Let’s face it. The SEO industry has always been a comfortable haven for unscrupulous business people. There are lots of shady SEO companies and contractors out there who lure unsuspecting customers in, take their money, and don’t deliver the results they promised. It’s a sad but true state of affairs.
Perhaps the saddest part is that when the unsuspecting client finds out he’s dealing with an SEO snake oils salesman, the client almost always writes off the entire premise of SEO as nothing more than a scam. They think that just because one SEO company ripped them off, the whole idea of search engine optimization is a farce. And that’s a total shame.
If you’ve been the victim of an SEO scammer, I’m strongly encouraging you not to give up. SEO isn’t a farce. And not all SEO companies are out to rip you off. In fact, the vast majority are run by good people who really can help your business build a more profitable online presence.
Instead of writing off SEO, here’s what you should do:
Realize the importance of building a strong search engine presence. Just because you got ripped off by a shady SEO company doesn’t change the fact that having a strong search engine presence is essential to your business’ success. Remember, the majority of internet users start their internet session with a search. And more and more consumers use search engines to help guide their buying decisions. You need to make sure your site gets found when customers are searching for the products and services you offer.
Learn the SEO basics. No, I’m not telling you to handle your own SEO. You probably don’t have the time for that. However, I do believe it’s a good idea to have at least a basic understanding of what good SEO is. If you understand the SEO best practices and basic theories, you’ll be able to tell when a company doesn’t know their stuff and is trying to rip you off. I recommend checking out SERPd to keep up with the latest news and best tips in the SEO industry.
Learn from the mistakes you made in hiring the last company. Where did you go wrong last time? Did you hastily hire the first SEO company you came across? Did you enter into a long-term contract? Did you not ask your SEO company for references or case studies of their work? Learn from these mistakes so you can make an informed decision this time around.
Have you ever been burned by a shady SEO company? Share your experiences by leaving a comment.
A lot of the mystery about SEO can be solved simply by getting the information straight from the horse’s mouth. Yes, that’s right! One of the best SEO resources comes direct from Google. Specifically Matt Cutts. For a few years he has been uploading very helpful videos on the GoogleWebmasterHelp channel on YouTube. There are over 300 in fact. If you haven’t subscribed to the channel, I recommend doing so. It’s personally one of my favorite resources and something I place the a lot value in.
The channel has a variety of different videos, but the ones that I like the most are the QNA videos done by Matt Cutts. In these videos Matt answers questions that people have sent in. Matt has an excellent way of explaining things. He often breaks things down in ways that everyone can understand. You can quickly tell that it’s important to him that his message is understood well. The videos are recorded in a very relaxed and casual setting which really allow you to concentrate and absorb the information being shared. Here are a few examples.
In the world of SEO, often you hear about link building. It’s an important aspect of SEO. It’s so important that there are a slew of products, services, and tactics that claim to help people with building backlinks. Some of these products may work, but it’s a safe guess that many do not. Most of the services are very expensive, and I suspect that most fail to deliver what is expected. Lastly, it seems that there are only a few tactics that are truly effective. That said, have you ever considered learning more about different ways to build links yourself? Matt Cutts has recorded an 8 minute video that talks about just that. Here is the video below:
What about keyword spam? Specifically using multiple versions of the same phrase and rewording it multiple times in your content? (i.e. SEO Hosting, Hosting SEO, Search Engine Optimized Hosting, Optimized Hosting For Search Engines, etc.) In other words, does Google consider it keyword spam when you target multiple variants of the same keyword phrase? The reason why people do this is because in most cases each variant can return different results in the SERPs. Let’s see what Matt has to say about that:
A couple of years ago there was a lot of interest with converting a standard WordPress blog into a DoFollow blog. Meaning, the nofollow tag is either manually removed from the code or a plugin is used to achieve the same result. The purpose is to reward people by passing PageRank in exchange for leaving a comment on your blog post. This is still done today. But what does Matt Cutts have to say about this? Let’s find out. Pay attention to the point made at 2:00 minutes into the video:
Have you ever wondered why it takes a long time for Googlebot to come back to your site to reindex it? I have personally played around with this a few years ago and jokingly have called this Training the Googlebot. In other words, after Googlebot crawls your site, a short period later it will return to check for new content or changes in existing content. Over time, if new content isn’t available, or if the existing content hasn’t changed, Googlebot will stop visiting as often as it did before.
