SEO marketing that attempts to gain conversions by covering a portion of a web page is now being frowned upon by Google and should be avoided. This is particularly prevalent on mobile web pages as a pop up that takes 10% of the screen on a desktop, might cover 90% of the mobile screen. Google has always frowned on pop ups as being distracting to the visitor and CourseVector agrees and, to date, has not employed that as an SEO technique.
Like all things Google, it will take time to evaluate the effect of this change on actual SEO and we will endeavor to provide more information on this post as it becomes available.
If you have a website that is not producing or needs ranking improvements, we suggest CourseVector’s Free SEO Analysis. It is a great tool to evaluate where your website stands with Google and your competitors.
SEO Strategies vary depending upon who you are talking to; however, there are some things that most legitimate SEO professionals agree on. We found a great article called 4 Dumb SEO Tactics That Will Get Your Site Penalized on Entrepreneur that we completely agree with. Many potential clients want a “quick fix” and see link building as the ultimate in SEO tactics. Unfortunately, that is a great way to get a website penalized by search engines. The article provides the following 4 tips:
- Acquiring links to your home page will not necessarily help your site rank higher.
- Links provided by an SEO company, in which the SEO company owns the sites providing those links, will usually not produce results.
- Links from sites that have been penalized can lead to penalties for your site.
- Purchasing links is never a good idea.
For more information concerning each of these potential issues, check out 4 Dumb SEO Tactics That Will Get Your Site Penalized.
SEO Search Engine Optimization is an ever-changing pursuit. An article in Search Engine Watch documented some pretty interesting SEO experiments done during 2016 and the results. There is really nothing new about the findings, however they do lend credence to what most professional SEO technicians have always said. Following is a summary of the results:
Does Organic Search Click-Through Rate Matter?
Is Organic CTR an Organic Search Ranking Factor?
Can Rewriting Your Titles Boost Your CTR?
Do Website Engagement Rates Impact Organic Search Rankings?
Yes – Engaging content is still king!
What’s the REAL Relationship Between Organic Rankings & Social Shares?
Again, content is king in both media.
In our opinion, the bottom line of these experiments indicate that engaging content along with good on page optimization will definitely help your rankings.
To read the details on these experiments, check out the article on Search Engine Watch.
Backlinks are important to any website; however, the actual return on investment may be questionable. First and foremost, backlinks are more useful if they are coming from a site with a higher page rank or more authority than the page they are linking to. Obtaining backlinks from websites with less page rank will have little to no effect on SEO. And, obtaining backlinks from higher page rank sites is very difficult, and the actual benefits from those links are now in question.
Tomas Vaitulevicius from MOZ posted an article entitled The SEO Myth of Going Viral in which he references studies over a long period of time which definitely call into doubt the benefits vs the costs for a linking campaign. The gist of the article is that sites with strong linking campaigns do report improvements in traffic and visibility that dissipate over time, but the improvements seem to stem from the general visibility of the website itself and not the linking campaign.
In his article What Link Building Success Really Looks Like, but Mark Johnstone of MOZ, the premise is that link building campaigns do work, but only over a long period of time and when coupled with other visibility campaigns. That coupling, of course, makes it very difficult to determine whether the linking campaign or the supporting campaigns caused the actual increase in traffic.
In our experience, link building is a valuable part of any SEO campaign, however, it needs to be noted that the positive effects can only be seen in years and not months, the cost over those years can become increasingly prohibitive for companies to manage, and, additional SEO visibility campaigns must be continued throughout the link building period. Backlink campaigns are not for clients seeking instant results, and, if done improperly, can be extremely expensive with little to no results.
An Exact Match Domain is a domain name that precisely matches a search query that will likely drive traffic to your website. Back in 2012, Google implemented a filter to prevent poor quality sites using Exact Match Domains from ranking well. As of this writing, Exact Match Domains are discouraged by White Hat SEO experts. However, if an Exact Match Domain is to be used, the only way to attempt to avoid penalties is to make sure the website is legitimate and not a copy or duplicate of a site or page on another website. The Exact Match Domain website needs to have unique content, pictures, at least 300 words but preferably 1100 or more, and it should follow current SEO procedures. This does not guarantee the domain/site will gain any SEO ranking, but it can help to avoid penalties to the Exact Match website and the main website to which you are trying to drive traffic.
For more information about Exact Match Domains, see the links below:
What is an exact match domain (EMD) and how can you safely use one?
