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Avoid The Google Search Penalty

For many companies who hinge their advertising and marketing efforts on organic search engine traffic, a penalty from Google can result in life-threatening situation for the business.

Most websites are rightfully deserving of Google penalization by way of sketchy SEO practices and unethical motives. However some recipients of a Google penalty are simply unaware of the errors and risks that exists.

Below we outline the basics of the Google Search Penalty and how to go about avoiding it.

How the Google Penalty is Issued

The Google Penalty Box, also known as the “Sandbox Effect," is the practice of filtering websites by Google's web ranking algorithms. The penalty is generally issued under two circumstances:

  • If a website does not conform to Google's standards for quality and content.
  • If Google finds out that the website is using subversive optimization techniques.

Results of the Google Penalty

Google penalizes websites that fail to use proper and ethical SEO techniques. The search engine will manually demote a website, or if the issue is prominent, Google may alter the search algorithms to cause the site, as well as many others like it, to move down in the rankings. Here are the specifics.

  • Manual demotion eventually expires after 30 days if it involves hidden text. Penalties last longer for cloaking and malicious activities.
  • Changes in algorithm can be managed if you improve your site, after which the penalty is lifted upon re-crawling and re-indexing of the page.

There are also varying severities of Google Search penalization. A “-30 day" penalty causes website rankings to slip 30 places from its original position. A “-60 penalty" lowers rankings by 60 places. A “-950 penalty" places your website on the 95th page, which is virtually non-existent to search engine users.

How to Avoid the Google Penalty

Given the reasons for the Google Penalty, it often general logic to avoid such devastations. Take in consideration these points to avoid the Google Penalty.

  • Website owners should conform to Google's standards for quality content.
  • Refrain from subversive optimization, such as unethical link building practices. Google has already filed patents to reduce or qualify the impact of these manipulations.
  • Google recommends checking on their Help Center articles to identify and fix what may be causing the problem.

What Makes Websites More Optimized?

Google also recommends solutions for making websites more "optimized" or searchable. This includes:

  • Using a text browser like Lynx because other search engine spiders interpret websites like Lynx does. You should also allow your search bots to crawl your website without session IDs.
  • Ensuring that your web server informs Google about content changes since the last time Google crawled it.
  • Writing pages that provide a clear and accurate description of content. Try to use keywords users type to find your pages and ensure that your site includes these words. 
  • Using text rather than images to display relevant names, links, and content. Texts contained in images are not recognized by Google Crawler.
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5 Tips to Optimize a Press Release

Writing compelling press releases and distributing them through the right platforms is a start, however when taken a step further, press releases offer great potential for Internet marketing and SEO. An optimized press release can result in better search engine visibility and a greater contribution to a website’s SEO efforts.

Consider the following 5 tips to optimize a press release.

5 Tips For Press Release Optimization

  1. Like an optimized webpage, an optimized press release should contain relevant keywords. Think in terms of what someone might be searching on the web that may lead them to your press release. Include such phrases in the title and throughout the body of the press release.
     
  2. Format your press release using headers, bold or strong tags, and italics. Take the keywords in which you pinpointed from step one, and use them in headers or bold them in appropriate instances throughout the copy.
     
  3. Include links in your press release. Whether back to your website, or to a credible source relevant to the press release, including links can make your press release more valuable. In addition, links with custom anchor text can be a great tool for SEO.
     
  4. Utilize images and videos to better optimize a press release. Take this one step further by using your keyword targets name these files, and if allowed, use keywords appropriately as alternative text (alt tags).
     
  5. Invest for distribution. Free syndication is not always as effective if your goal is to optimize your website and press release visibility. A pay-for-use press release submission site increases the chances of your press release being ranked well in the search engines. PRweb and i-Newswire are two that offer great features.

Press release optimization offers a number of advantages, from generating valuable backlinks to expanding your search visibility. Don’t just publish your press release, optimize your press release for greater opportunities.

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Tumblr: The Next Big Player In The Social Media Scene

Since Tumblr launched in 2007, its growth has been notably immense amongst the click of content sharing sites. In fact, Tumblr witnessed its largest increase in use between May of 2010 and May of 2011. The 183% spike in just one year hints at tumblr being the next big player in the social media and blogging scene.

