3 SEO Podcasts for Your Listening Pleasure

In addition to using blogs to learn more about SEO, podcasts are full of useful information. Podcasts provide news, tips and pointers on different topics and can help make a commute or other downtime more productive. Listening to an SEO podcast could make your SEO more successful, without cutting into your already busy schedule. Here are three great SEO podcast recommendations from the Searchable to get you started.

 

SEO 101

SEO 101 is, as the intro goes, your introductory course on search engine optimization. This podcast eases listeners into the basics of Search Engine Optimization without a lot of the more technical jargon. With over 200 podcasts, SEO 101 has covered a lot of different topics and their backlog probably contains some sort of information on the question you have.

Their recent episode on how to improve local search results gives a good feel for the podcast’s style and feel. Ross Dunn and John Carcutt, the hosts  of the show, discuss Google’s method for determining quality content by taking information from all around the web, finding the best answer, and then breaking it down for listeners.

SEO Rockstars

If you feel you have graduated from 101, you can also check out their sister podcast SEO Rockstars. SEO Rockstars covers topics in a bit more detail and bring in a variety of experts to participate in the conversation. Although this podcast is a bit newer, their backlog still covers quite the variety of topics, including covering many topics more in-depth than SEO 101.

A recommended podcast to listen to, especially for small business owners, is the Small Business SEO value. Here, hosts  Chris Boggs and Frank Watson discuss the importance of owning websites and how to avoid “#SEO lies” in order to get the most value from your SEO efforts..

Edge of the Web

Both Edge of the Web’s podcast and the website in general are an absolute treasure trove of great SEO content. The podcast, a product of Indianapolis based Site Strategics, breaks down different SEO topics with interviews of industry professionals and an open, funny personality.

Site Strategies CEO Erin Sparks, leads a rotating cast of other Site Strategies employees and other experts in a discussion of SEO tactics and other digital content. In a recent podcast, they brought Barry Schwartz onto the show to talk about his experience as an expert in the search engine field.

If you don’t have time to listen to the whole episode, Edge of the Web will post highlights of the podcast on their YouTube page. Another major tool from the website is their Score Your Site tool where the people at Site Strategics will take a look at your website and give you feedback for free!

 

Podcasts can be a valuable tool not only for improving your SEO, but also for all aspects of your business. With over 60,000 podcasts out there, one is bound to help answer some of your questions.

For a quick glossary of terms you may hear on these podcasts, check out our Go-To Glossary for SEO. For current trends in SEO check out our Evaluation of 3 SEO Trends of 2016.

Does Yelp Help My SEO?

If you’ve followed our blog for a while you should know that the more inbound links and keywords found online regarding your website, should theoretically boost your SEO. But what about online reviews? Online review websites such as Yelp, Zagat, and even stores themselves can make or break a purchase decision. In an age of content shock and an overabundance of products and services, it’s become increasingly important for marketers (and small business owners) to be present at a consumer’s Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT). The ZMOT is the moment before a purchase decision and it is crucial to gaining brand awareness in an age of ever-present technology.

The Power of Yelp

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[Images are screenshots, edited on Picmonkey]

If you are a small business owner, you likely know the importance of online reviews. They can sway the opinion of a potential customer in seconds, the outcome being either good or bad for your business. According to Search Engine Land’s post on whether or not Yelp really matters, Yelp is definitely important for SEO. Nowadays Google does take into account a company’s presence on Yelp. Google measures things like how many reviews a business has on Yelp, and how positive each review is. Google then factors this into their search engine ranking accordingly. Since Google’s Pigeon update rolled out, Yelp now shows up higher on the SERP than ever before. When typing in the name of a restaurant, Google most likely returns results that have Yelp within the first three results. This is good news for Yelp and (potentially) good news for the small business owner. In an age of localized search and mobile phones, it’s important for small business owners to take advantage of Yelp. Below are four steps to fully utilizing Yelp for your small business. 

 

 

Step #1: Claim your business.

Claim your business on Yelp. According to Search Engine Land’s article on Google Maps, Yelp and Local SEO in 2015, once you’ve claimed your business, you are able to be “active” on Yelp. This includes everything from updating information to responding to reviews and uploading photos. Doing this not only lets Google know you are active and present on Yelp and therefore are worthy of higher search rank, but it also allows you to monitor the feedback on your small business.

Step #2: Keep your information consistent and up-to-date.

