search engine optimization wars | click-finders.com

There is "good vs evil" in SEO.

Long has been the battle between good and evil and many stories in our past have reflected this epic struggle, but none capture the essence as well as Star Wars in my humble opinion.  One of my all-time favorite quotes from the movie is by a well-known character, Yoda.  During one of the scenes when he is instructing a young Jedi (Luke Skywalker) he utters the words “Do or Do Not, there is no try”.  That has absolutely stuck with me since the first time I saw it in a small town movie theater in Mooresville, NC.   In the story there is a mystical “Force” that is within all.  It is a state of consciousness that is supposed to drive an individual toward an action or purpose.  In Star Wars, the Force can be used for good or it can be used for evil.  If you use the Force for evil, you are said to be on “The Darkside” of the Force and therefore evil.  Whether or not you use the Force inside you for good or evil appears to be a conscious decision each individual must make at some point in his/her life.  Once you make the decision though, you are bound by ethics and morale’s either that of a Jedi (good) or a Sith (evil).  That’s not to say you can’t change teams later, because you can.  But if you do, you then lose everything that you have come to know and love about the Force.

SEO Yoda | click-finders.comSo, what does “the force” and good vs. evil have to do with SEO?  Well just like in Star Wars, there are Good SEO’s (Jedi’s) and Bad/Evil SEO’s (Sith’s).  They each use “The Force”, which we will call Google, in their own unique and special way.  The Jedi’s use the force for good and promote websites using organic search engine optimization techniques that fall within the Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and by doing so, they increase the client website authority and ranking within the Google SERP’s (Search Engine Results Pages).  They make sure the website is coded properly, search engine friendly, optimized for the keywords that will yield the most traffic to the website owner and that are relative for the search terms it is optimized for.  They then promote this site using organic SEO methods (press releases, article marketing, social book marking and more).   For these Jedi SEO types, doing it right and within the guidelines is not only a morale victory, it’s an extremely satisfying and honorable endeavor.  All Jedi SEO’s (also known as White Hat SEO’s) work within the Google Webmaster Guidelines and by doing so ensure their client’s receive quality affordable SEO Services that will stand the test of time.

Darth Vader SEO | click-finders.comSith SEO’s on the other hand, practice SEO outside of the Google Webmaster Guidelines.  They work on the dark-side of the force for sure.  This is also known as “Black hat” SEO.  They perform such acts as keyword stuffing, invisible text and doorway pages (just to name a few).  They may even go so far as to buy links for their customer’s websites.  Each of these practices is strictly forbidden in the Google Webmaster Guidelines and performing these tasks or allowing someone to perform them for you could result in your website receiving a Google penalty or worse, being removed from the Google index altogether.   These SEO’s tend to promise extremely FAST results with little or no upfront cash and big payments due when they get you to page 1 of Google.  Be wary though…your page 1 ranking may be short lived.  Make sure your SEO firm is using organic search engine optimization methods that fall within the Google webmaster guidelines only and that you know exactly what their process is.  The more informed you are, the better the chances of you hiring the right SEO Services Company and thus having a successful SEO campaign.

So be sure when you hire an SEO Firm that you absolutely know what activities your new vendor will be performing for your website.  Not knowing could cost you a lot more than you bargained for, today and tomorrow.

Thanks for reading!  If you enjoyed this article please share it with any of the multiple social media share widgets on this blog (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Social Bookmarking).  Also, please feel free to comment below.  I openly welcome any and all feedback, especially from other internet professionals!

Click-finders.com is a full service internet marketing company that offers a full range of services including Affordable SEO Services, PPC Adword Campaigns, Social Media Marketing, Web Development and more!  Contact us today for a FREE no obligation SEO Analysis of your website and find out today, what it’s going to take to rank high in the search engines!

 

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SEO Strategy for Small Business - Part 2

Part 2 of 2

In Part 1 of SEO Strategy for Small Business we covered the first two essential steps in the SEO process.  In Part 2 we will cover the remaining two parts.  Believe me when I say that these tips are only the beginning of the SEO process.  A start though, is better than doing nothing.  Don’t be afraid to start your SEO program today.  Yes it can be overwhelming, yes it can be pretty technical…but if you never start, you will certainly never see results.  So take these steps and start your SEO program today or at least learn enough to ask the right questions of your SEO vendor.  Either way, after reading Part 1 and Part 2 of this article, you should at least be more educated about what you should be doing as part of the basics of SEO Services go. 

