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SEO

Google Penalty Removal: All You Need To Know

When you need to look something up online Google is one of the world’s most popular search engines. In a way, it’s sort of like its own club, and like every club, it has a set of rules to follow if you want to be a part of it. If you violate the rules you can definitely expect a penalty.

Google has Webmaster Guidelines in place for index able content. If your website has any actions that go against these guidelines then a penalty is put in place and that will greatly affect where you stand in the search results. Sometimes people have even seen their website fully removed from the search engine results pages.

If you’re running an online business then there’s a good chance that you rely on your page showing up in search engine results. Your business counts on those organic views and any risk to where you rank in search results could affect your sales.

Once you learn Search Engine Optimization you will realize that mistakes happen. Luckily you can undo any damage you may have done. If this has happened to your website then follow this Google penalty removal guide to get your page back in the search results.

What Are Google Penalties?

When you go against Google’s rules you get hit with one of their penalties. There are two types of Google penalties that you could receive: algorithmic penalties or manual actions. Let’s take a look at the two so you know where you may have gone wrong.

Algorithmic Penalties

Google has core algorithm updates that check for things that go against code. Every time that one is released it means that there has been something detected that Google doesn’t like. For some webmasters, this is a good thing, like if their blog content has been stolen. Other webmasters get bad news from these algorithm updates.

These algorithm updates check for things such as low-quality or duplicated content and link-schemes. There is a different name for each algorithm update released because each one is searching for something specific. If you are a keyword stuffer they will catch you!

A good thing about algorithmic penalties is that they keep webmasters on their toes and makes sure they only produce original content. Whether your website is for business or just a hobby, it should be good quality and original. These penalties are making sure everyone reviews their content and marketing plans to make sure they meet Google’s standards.

Manual Actions

Google also has real people on board reviewing websites. If one of their reviewers found that your website wasn’t in line with the guidelines then you may receive a manual action penalty. There are a few things in particular that can get you a manual action penalty:

  • Structured data issues
  • User-generated spam
  • Spam links
  • Low-quality content/ no value
  • Cloaking or sneaky redirects

There’s a lot more that can be added to this list too. Basically, if your website doesn’t follow Google’s guidelines then it is at risk of a penalty.

For manual action penalties, they are mainly seeking websites that are guilty of spamming and deceptive behavior. As a webmaster, you will want to avoid these penalties at all costs. They are much harder to get revoked because they are a more serious penalty. However, it is still possible to do.

How To Tell If You Have A Google Penalty

a businessman stands in front of a blackboard with an illustration of a large drop in metrics illustrated behind him

Since manual actions are done by a person, you will receive a message from Google alerting you of the penalty. Unfortunately, algorithmic penalties aren’t as obvious and you may not know about them until you actually see the damage it has caused. These are a few of the ways you can tell if you have a Google penalty.

Rankings Drop

As a webmaster, it’s highly likely that you often search your keywords in google to see where your site ranks. If you do this and see that your site is dropping in the search engine results page then there is a good chance you may have a penalty.

If you aren’t in the habit of checking your keywords to see where you rank in the search results you should as a way to monitor in case something goes wrong. This way you can take action quickly if you get a penalty.

Traffic Drops

If you notice that your traffic is starting to drop, look specifically at the amount of traffic that organically comes from Google. This can really hurt webpages that sell their products online as they notice sales decline. When your traffic is dropping due to a Google penalty you should take action right away.

Deindexation

When it comes to websites that are heavy on the spam and deceptive behavior, Google will flat out remove it from their search engine. You might notice that only part of your website was removed if this happens.

Google Penalty Removal Guide

If you have a Google penalty, then your SEO team will likely try one of these tricks to remove it.

Disavow Tool

Did you get a link penalty through Google? If you did the easiest way to lift the penalty is by removing any toxic links from your website. You can do this by creating a disavow tool file for all of the links that got you that penalty. Submit the file of backlinks to Google’s Disavow Link Tool to have them removed.

Fix Up Your Page

Google put their rules out for a reason. The best way to get rid of your penalty and prevent your page from getting another one in the future is to clean it up so it meets Google’s Webmaster Guidlines. Take some time to study their guidelines so you know what you can and can’t do to stay high on Google’s rankings.

High-Quality Content Only

Google is strict on its content. They strive to only show their users helpful content, they have no use for junk and spam. Review the quality of your website and take down anything that could be bringing it’s value down.

Reconsideration Request

Make sure you have done the other 3 steps before this one. For a reconsideration request, you will also need to show documents of what you did to improve your website to meet the guidelines along with a brief summary of why your penalty should be revoked. The reconsideration request is found in the Google Search Console.

With these 4 steps, you should likely have your Google penalty revoked but the best approach is to learn how to avoid a Google Penalty in the first place.

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SEO

Implementing SEO Solutions for Small Businesses

How to implement SEO Solutions for Small Businesses

It was easy to dominate Google search rankings locally even just a few years ago.

Pay attention to your on page SEO, dial in your keyword research, and focus on building some NAPs and you were good to go.

But after the Google Venice update local SEO changed completely.

Like with most Google updates and their effects on SEO, almost overnight competition for the top spots went through the roof – making it a whole lot harder for small businesses to dominate the way they had previously.

Thankfully though, armed with just a little bit of inside information like the tips and tricks below, you can skyrocket back to the top of Google again while formulating strategies to avoid a Google penalty.

Implement the five strategies we in this quick guide and you’ll be able to take your SEO to the next level in a hurry.

Of course for best results you’ll always want to consider partnering up with an expert SEO agency who can focus on what they do best while leaving you to navigate what you do best.

Let’s get right into it!

Create Location Specific Landing Pages

80% of ALL local searches on mobile phones end up converting.

Think about that for second.

If you had a magic machine that converted 8 out of every 10 prospects that searched for your products or services, especially in your local area, you would run it on a 24/7 basis every single day of the year.

Well, that’s what location specific landing pages can do for your SEO efforts.

Far too many small business owners are (understandably) going with one-size-fits-all marketing approaches for all their lead generation efforts. This is a huge mistake if you’re trying to maximize local search engine results, as the more targeted you make your landing pages – and the more location specific you make your landing pages – the better your conversion rate becomes.

Not only that, but when you hyper focus your SEO efforts to a specific location you’re able to weed out a lot of extra competition. You’ll have an easier path to the top of Google and you’ll have to spend less time and money defending that top spot, too.

Get Listed in Local Directories

Listings in local directories (like YellowPages.com, Yelp, Super Pages, City Search, Yahoo Local, Facebook, etc.) can give you a huge bump when it comes to local SEO.

For obvious reasons all of these directories are considered to be very influential and very authoritative. When your listed on these directories that Google has a favorable attitude towards your own credibility and authority skyrocket, and so do your search engine results.

It is, however, important that you get citations that accurately reflect your web information on these directories.

It’s not a bad idea to look at the local directories you’ve already listed in every once in a while to make sure that your information is relevant, accurate, and up-to-date. Anything that needs to be changed should be ASAP.

You want to make a big point of linking to those directories while leveraging any of the back links and “link juice” they push your way, too.

Link Build Strategically with Partners and JVs

If you have been in business for any amount of time the odds are good that you have partnerships and relationships in your local industry and business community.

