content marketing

Duplicate Content Is Bad For SEO

Why Copied Content Is a Big No-No with Google

In today’s online business environment, your web design and SEO strategies have to be top notch to remain competitive. Previously ignored issues like copied content can no longer be taken for granted and failure to take immediate action can mean a long and arduous road ahead for your online business. Duplicate content is bad for SEO.

You already know how important good content is to your site. It drives visitors to your site and converts them into leads, thereby bringing in huge profits. There are many helpful tips available out there for anyone who wants to write quality content. Nonetheless, many people still assume that copied content is good for their website. But the truth is that copied content is a big no-no with Google and the content world as a whole.

Why Duplicate Content Is Frowned On By Search Engines

There are numerous reasons why you should avoid posting duplicate content on your site. One of the main reasons is that you will never be a trustworthy source for clients who are always looking for unique, high quality content. Your readers want to see that you are an authority in your niche market, and if you are regularly copying your content or articles, you will be hurting your reputation.

Other reasons duplicate content is bad include:

Google Wants High-Quality Unique Original Content

Plagiarism is a big word with bigger consequences in today’s content world. The work of Google is to index and provide as much unique content as possible, presenting a variety in the results. For example, imagine searching for a business such as a plumbing service. If the plumber serves many locations and all the locations had a single web presence with the same content, then you won’t get variety within the search engine results when it comes to business services. What you are actually searching for is a variety of plumbing services that you can choose from.

Duplicate Content Will Put Your Site on Google’s Naughty List

Google will actually reward your site for having high quality, original content. However, it will punish it accordingly if you have duplicate content. Using the same article from the internet throughout your website, or even copy-and-pasting content from another website can greatly hurt your Google rankings. It is true that a website can have good rankings throughout other search engines, but still not reach anywhere in Google results. A search using a reliable plagiarism checker can help determine whether the content on your site is being used on other online sites or directories.

Copied content will make your website look like an illegal business, even if you’re a legitimate one. This is because that’s something trolls and spammers are doing on a daily basis. They copy and paste everything on a website in an attempt to stay relevant.

Google has been at the forefront of the fight against duplicate content and any content that looks deceptive or manipulative is penalized. When writing content, your aim should be to stand out from your competition and gain trust in the market. You want to write content that is helpful and engaging for your visitors to attract clicks, interactions and sales.

When you use duplicate content, however, you run the risk of losing even your most loyal visitors and not converting your leads. Copied content will keep your site hidden and your competitors will be seen by potential customers, instead. Duplicate content does not only harm your authority on Google, but it also harms your domain value, so don’t be cheated into thinking that it is a way of saving some money.

Avoid Duplicate Content And Enjoy The Benefits Of A Trusted Site

You may have tens or even thousands of pages on your site and just thinking about writing content for each other them can be frightening. However, the truth is that you have to do it if your seriously want to rank well in Google. If you don’t know whether or not your site has duplicate content, you can use a reliable plagiarism checker to make the job easier and faster. You should make sure there is little or no copied content on your site.

If you are looking for high quality, original content to replace the existing duplicates, then it may be time to hire a copywriting service. This will help you get professionally written articles that you can use to get rid of duplicate content on your site.

seo wireframe

Build A Better Blog With Quality Content

Befriend The Panda – Create Quality Content

Many legal blogs have seen a decline in impressions where these types  sites that have more dynamic blog posts than static practice area pages. Often the quality of posts are of lower quality than the more focused legal static pages. Blog posts suffer from low quality content,  citing  pop or legal news with recent celebrity divorces, or local traffic and police information like car accidents or recent arrests frequently resulting in duplication of content across many online properties.

Panda quality guidelines frown on these types of low quality posts. The lower quality content also trips the quality algorithm filters with poor engagement signals, high bounce rates and little time on site. For example a high profile New York law firm has this type of site profile:

  • 1987 internal URLS
  • 81.7% have a 100% bounce rate
  • 65% of the bounce comes from blog pages
  • 25% of the blog posts have a 0% CTR

Not that there’s anything wrong with an 81% bounce rate or anything if you don’t mind being excluded from search results. Recently, Google is simply de-listing hundreds of these posts from search results.  Early adopters of blogs that generate multiple blogs posts per week of suspect quality are at risk of getting caught in these ever strengthening quality filters. These blogs are definitely sending the wrong signals to the search engines.

Be Friends With Bots!

