2 Disastrous SEO Mistakes You’re Making on Your Website
19/12/14 SEO

2 Disastrous SEO Mistakes You’re Making on Your Website

Yes, you can agitate Google a ton, even if you don’t mean to do any harm!

Unfortunately, Google takes a stance of proactively penalizing SEO behavior it doesn’t like.

Wouldn’t it make more sense just to have the undesirable behavior not count at all towards your rankings? That way, you wouldn’t have to worry about penalties for doing what appears to be the right thing.

Anyway, that’s a whole different discussion.

For now, let me explain some ways you can accidentally make Google angry, even though you mean well.

Let’s give credit for these tips where it’s due to industry thought leader Neil Patel.

  1. Exchanging Links with Other Webmasters

You give them a link, and they give you one. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

It’s okay, but make sure your partner (and you) don’t put that link in the footer of your website. Here’s why Google abhors such links:

  1. They’re in the footer, and the footer has been used manipulatively by SEOs in the past (It appears on every page on your site, and having it link to internal pages and other sites gives a lot of links, which worked very well to boost rankings in the past).
  2. You can get a lot of links way too fast. Google looks at your “link velocity,” the rate at which you get links to compute your rankings. If you use the footer of a big website, you can get thousands to millions of links from that site overnight. That’s too many, and Google thinks you do this to manipulate your rankings.
  3. Too many links from a single site. There’s no “perfect percentage” of links to get from one website. However, if you have 200 links now, and all of a sudden 1200 more from another website, now more than 80% of them come from one site. That’s suspicious in Google’s eyes.

The cure for this mistake? Fortunately, it’s easy. If you switch links with someone else, make sure their link and yours comes from a page that appears just once on your or their website (and not a sitewide area like the footer).

  1. Make Sure Who You Outreach to Knows SEO Best Practices

Neil shared a story where one client reached out to moms who ran blogs. To earn links, the company requested the owners of these blogs link to them.

They got a much bigger response than anticipated. Unfortunately, these blog owners often used exact-match keywords in their links (a big no-no now!). That got the client a devastating penalty.


  • Some sent 10-20 links in a single post
  • Many of these blogs were already penalized themselves
  • Numerous blogs were extremely low authority. This is a subjective measure, but you should have just a small percentage of links with a domain authority of less than 20 according to Moz coming to your site.

The fix again, though, is easy. If you outreach to one or more sites:

  • Use Mozbar to check their domain authority (look for 20+)
  • Don’t let ad-heavy websites link to you
  • Make sure the site has a clean, organized, and professional design and copy
  • Tell the site you want a link from that you want just a single link and that they can use whatever anchor text they want, as long as it’s not exact-match to your primary keywords

If you choose to ask for links, make sure you watch those things closely. Google does allow these mistakes to some degree, but you should aim for never allowing any of them to affect your website.

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4 Astonishingly Simple Reasons Your Search Rankings Are Tanking
12/12/14 SEO

4 Astonishingly Simple Reasons Your Search Rankings Are Tanking

How many times have you heard “SEO is dead?”

Seems like everyone says that these days. While SEO has changed so much from even just a couple years ago that it’s barely even recognizable, it was, is, and always will be important for ranking your website.

Google needs some way to identify how to rank your website, which keywords to rank it for, and why it might be better or worse than other sites. So that’s what the SEO game’s all about: helping Google understand where to put your website in its search index.

Take a look at a few of these easy, oh-so-simple ways to make sure you’re not losing your rankings unnecessarily:

  1. Keyword Placement

The keyword you want your page to rank for should be in the page title, ideally at the beginning. That’s the biggest on-page optimization signal Google needs to see.

In addition to that, it should appear in your URL, in the page <H1> tag, and then 2-4 times in the body copy and additional <h2> tags. There’s no “perfect” formula here. As long as you have your keyword in those areas, though, Google knows what you want to rank for.

  1. Your Primary Pages Don’t Have Links Pointing to Them

Your home page gets most of your links – that’s just what people logically think to link to. However, to rank any page, you should have at least a few (3+) high-authority links pointing to those pages.

The easy part is knowing you have to do this (your competitors often don’t and often have 0 links pointing to their main services pages). The hard part is earning those links – and that’s where professional help does its magic.

  1. You Don’t Write Content Regularly

There’s varying opinions on how much content helps your rankings. Some SEOs tell you 50%, others 75% or more.