One of the smartest moves you can make (especially as far as local SEO goes) is to reach out to these business owners, partners, and relationships to see if you all can get a link sharing setup going with one another.

It doesn’t take a lot of convincing to get people on board, either.

Every successful business owner understands the power of Google these days and how important it is to be ranked highly for core search engine keywords. You might not necessarily get your closest competitors to share links with you, but even partnering with similar businesses (or just locally targeted businesses) and swapping links on one another’s platform can give you a big bump, too.

If you don’t feel like doing the heavy lifting of getting these agreements in place this is something that can be outsourced pretty easily. You don’t even have to necessarily hire top-tier SEO agencies to do the heavy lifting for you.

People on your sales staff, interns, or even just freelance SEO pros cannot these kinds of agreements out for you pretty quickly and get your links placed where they’ll give you the maximum return.

Create and Optimize Google My Business

Your My Business listing on Google is going to be a huge source of organic traffic – if you’re using it correctly.

Google properties are (no surprise here) always given a bit of priority access in search engine results. You may not be able to grab the top spot just because of your My Business listing with Google, but you’ll definitely be in the top five – and can push your own site closer to the top, too.

Be sure that you are using a keyword rich description that doesn’t feel written for robots. Carefully craft a marketing message that can attract people to your website with SEO tactics littered throughout for the best results.

Make sure that all of your images are geo-tagged (to cash in on local SEO benefits) but also make sure that they have the right title tags and alternative text with SEO keywords sprinkled in, too.

Anytime you create content for the web you need to be sure that you are first creating it with your perfect prospect or customer in mind.

After that, though, you need to back fill in effective SEO tactics like the ones we highlighted above – especially on something like My Business on Google – to push a flood of targeted traffic your way.

Blogging

Lastly, Google still loves fresh and relevant content that isn’t keyword stuffed beyond all recognition.

Content marketing from a search engine optimization standpoint is still a huge piece of the local SEO mastery puzzle.

If you are going to blog, however, you want to make sure that you stick to a regular posting schedule. You can’t take a willy-nilly approach to this. It just won’t work. You’ll actually end up taking your search engine results if you post infrequently.

Semi-daily posts are best (especially if they target different keywords you want to rank highly for), but weekly or even biweekly updates are okay – not only from a content standpoint but from a search engine optimization standpoint, too.

Build up a library of blog posts and you won’t only be able to grant the top spots for the local keywords you are after. You’ll also be able to dominate and defend those positions from competitors not willing to do the work you have to get the spots in the first place.

So the next time you wonder why isn’t my website performing effectively in the search results, consider adapting the suggestions we’ve outlined above.

Best of luck going forward!

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SEO

A Google Algorithm Update Just Hit My Website – Now What?

Google shakeups are pretty commonplace.

The search giant is interested in one thing and one thing only – providing the most relevant results possible, as quickly as possible, to every search query made on the site – and Google makes frequent adjustments to their internal algorithms to do exactly that.

Some of these adjustments are relatively minor and fly under the radar, but others (like Penguin and Panda, for example) have the potential to turn search result rankings on their head.

If your site has been hit by a Google algorithm update and you’re wondering what to do next you want to check out the rest of this quick guide.

Assess the Impact

Right out of the gate, you’ll want to fully assess the impact that the algorithm has had on your site from top to bottom.

This means digging into your internal analytics to see which pages have been hit the most, comparing them with search results you had before the algorithm landed, and trying to really understand which areas of your site need to be triaged first.

The odds are always pretty good that you are going to have certain pages that aren’t doing as well as they used to with other pages maintain their position or even improving, especially if your search engine optimization efforts have been strategically deployed.

It’s important to get to the bottom of things before moving forward, though.

Diagnose Your Rough Edges

The next big piece of the puzzle is to look at each of the pages on your site that were hit hardest to figure out why they were specifically laid out by the algorithmic update.

This is going to require a bit of heavy lifting on your end. You’ll need to have a look at your keywords used, keyword density, whether or not your on page SEO is as well optimized as you had thought it was, whether you’re meta-tags and alternative tags are dialed in, etc.

You really need to quickly identify the patterns that each of these pages share to understand why you’ve been hit hard by the algorithmic changes.

Analyze Your Competitors

You aren’t going to be the only person hit hard by changes to the Google algorithm.

These algorithmic updates hit everyone across the board and you’ll want to have a look at how your competitors are faring against the new changes.

Some of them may be doing very well, and you’ll want to dig deeper into what they are doing on page (as well as off page) to get a better feel for what you can do better moving forward. Some of them may be doing very poorly, though, and it’s a great opportunity for you to leapfrog ahead and grab some higher rankings before they are able to scramble and fix their mistakes.

Run a Backlink Audit

Any time (and we mean ANY time) Google releases a new algorithm update you’re going to want to conduct a quick backlink audit to make sure that the links you’ve created are still working for you, that they are still out there, and that you are still getting “link juice” from them.

Backlinks remain a huge piece of the puzzle when it comes to success in the world of search engine optimization.

No matter what else changes, backlink generation is critically important and you want to make sure that your links remain on high authority pages, credible pages, and sites that are going to give you a bump even in the wake of these changes to the algorithm.

There are a lot of platforms out there that can help you automate a backlink audit in a hurry and you want to leverage them on a regular basis.

Call in the Experts

Lastly, if your site was particularly hit hard by an algorithm update you’re going to want to consider calling in the experts – legitimate SEO freelancers, consultants, or even a full-blown SEO agency – to get you back on track.

The world of search engine optimization is constantly and ever-changing.

What works today to rank a website highly may not work at all tomorrow, or worse – because of algorithmic updates – it may cause your rank to tank.

Unless you are knee-deep in the world of search engine optimization on a day-to-day, minute to minute basis like these professionals are you might always feel a step or two behind your competitors.

By leveraging the help of real experts you’re able to immediately boost your results while freeing up your time and energy to focus on other areas of your business that you have expertise in.

Don’t be shy about calling in the pros when necessary.

References

Categories
SEO

Why Isn’t My Website Showing Up On Google?

Ranking high in Google is a huge piece of the success puzzle these days.

Finding a way to dominate for relevant keywords so that your site shows up more often than your competitors – and higher up in the rankings, too — will help push a flood of targeted traffic to your site, generating the kind of prospects and customers you need to succeed in today’s hyper-competitive business landscape.

At the same time, it can feel like mastering Google in getting your site to show up higher in those search engine rankings is a bit like a dark art. Nobody outside of Google really understands what makes one site jump in the ranks and another crater, though we have a good idea of how to tilt the odds in your favor.

If you have noticed that your site isn’t showing up in the rankings yet the odds are pretty good that the details below are causing the hangup.

Let’s dive right in!

Your Website Might Be Too New

Right out of the gate, the number one reason that your website isn’t showing up in Google right now may simply be because it is still to brand-new.

As fast and as comprehensive as Google indexing spiders and algorithms are they still haven’t yet been able to add new websites to their index instantaneously. It’s going to take a little bit of time (though it shouldn’t take very long) for your site to begin showing up in Google, so if you are running a brand-new platform not a bad idea to wait a couple days to see if Google needs a bit more time to find you.

