8 Essential SEO Tips for Beginners

8 SEO Tips That Still Matter

Details matter in proper search engine optimization, as does consistency in doing the same right thing on every page every time.  Search engines like Google or Bing use complex algorithms to rank websites. As an owner of a website, you’ll need at least a basic understanding of search engine optimization in order to get anywhere. You can maximize your WordPress website and get the most out of your investment. These eight SEO tips are risk-free and should be applied to every website you make.

1.Improve your permalinks

Permalinks make it easy for users to navigate your site. A good permalink structure is well organized, easy to understand, and descriptive. Bad permalinks use dates and numbers instead of descriptions. Good permalinks, on the other hand, allow visitors to understand where they are from a glance. Avoid using numbers, dates, and lengthy URLs; instead, make use of hyphens and straightforward keywords that describe what the page is about.

seo tips2.Optimize page titles and description

Seems like a real no-brainer here, take advantage of each and every SEO tactic that adds relevance to a web page. A good page title and its succeeding description can do wonders for SEO. Strong page titles for low-competition keywords can give you a leg up on your competitors. A page’s meta tag in particular is displayed on search results, allowing visitors a glimpse of what your content is about.  Give each page a unique page title that accurately describes its contents.

More importantly, don’t forget to give your homepage its own title and description. Don’t just give page titles and descriptions to blog posts. Remember to keep titles and descriptions brief. Avoid using too many keywords and repeating the title in the description.

3.Practice proper formatting

It may seem minor, but proper formatting can make your pages easier to navigate and easier to index. Remember to use H1, H2, and H3 tags in your content. Use H1 tags for post titles and H2 tags for headings. Don’t forget to use bold and italics to emphasize points across your content, and use a font size that is easy to read. Short paragraphs can also make content more digestible. Remember to check if your formatting is mobile-friendly. Most people use their phones or tablets to view blogs. Make sure that your content can be properly scaled across multiple devices.

4.Create a sitemap

A sitemap is a list of pages on a website. You’ll need to create two types of sitemaps: an HTML sitemap for visitors and an XML sitemap for search engines. While HTML sitemaps are useful for improving user experience, the XML sitemaps that you submit to search engines can make indexing your site faster. This inevitably gives a boost to SEO.

5.Images should be optimized and compressed

Images are necessary to improve user experience. Use high-quality images across your site. Use high-definition images but make sure that they don’t take forever to load. Images should not exceed a megabyte in size. Using alt text to describe images can also provide a boost in SEO. Don’t forget to use keywords in your descriptions as well.

6.Properly configure a 404 page

A 404 page appears when a user arrives on a page on your site that doesn’t exist. You can improve user experience with a properly configured 404 page that explains to visitors what went wrong. A 404 page should also match the design of the website and give visitors an easy way to navigate back into the website.

7.Use breadcrumbs for easy navigation

Breadcrumbs are navigational links that usually appear near the top of a page. Breadcrumbs are descriptive in nature and follow a hierarchical structure.

“Category > Subcategory > Current Page Title” is an example of a breadcrumb. Use breadcrumbs in all your internal pages if possible. CMSs like WordPress have plugins that make adding breadcrumbs easy.

8.Use more internal links

Link sculpting is way old school, but still has a place when done correctly and in moderation. Don’t forget to link to your own content. Internal links can contribute a lot to SEO. Link related articles and content together. Make sure the links stand out for both visitors and search engines. They should be brief and unobtrusive. Remember to keep links relevant; a blog post about weight loss shouldn’t randomly include links about gardening, for example. Avoid using too many links; three to five links are good enough.

Ideally, newer posts should link to old content. But the reverse can be just as good for SEO. If you have the time, revisit old posts and link to newer content. It can be time consuming but the returns are worth it.

Whether you’re building your first website or your fifth, remember these 8 fundamental SEO tips. Content is still king, but if you want your site to get noticed, you’ll need to do the hard work behind the scenes.


