Why “Mobile-Friendly” Might Not Be Enough

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This past Spring, Google announced that sites not deemed “mobile-friendly” could face penalties in mobile search results in upcoming algorithm updates.

Predictably, business owners and webmasters alike have been scrambling to devise cost-effective solutions for deploying mobile-friendly website versions.

Often, they rely on Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to diagnose each web page on a case-by-case basis before deciding which pages to target for responsive or custom mobile design.

And as we’ve seen, the increase in mobile traffic is one of the biggest recent trends in SEO.

The Limitations of Google’s Mobile-Friendly Analysis

True/False Decisions Aren’t Enough

With the Mobile-Friendly testing tool, users are returned either a “yes” or a “no” answer to the question “is this webpage mobile friendly?”

The tool leaves very little room for interpretation or extrapolation. More specifically, “Yes! This page is mobile friendly” criteria provides no insights as to why Google has deemed the page favorable.

Likewise, “No! This page is not mobile friendly” results contain no specifications as to why the page was scored that way. We’re missing real metrics that enable us to give Google what they’re asking for.

The Tools Focuses Only on Layout

A similar limitation of the Mobile-Friendly test is that it only tests for broad layout and user experience metrics. Pagespeed does not yet appear to be a core component of the Mobile-Friendly Testing tool, which can lead to some false hope when evaluating pages that are otherwise a mess from a user experience & page speed perspective.

A “mobile-friendly” page as returned by the Mobile Friendly Testing Tool doesn’t necessarily test pages against Google’s more stringent mobile web guidelines.

Additional Mobile Audit Tools

Pagespeed Insights (mobile)

The Pagespeed Insights tool is extremely useful for getting more granular data about where a site stands in relation to Google’s webmaster guidelines. When you run a test on a website using Pagespeed Insights, pay special attention to the very clearly delineated “mobile” portion of that data.

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This is a core component of Google’s algorithm used to rank sites. Since a big part of SEO involves optimizing sites for search, use the mobile Page speed score as your baseline in both performance and user experience testing.

Aggregators

In addition to incorporating the Pagespeed Insights mobile site test into your mobile site audits, there are myriad tools that pool data from multiple sources to provide a more comprehensive overview of mobile strengths and weaknesses.

One popular tool is FeedtheBot, which tests web performance using several of Google’s APIs. FeedtheBot has entire tests dedicated to mobile that allow us to more comprehensively identify what’s going on behind the scenes and to enact a prescriptive plan to fix it.

Branding & Marketing Considerations Are a Compass for Us All

User-experience orientation

It’s very possible – common, even – for a website to pass Google’s mobile-friendly test and tout all the best Pagespeed metrics without actually providing the best experience for a site’s user base.

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For example, a mobile-only site that does not align with branding and design standards of the desktop site can be confusing for visitors who are familiar with the original site and are visiting via phone or tablet for the first time.

Likewise, a site that has unusable features resulting from a lack of thorough testing can cause frustrating for both users and developers. No one likes broken links, and a broken site is 10 times worse.

Conversion Goals

Furthermore, a mobile site that contains a clean layout, loads fast and provides a consistent user experience might STILL not be enough to satisfy the goals of your campaign.

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If you’re running PPC ads and a large percentage of your users are arriving via mobile, your mobile site could suffer from lower conversion rates related to the placement of key call-to-actions and input items.

That’s because most websites typically feature action buttons and forms that become less prominent on the website once it shifts to the mobile version. In other words, sites deemed otherwise outstanding from a website design & performance perspective are often only marginally effective when conversion goals aren’t mobile optimized.

Follow these tips and techniques to take your mobile site to the next level. What are your best techniques for mobile optimization?

 

Content Marketing vs. SEO: What’s the Difference?

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What’s the difference between SEO and content marketing, and which is right for your business? Before we get carried away and make you think we’re some kind of tease, we’ll just put it out there.

It’s a trick question.

In today’s digital marketing landscape, where black hat SEO strategies have fallen by the wayside, there is no room to think of SEO vs. content marketing. Instead, these are two faces of the same coin.

SEO vs Content Marketing: Nope!

As we’ve noted, SEO and content marketing should be employed together, not visualized as existing in opposition to one another. SEO is a practice that all effective content marketing teams should leverage to help ensure that content is visible and pulls relevant traffic to accomplish business goals—and vice versa.

Effective content marketing in the digital world should begin with a thorough analysis of relevant keywords and corresponding traffic to target areas that could draw in the most leads in the face of the competition.