Add into this mix the bad SEO tactic of robots.txt blocking the tags. It is not uncommon to block tags via robots.txt, but doing so creates a very negative search engine problem.  This tactic is deployed to keep bots from crawling tags to lighten server loads, but creates a negative SEO environment because having links on pages that people can see, but forbidding the search bots access to the same data sends a signal to the SERPs that something dark and mysterious is happening behind closed doors.  Search engines reward transparency and dislike “hidden” content. Blog tags are used throughout sites in various ways that can include:

  • Cloud tags
  • Category tags
  • Tag bar on side navigation
  • Tags within each post
  • Tags archives page
  • Tags on month/year archives
  • Tags within schema code

When the blocking is excessive, it appears to a search bot that  a “dark web” is being created behind the wall of robots.txt blocking. Again, not a good way to signal quality to the search engines.


How To Fix A Bad Blog With Grassroots SEO

1. Don’t block the bots. Transparency for most bots is a good thing. Sure some folders may need security, but it’s best to let your blog and site be crawled. You can control what is and what is not seen easily with a robots.txt file.  An example for WordPress might be something like this:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /wp-admin/
Disallow: /wp-includes/
Disallow: /wp-content/plugins/
Disallow: /wp-content/cache/
Disallow: /wp-content/themes/
Disallow: /trackback/
Disallow: */trackback/
Disallow: /*?*
Disallow: /*?
Disallow: /*~*
Disallow: /*~
Disallow: /wp-*
Disallow: /comments/feed/

User-agent: Mediapartners-Google*
Allow: /

User-agent: Googlebot-Image
Allow: /wp-content/uploads/

User-agent: Adsbot-Google
Allow: /

User-agent: Googlebot-Mobile
Allow: /


Another robots.txt example might be:

User-agent: *
#Global Rules – START
Disallow: /content
Disallow: /data
Disallow: /modules
Disallow: /Disclaimer.shtml
Disallow: /E-mail.shtml
Disallow: /Error.shtml
Disallow: /Error-Espanol.shtml
Disallow: /Gracias.shtml
Disallow: /Thank-You.shtml
Disallow: /mt-bin/
Allow: /content/images
Allow: /content/css
#Global Rules – END

#Site Specific Rules – START
#Site Specific Rules – END

2. Promote quality content. Start by classifying the blog posts. One quick way to process this assessment is to start by running an analysis of your content by highest bounce rate and shortest time on page. These are often the most troubled content pages and posts.  Review them, are they good and no action needed at this time, or are they poor and need to be removed? If they are questionable, can they be corrected?

Sometimes its as simple as combining several short similar topics into one or two longer higher quality pieces of content. Another option to improve the content quality might be to rewrite the first and last paragraph and add semantic phrases into the header tags (H1, H2). This refined and refocused content can provide a boost to overall site quality.

3.  Promote socially. As the content improvements are made, send a fresh set of eyes there with links from social posts when appropriate. This is a nice way to send new signals about content quality improvements.

By paying some attention to on page analytics, it’s not all that hard to monitor your SEO efforts. A small focus on content quality will bring big benefits for both your audience and your website metrics. Make sure that you include content KPIs in your grassroots SEO strategy, it will reward your brand over the long term.

How Much Does Your Free Organic Traffic Cost?

The Real Value Of Free Organic Traffic

Any business that depends upon free organic traffic for customers or clients must recognize the value of their organic traffic. That means the vast majority of business owners that either do organic optimization in-house or employ a vendor or agency to optimize their organic presence, know that your FREE TRAFFIC IS NOT FREE.  Treat your organic traffic with the same level of intensity that you use for your paid traffic, because organic traffic has value too!

Why Organic Traffic Is Not Free

What is your time worth? If your time is valued at $50, $75, or $250 an hour, can it be better spent doing something other than optimizing your web site? Average business person spends 8 to10 hours a month on their web marketing meeting, writing, tweaking, reviewing their internet strategies.  At $100 an hour, that’s $800 to $1000 of time invested to drive “free” traffic.  When you review your return on investment to find that your $1000 of time investment delivered client sign ups of $10,000 then you enjoyed a 10 to 1 ROI, which is great if that was your target. But if you signed up only $2,000 of new clients and the 2 to 1 ROI is not enough to keep the lights on, then maybe it’s time to rethink how your handle your free organic traffic.