This Site May Be Hacked
“This Site May Be Hacked” are words no webmaster or SEO manager wants to hear. As if a breach to an enterprise’s website (and the financial cost and public relations fallout associated with it) is not bad enough, a website hacked with malware or spam can cause an entity’s organic search engine rankings to take a nosedive. As one of the objectives of an effective SEO plan is to obtain and then maintain a presence on the first page of a web search query, compromised websites that feature viral links to a hacker’s site, or hacks that result in the quarantining of a website, can have a devastating effect on an enterprise’s SEO.
To understand how hacking can damage an enterprise’s SEO efforts, it is helpful to first understand what a website hack is, and how it most commonly occurs. Simply put, unauthorized hacking is defined as obtaining access to a website or computer network without the permission of its owner. Illegal hacks are typically initiated for the purpose of accessing protected information, or for using a legitimate website as a conduit to redirect users to a hacker’s website. The two primary tools used by hackers to compromise a website are malware and spam.
Malicious software, or malware, is designed to damage, disable, or otherwise grant an unauthorized user access to a computer, system, or network. Malware is most often used to covertly siphon sensitive information, resulting in a data breach. The ramifications of a malware hack on an enterprise’s website can be serious and far reaching.
Illegal hackers are computer programmers or engineers who use their knowledge of software and operating systems for nefarious purposes rather than for good. These hackers dissect computer programs to identify vulnerabilities within existing software, and then create a new program (malware) with the sole purpose of exploiting those weaknesses. A hacker will distribute this malicious software across the internet, where it will automatically search the web for sites using the vulnerable software. If a site is running the targeted software, the site is attacked by the malware, which discreetly embeds itself into the operating code, giving the hacker access to the system. With control of the system, the hacker has the potential to harvest sensitive data critical to an enterprise’s operations, or to begin spamming from website.
Website spamming occurs when a hacker inserts hypertext on a webpage that, when selected by a site user, links to the hacker’s desired destination. Embedding spammy links on highly trafficked websites to redirect users to a hacker’s site increases the hacker’s search engine rankings, without having to do the honest, expensive, and time-consuming work of marketing and brand-building. Essentially, website spammers are the bad guys who use the good guy’s hard-earned SEO rankings and positive reputation to shortcut the system as a way to increase the perceived value of their own site, while diminishing the ranking value of the guy who has played fair.
Consequences of a hacked website
At the end of the day, whether a website has been hijacked by malware, spam, or a combination of both, the results are never good. If a malware infection targets data base files containing the personal or financial information of the enterprise or its clients, the resulting security breach can be devastating. Spammers that leech traffic and customers from a legitimate website can exact a high cost on an entity’s search rankings, which in turn means fewer organic visitors to a site, potentially reducing revenue for an enterprise.
Google and other major search engines construct algorithms to automatically recognize sites infected with malware. While this proactive approach to identifying viral websites is great for the search engine user, the result for an unwitting entity whose site has been hacked is that the search engine will quarantine a website that the algorithm deems as compromised. Quarantined websites come with a warning to search engine users to avoid clicking-through to the blacklisted site, as it contains content from a known malware distributor. As a result of the malware infection warnings, blacklisted websites are estimated to see a drop in traffic on the order of 95%.
Malware infections can not only be time consuming to repair, but can also prove very costly to an enterprise, in ways both tangible and intangible. Each day that a website is quarantined or offline in order to trace and remove malware, translates to another day of losses for the enterprise with respect to customers, revenue, and the public’s trust. Further delays can occur after malware and spammy links have been cleaned from a site. Search engines must verify that a website is no longer compromised before rescinding its quarantine status, a process which can take up to a couple of weeks depending on the size and complexity of the website in question.
Prevention is the best medicine
Benjamin Franklin is attributed with saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” And while the quotable Mr. Franklin never knew of websites, hackers, malware, or spam, his idiom on the importance of being proactive can certainly be applied to the digital age. So, what is the formula for preventing a website hack from occurring in the first place?
UPDATES + BACKUPS + MONITORING = SECURITY
Running outdated software is consistently the number one reason that website hacks occur. Hackers focus on creating malware that will hit the greatest possible number of targets. Further, hackers are keenly aware that human nature is such that installing software updates tends to be a low priority for most people. If a hacker writes malware or spam code for a popular software to exploit a fault that an update is designed to fix, a hacker will gain access to countless computers, due simply to the statistically high number of users that fail to install updates in a timely manner.
