Tag Archives: seo

Protect Your Online Reputation

The internet marketing agency that I work for has been looking to hire an SEO/PPC specialist for a few weeks now, but we’re having a hard time finding the right person.  We’ve been posting ads and getting a decent amount of responses, but not too many people are qualified enough for what we’re looking for.

Today I received the resume of a person who seemed to have just the right amount of work experience and knowledge.  Before I attempted to schedule an interview I decided to Google his name and see what comes up.  There was the usual- links to his LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest accounts (which always rank high), his blog, a popular SEO site that he’s probably mentioned on and his mug shot.  Wait, mug shot?

Guess who just missed out on a job opportunity.  Especially being a search marketing professional and all, the least I expected from the guy was to have a clean online reputation.

At least once in your life, someone important will look you up on Google.  There’s a good chance it’s already happened, as search insiders estimate that that non-celebrity people searches account for more than 10% of Google’s search volume.

Admit it; you’ve Googled yourself at least once just to see what came up. But who else has?  Recruiters and hiring managers will likely look you up on search engines before offering you an interview or job. Colleges have been known to look up students before accepting them.  In my single days I wouldn’t go on a date without Googling the guy first.

Having a person Google your name is something that’s going to happen (again) in your life. If there’s something negative that might come up and hurt you, it’s up to you to fix it.  Here are four easy things you can do to manage your online reputation.

Google Yourself

If you haven’t done this already, start by going to Google and typing in your name.  Make sure you’re logged out of Google so you see standard results rather than personalized ones. Consider the first page of search results for your name your own personal home page. Studies show that about 75% of search engine users never click past the first page, so it’s extremely important to use that real estate to your full advantage.  If you have a common name and share it with some scandalous characters, I would start using a middle name or initial on job applications, your resume and social media sites.

Own Your Name

The term “own your name” refers to “owning” all of the domains that come up in the search results.  I’m lucky- there are no other Casey Kurlanders in the world that I know of, so I don’t have any competition.  But if you look, every search result on the first page for my name is something that I created and pretty much have control over.

SERP

Here are some tips on how to own the first page of results for your name:

  • Get your Linkedin profile to show up first by making sure you have a custom URL with your name.  For example, my LinkedIn URL is www.linkedin.com/in/caseykurlander/ and it always ranks high because the URL matches the keyword searched and LinkedIn has high SEO authority.  To create your own custom LinkedIn URL, go to the “edit profile” section and it’s right there.
  • Google-owned properties like Picasa, YouTube and Google+ often rank high, so make sure to utilize them using your name.  Google+ is great because it’s free and it offers lots of options for providing links, photos, and information you may want to highlight
  • Start a blog and make your name the title.  Also make sure that your name is in the URL.  I recommend using WordPress, as it’s the blogging platform that seems to rank the highest.  It’s also free and extremely easy to use.
  • Be mindful of what you use as your default photos on Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn- those also rank high and are often one of the first to show up in Google Images. This also applies to photos that you post on your blog, as many of them will come up.

Fight back!

Depending on the website, the instructions for removing or hiding results vary.  However, information that’s been indexed in Google’s database cannot be extracted from Google search results.  Google has ownership of its database and will not act on negative publicity.  Even if the offending article is removed by the publisher, the content still exists in Google’s database and could be found in a search.

One of the places that you can fight back is Facebook.  There you can mark specific content as public or with varying levels of privacy. To protect yourself, it is best to keep Facebook content limited to friends only. If your online reputation is really bad, you can always give us a call at BMI Elite to remove negative or undesired content associated with your name.

Prevention

The best defense is a great offense- don’t wait until there’s something negative in the search results to improve your online reputation.  A great defense strategy is to have an abundance of positive content on the first page of results.  Go ahead and tweet, post, comment and blog!

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Mistakes That Can Render Your Website Worthless

When I started this blog almost a year ago, I didn’t really have a vision or goal for it.  I just wanted to use it as a place to put my thoughts and to write and document what I’ve learned about the internet marketing industry and life.  I’m up to about 66 followers (thank you, guys!) and the stats tell me that my site has visitors every day.  However, I’m not seeing as many visitors as I had in the beginning and I know it’s my own fault.

The most successful bloggers know that it takes a good amount of time and dedication to keep users coming back to their sites. One of the biggest mistakes that many bloggers make is putting in a ton of work in the beginning, and then kicking back and counting on the website to perform all the work later on.  If you do this, expect to see your traffic decline.  If traffic is your goal, avoid these mistakes that could render your site worthless.

Not Posting Enough

This is where I have gone wrong.  Work, family and life have got me really busy, and I am not updating my blog nearly enough.  Essentially, blogs should be updated with unique content at least once a day, and the most successful ones are often updated multiple times.  For SEO purposes and the sake of keeping people interested, you must generate new articles as often as possible.  Skipping a day here and there is not a huge deal, but posting at the rate that I have been (once every week or two) can kill your site.  Luckily it can be brought back to life, if you commit to putting in the time and work and make it a habit.

