09/08/17 SEO

4 Ways to Protect Your Website from Negative SEO

Did you know it’s easy for your competitors to build spammy, crappy backlinks to your website to damage your rankings…and you have basically nothing you can do to stop it?

It’s 100% true. There’s nothing you can do to stop your competitor from finding ways to build links to your site from porn, gambling, and even illegal websites back to yours. These links can decimate your search rankings.

And you can’t necessarily trace it back to a specific competitor either.

Of course, it takes a competitor with a little conscience to actually do that. But it does happen.

And you can’t file a complaint with Google about it.

How do you protect yourself from something like this? Here’s how:


1) Create Valuable Content and Constantly Promote It


Google knows every website has a certain amount of lousy backlinks. It’s to be expected. But if they see a clear pattern evolving, that’s where you run into danger.

The best defense is valuable content your ideal customer can put to use to solve a problem they have right now. They’ll naturally share it. And you can promote this content to earn links too.

Google loves it. So keeping this going on an ongoing basis is your top priority.

2) Perform Regular Link Audits


Your SEO will know how often to do a link audit for your website. This could be as often as monthly. But it may be appropriate to do quarterly link audits or even every 6 months to a year.

Not every website gets targeted for negative SEO. But being ready and catching attackers proactively is a great defense.

Link audits should be done both onsite (because hackers can gain access to your site and mess with your internal linking) and offsite for reasons explained before.


3) Disavow Bad Links When They Are Found


While Google places all the onus on you to report bad links, at least you have a method of defense. Google’s Disavow Tool allows you to report bad/spammy links that show up on your link profile. Then, Google will remove those links from counting against you.

However, the process can still take months to take effect. You’ll get hurt, but at least you can minimize the damage.

Why doesn’t Google just change their algorithm so bad links count for nothing, instead of penalizing you?

I don’t know. No one does. But the fact is, they’ve done nothing about it.


4) What about Fake Negative Reviews?


Yep. These happen too. Fortunately, you can defend against them also. Just make sure you have good reason to believe they’re fake. For example, you haven’t made a big mistake at your company that would lead to all these negative reviews.

Fortunately, you can use Google My Business to quickly flag the fake reviews.

You don’t need to panic about possible negative SEO. It’s rare. Google does try to help curtail the efforts of negative SEO attacks by identifying the patterns and not factoring them toward their search results. But, they make no guarantees.

So ultimately, it’s on you or your SEO to constantly monitor your website for unusual activity so you don’t find yourself in a messy situation.  

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05/08/17 SEO

Should You Use Google’s New Website Builder for SMBs?

You’ve likely heard of Wix, the do-it-for-you website builder. Popular competitors include Weebly, WordPress, Jimdo, and Squarespace, and there’s tons of others too.


The problem with Wix, and many of these (except installing your own version of WordPress), is they aren’t the most SEO-friendly. Sometimes, their templates don’t load the fastest. Some available designs are quite ugly and don’t offer a simple experience. And comparatively speaking, Wix isn’t all the cheap.

People use Wix because it is easy (and advertised heavily), and at just a few bucks per month for their starting package, it appears relatively cheap.

But for the above reasons, it’s not necessarily a good long-term choice.

Now, Google Sites enters the fray. While Google naturally competes with Wix and other similar options, it’s not necessarily designed to do exactly that.

If you’re considering a business website, and need one fast, does Google Sites make sense?

Learn more about the new tool below:  

Who Should Use Google Sites?

The builder is designed to be easy to use. It even automatically populates some of your business information from your Google My Business account.

Google’s really intending their builder for small local businesses who need just a single page. That could be:

  • Churches
  • Any kind of non-profit
  • Restaurants
  • Clubs

They actually don’t give you a ton of control over editing the page. They keep what you can do pretty basic.

But with who this tool’s intended for (the 60% of businesses across the world who don’t have websites), that makes sense.

Google Sites Does Good SEO and Ranks Well

This makes sense. Google’s own tool should darn well rank well in its search rankings.