Chicken or the Egg? Effective Content Marketing Strategies Start With SEO

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For many businesses, the motive to engage in content marketing and SEO is to improve site and brand visibility online. The ultimate goal, of course, is to generate leads and make sales.

Boiled down (that’s an egg joke), the way to accomplish that goal is to boost search rankings for targeted keywords relevant to the business’s products and services.

While an engaging blog and an impressive range of other page content are great, they’ll do little for your business if your content doesn’t display amongst the first few items, let alone the first page of search results.

That’s why all effective content marketing strategies in the digital era should begin with SEO.

So, What’s Next?

Your content marketing *ahem* SEO *ahem* strategy should be simple, but it takes finesse to pull off effectively. Targeting competitive keywords for small businesses with little online presence can be tricky.

Your content marketing strategies should be driven by SEO, and vice versa. The first step is a comprehensive keyword analysis. Make use of a range of SEO research tools like Google Keyword Planner, Google Analytics, SEM Rush, Screaming Frog and more.

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In addition to these tools, perform good ole’ fashioned competitive analysis. This means visiting competitors’ websites and manually inspecting page content, title tags, and meta descriptions.

This allows you to get an awareness of what has worked for others and to uncover opportunities for long tail keywords that can get you results.

Once the initial analysis is completed (this is really an ongoing process), start looking at long tail keywords to plan out page content and blog campaign strategy.

Rather than simply brainstorming excellent content in the dark, work to uncover opportunities to rank first; and then design and produce excellent content that targets those areas.

This way you aren’t wasting effort targeting dead end keywords, or using strategies that don’t yield results.

The next step is to draft up content. You want your content to be clear, straightforward, and valuable. Neither your sentences nor your paragraphs should be too long.

Give actionable instructions. Provide proof that your concepts work. Make case studies, share videos. All of these bring value to your reader and increase your authority.

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Also, don’t be afraid to use images. Images make an article stand out, and give a pleasant break to our eyes. If you’re struggling writing good content, check out these 5 tips to writing better blog content.

Finally, once content has been drafted, optimize title tags and meta descriptions, and double-check UX and page speed.

Perform all of the other technical SEO best practices to ensure you are following Google’s standards and improve chances for the content to rank well.

With these strategies in place, you are sure to have success online. SEO and content marketing don’t have to be complex. Don’t overthink it. Stick to the basics.

SEO first, then kickass content. You will be unstoppable.

 

What are your favorite SEO and content marketing techniques? Share with us in the comments below.

5 Free Underground Traffic Sources

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Everyone wants to drive traffic to their website. More traffic means more users and potentially more revenue.

However, driving this traffic isn’t always easy, especially for new websites.

Below, we detail a couple of our 5 favorite underground methods for driving web traffic:

1) Forums

No matter what your niche, there will always be forums and discussion boards on the subject.

This holds true in online marketing, as much as it does in carpentry or environment. No matter what you are interested in, chances are there are other people talking about it online.

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Not only do these forums provide useful information, but they can also be used to drive traffic to your website.

Many forums allow for you to have a “signature.” This is a small blurb of text at the end of your posts where you can link back to your website.

The secret is to post useful content on the forum. Good advice and practices that people can use to improve their craft, hobby, or business. If you have an attractive

If you have an attractive signature linking to your site, people will trust you and click on it, generating you free traffic.

2) Youtube

YoutTube isn’t just a place to watch cat videos. You can also use it to upload valuable videos in your niche.

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Google is the world’s largest search engine, but many people realize that YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine.

Don’t worry, you don’t need to put your face in front of the camera. You can create slideshow videos using a screen recorder and Microsoft Powerpoint.

I should know, I’ve successfully used YouTube videos to drive over 10,000 visitors to my websites.

Alternately, you can create tutorials or video reviews. These provide massive value to consumers.

Just make sure your videos are short and to the point. They will get lots of views.

Another great thing is that YouTube videos are very easy to rank for SEO purposes. They are certainly a lot easier to rank than websites or web pages.

3) Facebook Groups

Everyone knows about Facebook pages, but few people utilize Facebook groups. Create a Facebook group for your niche, and advertise.

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Make it so that people have to be approved to join. This way you keep out junk, and you also add a little bit of scarcity.

Within the Facebook group, you can share content on your subject matter. You can also have discussions and share tips / tutorials.

Encourage other members to share their advice and experience. Also, encourage them to share the group with their friends. This way you can grow the exposure to both your group, and your website.

4) StumbleUpon

Believe it or not, StumbleUpon isn’t just a great way to entertain yourself and pass the time. It can also be a great way to grow your business.

