Monday, September 24, 2012

SEO Strategies In 2012

SEO Tips In 2012

Published on by: James H. Hobson

When a domain name and website are new they lack any existing off-page SEO elements. The SEO process for a new domain and website presents unique challenges and opportunities. Success for achieving high organic placement for any particular keyword or search phrase requires a level of work (skill + hours) to not only “define the site for search engines” but to also outpace and out maneuver your current online competitors. Specific and deliberate efforts will need to be made for each and every of your desired target keywords or search phrases.

SEO Opportunities

A new domain and new website have no history with search engines. Although this means an initial flat-line for organic rankings, it does assure that there are no problems with past SEO work which may be deemed by search engine algorithms to be “black-hat” or non-compliant to desired standards. Starting with a clean slate is a great opportunity however you need to have patience and be willing to invest a very substantial amount of work to sculpt your online ranking.

SEO Challenges

Search engine algorithms are ever evolving in their ability to gather and process information about a website. Algorithms process over one thousand factors to determine the order in which sites should be ranked for a given keyword or phrase. A new website is challenged with building a properly structured profile of “SEO credentials”. Because a new website is starting at ground zero, there is a tremendous amount of work to be done to become competitive with very well established and ranked websites.

A factor that is of value, but cannot be managed, is the “domain age factor” for your domain name, the age of backlinks and the age of online content that is associated with the domain name (URL). Typically, SEO work will yield even better results after the site has been online for at least one year. . It is worth mentioning that if you purchase a domain that has been used before it WILL have a history with search engines. Sites that have been banned for black-hat SEO have destroyed all value for the associated domain. Any site that is subsequently using this domain will suffer from the bad history of that particular domain.

Important SEO Elements

Unique Content is extremely important. Any scraped content (copied from other sites) is not only illegal but it will affect your site with a duplicate content penalty. You should write all original content or, if you are using a web design company or SEO company to write your content, get a written statement that they are providing all unique content and not violating any copyright laws.

Backlinks are a key part of any SEO strategy. The process of building a backlink footprint must be implemented with a strategy that will mitigate the risks of search engine penalties and yet achieve optimal results. Obviously acquiring a large number of high quality links is important however Google’s algorithm is particularly sensitive to link velocity, meaning acquiring “too many” links “too fast” is a signal of “unnatural linking” and will yield very negative results.

You should always avoid any “link farms” or services that provide mass links from spam blog posts. There are many online services that offer outsourced link building and may seem to be legitimate however if you make a mistake in choosing the right company your site may suffer severe ranking penalties. Under no circumstances should you get links from “bad neighborhoods” meaning sites dealing with gambling, porn, etc.

Social Media Signals are a key factor for current search engine algorithms. You should share links between your website and your social media business pages. It is important to note business pages and not from your personal social media pages. Examples of top social media links include Google+, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Frequent social interaction is the key ingredient for social signals. Posting good content and obtaining social approval signals such as a +1, Like, Share and Follow are all something you need to acquire. Hiring an inbound marketing company to develop a true inbound marketing strategy is worth considering.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

SEO Company Baton Rouge

Local SEO and Organic SEO for Baton Rouge

Published on by: James H. Hobson

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the umbrella term for the various tasks and elements that can be leveraged to improve search engine rankings. SEO work can be done for organic rankings (main search results) and for local search listings. Unlike money spent on short life print advertising, SEO can have a lasting benefit that generates more sales.

While this article is written around Baton Rouge SEO, the information here is relevant to any city that has been experiencing rapid population growth.

Unique SEO Needs For Baton Rouge

Since the post-Katrina floods the population of Baton Rouge has skyrocketed. For a majority of businesses this means a substantial opportunity to serve more customers. This presents a combination of challenges and opportunities that Baton Rouge businesses have never experienced.

The geographical size of the city has greatly expanded. A majority of these potential customers are not necessarily close to your business. The new residents are not familiar with the established businesses in the area. The new residents outside of your immediate area are very likely to be searching online for what they need. If your business has strong, competitive search engine rankings you can engage these new potential customers all across the greater Baton Rouge area.