Consider the example of WordPress. WordPress is an open-source software that is widely used for building websites. Its popularity is attributable to its stability, reliability, and ease of use. WordPress aggressively tests its software for vulnerabilities, and regularly releases updates to repair for shortcomings. But because WordPress is open-source, these faults become public knowledge when updates are released. Playing to the human propensity to procrastinate, hackers will then design attacks that target the core software loopholes that the updates are designed to repair. When an enterprise that is running WordPress is lax in installing updates, they are as good as hacked.
Not unlike installing software updates, creating backups on a regular basis is another mundane but important task that is too often overlooked. In the same way that is it important to backup one’s local, desktop files, creating a periodic backup of a website is of equal urgency. For websites using WordPress, backups are made easy with plugins that work with major cloud-based storage services. Key to having a clean, securely stored copy of a website is to ensure that backups are regular, automatic, stored off-site (not on the same server as the operating version of the website), and redundant (multiple copies maintained simultaneously).
While the importance of installing updates and running regularly scheduled backups for a website cannot be understated, it remains essential to supplement updates and backups with real-time monitoring of website activity. Investing in a reputable and reliable monitoring service that will watch website traffic, recognize questionable activity, and proactively repair issues before they become real problems represents resources well spent.
At times, it can seem as if hackers have the upper hand in the never ending struggle to protect and maintain the integrity of one’s website. Having a knowledgeable IT team to skillfully manage your enterprise’s website is the essential component for both protecting your website, as well as utilizing it as the tool that it is to maximize the exposure of your entity, increase the value of your brand, and grow your enterprise.
CourseVector is a web design, SEO, and hosting company that addresses all the pieces of the web marketing puzzle. With an experienced staff that has been designing, creating, and fixing websites since 1989, CourseVector brings a wealth of internet knowledge and experience to bear on the operation of a successful website. CourseVector takes the time to get to know you, your entity, and your enterprise’s needs and goals, and then works within your budget to create, implement, and service your website, balancing the requirements of security with the goals of effective SEO.
CourseVector can design a website from scratch or convert a non-WordPress website into one that uses the WordPress Content Management System. CourseVector hosting services focus on proactive website management and security, providing essential and timely software, and security updates and backups that are supplemented with 24/7 monitoring.
If your enterprise is struggling with how to maximize its online presence, CourseVector has an impressive SEO track record. Rather than pursuing a quick-fix path that falls short of producing effective SEO results, CourseVector focuses on long-term web marketing strategies that return real SEO improvements that are maintained over time.
Whether your enterprise has a website or needs one, if your website has been hacked or your finding it hard to keep pace with site security demands, or if you are new to SEO or have an SEO program that is not returning results, CourseVector is ready to help. Contact CourseVector for a complimentary SEO Marketing Analysis, and see the difference a website that is designed, hosted, and optimized by CourseVector can make for your enterprise.
Referrer Spam can undermine analytics accuracy.
Without a robust SEO program in place, are your search engine rankings being degraded?
Both concepts are important considerations for any company that is using the internet and a website to expand the reach and exposure of its business. But, if the concepts of Referrer Spam and SEO are new to you, you may be wondering what it is, am I affected, and (if so), how do I fix it?
A comparison from the natural world, that mirrors the insidious function of Referrer Spam, is that of the relationship between a parasite and its host. This connection exists when one organism (a parasite) sustains its existence from another organism (a host), often without the permission or knowledge of the host. At minimum, the parasite will irritate its host; at worst, it will seriously damage the health of the host, even to the point of death. In the cyber realm, Referrer Spam is the parasite, and a website is the unwitting host.
Simply, Referrer Spam is spam that uses a counterfeit referrer URL to make numerous requests of an established website in order to drive web traffic to a spammer’s site. This is a negative for any business, as a steady stream of fraudulent referral links can skew the accuracy of a company’s website traffic data reports, or analytics. Bad data can ultimately affect a company’s bottom line, as it can cause misguided financial and human resource decisions. Even more nefarious is that undetected Referrer Spam can seek out the weaknesses of a website, making it more vulnerable to attack.
The solution to halt parasitic Referrer Spam for a website is to use Search Engine Optimization (SEO). A two-part SEO Evaluation by CourseVector uncovers and halts current fake URL requests impacting a website, and implements a system to prevent future malicious referrals. Secondly, CourseVector SEO considers the origins of traffic to a website, and then creates a client-specific strategy to optimize a website’s visibility and search engine rankings.
A Free SEO Marketing Report from CourseVector is not only the ideal starting point to determine if your website’s analytics are being skewed by undetected Referrer Spam, but is also the first step to repair and prepare your site for better SEO.
