Search engine optimization for small and very small businesses.

SEO Blog

Don’t Buy Followers

We recently received this email offer:

Buy Twitter Followers and boost your account’s popularity. First impression is everything and after using our service, it’s hard not to be impressed.

Twitter Followers            $.10 per follower
Re Tweets                      $.15 per retweet

Buy Face book (sic) Likes & Fans. Facebook Likes (Fans) strengthens your online and social credibility. Our techniques are absolutely safe and secure.

Face Book Fans/Likes      $.15 per like

Digg is a popular and well-known social website where stories are updated every hour and users vote on the stories they like. If your story gets plenty of votes then it may be featured on the front page of the website.

Google indexes digg (sic) in every hour. Getting some votes on the digg (sic) can be very vital to your online success. You can see a flood of traffic and some good buyers from the site.We can give you Digg Votes from real humans in quick time and at cheaper rates.

Digg Votes                      $.20 per vote

Buy Google plus Ones and boost on your search engine ranking. If your website has 1000+ Google Plus Ones, your visitors are going to react in a much more positive way to your website. They’ll feel more confident in purchasing a product or service, or even the credibility of your website. With an Increase in Social reputation – You’ll earn more Money.

112 Plus +1            $20
1120 Google +1      $175
224 Plus 1              $40
560 Plus +1            $85

More than just spam

Actually, this was only half of their email; the other half was a verbatim repeat of the above. A sure sign of spam. But worse than this being spam, buying followers, tweets, fans and votes is a very bad idea.

Smackdown!

To the extent Google, Yahoo and Bing use social signals in their ranking algorithm, they rely on them being natural votes in you favor and in favor of your website. BMW.de banned by Google for SEO cheating.If they can tell that you’ve manipulated them, you will get a smack-down that’s not easy to recover from. Don’t think that search engines are unaware of these tricks, or that they’re not looking for tell-tale fingerprints that you’ve employed these Black Hat SEO techniques. If you average one new follower or fan per month or one or two +1s or Digg mentions a month and suddenly you get hundreds or thousands  — well that’s a red flag to the search engines, isn’t it? A few years ago, websites for Ricoh and BMW were totally banned from Google for more than six months due to black hat manipulation. If big companies like that can get such a penalty, search engines won’t think twice about hitting you with something just as devastating to your website traffic.

Bottom line: don’t do it.

As SEO Budgets Grow, Google Tells You What To Do

Google’s been making SEO more difficult

As pointed out in an article at WebProNews, Google has been making SEO more difficult for years, and perhaps that’s why a new study from SEMPO has found that SEO spending is still healthy, despite all of the freely available online information that has spread across the web over the past decade or so, such as that in our blog over the past 7+ years.

SEMPO put out a 72-page report looking at a survey of nearly 900 companies and agencies. According to SEMPO,

Overall, the report depicts a stable industry, without dramatic changes. Although the practices of search engine and digital marketing may have changed significantly as new tools, algorithms and platforms have come into play, the survey depicts very much the same goals in place.

 

Google explains what to do  — and what not to do

Recent rumors are circulating about new updates to the dreaded Google Panda and Penguin updates. If those updates have you worried, Google has some advice, particularly if you’re planning to hire an SEO for your website.

“Before beginning your search for an SEO, it’s a great idea to become an educated consumer and get familiar with how search engines work,” Google says, suggesting its Webmaster Guidelines and Google Basics as starting points.

SEO trendsGoogle also suggests hiring an SEO early in the site development process, when you’re planning a redesign or planning to launch a new site altogether. In case you’re not familiar with it, Google has a list of questions that it says you should ask an SEO during the hiring process. The article at WebProNews lists those questions and we encourage you to read them and ask them of any SEO you’re considering hiring  — even Rank Magic.

5 Ways to Get Traffic Without Paying

Traffic is the goal.Traffic is the goal.