A great trek to tell if Google has indexed your site yet is to punch the following string into the search giant:

Site:yoursite.com

Replacing “yoursite.com” with your actual web address. If anything shows up you can be sure that Google knows you exist, but if nothing shows up it may take a little longer until Google gets around to indexing you themselves.

You Could Be Blocking Your Site from Google Indexing

Of course, one of the reasons that Google hasn’t indexed your site just yet may come down to the fact that you are (often inadvertently) blocking them from indexing you in the first place.

There is a specific HTML code that can cause your site to be ignored by Google search engine spiders and the indexing process, and that’s the “no index” meta tag – a tag that looks like this:

<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex”/>

If that code is found on any of your webpages they won’t be indexed, regardless of whether or not you have created a site map, have submitted your site for indexing, or are using the Google Search Console tools. You need to be sure that your website is free of this code to be indexed properly.

Your SEO Efforts Aren’t Working (Yet)

Of course, another reason that your site isn’t showing up in Google could be because your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts aren’t working the way you expected them to – at least not yet, anyway.

Different search engine optimization strategies can take different amounts of time to work and some of them are far more effective (or ineffective, as the case may be) than others. This is why it’s so important to work with search engine optimization experts to handle the heavy lifting for you – especially in the early stages of your SEO efforts – if you want to see results quickly.

Organic search engine optimization can take a long time to come to fruition, but handling it all on your own (without experience or the know-how that veterans of the SEO world have under their belts already) can cause it to take even longer.

You Haven’t Set Up Google Analytics and Google Search Console

If you’re not familiar with these free tools, here’s a quick breakdown.

Google Analytics measures statistics about your website like sessions, bounce rate time spent on site, what pages they looked at, where they’re from, etc.

Google Search Console (also known as Google Webmaster Tools): It allows you to monitor different aspects of your website like when it was last crawled, any indexing errors, security issues, etc.

Google Search Console also allows you to manually submit sitemaps for crawling. By utilizing these two tools, Google will likely index your website immediately. Remember, the faster that Google Indexes your website, the sooner that you can start improving your SEO and Rankings.

You Haven’t Set Up PPC Campaigns (Yet)

Pay Per Click (PPC) search campaigns can push a flood of targeted traffic to your website faster than maybe anything else. When done correctly they can also help you to get indexed and to grow your organic search engine results, too.

Of course, because you are going to have to pony up some cash and capital to run these kinds of search engine ads a lot of people are hesitant to jump right in. They don’t want to waste any of their hard-earned money on PPC that may not work, and there are plenty of horror stories out there about people handling their own PPC campaigns and wasting hundreds if not thousands of dollars just because they weren’t sure of the ins and outs of this platform.

The easiest way to avoid that kind of waste and that kind of setback is to instead invest in the expertise of PPC professionals that know how to squeeze every drop of leverage out of this traffic source for you. The right PPC experts will be able to stretch your budget as far as possible while getting you real results in a hurry!

Additional Reasons you might not be visible

You Are in a Very Competitive SEO Space

If there’s a lot of competition for the keywords you are trying to rank for – especially if you’re shooting for global keywords as opposed to hyper targeted, longtail, local keywords – the chances are your site isn’t going to pop right to the top of the ranks anytime soon.

In the old days of Google (15 years ago or so) anybody could basically throw a webpage up, add a couple of links to it from another site that they owned, and absolutely dominate search engine optimization.

Today nothing could be further from the truth.

Huge websites backed by even bigger companies with almost bottomless budgets aren’t afraid to pump mounds of money into search engine optimization these days. Especially for highly lucrative keywords that are getting millions of searches every day.

This is why keyword research is such a big piece of the puzzle.

You want to be sure that your first going lucrative keywords. But you also need to make sure that you stand a good chance of ranking highly for the keywords you are going after, too.

There’s not a lot of value in being on page 3 of a super lucrative keyword when you don’t have the budget, time, or the energy to get any higher than that.

Your Website was removed from Google

This is a reason your site isn’t showing up that rarely gets talked about.

Believe it or not, though, Google is pretty aggressive when it comes to “pruning” sites from their search engine results.

They may ban you temporarily (or permanently) for any different number of reasons, with or without warning, and sometimes do so out of the clear blue sky.

Changes to the algorithm can reshuffle search engine results completely (just look up the devastation caused by the Panda and Penguin updates to the Google search engine results). You might run afoul of Google’s “code of conduct”, may promote content they don’t want to promote themselves, or they may simply accidentally kick you out of the Google sandbox when they meant to punish someone else.

This is something that you have to investigate yourself. You’ll usually receive a notification in your Google Webmaster Tools about the reason that you were shuffled off of the Google stage (though it might take a couple days after you’ve been kicked out).

Usually these notifications will tell you that you’ve been de-indexed (essentially banned from Google), penalized (not down a page or two in the listings for a variety of reasons), or “sandboxed” – basically shadow banned where you just aren’t getting the kind of traffic you used to at the same search engine position.

In the event of being removed from Google you’ll have to reach out to them directly to see how you can get back into compliance. You may or may not get the green light from this technology giant, though.

If you do, make sure that you bring your site back into compliance ASAP.

If you don’t, it’s time to get to work building a new website that is fully compliant just as soon as you’re able to.

Best of luck going forward!

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SEO

How to Avoid a Google Penalty

There’s no worse feeling in the world of search engine optimization than getting shuffled into the back of the “Google sandbox”.

Because search engine rankings are maybe the most highly competitive thing on the internet today – with literally millions of sites all fighting over the top spot – it takes a lot of work, a lot of time, a lot of energy and a lot of resources to create consistent success.

For that to all fall apart because you’ve been hit with a Google penalty is bone crushing.

Worse still, every now and again Google makes adjustments to their search engine algorithm that determines rankings without any warning whatsoever. And all of a sudden things that were perfectly acceptable before are now absolutely forbidden – and your site is shuffled to the back of the sandbox anyway.

Thankfully though, as long as you follow a couple of best practices recommended by top-tier SEO experts you won’t have anything to worry about.

With the help of the inside information we highlight below you’ll know exactly how to avoid a Google penalty from here on out, basically future-proofing your site and protecting your rankings moving forward.

Shall we get started?

Two Kinds of Google Penalties to Know About

Really quick, there are two specific types of Google penalties you want to know how to avoid.

Manual penalties happen when someone at Google specifically takes a hard look at your site and your SEO efforts and determines that you’ve done something that violated their terms and agreement requirements. Penalties like this will almost always be accompanied by a Google Webmaster Tools notification directly from Google about the penalty itself.

Algorithmic penalties, on the other hand, are 100% automatic and these automated penalties arise as a result of the super-secret Google search engine algorithm.

No one outside of Google really knows what goes into this algorithm to determine how your site ranks versus all others for specific keywords (outside of informed guesswork) – but if your site runs afoul of these algorithms you’re going to get pushed to the back of the line. That much is certain.

Those are the kinds of penalties we are talking about in this guide.

Now let us dig into the meat of how to avoid a Google penalty from occurring in the first place.

Following the Rules

Google won’t share information about their search engine algorithm for fear that people will try and manipulate the system, but they are pretty upfront and explicit in the guidelines that they want you to follow when it comes to ranking highly with them.

