The Power of Good Practices

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In almost everything in business, there is a generally accepted “right way” to do things. There might be some variation on that way, and many may in fact find great success from creatively developing new ways to do things. But still, there is usually a right way. Unfortunately, there is almost always a wrong way as well. Maybe it looks like it will save time, maybe you think you aren’t going to get caught, or maybe you were just offered bad advice. Either way, as a business person, you will be faced with these choices every day.

I would love to think that everyone would want to do the right thing just because it is right. Unfortunately, that is just not the case. From corrupt corporate executives to bad SEOs, there is no end to the list of people who picked the wrong way. And how does that work out for them? Maybe they got some short-term benefit. Maybe they were rich or very successful. But eventually that ended. Some went to jail, most just continue to struggle in their chosen profession.

The issue at hand today is search engine optimization and the tools we have at our disposal. Lisa Barone of Outspoken Media goes into detail discussing some of the recent changes to the Google algorithm and how this has affected SEOs in this post. I think she summarizes it pretty well when she says,

“You’re investing in SEO to grow your business and your brand over the long-term. That is not done through shortcuts, through buying links, or through acting out because you’re PO’d at Google. It’s done through putting in the work. “

Best practices are not just called that because they are morally correct. They are also the most effective. Maybe not in the short term, but if you are looking for sustained success, then they are the way to go. Despite any complaints about the recent “Panda” update to Google’s algorithm, the bottom line is that Google and all the other search engines will most likely improve over time. There may be ups and downs, but through all the changes you will be better off using legitimate, ‘white hat’ SEO tools. Obviously link farms and scraper sites provide little benefit to actual people. Do you really think they are going to help your site forever?

Bottom line: do the right thing. It’s in your best interest and the best interests of those around you.  Not just this week or this month, but in the long term.

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Directories and Content Farms are a Waste of Human Effort

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“It would actually be better to have companies LITERALLY just hand Google wads of cash in order to get their search engine placement.”

We have all been there… You Googled a question, clicked a promising looking result, only to find that it was essentially a page with nothing but your question on it. There isn’t even an answer… Just the question. The site Fixya, for example, Loves to

return results like this. How is this highly rated enough in the search engine to show up? Well, it is a large, “popular” site, and it has the exact term you were looking for. But is it useful, in the sense that it was what you were searching for? No. It’s just another search engine. And the results, as you can see, aren’t that good.

SEO marketers have all also experienced another worthless piece of the internet… Online directories. You know the kind… DMOZ wannabes, or even DMOZ itself. There are hundreds of thousands… maybe millions of them out there. And we as marketers spend a lot of time submitting our sites to them.

But here is the question. Who goes to these sites to get information? What benefit do these provide to users? Unless you are an SEO marketer, probably none. I don’t think a single clear-headed person has gone to a directory to find what they are looking for since probably… 1993. They simply aren’t used for anything except inbound links.

Directories hardly even give benefit to MARKETERS anymore either. Why? Because everyone does it. And if everyone does it, nobody benefits. It’s a textbook example of game theory… You have to do it, because if you don’t, you get left behind. Now it is just an immense body of work for marketers to go through and add their sites to all these directories. Work that provides no real benefit for the human race.

So why do the search engines put up with these sites? Google has recently received flack for posting results leading to content farms and the like… They have since changed their algorithm to lower the occurrence of these results, which is a step in the right direction.

Those changes might take care of part of the problem for sites like fixya and others that don’t actually answer your question. But what about directories? What has been done about them? They don’t show up in search results anymore… But could more be done? I think it can and should.

I think the search engines should no longer give SEO credit to directories. Sites should not be ranked higher because every worthless directory has them listed. I guess I can’t fully expect Google to give up on its baby, the DMOZ, which admittedly is the best of the directories. Of course being the best online directory is a little like being the best intramural softball team at a community college… Not that hard to do, and even if you win, nobody cares.

I think Google has taken a step in the right direction, but search engines as a whole I think have a long way to go. Giving credit to companies just because they have put the effort in to these directories, which provide no real benefit to anyone, is completely arbitrary and pointless. It would actually be better to have companies LITERALLY just hand Google wads of cash in order to get their search engine placement. It would be the same as now, only we could skip the step of someone having to actually put the links on a site that no one will ever see. Clearly this is not what I am suggesting, but hopefully you see my point.

3 Ways Social Media Improves Your Web Presence

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Social Media outlets are more than just additional ways for a company to communicate with the world. They can have a dramatic impact on your overall web presence. I have highlighted three of the main ways you can use Social Media to your advantage.

1. Interaction with peers and customers everywhere they are talking

This tactic is at the heart of any social media strategy, and with good reason. Conversations are happening everywhere… and they are talking about you. Why not join in? Interactions with others in a variety of different online settings increases both the amount of unique content relating to your company online and your overall online reach. Your website should not be the only place for anyone to reach you. With social media they COULD go to your website, or they could visit one of the other dozens of places where you are actively involved with the online community. It might be your blog, Facebook, Twitter, an industry forum, or even a review site. The goal is to encourage as much positive conversation about your brand as possible, and in doing so, become more visible online.

2. Improve Page Rankings

Every time Google sees a mention of your brand and your industry combined with a link back to your website or other social media profiles, it gives a little bonus to your page rank. Your page rank is essentially what Google uses to determine your popularity. And popular pages are what people want to see and what show up on search engine results pages (SERPs). The simple way of thinking of this is that every time any profile or page you own gets mentioned, it is more likely to be visited in the future. The more involved you are in your social media, the more likely you are to be found in the search engines. Even when links have a “nofollow” command attached to them (which makes Google ignore it for popularity and page ranking), anyone who clicks that link and ends up on more of your content is still helping to increase your traffic.

3. More Results in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)

Everyone wants their site to be the #1 result for their keywords… But what about the other slots? When someone searches for your company name, for example, the results should show your website, your Facebook page, your Linkedin page, your Flickr photostream, your Google Places page, your Blog, and hopefully many more. If done right, your social media profiles can dominate the SERPs for all of your keywords. If your company sells custom lawn ornaments, for example, a search for “custom lawn ornaments” should return your website, some pictures from your Flickr, your facebook page, and even your blog. More well-maintained and active social media accounts lead to more places for people to find you.

The benefits of active involvement in Social Media span many aspects of a brand’s online presence. If used correctly, you will increase traffic and visibility of both your website and your brand dramatically.