Buying an Expired Domain
There are a few reasons you might want to purchase an expired, or expiring domain. The first and most obvious is because if you do it right, you’ll end up with a domain that already has history and a backlink profile. As an SEO professional, that has a lot of meaning but if you’re just trying spin up a new site as a business owner, you may not appreciate how powerful that can be.
This might sound very Black Hat-ish, but I assure you it’s not. Ok, ok, it certainly can be (and in reality, is usually is) but there is a perfectly good reason that it might not be Black Hat to do this. The “White Hat” thought process is that you buy a domain with history because you are spinning up a new website in the same niche that the expired domain is in and the content on your new site will be relevant and interesting to anybody that visited the expired site.
So if your new site is about Dog Training, you wouldn’t want to buy an expired domain that was about phototography as the backlinks that you intend to take advantage of have very little relevance to your new website.
In the below video, I show you how to find topical expired domains. The example in the video is a search for a health related domain and we look through a few bad ones before we finish with a decent one. You’ll want to run it full screen(it starts a little blurry so give it a few seconds and it’ll clear up).
In the above video, there are four things that should be pointed out.
- To purchase domains from GoDaddy, you have to sign up. The cost is about $5.00/year so it’s negligible and opens up a whole world of expired domains. There are other places to purchase expired domains as well. Google is your friend here – look ’em up!
- In the video, you’ll see and hear reference to the Moz toolbar. This is what allows me to so easily see the domain authority, trust flow, content flow etc. You can find the main toolbar here.
- There is also a plug-in that allows you to see these metrics within the GoDaddy auction site. That can be added by googling “Domain Auction Metrics by DomCop”. With chrome it’ll be an addon from the chrome store (free). Just google that search term and click on the appropriate link depending on what browser you’re using.
- The video also shows me researching the domain in Majestic SEO’s interface. This is a paid service although you can get some research done for free.
Ok, I hope this was helpful. Let me know if you have questions or maybe some suggestions for follow up posts.
Your Competitor’s Social Media landscape
Social Media is everywhere, nobody can deny it. Yet in the SEO world, it is just now beginning to make a dent. Google has said that Social Media signals will affect a web site’s rankings in the search engine results, yet to what extent we aren’t quite sure. Regardless of where it is now though, you can bet it will become increasingly important in the very near future. Failure to take appropriate measures to understand it and use it to your advantage endangers your search engine results and, with a high degree of likelihood, your business.
As with most of what we do around here, we’re always interested in our competitors and the competitors of our customers. It’s one thing to tell our customer that they need to create and use on a daily or weekly basis a Twitter account, a Facebook Business page, Google+ page, YouTube channel, LinkedIn page, etc, etc but it’s another thing entirely when we can show them what their competitors are doing in this space. When you see your competitors have been building a social media presence and you have not, it drives the importance home.
So how do you check? Checking is pretty easily actually, since just about every social media outlet displays number of followers, likes, circles, channels, etc. Simply visit the Social Media channels for your competitors and create a spreadsheet that shows where they are. Then be brutally honest with your own business and do the same. Take corrective action!
Here’s what a spreadsheet might look like for this.
The table above shows us the following:
- Competitor #1 is doing ok – they’ve at least started. They are doing nothing with YouTube, quite a bit it seems with Google+ and they have at least a decent following with LinkedIn. Their Facebook and Twitter counts are pretty low and their YouTube presence is non-existent. Bear in mind a critical issue here – Google owns YouTube and they rank YouTube videos quite highly, so a strong YouTube channel can be a very effective means to raise your status.
- Competitor #2 is doing well across the board. They have engaged with all of the shown Social Media channels and are doing pretty well with each.
- Competitor #3 is doing even better than Competitor #2, except that have no Google+ presence. This will probably hurt them (now or in the future) with respect to Google search engine rankings
- Competitor #4 has focused entirely on Twitter and with what appears to be pretty good success. There are a lot of ways to gather 17,000 followers on Twitter though, and not all of them point to good business practices. This customer would bear watching to see how their dramatically one-sided approach is working for them. If they are ranking high in search results, it could indicate a high level of trust given to this large number of Twitter followers. Of course, there are other items to consider as well – this is just one piece of the SEO puzzle.
Where does your business fall? Do you have a LinkedIn account? If so, have you submitted any documents? Do you have followers? What about Facebook likes? Do you engage with Twitter daily? Do you reach out and try to grow your Google+ circles? Have you uploaded any YouTube videos?
One thing to consider is that it is far better to do one of the items above very well than it is to do all five of them poorly. Competitor #4, for example, has focused on Twitter. I would assume because he has time only for Twitter. He recognizes that creating a landing pages on the other channels and then leaving them vacant causes more harm than good. I would recommend stretching just a little bit though – go for at least two and do them very, very well. As you grow and maybe hire a VA or an employee, then you can branch into another channel.
