Taking Steps to Keep Your Website Safe from Spam and Hackers

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There have been recent reports of increased hacked and spam content appearing in Google’s SERPs, and hackers have been even gone as far as resorting to old-school tactics such as bait-and-switch content. Despite claims, Google has said that this increase in spam content is unrelated to its recent algorithm updates.

As a site owner, what can you do to prevent hacked content from affecting your numbers? Here are a few preventative measures:

Stay alert. To maintain a healthy website from an SEO and usability standpoint, you need to check and keep an eye on it every day. Whether you do it yourself or appoint a dedicated person in-house to perform daily security scans on your site.

Use health diagnostic tools. So that you can easily monitor what’s happening on your website, make sure to use both and . These tools provide site diagnostics so that you can easily monitor and resolve any recovery issues.

Update your software. One of the most common pitfalls that lead sites to getting hacked is outdated software. See to it that your platform, plugins, add-ons, and other components are all updated regularly.

Select the right passwords. Basic passwords like “password” or “1234” are not going to cut it and should never be used. Choose strong, unique, and long passwords that use a mix of alphabetical, numeric, upper- and lowercase characters to prevent hackers from guessing your log-ins.

Site backup Should your website experience a breach, you’ll need to make sure that all your data is backed up and stored elsewhere so that you can revert back to previous site versions. You can also take advantage of secure firewalls that are updated regularly.

What other preventive measures can you think of so you can keep your website safe from hacked content? Share them with us; we’d like to hear from you!
 
 

Setting Up Click-through Rate Tests for Your SERPs

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Image by Tim Franklin Photography

 
 

Good SEO doesn’t stop after you’ve published optimized content or when your site is ranking on page one for a valuable keyword. Testing and improving your click-through rate (CTR) is part of the job as well. Setting up a CTR test for a SERP is a straightforward and low-cost task that will help you identify why and how users search for your products and or keywords.

The first step is setting your objectives. Have a clear hypothesis written down and determine what exactly it is you want to test. Do you want to find out which elements are the key factors in your industry? Test them out against a couple of different differentiators.

If you don’t already have one, set up a simple questionnaire and publish it on your site. All you have to do is explain the context of the situation to customers, give them a series of keywords or search terms to evaluate, ask them which selection they’d pick and why. You can also check out sites like Mechanical Turk, which allow you to pay individuals small amounts of money to complete small tasks. This will prevent the results from being skewed, since existing customers are all already aware of your brand and already buy from you. For the survey, make sure that situation and descriptions are clear, but be careful not to ask any leading questions.

Once the results are in, analyze them using an editable Google SERP .psd. Play around with it, and change whatever you need to test your hypothesis. This way, you should have a clearer picture of the factors behind your market’s SERP selection. Don’t leave your SEO tasks half done; implement the findings in your content and meta descriptions and you’ll be on your way to better, more sustainable rankings on the SERPs.

Is it Time to Redefine Your SEO Content Strategy?

By | Content Creation Strategy | No Comments


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By now, we all know that content is a crucial element in ensuring the success of any website. However, knowing exactly what type of content is needed is not always evident—and simply generating content for the sake of having something up on your website is a waste of time.

In order to create and publish content that will rank well on search and at the same time engaging and relevant, you need to think about redefining your content strategy.

You may have great ideas for content, but do you know if the topic has been written about before? Are people actually looking for the type of content you want to write? The answers may be obvious, but one way to get a clear picture of what your content needs is to look and analyze search results. By searching possible titles and content topics, as well as keywords or keyword phrases, it will be easier for you to see what’s already out there, what people want to know more about, and search intent for keywords you want to target.

To fully realize your content needs and determine what needs to be written in order to help potential customers do what you want them to, you also need to evaluate your existing content. This will help you identify the type of content that resonates best with your target base, how visitors are interacting with your site, and what they are seeing before signing up, downloading your e-book, or making a purchase.

Apart from using fancy analytics and data analysis, perhaps the best way to understand the customer journey and their decision-making process is to obtain information straight from the source. You can do this in a number of ways, but customer surveys, abandonment e-mails, user testing, live chat, are the most direct and most effective approaches. You can even tap your sales team for your customers’ frequently asked questions.
 
 

A Quick Guide to Improving your WordPress SEO with Permalinks

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Permalinks, which are permanent URLs of an individual post or category, as well as categories and other lists of weblog posts, are an underutilized resource for improving your WordPress blog’s SEO. Not only do they help search engines discover your website faster, they also give readers a better idea of what a specific is about through unique indentifiers. Basically, permalinks are the permanent web addresses that people and search engines will use to link to your blog posts or sections. They are also what users enter into their browser window to view your site pages.

As you probably already know, WordPress is one of the most popular CMS platforms available when it comes to SEO. It is not only easy to enhance using SEO plugins, it is also already optimized as-is. If SEO is a key component of your digital marketing campaign, you should recognize the importance of giving special consideration to your URLs.