Make sure your business name, address, and phone number are consistent across all your platforms, whether it’s your social media, your website, or your blog. Google attempts to “verify” businesses on Yelp using contact information. So long as your information is consistent, you should be verified, which will in turn help your search ranking.

Step #3: Encourage customers to leave a review (to a point).

Yelp sticker
[Image Source]
As a small business owner, it could benefit you to encourage customers to write a Yelp review for you. In a day and age where Yelp reviews are one of the first things consumers look at, it’s beneficial for you to have a good amount of positive reviews. If your reviews happen to be mostly negative, there’s no way to really hide Yelp from the SERP. That being said, if you find that you have a good amount of negative reviews, the only thing I can suggest is addressing them. So, how should you encourage Yelp reviews? You may or may not have noticed that some businesses display a sticker in their window that says something like “Review us on Yelp!” or “People Love us on Yelp!”. This is one way to let your customers know that you appreciate positive Yelp reviews. Don’t go too crazy with this option, however, because the goal of websites like Yelp are to provide the most honest, reliable information on businesses. If you’re product is great and your service is reliable, you should not have a problem in this area.

Step #4: Engage, engage, engage

As with any social media platform, it’s always best practice to actively engage with your customers. If someone leaves a lovely review of your business, respond and let them know that you appreciate it! If someone leaves a critique or a less positive review, respond and tell them you will address the issue ASAP. Customer service and customer engagement is everything!

Bottom line? You MUST be on Yelp and other online review websites. Ever since Google’s Pigeon update, these review websites often rank higher than a company’s actual website. It’s crucial for you to have a presence on review websites. Have any other tips for navigating Yelp and other review websites? Leave suggestions in the comments below.

Rock the Moz Bar

Here at Searchable, we have already talked about Moz a number of times, including their blog and their On-Page Grader. Today we are going to take a look at the Moz SEO Toolbar, an in-browser extension for Chrome and Firefox that lets you track SEO while browsing the web. While there are some upgraded features available with Moz Pro, we will be focusing on getting the most out of the free tools in the Moz SEO Toolbar.

The Basics

Being an in-browser tool, the Moz SEO Toolbar is always there to provide background information on your webpage or what makes a competitor’s website rank so high. The toolbar has two main features, the SERP overlay and the web page analysis.

SERP Overlay

The SERP overlay is a feature that helps explain why different web pages rank so highly on Google, Bing or Yahoo search. In this overlay, each result is shown with their page and domain authority scores. Page authority serves as an indicator of how strong the individual page is, while domain authority shows the strength of the website as a whole. For example, let us say you want to start a boutique cat clothing store. The Google SERP if you search the term “cats” looks like this:

Cats Search Engine Result Page
Each of the top 3 posts have mid-range page authority ranking and 100 domain authority. It would be very hard to break into this SERP.

On the other hand, if you search cat boutique, this is what the SERP looks like:

Cat Boutique Results Page
These pages have a much lower page and domain authority score on average. As a result, ranking high on the cat boutique SERP would be a much more attainable goal and something that would take a lot less time and effort.

Web Page Analysis

In addition to the SERP overlay, the MOZ toolbar also lets you gain insight into the what ranks certain pages so highly. Keeping with the cat boutique example, we can look at the top ranking result when you search for cat boutique.

Hemmingway Web Analysis

Hemingway’s has low page and domain authority, but a low spam score and decent Facebook activity. The low authority rankings mean the page does not have that much clout and is susceptible to being passed on the SERP. However, the low spam score means search engines are not penalizing the page for Black Hat SEO, and the Facebook activity shows the company is active on social media.

The two tools on the left of the toolbar help dig a little bit deeper into the page. The Magnifying glass over the web page is the page analysis tool. This tool pulls up information about a website that is important for SEO, such as headers and meta descriptions.

Page Analysis Tool

The other tool is the highlighter tool, which highlights links on the page.

Link Highlighter

In addition to looking into competitors, the web page analysis feature can also be used on your own web page. When used on your site, this tool can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses or point out holes in your website’s SEO.

As pointed out earlier in this article, and as can be seen throughout the images, there is a full version of this toolbar. The full version will give you access to more metrics and analytics and can be tried out for 30 days free of charge. The free version of the Moz toolbar should be more than enough to get you started on your SEO journey.

For the Chrome version of the Moz Toolbar click here. For the Firefox version, click here. For more posts about free SEO analytics tools, read Ana’s article on 4 Free SEO Tools You Didn’t Know You Needed.

