively for you is second only to you writing your own articles. According to Google's webmaster guidelines, Panda is designed to reduce rankings for sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful.  Google likes original, timely content that is informative, educational and useful to the reader. You can take a news story and comment heavily on it, providing a new perspective or in depth analysis, however, simply reposting the original story will cause your site to be considered a farmer, and of low value to searchers.

* Over Optimization
Optimize and SEO are buzzwords that have been chanted by many internet marketers with such a passion that many attorneys repeat these phrases as the holy grail fro their website, yet without any real understanding of what is it and how it can help or hurt your site. One method of over optimization is taking a keyword or phrase and over using it or repeating too many sentences on several pages or multiple sites. Repeating your tag line is one thing, repeating your area of practice over and again is over-kill. There are several other over-kill techniques that can cause your website to fall below the search engine approval. To get the best attention fro search engines, websites should be written for the reader and not for search engines.

It is important to your online success and identity to stay alert of any exposure on the internet. Not only to make sure your contact information is correct, but to make sure that the person's posting about you are known to you; are doing so with your permission and/or are in your employ.

The longer something is on the internet, the more difficult it is to remove. I once heard that the more times a lie is told, the more people believe it, it soon becomes assumed as the truth and more difficult to correct.

It's easier than you may think for someone to post erroneous information about you or post information that helps them to steal your clients or your personal identity.

Conducting a regular Google search, or using Google alerts is important, however remember there are several other large search engines that also may be storing information about you. Be alert, be proactive and be in better control over your internet assets.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Learn what you need to know about business & money - for free

Continuing your education while running your business is essential for your success. The following are free online resources to assist you in furthering your knowledge and gaining information to assist your business growth:

    • MIT Sloan School of Management – MIT Sloan is a world-class business school long renowned for thought leadership and the ability to successfully partner theory and practice.  This is a subsection of the larger MIT OpenCourseWare site.

    • Investopedia Financial Investing Tutorials – A plethora of detailed lessons on money management and investing.

    • U.S. Small Business Administration Training Network – The Small Business Administration has one of the best selections of business courses on the web. Topics include everything from starting a business and business management to government contracting and international trade. Most courses take only 30 minutes to complete.

    • My Own Business, Inc. – Offers a free online business administration course that would be beneficial to new managers and to anyone who is interested in starting a business. This comprehensive course is split up into 16 sessions covering topics like business plans, accounting, marketing, insurance, e-commerce and international trade.

    • UC Irvine OpenCourseWare (Business) – Rapidly with the addition of nearly 10 new courses every month. Many of our OCW offerings are directed at working adults seeking continuing education, with the option to enroll in instructor-led, for-credit courses, related to the OCW content.

    • Kutztown University of Pennsylvania – The Kutztown University of Pennsylvania’s Small Business Development Center offers more than 80 free business courses online. Kutztown’s courses are individualized and self-paced. Many of the courses feature high-end graphics, interactive case studies and audio streams.

    • Boston College Front Row (Business) – Boston College Front Row is a Web site that offers free access through streaming media to tapes of cultural and scholarly events at Boston College.

    • Financial Management Training Center – The Financial Management Training Center provides several free downloadable business courses for people who need to learn the finer points of financial management. All courses offered can be taken online; courses include full exams as well as evaluation forms for people seeking Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits.

    • The Free Nonprofit Micro-eMBA – Free Management Library’s Free Nonprofit Micro-eMBA Program is an especially great resource for students wishing to learn more about nonprofit management, but most of the lessons also apply to general business management. Completion of this program will not result in an MBA degree, but enrollment is free and the material is well structured.

    • Bookboon Free Business e-books – Hundreds of free business books online in PDF format.

    • TheStreet University – If you’re just starting out as a stock and bond investor or need a refresher’s course, this is the place to learn what you need to know.

    OpenCourseWare Consortium – This site provides a portal to search through hundreds of free courses or to add new courses you know about to the database.

    • iBerry – Check out this site for a huge directory of open courseware organized by school and subject matter that can point you in the right direction for any type of learning.

    • Self Made Scholar Directory – Free online directory of web-based classes and courses.

    Wishing you awesome and continuing success.

    Two reasons to write your business plan:

    STUDIES SHOW: 85% of the people that do not take the time to plan their businesses or career will not reach their desired level of success or will fail altogether. Of those that do take the time to write their plan, 85% will succeed.
    STUDIES SHOW: 40% of people with a strategic plan will double their income and profits within two years of writing their plan.
    With a strategic plan, greater than 70% of these people will exceed their own expectations within the next 5 years regardless of economic conditions.
    "A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be. " ~ Wayne Gretzky 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Why "Likes" Alone Are Not Enough

They’re only one piece of the puzzle.

Just because someone liked your business page doesn't mean they are reading your posts, or after the new Facebook algorithm update, they may not even be seeing your posts.

Page "likes" are only the beginning of the relationship. Social media and networking is about building relationships and not just advertising yourself.

When you posts are "shared", it is usually an indication that someone not only liked what you posted, but wanted to share it with their network of friends as well.

Your marketing goals should include posting interesting and relative content on your page and sharing other people's posts. When you share theirs, they become more interested to see what you are posting. If you share someone else's post, they might be motivated to come back and comment on your shared post, which then keeps your page name in front of their network, and their network's network, and so on, and so on....

Simply put:
1. Post great content that people want to tell their network about.
2. Share content that you find interesting and you want to tell your network of friends and fans about
3. Make comments with substance and invite continued interaction.
4. Comment from your business page, not your profile, if you want people to be drawn to your business page.
5. Repeat

Wishing you awesome and continuing success.

Sumner M. Davenport is a Solutions Consultant.
Best Selling Author and Keynote Speaker
Solutions, not just answers.
Solutions are not one-size-fits-all.
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