Tumblr Growing in Numbers

The Nielsen Company revealed in its "State of the Media: Social Media Report Q3, 2011" that Tumblr's unique visitors increased from 4.2 million in May of 2010 to 11.9 million in May of 2011, a whopping 183% increase in one year. It also noted an average of 21,280 messages and links posted daily.  

As reported by Mashable, Tumblr overtook WordPress in the number of hosted blogs in June 2011. In September, the social blogging site reportedly hosted 29 million blogs -  a strong statistic against the most popular blog site on the Web.

Tumblr Attraction

The growth of Tumblr has attracted marketers, however online advertisers are still on the experimental stage, brainstorming and testing ways to maximize the business potential of this rapidly expanding community.  

Fashion companies and media outlets are Tumblr's most avid advertisers. At the pace at which the site is going, it would only be a matter of time before it becomes a force to be reckoned with in the social media scene. Tumblr offers easy creation of posts, like photos, videos, and links, as well as following other blogs for re-posting.

Tumblr's emergence as the next social media site to watch provides new opportunities for online marketers. It is quickly becoming a goldmine to capture in-market consumers. It just a matter of how to dig for such gold that presents the current challenge.

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3 Essential Perspectives for SEO

What makes for good SEO? There are many aspects of search engine optimization that contribute to its effectiveness, many of which depend upon the nature of the website being optimized.

Good SEO begins with awareness. That is, understanding the website, its competition, and the best techniques to achieve desirable keyword rankings.

Here we outline some broad-based perspectives in which every optimizer should master.

Start Thinking Critically

An essential requirement for SEO, as well as in life in general, is critical thinking. In short, critical thinking means using reason and rationality before accepting what others claim as fact. This doesn't mean disregarding what others say just so you can be original and do your own thing.

Critical thinking means weighing the presented evidence against an accepted belief without bias. Hearsay doesn't count as evidence, especially those based on a single occurrence. Search engine optimization can be complex, and many optimizers have their beliefs about what works. This often results in a flood of theories about SEO which are often published as articles and blog posts.

Before you nod your head with agreement, do some additional research and make sure one’s theory is not just a bunch of fluff.

Know the Mark-up

Mark-up language is the heart of the web. Web pages are “marked up” with HTML and XML, which governs most data interchange on the Internet. Search engines recognize most content through mark-up language, which is why it is essential for a SEO to understand the basics of HTML. This enables optimizers to accurately audit and review a website as well as execute mark-up enhancements properly.

Absorb the Information

Search engines are specifically designed to retrieve information. Regardless of search engine’s information retrieval capabilities, its basic function is governed by precision and recall. That is, search engines are highly precise in the way in which they can retrieve information based on the user’s needs.

In addition, search engines are able to recall information that is most relevant to the search query. These two principles form the basis from which strategies for SEO can be developed. With a good idea of the concepts of information retrieval, optimizers can better organize their strategies.

Critical thinking is also improved as SEO’s discover a wider source of relevant information from which conclusions can be drawn upon. Formal SEO education does not focus on these three foundational skills.

In many contexts, SEO education is targeted towards the immediate symptom of the problem rather than the cause. Symptomatic treatment never lasts, which is why addressing SEO from a broader perspective can often shed light on big picture issues (and opportunities.)

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Creating And Optimizing Google+ Business Pages

With the launch of Google+ pages, online merchants have yet another avenue to broaden their web presence. This time, however, it is imperative to take action. If you’re not in with Google+, you’re not in with Google search. And if you’re not in with Google search, then where are you?

Setting up a Google+ page for your business is easy, and there is no better time to start than now. Below we outline a sound approach to creating and optimizing your Google+ business page.

Create a Company-Oriented Gmail Account

Using your personal Gmail account to set-up your Google+ page potentially limits administrative capabilities. Creating a dedicated account that offers accessibility to other members of your team is the best approach.

Since Google+ pages do not yet offer multiple page administrators, this approach makes it possible for a number of contributors to gain access.

Build Your Google+ Page

For a general overview to get started, visit http://plus.google.com/pages/create (here you can find a link to begin creating your Google+ page.) You'll be provided with a step-by-step guide to create your page.

Just follow the wizard and choose the most accurate classification for your business. A few options are available to help distinguish your Google+ page, including Local Business or Place, Product or Brand Company, and Institution or Organization.