Speaking of other channels, the ones list in the above image are what I would consider table stakes – you want to start with these. If you choose to grow, here’s a quick list of other social media and Web 2.0 offerings you can grow into. I will say that “Social Media” and “Web 2.0” sites are becoming more and more blurred – I consider them both as more-or-less Social Media in terms of SEO.
- Pinterest – many would argue this is a table stakes offering as well and I don’t disagree. The growth, penetration and acceptance of Pinterest has been mind boggling.
…and this is scratching the surface. Not to mention more are coming online every day while others are being bought by bigger fish, eaten, or just spit out. Squidoo is a good example – for the past couple of years everybody was saying to make sure you have a “lens” on Squidoo, and they were right. But then HubPages came along and ate them up and now owns Squidoo.
So pay attention. Watch what your competitors are doing. As they say, it’s OK to be a copycat, as long as you copy the right cat. Measure your Social Media presence and compare it to your competitors. This will give you a benchmark and enable you to set goals. Maybe the goal is “catch competitor #2 on YouTube videos” or maybe it’s “write 10 articles to submit to LinkedIn”. Whatever the goal, keep an updated spreadsheet so you can manage your progress. As you overtake your competitors in these areas, you will see your business improve.
SEO Periodic Table
The good folks at Search Engine Land have created and released a tool that goes a long way towards simplifying SEO for the masses. Well, the masses with a chemistry degree anyway. Just kidding – read on to see how easy this is…
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Don’t let the high school flashback scare you away (like it did to me at first) – it’s actually very easy to read and breaks down critical SEO information in a way that makes sense and allows you to fine tune your website with a solid understanding of what you’re doing and why. Let’s look at it in a bit more detail.
- On the left side, you have the “on page SEO” factors – these are the aspects of SEO that you can control on your own website.
- In the middle you have the representation of the SEO factors, along with “element names” and weights. The element names correspond with items on the left and right sides. The weights correspond with the impact that element will have on your SEO. A +3 is a strong positive impact while a -3 is a strong negative impact. These are also color coded – darker colors have stronger impact (either positive or negative). Pretty cool, right? Why didn’t I think of this?
- On the right side, you have the “off page SEO” factors – these are the areas you have less control over, yet can still influence.
Improve your search engine ranking by understanding and implementing these critical SEO Elements
I won’t waste your time going over each item as I’m sure you’re more than capable, but lets look at the ones that are shown as most critical – those marked as either +3 or -3:
- Cq(+3): Quality
- The quality of the content on your site today is critical. In the past, you could have “spun” content (automatically re-written or even plagiarized articles) that were just good enough to get by Google’s algorithms. Today, this is a whole lot tougher as the algorithms have improved and Google has become very, very good at spotting plagiarized content. There is another “element” above for duplicate content, but it should be addressed here as duplicate content is NOT quality content, regardless of how well written it is.
- To get top marks from Google, your content must be unique, well written, easily readable, and relevant.
- Ac(+3): Crawl
- If Google can’t “crawl” your site, your rankings will suffer. There are several aspects of this to watch for
- Sitemaps make crawling your site easier and it’s always best to make it as easy as possible on Google, so ensure your site has a sitemap and it is readable and functional. You can check the reliability of your site map on Google Webmaster Tools or on various other sites around the internet.
- Robots.txt file tells search engines what pages they can or cannot crawl. Or, more precisely, which pages you would like the crawl and which you would not like them to crawl. They’re robots…they don’t always listen! The key here is to make sure you are not accidentally telling them to not crawl pages you want crawled. An incorrectly configured robots.txt file often causes sites to not be crawled correctly. There is a “robots.txt” tester at the same Google Webmaster Tools link given above.
- If Google can’t “crawl” your site, your rankings will suffer. There are several aspects of this to watch for
- Ht(+3): Titles
- The titles you use on your site’s pages have critical impact on your rankings. This impact is so big, you can change the ranking of a page or site simply by providing a good title. A good practice here is to research the keywords you want your site to be ranked for and ensure that keyword is the title of your main page. This one simple step can drastically enhance your search engine results.
- Cr(+3): Research
- This applies to the above topic – we’re talking about researching keywords. Do not assume your first thought about what to rank your site for is accurate. You (or your SEO person) must research to ensure you are targeting the best keywords. This means keywords that actually have people searching for them on the internet. It’s common to ask a business owner what their site is ranking for and be told that it is ranking #1 for several terms that have zero search results. So yes, they are ranking #1 for those terms, but there is nobody searching for those terms. Do do the research or have somebody do it for you to make sure your site is focused on keywords that have search volume – do not skimp on this as it is the single most important part of the SEO recipe.
