Thursday, December 27, 2012

Hiring A Good SEO Service

How To Recognize SEO Scams

Published on by: James H. Hobson

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Every day numerous well intentioned business owners are duped by online SEO scams, greedy advertising companies, and people who are simply using the lure of cheap SEO services to hustle cash. As this year drwas to a close we thought this would be a good subject to discuss to help people avoid some common SEO ripoffs and negative ROI situations.

SEO Scams

Greedy Advertising Companies

In terms of dollars hauled in, this is what we consider to the biggest SEO ripoff. The advertising business has traditionally been a massive revenue generator for print publishers. As the use of print advertising such as yellow pages has all but died, these advertising dinosaurs recreated their image as being internet gurus. The transition was relatively easy. It required simply reworking the print sales pitch to an internet sales pitch, building out a directory style website, and then converting the print advertisers over to the online advertising.

During this transition many yellow pages executives abandoned ship to start join or start other advertising companies . . . all using the same basic sales model. The costs for these one-size-fits-all programs are ridiculous and the sales pitches are usually very misleading. A true internet marketing company will dramatically out perform any online directory company in termns of cost control, results generated and overall customer satisfaction.

There are some business owners who are happy with their directory advertising, and there are some ad companies that are reasonably weel intentioned. Our experience is that they send trained salespeople to meet business owners for the sole purpose of closing sales, and they don't send knowlegeable SEO and business consultants to meet and learn exactly what your business needs and develop custom solutions.

Low Skilled Web Designers

Because the market is there, most website design companies include SEO in their service offerings. It's important to note that very few of these web design companies have been successful in getting their own website ranked for web design, SEO or other terms that are important for their business. For this reason, you have to ask yourself how you can realistically expect them to do for you what they can't do for themselves. If a company can't get their own site ranked well it's a huge red flag signaling really poor search engine optimization skills.

The Craigslist Hustler

Sites such as Craigslist, Backpage and often paid advertising such as Google Adwords entices business owners to sign up for "guaranteed first page results" and it always includes the amazing benefits of super low prices and near immediate results. Of course the other sales option is to get a LOT of people to sign up for $100 a month and tell them it's going to take a while. This assures them of a nice revenue stream while they ignore your site.

How does the SEO hustler work? One way is to charge you a low monthly fee and outsource the work to India, Phillipines or other low wage areas. This gives them an 80-90% profit margin and an excel spreadsheet of links to show you. Another way is to use black-hat SEO software to rewrite plagiarized articles, post the articles and build a few backlinks to your site. They may do this work themselves or outsource it overseas. A third way is to simply pocket your money and do nothing - just let you keep paying until you scream, then they ignore your calls, or argue with you and quickly disappear.

The SEO hustler does not truly undertsnad, or care to do, professional, ethical search engine optimization. Their objective is to simply get more people to send them money.

The Robo Caller or Serial E-Mailer

This SEO scam plays the numbers game at the lowest level because it's only mass spam contacts without any personal touch. These services are quite often overseas boiler rooms that invest more in billing software than in hiring SEO professionals, computers and equipment, essential SEO software and third party information services.

Signs of SEO Scams

There are several ways to identify SEO scammers and people who are most probably not going to deliver what you are expecting in terms of ranking or lead generation. Some of the prime indicators of a SEO scam or SEO rip off are someone with:

  • no office, business license, EIN or business bank account.
  • no business website with well developed organic rankings.
  • no employees, only a laptop for equipment and no verifiable references.
  • an inability to show numerous live examples of stellar organic rankings.
  • a need to find customers on free listing sites like Craigslist.
  • a need to promote their business by piggy-backing on another company.
  • more interest in a contract and deposit than in learning about your business.

Why do people fall for SEO scams? People that fall for any type of scam rarely fct check what they are told, are infatuated with the idea of big gains with no risk or work, and are naive enough to think they have found a magic secret that true industry professionals and sharp business owners are missing.

Search engine optimization is a professional service but because it is not licensed or regulated the internet marketing industry is littered with unscrupulous and unskilled people trying to make easy money. The best way to avoid SEO scams and SEO rip offs is to take time to qualify your potential SEO company, expect to pay a reasonable fee for professional services and don't trust anyone who promises the moon and the stars for $1.99.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Baton Rouge Web Design

2013 Strategic Website Redesign

Published on by: James H. Hobson

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The beginning of the new year is when many business owners begin to think about a website redesign process. The most common objectives are increasing leads, improving search engine ranking and simply updating the look and feel of their website.