You can find the Webmaster Guidelines from Google with a quick search. These are the general rules you’ll want to follow when undertaking a search engine optimization campaign. Follow them to the letter and the odds are pretty good that your site’s rank will increase pretty quickly.

Bend or break these rules and you might find the Google algorithm less than understanding.

Audit Your Content Regularly

In the Wild West days of search engine optimization you used to be able to stuff keywords into your content pretty much anywhere and everywhere you wanted to – even if it didn’t make sense when human beings read it – and still rank highly on Google.

Today, however, that kind of keyword stuffing is going to absolutely devastate your rankings faster than you ever would have thought possible.

Google has dramatically overhauled their algorithm to look for keywords, but also to look at other components of your site and its content, to determine whether or not it is relevant for a specific search.

Try outdated forms of search engine optimization like keyword stuffing and you’ll have an almost impossible time ranking well.

Clean Up Your Links

Aside from keyword stuffing, another old tactic that used to work really well to get a site rank highly was to generate as many back links as humanly possible to your site onto site pages – regardless of whether or not those links were relevant, organic, or informative in any way whatsoever.

Today, though, Google maintains a “link profile” for every single site that it indexes on its search engine.

The algorithm then runs through all of the links that are pointing to your site (as well as the links that are pointing outwards), looks at the anchor text used to direct those links, and then determines just how trustworthy, reputable, and how authoritative your content really is.

If you still have a lot of links generated by automated tools, spam robots, link wheels, and other similar gray & black hat SEO approaches now is the time to clean them up and scrub them completely.

Few things crater a site’s ranking the way that the cluttered and confusing link profile at Google will.

Stay Up to Date on Google Algorithm Changes

The last big piece of the puzzle we want to highlight here, in figuring out how to avoid a Google penalty, is staying up-to-date on the major changes Google has made to their search engine algorithm.

The last two major shakeups to the algorithm were given codenames – Penguin and Panda – and they changed the way that Google rankings worked almost entirely. Most changes to the algorithm are a lot smaller and subtle, but they happen with an almost breakneck frequency.

You need to make sure that you are keeping on top of these changes if you’re going to change and adapt your search engine optimization efforts to protect your site from Google penalties.

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SEO

SEO 101

SEO means “Search Engine Optimization”. In other words, SEO is the practice of increasing traffic to your website. Increasing your website’s traffic can lead to better exposure of your brand, more and better conversions or sales and long term results.

Despite what people commonly believe, SEO is not just meant for the Search Engines but SEO techies need to take consideration the human element and its practitioners should optimize for both search engines and humans.

The fundamentals of SEO

How does SEO work?

SEO is the process of optimizing three different kinds of elements of your website, in order to make it more attractive to search engines. Every SEO campaign is focused on these 3 elements:

  1. OnPage SEO
  2. OffPage SEO
  3. Technical SEO

In order to be successful in SEO, you need to fully understand each of these parts and recognize how to integrate it into your overall SEO campaign.

OnPage SEO

On-page SEO is the practice of optimizing specific web pages in order to make them more attractive to search engines and therefore, rank higher and earn more relevant traffic. On-page refers to both the content and HTML source code of a page that can be optimized.

In order to be able to achieve a proper OnPage Optimization level, SEO experts use correlational analysis tools such as:

  • CORA
  • SurferSEO
  • POP

OffPage SEO

OffPage SEO refers to the actions that are performed outside of your website in order to increase the likeness to rank for your target terms (keywords). OffPage is often considered to be the “Link building” side of SEO however, backlinks is not the only factor that affects your OffPage SEO. Other aspects of OffPage include:

  • Backlinks / Link Building
  • Citations
  • Mentions
  • Social Signals

There are multiple tools that you can use to analyze and plan your OffPage SEO. Some of the most used tools that SEO professionals prefer are:

  • Ahrefs
  • SEMrush
  • SEO power suite Link Assistant

Technical SEO

Technical SEO is the process of optimizing your websites’ code, server and media so as to improve the loading speed, crawlability and indexation of your pages. The result of SEO is to allow Search Engine crawlers to access, crawl and index your website in a more efficient way.

Technical SEO is extremely important to all kinds of websites. However, technical SEO is critical to large scale websites such as portals, directories, eCommerce or publications and news outlets. 

Some of the tools that Yoshiro Digital’s SEOs use are:

  • DeepCrawl
  • ScreamingFrog
  • SiteBulb
  • SEO Powersuite Website Auditor

Is SEO hard to learn?

SEO is not a difficult skill to acquire, but it requires deep learning skills. It requires a lot of practice and experience in different niches and web properties to make sure that you understand how to put together a solid SEO strategy that will provide sufficient results and a positive ROI.

Fortunately, there are a lot of free resources that you can utilize to learn SEO such as forums, blogs, Google Webmaster Central etc but nothing beats the experience that you get from testing SEO techniques on your websites.

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E-Commerce Pay Per Click SEO

PPC vs SEO: Which one is the best for you

Wondering which option is the right one for your investment? 

When it comes to growing your website’s traffic, you should look no further than utilizing the great results that SEO and PPC can bring.  In case you’re a business owner with an online presence, you must definitely know that traffic is the alpha and omega of your existence. 

But how well are you making use of the entire marketing cycle?

Marketing cycle 101

Building a successful and attractive website with the correct buttons, Calls-to-action (CTA’s), funnels and a lot more crucial user-experience aspects, will always be step number 1. Having done this, you’re now ready to swim into the large pond of marketing. In the marketing world, we, the marketers strive to keep users in the marketing cycle or loop. 

After years of carefully examining and researching the wonders of the average user’s mind and how they act, marketing has translated their efforts into three crucial stages: the awareness stage, the consideration stage and the conversion stage. In order to help push the user into the “oh-so-sweet” conversion stage, we need to ensure that we bombard them with your business brand and offerings at the right place and at the right time. 

Regardless of the type of business you own, you should always consider how users navigate online so as to stay in front of them. Hence, dig deep into the psychology and buying behaviour and ensure that you’re always at their disposal. Then, introduce the marketing cycle; a cycle that helps business owners during all 3 stages of a customer’s buying journey.

The cycle

The average user turns to the online world to find information, service offerings and then purchase the desirable services/products of their choice. Thus, one would search the internet’s search engines, navigate and stumble upon what they’re looking for on their social media platforms, or be influenced by the different ads one is being targeted with. This opens up the 3 biggest aspects of the internet that all business owners must be present:

  1. On the organic search results of Google 
  2. On Social Media platforms where their audience hangs out
  3. And of course on the paid search results of Google

In other words, you need to make sure that your audience is being targeted anywhere they hang out. If they search for your brand on Google, you should be sitting there in top position. If they’re interested in the product offerings you provide, you should be there to remind them that you can satisfy their needs. Therefore, what better way to always be there for your audience than with Social Media, Google Organic and Paid Results?

SEO or PPC – Which one is it?

Now, the big debate is what is it going to be? SEO or PPC? Google Organic Or Google Paid?

We all know exactly how difficult it is to allocate your investment budget into something that cannot guarantee positive results. 