- Vp(-3): Paid
- Paying for links? Shame on you. You better hope Google doesn’t find out. There are good and bad places to buy links but Google views any form of payment for links as evil or “black hat” SEO and will penalize your site if they find you doing it. Backlinks are the true currency of the internet – each backlink you get to your website from another site is a vote of credibility and relevancy for your site and these backlinks are what will catapult your site into the stratospheric reaches of the Google search results. But paying for them instead of earning them naturally goes against Google’s master plan. So, my first advice, don’t do it. But, if you do be very selective about the process. Actually, nix that…just don’t do it!
- VI(-3): Spam
- Are you creating backlinks to your site by spamming blogs, forums or other sites with those annoying and nonsensical entries? You know the ones – the comment is something like “I appreciate this article, I learned a lot” or “buy purple Nikes at my site today for half off” and they’re posted on a doctor’s website and the link back to your site which is about dog training. No relevance, no sense, no value for anybody reading it – it’s just there to get a link from that site to yours. It’s spam – don’t do it. It’ll wreck your site’s credibility.
- Vc(-3): Cloaking
- This is a fun one – we’ve all seen it. You do a search, find something interesting and click on the link and you end up at a payday loan site, or maybe online gambling site when you actually clicked on a dog training link. This is Cloaking – the act of redirecting or misdirecting users. It’s also a matter of showing search engines something different than what the humans see. It creates no value and has no benefit for the person – again, it’s strictly a means of getting a visitor to a site they didn’t intend to visit. Don’t do it.
Well, that’s a quick overview of the critical “elements” of SEO – I hope you found it interesting. Just please understand that although I spent time on the +/- 3 elements only, the others are important as well and they all play together. Don’t ignore the others, just understand that some carry more weight than others and given a finite amount of time to tweak your SEO, you should focus on the heavy hitters first.
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5 Ways Local SEO will benefit your business
Local SEO is much different than “normal” or “global” SEO. There is a whole new subset of factors that come into play. Global SEO actually does apply to Local SEO, but then you have to go a little further and work with the local SEO specifics. Done correctly, this can skyrocket your business’s website rankings in the search engines. Done incorrectly and, well, you know the deal. You end up in search limbo where nobody ever goes and you get no traffic from the search engines.
Take a look at the infographic below – it highlights 5 ways local SEO will benefit your business. There are more – far more – but these 5 should at least give you the idea that it’s worth undertaking. With any SEO company you work with, the ROI on their efforts should be recognizable and the prices they charge should fall into line with that ROI. Given this, taking advantage of good local SEO efforts is a great idea and will certainly improve your site traffic and ultimately, your revenue.
Let’s take a look at each of the 5 ways local SEO will benefit your business:
Send more consumers to your website
This is the essence and the primary benefit of SEO – getting new customers to visit your website. Conversion, or turning them into paying customers, is another matter and is linked closely with SEO efforts. The first step though, is getting them to visit your site and solid local SEO efforts are the single best way to make this happen.
Increase Foot Traffic to your establishment
This is an often overlooked benefit of SEO. SEO, in it’s purest form, works to get digital visits on your digital storefront but as these digital visitors are, in fact, real live people and like to visit the places they do business with. So a visit to your website will be the first step – a later step will be when they step through your door.
Build Credibility and Authority in your industry
Having a website these days is table stakes to running a business – it’s just the way it is. No website and your business credibility falters, even if your business isn’t necessarily an online business. Think of plumbers – probably the least “online” business you can think of yet every major plumbing company spends huge amounts of money on their websites as well as their SEO efforts to ensure a steady stream of customers and, as this topic points out, continue credibility and authority.
Boost ROI and Profit Potential
Return On Investment(ROI) is a factor that savvy business owners account for in just about every purchasing decision they make. Without adequate ROI, the business suffers financial loss and will be unable to sustain. Local SEO is a relatively inexpensive method of attracting customers and as the business continues the SEO over the long term, the costs go down while the benefits go up. ROI is realized quickly and thoroughly through sound Local SEO
Convert more leads into paying customers
A solid Local SEO plan will attract more potential customers to your website and, once there, the website, SEO, and Conversion optimization strategies will ensure that more and more of these visitors become paying customers.
So there you have it – 5 ways local SEO can and will benefit your business. As mentioned earlier, there are many more but these should whet your appetite a bit. As always, reach out to us directly for any information and advice.
We look forward to hearing from you!
Google Map Packs
You’ve seen the “map packs” but may not have realized exactly what they were. When you use Google to find a local business and a few select businesses are at the very top of the results along with a map showing their locations. This is known as the “Map Pack” and is a great place for your business to be! Google initially started with a Map Pack of 7 businesses but has whittled it down to 3, so now only the top 3 local businesses are shown. As an interesting side note to this change by Google, the change from 7 to 3 came as a complete surprise to just about every SEO “expert” out there (us included). This is, and was, a very good example of how everything we do is really best guess – Google tells us nothing.
So you know what I’m referring to, take a look at the below screenshot that shows a search for “pressure washers lawrenceville” (this applies to all businesses, not just pressure washers):
Real quick – the top shows the search term. The first results are paid advertisements (of course). Below that is a map and below the map are the select 3 businesses that are showing as a result of our search.