On-Site SEO

Hands down the most overlooked and misunderstood aspect of SEO in my opinion.  On site SEO is a whole lot more than a few META Tags!  You absolutely have to make sure your content is TOP DRAWER material.  Your content, by the way, is the substance of your site (i.e. your text, images, information about your products and/or services).  What you say is just as important as how you say it.  Make sure your content is second to none.  Spend the time, hire someone if you have to, to generate the best web content/copy you can.  It will pay off 10 fold in the long run.  Now, assuming you have GREAT content, the technical side then follows with:

  • Title Tags – Make sure you describe your site with keywords and your company name.  You have about 65 characters….USE THEM!
  • Meta Tags – Make sure you give accurate descriptions in your meta tags and be sure to also use keywords in them.
  • Content – Make sure you mention your keywords in your on page content.  Try not to worry about percentages if you can.  For those who must do it by the numbers, keep your keyword density between 3-5%.
  • Robot.txt files and sitemap.xml files – Be sure to generate and use these properly.  It can be devastating to your SEO plan if not done correctly.
  • Duplicate Content – There is so much being written in the SEO world about duplicate content thanks to the Panda updates by Google.  Just be sure that your site is duplicate content free (don’t steal anyone’s work and use it as your own) and make sure no one else has stolen your content.  There are plenty of sites out there that can help identify duplicate content.  Copyscape is just one of them and they offer free and paid solutions.

Linkbuilding

Probably the most misunderstood part of SEO for sure.  Linkbuilding is nothing more than simply asking for and getting another website to link back to your site.  This is a very important part of SEO.  The search engines see each link back to your site as a “Vote”.  The more votes you have from other websites, the more trust and authority you are seen as having by search engines.  So, how do you get those links.  Here are some good starting points:

  • Linkbait – Create and share great content that people want to link back to.  An example would be an active, well designed and maintained blog.  There are plenty of other examples.  The key here in my opinion is to be genuine, unique and creative.  The more of those that you are, the more people will want to link back to you!
  • Press Releases – Have some interesting news about your company?  Share it via a well-written and distributed press release.  Few tools offer the linkbuilding and public relations punch this one does.
  • Quality counts – Can you outrank a website that has a ton more links than you?  Absolutely!  The key here is quality links.  Getting links form high PR sites with lot’s of trust and authority with the search engines is the best strategy for any link building campaign.
  • What to stay away from – Believe it or not….bad linkbuilding can hurt you.  Having a flood of links show up over night, links from certain “bad neighborhoods”, links from explicit or illegal websites can all affect your ranking.  Ever heard the term “the best defense is a good offense”?  That is so true in this case.  The more good links you have, the less likely a bad link will actually hurt you. 

So there you have it….Part 2 of a 2 part series on a basic SEO Strategy for Small Business.  You now have enough information to begin your SEO campaign and be successful.  This is a great starting point for any small business and/or website.  So what are you waiting for?  Get to work!

Do you have any other ideas that might help a small business owner?  Feel free to share them below in the comments section! 

Did you like this article?  Please share it with one of the many social media tools available to you.  There is Facebook, Twitter, an RSS Feed, and a ton (over 300) of social booking sites via @addthis.

Also, feel free to contact click-finders.com and request a FREE SEO Analysis today!  We will be happy to help in any way we can!

Thanks for reading!


 

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SEO Strategy for Small Business Part 1

Is your SEO plan in place and working for you?

You wouldn’t dare start a new small business these days without a plan…or would you?  Okay you may not, but lets face it, some people are just wildly impulsive, even though it might not be the prudent thing to do.  The small business failure rates in the United States are alarming to say the least.  With start-ups facing a 1 in 10 chance of surviving past the 5 year mark, it’s important to have a plan if your business model is going to survive.  If you have not done one yet, please do one now.  Even if it’s just you, sitting down with a yellow note pad and banging out some 30 day goals, some 6 month goals, some 1 year goals and some 5 year goals.  You would be surprised how effective that one simple task can be at helping you to succeed and survive!

