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.