Google Algorithms: Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird

[Image Source, Edited by me on Picmonkey]

Algorithms are intended to make internet searches easier and more accurate. They are intended to give you what you’re looking for without having to comb through five or ten pages of search engine results. You may have recently heard a lot of talk regarding Instagram’s new algorithm, however, the algorithm’s we’ll be discussing today are slightly different. In this blog post I will attempt to explain Google’s algorithms to you so that you will understand how they affect pagerank and search engine results. The 3 algorithms I’ll be discussing are Google’s Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird.

Algorithm #1: Panda

Panda Update[Image Source]

This program was first released in February of 2011. According to Search Engine Land, this Google update is meant to stop poor quality websites from getting to the top of the search engine results page. Essentially, Panda is a spam-fighting algorithm. Google’s goal in creating Panda was to lower websites that have a lot of spam and raise websites that have quality content to the top of the search results once more. Search Engine Land also reported that it’s very possible Google “baked” the Panda algorithm into their core ranking algorithm in late 2015.  Like the rest of the algorithms we’ll be talking about, Panda did not replace Google’s principal ranking algorithm, it only replaced an outdated part.

 

Algorithm #2: Penguin

Penguin Update

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This algorithm was first introduced in April 2012. Like the Panda update, this algorithm was meant to filter out spam so search engine results would not be affected by low-quality websites. More specifically, this update addresses websites that buy links or unethically obtain them from link networks that are designed to increase Google rankings.  When Penguin was first released, there was a small uproar from website owners about their site traffic decreasing. This is likely because they were hit by Penguin and deemed to be spam. To remedy this, we suggest removing any spam from your website. If your site traffic has climbed back to normal levels even after purging your site of anything spam-related, we suggest using this form to alert Google to your problem.

Algorithm #3: Hummingbird

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This Google update was rolled out in September of 2013 and it’s purpose was to be “fast and precise”….like a hummingbird! According to Search Engine Land, conversational search is one of the things the Hummingbird update has addressed. In other words, rather than focusing on a keyword by itself, this update takes an entire sentence into account when ranking pages. This means that, theoretically, Hummingbird is allowing Google to assess the meaning behind words, rather than just the words themselves. This is a smart move when we consider the introduction of communication technology like Siri and Google’s version “Google Now”. Siri was introduced in April of 2010 and Google Now followed a few years later in July of 2012. Less than a year later, Google rolls out the Hummingbird update, which would make this technology easier to use. So when you ask Siri or Google Now, “Where’s the closest brunch place to my home?”, Google is now better equipped to provide the answer. If you’ve provided Google with your address, it will understand what you mean by “home”. If you say “place” Google should now understand that you mean a physical location.

This was just a brief introduction to some of the most popular Google Algorithms that have been rolled out in the past few years. Personally, I think algorithms can be highly beneficial to website owners and internet users alike. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Instagram Algorithm Apocalypse: What it means for your SEO

A couple weeks ago, the internet went crazy with fear over the rumored Instagram update. The new algorithm was rendered apocalyptic. Many brands and celebrities were posting pictures with an arrow recommending to follow their accounts for updates. Hopefully you know by now that this is not the best way to optimize your accounts, but it proves the misconceptions of algorithms shape the way customers perceive brands.

Algorithms don’t exist just for fun. Over time, as the internet and social media platforms become more heavily populated, there are more users and many more posts. Feeds are becoming more expansive, and most people are unable to stay fully updated with their feeds. As a result, social media platforms have begun to adopt algorithms to improve the user experience. Facebook has already integrated this, and while some businesses may claim it has raised the cost of promotion, I think this is an expected trait of any mobile marketing. As the market becomes more saturated, costs will increase.

Twitter has begun to implement a similar algorithm, but Instagram admits there will not be an update for several more months. When there is an update, users, especially businesses, will need to rely heavily upon an engaged audience. If this worries businesses, then it proves that their content might not be engaging users as much as they think.

The Instagram algorithm update will simply curate content so that if a user likes a particularly account often, they will see more of those posts as to not miss any of their favorite posts. Likes are becoming dollar votes, which is why businesses should focus on engaging their customers as opposed to throwing content at them. If their followers like their posts regularly, they shouldn’t lose any of their influence. If followers aren’t liking any of their posts, then they will not show up on their feeds as often. Furthermore, if followers aren’t liking any of their posts, then they may not have the right followers. Quality is far more important than quantity regarding followers and engagement. This means businesses should focus on providing quality content that will keep users engaged.