Free Stuff Is Easily Discarded
Many studies have shown that perceived value of items correlates directly to how that item is treated.  The difference between your evaluation of the benefits and costs of the item when compared with other costs and benefits becomes the perceived value. If you are given a “free” roller ball pen, you may use it every single day, but if you lose it, no big deal right? Now you are given a free Acme roller ball pen that you use every single day. If you lose this pen, will you feel the same as losing the plastic pen? Not so much. Even when both are free, the perceived value to you differs.  Knowing the value of your organic visitors by source is a metric most successful online businesses monitor frequently.

How To Calculate The Basic Value per Visitor

The simplest way to calculate the value per visitor is to start with your desired outcome, in most cases profit.  Then all you do is divide the total online profit by the total number of your visitors.

Simple Example:

Profit / Visitors = Visitor Value
An e-commerce retail website
$150/1,000 = $0.15 per visitor value

Professional Services Example:
A personal injury law firm with a 2% closing rate on auto accident cases.

$150,000 / 1,000 = $150 per visitor value

In the professional services example when you assign the visitor value to the 200 “free” contacts (form submissions and emails), that value of those contacts is actually not zero but $30,000. Will you handle your $30,000 of opportunity differently than you would handle free? Of course you will. So stop burning up contacts or leads, build a process to handle your valuable free organic traffic opportunities!

When you use visitor value data to make smart informed business decisions, then assigning the right focus to these business opportunities is the correct course of action. With a renewed focus on the value you are receiving, defining a processes to maximize your conversion of these opportunities, your business will flourish.

seo whiteboard


Making Pandas Smile With Great Website Copy

When writing quality natural web site copy, use this handy website copy roadmap to ensure that your content is written to maximize your search engine rankings and provide quality content for your visitors. Target 250-275 words per page minimum.

1. Select a Primary Keyword

Determine the primary keyword that your content will be optimized for. This will be the primary theme of your page’s content. You can position your primary keyword into the page content 3 to 5 times to improve primary keyword density.

2. Pick out semantic theme keyword(s)

Create a list of theme keywords, called semantic keywords, that suit your page subject matter. For example, if your primary keyword is: digital photography, pick a few (low competition) theme keywords that you can lightly introduce into your web copy such as: digital camera with printer, Kodak easy share digital camera, etc. When your content is well optimized for your primary keyword, you will also get traffic from semantic keywords. Use your theme keyword (s) 1 to 3 times per page. Since the search engines are perpetually evolving, it is better to diversify your content rather than follow the exact same plan for every piece of web content.

3. Use keyword synonyms

When writing about a particular topic, it’s easy to get carried away and include the primary keyword too many times throughout the article. That’s where synonyms come in, use them.

4. In your first paragraph – Include your primary keyword

The first paragraph of your content is critical. Include your primary keyword as near to the beginning of the first paragraph as possible. Also, it is a good idea to include one theme keyword somewhere within the first paragraph as well.

5. Prominence – aim for good keyword coverage including semantic keyword

If your keyword density is too low, you may not get the search engine rankings you may want. Remember, you always need multiple pages with the primary keywords and semantic keywords to gain a higher position in the search engine rankings and beat out your competition.

social media

SEO Scare Tactics Versus Today’s Reality

Here are 6 SEO myths perpetuated by less than ethical professionals and lazy optimizers that does not fit play well in today’s digital marketing environment. These six SEO scare tactics can hold your business back from potential growth and valuable ROI.

Scare Tactic #1 – SEO Is An Event

SEO is a process, not an event. You cannot just SEO the site, launch it, and think optimization is done. With constant changes that evolve the digital landscape, being stuck in the past is dangerous and downright foolish. Many business do not keep up with the changes either in thoughts or actions, and do not embrace the change as an opportunity to be better than competitors. These businesses create systems and process that strongly cling to what use to work, a last grasp at the past. Looking forward to the future is not done by looking backwards. Effective SEO demands forward thinking and flexibility to engage with new ways of doing optimization. This does not mean that your business can skip the fundamentals of search engine optimization, rather it assumes that the SEO basics are in place as a solid foundation to build on. If your business is simply doubling-down with commitment to last years tactics, then you are exposing yourself to many missed opportunities that best in class SEO offers.

Scare Tactic #2 – Focus Only On Keywords To Win Business

The singular obsession with keyword phrases is too granular.  Old SEO goals focused on rankings for keywords; not only getting the phrase ranked, but keeping it at all costs. That thought encouraged all efforts to get the top spot on page one as the priority, no matter how it was done. This old SEO mentality of the past, would drive focus on one principle keyword or keyword phrase. The SEO practitioner researched a targeted keyword where they wanted to rank, and then focused on that keyword only. This singular approach exposes those types of tactics to the whims of algorithm changes and is extremely reactive SEO.

