SEO Rundown 10/20

Hey All,

Theo from Mountain Media here again for another SEO Rundown. I know that it has been a bit since my last post but it has been very here at Mountain Media and as such I’ve had little time for making this video. However, I feel that with the rollout of Penguin 3.0, it was high time I sent out this video.

Penguin 3.0 has rolled out…now what?

So, Penguin 3.0 was confirmed to have been rolled out Friday evening, this was first reported by SE Roundtable. While no official percentage has been released yet on how many sites have been affected, it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on your clients’ websites over this week to see if they’ve been affected by Penguin. If you’ve been following our videos you know that I was predicting a rollout around the holiday season, specifically November. Thankfully, I was very wide on my mark and the rollout now gives people some time to recoup some losses if they were bitten by the Google Boogeybird. Whether this is through paid or organic traffic growth, you can regain some of the ground lost from this rollout.

Direct or Indirect

One of the things that has been stated about this latest iteration of Penguin is that you can be affected both directly and indirectly. With this iteration of Penguin, Google wanted to take a deeper look at link value and quality. So if you’re indirectly affected by Penguin, it might be due to links in your website’s link profile being re-evaluated as weaker than they were before, or considered “false votes.” My advice is to re-double your link building through content marketing and outreach. By creating deep, quality content on your website and reaching out to other webmasters, writers, and bloggers in your niche, you can help rebuild your link profile organically and maybe regain some of your lost traffic due to Penguin. If you’ve had a direct hit from Penguin, you’ll be able to see it via a message from Google in your WMT. I would still recommend following the advice above, unfortunately though, you won’t see any removal of the penalty until the next rollout of Penguin. Which according to Google, should be more frequent now. But until then, to quote Search Engine Land, the clock is running.

Well that’s it for this week’s issue of SEO Rundown. I promise that this will be the last episode about Penguin for a while, unless there is some major breaking story that requires attention about Penguin. As always, if you like what you see, subscribe to our YouTube channel, Follow us on Twitter, G+, or Facebook, or check us out at MountainMedia.com!

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Avoiding Credit Card Fraud

With the EMV shift now almost three weeks in, merchants need to be even more on guard to online fraud. With physical card present fraud becoming near impossible with the new chip, fraudsters will go where the path of resistance is least, unfortunately, that is currently online merchants. When a merchant gets hit with fraudulent orders on their website, the cost is more than just the money. It can take a toll on their confidence and make them question whether they should abandon their hopes at being an entrepreneur.

Consider these easy to implement techniques that will help eCommerce merchants to avoid fraud. Following these techniques will save you time, money, aggravation and help you avoid developing a bad online reputation. Having been in the eCommerce space for over 12-years, I have seen a wide spectrum of fraud on the Internet. Almost every case of fraud could have been avoided if the merchant had their payment gateway configured correctly. In most cases, the transactions are glaringly fraudulent; but the merchant is so thrilled to have a great order that they overlook the obvious signs and fill the order only to get burned. Here are my suggestions for avoiding online fraud:

Merchant Account Setup
When you are going through the merchant account application process it is important to give the bankers realistic numbers. You will need to provide the bank with numbers such as estimated annual transaction volume, estimated monthly volume and minimum and maximum transaction amounts. From my experience, I’ve seen merchants exaggerate these numbers in the hopes of impressing the bank. That is a mistake. Give the bank conservative numbers, especially if you are just starting out online. It will take a year before you are transacting with any volume. These numbers can easily be increased as needed. The bank uses these numbers to set up profiles for you in their fraud prevention systems. This is your first line of defense – the more accurate the numbers you provide, the more likely the bank can protect your account. Remember, the bank’s job is to help you with sales, not prevent them. They can only run things so tight or too many of your transactions will fail. The bank’s fraud prevention system is only one layer of defense. It is not your merchant bank’s job to watch every transaction for fraud, they will only pick up some of the transactions that are outside of your profile. That leaves plenty of room for fraud inside those parameters. Your merchant application is not a business plan. Don’t bloat the numbers; you will only be hurting yourself.