This seems relatively obvious to someone who knows anything about SEO, but most consumers are unaware of these practices. They dislike the idea of something controlling their perspective. Consumers don’t want any higher authorities distorting their social media experience and don’t like the idea that social media platforms understand their habits, even if it is liking and commenting. Clearly, Google and Instagram are not trying to violate the privacy of any users, but are simply trying to improve the user experience in order to retain users and prevent information overload.

This fear proves that authenticity rules when utilizing SEO. While there may be temporary ways to game the system, whether it’s in search engines or social media, it is not in best practice to do so. The best practice is to create quality relationships with visitors that keep them engaged with your business. Customers enjoy genuine feelings toward brands, and it is easy for them to detect anything forced or artificial. Consumers are becoming more informed, and this makes brand transparency far more important than ever before.

If you were a new customer, would you want to visit your website? Would you want to like your Instagram post? If not, then there is a larger issue at hand. Quality content and posts will maintain and generate an audience, and there is no need to worry about algorithms regarding social media outreach.

Additionally, this proves the growing importance of mobile marketing. Your website needs to be available on a mobile platform that is easily accessible. More customers are viewing websites from a mobile device, such as from a link in an Instagram bio. By making your website easier to use, you’re improving your overall brand engagement.

As always, focus on improving your website for the simple reason of making the most out of visitors’ experiences. This is the most sustainable approach to embrace any and all algorithms, in the present and the future.

How Youtube can Help your SEO

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According to MOZ Bar’s post on Influencer marketing, the concept is defined as, “…the process of developing relationships with influential people that can lead to their assisting you in creating visibility for your product or service.” Influencer marketing is incredibly popular on Youtube, a social media platform that also has the ability to take your SEO to the next level. As humans, our brains respond favorably to visuals even more so than text. Youtube is a great platform to engage your fans with great visual content. This blog post will help you use the world’s 2nd largest search engine to your advantage.

Step #1: Creating your Youtube page

A Youtube account is fairly easy and self-explanatory to set up, but I’m here to give you a few thoughtful tips on optimizing the process. First, you need to know (if you don’t already) that Google owns Youtube. This means great things for the small business owner and SEO.

As with any other social media page you’re garnered, make sure your profile picture and header are engaging and reflect your brand accurately. This is one of the first things customers will see when visiting your Youtube page. Also make sure that you link your other social media in your “About” section. Let’s use Jimmy Fallon’s Youtube page as an example.

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[Image: Screenshot of Jimmy Fallon’s Youtube page]

The first thing you’ll likely notice is the header, which is eye-catching and accurately depicts what Jimmy’s brand is (i.e. the Tonight Show). Also notice the text that describes when and where to watch the show. Below that to the right you’ll see some social media icons where you can find Jimmy on more popular social media platforms. Below that you’ll find the channel’s description, which is full of keywords that encompass what the channel is all about. This is incredibly important when making your own channel. Include keywords that make you easy to find and that are relevant to your brand. Below the channel’s description you’ll see the “Links” section where you’ll find Jimmy on pretty much every relevant social media platform on the internet today. Follow suit and include all your relevant links (i.e. blog, website, and social media platforms) when creating your own Youtube page.

 

Step #2: Creating engaging visual content

This step may be the most difficult one. It’s not always easy to create quality content that’s engaging and encompasses your brand completely. Bear with us! In Mark Schaefer’s The Content Code, a book we highly recommend you get your hands on, Mark talks about a client of his who blew up on Youtube thanks to a handy 59 second video on “How to open a bottle of wine- without a corkscrew”. More specifically, how to open a wine bottle using a shoe. Seriously, check it out. The video, as you can see, has been viewed almost 11 million times! What can a small business owner learn from this? You don’t always need big bucks and loads of time to create a good Youtube video. Informative videos or tutorials are often the best way to go. As long as you stay true to your brand and get a little creative, you may very well be on your way to a successful Youtube channel.

 

Step #3: Posting and optimizing content

This step is incredibly important and it starts with your video description. In the video’s description, make sure to include keywords about the video as well as your company (Source: Marketing 399-01, Loyola University Chicago, Professor Schwab, [23 March 2016]). For example, if Searchable were to upload our 1 minute tutorial on Alt tags to Youtube, we would use keywords like “SEO”, “Searchable”, “Alt Tags”, and “Optimize” to the video’s description.

