9 SEO Pitfalls To Avoid In 2016

9 SEO Pitfalls To Avoid In 2016

With the close of 2015, we saw many significant changes to the search landscape. From Google revealing their search guidelines and Rank Brain to Panda being integrated into their search algorithm. With another Penguin rollout imminent in the beginning of 2016, SEOs should be prepared to weather the aftershocks of the changes from the end of 2015 along with the current tumultuous search landscape. In short, expect the unexpected with search in 2016 and make sure you and your clients are prepared by avoiding these common pitfalls.

#1 – Scraping Content

While pulling from content by your competitors and other businesses in your space can be useful to come up with ideas or expand on what they talk about. Scraping their site and copying it verbatim is the worst thing that you could do for your site, and can prevent you from even being indexed.

#2 – Content for Search Engines

As you know, content is king. That being said, if what you’re writing about doesn’t match up with your site’s content and audience, don’t even bother posting it. With Panda now part of Google’s search algorithm it’s working overtime making sure that only the most useful content is presented to searchers.

#3 – Not Mobile Friendly

Last April, Google announced that mobile-friendly web design is now included in its list of ranking factors and with 80% of all search traffic now coming from mobile devices, having a responsive design is no longer a convenience it’s a necessity. To make sure you get that nice “mobile-friendly” tag and the search ranking boost that comes with it, make sure that your mobile UX is up to snuff.

#4 – Poor UX

Though UX isn’t a ranking factor according to Google, it has an intrinsic effect on your website’s performance. Google considers your visitors’ experience when grading your website, if your site has a high bounce rate, that’s going to be a red flag to Google that your site’s UX is not optimized and could negatively affect your website’s search performance.

#5 – Lacking Fresh Content

Fresh and original content are two factors that are important to maintaining your search rankings in 2016. The days of uploading content once or twice a month are long gone, searchers are constantly looking for fresh and original content within the niche that they’re searching. Show your visitors what you’re capable of by presenting a wide variety of content that is in your niche.

Steady, high quality content is highly valued in SEO and therefore, highly valued by Google. If your visitors are getting consistent high quality content when they come to your site they’ll keep coming back. This is compounded with the effect that fresh content has on your user engagement.

#6 – Poor User Engagement

As an SEO, one of the biggest challenges in the field is optimizing your user engagement. However, it is one of the most important ranking factors that determines the success of your website and cannot be ignored in 2016. Use A/B testing to optimize your site for better user engagement. This will help you determine the best layout for your site and what content will help entice users to stay on your site and help you to convert them into prospects, and then hopefully customers.

#7 – Thin Content

While the freshness of your content is an important factor, the quality of the content is just as, if not more important. Avoiding thin, low quality content will help your website’s UX and will help you achieve higher rankings. Additionally, Panda is now always watching, and if your website has thin content it will suffer. I know its been said a million times, but unique content built for your users and not for search engines is what Google wants. If you scrape content, have gateway pages, or just poorly written content, be prepared for Panda to come pay your site a visit.

#8 – Interstitial Ads

As part of its mobile-friendly ranking factor, Google announced back in November that they will downgrade mobile rankings for sites that use interstitial ads. Google views these ads in the same light that they view gateway pages. These ads block the content that users are looking for and frustrates users to either search for a way to close the pop-up, sign-up for a service they don’t necessarily want, or leave. Additionally, if your site uses these style of ads, you’ll lose your “mobile-friendly” tag and all of the search ranking benefits that come with it.

#9 – Exact Match Anchor Text

Only a few short years ago, exact match anchor text was one of the best ways to rank for keywords that you were targeting. With the shift from keywords to user intent pretty much complete, this is no longer the case. Having too much exact match anchor text could in fact be seen by Google as trying to manipulate search rankings and could get you penalized in the process. However, used sparingly and organically, branded and limited use of exact match anchor text can be beneficial if used in ways that are highly relevant to the content.

 

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Link Risk Management is Critical to SEO Success

link risk management is critical to seo

Penguin is, without a doubt, one of Google’s most impactful algorithm updates to date. First rolled out in 2012, it penalized thousands of websites in its first run. Site owners became vigilant against suspicious backlinks and became driven to get rid of any link that might hint at being spammy.

Since then, webmasters have been kept on their toes by Penguin’s rollouts as Google continues to improve their definition of what is and is not a good link. One way to determine whether or not your link profile contains good links is to be aware of your link risk and managing it effectively.

What is Link Risk Management?