…does anybody else find it interesting that one of the items in the Map Pack doesn’t even show a website? Patience grasshopper – we’ll get to that.
One critically important aspect of this result is that the phone numbers are shown in the search results without having to click on the link – this leads to internet searches simply calling your business without actually clicking on the link. This is far more effective than it would appear to be as some folks just want a phone number and to have a conversation, not dig through internet listings and web pages.
It’s also very interesting that the top three shown in this Map Pack are NOT the top three search results. If you scrolled down below the map pack in the actual rankings, you’ll find other pressure washing businesses listed at the actual top of the search results page. What the heck is going on here? Again, we’ll get to that.
Below the 3rd business is a link that says “more pressure washers”. Clicking this link will open up a full page of the rest of the businesses that match your search terms. It’s interesting to note that when you click this link, all of the other screen info goes away, which means the paid advertisements as well – odd since Google makes about 98% of the revenue from paid advertisements. I look at this as a clear indication of their focus on showing only the most relevant search results to their users even if it means not showing paid advertisements.
The idea is for your business to show up in the top three so they are front-and-center when the user is looking at the search results. If you’re not in the top three, you have to hope they click the “more pressure washers” link and then scroll through the rest of the results to find you. As with anything related to search results – the higher you are, the more likely it is that the link to your business will be clicked.
So, the next obvious question is, how do you get your business to show up in the Google Map Pack. The next section will discuss this as well as why your business is not listed! So, how to get it listed and what can keep it from being listed – coming right up.
How to show up on the Google Map Pack
To get listed on the map pack, there are several things you should be doing.
First and foremost, as with any other SEO effort, you should have a website that has strong on-page SEO, good content geared towards human users and not search engines, and is easily navigable. These three items are table stakes – nothing new here. If your page is lacking any of these three things then you have larger problems to deal with than making the Google Map Pack – you are probably not doing very well in any area of SEO.
Next, there’s one thing to remember – nobody but a very select few at Google actually knows how Google determines rankings. So everything is best guess – you may have heard me say that before. It’s a very, very educated best guess drawn the empirical study of literally thousands of SEOs around the world but still, it’s best guess. Google also changes things up, often with no advance notice to anybody. With that in mind, this is the general consensus of what it takes to get your business to show up in the Map Pack:
- Your website’s content. Whoops, already mentioned that but it’s so important, I feel good about mentioning it again. In fact, I’ll probably mention it again later because it’s pretty important. Bear in mind Google’s primary focus – to show the internet search the most relevant search results. To do this, they must match the content of your website to the users search terms. So the more closely your content matches what your site is actually about, the more comfortable Google is with giving that searcher your website.
- “Google My Business” page. There’s been a lot of discussion this, but if you don’t have a Google Plus or Google My Business page, then you’re lessening your chances of being listed in the Map Pack. A solid Google My Business page should consist of information about your business, your operating area, phone numbers, website, etc. You’ll have to verify it and then link it to your website. Double and triple check to make sure everything on this page is 100% accurate.
- Local validation that you are, in fact, a business…and a reputable one at that. How does this happen? Think of review sites like Yelp, CitySearch, Bing, Yahoo, Thumbtack, etc. Your business listing should be created/claimed on each of these sites as well with IDENTICAL (very important) Name, Address and Phone Number. This is how Google equates a review on Yelp with your Google Business page and gives you extra credit and higher rankings.
- How local is your business? If you’re in Seattle, you won’t show up in the Map Pack for Atlanta. Remember Google’s focus on delivering the most relevant search results? A person searching for a plumber in Seattle and gets a listing in Atlanta isn’t relevant, so it won’t happen. That would be bad for Google and….ahem…it’s all about what’s best for Google. So when you create your Google My Business page, you have a choice of creating a storefront, a personal page or a brand. You want to create either a storefront or a brand and then select the area you service. If you service only a specific town, then select that town. If you service an area, you can enter a zip code or address and choose a mile radius. Whatever option you choose, that will determine where you have a chance of showing up in the Map Pack for.
How to add your Google My Business Listing
First, create a personal page. This a requirement – you must first own a personal page and from that, you can create a business page. Many business owners choose to create only a personal page and use it as their business page (because it’s convenient) but this approach has a lot of drawbacks – most importantly it will not show up in local search results for the business!! Customers also cannot leave reveiws on personal pages so it’s far better to create a personal page, and then create a business page based on that personal page.
After you create the personal page and then move onto creating your business page, you’ll be faced with the decision to create a “Location” or a “Brand” based business page. For the most part, I recommend using the “Location” page even though it’s more difficult. Creating a Location page requires verification from Google via snail-mail…you’ll get a letter with a verification code you will have to use in about 1-2 weeks. If you create a “Brand” page, the verification is only a text message and occurs immediately. The enhanced verification for the Location page is one reason I recommend it – it greatly reduces the spamability of the page creation as well as reduces the likelihood of duplicate business pages.