  • Keyword density is important – keyword density makes content unreadable. There’s a reason SEO’s laugh at this joke; “An SEO walks into a bar, bars, saloon, whiskey bar, pub,  and orders a drink, beer, shot, liquor, wine…”. Natural semantic phrases used in search work better in moderation.
  • Abundant redundant keywords – usually found in links, footer, page titles, anchor text, alt text, are aggressive over-optimization and once again reads and looks like spam. Avoid doing this.

This is no longer the world of effective SEO. Exceptional digital markers look beyond the keyword and into the mind of the people that are doing searches. Today’s SEO is about user intent and user engagement with the brand. Focusing on intent highlights the need to optimize for semantic phrases and long tail searches. Semantic SEO is all about understanding what the person is actually trying to accomplish with their search and how best to present your brand for that intent. Alignment of the brand and how people engage with the brand is the new focus. How your brand is viewed is the improvement that will drive organic success and ultimately more business results.

Scare Tactic # 3 – Rank As a Success Metric

bad seo strategySending this little red flag up the flagpole opens all kinds of doors.  When that long list of unsolicited keywords that your business does not rank for suddenly becomes important, it’s time to just stop. What’s the economic benefit of these terms when most have zero relevance to user intent?  Then in the next business discussion with that client, they hand you a 20 page ranking report tracking hundreds of utterly useless keyphrases?  Been there too? Then ask this question, “How are your analytics? What’s the correlation between the ranking report and your actual business results?”  Even though your business may rank for hundreds of terms, the key phrases from an unwanted solicitation become the focus and urgently require immediate action. Rarely does this fear tactic ever benefit your business. If your definition means SEO is chasing rankings, then note that SEO style is dead. Omni-channel marketing is the here and now in the current marketing environment.  Brand marketing across multiple channels offers the best chance for success.

Rankings are dangerous because they are assumptive:

  • Assumption #1- the ranked key phrase has an audience that’s relevant to my business
  • Assumption #2 – the ranked term is aligned with searcher intent
  • Assumption #2 – the searcher will actually click on the search results to my website
  • Assumption #2 – the keyword is aligned with my landing page
  • Assumption #2 – the entire engagement listed above will result in a conversion to a client or sale

These ranking reports are easy but often manipulate the truth of the business ROI. It’s always a bit awesome to for a client to say “We’re #1 in Google for bounce house injury lawyer in Tupelo, MS!” or “We’re the top of page one for Red Widgets In Wichita!!”

Rank is easy to sell, because it’s easy to understand. It’s even a bit sexy because it appeals to ego and vanity. However it’s the responsibility of professional marketers and savvy business people to move the rank conversation from the old way of thinking into a more meaningful discussion, one that will benefit the business.  Focus on measurable KPI’s for Brand, Audience, Engagement, and Outcomes. These are metrics that when improved, increase contacts, promote sales and drive real money to the bottom line. Don’t fall into the easy trap of taking the path of least resistance, plan an SEO strategy that will target the right keyword phrases that target the relevant audience, at the right time, that presents the business or brand in the best possible light. That it key to long term growth in a new SEO environment.

Scare Tactic #4 – The Sun Rises And Sets On Google

For those businesses that perpetually wear “Google-goggles”, you may not know this, but you have a problem. If you are super excited that so much of your organic traffic comes from Google and you think that means you are “winning”, please think again. It means that with all of your eggs in the Google basket, your business is actually at risk. The next Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird, or other animal update can put a serious pinch on your online presence.  Just as smart investors never put all of their money into one single stock to mitigate their risk, smart SEO strategies create diverse traffic mediums with multiple inbound channels.

Progressive SEO strategies look for opportunities to promote your business or brand in many places.  Your plan needs to be as diverse as your audience, to maximize success opportunities.  Omni-channel marketing (always on, always everywhere) is the new normal to get your value proposition to the masses.

Scare Tactic # 5 Content Is King

Guess what? Content is king, but crap content is not. Developing thin, anemic content focused on ranking for a keyword is not only a bad SEO technique that just won’t go away, it can actually do way more harm than good. There was a time that using the right keywords in the correct amount, could lead to improved rankings. Google’s Panda algorithm filters absolutely loves to crush that junk content into oblivion.