Google Panda And Google Penguin Algorithms

Understanding the Google Panda and Google Penguin Algorithms

Google continually focuses on enhancing internet user experience in as far as searching for information is concerned. They often come up with algorithm changes and Google filters that make search engine results relevant to users while at the same time curbing cheating and web spamming by online content managers or website owners. Even though Google makes hundreds of algorithm changes in a year, estimated to be over six hundred, among these changes often are some big and significant ones. Good examples of such impactful changes include the Panda and Penguin Algorithms.

The Google Panda Algorithm

Panda is a Google algorithm created to prevent low-quality websites from getting an undeserved top page ranking and enable quality, in-depth and frequently updated sites to get the coveted spots. When this Google filter first came into the limelight, many content managers referred to it as the Farmer update because it widely affected content farms or sites that lift content from other platforms to improve their Google ranking.
Contrary to the initial misconception that Panda targeted sites containing artificial backlink structures, it primarily focuses on quality of the website pages. As a result, sites with low-quality, thin and duplicated content or those that have too much advertising and poor navigation, end up on the lower pages of the search results. The launch of the Panda was named after one of its creators Navneet Panda.

The Google Penguin Algorithm

It is a Google algorithm that aims to minimize the amount of trust Google gives to sites that cheat through the creation of unnatural or artificial backlinks to get favorable top rankings on the Google search engine pages. While the focus for Google Panda algorithm is on web pages quality, Penguin primarily focuses on unnatural backlinks, keyword stuffing, cloaking and to some degree anchor texts. The quality of links that direct to a particular site acts as a form of confidence for that website.

Simply put, if a reliable online platform redirects to a website, it endorses that site. Similarly, backlinks from many relatively unknown sites would provide the same effect. This Google filter explains why many content managers try to manipulate the links or even create artificial links. The Penguin algorithm attempts to detect sites that violate Black-hat SEO techniques, and when it identifies such links, it determines the site to be dishonest, consequently reducing the website’s page rankings.

google-panda_google-penguinHow The Panda And Penguin Algorithms Impact Websites

Although the Panda algorithm can affect a section of the site or the website, it rarely targets individual pages. It assesses the overall website content. A site might have quality content, however, if the content is thin or duplicated the Panda filter can cause the penalization of the entire site. Penguin, on the other hand, affects individual parts on the website on a keyword or a page level. However, in the event of web spamming and overuse of keywords, the Google algorithm can determine that the site is untrustworthy and flag the site causing it to rank poorly.

How To Recover From The Panda And Penguin Algorithms Filters

Recovery From The Panda Filter

On average Google refreshes this algorithm at least once each month. In case the Panda algorithm affects your website, you just need to make a few changes to the site. Identify the pages that have thin or no content, plagiarized or duplicated content and make them right. Remove the copied material and elaborate on the wanting contents. Once you do that, the performance of your site should significantly improve after the proceeding Google Panda refresh. At times, however, it might take months before the changes become visible especially if it takes Google an extended period to revisit your website to notice the changes.

Recovery From The Penguin Filter

If the Penguin filter flags your site, you need to look for the artificial or unnatural links that redirect to your site. Furthermore, look for links that originate from the IP address or domain name, as they portray an impression of purchased links. Once you identify these backlinks, remove them or if that is impossible, use the Disavow tool to inform Google to stop counting the links. If you successfully remove all the unnatural links, the website should eventually regain Google’s trust leading to improved site performance after a few algorithm refreshes.

The existence of Google algorithms and Google filters like Panda and Penguin compels website owners and online content managers to take a strict approach to their content. That includes analyzing the links to ensure that the site has a quality link profile and creating original blog content that is relevant to the target niche.

content marketing

7 Ways To Use Content Marketing

Seven methods that can help increase your customer base through content marketing

Creating and marketing your content can be one of the best and quickest ways to promote your business. As a matter of fact, if you can compose a to-do list containing just seven items, then you can easily compose an article that can help you maximize your customer base as well as profits.