Let’s start with getting to know the positives and negatives of each marketing approach so we can figure out an answer to this question.

SEO – Search Engine Optimization

What exactly is SEO? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. In simple words, SEO is the marketing service that allows marketers to optimize websites and their inner pages to conform by the different search engine’s ranking factors in order to rank as high as possible in the organic search results. 

Let’s dive into the pros and cons of choosing to go with SEO:

PROS 

  • Loyal audience (Sticky Traffic)

SEO is achieved through a number of best practices. A proper SEO strategy involves targeting the relevant and achievable keywords that your business should aim for. In the case where the correct keyword mapping is not in place, you risk the chance of attracting the wrong audience, hence, increased bounce rates and potentially not being able to rank for the keywords you may think you’re destined for. 

As soon as you’re able to identify the appropriate keywords to optimize your website for and focus all your SEO efforts on, then you’ll be able to attract the right audience. With that comes the ability of capturing the users that will bring you closer to your goals and allow them to stick to your website by offering them what they came to you for. Hence being loyal to you and forming a ‘sticky’ relationship that they keep coming back for.

  • Free traffic

Another great aspect of SEO is that the traffic you generate does not cost you a single penny. Well, compared to PPC that is. Investment in SEO is minimal since you only pay for content creation, link outreach expenses, guest posting and the several tools you may use for tracking and website health. On the other hand, PPC is considerably more expensive since you need to constantly bid on your keywords that may be ‘attacked’ by competitors that push your target keywords high to make them even more expensive.

  • Helps you become an authority

One of the most important aspects of SEO is having unique and valuable content on your website. Search engines crawl your website to understand what you offer while looking for it to be fresh, engaging and worth linking to from other websites. Hence, while satisfying the different search engines with the appropriate content, you’re then able to satisfy your website visitors. Going back to point one in this list, visitors will then become sticky and make you an authority in your business niche. That will also be reflected in your site’s metrics – a higher Domain Authority (DA).

CONS

  • SEO’s results are gradual

With SEO, you need to bear in mind that results will not be achieved overnight. SEO brings in long-term results and not short-term. Hence, you cannot rely on SEO if you want immediate results. Due to the fact that SEO depends on the search engines to pick up the changes and adjust rankings, this process may take many months to show benefits. In the meantime, search engines perform updates every now and then by which you need to conform by so as to not lose your rankings and visibility. 

  • SEO’s overpowered by the search engines

The search engines are actually responsible for your rankings. You use SEO to influence the engines to rank you over others yet you have no power over the different updates and algorithm changes that may occur. Thus, whatever we do is to chase the search engines and abide by their rules and not the other way around. In other words, you are relying solely on a single entity for your business success. 

  • No guaranteed results

No SEO’s out there can guarantee you will be ranking at 1st position at any given time. As we mention in our second point, no one can be responsible for your rankings asides from the search engines themselves. All you can do is perform all the right actions to influence rankings and wait for the search engines to catch up.

PPC – Pay Per Click

PPC or Pay Per Click refers to the ability to advertise your business and business offerings in an exchange of a fee each time a user clicks on your ads. The biggest difference between PPC and SEO is that the former is responsible for the paid results while the later for the organic results. In other words, one is ads and the other is unpaid search results. 

The below PPC pros and cons can influence your decision on which service best fits your business and will better assist in meeting your business goals:

PROS

  • Quick and easy results

Unlike SEO, PPC can definitely bring immediate results since it is a practice responsible for short term results. You only need a Google Adwords account and identification and targeting of the best keywords that will bring you the right website visitors and roll out engaging ad copies that will lead users to a landing page that will hopefully be enough to make them convert. 

  • Real time Trackable actions

Whether that is a lead, a purchase or a website action, Google Adwords allows website owners and marketers to track results to evaluate the performance of their ads. Based on how users react and engage with your ads, these behavioural data metrics can change your entire strategy and refine your processes. This can provide insight in order to apply changes to your website/landing page to make them more in-line to what your users are looking for.  All these are available on Google Adwords or any other search engine’s ad platform. 

  • Control is in the hands of the advertiser

With PPC, you can take over what’s visible on search engines when any user searches for your brand, services or even competitors. Unlike SEO, your ads can be location based (show different ads for each location/region/country), target specific audiences with specific needs, and exclude any audiences you may wish not to target and waste budget on. Thus, the PPC investment you have available can be as targeted as possible to increase your Return on Investment (ROI) and avoid wasting it on ‘budget-eaters’. 

CONS

  • PPC can be expensive

Even though SEO may require some investment towards link building and content creation, PPC can really eat into your investment since you need to pay for every ad click you receive. The trickiest part of PPC is the setup phase in which an advertiser has to allow budget to be wasted for the purpose of receiving enough data on what works and what doesn’t. This allows for solutions regarding the best approach of bidding and targeting specific keywords that convert over other keywords that bring no conversions.

  • PPC can only yield short-term results

As long as you have got ads running and budget to spent, you do not have to worry about your short term results. But in case you would like your ads to take effect over the long term then PPC is not ideal. That is since once you turn your ads off; you will be nowhere to be found. In simpler words, ads will not be there for the future just because you were first for a long period of time. No long-term budget = no long term results.

  • PPC cannot guarantee sales

Many times, advertisers claim to make easy money and instant sales to business owners through the use of PPC ads. That is not accurate. Here’s why; for your ads to be successful sales-wise, you need to take into consideration a number of factors, and no…. budget is not the only way to succeed. Other factors that can affect your ad performance and sales are your keyword and audience targeting, your landing page quality and much more. If you are not able to identify the effect of these factors, you will not be able to perform your best through your ads and you’ll likely end up losing investment rather than increasing your ROI.

Which is best for you?

Having said all the pros and cons of both services, we can safely say that it all comes down to your business goals and how urgently you would like to achieve them.  To further assist, ask yourself; do I want immediate short term results or should I be patient and invest in long term results? If you’re able to answer these questions then you definitely know which way to go. 

In case you do not have an answer for this question, we can help identify the right path for you and your business. Simply contact us and we will be more than happy to assist.

Categories
SEO

3 Questions to ask before hiring an SEO Agency

Hiring an SEO agency is an important step in your marketing strategy. People that come to the point of implementing Search Engine Optimization for their business are likely well-educated on the effectiveness of this marketing technique and the tremendous ROI that it can yield.

However, you have to be extra careful about choosing the company that you are going to hire for your SEO. The reason is because SEO is so complicated that if you don’t understand the industry, your local “SEO expert” might just take you for a ride without producing any meaningful results for your business. Although paying someone for 6-12 months without producing any results to your business may sound bad, that’s not the worst thing that can happen. The worst thing is that an uneducated SEO without proper experience may cause permanent damage to your website. If the SEO agency uses Black Hat (unethical) techniques that go against Google’s guidelines then you are in big trouble.

Make sure that the SEO agency that you are going to work with knows their thing.

Since SEO agencies will need time to produce the initial results (usually 6-12 months), it will be hard for you to understand what’s really going on behind the scenes. When it comes to SEO, the best approach will always be for you to educate yourself in SEO so you can do the correct screening before hiring an SEO company.

In order for you to do the right screening, we prepared some questions that you can use in order to find out if your prospective SEO agency really knows what they are doing.