So…what’s this got to do with SEO?  Glad you asked, let’s get to it!  SEO (organic search engine optimization) is a process, just like anything else.  It takes skill, patience, hard work, knowledge and yes…planning!  You don’t win the Superbowl or the Daytona 500 without a well thought out and executed plan and you certainly will not win the SEO Wars without one either.  And make no mistake about it…it is WAR ladies and gentlemen, and to the victor, go the spoils.  The plan is fairly simple, you just have to know where to start.  So let’s start at the beginning…

Market Research and Analysis

Seems simple enough, but if you don’t know who your competition is and exactly what they are doing, how in the world do you expect to best them?  You need to know exactly what they are up to at all times.  Not all of your competition mind you, but definitely the top 3 ranking sites in your niche.  Take those top three and start some basic research.  You should be looking for answers to these questions (as an absolute minimum):

  • Age of Site:  How long has it been around?
  •  Google Toolbar Pagerank:  What is their current PR?
  •  Do they have an Alexa Rank?
  •  How many backlinks do they have coming to their site? 

Keyword Research

Next, you should find out what keywords they are targeting.  I wrote another article on SEO Espionage a little bit ago if you need more information on how to do that.  Here are the basics of what you should be looking for:

  •  Traffic Estimates for your keywords:  Use the FREE Google Adwords Keyword Tool for this.  Note:  There are other free tools out there and there are some paid tools.  The choice is yours of course.  I choose to use Google’s Adword Keyword Tool.
  • Try to target and isolate Long-Tail keywords that your competitor has missed.  Make sure you use your primary keywords in the long tail keywords that you target and you will build your ranking on both your primary and your long-tail keywords.

These guys do a pretty good job of going over the basics of Keyword Research and they are just one of many Youtube videos on this subject:

So there you have it for Part 1 of SEO Strategy for Small Business.  Part will cover on-site SEO and Linkbuilding so be sure to check back often for the update!

Do you have any other ideas that might help a small business owner?  Feel free to share them below in the comments section!

Did you like this article?  Please share it with one of the many social media tools available to you.  There is Facebook, Twitter, an RSS Feed, and a ton (over 300) of social booking sites via @addthis.

 Thanks for reading!


 

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SEO Espionage: What you need to know about your compitetions SEO program

Are you spying on your competition? or are they spying on you?

Okay, the title does make it seem a little more exciting than it is, but hey…can you blame me?

The term “spying” is not so much true or relevant as the term “research” is. Performing competitive research is not only a good SEO practice, it’s almost mandatory if you expect to beat your competition in the SERP’s (Search Engine Results Page) listings. Learning from your competition, is one of the best ways to find out how they are being so successful. And as hard as they may try, they can’t hide everything that they are doing.

What can you expect to learn from spying on your competition? All kinds of good and useful information! For example, you can learn things like keywords you had not thought of, hidden or not so well known link building opportunities, anchor text strategies and more!

Spying on your competition is essential if you ever hope to beat them in the SERP’s. It’s not so much spying as it is just good ole fashioned research for your SEO Program.”

So, what are some of the sort of things you should be looking at? I’m glad you asked….let’s start with their web site and what you can learn from it: 

  • Title Tag – What keywords are used here? Chances are, those are the “money” keywords. The big enchiladas, the big cheese, the BIG DADDY keywords that they are trying to rank very high for.

 

  • Meta Tags – Specifically, the Keyword and Description Tags. What keywords are found here? Are there variations that you could rank well for? Look for new ideas, twists or variations that you have not thought of yet.

 

  • On page content – What keywords are they repeating enough to garner the search engine’s attention?

 

You can inspect these items a couple of different ways. You can right click any web page in Internet Explorer and then click “view source” for a complete HTML view of the target page and you can manually inspect the coding for the Meta Tag information. You can also use plug-in tools like the very popular SEO for Firefox Plug-in. Either of these methods can provide this easy get and valuable information.

 

 

This is the kind of information that is invaluable to a website owner or SEO Professional who may be new to a market segment or unfamiliar with the keywords that you should be targeting to maximize your traffic. HINT: This technique also reveals what keywords they are NOT trying to rank for. A missed opportunity that you then can capitalize on.”

These are just some of the tools and techniques that Professional SEO’s use to help their clients build an effective SEO Program. There are many more and we will discuss a few of them in future posts so stay tuned for more insider information!

SEO Espionage:  Top Secret SEO TechniquesDo you know of any really good tools, tips or tricks to use to spy on the competition? If so, feel free to share them in the comments section!

