Helpful Information for Small Business People about Search Engine Optimization and Online Marketing

Online Marketing can be a frustrating, confusing and complicated endeavor for any business owner. We believe it doesn't have to be. At GreatCircle, a Tampa website design and SEO company, we provide a number of services to help our clients improve their online marketing and the performance of their websites in the search engines. We created this SEO Blog to help you succeed in your SEO efforts.

Since we're very involved in this subject we stay on top of the ever-changing world of SEO. We decided to create this blog as a way to publish information on this subject as we come across it. We also offer a free white paper on SEO and online marketing, so check that out too. We hope you find the information we have assembled here useful. Feel free to share with us your SEO knowledge and experiences using the comments links below each article.


3 SEO Tactics That Can Hurt Your Website

Believe it or not, there is proper etiquette when SEO techniques are involved. Despite countless articles and blogs that offer up tips and tricks to receiving more ROI on your search engine marketing, there are a few basic tenets that have stood the test of time.

Let me first start off by saying that while I find the term ROI deplorable within the context of SEO, because of its connotation that it’s somehow definitively measurable, there is a place for the term when used correctly.

The following changes are chief examples of Black Hat techniques on steroids; which can and will hurt your ROI. Meaning, your website will receive fewer traffic and ultimately become banned or penalized. And who wants to pay for something like that?

In today’s uncertain Google climate, it is important that you understand that nothing is guaranteed. You could be ranking well one week and slip the following, but if you keep these tactics from damaging your sites reputation you may very well stay off of Google’s hit list.

Spamming                                                                                                                                                   

Yuck! Just like it’s not-so appetizing namesake, spamming can leave an aftertaste in the mouths of blog sites, websites and social media posts. No one wants to see spammy, self promoting dribble within their comments section. No one!  Now that that is out of the way, let’s talk spamming keywords.

Keyword spamming was popular circa 2002. It is not and will never be popular again—Google made sure of that.  In the beginning, keywords were used if you wanted to rank well for a specific string of words. Once people found that they could manipulate keywords it was a keyword blood bath with long tail keywords being stuffed into every line of a content piece; ultimately making it unreadable.

Now, Google keeps a close-eye on keyword stuffing both long tail and short. With the sophistication of technology they can now track keywords and understand what a website is about, thus making over stuffing null and void. So ditch this Black Hat Technique.

Tip: Keywords can be used in titles, content or in meta tags. Just use them sparingly. 

Hidden Text

This change goes hand-in-hand with keyword spamming but in an unusual way. Hiding text is the practice of making text invisible to website visitors, but not to search engines; which can crawl a site and read any text present on page. This can be achieved with various nefarious methods such as matching font color and background color, placing text in a hidden DIV and placing it behind an image.

On his blog, back in 2005, Matt Cutts showed one of the more “creative” ways sites were trying to manipulate the system. By using #EEEEEE a gift framing site used a font color that was almost similar to the background color and used the keywords’ lengths instead of alphabetizing them to try to trick the Google team. Nothing gets past Cutts, though.

Tip: Hiding text for legitimate reason will never be frowned upon; as in the case of describing an image for the visually impaired or for social media plug-ins. Everything else is otherwise garbage.

Content Regeneration

If you haven’t noticed these bad tactics all center on content. Why? Because content is a huge part of the SEO process.

I like to call this process the lazy bones syndrome. Content Regeneration is when a content piece is rewritten using alternate words. While repurposing a content piece isn’t a crime, blatant plagiarism is. Just because words are changed like, innovative to groundbreaking doesn’t make it an original work of art.

The common website visitor may not notice that content is being plagiarized, but Google is well aware of this tactic and has since employed its own thesaurus and dictionary of terms to crack down on sites that try to plagiarize work for the sake of ranking better.

Tip: If you are going to use another person’s work, cite them properly and don’t take their work and generate it as your own. There is nothing wrong with reconstructing your own work, but make sure it is not just a thesaurus version.

Now that I am done dropping all this awesome knowledge on you, remember to keep the best practices in the forefront of your mind; while keeping the worst tactics at bay. Knowledge is power and Google doesn’t care that you didn’t know it was a Black Hat tactic—they will penalize you.

Benefits of Advertising with Google AdWords

Benefits of advertising with Google

A few important things set AdWords apart from other kinds of advertising. Using AdWords you can:

  • Reach people at the precise moment they’re searching for what you offer
    • Your ad is displayed to people who are already searching for the kinds of products and services you offer, so those people are more likely to take action.
    • You can choose where your ad appears – on which specific websites and in which geographical areas (states, towns, or even neighborhoods).
    • AdWords reaches 80% of Internet users in the US. That’s a big audience.

Relearning the SEO Landscape

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the past year that I have been working in the SEO industry, I have seen changes to its overall structure. From guest blogging to link building the climate is ever-changing and it is our duty to evolve with it.