So, how exactly do we do this? Follow the below directions:
First, to create the personal page, simply go to the Google+ Account Creation page. Once there, follow the directions to create your personal page. Once that is done, come back here and continue.
When the personal page is created, you’ll see a 3×3 grid on the home page. Click on that and then click on the G+ icon to go to the main settings page:
After that, you’ll be presented with another menu – hit the drop down and click on “Pages” to see what pages you have created so far.
Once you click on “Pages”, you’ll be presented with a page that shows “Location” and “Brand” pages. Depending on which you have selected will determine the menu options available in the drop down menu on the left. As we discussed before, I recommend selecting
“Locations” and then creating a “Locations” based business page.
Once you click on “Add a Location”, you’ll be presented with a large Map search screen where you will be prompted to enter your business name. Go ahead and type it in and look at the results. Most likely, your business will not be listed so select the “add my business” option at the bottom of the search results.
Once you’ve selected to add your business, you’ll be presented with the below screen. Be sure to fill everything in accurately. Note the “I deliver goods and services to my customers at their locations” check box. If you offer services in a given area, make sure to select this box. Doing so will enable a follow on configuration setting where you select your area (city or zip) or your business address + a mile radius. For a local service, I recommend a 50 to 100 mile radius around your major city.
After this is done, you’ll be presented with a Verification screen where your business address is shown along with a note that you will be mailed a verification code within 1-2 weeks. Ensure the address is correct and click the link at the bottom.
Now go back to the first step, where you clicked on the 3×3 grid, then selected “Pages” from the G+ main menu. When you’re on the Pages screen, you’ll now be presented with a list of business pages you have created. In the screenshot below, I show 3 pages – yours should only have a single business which reflects the information you just entered.
There’s a very good chance your new entry will have a status of “Missing Store Code”. Click on the “Add store code” link and give your new business a store code – it is a made up code you select. If you have 100 different locations, you might want to create some kind of format that keeps everything tidy. If you only have a single area, it’s fine to enter something basic. For SnugData, I simply created a Store Code of “SnugData_GA”.
Once you create the store code, you status should change to “Published”.
Now you’ll see your page – from here you’ll want to “Manage” your page and fill in every single item you can…with a lot of detail. This is critical – don’t create it and leave it bare. If you want to show up in the Google results and/or the Google Map Pack, you should ensure this business page contains as much information about your business as you can.
That’s it…well, not exactly. Keep it updated, post to it, check back often. The next step is to ensure other recommendation sites such as Yelp, CitySearch and others accurately reflect your business information. Stay tuned to SnugData for the next blog post that will discuss this approach.
Should you care about Yelp?
Not to be too abrupt, but the simple answer is YES, Yelp matters.
It matters a lot.
If you’re not paying attention to Yelp…if it’s in your periphery but not something you give much thought to…there’s a very good chance you’re missing out.
Why should you care about Yelp?
Well…if your business deals in any way with people who might write a review or prospective customers who might read a review before deciding who to work with, Yelp is incredibly important to you. Yelp has become the Google of the customer review/recommendation arena. There are others, to be sure, but Yelp, right now, reigns supreme among them.
Let’s take a look at the numbers and a little editorializing by yours truly on what those numbers mean:
- Founded in 2004 – as of the time of this writing, they’re about 11 years old. Pretty mature in today’s online world, which means they’ve weathered a lot of storms. Unlike a lot of competitors (many of which are no longer in business) Yelp has managed to maintain their focus on customer reviews. They haven’t branched out into other forms of marketing or tangential features that lessen their focus or dilute their customer base. They do reviews…and they do them well.
- Yelp Traffic – they get a lot of traffic. More than you. More than you and I put together. About 140 million unique visitors each month. I’ll say that again and bold the important points – 140 million unique visitors each month. (See what I did there? They’re all important points!)
- Unique visitors – that means new Yelp users…140 million of them…
- Each month – this sounds like a yearly statistic but it’s not…140 million…each month.
- Yelp traffic is divided fairly evenly between mobile and desktop users. Why is this important? It’s been pretty much proven that those seeking recommendations or services on a mobile device are out shopping – therefore they’re in a buying mood. Searching from home on the desktop is somebody thinking about buy and might get out of the house to fight traffic and find their way to your doorstep. If you run an online service, or maybe a mobile service then these desktop searchers are about equal in value to you since they can pick up a phone and call for an appointment. But the mobile searchers – those who search for “best tires in Atlanta Georgia” on their iPhones are very likely out searching for the best tires in Atlanta Georgia and are ready to buy. The point here – don’t discount mobile searchers.
- Don’t forget, Yelp has a mobile app and that app generates about 200,000 calls to local businesses every day.