We applaud any business owner who seeks to be on the leading edge of internet marketing. This article will present some of the important considerations in 2013 to maximize the opportunities available when doing a website redesign and redeployment.

Website Redesign Tips in 2013

Upgrade to HTML5

HTML5 is the most current specification for coding a traditional (desktop) website. HTML5 enables your web design company to deliver more features with less work. Using HTML5 means that your website can utilize tags for video that allows streaming multimedia content directly into a browser, enable the placement of interactive content without Flash or plug-ins, enable better controls and features for forms, and is a huge advantage for employing special utility features.

HTML5 Canvas is a great example of how your redesigned website can deliver a much improved user experience. Rather than use the outdated Flash presentation, the CANVAS element allows you to draw graphs, graphics, games, art, and other visuals right on the web page in real time within the user's browser. HTML5 can really make your site stand out!

Use Responsive Design To Impress

The better customers, people with money to spend, have larger monitors. This means that a new website can easily be built around 25% wider than most sites that are over 5 years old. With responsive web design your website can be made to auto-scale to fill the entire viewing space which maximizes your impact on potential customers.

Rethink Your Marketing

The best performing business websites are far more than a "cool design" with some photos and bland text. Your website should be a strategically crafted marketing tool. Your website should reinforce your brand, influence and persuade prospects, and be ranked where the highest relevant traffic is searching.

A good website design copany shuld never require YOU to write the content copy. Certainly client input is valuable but the text must be refined for search engine optimization, visual presentation, optimal messaging, grammar and the typical behaviors of a website user. Additionally, your site architecture, intra-site linking, interactivity, and inclusion of downloadable content are all powerful marketing components.

A large percentage of "website companies" are WordPress template tweakers that lack the business knowledge, professional expertise, and physical resources to create a well planned marketing tool. A review of a website designers portfolio, and an interview to discuss their processes should enable you to find the agency that will give you the most value for your investment.

Get A Mobile Website

It is very common for an entertainment venue, trades service business, or professional practice to soon find that 30% or more of their website traffic uses the mobile website. Without a mobile website your business stands to lose a lot of potential customers.

How is a mobile website any better? Your traditional website may display on a mobile device or smart phone without any noticeable problems but that does not make it a mobile website. A true mobile website design requires a different approach to meet browser requirements and deliver a better user experience. A mobile website auto-scales its size to fit the viewing screen whereas a traditional desktop website must be scrolled around or even pinched to expand the page to a size where the message can be read. A mobile website is coded to deliver the fast load times required by mobile devices, networks and platforms. And a mobile website is designed to leverage smart phone functions such as making your phone number a tap-to-dial feature.

Although the development of some features or functionalities still requires more time and cost, many of the valuable upgrades can be made with the same amount of effort as not using these options. When you're ready to redesign your website you should work with a company that has the knowledge and experience to truly move your site performance to true 2013 standards - and not deliver a rehash of what you had before.

For more information that includes valuable advice from a website redsign consultant you can view and download this free Website Redesign Guide.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

SEO Link Building Tips - Anchor Text 2013

Anchor Text vs. Co-Occurrence

Published on by: James H. Hobson

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There is a growing belief among the leading SEO experts that the optimization value from keyword rich anchor text is diminishing. I think we can all agree that the individual personality of each link is usually tailored to affect a specific and targeted ranking. A devaluation of anchor text is a logical step in the progressive efforts being made by search engines to mitigate manipulation of SERPs.

A new observation made by these same SEO experts is that Google’s Phrase Based Indexing capabilities may be placing greater value on overall content specifics. A critical component of phrase based indexing is the ability to associate page content by somewhat averaging the meaning of anchor text. The term for this is co-occurrence, and although this term is new to most SEO companies it has been in play for quite some time.

Although we won't go into the related concept of co-citations it is an area of SEO that any bonafide SEO company will explore and consider. Co-citation and Co-occurrence are going to be active parts of SEO discussions in 2013.