I read some comments from black hat SEOs. They found Google Sites rank fast and well.

However, since Google has direct knowledge of these sites, if you push too hard on getting back links or other borderline SEO tactics, they’ll pull you out of the rankings fast. So, while you can do solid SEO and rank well, make sure you know exactly what you’re doing or that you hire someone who does.

A Few Cons About Google Sites

Google Sites definitely wasn’t made for more advanced web users. And it’s not for you if you like to spend a lot of time learning new things and want to have tight control over your website’s design.

You can’t openly edit the CSS/HTML code. That limits your SEO capability and visual design to a degree. The designs themselves aren’t that pretty or innovative.

You get a fairly barebones system, and especially so when compared to Wix, Weebly, and other similar platforms.  

Conclusion: Google Sites Works Well for Small (Or Non-Existent) Budgets, and SMBs Who Want to Build Their First Web Presence

If you have a budget of a couple thousand dollars per month, you’re much better off hiring a professional SEO or internet marketing contractor or agency. You have much tighter control over your website, which means you can deliver the experience your users want. And you can do more to benefit your rankings and win more customers.

But if you’re new, don’t have a large budget, and simply want to be present online and maybe pull in a few customers, Google Sites makes sense.

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02/08/17 SEO

Quick Guide to an SEO Strategy That Beats Your Competition

SEO takes a year, and in many cases, up to 18 months to even start showing results. That time frame could be even longer for competitive markets like law or insurance.

…But does it really have to take that long?

Not necessarily.

And you don’t have to cheat or use black-hat tactics to bypass your competition. Once you understand what most SEO companies and consultants do, then you simply do what they don’t do.

By engaging in overlooked tactics used less often, you can rank faster for terms related to your business with less effort. And that means you’re not paying as much for results either.

So…how could you sneak by your competition? Here are a few strategies:

Rank Your Website for Tangentially Related Keywords about Your Products and Services

Let’s say you’re a lawyer. DFW is an intensely competitive legal market. Try to rank for “personal injury lawyer Dallas,” and you’ve involved yourself in a massive undertaking.

You can have that as a long-term keyword. But, if you want to rank faster, you might target keywords like:

  • Drowning accidents
  • Boat accidents
  • ATV accidents
  • Forklift accidents
  • Highway accidents

…Or whatever’s related to exactly what you do (view our technical SEO services to see what we offer).

Create a Blog Post that Highlights Influencers in Your Industry

Known as “expert roundups,” these posts feature a provocative question that captures the fascination of leading thinkers in your niche and your customers too. So, you contact around 50 of them or so by e-mail. Maybe 100 if you’re feeling ambitious.

Assuming you’ve identified a question that captures their interest, you’ll have no problem driving a flood of high-quality links…and perhaps traffic (potential customers) too.


You reach out to the experts once you’ve published your post. And because they’ve already agreed to participate, most are happy to link to it and share it.

Constantly Link to Top Resources in Your Niche…And Let Them Know About It

When you link out, you often want a link back. But here’s the thing: the big names where you want links from aren’t looking at their link profiles, eagerly ready to contact someone who links to them.

So…you have to let the big names in your niche know what you’ve done. You can create a blog post of the top 20 resources on a certain subject to your niche.

Let each person know that you’ve done so by e-mail. But don’t ask for anything. Simply allow them to respond how they want.

Some will link back to you. And their links will have so much more power than yours that even if you only get a few back, they’ll far outweigh the link juice you send out when linking to them.

Most SEO Competitors Don’t Do This

Your competition often doesn’t use tactics like this. It’s difficult to estimate the amount of time and effort involved in many cases.

What business wants to sell a service like that?

That’s why, when you put these seo strategies to use, you give yourself a big leg up on your competition.

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29/07/17 SEO

3 Biggest Mobile SEO Mistakes You Can Make

Fact: mobile sites that load in 5 seconds earn up to 2x more mobile ad revenue than sites that load in 19 seconds (according to Google).