Knowing this, I “trained Googlebot” to visit many of my sites quickly by controlling the flow of new content being published. Meaning, if I wanted Googlebot to index new content FAST, I would train it to believe that my site was busy simply by published new content very often. The result ended with new content getting indexed within minutes of being published. A great example of a site that has a fast recrawl rate is Digg.com. New content on Digg will get indexed almost instantly. A great of a site that doesn’t get recrawled very often would be an old GeoCites webpage –if they still existed of course. Here’s what Matt Cutt has to say about Googlebot recrawl rates:
These are just a few of 300+ videos that can help you with solving the mystery with SEO. Many of these videos have less than 10k views. I really find that strange because the information is extremely valuable. The great news about the low view counts is that you will be learning from a resource that many other people don’t know about. This gives you an advantage over your competition. As mentioned in the beginning of this post, I strongly recommend subscribing to the channel. It’s a very valuable resource to have if you’re interested in learning more about SEO.
Out of the box WordPress is very search engine friendly. However, there are a few adjustments that can make WordPress a search engine magnet. Over the next few weeks I am going to be publishing a series of posts that will teach you how to optimize your WordPress blog for search engines. No advanced skills are needed to make these adjustments. This first post covers permalink structures and the All in One SEO plugin. If you have any questions, or need assistance, you’re invited to share them in the comment section below.
Step One: Permalink Structures
WordPress default permalink structure creates URLs that look like this:
By default WordPress uses web URLs which have question marks and lots of numbers in them, however WordPress offers you the ability to create a custom URL structure for your permalinks and archives. This can improve the aesthetics, usability, and forward-compatibility of your links. But the real bonus is SEO.
Google and other search engines look for keywords in web page URLs. It’s not known exactly how much the keywords in the URL influence ranking, but in my experience it appears to hold a lot of weight.
Here is a video of Matt Cutts talking about keywords in URLs.
Adding keywords into WordPress URLs is a quick and easy SEO enhancement. In your WordPress Dashboard scroll down to the bottom of the page and look in the left column for the Settings section. From there you will see the Permalinks section.
Here’s a screen shot:
You can adjust your permalinks to display the day and name, month and name, numeric, or custom structure. Using the day and name setting adds the full year, month, day, and post title into the post URL. Using the month and name setting adds the full year, month, and post title into the post URL. The numeric option doesn’t add the post title into the post URL.
Custom structure is the option I choose. The reason I choose the custom option is because I don’t like to display the year, month, or date in the URL. I only want the keywords. In the past I have used this code:
Lately, I have started using this code:
You can learn more about using WordPress Permalinks here.
Here are some additional references that may help you:
Michael Torbert’s All in One SEO Plugin has really stood the test of time. I have personally used this WordPress plugin for many years. The plugin gives you the ability to customize the structure of your article titles, optimize the titles of your category, tag, search, and archive section, and auto generate meta descriptions and keywords. There are many additional features that you should learn about as well. I recommend paying a visit to Michael Torbert’s home page and learning more about the All in One SEO Plugin. Michael also has a PRO version which might be worth checking out. Personally, I have never used it.
Here is a helpful video tutorial I found on YouTube that will teach you more about the All in One SEO plugin and how to configure it:
By the way, the All in One SEO plugin is one of my personal favorites. Stay tuned for the next post that will offer you more information on optimizing your WordPress blog for search engines. All of your comments, questions, and even suggestions are welcome. You’re invited to share your feedback using the comment form below.
If you’re like me, then you probably have a lot of trouble reading blog articles, eBooks, and online written tutorials. The reason for me is I have adult ADHD. It truly makes things real difficult for me. A great example is a project I have been doing lately. For many years I have been fascinated with web servers. In part of wanting to learn more about web servers, I have setup a few personal web servers in my home. I have one web server running CentOS, and two running Ubuntu Server. Progress with this project didn’t come until recently, despite wanting to do this for years!