If you submit useful articles to StumbleUpon, it can be shown to lots of people you may never have reached otherwise.

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If they like it, then your posts will begin to gain steam and be shown to more and more people.

Eventually, you will trigger a snowball effect where your traffic increases exponentially. This can be GREAT for your website

5) SlideShare

Many people overlook Slideshare. The site has over 60 million unique visitors per month.

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That is a lot of users you can reach out to. The goal here is to create useful content. Upload PDF’s or powerpoints that are helpful and informative to your audience.

In your presentations make sure to link back to your website.

In fact, if you have YouTube videos or articles on your site, it isn’t a bad idea to condense them into PDF form, and upload them to Slideshare.

This way, you don’t have to create new content, but you can share and increase the exposure of that which you have already produced.

What are your favorite traffic sources?

Tell us in the comments below.

5 Social Media Best Practices – #5 May Seem CounterIntuitive But Is Very Effective!

Get the Most Out of Social Media

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Utilizing social media is a great way to engage with your readers. It can also be an excellent way to increase exposure to your website.

There are many different platforms you can be on, from Facebook to Pinterest, each with their unique advantages and drawbacks.

Check out these best practices to ensure you are getting the best return on your social media presence:

1) Post at the Right Times

It is highly recommended that you post frequently on your social media platforms. While many people follow this advice, few people put an emphasis on what time they are posting.

For example, the best time to post on Facebook during the week is between 1 and 4 PM, while on the weekends it is between 12 and 1 PM.

However, this isn’t the case for all social media. On Pinterest, the best times to post are Fridays at 3 PM, or on Saturdays between 8 and 11 PM.

To learn more about optimal post times for social media, check out this article.

 2) Keep it Short & Sweet

People are bombarded with information every day. You want to keep your posts brief to avoid information overload.

Although each platform varies, it is recommended that your posts not exceed 140 characters. One easy way to keep track of this is to use Microsoft Excel (or Google Sheets) and count the characters in your post with the function “=LEN()”.

Social media is by definition public. As a result, you want to keep your message positive. You don’t want your website or brand associated with any negative message or feelings.

Post in a friendly, conversational manner. Avoid controversial subjects and NEVER take political sides.

Also, keep different cultures and groups in mind. For example, if you are wishing your followers a Merry Christmas on the 25th of December, make sure to also wish them a happy Hanukkah on the 24th.

3) Utilize images

You should be using images with every blog post, but you should do the same with social media.

Humans are visual creatures. We like pictures, and we like colors. If you have a compelling and relevant image, people may click on your post without even reading what it says.

However, only use images that you have permission to use and are not copyrighted. If you need royalty free images and stock photos, check out these resources:

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You can even find images to use on Google Images. Just make sure that you click on search tools, and under “usage rights” select “Labeled for Reuse”.

4) Use #Hashtags

It is no mystery that hashtags can be extremely powerful. They can bring you increased exposure, and help you stay keep up with current trends.

Social media platforms that support hashtags include:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Google+
  • YouTube
  • Tumblr
  • And many more

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If you are unsure of which hashtags to use for your niche, check out this website. It shows related hashtags for the search terms you enter:

However, don’t go overboard with hashtags. A couple per post is acceptable. 17 hashtags may be overdoing it.

5) Share Other People’s Content

This may seem counterintuitive. After all, isn’t the whole point of social media to drive traffic back to your website?

Well, yes and no.

The purpose of your social media should be to provide value for your followers/subscribers. If you find valuable content or information that can benefit them, then don’t hesitate to share it, even if it isn’t your own.

They will be thankful that you shared it. This increases goodwill with your readers and establishes you as someone who can provide them with value.

This can lead to increased engagement, as well as loyalty from your readers.

These 5 practices can help you take your social media to the next level.

What are your favorite social media practices?

Please post your thoughts in the comment section.

7 Worst Inventions of All Time

Not All Inventions Are Created Equal

Usually, new inventions are a positive thing. They save us time, energy, and money. They make our lives easier – which is why if you make a popular invention, you can become stinking rich.

However, not all inventions are good for mankind. In fact, some have been so bad for us that the damage has been irreversible.

Below, we document the 7 worst inventions of all time:

1) CFC’s

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Invented by Thomas Midgley Jr, CFCs stand for Chlorofluorocarbons. They are chemicals that contain carbon, fluorine, and chlorine. They are used in everything from hairsprays to refrigeration.

CFC’s are terrible for the environment, not because they’re toxic, but because they deplete the ozone layer.

In fact, a study by the University of Waterloo claims that CFC’s, and not Carbon Dioxide (CO2), are the primary cause of global warming.