Anchor Text in 2013

Anchor Text Diversity Is Important

Let me first clarify that every link you acquire should be a the result of tying your great content to places where users would be interested in your information. When these quality linking opportunities are available you would be well served to use diverse wording for the anchor text. First, this keeps your link diversity ratios in scale, and second this is a favorable practice for trending anchor text evaluations.

SEO Experts Speak About Anchor Text Importance

Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz

Bill Slawski of SEO by the Sea

A very well written article on this subject, which was cited by Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz, is Not All Anchor Text is Equal which was written by Bill Slawski.

A teaser from this article, and a tidbit to demonstrate the quality of the article is the following pull quote:

The patent includes a number of features associated with a link, and I’ve included a handful that involve which text is actually used within a link, and how they might be analyzed.
  • Actual words in the anchor text associated with the link.
  • Commerciality of the anchor text associated with the link.
  • A topical cluster with which the anchor text of the link is associated.
  • A degree to which a topical cluster associated with the source document matches a topical cluster associated with anchor text of a link.

Just as exact match domains have become a detriment for many sites, so may become too many exact match links. And in the end this all comes full circle to what we have known all along - quit gaming the system and simply do things that best serve the user.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Leading Edge of Business Website Design

Business Website Design in 2013

Published on by: James H. Hobson

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Now is the time to propel your business ahead on search engines! Offense wins the game, right? While most businesses are laying low you can gain ground by taking the bold steps of doing a total revamp of your online precense. This article will speak to persons who understand that simply "having a website" does not mean that your business is on the same level as a competitor. So now you are (or should be) wondering what are some of the differences?

It All Starts With Business Knowledge

Web Designer Experience

Have you met with a website designer that raves about "cool stuff" they can do for your website? And do they get that deer in the headlights look when you start discussing your market, competition, buying process or buying cycle, and core business needs? This is because they lack real world business experience. They've probably never worked as a manager, much less an owner, in a B2B or industrial company. They've never had to prepare a formal bid for an RFQ or RFP, never dealt with production schedules or project management, and never developed a business plan, sales forecasts or operations budgets. They can however, buy a Wordpress template and add the pictures and text content that YOU write for them. It's no wonder that so many business websites do little more than exist - these business websites are made by people you might not hire to work in your back room. Business experience matters.

Technical Capabilities

I'll be quick to admit that platforms like Wordpress can be a great solution for some business websites . . . the simple ones anyway. When you hire a website designer you need to consider their technical capabilities with specific regard for their ability to handle your needs in a customized and relevant manner. Worpress designers rely on plug-ins and usually can't deliver when you need critical development features and internet marketing services.

Website design is a professional skill that requires knowledge of user preferences, color theory, search engine algorithms, traditional marketing concepts and more. Believing that simply buying a template, and adding some text and a few photos will deliver success is a huge mistake.

In the recent past the internet has served as a great tool to get a business found by more potential customers, and get the business found in new areas. Now, online users are expecting to be able to do more than find your brochure website. The ready-to-buy users want interactivity and the ability to control the website experience. The modern user wants to buy online, download brochures, access forms, view GOOD photos of products, and get detailed information. Additionally they are accessing websites from desktop computers and mobile devices. Can your website guy handle all of this? Do they have the technical design ad development skills to make your company more successful now and moving forward?

2013 Website Trends

It's all too easy to say "I've got a website and it's fine". But is it really okay? What criteria are you using to make this assessment? In 2012 Google changed their search engine algorithm over 100 times - did you adjust your website to leverage these opportunities? Is your website designed to take advantage of large monitor screens AND able to render well on mobile devices, smart phones and tablets? Has your website company discussed with you responsive website design, SVG content or app development? If not, you are leaving the door wide open for a competitor to advance far ahead of you. Is looking through their dust the view you want or one your business can afford? It's time to be aggressive and take the action that can protect your bottom line.

How Good Is The Information You Receive?

If you live in a relatively small market you probably have a somewhat small pool of website design companies and fewer website developers or internet marketing companies. This invariably means that the knowledge base is weak and behind the curve when compared to large market service companies. By reaching outside of your local market you have the opportunity to engage professional expertise and technical skills that will devastate your competitors now and for quite some time. Additionally you can hire a company that is not working with your competitors.

Unless you live and do business in a major market, the leading edge of website design and internet marketing is probably hidden from view. In 2013 do you want more of the same or an opportunity to gain ground on your competition?