Link risk management is a process that came about from the continuous changes to linking and SEO ranking factors. SEO has become more than just a way to win traffic and get better visibility; it’s the way to maintain and improve the quality of your digital assets (i.e. your website).

Instead of waiting for a penalty from Penguin to occur, link risk management is about insuring your traffic and it’s resulting revenue from being affected by Penguin roll-outs in the first place. It’s easier and better to be proactive and prevent damage than to map out a response once a penalty has been placed against your website.

Link risk management consists of common tasks completed when necessary by SEOs:

  • Recovery from manual or Penguin penalties
  • Protection from negative/black-hat SEO and poor quality inbound links
  • Legitimate link-building practices

Recovery from Penalties

Webmasters that have been affected by a manual penalty understand how difficult the recovery process can be. Organic traffic is usually the primary source of traffic to a website, and to lose that can mean lost revenue that can seriously hurt the business. Recovery from these penalties is possible, usually through the disavow tool available to webmasters through the search console. In practice, the process takes a long time; patience and continuous effort is necessary. There are four parts to recovering from penalties:

Backlink Review

Usually, you can only get a portion of your backlinks from Google’s Search Console. To get a more complete picture, tools such as SEMRush or Raven are necessary. Using these tools, you can download a spreadsheet of your total links and review them for quality as well as if they’re relevant to your website.

Link Analysis

When analyzing your links, the first thing you need to do is have a understanding of what makes a good link. This can be found in the recently released search guidelines as well as in Google’s webmaster guidelines, both of which can be found on Google’s website.

Link analysis gets more difficult as the number of backlinks increases due to it being a manual process. You have to check each link and note where they originate from. Spammy and irrelevant sites should be noted for further action (see below). Sites, especially those that have paid links, will have an inordinate amount of links to get through. However, this process can be partially automated to help ease the burden of this arduous process.

Disavowing and removal

Once you determine your list of bad backlinks, the next step is to try getting them removed. You should first try and reach out to the webmasters from where the bad links originate from and have them remove them from their site. Barring that, you can disavow them by adding them to your disavow file for the Search Console. The disavow tool notifies Google that you don’t want those links considered during their assessment of your site.

Waiting

Finally, after performing all of these actions, you have to wait for Google to respond. If you’ve received a manual penalty, you’ll need to file your reconsideration request to Google and then wait for them to re-review your website. This process can take anywhere from a few days to a few months depending. Unfortunately, if you’ve been dinged with a algorithmic penalty, such as Penguin, you have to wait for the next update to roll out, and with Penguin’s infrequent rollouts, this could take quite a while.

Recovery is possible, but it takes time and effort, and can be a very stressful process for webmasters and SEOs. Even when you’ve recovered, it’s not assured that you’ll regain your original rankings. Meaning, your site may still be stuck in obscurity even after the penalty is lifted. But, with an experienced SEO helping oversee the recovery process, you will have more of a fighting chance to restore your original rankings.

Protecting from Negative SEO

Proper link management is pivotal to ensuring your site stays out of Penguin’s radar. As we just said, recovery can be a long and arduous process. This means that webmasters and SEOs need to be proactively assessing their backlink profile rather than taking a wait and see approach when the next update is rolled out.

When assessing your backlinks, new links should be identified and assessed for their relevancy and if they’re spammy. It’s easier to keep track of links as they come in than to wait and analyze them en masse.

Consistently monitoring and assessing your backlinks is important for a few reasons. One, recovery from previous penalties does not preclude you from future ones. Your backlink profile changes daily, primarily due to unscrupulous webmasters who introduce spammy links in an attempt to extort honest webmasters. Finally, negative/black-hat SEO happens all the time, someone with expertise and motive can ruin your standing with Google, given the chance.

Legitimate Link Building

Finally, in addition to the above, you must continuously work towards increasing the number of high quality links you have. Partially, this will help add credibility signals to your website, but, Penguin also is interested in the ratio of good links to bad. In the past, webmasters did not want/need to take time to build high quality, relevant links. Today, you have no choice but to find links organically.

Curious to see how we can help manage your link profile and make sure you stay penalty free? Give us a call today!

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B2B and Paid Search: Is It Effective?

B2B And Paid Search: Is It Effective?

Does paid search, often referred to as SEM (search engine marketing) and PPC (pay-per-click) work for selling to other businesses? Should a B2B company invest in PPC and if so, what are the critical elements for PPC that are needed to generate an acceptable ROI?