- Over 2 million businesses listed – break that down by state. 50 states, 2,000,000 businesses and you get about 40,000 businesses per state. We all know it doesn’t work that way as there are far less businesses on Yelp in North Dakota than there are in New York or California. So throw out maybe 15 lesser populated states and you get a number closer to 50,000 or 60,000 businesses per state that Yelp posts reviews on. That’s a lot of businesses in your local area! Oh, and it’s growing!
- As of April of this year, Yelp posted that their user base had, so far, posted 77.3 million reviews. Somebody did the math and that comes out to about 26,380 reviews per minute!
- Here’s a biggie…very important. The percentage of Yelp users who have made a purchase at a business they found on Yelp is 98%. I would do the “I’ll bold the important points” thing again, but I think you get the idea. This isn’t saying that 98% of Yelp users have posted a review – this is saying that 98% of Yelp users have researched and subsequently done business with a company they found on Yelp. This is a staggering statistic.
- …no wonder Google reported offered to buy Yelp for $500M
- …and then Yahoo doubled that offer to $1B
Should you pay attention to Yelp?
I would say “yes”, but that’s just me. Any company that can focus on a single core competency for so long, attract so many loyal customers, attract so many unique visitors, and keep everybody satisfied with their offering is a business that is designed to stay in business for the forseeable future.
What Does SEO Stand For?
Funny you should ask – just last night at our weekly trivia contest, “what does SEO stand for” showed up on the big screen and, I think, I was the only person in the room that got the question right. I suspect that me helping our Trivia guy with his website may have had something to do with it, but I didn’t feel the need to bring that up. So, what does SEO stand for? The acronym stands for Search Engine Optimization and, as easy as that is, it underscores a critically important and complex profession. And that’s usually the next question we here after we define what “SEO” stands for. What does SEO mean?
What does SEO mean?
SEO is the art of influencing a websites “rankability” according to the search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing and the others in such a way that the given website will appear higher in the Search Engine Results, or, as we geeks call it, the “SERPS” (Search Engine Results Page).
SEO is a fine are of technical knowledge, business knowledge, ability to research, an understanding of how thing change and how they stay the same, and finally, a lot of patience. There was a time when we could influence the rankings of a page practically overnight but those days are long gone now and we find ourselves instead often waiting months to get to Page 1 of the results. But that’s OK – the new normal for SEO has thinned the herds as others find easier ways to make a living, leaving more opportunities for those of us that are still having fun and enjoy the challenge.
There are a few other terms that go along with SEO that you may bump into:
- SEM: Search Engine Marketing – basically, a larger part of the pie, if that makes sense. Whereas SEO is concerned primarily with a business’s website and it’s outreach and influence, SEM is concerned with more of an overall holistic marketing perspective to include things like social media and such.
- PPC: Pay Per Click – this is when a website owner pays Google to show up on the first page of the Google results. The catch here is that the more popular the search term they wish to show up for, the most each click costs them. And, they have to pay for each and every click whether they actually make any money from it or not. It’s a numbers game. An attorney knows that for every 100 clicks he gets for his “Best Divorce Lawyer in Atlanta” keyword, he’ll get 1 actual customer that pays. If each click costs him $5.00, then he’s paid $500 to get that one customer which, for a lawyer, is a pretty good deal. It is not unusual to see PPC costs in the hundreds of dollars for extremely popular keywords
- SERP: Search Engine Results Page – this is the page you are shown after you run your search. Search for “Plastic Surgeon Atlanta” and you’ll be shown a listing of 10 (by default) plastic surgeons that Google has determined have the best websites to match your search critiria
- On Page SEO: On Page SEO pertains to the efforts that go into making a website agreeable to Google in terms of how it is structured. Google expects to find certain elements in certain places and when it can’t find them, it makes it more difficult to “crawl” that page. The more difficult a page is to crawl, the less it actually gets crawled and therefore, the less likely it will rank. Neil Patle produced a great infographic that explains the structure of a perfectly optimized page. See it here. We also go into it in great detail on our own SEO page here at SnugData.
- Off Page SEO: Off page SEO pertains to those things that a typical webmaster has little to no control over. The most common, and most important of these is “backlinks”. Backlinks are when another site mentions something on your site and links to it. These are, for the most part, counted as votes for your site’s popularity but unlike voting in the normal sense, it’s important where these votes come from. A backlink from a popular and credible site carries more weight than a backlink from an unknown site. Many SEOs spend the majority of their time working to get backlinks from popular sites. Brian Dean, at Backlinko, wrote a lengthy and detailed article that goes into good detail on perfecting a site’s “off page SEO” in ways that are agreeable with Google.
There are approximately 3, 546,881 more terms and acronyms that pertain to SEO overall, but I wanted to show you the ones that most closely relate to the actual type of marketing involved with SEO.
To get an idea of what goes into SEO, take a look at the following short video:
Getting Backlinks for your site
Why Do I Need Backlinks?