The reason for slow progress is due my lack of ability to read, follow, and comprehend documentation and instructions. I simply can’t do it. Often I find myself reading the same sentence over repeatedly due to some kind of distraction. The things that distract me, typically don’t distract other people. The constant hum of a ceiling fan, people walking down the hall, the ticking of a clock, or water dripping from a faucet are all examples of things that cause terrible distractions. I have to completely isolate myself in order to learn something new. And this doesn’t happen to often because I live in house with kids.
I’m affected by the same problems with it comes to continually learning about SEO. I enjoy learning about search engine optimization just about as much as I enjoy learning about web servers. Ironically, the two some what go hand in hand. If you tend to have trouble like me, you may find yourself dependent on alternative means for learning and comprehending things. One of the best tools I use for learning things is watching videos. The invention of YouTube has given hope towards my continuing education. Sounds terrible, doesn’t it? But, it’s true.
I depend on visual aids. Video tutorials, screencasting, and articles rich in screenshots and pictures is what I need in order to learn. If alternatives to written content aren’t available, I even PRINT pages out. Holding a piece of paper in my hands makes a world of difference. A great example is when I recently printed the 740 page Apache HTTP Server Documentation manual. I didn’t exactly save any trees doing this, but in my opinion, this wasn’t wasteful because it helped me accomplish a goal. Junk mail, on the other hard, is an example of paper waste. And to help me conserve paper, I print on both sides. Doing that also keeps me from having to purchase wider binders.
The long story short is this. The Internet is an amazing place to gain knowledge. In the beginning, it started with sharing written data and written content. For those who can’t seem to focus, there are now many alternatives to written documentation. Instead of continuing to struggle doing something that obviously isn’t working, make a change. That’s the only way to push forward. One of the most memorable things my father told me when I was little was that you can’t continue to do the same thing over and expect to get different results. You have change something in order to change results.
Keyword research is the foundation of any SEO strategy. If you target the wrong keywords, you’ll never attract quality traffic that converts, but you already knew that. However, just because you know the goals of keyword research, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing it right.
Let me explain. I’m a freelance copywriter, and I often get called upon by clients to rewrite their website copy because it’s just not getting the job done. More times than not, one of the key problems with their copy is that it’s full of jargon and industry buzzwords. These are keywords that companies use to describe their products and services; they aren’t the same keywords buyers use to describe them. As a result, there’s a disconnect, and the website doesn’t attract a lot of buyers. And the few people who come to the website end up leaving because they can’t cut through the jargon to clearly understand what the products and services are.
Getting on the same page as your buyers is crucial to achieving true SEO success. Here are some basic tips that will ensure you’re using the same keywords your buyers use.
Check your analytics to see how customers are arriving at your website. If you don’t already have analytics installed on your website, go get Google Analytics. With this tool, you can gain deeper insight into your website traffic. You’ll see which keywords visitors are using to arrive at your website and how they react once they land on your page. This is a good tool for understanding the types of phrases buyers really use when looking for your products and services.
Use a keyword research tool to see what people are searching for. There are plenty of keyword tools you can use to better understand which terms buyers are searching for. Remember, it’s not always about going for the term that gets the highest search volume. It’s about figuring out which keywords will bring in interested buyers that you can convert more easily.
Look at your competition’s website. I’m not saying you need to create a “me too” website, because that’s not going to convince visitors to buy from you. However, there are things you can learn by studying your competition. Take a look at the websites of your competitors, and try to figure out which terms they use to describe their products and services. Look at their title tags and source page to see which keywords they’re targeting.
Search social media platforms to see how people talk about your products and services. As a copywriter, one of the biggest benefits I get from social media is studying the way customers talk. If you can study the types of phrases and tone your target audience uses when talking online, you can better target your copy to connect with them. You can also get an idea of which words they use when talking about your products and services.
Are you sure you’re using the right keywords on your website? What have you done to make sure you’re on the same page as your buyers?