Traffic is how your website pays its way. High traffic results in more paying customers for you. Recognition of the need to improve traffic on your website is probably why you’re here, reading this blog right now. And there’s no shortage of people eager to take your money in exchange for promises of more traffic. Sadly, not all of them are worth the cost.

The good news

According to Longhorn Leads,

many methods of attracting viewers cost little or no money. Small business owners can spend a little time on promotion and get the same results as the big companies who outsource their internet marketing without spending fortunes on advertising.

Hannah Howard explains five ways to increase your traffic at little or no cost:

  1. Join the blogosphere. Posting comments on blogs related to your business. They usually allow a link back to your site connected with your comment.
  2. Exploit social media and guest posting. You can request links to your blog from other, related blogs. See our list of suggested blogs on the right as an example. Writing guest posts on others’ blogs gains additional exposure and links.
  3. Take advantage of free postings on classified websites. The best known of these is CraigsList.org, but Hannah lists others you should also consider.
  4. Participate in article marketing. This isn’t as strong since the Panda and Penguin Google updates, but if you write articles other webmasters use on their websites, the “about the author” blurb can provide a highly relevant link back to your website.
  5. Don’t ignore the classic press release. If you have something newsworthy to say, by all means get the word out with press releases. There are several free online press release services that can give your story legs.

Check our Hannah’s full article for more ideas on how to leverage these traffic sources.

Is Poor Readability Driving People Away?

How readable is your copy?

You’re probably not a professional writer, so you may be excused for not realizing if your website copy isn’t “readable”. After all, it’s in plain English, right? But readability is more than that. AJ Kohn points out the importance of readability on your website:

Readability is about making your content accessible and comfortable. Never make it a chore. If you make your content difficult to read the value of that content goes down. Lack of readability frustrates comprehension and reduces sharing. This, in turn, limits the social echo of your content and lowers the chances of it obtaining organic links.

Here’s your clue

Heed the warning sign of a high bounce rate.If poor readability is driving away visitors on your website, the clue will be a high bounce rate  — the percentage of visitors who leave immediately after arriving on a page without looking at anything else on your site. If you have that problem, you may have a readability problem.

AJ provides a valuable guide to producing readable content. Here are the bullet points, but you’ll need to read his article tor the background and explanations.

  • People Don’t Read, They Scan
  • Use A Font Hierarchy
  • Subheads Are Your Friends
  • Legibility Matters
  • Get Line Height Just Right
  • Color Contrast
  • Highlight The Important Stuff
  • Use Short Paragraphs
  • Crush Pronouns
  • Use Images
  • Reduce Clutter
  • Link Your Paragraphs
  • Reading Difficulty

Need help with copy readability or a high bounce rate? If we can’t help, we can refer you to someone who can. Call us.

 

6 Online Mistakes That Make People Click Away

The Gong Show

Dierdre Rienzo at MarketItWrite asks:

The Gong ShowDo you remember “The Gong Show”?

Brave contestants would go on stage and display their talents (or lack thereof) in front of three judges. If the contestants made a mistake, or just didn’t impress… GONG. Game over.

The world of online business has a gong equivalent. It’s called your bounce rate, and it tracks how often prospects click away without bothering to learn more.

When prospects click away, it means your time is up. It means you won’t get any more chances to win them over with your products or services.

Your bounce rate is available from your site analytics (like Google Analytics) and if it’s too high, you’re losing business. As a benchmark, most of our clients have a bounce rate between 39% and 69%. Don’t get discouraged if you’re a bit high because typical bounce rates vary depending on the kind of business/website you own. If yo’d like to reduce your bounce rate, though, take a look at your web page content.

As a copywriter, Dierdre is particularly sensitive to copywriting errors that raise your bounce rate. In her article, she explains six online writing mistakes that you should avoid. Use her explanations to look at your web copy with a new perspective. How many of the errors she discusses have you made in the copy on your site? Go ahead and fix them now. It’s never too late. Why not do it now?

Once that’s done, if you’d like some professional help with your on-page keyword optimization, please get in touch with us.