What’s the big deal about 19 seconds? That’s currently how long it takes for the average mobile site to load over a 3G connection.

So that’s quite a discrepancy there.

5 seconds is actually fairly generous. Google also says 53% of people will abandon a page if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load.

So that’s really your goal: less than 3 seconds. How fast does your website load? Google actually offers a free online test to check.

That’s the top SEO problem small and local business websites face. Let me explain some of the other leading ones:

1) Not Using Rich Snippets (Schema metadata)

Okay. Fair warning: kinda geeky stuff here. You may not have even heard of schema metadata.

…And neither have most small business owners. But it’s a huge competitive edge because it often gets overlooked.

Schema’s simply a small bit of code you put on your web pages to help search engines rank them where they should go. It helps search engines understand what your web page means, versus just what it says.

It can give you a nice boost to your search rankings. With WordPress, there are plugins available that make this easy.

If your website has static pages, schema can be hardcoded into each page also. It can also be time-sensitive, as it can help display upcoming events at your business (if you own a bar, for example).

2) Not Optimizing Your Anchor Text

This gets a little confusing. Any links from sites outside of yours should have a variety of anchor text. Less than 5% should have text exactly matching your keywords.

Now with internal links, from one of your own pages to another, the game changes. Google doesn’t penalize you for optimized anchor text. At the same time, your anchor text gives Google signals about what keywords your pages should rank for.

On top of that, your website visitors don’t want to see optimized anchor text on every link. Otherwise, they become suspicious you’re trying to game Google’s algorithm and leave.

You should use the same key phrase 50% of the time at max. To mix things up, you can use variations of it, or different phrases entirely, like “click here.”

3) Not Breaking Up Your Content for Scanning Readers

Your website visitors read around 28% of your content at most. Possibly less than that. Otherwise, they just peek at your headline, sub headers, and a few paragraphs of text here and there.

So you can’t have big long blocks of text. Your site shouldn’t be like reading a print magazine.

Write like this post. There are 3-4 sentences per paragraph (or so). A few paragraphs per subhead. Short sentences. Even broken ones (just like this one).

This reduces your “bad” bounce rate (the number of people who visit your website once and leave because they can’t find what they want). And it keeps visitors on your page longer. It also indirectly makes your content more shareable.

Google pays attention to all those metrics when ranking your site for search.

Does the “Perfect Mobile Website” Exist?

No. There’s no such thing. But you can create one that makes your users, and Google, happy. And when you do, you’re rewarded with gobs of traffic consisting of people eager to buy from you.  Contact us today for high-quality SEO services to optimize your site for mobile.

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15/07/17 SEO

How To Prep Your SMB Website for Voice Search

The numbers on the use of Google’s voice search disagree in specific, but they all agree on one major trend:

explosive growth.

From 2015-2016, voice search grew from 0% of all Google searches to around 10%. This includes all major voice search options in the market, like Google Now, Apple’s Siri, and Microsoft’s Cortana.

A recent survey of 39 leading SEO experts resulted in voice search becoming the third most powerful SEO trend in 2017. Mobile optimization and epic content were slightly ahead.

The reason for this may be that voice recognition has increased dramatically in recent years. For example, Google Now had accuracy well below 80% in 2013, and it now sits well above 90%.

Regardless of how you choose to interpret the data, it’s clear voice search is too powerful to ignore both now and in the future.

How Do You Optimize Your Website for Voice Search?

Google doesn’t yet offer voice search data to the public (although it may in the future). Until that data are released, you can’t create a perfect voice search optimization plan.

But that doesn’t leave you helpless. Not at all. In fact, you can easily optimize for voice search now.

First, start with Google’s answer and question boxes, which you’ve seen before. They look like so:

The answer box at the top may be out of your reach. Typically, Google reserves that for highly reputable websites. Ones that have been around for years and years.

Ditto for the question box.

But, they both give you valuable data to optimize around. Look at those questions and answers, and BOOM! – you’ve got extensive data to build FAQ pages (which rank well in and of themselves).