3 Questions to ask before hiring an SEO Agency

Question 1: “What is your process for creating the strategy for an SEO campaign”

Why you should ask this question: You need to understand if the SEO Agency can set a clear and structured path that can be followed in order to help you achieve your goals. In other words, you should be looking to hear about deliverables per month, time frames etc.

What you should look for in an answer:

  • Are they proposing a deliverable, oriented approach? For example, Optimizing x number of pages per month and building X number of backlinks per month?
  • Do they provide an accurate time frame? For example, are they suggesting that they are going to spend 2-3 weeks auditing the website, then 4-8 weeks dealing with Technical SEO etc?

How to decide?

If the Agency’s answer is both specific and deliverable-based, then this is a yes. Although SEO cannot be guaranteed, an agency that works with a specific strategy plan in mind is more likely to provide better results than an agency that doesn’t follow a structured plan.

Question 2: “Explain how communication will work between our teams.”

Why you should ask this question: Frequent and honest communication is an essential element for an SEO campaign.

What you should look for in an answer:

  • Are you going to use a specific platform for communication?
  • How often will you have catch up calls or meetings?
  • What’s the ad hoc meeting availability?

How to decide?

In order to increase the chances of succeeding in SEO, the agency needs to be transparent with their tasks and their planning. If the communication plan makes sense to you and the Agency allows at least monthly meetings/calls then everything should be fine.

Question 3: “What’s your approach to SEO”

Why you should ask this question: You need to ask this question in order to help you understand the agency’s philosophy, and determine if there is strategic alignment with your business.

What you should look for in an answer:

  • Do they spend enough time auditing your site?
  • Do they spend enough time analyzing your industry?
  • Do they care about your users/visitors?
  • Is it a data-driven SEO agency?
  • Do they set specific goals?

How to decide?

You definitely can trust a company that spends enough time analyzing your data, your site and your industry. Furthermore, make sure that you choose an agency with a white-hat approach since black hat and grey hat techniques often lead to poor performance in the Search Engine Result Pages.

Conclusion

Choosing an SEO agency is a tough decision. However, by educating yourself in the industry of SEO it will allow you to make an educated choice that reduces the chance of being burned. 

Yoshiro Digital is a leading SEO Agency in Cyprus. Get in touch with us for a FREE SEO consultation session that can help you understand how SEO can help you achieve your business goals!

 

Categories
SEO

Understanding SEO Terms

SEO terms that you need to know

SEO means “Search Engine Optimization” and it is the process of acquiring organic (Free) traffic from the search results of search engines such as Google. But why you should care about it?

Organic Search Traffic is often the primary traffic source of a website and it is considered as high-quality traffic.

What does this mean for your business?

Search Engine Optimization, if done correctly will assist in acquiring high-quality traffic that is likely to convert to leads or sales. Are you interested in growing your business? Click here to find out more about our SEO Cyprus services.

SEO

How Does SEO Increase traffic to your website?

Even though Google works based on “secret” and often patented algorithms to deliver the most relevant results to its users, it does take into consideration certain factors to evaluate and rank the websites in their Search Engine Result Pages.

There are more than 200 reported factors that influence the ranking-ability of a website. Working with an experienced SEO agency will help you reverse engineer your competitors (That are already ranking high in Google) and outrank them.

Website Traffic

SEO terms that you need to know

Now that you know what SEO is and how it works, the next step is to learn the SEO terminology that is often used by SEO’s in order to create actionable SEO plans and help your website rank. If you decide to work on your website’s SEO by yourself, this terminology guide will come in really handy. However, it is crucial to get your head around the basic terminology even if you decide to work with an SEO agency.

On page SEO optimization (also known as on-page SEO) refers to the actions that are applied on YOUR website in order to improve the position of the website in the Search Engine Result Pages.

Examples:

  • Optimizing the Content of the website
  • Internally Linking relevant pages
  • Using LSI keywords to build relevance for a topic
  • Optimizing the speed of the website to load quicker
  • Adjusting the Meta tags of a page

OnPage SEO

OffPage SEO

OffPage SEO optimization refers to the actions taken on OTHER websites in order to generate external ranking signals for YOUR website. In other words, you gain mentions (Backlinks) from other websites.

Examples:

  • Guest Posting – Writing an article for another website that relates to your audience and making sure to include a hyperlink (Backlink) to your own website.
  • Creating an evergreen piece of content on your website so others can link to it from their resources page or informational articles
  • Linking to your website from other websites that you may own or operate (You have to be careful when doing this cause it may be considered as a link scheme and result in negative results)

Keywords

Keywords are phrases that are related to your industry and you would like to rank for. For example, if you run a fashion e-commerce store, “Leather Jackets” could be one of your target keywords. This is the keyword that you want to rank for because you sell leather jackets.

Backlinks

A backlink is simply a hyperlink from another website that points to your website. Backlinks are one of the most important factors in SEO. Acquiring high-quality relevant backlinks is often the key to succeeding in SEO.

DoFollow backlinks

A DoFollow backlink is an HTML link that doesn’t contain the rel=”nofollow” attribute. Do-follow links are the most valuable ones from an SEO perspective because they pass link juice to the target website.

NoFollow backlinks

NoFollow is an optional rel attribute that can be placed in hyperlinks. The NoFollow attribute instructs the website to not follow the specific hyperlink. Therefore, link juice or ranking value cannot be passed on to the target page.

NoFollow Backlinks should be placed on

  • Affiliate links
  • Sponsored posts
  • When linking to websites that you don’t trust

Anchor text

Every backlink consists of two main components. The first one is the web address (URL) that the hyperlink is pointing to (the destination will be your website). The second component of a backlink is the anchor text. The anchor text is the text that works as the link. For example, THIS is a hyperlink.

Anchor texts are important for SEO. In order to decide what anchors to use when linking to your website, you should analyze what the top results are using and then improve this matrix.

301 & 302 redirects

A redirection happens when you click on an URL for a specific page and immediately after clicking you are redirected to a new page with a different URL. Using redirects is common when you are doing OnPage SEO optimizations.

Redirects are used when:

  • You are changing the URL structure of the whole website
  • You are changing the URL of a specific web page
  • When you are merging two (or more) websites
  • When a website is penalized and you need to create a double 301 redirect in order to try to lift the penalty (at least temporary)

The difference of 301 redirects and 302 redirects:

301 redirects are permanent. You are indicating to Search Engines that the specific page changed address permanently. Search Engines will then pass any value, authority and rankings to the new address.  YOU HAVE TO BE EXTREMELY CAUTIOUS WHEN PERFORMING 301 redirects. Make sure to consult SEO specialists if you are not 100% sure of what you are doing.

302 redirects are temporary. Temporary 302 redirects are often used in order to test the redirections before changing them to 301 (permanent)

From a user’s perspective, the end result is the same. The only difference is the guidelines provided to the Search Engines.

Alt tag

Alt tags are HTML tags that are being used to describe an image. The alt tag text is the text that is being used when an image fails to load. SEOs can strategically optimize alt texts to increase the keyword and LSI keyword frequency in a piece of content.

This is how a standard alt tag looks like in plain HTML.