After selecting the appropriate options, you'll be asked to provide basic information such as page name, business' website URL and category. You also have to fill in the classification of the page content, which specifically targets your intended audience. These elements are important because they all play a role in how your page is categorized, which can later impact optimization.

Optimize Your Google+ Page

The preliminary step toward Google+ page optimization is populating the page with the basics – such as logo and images; business name, tagline, and description; and any other rich media that seems applicable.

The next phase of Google+ page optimization demands some research and planning. Look at the page and its content through the lens of a marketer:

  • For what reasons would someone visit the page?
  • How can the content be presented to maximize user experience?

Just like a website, optimization and usability go hand-in-hand. The value of the content and the way it is presented makes all the difference in the world. Thus it is important that users have a meaningful experience when they visit your Google+ page.

Linking is also critical to optimize a Google+ page. Cross-promotion holds the key to a strong following, and one of the easiest links to build is from your website (or blog) to your Google+ page.

In addition, the "About" tab on a Google+ page offers the option to add recommended links. Here you can add additional links to your blog or other resources (such as lead generation offers) to increase interest and traffic to your business.

There are several ways in which your Google+ page can be optimized internally. One technique is to share many images that are relevant to your business.

In a nutshell, Google+ pages offer your business the opportunity to visually communicate with viewers through images, charts and slides. Choose the channels that offer the most potential for interactive exchanges to pique your visitor’s interest.

Because Google+ is a form of social media, pages thrive when users share content, like posts, links, and images. Your subscribers can generate much exposure for your business, you just need offer content that is compelling enough for them to share. When your content is shared and linked-to, Google deems your page more popular.

Google+ Page Maintenance

Measuring traffic and leads that come from Google+ pages will enable you to analyze the overall impact your efforts have on your business. You can determine this by checking out your referral traffic at plus.Google.com.

Savvy marketers know that it takes ongoing effort to engage the interests of online consumers. This means publishing fresh and relevant content on a consistent basis, and promoting such content through your Google+ page.

Also, show your fans that you are genuinely interested in them by responding to their posts. The smallest details can go a long way. Building a Google+ page is simple and it offers tremendous potential.

Once you've established a strong presence in the Google+ community, you'll have the opportunities to obtain exposure from many more users.

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New Multi-Channel Funnels of Analytics Offers Valuable Insights

Online marketing is in a constant evolution, particularly with respect to tracking and analyzing data. Before Google launched its Multi-Channel Funnels on August 24, 2011, “sources of conversions” was a metric determined by the last destination from which a user came to a website. Now, with the new features of the Multi-Channel Funnels, Google Analytics offers insights about the various channels that users may have interacted with prior making a conversion.

The features of Google Analytics' Multi-Channel Funnels allow marketers to track the interactions consumers have with various forms of online marketing that lead to conversions. In short, the information provided offers valuable insights as to the impact of organic SEO efforts, banner and display advertising, Pay Per Click, as well as social media, email, video and mobile marketing. With Multi-Channel Funnels, online businesses have the capabilities to analyze how all of these online marketing methods come into play.

Google Analytics offers five new reporting features with Multi-Channel Funnels. This allows online businesses to track and analyze data from a number of perspectives. Learn more about each of these five features below.

The Overview feature of Analytics' Multi-Channel Funnels provides a summary of data on total conversions as well as assisted conversions. In addition, the Overview offers a Venn diagram that gives users a visual representation of which channels (Paid Advertising, Organic Search, and Direct Traffic) contributed to conversions as a whole. This multi-colored diagram is most useful for analyzing assisted conversions where more than one source is responsible for sales.

The Assisted Conversions report outlines the various sources of traffic and each one’s impact on aiding a conversion. In essence, this feature sheds light on which channels are influencing conversions more directly than others. Assisted conversions displays the amount conversions that occurred during a specific period of time. This information also shows the “assisted conversion value” of each channel, as well as “last interaction conversions,” which is the referral or channel that immediately precedes the conversion.

Also of great value to the Multi-Channel Funnels is the Top Conversion Paths report that shows the path consumers take leading to conversions. It can be sorted in several ways and is useful for determining the most effective keywords for organic search and Google AdWords campaigns.