The percentage doesn’t matter, but you get the point: you must have monthly content posted on your website. This is an especially huge advantage at the local business level, where many do not update their content often enough (or at all).

What do you need? Right now, I recommend 2 400-500 posts per month at minimum.

It’s nicer to have 4-5 (your readers like 1 per week), but not absolutely necessary. An aggressive strategy uses 8 per month, and some hyper-aggressive businesses even post daily.

It’s all about your budget and comfort zone.

  1. You Don’t Use Schema Meta-Data

Simply put, Schema is a set of HTML tags you use to enhance your SERP listings. There’s conflicting evidence as to whether it improves your search rankings.

However, Search Engine Land did find 30% more traffic from click-throughs for websites that use it. You can easily implement schema into your WordPress website with the WordLift plugin.

And here’s a secret: almost no websites use it – a huge competitive advantage for you!

If you address those issues, it’s pretty easy to get your rankings back or take them to new heights!

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What are Website Citations and Why Should You Care?
19/11/14 SEO

What are Website Citations and Why Should You Care?

Citations are a somewhat technical aspect of SEO. But what they are and how you get them is very critical to how your site ranks. 

In fact, they’re one of the most powerful search rankings factors. So powerful that, if all other rankings factors are equal, a website with more citations will most likely rank higher than one with fewer citations.

So What is a Citation?

Put simply, a website citation is a mention of your business’s name, address, and phone number (called “NAP” as an acronym). Your citation does not have to be linked to your website for Google to find it. It can appear on any web page as plain text.

You can find website citations on the BBB and local chamber of commerce websites, business association pages, and portals like SuperPages.com.

Why Does Google Use Citations?

Citations perform several functions in Google’s eyes:

They establish the reputation/authority of a particular website (just like links).

In less competitive niches (like electrical contracting), they act as a source of information for businesses that have no website.

They show your business is part of a known community. For example, if you’re mentioned in a local newspaper or the chamber of Commerce’s website, you are clearly a reputable entity in your locality.

How to Get Citations

The great thing about the web is that it’s so expansive that there’s unlimited room for creativity. Your ability to get citations is limited only to the time or budget you have available.

These are some of the best ways to get citations:

A paid service like Yext gets you listed on many different business directories.

Analyze the competition. What keywords do you want to rank for? Google them and see who ranks the highest. Then, enter their NAP information into Google. A list of sources comes up, and you can figure how to get a citation from each. In some cases, it’s as easy as entering the information and hitting “Submit.”

Create and distribute a press release if you have valuable news to release about your company (a special offer, new acquisition, new service, hiring of a new employee etc…)

Guest blog on niche websites and include your NAP information.

Include your NAP information in PPC ads.

Get involved with your local BBB and chamber of commerce for a link/citation (or both). My rep at the Dallas BBB is very helpful and knowledgeable about citations and I refer all my clients to him: Brian Reagan | District Manager – Phone: 214-740-0343 – Email: brianreagan@dallas.bbb.org.

If you’re feeling ambitious, try to get published in the online version of your local newspaper.

Getting your NAP information posted on a .gov or .edu website (You’ll have to be creative here – maybe your website could be a valuable resource for additional information).

Some easy ones you should get right away include CitySearch.com, DexKnows.com,YellowPages.com, FourSquare.com, and HotFrog.com.

If you want to check where your citations are and how many of them you have, use Whitespark’s Citation Finder.

What to Watch Out For

If you’re building citations or trying to get them, make sure you keep these points in mind:

Always use exactly the same NAP information so Google has no doubt which citations refer to your business.

Your citation’s NAP information must match the NAP on your website and Google+ Local page.

You can use partial citations, which are better than no citation at all. However, it’s not quite as effective as a full citation.

Just Like Links, Not All Citations Count Equally

In fact, the value of a citation varies greatly depending on the website it’s found on. Relatively unknown local business directories are closer to the bottom of the scale. If you get mentioned on a .gov or .edu website, that’s near the top of the value scale.

How to Determine the Quality of a Citation Source

Since quality’s so important, how do you know what to look for? Here are a few steps to check that out:

Use MajesticSEO to analyze the link profile of the site you’d like a citation on. If it’s a good website, most of the links come from other reputable websites. There should also be very little exact-match anchor text. If there’s a high percentage of either of these, you’ll want to avoid using the website as a citation source. 