If you enjoyed this article or learned something from it, please share it! There are a host of social media bookmarking and sharing tools both for this blog and each article. Google+, Facebook, Digg, Delicious and Twitter…just to name a few! Please bookmark us, Tweet us and of course, feel free to subscribe to this blog right here:


 

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How to get Google Sitelinks in your SERP

Do you have your Google Gold?

So what exactly are Google Sitelinks and why are they so important in the SEO world?  Sitelinks are basically small links placed under the SERP (search engine results page) listing of a website that provide a user with useful shortcuts on the site listing.  As an example, if a particular website has the following pages within their site; About Us, Sign-Up, FAQ’s, Terms and Conditions (you get the idea) and the website is properly formatted, aged and trusted, then Google may decide to add Sitelinks to that SERP in order to make it easier for a visitor to get to a particular page on your site without having to go the main page and try and find it.  Therefore Sitelinks in general, offer the user of Google a much better experience and user interface, theoretically. 

The thing about Sitelinks that most people do not understand, is that you cannot set them up yourself, you cannot buy them, you cannot make them…website owners are completely at the mercy of Google and the Google algorithm to determine if your site is Sitelink worthy.  An example of what Sitelinks looks like is shown here:

 

How to get Google Sitelinks - click-finders.com exampleclick-finders.com – Google Sitelinks Example

 “There has been much speculation in the SEO community about what it takes to garner the coveted Sitelinks from Google.  Many an SEO have searched hi and low for that magic trigger to pull that evokes the awesome and powerful SITELINK to appear!”

Why, you might ask, is having Sitelinks so important to your site?  Well, for starters, Sitelinks are considered an automatic indicator of the trust factor.  Google’s algorithm will only pick up sites that are well established, trusted sources of verified information.  In other words, if your website rates Google Sitelinks, it a fair assumption that you a trusted site in the eyes of a Google.  That means a lot in SEO terms.  In fact, it’s everything!

So you might now be asking, “that’s great Mike, but how can I get my hands on some Sitelinks?”.  Here’s where unfortunately it turns into a bit of a gray area.  Google controls the Sitelinks via their proprietary algorithm.  They have not revealed what it takes to acquire the links nor how long it might take.  They simply confirm that they exist and that it is part of the algorithm, nothing more.  You can read more about Googles position on Sitelinks here at the Google Webmaster Tools site.  Also, Google Search engineer Jeremy explains them a bit more here in this video;

 

 

Based on these indicators (and lot more research on the matter, I have compiled a list of the best practices to try and get Google to activate Sitelinks on your SERP.  These are just my suggestions, there is no guarantee that they will work for your site or how long it would take to get the Sitelinks triggered.  They have however, worked for me on several sites.  Here is what I believe you should look at in order to acquire Sitelinks:

  • The Keyword that returns your SERP needs to be ranked #1 with Google and it needs to be there for some time.  Exactly how long is anybody’s guess, but I would venture to say 3-6 months at a miniumum.
  • Your site needs to 100% coded properly, allow complete (or almost complete) access by the search engine spiders, a complete and structured navigation system that includes useful and valid internal and external links.
  • Good use of anchor text on your internal links.  Anchor text that properly describes your sub pages is paramount.
  • A high percentage of click-through rates & traffic  from the search engines.
  • High quality inbound links (important in any good SEO program)
  • An aged domain.  By that I mean a domain that has proven stability both in time active and years of purchased domain security.  Google dislikes brand new domains (no trust) and domains that only register for 1 year at a time.  Those seem to be tricks of the trade for spammers.

So having site links is important for several reasons.  It displays a high level of trust from the search engines, it gives the website owner more real estate on at the top of Google (always a big PLUS!) and it provides a level of comfort and security in even the most novice of web surfers who may stumble across a listing.  The benefits are more than worth the investment.  Furthermore, each of the above listed action items are just good web design and SEO practices so you would never be hurting yourself by performing them.

What are your thoughts on Sitelinks?  Does your site have them?  How long did it take to get them?  Do you feel any one particular item triggered the Sitelinks or was it a concerted effort with several factors being deployed at the same time?  Tell us your Sitelink story in the comments sections below!

If you enjoyed this article or learned something from it, please share it!  There are a host of social media bookmarking and sharing tools both for this blog and each article.  Google+, Facebook, Digg, Delicious and Twitter…just to name a few!


 

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