The second thing you need to add to ALL your video’s descriptions are your relevant social media and website links (Source: Marketing 399-01, Loyola University Chicago, Professor Schwab, [23 March 2016]). Just like you would in a blog post, link anything significant that you mention in the video. I’ll use one of my favorite Youtube channels as an example. The SACCONEJOLYs are a family that post daily vlogs to Youtube. In each video’s description, you’ll find a plethora of links associated with their “brand”.  

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[Image: Screenshot of description on SACCONEJOLYs Vlog]

First, notice the call to action. Every video description should start with an ask for comments or a shout out to your other social media. Notice they then link to the two individual’s channels that they were interacting with in the video for that day. Following that they link to their other social media and Youtube channels as well as a helpful link for subscribing to their channel. Keep in mind, this is all amazing for SEO. What really impresses me about this channel is what’s next: links to 5 different videos corresponding to the same day 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 years before. This is a great way to upcycle old content and gain more traffic on previous videos!

Blog 4 Visual 3

[Image: Screenshot of description on SACCONEJOLYs Vlog]

The end of their video description gives a brief background on who they are and why they started Youtube. Notice how many times “Saccone” or “Joly” is mentioned. This, obviously, ties into the name of their Youtube Channel. The same should be done with the name of your business!

Something else you can do to optimize your content on Youtube is add annotations to your videos (Source: Marketing 399-01, Loyola University Chicago, Professor Schwab, [23 March 2016]). Let’s go back to our Jimmy Fallon example.

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[Image: Screenshot of Jimmy Fallon Youtube Video]

On one of his more recent posts, “Thank You Notes: April Fools, Lunar Eclipses” you’ll see that the last 8 seconds of the video, like with all of his videos, there is an ending page with annotations. The ones above link to everything from subscribing to the channel, playlists, and previous videos. Again, all of this is great for SEO and driving traffic to your other content. Use these annotations for social media links, website links, and always include a subscribe button! Put them at the beginning of the video, the end or somewhere in between, but remember, do not overwhelm the screen with a million annotations. Keep the number to around 3 or 4 to avoid driving the audience away.

Step #4: Going the extra mile

The tips we’ve shared so far will have you well on your way to optimizing your content on Youtube and using the platform to your advantage. However, if you’re like us, you’ll want to go the extra mile when it comes to SEO. The first way to do this is by creating playlists with both your own content and curated content that is relevant to your brand. Playlists appear in Youtube’s search and they drive up views by keeping viewers engaged with videos.

Step #5: Don’t forget to make friends

This is super important on a community platform like Youtube! Remember to favorite videos, leave comments and share your videos on social media! This will bring valuable traffic to your content. Plus, as we know, sharing content across social media channels is great for SEO and brand awareness. By favoriting and commenting on videos of those you admire on Youtube, you may greatly increase your chances of an inbound link to your own Youtube page from an influencer in your field, thereby exposing you to a completely new audience! Making friends will only benefit you!

That concludes our post on SEO and Youtube. I hope you found some valuable tips for starting a Youtube page for your small business. If you already have a Youtube page, I hope there were some helpful tips on using the platform to ramp up your SEO. As always, we’re here for your questions, remarks, concerns, or anything else you’d like to leave in the comments!

Evaluating 3 SEO Trends for 2016: Will They Last?

If you’ve been with our blog for a while now, you might have noticed how important staying up to date on SEO trends is. New information and techniques are constantly surfacing in the world of Search Engine Optimization. This blog post will give you our top 3 SEO trends for 2016 and whether or not we think they will last.

Trend #1: Video content will (continue to) dominate

Visual optimization

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Would you rather read 750 words on how to put together the best birthday party celebration or watch an interesting tutorial on Youtube? Something tells me you chose the latter. I would, too. That’s because our brains are predisposed to visuals. There’s plenty of science to back it up, but that’s not why we’re here. We are here because it’s become essential for all businesses, especially small ones, to have quality visuals at their disposal. One important way to implement visuals is to create a Youtube channel for your business. Quality Youtube videos that engage and excite consumers can be time consuming to create, however, the payoff may make the time and effort worth it. According to Marketing Land, videos account for 62% of all searches on Google. That’s HUGE. What does this mean for you? If you are successful at creating great video content for your business, the chances of that content being seen will go way up, ultimately driving more traffic to your website, blog, etc.