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It’s a Wrap for Google Authorship Pictures

Like a Sopranos Finale episode, it’s a total black out for Google Authorship pictures. The beloved and sometimes irritating images that often accompany search results in Google had their last hoorah over the weekend as Google did away with the feature.

Google’ John Mueller made reference to the change in an announcement early last week on Google+ (how fitting):

Contrary to popular belief, this move hasn’t changed the level of engagement and click-through-rates.
Google Authors shouldn’t panic though, the authorship feature isn’t dead it is simply refined to provide users with a cleaner experience within SERPs. The picture has been remove along with Google Circles. All that is left is the byline and the date the content was published.

 

 

 

But, users on Nexus will still see an image, albeit smaller.

I can’t say that I am 100 percent happy with the change. I kind of liked the image next to my work. This seems to be one of the countless features that Google made cool, only to strip it from its users grip. Any who, the next cool feature is, undoubtedly, on the horizon. At least I hope.

For a more detailed account on the changes occurring with Google Authorship, check out this helpful guide.

Why My Google Business Is Good for Small Business

Google has begun its roll out of a new and improved local business. This new simplistic page is a coalition between Google+ and Google Places listings called “Google My Business”.

In a world of “Google it” or “Let my look it up on Google” it would seem that the search engine is making this move as a one of practice instead of for idealist motives for Google+. Google, it would seem, is recognizing the importance of businesses, both big and small, being found within their search engine , and is, for once, taking the side of the business in providing them with a streamlined dashboard that will allow them to access all of the Google listing information on one platform.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A bonus feature that I am sure many franchise chains and other businesses will be happy about is the ability to manage to multiple listing all in one dashboard. This makes these locations easy to manage and consolidates the time spent flipping back and forth through several listings in Google+.

When navigating the dashboard users will see simple call-to-actions such as Get on the map”, “Show up on the web” and “Be found across devices.” So, even a novice has the ability to move around the dashboard with ease.

Earlier this year I wrote a blog discussing the pending changes to Google Places. Back in February Google sent out massive emails asking its Google Places users to verify their pins. This was one of the first nods that change was looming. And, when you think about it, it all makes sense. Consider this; Google has never shied away from the fact that they want Google users to become more involved with Google+. With the advent of Google Authorship, rich snippets, and their continued efforts to streamline every aspect of their services into Google+, the change was bound to happen.

5 Reasons My Google Business Is Good for Small Business

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.  This new approach to Google Business can give small business a better chance of going up against big name brands that usually dominate search results pages.
2.  Businesses can now control and manage important information such as hours, and location all in one place.
3.  Small business can view and analyze data such as reviews, view analytics all in one place.
4.  Business will no longer be pigeon-holed into stuffy categories such as auto, music or online retailers. The dashboard allows them to choose from three broad, yet distinct choices: The Storefront’, ‘Service Area’ and ‘Brand’.
5.  Google+ is an extension and not the whole pie.  You can interact with your consumers on Google+ and analyze and manage other areas of your business too.

Below are some further details outlined within the Google My Places FAQ page:

How much does Google My Business cost?

Anyone can use Google My Business for free. Really, we mean it.

What’s the difference between Google My Business, Google Places for Business, and Google+ Pages Dashboard?

If you previously used Google Places for Business or Google+ Pages Dashboard to manage your business information, your account has been automatically upgraded to Google My Business. Google My Business makes it easier than ever to update business information across Google Search, Maps and Google+.

Do I need Google My Business if I already have a website?

Google My Business complements your existing website by giving your business a public identity and presence on Google. The information you provide about your business can appear on Google Search, Maps and Google+.

How do I sign up for Google My Business?

Click the “Get on Google” button at the top of the page, and follow the steps to add your business information to Google. Please note that any edits will not appear on Google until you verify your business.

How do I manage multiple business locations?

If your business has ten or more locations, you can add them all at once using the bulk upload tool. Go to Google My Business Locations to upload and edit your locations. Learn More

Some Snags

Many critics argue that while the conglomeration of services is a step in the right direction, there are several snags that need to be fixed (I know, I mean already. Gees!)  . One of the most prevalent issues is duplicate content. For example, if a business changes their location a new Google Place will be made automatically by Google, instead of moving that information to the new listing and disavowing the old, or vice versa.  But, as reported by Barry Schwartz that issue is being resolved through the ability to merge multiple (by multiple, I mean two.) local pages and brand pages.

Conclusion

Even though there are some naysayers, Google My Business can be a great way to boost online presence and can skyrocket small businesses to high page ranks. The ease and accessibility of the new dashboard will make managing and analyzing data simple.  Business can get started or take a look around the new dashboard by signing in or signing up using Google+ or Google Listings at Google.com/business.