Local SEO

The term "local" refers to online listings such as a Google Place page, Yahoo local search listing, Bing Business Portal listing and listings on local search oriented directory sites. Local listings are blended into the organic search results. If your business thrives on local customers then you need a strong local search presence.

To have high local search ranking you have to do much more than just "fill in your information". There are technical tricks and methodologies that are essential for improving the value and relevance of your local search business listings.

Organic SEO

The term "organic ranking" or "organic placement" refers to the websites shown in the main area of search engine results pages (SERP's). SEO best practices are continually evolving. Understanding how to rise in organic rankings and not get penalized by search engine algorithms requires knowing specific current requirements. Desperation can drive some to deliberately apply black-hat SEO to achieve high rankings, and some people innocently do harm to their site when attemping to optimize their site. SEO work must be done using only best practices.

SEO Best Practices

SEO best practices change often in order to compliment search engine algorithm changes. Buying books on SEO provide information that is probably at least one or more years old, thus outdated. Online forums and blogs may give poor quality information meaning that trusting advice online is not always a good idea. Because of the complexity of SEO in 2012 the best option is to hire a SEO company.

The on-page SEO items include:

  • Create unique page titles, descriptions and keywords meta data. The use of a keywords tag is not necessarily used by all search engines but many high ranking sites still include this tag.

  • Streamline your code and content to affect fast page load times. Ideally this would be under half a second.
  • Do not use text copied from other online content. This will be viewed as "duplicate content" which is bad, and it is an illegal practice which can cause your site to be dropped from search results. You could be sued by the content owner under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA).
  • Always use "alt tags" and "title attributes" that contain accurate information, and do not use these for keyword stuffing.
  • Remove site-wide links and utilize rel nofollow on outbound links.
  • Use a logical heirarchy for structuring content, and strategically plan your linking.

The off-page SEO items include:

  • Building backlinks from sites that are relevant to your business.
  • Establish Google Authorship and use it.
  • Create social media pages and link to them from your site.
  • NOT using services that sell links,offer link wheels or blog networks.

SEO Prices and Timeframes

SEO prices vary depending upon the amount of work to be done. The level to which your competiton has optimized their site will largely influence the timeframe to get first page rankings can be a few months to several years. The good news is that if you hire a good SEO company you are almost assured of receiving a multifold ROI. It's important to implement SEO as quickly as possible to get the bottom line benefits and prevent losing business to competitors.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

SEO For Google in 2012

Atlanta SEO

Published on by: James H. Hobson

 

Any business in the greater metro Atlanta area knows that the race for top ranking on Google is incredibly intense. Because of the numbers of competitors, and the ample supply of Atlanta SEO companies, it takes a true SEO expert to improve search engine rankings on Google. After the algorithm updates known as Google Panda Update and Google Penguin Update there has been greater concern over how to do SEO for Google and not lose the valuable first page rankings. Certainly, any SEO company should first and foremost pay close attention to Google's Webmaster Guidelines.

SEO for Google

Search engines assess many factors and characteristics of websites, articles and other online content in order to rank them for search results pages. Most search engines have an overlapping number of criteria such as page load time, ample amount of meaningful content and similar items. Google is the most advanced in evaluating a site's quality and value. Doing SEO for Google requires a particular expertise and a commitment to paying close attention to the finer SEO details.

Although Google SEO techniques have long included items such as honing page titles and descriptions, using alt and title attributes and having ample backlinks to your site, the manner in which these things are done has changed. In particular, the Google Penguin update totally changed what is considered white hat seo practices and techniques.

Building backlinks was once as simple as hiring any of the multitude of "link building services" that advertise online. These services often used spammy auto submission, mass link dropping on blogs, article spinning and submissions, and other tactics to rapidly generat high volumes of backlinks. Many of these companies owned and operated "link farms" which is a collection og blogs and sites that exist solely to post mindless articles with backlinks, or simply add page after page of text links. Google made a concerted effort to drop these link farms and black hat SEO sites, thereby rendering useless the links from these sites. This left many businesses with sites that plummeted in rankings, losing lots of traffic and business. Unfortunately, many of these businesses had no idea that their chosen Atlanta SEO company was doing black-hat work. So how do you now do SEO for Google?