Listed below are seven methods that can greatly increase your business from published articles through content marketing.

1 – Article content can in no time place you as a professional within your industry.

We all know how powerful the written word can be. Crafting informative articles will separate you from your competition. You will never have to convince your readership that you are an expert on the subject. Your articles will do that for you, due to the fact that well-published articles will always increase your “credibility”.

2 – Articles can advertise your business 24/7.

The moment your article is published on the internet is like having a salesperson do the selling for you. You now have your business advertised 24 hours, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to an international audience.

3 – A single article can be utilized in a variety of ways.

This is known as leverage. A single article could be used for a free report, as an incentive, featured in a newsletter or blog, transformed into a book, and countless other ways.

4 – Articles can be used to spread the news in regards to your business and products.

5 – Promoting articles is painless, effortless and economical.

This is especially true in comparison to other means of marketing online. Remember, there is no cost to you when it comes to writing an article. There is also no cost to have it listed on article directories. Consider what it really might cost if you had to pay someone just for the exposure.

6 – Well written articles can help in building your mailing list.

Whenever you have a few articles under your belt, you then have the potential to gain attention from the masses of prospects out there. It’s important to continue growing your business in order to keep traffic as well as new prospects coming to you.

7 – Article marketing makes it possible to stay connected with your customer base while selling more products.

Use Content Marketing To Stay “Top Of Mind” with Your Audience.

Remember, it normally takes eight contacts or more for turning a new prospect into a customer. Well written articles enable you to stay connected with new prospects while providing them with useful information.

negative seo thumbs down

Negative SEO Techniques That Harm

Negative SEO Techniques That Can Hurt Your Website

Greedy SEO agencies and unscrupulous web masters often deploy SEO tactics that attempt to trick the search engines in the vain attempt to achieve ranking positions. Along with doorway pages, thin and/or duplicate content pages, poor search engine optimization may also use the following negative SEO techniques to sabotage a website:

1. Poor quality backlinks

The first negative SEO technique that people may use is to point a large number of poor quality backlinks to your site. They pay for huge number of spam links and point them to your website. This is intended to negatively affect your site’s link profile so that you get penalized by search engines. Search engines usually penalize sites that receive a sudden rise in backlinks. Since you cannot stop people from sending poor backlinks, you should monitor your site’s backlink profile regularly to identify any spam links. If you identify unnatural links, take down those links or contact your webmaster to do so. If this fails, use Google’s Disavow Links Tool to address the problem.

2. Duplicate content

Duplicate content can attract severe penalties from search engines. Crooked competitors may duplicate your content even before it is indexed. Their intention is to convince search engines that you are stealing content from another original site. Conduct a quick Google search of any sentence from your site in quotes to know if your content is being stolen. Prevent your site from this evil activity by maintaining an up-to-date sitemap. Additionally, include the rel=canonical tag on your webpages to establish you as the original author of that content.

3. Hacking

If your site has loopholes, then it might be at a risk of being hacked. The intention of hackers is to either take your site down or make it impossible for Google to crawl it. Hackers will use the loopholes in your site to add malicious codes or links. Denial-of-service attacks are also propagated by hackers. Hacking can severely affect your site’s ranking. Therefore, scan your website regularly for any changes in the site code.

4. Fake reviews

Customer reviews are important in determining search engine ranking. Your competitors may use fake reviews to bring down your site. Their ultimate goal is to have your site punished by search engines. You can prevent this damage by reporting fake reviews to Google. Additionally, plug the loopholes in your site before they are noticed by other people.

5. Evil crawlers

The speed of a website is important to customers and search engines. A fast site gives its users a good experience. People might sabotage your site by using crawlers to crawl your site continually. As a result, it will become slow to load and use. This in turn will worsen your SEO campaign and also affect your site’s conversion rate.