You might even consider building FAQs not just in your main navigation menu, but directly around specific products and services.

Not only do they help you optimize for voice search, but they also are incredibly useful for your users. Answer thoroughly and honestly, and your website visitors put their trust in you, keep coming back, and eventually buy. Give generic, boring answers, and your customers have no reason to stay at your website instead of visiting your competitors. And you can also save money by not having to spend as much time on your customer service.

And The Content Ideas Gush Out From There…

Now, simple FAQs are great. But, you can go into even further depth (and usefulness, which is what web users want) by giving detailed answers to these questions in blog posts (view our content marketing services to get great content for your blog). You can make e-books that you sell.

You could also create lead magnets out of these and use them to offer an incentive for people signing up to your list. Remember, your e-mail list has your most profitable customers on it. They love you.

Or, you could create a video blog answering the question (especially if you’re a tradesman of some kind). You could turn this into a podcast also.

From the example above, if you’re a lawyer, you could create an ultimate guide to apartment rental law.

Wow! All that from a few questions and an answer?


You could spend a full year, or even couple of years working part-time and creating massive content that answers these questions.

For now, this is what you can do. And you’ll only be building future security around your search rankings by doing it.

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Proximity to Searcher is Now The #1 Local Search Ranking Factor
01/05/17 SEO

Proximity to Searcher is Now The #1 Local Search Ranking Factor

Moz, by far the best source of credible SEO info, recently released its 2017 local search ranking factors study. Basically, they ask for the opinions of dozens of local SEO consultants. And then they aggregate the opinions to get their data.

This year, the proximity of the searcher to the address they’re searching for became the top factor for determining search rankings.

So, all you have to do is create a floating warehouse that uses drones to deliver your products, just like Amazon. No joke. That’s a real possibility. Amazon has a patent for it!

But yes, I do jest. That project’s a little out of the reach of many businesses.

Instead, take a look at the other top local search ranking factors:

Quality/Authority of Inbound Links to Your Website

This one continues to stay at or near the top year after year. And it should continue to remain there for the foreseeable future.

It’s simply the best way to determine the quality of your website. Think of it like asking other people what they think of a certain person. If Warren Buffet vouches for your investing skills, others will notice.

Links work the same way. If big-name websites link to you, Google believes your site has some cool content to offer.

Links may lose some of their ranking power as other factors (like proximity), gain it. However, I think links will continue to remain near the top. They won’t suddenly drop down and become completely irrelevant.

Proper Business Category Association

local search result

This factor used to be #1 in 2013. And in 2017, it’s still the third most important if you want to rank in the local 3-pack, which is this:

Of course, it’s a huge deal if you can get yourself ranked in this. So you must make sure your business is in the right Google My Business category.

Seems so simple when you think of it. But it’s really a big deal.

Domain Authority

Moz created this proprietary metric. Basically, it predicts your website’s ability to rank in search.

When you just start a website, your DA is 1. Powerhouse websites like ESPN and Amazon have a DA of 100. Disney currently sits at 88. A strong local website, for an HVAC company for example, will be in the mid-20s to low 30s.

“Domain Authority” is quite complex, like Google’s algorithm. But it’s not that complex. Basically, it measures the quality of the links pointing to your website. And it’s best viewed as a comparative metric to see the authority of your domain versus others in your niche.

You can download Mozbar, which shows domain authority, completely free.

Notice What’s Missing?

Believe it or not, content didn’t make the top 10 for ranking in either the local 3-pack or organic search.


Content’s important. It attracts links. You must have something worth linking to.

But content by itself isn’t as important to your rankings. Yes, you consistently need fresh content for search engines, and your readers. But content hidden alone by itself where no one can see it doesn’t do you much good.

FYI – you can read Moz’s entire 2017 local search ranking factors study here.

Happy ranking in 2017!

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Google Ramps Up Effort to Weed Out Factually Inaccurate Content
27/04/17 SEO

Google Ramps Up Effort to Weed Out Factually Inaccurate Content

Remember when Al Gore famously said he “created the internet?”