<img src=”/example.jpg” alt=”this is a picture of an example” />

You really don’t have to worry about the CMS because all modern CMS provides you with the ability to add alt tags from a user interface that you don’t have to mess with the coding.

Meta description

A Meta Description is a description of the specific page that is used from Search Engines in order to display it on the Search Result pages. The meta description is not ever displayed on the website.

Whenever someone searches for a specific keyword, Google decides what results to display. Google then uses the page title and the meta description in order to make up the snippets for the websites that feature in the results.

Important things to know about Meta Descriptions:

  • Google does not always respect the meta descriptions. Google can decide not to use them
  • Google can completely ignore the meta description or it can use only some parts of it and combine it with content from the page
  • In the case that meta description is empty, Google will try to guess what is the best part of the text to be used as a meta description
  • Google will try to bold your keyword or Lantex Semantic Keywords that are in the meta description.

Canonical tag

Canonical tags are HTML elements that let you indicate duplicate content (OnPage & OffPage). This tag is placed on the header of the website.

Example of OnPage Canonical implementation:

On the page https://www.example.com/duplicate-page you need to implement this code:

<link rel=”canonical” href=”https://www.example.com/original-page” />

This will tell search Engines not to pass any value from https://www.example.com/duplicate-page to https://www.example.com/original-page

Example of OffPage Canonical implementation:

On the page https://www.example2.com/duplicate-page you need to implement this code:

<link rel=”canonical” href=”https://www.example.com/original-page” />

This will tell search Engines not to pass any value from https://www.example2.com/duplicate-page to https://www.example.com/original-page

The main concept is that when a search engine such as Google comes across this tag it will not rank that page, but transfer all the value to the canonical page.

Black hat SEO

Black hat SEO is the dark side of Search Engine Optimization. Some SEO’s work in a way that tries to manipulate the ranking factors by generating fake ranking signals for Google. Black Hat SEO can cause serious implications to your website so we suggest that you don’t implement anything that is considered black hat.

Furthermore, your competitors may be working in a black hat way to cause harm to your rankings.

If you decide to implement black hat SEO techniques, you have to consult experienced SEO’s that have knowledge in implementing Black Hat techniques. Furthermore, SEO’s can help you get over any negative SEO attack that your competitors are performing against you.

Examples of Black Hat SEO

  • Hidden Content
  • Cloaking
  • PBNs
  • Auto-generated backlinks
  • Doorway pages / Backdoor pages
  • Hidden content

Black Hat SEO

Domain name

A domain name is your address on the web. For example, this is a domain name:

www.thisisadomainname.com 

Domain names cost approximately $10 per year and you can buy them from GoDaddy, Namecheap, etc.

Hosting

Hosting is the storage that your website is stored on. In order to have an operational website you need to have:

  1. Domain Name
  2. Web Hosting

Hosting prices vary. You can find a hosting provider with just $1 per month. We suggest that you invest a bit more and use a VPS server as your hosting provider. Digital Ocean is a great provider for VPS.

Duplicate content

Two pages that have same or very similar content can be considered as duplicates. Duplicate content cannot cause a penalty from the Search Engines, however, it can cause keyword cannibalization issues.

Examples of duplication issues:

  • Copying and pasting content across multiple web pages
  • Using your content on other websites
  • WordPress issues (Tags and Categories of WordPress tend to cause duplicate content issues)

How to fix duplicate content:

  • Canonical tags
  • 301 redirects
  • NoIndex tags
  • Editing the content

Keyword density

Keyword density is the percentage of how often your keywords (Target phrases) appear in your content. To calculate the keyword density you should divide the number of times that your keywords appear in your content by the total number of words and then multiply by 100.

Keyword Density has an important part in SEO. Our studies showed that as much as you mention one keyword, you increase the likeness of ranking. However, it’s easy to overdo it and result in keyword stuffing which is not desired.

Keyword stuffing

If you repeat a specific phrase or keyword too often you risk in resulting to keyword stuffing. Usually, writing naturally will not result in keyword stuffing. Keyword stuffing is likely to be observed in people that are new into SEO and they write content that is not natural anymore.

How to deal with keyword stuffing:

  • Write natural content
  • If you want to increase your keywords in the content, make sure to increase the overall word count as well
  • Use a tool such as UltimateKeywordHunter or TextTools to get LSI keywords that can be used instead of the main keywords.

Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI)

The meaning of LSI is really tough to understand so we will try to offer a simplistic explanation about LSI. LSI is considered to be a major ranking factor for search Engines. Search Engines analyze the content of a page and look for supporting keywords (LSI). LSI keywords are highly related to your main keyword. They are keywords that are naturally occurring.

For example, if your main keyword is “forex” then some LSIs could be:

  • Investments
  • Currency
  • Trading
  • EUR/USD
  • Exchange

LSIs help the Search Engines understand if the content is relevant to the keywords. That’s why keyword stuffing alone is not working anymore.

Link building

Link Building is one of the most important parts of SEO. Link building is the process of acquiring backlinks for your website.

Types of link building

  • Guest Posting
  • Niche Edits
  • PBNs
  • Resource Pages
  • Sponsored Posts

Link Building is the most important part of every SEO strategy. Any successful SEO campaign has to focus on backlink acquisition.

Meta keywords

Meta Keywords are some phrases that were used in order for the webmasters to indicate what the page is about. Using Meta keywords is something that is not a ranking factor anymore. Search Engines do not pay any attention to Meta Keywords anymore.

Although some claim that there is no harm in setting them up, we believe that you shouldn’t. If you end up setting up your meta keywords, your competitors will be able to see

Organic search traffic

Organic Search traffic is the traffic that visits your website by clicking from one of the organic (Not paid) Google Results.

Organic search results (natural search results)

Organic Search Results are the search Snippets that are served below the paid ads (Adwords Results). Paid ads used to be served on the right column of Google SERPs. Nowadays, the paid results are served above the organic results. This makes SEO even harder because you need to achieve better rankings in order to get the desired result.

Robots.txt

Robots.txt is a text file that is used in order to give guidelines to the crawlers (Spiders of Search Engines) regarding the crawling of the website. This file is very important for the SEO optimization of a website. Websites without robots.txt cannot be crawled. Most modern CMS platforms are automatically generating robots.txt so you don’t have to worry about it (although in some cases you may need to edit it and adjust it).

What can you do with robots.txt

  • Indicate pages that you want don’t want to be crawled
  • Indicate your sitemap.xml file
  • Indicate the requested speed that you want the crawlers to apply when crawling your website (In the case that your server cannot handle it).

Sandbox

Google’s main index, does not immediately accept pages right away. Supposedly, Google has a second index where pages exist until the time that Google checks those pages and decides that they are worthy of appearing in the main index. The secondary index is called sandbox or supplemental index. The pages that are in the sandbox won’t appear in searches, meaning that having your website in the sandbox is not the best thing for your page, on the contrary, the sandbox is something that everyone would want to avoid.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Search Engine Marketing is the practice of having your products and services promoted through search engines and you can do that by having your products or services grow and rank organically on search engines or even pay to get high positions on search engines.

SERP

Search Engine Results Page is the page users see when they search about a term on a search engine. Websites aim to rank in the first SERP in order to be more easily accessible by users.