Google Analytics also offers reports on Time Lag. This report displays the time it takes for conversions to occur starting from the time users first make contact with a specific source until the time of a conversion. Also of interests in the new five reporting features is Path Length. This displays the number of channel interacts leading up to conversion.

Currently used by 161 of the Top 500 Internet retailers, Google Analytics offers other useful features that will enable marketers to analyze their website and Internet marketing performance. The importance of the new Google Analytics reports impact the primary factors that affect online businesses. Richard Frankel, president of Rocket Fuel sums up the advantages of these reports, stating that, "Marketers can input all the metrics they gather - about brand impact, intent, sentiment, clicks, shares, conversion, and the like - into the media-buying process to make the most accurate buys possible".

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Google Maps to Apply Pay for Service in 2012

Beginning on January 1, 2012, a shift in geo-local Google results will take place: websites will be required to pay for listings in Google Maps.

The charges will only impact those websites that receive a large number of clicks from the Google Maps listings. Once a website exceeds the 25,000 hits per day, Google will then start applying the charges.

The industry expected to be most affected by this development is travel. This because travel agencies often link clients to locations in which they’re inquiring about. Local businesses might also be affected as many business websites use the Google Maps API to point customers to their specific locations.

The rumor is that Google will charge $4 for every 1000 clicks that exceed the 25,000 limit. Heavy users will need to evaluate usage and take appropriate action if necessary.

Google defends its decision by disclosing that it is essential for the long term viability of the service. It is estimated that only 0.35% of all users will be affected.

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Tips for Using Google’s Keyword Tool

Whether as the starting point for optimization, or a supplement for keyword information, the process for most SEO’s includes the use of Google’s keyword tool. Putting the Google Keyword Tool to use is a cinch. You simply plug in your desired keyword phrases and start analyzing. However there are a few essential learning curves to get the most from the Google Keyword Tool. The tips below can help you become more efficient, and more aware, during your keyword research endeavor.

Segment Your Queries

When searching for additional keyword ideas, using the keyword tool in chunks, or related segments, is ideal. Submitting a vast list of several unrelated keywords can result in a mediocre return. If you are researching more than just a few keyword phrases, or seeking the perfect keyword variations, chop your research list into categories.

By submitting a few related keywords, rather than a laundry list, the return will yield keywords that are more relevant and focused to the topic. As a result, your keyword list will expand into many insightful variations and awesome long-tails. This approach is definitely more time consuming than the alternative mass submission, but it’s worth it. Not only are the returns greater by segmenting keywords, but the structure of the end result is more organized too.

Especially from an agency perspective, offering a neatly segmented keyword list is clutch. It allows other viewers to analyze keywords in a more logical and cohesive manner. (Tip: using tabs in a spreadsheet to represent each keyword category works great)

Almost Always Be [Exact]

In left hand navigation of Google’s keyword tool is the option to display Broad, [Exact], and/or “Phrase” match results. By default, the tool will only show keyword volumes and data based on Broad phrase matches. That can make the keyword volumes appear extremely inflated than what they actually represent. It is important to note the immense breadth of Google’s Broad phrase match. In Pay Per Click advertising, bidding on Broad keywords establishes tremendous variation, or keyword flexibility.

For example, the keyword phrase “kids shirts” might also trigger Broad-based variations like “boys tops” or “girls T-shirt.” So if Google’s keyword tool claims that “kids shirts” is search approximately 201,000 times a month, think again.

Difference Between Broad and Exact

While conducting keyword research for organic SEO, or virtually any keyword-based Online marketing, almost always check the [Exact] phrase match box. It is the only legitimate representation of true search volume for particular keyword phrase.

Take the Contextual Tool for a Test Drive

Google’s Contextual Targeting tool is a great resource, particular for those in Pay Per Click advertising. Although its not only for PPC advertisers, the Contextual tool hints at how the search engine “decks” or “indices” work. It breaks down keywords into endless possibilities, revealing new long-tail variations behind each door.

If you haven’t dabbled in the Google Contextual Targeting tool, take it for a quick spin. It can expand your horizons on select keywords and offer insights for further optimization down the road. Like mentioned above, Google’s keyword tool is pretty easy and straight-forward (perhaps too much so.) Be mindful of the phrase matching and keep your keywords nice and organized. It will help facilitate your optimization efforts as well as your deliverables.

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