A visual inspection for spam. What exactly is spam? It can mean a lot of things, and Google does its best to keep spam low or non-existent in the search rankings. They don’t give an exact definition, but they do note spam is something like this:

“Spam sites attempt to game their way to the top of search results through techniques like repeating keywords over and over, buying links that pass PageRank or putting invisible text on the screen. This is bad for search because relevant websites get buried, and it’s bad for legitimate website owners because their sites become harder to find.”

Basically, spam websites contribute no value to the web. If a site looks useless, generally it is spammy. You do have to be careful though. Some older business directories have a dated appearance but are actually great places to get citations from.

Avoid low-quality business listing networks. Some of these were designed with the sole intention of manipulating Google’s search rankings. If a visual inspection of the site makes you concerned about its quality, search Google for a footprint found in the site’s footer.

If that website is a network, you’ll find the same listing for the site on many other sites. To check for that, you’d run a Google search that looks something like this: https://www.google.com/search?q=%22_website_footprint_%22+%22_phone_number_%22. Special thanks to Whitespark’s Darren Shaw for offering this technique.

SEOMoz Domain Authority of 20 or greater. 20 is actually a bit borderline – you might want to shoot for 30 or more. If the Domain Authority is between 20-30, and the site’s link profile looks clean and healthy, that’s a good citation. Moz has a special toolbar you can install, or you can also use Open Site Explorer.

Now You Know Everything You Need to Get Started Building Citations

You can build citations yourself, but I will warn you it’s tedious hard work. If you’re a small business owner, you’re time and money are best spent hiring someone else to do it.

Make sure you’re very selective about who you hire to build citations. Remember, there’s plenty of spammy sites out there that get you citations which don’t actually help your cause at all. Analyze your potential options carefully, and remember that you do get what you pay for.

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Causes for Ranking Loss Identified & Successfully Remedied
19/11/14 SEO

Causes for Ranking Loss Identified & Successfully Remedied

This post is about things I have identified as causes for sites not placing well since the last quarter of 2013.

I don’t know if related to Hummingbird, or Panda/Penguin specifically, because they are things that have always been problems that could kill rankings. However, the issues did not affect the performance of the sites until October 2013, which is when they all fell off the first page into nowhere land.

1)     Bad Backlinks – and by this I mean specifically:

Free Directory Links – These are links on spammy, free directories. They are bad neighborhoods, because any site can be listed on them, so it’s where sites that can’t get good links go to get links, like porno sites for example. To see examples of these types of directories, all you have to do is Google “free links directory”.

Blog Comment Links – This is where you go to a blog, make a comment and link back to your site with a keyword.

2) Having more than one domain name pointed at your site, and it’s pointed incorrectly. Instead of it being 301 redirected, it’s 302 redirected or not redirected at all. A 301 redirect tells Google the site moved to a new domain permanently (this is the right way to do it). A 302 is temporarily moved. Google sees 302 redirects and/or no redirect at all, as two separate sites with duplicate content. They also see the non-www and www versions of your site as separate sites. For example, https://www.thetruthnetwork.com and https://www.bestdallasseo.com – When you go to https://bestdallasseo.com you will notice it redirects in the address bar to https://www.bestdallasseo.com. This is called setting your canonical url, and prevents Google from indexing both versions. Your site needs to be represented one way, either with or without the www, and under only one domain name.

3) Having bad links (as above) on an old domain that is redirected to your site. Your current domain may not have bad links, but your old one might. And if old is redirected to new, all those bad links still count against you.

4) Not having original content, or someone copied/stole your content. You can check this at copyscape.com.

5) Targeting a city in your main SEO where your office is not physically located. Since Hummingbird (from what I’ve noticed), Google seems to only be serving up sites for local searches that actually have a physical location in that city. Example: you are going after Dallas as your main seo focus, but you are located in Plano. It doesn’t mean sites don’t still slip through and manage to rank without an address, but it’s an exception to the rule when it does happen (and might be because the site is very old, is being grandfathered in, or has a bunch of trust, which equates to ranking power with Google. The solution is to target the city where you actually are located, or get an executive suite address from a company like Regus.com for the main city you care about ranking for (not a UPS or postal center address or P.O. box). You’ll also need a Google+ (map listing) page for the address, and citations in the major business directories from a company like Yext.com, and BBB membership listing your address is a VERY good idea. I have written several blogs about this, which you can find at: https://www.bestdallasseo.com/free-advice/

If you have not joined your local BBB, I suggest you do so. Here is the person to contact for the Dallas area:

Brian Reagan | District Manager – Phone: 214-740-0343 – Email: brianreagan@dallas.bbb.org. He is VERY helpful, SEO knowledgeable (on the board of the DFWSEM) and speaks at conferences. He is interested in your success online.