AuthCapture (bad) AuthOnly (Good)
There are two types of transactions you can run when receiving payment online: Authorize and Capture (AuthCapture) and Authorize Only (AuthOnly). You can greatly reduce your exposure to fraud if you run AuthOnly. I strongly recommend setting your transactions to AuthOnly. An AuthOnly transaction will require the merchant to review orders and mark them for settlement if it passes their scrutiny. I know, you need your money now and AuthOnly could mean that it will take another day before you have your money, and it’s so much work to mark transactions for settlement. Get over it! You can wait one more day for your money and it only takes one click to mark a transaction for settlement.

Merchants often have a false sense that the bank, the gateway or the ecommerce platform will protect them from fraud, and ultimately someone other then the merchant will be responsible for paying for the fraudulent activity.  The merchant ultimately pays for fraud and has a duty to screen their transactions for fraud.

The merchant is responsible for scrutinizing their transactions and approving the ones that pass a simple test. Here is what to look for:

  1. Did the transaction pass the Address Verification System (AVS) check?
  2. Did the CVV code have a match?
  3. Are the shipping and billing addresses the same?
  4. Common sense check?

If  the answer to any of the above questions is “no,” then the merchant must take a closer look at that particular order. If someone orders 12 vacuum cleaners and wants them shipped to Pakistan, and the billing address is Jane Smith from Arkansas, the order stinks of fraud. This scenario has happened more than you would think.  The merchant is so thrilled to have the big sale, they don’t even consider that it could be fraud. In the end, the merchant pays for the product, pays for the shipping, pays Jane Smith’s credit card back, and even gets to pay a charge back fee from the bank. Ouch! The merchant is left feeling like it was someone else’s fault. Shouldn’t the bank or payment gateway prevent that? The merchant is the last line of defense and needs to use common sense and scrutinize their transactions. If it looks fraudulent, make a customer service call to the cardholder and ask some simple questions. This will quickly confirm whether or not the transaction is fraudulent.

Set Your Minimum and Maximum Transaction Amounts
Most payment gateways will let you set a minimum and maximum transaction amount for all of your orders. Using these features can greatly reduce your exposure to fraud. If you don’t sell anything for under $9.99 then set the amount to $9.98. Also set the ceiling just above your realistic highest order amount.

This simple adjustment will help avoid a common hacker technique known as “Phishing.” Phishing is when a thief uses your website or payment gateway to test a database full of stolen credit card numbers. They will run a high volume of small transactions
( $0.25) to see if the credit cards are good, and if so, they can exploit them elsewhere. When a merchant sees they have 2,000 transactions for 25 cents each, they are victims of a phishing attack. The bank will often hold the merchant responsible for paying the per transaction fees on all of the transaction. This hassle and frustration can be avoided by setting the minimum transaction amount to something greater than zero, and preferably over $1.00. Having your transactions set to AuthOnly will prevent all of these little phishing transaction from settling. Waking up Monday morning to find that you have settle 3,000 fraudulent transactions over the weekend is not the way you want to start your week.

Merchants can greatly reduce their exposure to fraud by running AuthOnly transactions, setting minimum and maximum transaction amounts and scrutinizing their transactions before capturing the funds. Most decent online payment solutions will have these basic fraud prevention features available.

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SEO Rundown Sept. 23

Theo from Mountain Media here again for another episode of SEO Rundown. Today’s topics; Yelp or how I stopped worrying and learned to love other review aggregators, Google stops following its own webmaster practices briefly, and an update on P3.0.

How I learned to stop worrying and love other Review Aggregators

First off, Yelp, the recent Supreme Court ruling that Yelp has the right to make you pay for your positive reviews is a clear signal that you should be considering other review aggregators than the pay-for-play bully in the local review yard. While Yelp is the catch-all for reviews there are many other review websites out there that are gaining traction and show that Yelp isn’t the only major player when it comes to rep management and local SEO. If you are any sort of restaurant or hotel there is TripAdvisor, Urbanspoon, Google Places, Google+,Facebook, Twitter, Bing Local, and local town and city websites who love, love, love to showcase their local businesses. Which will give you a nice juicy backlink for SERPs local and organic.