See him saying it here at about 50 seconds into the video:

Who knows his intent. Maybe he just got caught up in the moment and lost track of what he was saying.

Regardless, it was a factually inaccurate statement.

When you consider search, Google wants to remove as much factually inaccurate content from its results as possible.

Google employs hundreds of people to manually review websites and rate the content as good, bad, spam, or useful. No one knows the precise impact their ratings have on Google’s search algorithm. But we do know their opinion gets factored into algorithm updates.

Google gives its evaluators nearly 160 pages of guidelines to shape their decision-making.

And one of the latest changes involves demoting “factually inaccurate content.”

How Does Google Understand Factually Inaccurate Content?

As you know, there are many opinions on nearly every topic out there. Facts disagree.

Who’s right?

Sometimes, it’s not so obvious. And, of course, you don’t want to find yourself in the trap of unintentionally angering Google.

First, check out this example from page 10 of Google’s evaluation guidelines:

Google result example

Christopher Columbus was born in 1951 in Sydney, Australia.

I’m no history buff…but that sounds factually inaccurate to me.

And it is. However, in this case, teachers set up this website for elementary school students to practice their fact-checking skills. You find this out as your read their other pages.

While factually inaccurate, the site serves a “helpful and beneficial purpose.” So, it’s not going to get docked in Google’s search rankings.

In example two, take a look at humor website OM NOM NOM NOM:

google example for ranking

You see a mouth drawn on a drier. Again, technically that’s factually inaccurate.

…But remember this is a humor website. So Google once again says this site has “a helpful or beneficial purpose.”

It provides value (humor) to its audience. It’s not attempting to deceive them in any way.

Google Doesn’t Like This Kind of Content

Google offers search evaluators this example of “Low-Quality Content:”

Right away, it has a couple obvious grammar errors. And while you can’t see it in this screenshot, later on, it says an “endless amount of nuclear power can be found in the different ocean across the world.”

That’s not really the case. The article does say uranium can be found in abundant quantities throughout the ocean. But saying we have an endless amount of nuclear power available in our oceans is something else altogether. And the article offers nothing to substantiate that claim.

Clearly, not much effort or thought was put into this content. So, it gets docked by search evaluators.

How Useful Is Your Content?

Google’s not asking search evaluators to pull anything tricky here. Nothing sounds unreasonable.

Basically, if you’re going to publish on the web, keep what you say factually accurate. Make sure you have perfect spelling and grammar (a typo here and there isn’t anything to worry about).

But above all, be useful. Make sure your readers can take something from your content and put it into action, or make a more informed decision with it. A professional SEO can help.

Yes, it really is that simple.

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Should You Still Focus on Keyword Rankings in 2017?
16/04/17 SEO

Should You Still Focus on Keyword Rankings in 2017?

For quite some time, SEOs have sold their clients based on good rankings. Clients look at the rankings, notice the uptick in their business, and then they decide the SEO’s worth keeping.

But with Google personalizing search, cramming paid ads at the top of its search pages, and constantly updating its algorithm, is this really a good way to measure SEO success?

Let’s take a closer look.

The Problem with Search Rankings

Really, we just discussed this. They fluctuate. A lot. Plus, rankings aren’t what you really want anyway.

Why’d you hire your SEO?

You want them to grow your business. So, while rankings make for a leading indicator of search success, they don’t count for much by themselves.

You’ll want to also look at organic traffic, which increases as your search rankings grow.

But most importantly, you want your SEO to drive conversions. You want more people contacting you through your form. You want more phone calls.

It’s on you to close the sales from there.

How Do You Track This Information?

Online data is easily tracked with Google Analytics. Simply have your SEO set up your contact form to redirect to a “Thank You” page once people contact you. This is quick and easy for an SEO to do.

Then, buy a separate phone number you use for your website only. Those two together get you pretty close to the reality of the effectiveness of your SEO’s work. Some people may walk in your physical location after reading your website, but not too many.