Luckily, today many people are aware of the dangers of CFC’s, and many products actively advertise that they don’t contain them.

Worldwide production of CFC’s has gone down, which is good news for everyone.

However, Thomas Midgley didn’t just create CFC’s, he also created leaded gasoline. Some people believe he is the individual who has had the single worst impact on the environment in history.

At least he was killed by one of his own inventions.

2) Depleted Uranium Munitions

Depleted uranium is a waste product of the nuclear power industry. It is a radioactive substance that is 1.7 times denser than lead.

As a result of its density, it a popular choice to manufacture munitions out of, primarily anti-tank rounds.

When DU hits a metal target, it liquefies into millions of tiny, sharp metal pieces that all but obliterate their target. There is no doubt DU is an effective material.

Gunner's mates inspect linked belts of Mark 149 Mod 2 20mm ammunition before loading it into the magazine of a Mark 16 Phalanx close-in weapons system aboard the battleship USS MISSOURI (BB-63).

However, there is a downside to DU: it’s radioactivity. The use of Depleted Uranium converts the battlefield into a radioactive wasteland. The Uranium breaks into pieces so small that they are easily scattered by wind and rain.

These Depleted Uranium bits have a half-life of 4.5 billion years. They’ll be here long after we’re gone.

These DU bits are so tiny they can be inhaled, ingested, or even absorbed through tiny pores in the skin.

They have been linked to birth defects, cancer, and other health problems.

Before the Iraq war, Iraq’s rate of cancer was 40 per 100,000. After the war, their cancer rates skyrocketed to 800 per 100,000.

And it isn’t just Iraqi civilians exposed to the radiation, but US soldiers as well.

It is very likely that Depleted Uranium was responsible for the infamous Gulf War Syndrome in the early 1990’s.

As a matter of fact, Depleted Uranium is classified as a weapon of mass destruction by the United Nations.

Regardless, the United States and Great Britain continue to use the substance in their weapons and show no sign of slowing down.

3) Olestra

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In the 90’s Olestra was set to revolutionize the snack and chip industry. It was an oil you could deep fry foods in that your body didn’t absorb.

Fatty snacks and no weight gain?? It sounded too good to be true, and it was.

Unfortunately, when Olestra passed through the body it also took key vitamins and minerals with it.

Additionally, Olestra caused cramping and diarrhea. No one wants to buy a product with the warning “may cause abdominal cramping and loose stools.” No, thank you!

After a while, sales dropped and the product was banned in the US and Europe.

Today, Olestra is used as an industrial lubricant and ingredient in paint. Yummy.

4) Agent Orange

Like Depleted Uranium, Agent Orange is another wartime weapon with significant negative effects.

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It was a defoliant, meaning it killed trees and other shrubbery. It was meant to deny the Viet Cong their cover in the jungle, as well as their food supply.

The British were the first to use this technique in Malaysia, and the US followed suit a decade later in Vietnam.

Agent Orange contains Dioxin, a deadly substance that causes cancer, birth defects, and many other illnesses.

Thousands of Vietnamese and US Veterans were exposed and affected by the compound. To this day, Vietnam remains ravaged by the substance.

Luckily, the use of the compound ended in 1970, but by then it was too late.

Irreperable damage to Vietnam, the environment, and our veterans had already been done.

5) DDT

DDT, which stands for dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane, was a pesticide widely used in between the 1940’s to the 1970’s.

DDT caused widespread ecological damage, including bringing the Bald Eagle to the brink of extinction. This was because the compound caused their egg shells to thin, dramatically reducing their birth rates.

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In 1972, the EPA banned DDT. Since then, Bald Eagles have made a remarkable comeback. Unfortunately, the chemical still persists in our environment, and in our food.

It also has an adverse effect on humans, causing cancer and other illnesses. It has even been linked to Alzheimer’s.

We don’t seem to have learned our lesson, as we still use pesticides that harm our environment.

6) Landmines

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Landmines are explosives buried in the ground. They are triggered by pressure, such as when someone steps on them, or a vehicle drives over them.

The worst part about landmines is that they can remain in an area long after a conflict ends. And they kill and maim indiscriminately, they do not distinguish between soldiers, civilians, and animals.

It is estimated that 1 million people have been killed by landmines, and around 70 people are killed or injured by them every day.

The countries most affected by landmines include Afghanistan, Cambodia, Mozambique, Angola, and Sri Lanka.

7) Sarin Gas

Sarin Gas is a nerve gas discovered in 1938 by German chemist Dr. Gerhard Schrader. He was trying to create an insecticide when he accidentally created the deadly substance.