PPC Is Effective In Generating Leads and Sales

In a recent large group study of both B2B and B2C companies, PPC was found to be a very effective lead generator. Additionally, the study reported that B2B firms are heavily invested in PPC marketing. The study found that, on average, B2B companies were investing up to one quarter of their total marketing budget on PPC. Also, the study showed that even when a firm had the top position in search results, users still clicked and converted on paid listings nearly 40% of the time.

While PPC Is Effective Organic Is Still Very Important

Organic Search did drive higher performance for branded terms than PPC, however, the opposite was found for non-branded terms (i.e. general keyword phrases used to describe the product without including the name of the product or company). PPC achieved a 78% click share versus the 22% for organic on non-branded terms.

But, Do People Really Click on The Ads?

Search Lab, a prominent search engine research firm, conducted a study and found that 28% of searchers clicked on a PPC listing. Also, they found that only 41% of people tested in the study actually realized they were clicking on an ad when they clicked on the PPC listing.

Another study showed that the click-through rate on PPC listings increased by 60% in 2012 when compared to the previous year. In 2011, the top 10 PPC listings used in the study received 17% of clicks in 2011. A year later, the same top 10 received 28% of clicks.

What Do I Need To Do To Make Paid Search Work for My B2B Business?

Many SEOs do believe that PPC works better for B2C than for B2B. However, if you’re a business seeking a solution to an issue within your company, you might be curious if the ad has compelling text that seems to answer your question. To make PPC effective for your business follow the quick bullet points below:

  • Focus on long-tail keyword phrases to avoid irrelevant clicks
  • Use “exact match” and “negative keywords” to avoid attracting the wrong kind of customer to your business
  • Make your paid search ad text appealing and credible (i.e. no “Buy NOW!!!” stuff)
  • Make sure your ad directly answers your typical customer’s problem or question
  • Make sure that the landing page on the other end of the ad is well designed and relates to the text in your ad
  • Make sure the landing page answers your prospective customer’s questions and offers a Call-To-Action that will generate sales leads.

Using paid ad space for B2B can be a bit more challenging than B2C. There is no one right way to go about it. Test, experiment with different combinations of text, landing pages, keywords to find what works best for you and what helps you bring in the most customers. Also, make sure to link your AdWords account with your Google Analytics so that you can have quantifiable data on what’s working and what isn’t. Do this, and you’ll find that paid search can help become a great lead generator for your business.

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Instagram The Holidays

instagram the holidays

With the holiday season knocking on our door, it’s not just holiday shoppers scrambling at the last minute this holiday. If you’re still looking for a last minute boost for your holiday rankings, you’re not out of luck yet, but your window of opportunity is closing quicker and quicker. One great and easy way to help with your holiday marketing is to use social media. Instagram is a great way to not only show off your products but also a great way to help engage potential and current customers. So without further ado, here are some of our last minute tips to give your holiday marketing a boost.

Holiday Themed Profile

One great and easy way to help your customers ring in the holidays is by updating your profile with a holiday theme to it. Check out how Ben and Jerrys did it. Three things to keep in mind with updating your instagram profile for the holidays: Update your company profile with holiday themed sentiment; but keep it short and sweet, Your bio is the most important part of your profile for your mobile viewers, and if you have a holiday landing page, update your profile link to point to it.

Any Questions?

Asking questions is always a great way to get people engaged on your pages. Throw in a dash of holiday themed questions to your Instagram posts. Make sure to include seasonal images that are cute, relevant to your customers, and, as always, make sure that it relates to your products or brand. Also, when asking the question, make sure to use a very personable tone to help deepen customer engagement.

Use Video

Instagram video is a great way to get your message across this holiday season. You can use them in a variety of ways too. Use them to cross-promote a contest, or just to advertise any sales or products that you’re featuring for the holiday season. Keep them brief though (10 seconds) most Instagram users aren’t looking for long videos while they’re on the app. To help, use stop-motion to help generate a fast-paced feel for the short video. For a good example, check out Target’s recent post for tree-trimming.

In-Store Photos

Because of the inherently mobile nature of Instagram, don’t be afraid to take candid shots to show off the inside of your store(s). You can post cool shots of your customers at in-store events, or photos of your staff getting ready for a big sale that you’re going to have. You can also post photos of specific stores, to make it so that your in-store customers will how what the photo is, but others might not. This can create a feeling of belonging with your followers who “get” the photo. Check out what Macy’s is doing with their Santaland announcements for different stores.

It’s not too late to still do some last minute holiday marketing for your business. Act on these great tips, and get a little extra in your holiday stocking this season.

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