To make the most out of your SEO campaign through the help of permalinks, you should configure your permalinks and make them more search engine-friendly by displaying your keywords in your URLs instead of just random characters. You can change the structure of your permalinks anytime; however, this will change your current URL structure which may cause 404 page errors that may lead to a drop in search engine and referral traffic for your site.

To edit your WordPress links, go to your Dashboard and select Settings > Permalinks. This will open the Permalink Settings screen where you can create unique and more search engine-friendly URLs for your posts. To do this, go to the Common Settings section, select Custom Structure, then add tags to create keyword-optimized URLs.
In the future, you can get more benefits out of Permalinks by setting up your WordPress Categories more efficiently. For more information on using permalinks, click here.

As Early As Now, Plan Your SEO Campaign for the 2016 Holidays

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While the memories and data are still fresh, analyze last year’s holiday search marketing performance.

SEO attempts to improve the immediate past’s search performance. You may have had theories about what was supposed to happen based on plans that you made last year, or certain products and strategies have been predicted to become strong traffic drivers but your site mirrored different results.

Authority is one of the most important keys to SEO performance, and search engines greatly emphasize a URL’s age into authority. Creating brand new pages just for holiday content every year means that your most important pages need to start all over again from scratch, without building on any previously acquired authority. It’s a lot to handle.

Archiving holiday content for important seasonal periods and refreshing the same pages each year will benefit your site’s performance instead of getting lost. Although this sounds simple enough to do, keep in mind that the URL cannot change and that your content needs to be relevant enough to get linked to, even during off-season. A simple way to go about this is to provide the same navigational template to the holiday pages, update the content, and replace any holiday-specific promotional content with relevant material.

For this year’s holiday season, don’t just act on theories and assumptions. Analyze last year’s results, and do it before the reflected nuances of your past campaign strategies are forgotten. While analyzing data before launching a campaign may seem like an obvious move, it’s all too easy to act on judgements and results you expect to find. It might be tempting to just focus on the positive aspects of last year’s performance, or to put a positive spin on negative results. But if you can play devil’s advocate with your beliefs early on, you can plan this year’s marketing campaign with an analytical and more objective SEO outlook.
 
 

Crucial SEO Building Blocks That You May Have Overlooked

By | SEO Strategy, SEO tips | No Comments


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With all the complexity and progress that SEO has gone through these past few years, it can be easy to overlook some of the fundamentals. If you’ve been too quick to rush off to play with new tools without first establishing the tried-and-tested practices, you can put your whole SEO strategy at risk.
 

Good user experience

Want to a truly powerful, flawless, and streamlined SEO strategy? Start by providing the best user experience you possibly can. Typically, UX is dealt with as part of a separate discipline. However, you can’t really have good SEO unless you have good user experience. Consider these best practices:
 
• Quality content – requires beneficial UX
• Functional website – requires an error-free UX
• Logical site navigation – requires intuitive UX
• Relevant KW usage – requires relevant UX
• Good backlinks – requires trustworthy UX
 
As you can see, user experience and SEO are closely tied together. When you improve UX, you’re also advancing your SEO strategy.
 

Optimized title tags

Title tags are highly important, yet too easy to overlook. Search engines and algorithms have come a long way since SEO has merely relied on the quality of keyword usage and mentions, but they still continue to place an enormous amount of importance on title tags. These tags are important not only for search engine crawlers, but for internet users as well. Whenever people search for something online, the title tags are the first thing they see on the SERPs.

To make the most out of your title tag, you need to remember to always keep it optimized. Never rely on auto-generated tags; make sure to analyze, tweak, and optimize it before the page goes live. It also helps to follow a standard pattern for your title tags and put the keyword at the front so that crawlers and web users can easily see them.
 

Plenty of quality content
Is there such a thing as “too much content”? Nope, not really—that is unless we’re talking about “too much bad content”. The point is, producing more content is fine, as long as it’s quality content that is relevant to your target audience. Readers want to consume content, and they will select the best one available to them.
 
 

The Last Five Google Updates and How They Affected SEO

By | Digital Marketing, Google, search engine optimization | No Comments


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Since Google launched the Google Toolbar, its first ever Google update in 2000, the search engine has proven its dedication to delivering a better search and online experience to users. Now, Google updates are renowned for having large-scale impacts and providing significant improvements to search, rankings, and traffic for websites.

But how exactly have the last five Google updates contributed to the evolution of SEO?
 

Panda

While several updates have been launched by Google since 2000, components of the Panda update have greatly affected SEO. The search engine stressed the importance of having fresh, original content, as well as established parameters that determine the quality of a website’s content.
 

Penguin
In 2012, Google’s Penguin update brought in the threat of over-optimization penalties. The update targeted direct spam, faulty redirects, and dubious link farms that promised higher rankings.
 