More Negative SEO Tactics

In some industry verticals, rank chasing is common and does more harm than good to the brand and the business. Frequently city or location pages with duplicate and thin content are created to influence local SEO and local rank. This tactic eventually gets caught up in spam filters and can lead to a significant decline in organic search traffic and a potential for the the domain being banned by the search engines. This is one negative SEO tactic to avoid at all costs.

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.

Meta Data Optimization For Professional Services Websites

Generally professional legal service websites are heavily Google centric and do not receive much organic search traffic from other search engines like BING or Yahoo. Another KPI, conversion rate of organic traffic, was also lower than expected. Reviewing the top performing attorney websites in several major metro markets in diverse practice areas, from many competitors websites like Justia, iLawyer marketing and SLS marketing, highlighting the use of unique meta data to maximize their organic audience and improve search engine indexation and page relevance to search user queries. The websites that showed up well in SERP’s page with greater visibility and frequency had a common characteristic of unique Meta keywords, unique Meta descriptions and unique title tags.

paid-search-marketingHow Search Engines Use Meta Data

While it is common marketing knowledge that Google does not read meta keywords for use in their algorithm as stated frequently by Matt Cutts from Google, there are 1,00’s of other search engines that do use this information to help establish page relevance and better indexation. Consider these two points about how search engines use Meta data.

  • While Google may not read Meta data, why do they stress it in their webmaster tool? In Google Webmaster tools under HTML improvements, WMT commonly lists and shows duplicative Meta data. Google actually recommends through their Webmaster tools to go “old school SEO” and improve your website by remove duplicative Meta data and provide unique titles, keywords, and descriptions for greater relevancy to user queries.
  • Recently Google has gone back to indexing news sites with Meta data.  Google recommends news sites and news articles identify story topics with by using unique Meta keywords to gain better relevancy and topic clarification.

Professional search engine marketers that used consistent quality guidelines to build websites, have continued to include unique Meta content in every site build. Many SEO’s focused on rank tend to ignore quality guidelines while reacting to the latest SEO trend. All the domains that ignore the practice of building page relevancy now have to play catch up, and here’s why.

Algorithm Changes In Google

In April 2012 Matt Cutts in one of his blog posts mentioned Google’s upcoming efforts to improve the site quality and user experience.  At that time, Google was looking to increase the quality of SERP’s by penalizing sites that were openly over-optimizing their domains with questionable SEO practices. This particular algorithm update was called Penguin. Penguin 1.1 was launched around April 24, 2012 and adjusted search results for a number of spam factors including non-diverse back link profiles, aggressive redundant anchor text, keyword stuffing and over-optimized title tags to name a few. This “over-optimization” of title tags includes titles that well exceed the standard character limitations. One common misdiagnosed SEO problem from Penguin is that it’s only link problem, when in fact it might be an poor optimization or over-optimization problem.

Most Meta data has a standard number of characters that will be displayed across the search engines. For example, title tags of 70 characters or less will show up in a Google search and 72 characters or less will show up in a BING or Yahoo search. When you research top performing sites you will see that many of these sites use no more than 70 characters to identify what each page is all about. Most websites that exceed 70 characters and use an abundance of keywords in the title tags tend to perform at a less than optimal level along with being poorly indexed.

SEO Industry Standards “Old School” Style

When it comes to keyword usage in the Meta keywords, the general rule of thumb is 3 to 5 unique keywords that support the relevancy of the page. A common SEO “black hat” tactic is to stuff a bunch of keywords in the string, repeat keywords in this string, or simply ignore the keywords because “Google doesn’t read it”. All of these are bad ideas. The Meta keywords help explains what the page is about, especially when the primary keyword of the page topic being the first phrase listed. The remaining keywords need to be relevant and non-duplicative to the primary keyword. Semantic indexing further reinforces the quality of the on page topic and improves the search engines understanding of what the page is truly all about. The outcome is that this page is easier to index because it is easier for search bots to understand. The byproduct of helping the search engines identify and understand the content on the page is with correct and consistent basic optimization is better placement in the results pages.