The above are major issues I have encountered recently, that once corrected have repaired rankings. Make sure they are not issues you have if you have lost your placement on Google.

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How to Improve Your Local Search Results
19/11/14 SEO

How to Improve Your Local Search Results

Search engine optimization doesn’t have to be hard, speaking from a purely technical standpoint.  It’s mostly hard work, and just using white-hat techniques Google says to use. Sure, there are some things you can do to get more out of what you do, but just remember the bottom line when it comes to SEO:  focus on providing value to people who visit your website.

Most small business owners are so time-strapped, that they just don’t do these basic things that could greatly improve their Google local search results:

Consistent NAP Use

Your name, address, and phone number (your “NAP” information) must be 100% consistent across the web.  You see, Google trusts websites and businesses that have been around longer.  They want your website to be much like your physical business location – always in the same place, and easy to find.

One mistake you might make is to use “Suite” instead of “Ste.” when entering your NAP information online.  You can use either way, but just make sure it’s exactly the same. You can check it here to see what I mean.

Regularly Produce Content

Many business owners seem to understand blogging is important.  But because they’re strapped for time, you can often visit their website and see one update made 2 months ago, one 6 months prior to that, and nothing else. I’m not criticizing here (because I am also guilty), just discussing the facts.  You don’t have to go crazy with content.  About one 800-1000 word blog post per month does the job.  But, the more you do, the better.

And if you want to get highly active social media profiles and build a community that comments on your blog, you’re going to need several blog posts per month.

Have a Nice, Clean, Modern-Looking Website

This is important for SEO for a few reasons:

If your website looks too old, people might think you’re not in business anymore.  If they click on your website, look at it 2 seconds, and then leave, in technical terms, this is called a “bounce.”  If the percentage of people who bounce off your website gets too high (greater than 50% or more), Google might think your website isn’t a match for what they’re looking for.

Then, your rankings will take a hit.

The second important aspect of a website is how fast it loads.  A second or less is ideal, while 2 seconds or less does the job.  Google views a fast-loading website as offering a good user experience, and it wants those websites at the top of its rankings.  Slow load time also affects sales.

Digital marketing thought leader KISSmetrics conducted a study, which found sites that take around 4 seconds to load lose around 22% of their sales right off the bat.  That number falls to about 10% at 2 seconds, and 3% or so at 1 second.

Third, your website should be “responsive” in design.  That means it displays perfectly on desktop computers, laptops, smartphones, and tablet PCs.  Google’s actually endorsed responsive design publicly, and it doesn’t too often make it publicly and distinctly clear what it wants from websites and SEOs. If it’s not responsive, at least make sure you have a mobile version of your site.

Finally, you also have to use the minimum amount of code behind the scenes to make this happen.  That’s highly technical so I won’t go any further into it, but know that less is more when it comes to code, and that websites have to be designed with SEO in mind from the start.

An example of a good website would be:

Looks modern

Simple, easy to navigate menu at the top

Good use of color to keep things interesting, without going overboard

Very fast load speed

Logo in the upper left tells you who they are and what they do immediately

Claim Your Google Places Account & Get Active on Google+

Here’s an article on how to if you haven’t yet. Also, a regularly updated G+ business page with a few social media posts monthly, could help increase the number of people who have you in their circles, and also potentially help you get more social shares (which are a significant ranking factor for Google these days).  Here’s a detailed post on a simple social media strategy time-strapped SMB owners can use.

Get Online Reviews

I wrote a whole post about getting online reviews.  Not only are good reviews a booster for your search rankings, but reviews allow you to do market research and see what about your business needs to improve to make your customers happier.

If you have a misbehaving employee, long wait times, or a product that breaks too often, people aren’t afraid to let you know online.  If you ask for feedback in-person, most customers are less truthful because they don’t want to hurt your feelings.

You want to be above at least 4 stars, and ideally 4.5 stars or more.

So as you can see, although the website coding tip is fairly complicated, most of these are not.  Internet marketing is more about providing value to your website visitors and doing consistent hard work than anything else.

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