Backlinks have long been considered as one of the primary ranking factors for any site. The more backlinks you have, generally the better your site will rank. Think of backlinks as votes for your site – the more votes you get, the better your site is. There are caveats, of course, but for the most part if your site creates good enough content to earn links from other sites, then your site’s placement in the Google search results will improve.
Keep in mind that Google makes about 95% of their ~$60 Billion each year from search, so their main focus is to ensure than when you search for something on Google, you get the very best results. Basing those results on how many good backlinks a website has is a time proven and highly effective method to determine which sites are good results for the Search Engines.
There is a concept we in the SEO world refer to as “Link Juice” and that refers to the power that backlinks can send to your site. Link Juice can be good or bad. A powerful site sends a lot of good Link Juice. A poor site sends bad Link Juice.
What are Good Backlinks?
The very best backlinks are links from sites that are relevant and authoritative. If your site is focused on how to care for your dog, a link from PetCo would be a very powerful link because it is relevant to your site and it’s accepted as being an authoritative site. That’s not to say that only relevant links are good though. A link from Forbes magazine, for instance, isn’t as relevant as a link from PetCo, but it is still immensely powerful.
Think in terms of relevance and authority.
There are a couple of other types of sites that are generally considered to carry a bit more weight than others – specifically Government sites and Educational sites. If a government site (with a “.gov” domain name) links to your site, it carries more weight than a link from elsewhere. Same with a link from an educational site (.edu). If you think about the difficulty of getting a government site or a college such as Stanford to link to your site, you can understand why they are considered extra powerful. This has lessened a bit lately but still well worth the effort.
What are Bad Backlinks
There are a few categories of what should be considered “bad” backlinks. Foremost among them is any link that you pay for. Yes, there are places you can go to buy links to your website and it is almost always a bad idea. Google spends an inordinate amount of time and money to find sites that have paid backlinks pointing at them and when they find them, they penalize them heavily.
Don’t buy backlinks.
Other than that, trading links is not looked upon favorably. I have a site, you have a site. I send you an article with a link to my site and you send me an article with a link to your site. We both put those articles on our sites and presto, we each have a backlink. The problem with this approach is that it’s very easy for Google to discover and, again, penalize you for.
Don’t trade backlinks
Bad backlinks can also come from sites that are considered spammy sites or any site that could be considered a “poor neighborhood” in Google’s eyes. You probably don’t want links from gambling or porn sites pointing to your site.
Since relevance and authority were the buzzwords for the Good Backlinks, non-relevance and little authority can be thrown into the Bad Backlinks description. Going back to your Dog Care website, a link from PetCo was good (relevant and authoritative) but a link from Joe’s House Guitar Pics Made From Fingernail Shavings (www.joeshouseofguitarpicsmadefromfingernailshavings.com) isn’t a good backlink because it’s neither relevant nor, more than likely, is it an authoritative site.
How do I get Backlinks?
First, I should point out that you have absolutely zero say in what site points to your site. So you can get a backlink literally from any website. If Forbes decides to discuss an article on your site and links to it, great news for you. But, on the other hand, if OnlineCasinoWinnersEveryDay.com decides to link to the same article, there’s nothing you can do. The links from Forbes would be a good one, the link from the Casino site would probably be a bad one – you’re stuck with them
But, there are ways to earn links from sites that are relevant and authoritative. The simplest way (not really simple, but you know…) is to create good content and then socialize it. If it’s good enough, other people will link to it.
As an example, the article you’re reading right now. I’m writing it with two purposes in mind. First is to be useful to the reader but a very strong second is for the article to be so well written…so well researched…so detailed that other sites will say “Wow, great article. I’m going to link to it”. When you have content like that on your site – content that is so good other sites link to it – then you are earning backlinks and most likely they’ll be very relevant and largely authoritative and credible. Why would OnlineCasinoGambling.com link to this article? No reason for them too. But what about Better Business Bureau? What about Chamber of Commerce sites? What about local business incubators? All good sites, all relevant and all credible. I’d love to get links from them.
Makes sense, right?
How can I get some good backlinks fast?
Slow down tiger.
“Getting backlinks fast” can be a signal to Google that your site is suspect. I mean, how does a site get a lot of relevant, credible and authoritative backlinks fast legitimately?
It can be done. There are a number of places you should consider as very easily obtained and yet highly authoritative and credible (but not necessarily relevant, but that’s OK in this case) websites. What are they? Facebook for one. Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and Flickr to name a few. I’ll give a more comprehensive list below but the idea is to create profiles on sites such as these and fill those profiles out entirely. They also have an entry for “website” – guess what goes there. Yep, your website and this magically becomes a backlink. Easy peasy. So easy, everybody is doing it. If everybody is doing it, normally I’d say don’t do it but in this case, it’s best to do it. If your competitor has a backlink from LinkedIn but you don’t, what do you think Google thinks of that?
Here’s a list of places you can sign up, create a profile and add your website for a quick and easy backlink. But, as always, a caveat is in order.