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It can be weaponized and used as a weapon of mass destruction.

It works by attacking the Central Nervous System. Upon first exposure, our muscles and secretions start going nuts. They spasm and fire. The nose and eyes begin to run, we begin to vomit and lose control of our bladders and bowels.

The chest tightens, eyes blur, and death or paralysis can occur within minutes.

Unfortunately, Sarin Gas has no distinguishable sight or smell. So you may not know even know what hit you.

Sarin Gas has been used by Saddam Hussein against the Kurds, and most recently in Syria.

Hopefully, it is never used again.

Top 5 SEO Blogs You Need to Read in 2017

SEO – Self-Learn if You Want to Earn

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of the few industries where one can become fully proficient, and establish a career while being entirely self-taught. In fact, I would argue that most SEO’s are entirely self-taught.

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There’s no college degree on SEO, no work study programs. The industry moves too fast and changes too often for all that jazz. I know I’m certainly self-taught.

It’s a blessing because you can learn the industry without having to go into student debt. But it’s a curse since you can suffer from major information overload.

To help avoid that, I’ve compiled a list of the top SEO blogs and influencers you should follow in 2017.

1) SEOmoz

There is no questioning that the MOZ blog is the king of SEO. Writing about SEO for over 10 years, MOZ has been in the game longer than I have been an adult.

What sets MOZ apart is that they don’t focus on frequent posts. Instead, they carefully choose popular topics and go into very deep detail on them.

Not only do they produce great content, they produce great software. Much of it free, such as the MOZ bar, which is hanging above my browser as I write this post.

2) Search Engine Land

The experts over at Search Engine Land produce great content on a daily basis. And they don’t just limit themselves to SEO, they cover PPC, mobile, social, retail and much much more.

Search Engine Land likes to take a more relaxed approach to SEO. They take it easy, with lighthearted content and videos. But don’t think for a second that their content isn’t extremely valuable.

3) Search Engine Journal

One of the things that sets Search Engine Journal apart is the frequency of their guest posts. They have a knack for gathering experts in digital marketing from across the world and getting them to contribute.

You never know what you’re going to find, but you do know that you won’t be disappointed.

Search Engine Journal also strikes a nice balance between tactics & techniques, as well as industry news. A very well rounded source of information, you’re missing out if you don’t follow them.

4) GrowthHackers

By far one of the most innovative blogs out there. When you visit GrowthHackers, nine times out of ten you will leave with your mind blown.

Some of the techniques users post and share on that website are absolutely ingenious.

Roundabout, guerilla, and ninja tactics to increase traffic. And they work. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve visited the site and thought: “Why didn’t I think of that!?!?!”

5) QuickSprout

The brainchild of SEO god Neil Patel, QuickSprout is popular for its down to earth and beginner friendly content. But don’t think that means the subject matter is easy.

One of my favorite case studies of all time was when Neil took a brand new blog and grew it to 1 million dollars in revenue in just 1 year.

He didn’t even use his name. Read up the case study here,

Talk about SEO mastery. I highly recommend all new SEOs follow his blog and enlist in his course. It definitely helped me immensely.

So which are your favorite SEO influencers to follow?

Share them with us in the comments below.

 

 

White Hat vs. Black Hat SEO – The Great Debate

What Are They

If you’re starting to get your feet wet in the world of SEO you might come across the terms white hat SEO, and black hat SEO. Though simple terminology, they carry a lot of meaning behind them.

White hat SEO includes strategy and techniques that follow the rules and guidelines of search engines like Google. Black hat SEO is the exact opposite. Those who practice black hat SEO break the rules and try to “cheat the system.”

Their names are a reference to the old cowboy movies. The good guys used to wear white hats. The bad guys wore black hats.

But why do some people choose one or the other? And which method should you stick to?

Black Hat SEO

First, we will look at black hat SEO. Those who practice it believe they can get around the guidelines of the search engines. They think they can trick them into ranking their website and products higher.

And a lot of times, they are correct. There are many internet marketers who are successful with black hat SEO. In fact, there are scores of forums, information products, and online communities dedicated strictly to black hat SEO.

Black hat SEO methods include methods like private blog networks, keyword stuffing, spam blogs, bait and switch pages, cloaking, and duplicate content to name a few. The list is much larger.

Sometimes, black hat SEO allows for much quicker rankings. It can also be cheaper.

So if black hat SEO has all of these advantages, why doesn’t everyone do it?

The answer: because it is very risky. Search engines get smarter every day, and they catch on to black hat SEO little by little.