Hummingbird
Continuing its streak of adopting animal monikers, Google’s Hummingbird update was launched in 2013 and focused on the importance of semantic search. User search became more conversational and specific words gave deeper meaning to queries in general.
 

Pigeon

One year after the Hummingbird update, Google continued its push for better search results with the Pigeon update. It aimed to pinpoint local search in a more quantified manner, using Google Maps, geo-targeted queries, and other search queries. As a result, results became more accurate and local pages got better traffic for keywords adopted for their location.
 

Hacked Sites

Fresh off the boat after just being launched this month, hacking became the focus of Google’s latest update. Since so many websites are getting hacked by spammers on a daily basis, the Hacked Sites algorithm seeks to remove hacked URLs from search and protect users from unknowingly promoting unsavory or wrongful online behavior.

Is Your Link Building Strategy Hurting Your SEO Campaign?

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SEO experts are now encouraging a more natural form of link building, which involves creating, syndicating, and promoting well-researched, original content. Unlike strategies of the past, today’s practices aim to attract or earn links naturally without having to manually build a link on an outside source.

So what exactly makes a link “good” or “bad” for search engines? Is there a way to find out whether the link you’ve built isn’t going to negatively affect your website? Make sure to avoid the following to remain in good standing:
 

Links that appear on low-authority domains

Here’s a fact: Credible, high authority websites rank higher on search engines. Likewise, links that appear on high authority websites pass far more authority to other websites than those that appear on sites with a poor reputation. While a single low-authority link won’t really hurt your rankings, several sustained over the course of a few weeks or months certainly could.
 

Links that lead to irrelevant content

In modern search engine algorithms, context matters a lot. It’s not enough to have links that lead to your site; the links need to lead to content that’s relevant to your website as well. To avoid getting penalized, make sure that all your links are context-specific.
 

Links that are embedded in suspicious anchor text

Before when keyword-focused optimization was a popular SEO practice, embedding your link in anchor text that matched the exact keyword you wanted to rank for was considered a best practice. Now, it’s the quickest way to get penalized. Search engines these days have a more intricate understanding of semantics and link context, and they now prefer links that occur more naturally.

If you notice any links that are questionable, make sure to remove them. It’s better to put the safeguards in place and get rid of them right away than suffer the consequences later on.
 
 

Keep Up with the SEO Evolution to Rank High On Search

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Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is considered by many as something of a ‘dark art’. Most people don’t understand it and how they can benefit from it, that’s why getting professional input for your online campaigns can really be helpful.

Every day, search engines get smarter and better at gauging a website’s relevance in response to user queries. As a result, rankings fluctuate, and digital marketers often spend a lot of time wondering how SEO will evolve in the coming weeks, months, and years.

By reading between the lines and taking in the bits of information that search engines have given us this year, here are a few tips to help you rank high on search and stay there.
 

Learn the system

Search engines, especially Google, have always made an effort to update its algorithm to provide better, more relevant results and make the search process easier for users. This means that the old saying “content is king” still rings true. Quality content is still the single most important element of SEO, and creating unique, informative, and shareable material is the best way to reach and stay on top of the search results.
 

Consider Paid Search

Most search engine users probably won’t realize that the top of the results page is actually up for sale. A brand, company, or business with a product for sale can pay for their website to appear on the Ad section or in a separate ‘Shopping’ section if they want to rank higher and get more visitors.
 

Google News

If you publish news articles on a daily or regular basis, you can submit your site to Google News so that their crawlers are able to index your content as news items, and help you obtain a high ranking in news-related search engine results pages.
 
 

Dominate the Search Landscape with Help from User Reviews

By | Grow your business, SEO tips | No Comments


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User reviews are big right now, and an absolute must for e-commerce sites. Thanks to their prominence in search results, user reviews are also vital in helping local businesses, whether they sell products online or not. Business listings that appear on search engines, primarily on Google, are so dominant that many users will not even look at other results on the page.

In summary, if you want to get to the top of the SERPs, encourage clickthroughs, or increase your website visitors, you need to encourage customers to write good reviews.

User reviews are effective simply because of the power of social proof—people need assurance from other users that they’re making the right decision. So when they’re thinking of buying dog food online, or deciding which photographer to get for their wedding, seeing an average review of four stars from 500 reviews will provide the extra push they need to go check you out.

There are a number of consumer review sources that can play a big part in local search visibility such as Yelp!, Amazon, or BBB. However, the most important is Google reviews.

Getting listed on Google My Business is an absolute essential for dominating local search. Not only is the service free, it’s also the one that most users will probably look at. You don’t have to be an SEO expert to set it up either; just claim your Google My Business domain and accomplish the following:

  • Create a detailed and unique description of your business and the products that you offer
  • Fill out all the categories
  • Provide key information about your hours of operation
  • Provide your toll-free number (if applicable), local phone number, and business address
  • Upload or choose good photos and imagery
  • Post regular updates
  • Encourage user reviews and ratings from customers in-house or online