Use these sites. Don’t just create a profile and let it rot. Log into them on a regular basis (monthly is fine) and add some content. Otherwise Google sees a backlink from a credible site (Twitter) but from a page that isn’t ever used (Twitter.com/yourpage). Create the profiles and then use them.
Here’s a solid list:
- Google Plus
- YouTube (Remember, Google owns YouTube so extra credit for having an excellent profile and videos uploaded with links in those video descriptions back to your website.
That’s a solid list.
If you create a profile on each of them and then use them, your site will gain credibility. How do you use them?
SlideShare is a great place to repurpose content you already have created. Turn an article into a PowerPoint presentation and upload it SlideShare so more people can view it.
Got some Videos? Upload them to YouTube and share them.
Got an itch to do some more blogging? Write on Medium.
Got some images to share? Upload them to Flickr.
You get the idea – be creative and be busy!
Where Can I Get Backlinks Slowly?
Now you’re talking.
Gaining links, or more accurately, backlinks pointing to your site should be considered an ongoing and literally never-ending effort. It’s not a one-time thing but rather something you should always be striving for.
The best way to gain links over time is to consistently create content that is interesting and useful for your website’s visitors and suitable for backlinking by industry professionals and influencers.
There are two basic approaches:
- Publish and pray: This is the where you spend a lot of time writing great content, put it on your website, and then do nothing more – you just hope people will notice it and link to it.
- Don’t do this.
- Publish and pursue: This is where you spend a lot of time writing great content and then more time reaching out to industry experts and influencers to share that content. You socialize your content on all of your social media channels. You post on Facebook about it, you Tweet about it, etc. You research and find the owner of a site that is considered the very top of the heap in your chosen field or niche and you reach out to that person with a warm and personal email to thank that person for the work you do and share your article.
- You do this about 500 times.
- If the article took you a week to write, you spend the next 3 weeks socializing it.
- Then you start on your next article.
…if you followed the above procedures for an entire year, you’d end up with 12 very well written articles and numerous strong backlinks. This is far better than 60 so-so written articles and a couple of weak backlinks.
When I say you write great content, I mean you write it with the intention of it being the very best on the web. If it’s not, why would Google show your page over somebody else’s? This typically means content that is rather lengthy, detailed, well researched and includes links out to other authoritative sites.
- Lengthy: Studies have shown that long articles are more supportive than short articles with regards to your ranking. I’m talking on the order of 1,500 words and up. Shoot for 2,000. The article you’re reading right now is a shade over 2,300 words and when I socialize it, I feel confident that other sites will be happy to link to it. Why? Because it is a well thought out, detailed and exhaustive article.
- Detailed: Leave no stone unturned. Don’t make your reader go to another website to augment what you (should be) explaining.
- Well Researched: Don’t wing it – your readers will know if you are the expert you say you are or not. You have about one chance to lose their respect with some crappily researched information and you’ll never see them again.
- Links: Yes, you should link out to other sites as long as those sites are relevant to your article, credible and authoritative. Linking out is a great approach.
- Also, internal links are great – if you have pages or other resources on your site that supplement what you’re writing about, by all means link out to those pages. Great idea!
What is Anchor Text?
No discussion about Backlinks would be complete without discussing Anchor text. As a quick definition, Anchor Text is the text that is displayed as the link. For example, in the following sentence, I have created a link to my own Resources page. The Anchor Text is the string “SnugData Resource Page” and the URL that the link (and the anchor text) point to is http://snugdata.com/seo-resources.
For more information, please visit the SnugData Resource Page.
The Anchor text is what shows up as the linkable text…in this case, the underlined blue text that your read is the Anchor Text. The link it takes you to is the actual Backlink.
Why is this important?
Google places an emphasis on the anchor text for links that come into your site and, if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Again, going to relevance as an important point regarding Backlinks, a link whose anchor text is relevant to your website is more powerful than one whose anchor text is not relevant.
If you have two backlinks to your Dog Care website and the anchor text of one is “pet shampoo” and the other is “online gambling”, which is more relevant?
Unfortunately, you often have little say over anchor text. Remember you’re not buying or trading backlinks so how can you control how another person creates the link to your page from their website? Mostly, you can’t. But sometimes, you can and when you can, you definitely should. If you create a guest post, for example, its common to link back to your own site in the article you write. This is a perfect case of when you have control over the anchor text of your backlink. Also, if you post questions or answer questions in public forums, you can often add a backlink and in this case, you can usually control the anchor text.
You can’t always control it but when you can, you should.
Backlinks – A Summary
Short and sweet:
- They’re incredibly important to help rank your site h as possible
- You can get a lot of very solid backlinks by creating profiles on a number of popular social media sites
- You should constantly and consistently add quality, lengthy, detailed content to your site and then spend more time promoting that content than you did writing it. With content, quality trumps quantity.
- Control the anchor text when you can
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