Your website could be at the top of the rankings using black hat techniques. But a new Google update meant to eliminate your tactics can penalize you and wipe out your business overnight.

It has happened before. Google updates like ‘Penguin’ and ‘Panda’ have destroyed multi-million dollar businesses in the blink of an eye.

In black hat SEO, what works today may not work tomorrow.

As a result, black hat SEO is almost always focused on the short term. It has a limited shelf life.

White Hat SEO

On the other hand, white hat SEO is a much longer term strategy.

With white hat SEO, you are focusing on great content. Content that is useful, and that readers get real value out of.

That means content that helps readers solve their problems. Content that informs them on what they need to know.

Another tenet of white hat SEO is strong, non-spammy backlinks. Backlinks generated through guest posts and social shares. These indicate to search engines that your content, and your website, is valuable.

There are many other factors that contribute to white hat SEO. Too many to list here. But there are some down sides.

White hat SEO requires time. Good rankings don’t come overnight. They are the result of consistency and quality in your content. It may take months for your website, or even individual pages on your website to rank.

Time is money, so white hat SEO can also be more expensive. It requires more content writers for your blog, more server time before you get any results.

It can also be frustrating to put in a lot of work without seeing any results for a while.

Which is Best

So which should you choose, white hat or black hat SEO?

You are free to make up your own mind, but I would highly recommend sticking to white hat SEO.

Why?

Because it is what professionals do. It is what works long term.

If you are consistent, create strong value, and don’t break the rules you are almost guaranteed good rankings and consistent traffic.

In fact, white hat SEO is one of the biggest trends in the industry.

Not just today, but tomorrow. By sticking with white hat SEO you can build an online business that can last for years!

You don’t have to worry about penalties or Google updates. You know your content is good, and that you provide value. It is in the best interest of the search engines to give you good rankings.

It’s a win-win relationship.

If you utilize black hat methods, you might have some short term success. But your business will always be in peril.

After all, Google is one of the largest and most innovative companies in the world. Their search engine gets smarter and smarter by the month!

Thinking that you can outsmart them forever is a poor gamble. It could result in you losing your entire business.

Learning and implementing white hat SEO methods is the best way to ensure success online. It might take time and effort, but anything worth doing takes time and effort. And the rewards far outweigh the costs.

Which do you prefer, white hat or black hat SEO?

Local SEO: 11 Listings Your Small Business Needs to be On

When you own a small business, it is crucial to list your business on local listings. What this means is you submit your business to services that help customers find what they want. These listings can drive foot traffic to your business, or web traffic to your website.

Below, we have listed our top 11 local listings for small business owners in 2016. Signing up is very simple, and can bring you numerous rewards. Check out the list:

1) Google My Business:

It is no coincidence this is #1 on the list. This is the most important listing on the internet. A Google My Business profile allows information on your business to show up Google Search Results.

Information like your business hours, address, telephone, photos, reviews, whether you deliver, etc. It also places your business on Google Maps. People can even directly call your business on their mobile, or request directions to your location on mobile.

Not only this, but you get access to “insights” or analytics for your GMB page. This allows you to see who’s requesting directions, how many people are searching your business, where your customers come from, etc.

Link: https://www.google.com/business/

2) Yahoo Local:

Similar to Google My Business, but not quite as powerful.

Link: https://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/local-listings?s_local=add

3) Yelp

Extremely Popular Listing / Review Site

Link: https://biz.yelp.com/

4) Hot Frog

Free local directory.

Link: http://www.hotfrog.com/AddYourBusinessSingle.aspx

5) Local.com

Free local directory with 16 million+ listings

Link: http://www.local.com/ – Click “join” in the top right corner

6) InsiderPages.com

Community listing site focused on advice and reviews

Link: http://www.insiderpages.com/

7) Yellowbot.Com

Free local directory.

Link: https://www.yellowbot.com/signin/register?yp_r=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.yellowbot.com%2Fsubmit%2Fnewbusiness

8) Yellowpages.com

One of the largest local directories online.

Link: Yellowpages.com/register

9) SuperPages.com

Free local directory.

Link: http://my.dexmedia.com//spportal/quickbpflow.do

10) Manta.com

Local directory service.

Link: https://www.manta.com/ng#!/member/company/add

11) Kudzu.com

Local directory service.

Link: https://register.kudzu.com/packageSelect.do

7 SEO Trends for 2017

SEO is constantly changing. Below, we’ve listed some of the biggest trends in SEO that we believe will have an impact on your website in the coming year.