The key was simple, content was always supposed to be written for readers first. Many people chose to write content for the search engines first, and human readers second. This type of content is exactly what the search engine algorithms try to minimize. The best content is well written, filled with relevance to the search and delights the targeted audience with a “WOW’ factor that’s very engaging and highly shared.

negative SEO facepalmIt’s time to move away from creating thin content for search engines. Start developing your brand and business by writing your audience. Understand the who and the why and it’s becomes easier to create great content. Writing quality high value content for your audience does not mean it’s mutually exclusive from writing for search engines. Quite the opposite, awesome content is generally shared and can drive meaningful back links. If you are not excited about your content, how will your audience be excited?

How About Some Article Submissions?
Please no. Going hand in hand with low quality content is  generating Article Submissions as link bait. Long past it’s prime, stop doing this right now before Panda seeks you out. Article submissions consisting of thin content might be any easy way to create some quick back links to your domain, but is this really the best use of your marketing efforts? The time and effort to be consistent in article submissions might be better applied elsewhere.

For example, why not try to build some actual relationships by networking within your industry and sharing stories and blog posts that can real value to their website and the online community of your audience? What better way to build quality and authority for your own web properties?

What About Some Press Releases?
Seriously, no. Now for the other thin content tactic to never use again, press releases without real news. Please just stop. As a true method for public relations, blasting your business or name on the newswire on the slim chance to get some links from a legitimate news channel is not a sound practice.  Issuing non-newsworthy Press Releases as a links promotional tool mirrors the waste of time like article submissions.  Again, in a post Panda and Penguin world, this practice puts your business at risk when done incorrectly. How would you like your back link profile to show the submitter as the authority in the anchor cloud instead of your business? This happens more often than you may think. If you do something truly remarkable, newsworthy that adds real value to your community, a press release MAY be in order and MAY be effective to promote your brand. If this is not the case, just keep building relationships with trust over time.

Scare Tactic #6 – SEO Works The Same For Every Site

This is a big one, but clearly not true. SEO is not the same for every site. Content profiles differ, back links differ, anchor clouds differ, code base, site architecture, site design, domain tenure, all of these things differ site to site. Applying sound solid SEO principles will benefit every website, but results will vary greatly. A single SEO magic trick will not be “the silver bullet” to drive results. Search engine optimization is really a series of a thousand little details done well in context to each other that maximizes value and generates performance results.

whitehat SEOSo how do you move forward with a SEO strategy for your business? Start by understanding exactly where you are today. Use your analytics to establish business critical goals and KPIs. Make your KPIs DUMB – doable, understandable, manageable and beneficial. Focus on effective – what are the metrics that actually grow your business and creates positive ROI? Understand that search engine algorithms remain dynamic and in a constant state of refinement. With this awareness refine your focus to only do the right things, the right way, all the time. It’s not always pretty, sexy or fun, but it still works. SEO tactics must support your business goals, either economic or strategic in nature.  SEO strategy success simply comes down to working towards established goals. The goals must align with the actions that make money and have KPIs for each of those actions. Your focused efforts here helps ease concerns about Panda, Penguin or any other algorithm shifts.

Importance of social media for small business

The Value Of Small Business Social Media

Now, when running a business, one must have a solid and reliable online presence. With a website, SEO strategy, and social media accounts, a company can reach more customers and make more money. With that being said, many do not know enough about social media and they end up missing out on opportunities. Fortunately, with this quick guide, one can understand why social media for small business is beneficial.

What Social Media Applications Are Great For Small Business?

What: when thinking about social media, most think of Facebook and Twitter. These are, by far, the two largest outlets and the ones most people should concern themselves with. Now, this does not mean that social media for small business is simple. Instead, when setting up accounts, one should take the time to fill out their profile and make plenty of posts. At the same time, a business owner must communicate with visitors as this is the best way for a business to gain market share.

Many small business owners do not feel that they need social media marketing. Whether a person runs a one-man show or has 50 employees, they must use social media. When using this outlet, one can reach out to customers of all income brackets and ages. Remember, almost everyone heads online and visits social media pages every day.

Why many entrepreneurs do not think they need Facebook as they are satisfied with their current marketing plan. While some people do well with advertisements and referrals, social media helps. In fact, most will see the benefits quickly as they will see a spike in website traffic. Not only that, when using social media marketing, an entrepreneur will see that he or she will not need to spend a lot of money to find customers. This is a serious advantage for a small business owner who does not have a large marketing budget. Simply put, dollar for dollar, social media is a reliable way to bring in customers and increase sales.

Fortunately, even a person with limited computer or Internet experience can set up a social media account. When signing up for an account, a business owner must provide basic information about the business. Once established, the business should have no difficulty in finding followers for the page.