Bots, Crawlers and Spiders

These terms refer to the software that scans the internet for new websites and gives feedback to the search engine in order to add them to the search engine’s index. Once the websites enter the index they will be able to rank on SERPs

Title Tag

The Title tag is not the most visible detail of your site, but it is nevertheless an important one. Title tags are visible on the title bar of the browser you are using and it is one of the biggest factors that let search engines know what the current page you are reading is all about. The title tag has to be descriptive and adequate of conveying correct information, in a short format.

Title tags are also the first thing website back-ends ask you when you are creating a new page.

URL (Uniform Resource Locator)

A URL is an address you see in your address bar when you visit a page. Every page has a unique URL and it is the place where that specific page can be found.

White Hat SEO

The practices that are endorsed by search engines are commonly called White Hat SEO. There are practices that search engines expect you to do in order to get you indexed and for you to rank high in the search results page. There are no official guidelines for SEO and the parameters of what the best practices entail changes constantly, especially with many several search engine updates. One of the most important things for SEO is keeping track of what is going on through forums and blogs.

Webmaster Tools

Once you create your website and you are ready to start your SEO efforts for it, you will need something that will be able to evaluate your website. Google offers a free service to give you the tools to evaluate your website, called Google Webmaster Tools. This tool helps you evaluate your website on how well it’s doing in the search results pages and you can maintain and monitor its performance. It is not a compulsory step but it can give you lots of information in order to keep you on the right track for your SEO campaigns.

XML sitemap

This is a file that gives all the different URLs of a website (Posts, Pages, Categories, Archives, Images etc) to Google Crawler. Google uses this file in order to identify the URLs that it should crawl and index. After the development of the sitemap.xml file, you should submit it to Google Webmasters Tools in order for Google to crawl it.

Things to keep in mind regarding sitemap.xml

  • You should only include URLs that you want to be indexed
  • You should only include URLs that are marked as “Index”
  • Avoid including redirected URLs
Categories
SEO

Why you shouldn’t use PBNs even though they work

What is PBN?

If you’ve ever been researching on SEO tactics, I am sure you’ve asked yourselves the questions ‘What is PBN’, ‘what is PBN in internet marketing’, ‘Will I benefit from PBNs’ and many other related queries. The purpose of this article is not only to answer your questions but also to help you understand why you should not invest in PBNs but find alternative ways to achieve your objectives.

PBN stands for ‘Private Blog Network’, a group of expired domains brought back to ‘life’ in the effort of building a strong network of websites. This kind of tactic is used by website owners and it is classified as a Grey Hat strategy. The overall scope of this network is to build effective websites to send links to your backlinks, boost your backlinks strength and eventually capture as much link juice as possible from both.

In this article, we will help you to understand how Private blog networks operate and why you should oppose using them, even though they might bring some benefits in the long term. Furthermore, you will get valuable insights from our past experience using a PBN and the kind of results we gathered, as well as what other alternatives you can use.

PBN

Why use PBNs?

There are many reasons a website owner can utilise PBNs. Let’s have a look at some of them:

  1. Increase Return On Investment (ROI)
  2. Increase traffic
  3. Avoid time-consuming traditional link building methods (manual outreaching)
  4. Greater control over your link building acquisition
  5. Increase rankings

Many website owners try to find strategies to achieve all of the above and stumble upon PBN development. Developing a network of websites that are not traceable back to the owner, yet send Tier 2 links to the owner’s website seems like a very attractive option.

Backlinks

How can one develop PBN sites?

A PBN consists of numerous expired domains that have been purchased and returned to normal website operation. These are developed in line with the website’s industry. Usually, PBNs are blog websites that offer informational posts to users who are looking for info or answers to their questions.

For example, if your website belongs in the fitness industry, then your PBNs will ideally revolve around the fitness industry i.e. fitness tips blog, fitness products reviews etc.

The reason for doing this is to build Tier 2 links to your backlinks that are relevant and authoritative.

Before building those links, a successful PBN strategy will require tests to take place to see how effective those links are and if they will benefit or harm your efforts and rankings.

There are some crucial steps one should follow when developing PBN sites:

  1. Scraping and finding expired domains to purchase, it is important for those expired domains to have been in the industry that you’re involved in.
    1. A tool that is consistently used is Scrapebox. This helps to scrape expired domains, based on a set of keywords we provide, to ensure that the websites we will rebuild belong in the same industry.
    2. The tool also provides info on whether the expired domain used to have good metrics (E.g. Domain Authority and Trust Flow).
  2. Best practices require that all websites be purchased from different hosts and use private ‘WhoIs’ so as to not be traceable back to your IP. Ideally, Cloudflare is a great way of hiding IPs, allowing you to use the same host, therefore providing great time saving benefits.
  3. Developing the website with unique content, as well as rebuilding their old pages using WayBack Machine, to retrieve the pre-existing information.
  4. Testing the sites’ effectiveness by sending external links to other websites – test pages – and checking to see if those backlinks negatively or positively affected the test page you are sending a link to. This test usually takes 1-3 months. You can do this using a tool called SERPFox where you add the test page and check rankings every week or two to monitor trends.
  5. If the test was positive, you can send Tier 2 PBN backlinks to your already acquired existing backlinks to boost them.
  6. If the test was negative, you can send Tier 1 links to competitors to harm their rankings (negative SEO).

Now, let’s have a look at our past experience with building and developing a PBN seo blog network and what the results were.

Case Study

Our client belongs in the dating industry and was looking for ways to achieve their objectives of increasing rankings and traffic generated to their site by investing in a network of PBN sites.

Therefore, the websites that were built for this client’s SEO PBN strategy revolved around:

  1. dating advice blogs
  2. dating experts’ advice
  3. lifestyle blogs

…and many more.

The Cost

Their investment was $10k including:

  1. Domain purchase
  2. Website development
  3. Consistent monthly content development
  4. Link building to all PBN sites
  5. Cost of Labour
  6. Tools and subscriptions including PBN hosting

Each website cost around $100-150 to set up and then each article cost around $20-30 for content development.  

The Time

The investment was spread over a period of 6 months before ensuring that the PBN was ready to be incorporated into our strategy. The tests and website development took most of our efforts and then articles and landing page creation, as well as PBN management, remained an ongoing exercise.

The Tests

In order to determine whether the sites are worth having and maintaining, we had to test this on other websites. The test took approximately 3 months to finish and then was used on our sites which would then take another 3-6 months to gather results.

The results

Once we entered the ongoing management phase, all sites on our PBN hosting provider were directed to the client’s money sites. The results were not as beneficial as we anticipated. Although some pages saw an increase in rankings, the client did not see an effective ROI.

Drawbacks

  • Expensive
  • Timely
  • Anticipated results were not achieved
  • Low ROI

The Verdict on using PBN sites

Although we found some benefits in using PBNs, considering the time and money that operating them requires, we recommend not using them unless you have the option of repurposing them into money sites or affiliate sites. The aforementioned practice is considered white hat since you simply use domains already built and further develop them into sites that will actually increase yours or your client’s ROI.

So there you have it. What is PBN? Well simply put a practice that is likely to cost more in time and effort than it is likely to provide for you or your clients.