1) Mobile Optimization

In many countries, including the US, mobile traffic is responsible for more than 50% of web searches. With everyone owning a smartphone, and the popularity of tablets like the iPad and the Microsoft surface, is this really a surprise?

No, it isn’t. But unfortunately, a lot of website owners neglect one of their largest traffic sources. It is no longer optional to have a mobile friendly website. It is now necessary to operate.

Mobile sites need to be streamlined in design. They need to be simple, with large text and large buttons to compensate for smaller screens. Links need to be far apart to prevent accidentally pressing on the wrong one. Also, flash should be avoided, as it can be buggy on mobile devices.

Luckily, it is easier than ever to make your website mobile responsive. The majority of WordPress themes nowadays are mobile responsive. Themes on sites like Squarespace and Wix are as well.

Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to see how your site scores. If the score isn’t good, you may want to reconsider your theme/website design.

2) Site Speed

Having a slow website hurts your SEO rankings. But why is that? It’s very simple:

Having a slow website is not only annoying for users, it can be extremely frustrating. You want something, and you can’t get it. It is no different than food at a restaurant taking an eternity to reach you.

This is especially true for mobile. People are much less willing to wait on their mobile devices than on their desktops.

Check out your website’s speed ranking with Google’s Page Speed Insights.

If it isn’t quite up to snuff, there are a couple steps you can take:

  • Allow for browser caching
  • Reduce HTTP requests on the site
  • Use JPG images instead of PNG

3) Social

Social media has changed how we experience the internet. And it isn’t slowing down one bit. Your website should be on multiple social media websites.

We aren’t just talking Facebook and Twitter here; we’re talking:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • Tumblr

Social media allows for you to engage with your readers and subscribers in new ways. It also allows you to drive traffic your website might not otherwise get.

Your website and all of your content must be shareable. That means that anyone who likes what you say should be able to share it with their peers. This can bring massive traffic to your website. This is also how you can go viral.

On top of all these benefits, social media also boosts your search engine rankings. When your social media is active, with users commenting and sharing, that is a strong signal to Google that your content is valuable. As a result, you can see a strong boost in rankings.

4) Video

Video marketing is a HUGE ranking factor. Not only is it a ranking factor, but it is a great way to drive traffic. Search engines consider video to be media rich content.

Users love videos. As a result, search engines love videos as well.

A well-produced YouTube video can drive massive traffic to your website. As a matter of fact, it is much easier to rank videos than it is to rank websites.

An embedded video on your web pages can also make your content stand out from your competition. Video marketing is also popular because it allows you to convey a large amount of information quickly, and in an easy to digest format.

If something on your site is going to go viral, the most likely candidate is a YouTube video.

Video marketing is especially important in e-commerce. Your customers want to see your product. What it looks like and how it performs. They want video reviews. No one likes to buy blind.

The best part about this is that video marketing can be extremely inexpensive. For live action, all you need is a camera. To make list videos or tutorials, all you need is PowerPoint and a screen caster.

Video marketing shows no sign of slowing down. Google may be the largest search engine, but do you know who is the second largest? That’s right, YouTube!

It would be a massive mistake to overlook this traffic and SEO goldmine.

5) Voice Search

Twenty years ago, it would be inconceivable that we could talk to our phones, and they would talk right back to us. Voice recognition technology was the stuff of Sci-fi movies.

But in 2016, this technology is a reality. On iPhones, we can talk to Siri. On Androids we can talk to Google Now. And on Windows Phones we can talk to Cortana.

Your content needs to be optimized to be found via voice search. But how do you go about doing that?

The answer is simple: long tail keywords.

When you use voice search, you are making long, detailed requests. Long tail keywords fulfill these requests. If you are ranking for long tail keywords, it is very likely you can be found via voice search.

6) Local SEO

Local SEO has come a long way. For a while, it was kind of an afterthought, but now it can have an extreme impact on your business.

If you own a brick and mortar business, you ABSOLUTELY need to be focusing on local SEO.

Even if you own an e-commerce business, you should still be focusing on Local SEO. For example, if you’re selling heavy winter jackets, you can focus on local SEO in the Northern US and Canada.

One of the best things you can do for local SEO is to have consistent information across multiple listings. The most important of all of these is Google My Business. However, other resources such as Yelp, Yahoo Local, and Trip Advisor are still very important.

7) Playing Clean

It is no mystery that Google, and other search engines, are getting smarter. Gone are the days when keyword stuffing could gain you high rankings. No longer can you hastily set up a private blog network and dominate the rankings.

Google updates have destroyed countless people’s businesses who were trying to cheat the system. Don’t get hit by one of these penalties, your website may never recover.