Should You Use Keywords Yet Today?


If you sell HVAC or legal services, you wouldn’t talk about zebras and unicorns, would you?

Because, if you did, Google certainly wouldn’t rank you for the appropriate search terms. It would say,”What the hell is going on here? I’m putting this site near the bottom of the search rankings.

That’s an extreme example. Many SEOs get lost in the finer details. They mention the keyword too much.

All you need is to put it in your page’s title, and then once in the body content somewhere. You can also include 2-4 related terms. Then, you make sure every keyword sounds natural, and that the page provides a solution to a problem the searcher might have.

You include the related terms because Google’s search is “semantic.” That simply means it also looks for words similar to your target key phrase on your page.

That only makes sense, right?

It’s not hard to make Google happy with keywords. But, it is hard to continually produce content that both Google and your users like over a long period of time.

Making a website today is hard, long work.

But you don’t have to worry about a Google penalty if you keep it simple and focus on solving problems for your users with each type of content you add.

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Google Rocks the SEO World with “Fred” Update
11/04/17 SEO

Google Rocks the SEO World with “Fred” Update

Google pulled a big surprise on the SEO world this time. The “Fred” update, as it’s accidentally been called, has annihilated as much as 50-90% of the traffic from some websites.

Details weren’t clear at first. However, this is what it’s currently believed “Fred” has done:

1. Pushed websites with poor link profiles down the search rankings
2. Removed websites really designed to make money off affiliate ads and revenues (versus genuinely helping searchers) from the top of the search rankings

Google’s Gary Illyes provided some confirmation of the second view when he tweeted this on March 14th:

DYK there’s no inherent problem with affiliate links? The problem is when a site’s sole purpose is to be a shallow container for aff links.

TechTerminus.com, for example, publicly shared the fact that it got penalized. On their content pages, they have a big banner ad front and center right when you first visit them. After scrolling down about a screen or two on a desktop/laptop PC, you get hit with another banner ad on the right side.


• When you read the content, it’s fairly basic stuff you can find anywhere on the web
• It’s clearly written by someone whose first language is not English because it contains a number of obvious mistakes
• The majority of the topics are likely based on keywords

So, Google looks at all those factors and says,”Yikes. Not sure that searchers would really like this site. Plus, I know of other sites that answer the search query much better. So, let’s push this one down the search rankings a ways.”

Even though Fred may or may not have included a penalty for low-quality links, it’s not shocking if it did. Google consistently works to clean up the web and get websites that searchers want at the top of the search results. That means links should be acquired “naturally,” which means the link was placed by someone who found your site interesting and decided to link to it.

What Do You Do If You Got Nailed By Google Fred?

If this update hits you, you’re really in a world of trouble. It won’t be quick to recover from.

The best solution involves shifting your mindset. Change it from “I gotta make money” to “I must create the most useful website of its kind on the entire web.”

Whether you actually succeed in that or not doesn’t matter. But if you push toward that goal, your search rankings won’t be in jeopardy.

More specifically:

• If you rely on ads or affiliate links, evaluate how you can reduce or eliminate your reliance on them
• Create only the most useful content of its kind
• Promote that content heavily to your audience to earn natural links and shares
• Mention your desired keyword phrases once or twice on each page, and that’s it
• Create content rich with embedded videos and images, in addition to text

You’re best off doing these now, even if you didn’t get penalized. Google’s only going to continue to tighten its stringent standards. Use an SEO that knows how to navigate them.

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New Study Reveals Content Gaining Ranking Power, While Links Losing It
28/01/17 Content Marketing , SEO

New Study Reveals Content Gaining Ranking Power, While Links Losing It

A new study by Searchmetrics reveals content relevance is gaining cred with Google, while backlinks are declining as a ranking signal. If you follow that link, you can read a summary of the major highlights of the report. It also contains a link that gets into gritty, nerdy details. Anyway, you get the gist.

Continue reading

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