So will this trend last? Absolutely. Our brain chemistry isn’t changing anytime soon, which means it will always be important to have quality video and visual content in your SEO arsenal.

Trend #2: Mobile optimization will become more important than desktop

Mobile optimization

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We are already seeing this trend in the business world. Consumers are no longer getting information in one place. Everything is on the go and in the palm of our hands. As a small business owner, if your company has a website, you must make sure that your website is optimized for mobile devices. According to this article on mobile marketing statistics by Smart Insights, consumers use mobile media 51% of the time, while desktop time rests at 49%. This makes it increasingly important that your website is optimized for mobile searching. Check out Emily’s post on Mobile SEO for tips on how to make your website mobile-friendly.

So will this trend last? Definitely. Mobile websites are only going to become increasingly important as time goes on. It’s quite possible that in a few years time, all websites will be optimized for mobile first, and any website that’s not will fade into obscurity. My prediction? Desktop will be virtually extinct in 5-10 years time and mobile will be the new way of defining “the web.”

Trend #3: Local search will become even more local

local search more local

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This trend goes hand in hand with trend #2. We, as consumers, are always on the move. We have access to everything we could possibly want in the palm of our hands. Gone are the days when we researched where to eat before leaving the house. In an age of Yelp and Google Maps, it’s much easier to find food, attractions, shopping, etc. on the go. As a business owner, you will need to make sure Google and other search engines know exactly where you are so that you are present in location results. According to Search Engine Land, “local searches lead 50% of mobile visitors to visit stores within one day.” Some people, like Jayson DeMers in this Forbes article, predict that, rather than identifying businesses based on a state or region, we will begin to see search results based on street corners or neighborhoods.
So will this trend last? I don’t think so. In Mark Schaefer’s book, The Content Code, he talks about the misconception that people want a highly individualized feed of blog posts or content they would be interested in. He states that he likes seeing both sides of an argument as well as content he wouldn’t normally see if his feed was highly individualized. We, as humans, enjoy discovering new content. That’s how we find new and interesting ideas that can spur new thoughts or exciting ideas. It will always be important to be exposed to new things, regardless of immediate location.  While I would love to see what’s right around the corner from me, chances are I already know! If search results become too localized, I might risk overlooking a good business.

So there you have it! 3 of my top SEO trends in 2016 and whether or not I think they will pass the test of time. Leave a comment letting me know your thoughts or giving suggestions for more trends to talk about in a future post.

Putting the Ethics in SEO: Optimizing in an Ethical Manner

As you begin your SEO journey, it is important to consider the ethics of SEO. Optimizing your site in an ethical manner is important because it helps maintain consistency with your business’s identity and authenticity. Unethical, often called black hat, optimization may actually have legal implications for your business and send your website plummeting down, not up, the results page.

SEO Code of Ethics

Many of the firms that do SEO, such as Bruce Clay Inc or Fuel Web Media, have an SEO Code of Ethics that they promise to follow. Using Bruce Clay’s code of ethics as an example. This code has a couple of points that deal more with the firm’s relationship with their client, but there are a few important points that apply even to small businesses too.

  • No SEO practitioner will intentionally violate any laws

Working to stay within legal boundaries is important in any business context, SEO is no exception. Be sure that anything you do to improve your search engine results are within laws of the state and err on the side of caution.

  • No SEO practitioner will falsely represent the content of the client site
  • No SEO practitioner will misrepresent their own abilities, education, training, standards of performance, certifications, trade group affiliations, technical inventory, or experiences to others

These two points are closely tied together. Ensure that all visitors to your website are receiving the same content. Don’t false advertise. Do not overstate your abilities or claim to sell certain products/services just for the sake of improving your search rankings.

  • No SEO practitioner will falsely represent others work as their own

Be careful to properly credit any work you use on your site that it is not your own. Provide links back to the original source of information, not just where you found it, and ask permission. Not only is this a more ethical practice, but it could help make a new contact as well.

Looking at this code of ethics can help set a tone for your brand. Add some clauses of your own to maintain a consistent, ethical stream of content for your business.

 

Black Hat SEO Techniques and How to Find Them

Black hat techniques are just about as sketchy as they sound. They are aimed at tricking the search engine algorithm into ranking the page higher. They can range from relatively harmless, such as adding random, unconnected keywords on your website, to more nefarious methods, such as link websites to a lot of low-quality or unrelated pages. Designhammer’s list of 17 Black Hat SEO Techniques to Avoid has great examples of not only different black hat techniques and what they look like, but also better white hat counters.