Other Articles You Might Find Interesting
To stay relevant in the world of Web Design, website developers need to accept additional duties such as SEO.
Truth be told, many web designers do not know much about search engine optimization (SEO). As long as the site looks great and the code works, SEO is a second thought. However, a professional search engine optimizer can take a beautiful website and make it findable to new viewers and potential customers.
90 percent of all internet users will conduct a search at least once in a month. They will go to Google, Bing, or another major search engine and type in a product or brand name, like “Nike” or “running shoes”, and a results page will be generated.
Seventy-five percent of all searchers will click on one of the top five results returned on that search engine results page (SERP). Therefore, it should be the goal of all website owners to be in the top five on the SERP.
When a website’s design and the SEO goals are not in harmony, organic search results will suffer. A professional SEO knows and plans for the following factors of SEO:
On-page SEO factors include:
Off-page SEO factors include:
All the factors of SEO must work together in order to be efficient. Although load time is not listed as a factor, it is important to consider regarding both website optimization and SEO. Even when a site is among the top five results, if the site does not load promptly (the average wait time is 3 seconds) the searcher will simply choose the next site on the list. Not only does this cost a company potential customers, it can also cost SERP rank.
In addition, SEO includes both on-page and off-page factors coupled with quality content. A minimum of 300 words are required to rank, but the average is 975 words for websites ranked in the top five.
Problems between web design and SEO must be resolved to ensure prompt load times and SEO rank. Many designers fail to realize there is even a problem. They look at the code then look at what the client asked for, and if there is correlation, they see no problem.
Design vs. function is a challenge for website designer/developers. For instance, the Parallax continuous scrolling web design provides 3-D illusions that can be mind-blowing and amazing to look at, but the design does not work well with SEO. Parallax rarely allows for rich, keyword-intense content with relevant surrounding text. It is often image heavy which can increase load times significantly. There are several other issues with this design which are described with possible solutions in the Course Vector article, The Parallax Scrolling Dilemma.
Most small business owners do not feel they have the funds available in their budget to hire a website designer, an SEO expert, plus a quality content writer. Therefore, they attempt to learn SEO, try write blogs and articles filled with quality content while optimizing pages for SEO. Subpar SEO attempts can lead to penalty, not gains, in the SERPS. Instead, select a web design company that not only employs designers, but writers, SEO experts, and even hosting all in one package.
The important thing to remember is to resolve web design functions that conflict with SEO efforts, or hire a web design and/or SEO company that knows the functions of both.
Relevant articles to help understand SEO:
More than two million people visit Pinterest every day. Using Pinterest can improve your business in extraordinary ways by reducing the number of steps from discovery to conversion dramatically.
The main difference between Pinterest and other social media is “interest” in the product or service that “Pinners” pin. On Facebook, a person may click the “Like” button simply because they like the person that posted it, whereas Pinners pin items of interest. Many will pin things so they can get more information or purchase it later, their followers see their pin, which spreads the word for you, much like a share on Facebook.
Pinners often pin items of interest. According to Shopify, on average, pinned items of interest are repinned 11 times. This will help to multiply the amount of people that see your product or service exponentially.
Unlike Facebook likes, Pinterest pins are weighted by popularity, so that your posts or pins gain strength with time. Unlike Facebook posts that might get many likes for a few days and quickly fade, Pinterest pins grow your visibility and reputation year after year. This concept makes it necessary to use an “evergreen” or long-lasting approach to your business presentation. That does not mean you cannot offer periodic specials or promotion, though those will live on so you must adjust the price after the period of the promotion.
Fact: Products with prices included garner 36 percent more interest or pins than those without.
Creating Your Business Profile
Perhaps the best part about Pinterest is the simplicity in creating an account. The first, and most important, thing when creating your account is to make sure you are creating a business profile. Although, both the business and personal profiles are free, a business profile allows significantly more flexibility with boards (interest areas) and links than personal profiles.
All you need to get started is an email address.
Pinterest is a visual site, so it is important to keep these key points in mind:
- Use a professional high-quality head and shoulders photo or logo
- Use your business location
- Link to the business website address
- Link to other social media pages, such as Facebook, Twitter, & LinkedIn
- Use product images with descriptions
The first item a possible customer will see is your profile picture; make sure that it is eye-catching, high quality, properly sized, and appears professional.
Remember this is the same as a business introduction, so “put your best foot forward,” and use details. This is a chance to build trust and show proof of your existence, proof that you are not a computer. You are a real person with a real address. Reputation management can be the key to success.