Google only cares about one thing, content. So create good content, and don’t break the rules.

Stay white hat, don’t go black hat.

Sure, results may come slower, but at least your site will still be there a year from now.

To learn the difference between white hat, and black hat SEO check out this article.

 

7 SEO Tools for Bloggers and Website Owners in 2016

1) Yoast SEO Plugin

If your website is hosted on WordPress, the free Yoast SEO plugin is an absolutely must have. The plugin makes it a breeze to register your website on Google and Bing Webmaster Tools. It allows you easily manage your title tags and meta descriptions, with no coding. It allows you to easily set up a canonical (301 redirects) and create XML sitemaps for your website. Not only is the plugin extremely useful, but it is regularly updated and improved upon by its creator.

2) Screaming Frog Web Crawler

We’ve spoken about this powerful software before (link to 5 mistakes). What is a web crawler? It is essentially a software/robot that sifts through your site’s content word by word, page by page. Search engines like google actually use web crawlers to index and rank your site. Software like Screaming Frog work in a similar fashion, but instead of giving information to search engines, they give you powerful insights on your website.

Screaming Frog has both a free, and a paid version. If you’re just starting out, I recommend you go with the free version, which is still pretty robust. It allows you to find broken links, redirect chains, find duplicate titles duplicate content, and generate XML maps. Performing weekly or monthly web crawls can help you prevent problems like broken links, and avoid penalties.

3) SEO Link Vine

Backlinks are one of the most important ranking factors in SEO. They give your blog authority and demonstrate that others find value in your content. Backlinks are one of the most important signals that search engines use to evaluate your website.

The more backlinks you have, the better. However, you want to ensure that your backlinks are high quality. Spammy backlinks, or from websites unrelated to your niche can actually hurt your ranking.

However, if you’re just starting out, you may find it is difficult to generate high-quality backlinks. Linking back to your site in comments on other’s blogs is time-consuming, and many times ineffective. People may also be reluctant to allow for guest posts.

Luckily, there is an alternative. SEO Link Vine is a software that automatically gives you premium rankings, and increases your Google rankings. It’s great investment that can help you see results today.

seo-link-vine

4) Google Keyword Planner

The Google Keyword Planner is an unparalleled resource for bloggers and internet marketers. It helps you get an idea of what keywords you should be trying to rank for. It can also help you to figure out whether the keywords are low or high competition.

It is always best to pursue specific, long-tail keywords. Although they may receive less traffic, they are more targeted. People searching for long tail keywords usually need a solution to a specific problem, and many times are willing buyers. Check out this tutorial on how to use the Google Keyword Planner.

5) Google Analytics

Our second Google product on this list. Analytics are absolutely crucial for an online business. Not only is Google Analytics free (at the standard level), but it is a market leader in data collection and analyzation. Google Analytics can give you insights into things like:

  • Number of visitors to your site
  • How long they spend on your site
  • Bounce Rate (amount of people who exit your site after visiting 1 page)
  • Demographics of visitors
  • Locations of visitors
  • Set and track goals
  • page load time
  • Mobile vs. Desktop Users
  • And much, much, more

Without these insights, you are running your business blind. Knowing this information can help you optimize your site and your content. It allows you to see what you are doing well, and what you need to improve on. And as time passes, you can see how your performance and your website grows over time.

6) Hootsuite

In 2016, social media is absolutely essential to ranking a site properly. However, there are many different social media platforms to stay on top of: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+, etc.

Hootsuite allows you to post, monitor, and optimize all your social media from one platform. When you log into Hootsuite, you can schedule a post on Facebook, reply to someone on Twitter, and monitor your Instagram growth without ever leaving the website.

7) SEMRush

SEMRush is a competitive research and data firm for online marketing. SEMRush is particularly powerful for competitor research. By looking up the web pages of other sites in your niche, you can see how your competitors are doing. You can learn things about your competitors like:

  • How many visitors they receive
  • Keywords they are targeting
  • How many of their leads come from paid/organic traffic
  • Their backlinks
  • Other competitors in the niche (hopefully you are listed as one)
  • Many other insights

While SEMRush is a paid service, they do offer a free service! As a free user, you get up to 10 competitor searches per day. Not a bad deal for free, and 10 searches a day should be sufficient for most beginners. You can also get 10 keywords to track, and 100 web pages of your own site to crawl. Check out the service here (link).

 

Whether you are first diving into the world of search engine optimization, or you are an experienced marketer, leveraging the proper tools is invaluable. Software and services like the ones listed above can give you a competitive edge over your competition. They can also save you a lot of valuable time, and give you insights you would have never expected.