Atlanta SEO companies, at least the better SEO firms, are among the best in the country at achieving great results through white-hat SEO practices. The current way to SEO includes the following:

  • Fire your SEO company if they use black-hat methods.
  • Use Google Webmaster Tools to check your site for problems.
  • Correct as many problems (on- and off-page) as possible.
  • Request reconsideration by Google if your site's rankings have been harmed.
  • Be more selective and judicious in how, and from where, you acquire backlinks.
  • Get professional SEO help to maximize SEO results.

Finding A Good Atlanta SEO Company

One of the most important considerations when seeking a good Atlanta SEO company is to find a firm that offers more than just SEO (or "just" any one or two things). To develop a well rounded and high performing internet marketing program you need a company that offers:

  • Extensive client-side, real world business experience.
  • Creative consulting and strategy development.
  • Organic SEO services for local, regional and national campaigns.
  • Local SEO services for Google+, Yahoo Local and Bing Business Portal.
  • Website design and maintenance.
  • PPC management, which is a great partner tool for SEO.
  • Search engine marketing, article writing, etc.
  • Video creation and marketing.
  • In-house staff without need to outsource your work

Local SEO Companies

There are a multitude of Atlanta SEO companies to be found online. Taking your list down to the better ones means finding a true company, with an office and a staff - not a freelancer. Checking credentials such as A+ BBB ratings, great online reviews and portfolio will reduce the list to only a few companies. A brief interview will help you to find the company with a style that you like and with whom you would enjoy working.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

September 2012, Thoughts On Google Penguin

Thoughts On Google's Evolving Search Results

Published on by: James H. Hobson

The year 2012 has seen Google take some hard and deliberate measures to alter their search results. Notably this has been through the Panda algorithm and Penguin algorithm changes, and the numerous aftershock tweaks. Perhaps being naive, I want to believe that Google has truly honest intentions however looking at the overall results leads me to question whether or not money has corrupted the souls at Google.

I'll be fair, and true to my capitalist beliefs, and say that Google has the right to do whatever they choose with their product, services and company. I think it is worth noting that with Google being such a liberal minded organization, you would expect them to think about their "economic responsibility" and believe in "fairness".

Algorithm Winners and Losers

What seems to be the majority opinion is that Google's handy work has made large corporations the biggest winners, and small businesses the biggest losers. The minds at Google are far too sharp to have not anticipated such outcomes. While so many people are confused as to why this would be implemented, I'll defer to standby logic and say, "when things don't make sense, simply follow the money trail".

Why Favor Big Business?

Large corporations have a lot of power, and have well connected Board members. Because Google is a noun and a verb, you have to respect it's power in generating sales. For years these large, sloth like corporations have been unable to keep pace with SEO, and consequently have been losing huge amounts of revenue to small companies. Even major advertising companies like AT&T yellow pages have taking massive hits year after year because their products are no longer highly valued due to dismal rankings and (I believe) shrinking usage. There's no doubt in my mind that Google "got the message" and decided to do their own Google dance, lol.

Free Enterprise Will Triumph

It's my belief that whenever the American people are trying to be forced into something, they fight it and find a way to remain free of domineering powers. From this perspective I anticipate that the average user will begin to be very willing to go past page one, skipping the force fed results, and get into the area where they find what they want. I think that others will be substantially turned off by being herded and will move to other search engines. It's absolutely awesome how the free enterpise system works, isn't it?

I hope that someone will tell Google that being a "green company" is not supposed to be a reference to money, and that when American small businesses are hurt in mass it's going to end up a black-eye for the perpetrator. I hope that American small businesses can outlast this insanity and find new ways to stay alive. Maybe I'm wrong about the popularity of the 2012 trends for Google searches, but riddle me this Batman, who do you know that is raving about the results of Panda and Penguin?