I know, at this point you’re saying, “But Theo, I’m not a restaurant or a hotel, I have to use Yelp or else I won’t have any sort of human reviews.” To that I say, use Angie’s List in addition to the search engine products and social media sites I just listed, Angie’s List is a great spot to be on because all of the users are paid subscribers so you have a gated review community. While Yelp is getting front page SERPs, Angie’s List is close behind them and if there is a community shift away from Yelp, they will be forced to change their practices or go out of business. Also, Angie’s List is a great way to gain high-end leads for your business as they put you front and center within their search. Plus, it’s free for businesses. If you don’t want to go the Angie’s List route; Facebook is great for reviews and while you will have to deal with some spammy reviews, again, no anonymous reviews.

Google Black Hat for a Day, Update on Penguin 3.0

Next, while this isn’t really trending I did find it comedic and somewhat ironic, Google decided to go black hat for a day and started indexing its own search results. While it was a mistake and was quickly fixed it is funny that even the Great G sometimes makes mistakes in its robots.txt file. Speaking of the Big G, Google has released an update that Penguin 3.0 will most likely be run in 2014. What that means to me, is that they might be waiting until right before the holiday season to run it. Which means it could be a present in some stockings and coal in others, make sure it’s a present for you and your clients and run those link audits folks. I know I spoke about this last time, but this is the SEO boogeybird we are talking about. Make sure your backlinks are squeaky clean folks, if you have even a shadow of a doubt then Run. Those. Audits. If you are a business owner and need some help, give us a call over at Mountain Media, we are here to help you.

Well that’s it for this week folks, as last time, if you liked what you saw, subscribe to our YouTube Channel, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

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SEO Rundown – Sept. 5

Hey All,

This is Theo from Mountain Media and this is your Friday SEO Rundown. Every other Friday I’ll be going through some of the big trending issues in SEO and giving each of them a brief moment in the sun.

Penguin 3.0 are you ready?

Chuck Price over at SEW recently posted an article detailing what is going to be going on with P 3.0 but let me give you the long and short of it. Currently, everyone who has gone through a link audit and meticulously picked out every spammy link the reward has been next to zero. Mainly due to the fact that Penguin is a separate algorithm that isn’t part of the normal algorithm updates. But, don’t worry, after P 3.0 is run you should see a jump in SERPs. For those of you who haven’t cleaned out your links yet or are worried that you might have spammy links, now is the time to do it before the hammer drops. Get it done, because Google might not wait until Matt Cutts gets back from vacation before they run it and if you’re caught with anything remotely spammy, you might have to wait 10+ months again before the next iteration of Penguin.

HTTPS URLs Have no Ranking Benefit…Yet

As you all know, Google announced that it would provide a small ranking boost to HTTPS/SSL sites due to their new HTTPS ranking factor. Search Metric recently released a study showing that moving your site over to HTTPS has not given any sort of boost to SERPs. Marcus Tober over at Search Metric was quoted as saying:

“In a nutshell: No relationships have been discernible to date from the data analyzed by us between HTTPS and ranking nor are there any differences between HTTP and HTTPS. In my opinon therefore, Google has not yet rolled out this ranking factor – and/or this factor only affects such a small section of the index to date that it was not possible to identify it with our data.”

In my opinion, I agree with Mr. Tober, while Google did say it is a small boost, even a small boost to your SERPs is noticeable. The most likely thing is that Google is probably going to roll out the ranking after they run P3.0. Well that’s it for this week’s SEO rundown, if you enjoyed please subscribe to our YouTube Channel, and make sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or G+. Thanks and we’ll see you next time for our next SEO rundown.

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