Black hat SEO techniques may increase your search results in the short term, but it is entirely based on trying to outsmart a computer algorithm that is, let’s face it, much, much smarter than you. The algorithms will figure out what is going on and sort out both your links and your entire website. Using black hat methods will cause your website to be entirely left out from all search engine listings. The graphic below, from Axandra gives a great visualization of the effects of black hat, called spammy SEO methods on the chart, and white hat, called ethical SEO.

Black Hat SEO

White Hat SEO

As you can see, the spammy SEO method sees a sharp uptick in position for a short period of time, but has an immediate drop off a short time later, as the site is banned and left off of search engines.  Without a listing on search engines, any growth is almost impossible. Bruce Clay offers a SEO Penalty Assessment Service that helps companies repair their standings and undo the damage caused by black hat SEO. The ethical search results have a slower growth rate, but the growth is consistent and the page is never punished in the rankings. As a result, using white hat methods will allow your page to reach a much higher level.

Ultimately, following an ethically sound system of search engine optimization is the best way to improve search results in both the short and long term due to punishments imposed by search engine algorithms from unethical, black hat methods.

 

For more possible dangers in your SEO journey read our post of 5 Pitfalls to Avoid When Beginning Your SEO.

SEO Good Example: Nike Golf

 

A Case Study on what we can Learn from Nike Golf and their SEO.  

Nike, Inc. was founded in 1964. Since then it has dominated the sports equipment and activewear industry. Nike Golf is a sub-brand of Nike that, as the name suggests, is specific to the sport of Golf. Swellpath, now a part of 6D Analytics, is a digital marketing company that conducted a case study on Nike Golf in which the objective was to boost product awareness and drive website traffic.

Nike Golf: Before

According to Swellpath, Nike Golf’s biggest hindrance was the lack of a focused keyword strategy combined with a website that was hard for search engines to crawl for data. As we know, search engines crawl through content in order to ascertain what is relevant, thereby boosting certain websites’ content to the top of search results. 

Take a look at this great graphic from Swellpath’s case study:

What users were seeing (left) and what search engines were seeing (right)

Nike Golf Before

[Image courtesy of Swellpath]

The Game Plan

Taking into account the many options that Nike Golf had to optimize their website, Swellpath settled on using SWFObject2, which is an open-source Javascript library. A Javascript library is a set of pre-written Javascript that essentially makes it easier to develop other Javascript-based applications. Think of it  like a toolkit that gives you all the instruments you need to run a Javascript program. This library was appealing to Swellpath because it could more effectively provide content for search engine spiders. The library does this by storing a HTML-based version of the website behind the scenes that can be presented whenever a user visits the site. This also makes the mobile website much more user friendly. Additionally, SWFObject2 allows administrators to embed flash content that doesn’t rely on a specific scripting language. This makes the content accessible to a larger audience because any users that have Javascript disabled on their browsers, will still be able to see the Flash content.  Read more on the benefits of SWFObject2 here.

Results of the case study

According to 6D Analytics in conjunction with Swellpath, organic search traffic on the Nike Golf website increased by a staggering 348% in 2 years. This is important because organic search traffic includes both branded (“Nike”) and non-branded searches. In other words, in the time between the 2010 PGA golf season and the 2012 PGA Golf season, website traffic increased a total of 348%. Non-branded website traffic alone increased by 250%.

Going back to the previous infographic from Swellpath, on the left is what users see now. On the right is what search engines see now. As you can see, search engines like Google are now picking up on keywords fro, ultimately driving more traffic to the Nike Golf website.  

Nike Golf After

[Image Courtesy of Swellpath]

What we can learn from this

The main objective of any Search Engine Optimization is to put your brand ahead of others in search results. What we can learn from Nike Golf is that organic search matters. Small businesses (as well as large corporations) cannot sacrifice accessibility in the name of a memorable visual experience. Therefore, when building a website and optimizing it for search engines, make sure to factor in a good keyword strategy that will both drive traffic and boost product awareness.

Searchable – About Us

Searchable is a blog based on simplifying search engine optimization. Whether you’re new to SEO in your position or while working on your startup, we are here to help you build your website and maximize your search potential.

Our team consists of Emily Beaupre, Chad Dorger, Mary Kesinger, Ana Plefka, and Becca Warren – all students of Loyola University Chicago’s Quinlan School of Business.