Keep the name very simple and on key. The easier it is for people to find your profile the more traffic it will generate. For example, when selling jewelry, be sure and use the word jewelry in your profile name. There is nothing wrong with making your profile name “JJ Jewelry Design.” There is a 15-character limit, so be creative.
Next, prepare the profile description. Prepare a short description utilizing keywords and synonyms from Keyword Planner, or another appropriate source. These should be the same keywords you use for your website. This will help show the relevance to the link back to your website.
Choose boards (areas of interest) close to your business in line with “rich pins.” “Rich pins” include movies, recipes, articles, products, and places. According to Vincent Ng, a Pinterest Marketer in, “Pinterest Marketing Tips from a guy that’s been Doing it for 5 Years,” “Rich pins for a blogger is a must, because rich pins are a factor in search rankings for Pinterest. Pinterest prefers to show blog posts or pins that are rich pins,” says Ng. “On top of that, rich pins also have more credibility and authority because rich pins for articles show off, in bold text, the title of the blog post article and the Meta description when clicked through.”
Be sure to enable rich pins on your website. This can be difficult, so you may need the assistance of your website designer. For CourseVector clients, just complete a Support Ticket, or non-clients can request a free marketing evaluation through our SEO services department. Be sure to reference Pinterest on the support ticket.
Another option when choosing boards is to tie boards to the most often searched topics, such as DIY, Food & Drink, Home Décor, Design, Weddings, and Women’s fashion, when possible.
Pam Neely at Act-on.com states business boards should include boards that feature:
- blog posts
- email newsletters
- white papers
- “How to” videos
- inspirational quotes
- portfolio items
In fact, she suggests 17 “smart ways” that businesses can create boards.
Use a Pin-it button on your site, so that people can pin the things they like, which will track back to you. Although most people pin things so they can get more information or purchase it later, their pins are seen by their followers, which spreads the word for you, similar to sharing on Facebook.
Track it Back!
Too many pinners simply pin pictures to their boards from their phone. Whereas this is fine for a personal account, it does not work for a business account. Although it is easy to upload photos from anywhere, if those can not be tracked to your website, it is just another image. Make sure your pins take shoppers and potential clients to a place where they can answer your call to action.
Be careful of moving pages. When you move or redirect webpages you will lose traffic. Changing the link on your board is easy, but you cannot change that link on anyone else’s.
Tracking your Pins and Traffic
Like any website you are using for your business, you need to know that it is working for you. Pinterest has added Google Analytics to the dashboard recently, making it easy to check on how many views and repins you are getting, how you are doing with keyword searches, and how much traffic you are getting to your website.
In addition, use http://pinterest.com/source/YourWebsite.com/ to find out who is pinning your boards and interact with them using comments and newsletters.
Pinterest can be a valuable asset to any business, like any social media. Good marketing is all about exposure and Pinterest is number two of the top social media sites for exposure. By linking other social media sites and websites to the business profile, Pinterest could become an important resource for your business.
A Point worth Noting!
Although Pinterest has a Help Center for users, business owners without much experience on Pinterest or the time to devote to Pinterest might find it advisable to hire a professional search engine adviser or Pinterest marketer. That may sound expensive, but it is not compared to the return on investment. Course Vector can provide Pinterest support or include Pinterest marketing in any of our Digital Marketing Campaigns.
What is HTTP?
HTTP, meaning “hypertext transfer protocol”, is the first part of a URL. It relates to how transference of data occurs from a server to your screen. HTTPS, the S stands for “Secure”, encrypts the data transferred with the purchase of a security certificate. Google supposedly gives a “boost” to HTTPS URLs in its search results pages.
HTTP and SEO
Is the added expense worth it for improved SEO rankings? Not for everyone. Google’s HTTPS algorithm is said to affect only 1% or less of searches. There is a chance that this protocol might be weighted more heavily in the future, but that remains to be seen. For now, it is best to approach a security certificate on a case-by-case basis.
SEO That is Right for You
What is a business to do with so many tips, tricks, and changes in SEO protocol and procedure? Although HTTPS might make sense for some businesses, generally the best way to handle your business’s SEO is to maintain a solid marketing campaign that includes website changes that make a site more user-friendly, creating new and useful content, and building credible links. For most, a good organic SEO plan will yield the best results.
Not sure where to begin? Start with a free marketing analysis from CourseVector. We will explore the validity of HTTP vs. HTTPS as it applies to your website in our report, but we give you so much more. Our free report provides an analysis of your current website and a plan for improvement – We provide the complete picture, not just what Google deems important this week. Find out more by contacting us today.