Going Overboard With Ads

The goal of many bloggers these days is to generate profit through their site.  However, if you are going to put advertisements on your website, make sure that you are careful not to go overboard.

There’s nothing wrong with a few well-placed ads that provide visitors with links to sites that are relevant to the content on your site. But promoting everything under the sun on your site by filling it with banners and ads is not a good idea.

A Sloppy Appearance

Looks matter.  If your website looks like a lot of work and thought went into it, your audience is much more likely to take it seriously. If you want to attract a decent amount of traffic to your site, give users something that they’ll actually want to look at.  If you have the money, I recommend hiring a web designer to help you build it.

Going Overboard With Images

Just like banners and ads, there is a such thing as too many photos.  A few are good to have, as they add visual interest to your site and can actually help to bring in visitors.  But if you make the mistake of going overboard, it can have the opposite effect and push visitors away.  Don’t use more than a few images for each post.

Posting Offensive Material

Think about who you may be offending before you type!  I cannot stress this enough!  This rule applies to your entire internet life, way beyond just your blog.  This applies to social media, discussion forums and any other articles that you may have written.  I’m careful what I say through emails, even when I’m just talking to close friends.  I have seen first-hand how things that you said long ago can come back to haunt you down the road.  I’d avoid posting content about religion, politics, gossip, and strong opinions on any other controversial topics.  I also recommend being careful about the jokes and pictures you post.

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Why Search Engine Rankings Vary From Computer to Computer

Yesterday morning I was going through the Google search engine results pages, creating a bi-monthly online reputation management report to send to one of my clients.  This client is a large company that’s been around for over two decades and has about seven years’ worth of negative posts from disgruntled customers floating around the internet.   It’s a big project, to say the least.

When I was searching and creating my report yesterday, I was glad to see that two of our sites that we created, optimized and have been posting positive content to are ranking on the first page.  I happily reported to my client that one site was in the #3 position, and another was ranked #6, pushing two pages with bad stuff down to the second page… or at least from what I could see on my computer.

About 30 minutes after I sent the report over, I got an instant message from my client saying that she was on Google, but she wasn’t seeing our sites rank for the positions that I reported.

It’s never a good time when your client thinks you may be lying to them.  I immediately sent over some screenshots that I couldn’t have possibly photoshopped that quickly to show her what I was seeing.  I also tried to explain some of the possible reasons why SEO rankings vary from computer to computer.  Here are some of the most common ones:

Browsing History

This was the most likely culprit, as search results are personalized.  Google doesn’t forget about the sites you’ve visited in the past and often shows them higher in search results.  The search engine is simply trying to customize results to give you what it thinks you may be looking for.

Location

Google shows different search engine results based on your location.  In this case, I am in Florida and my client is about 9 states away.  Search engines try to provide the best results based on where you are, and the results will be slightly different and the order may change.  I have even noticed differences in results from my office to my house (which are about the miles apart).

IP Address

Google tries to custom tailor results, so if you have a different IP address from another computer or phone it’s possible that you may get different results.

Google Plus

Twitter has been known to influence search results for some time, and now it appears that Google Plus is as well.  The little +1 buttons that you see all over the web are similar to “liking” something on Facebook.  These +1 buttons could affect what you see in search results because Google remembers what you “plused” and will likely show these sites ranking higher.  There are rumors that these “pluses” not only affect your search results, but having a lot of them could also help your website rank higher.

 

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Five Months in the Real World

A few days will mark five months since I finished school and stepped out into the “real world.” Last night during a four-mile run, I evaluated the last few months in my head.  I thought about how far I’ve come, how much I’ve learned and how many things I still need to figure out.

When I started college, I thought I wanted to be a doctor.  Then I realized that although I find medical science fascinating, I’m a little squeamish when it comes to body fluids, funky smells, and people in immense pain.  I switched my major to business and was absolutely miserable in all of the useless math classes on my schedule (does anyone actually use calculus?).  As I sat stressed out of my mind in an FIU advisor’s office one day and told her my thoughts, she suggested that I become a communications major.  “You’ll never have to take a math class again,” she promised.

Minutes later I declared myself a Public Relations major at FIU’s School of Journalism and Communication.  I absolutely loved all of my SJMC classes and everything that I was learning in them.  When trying to decide on a minor, several advisors told me that I was a decent writer and explained that it pairs well with a PR degree.  Creative writing it was.

I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree from FIU in December 2009 and had a rough time getting a job in Miami.  No habla es panol.  So I packed my life up into my Mini Cooper and drove 2,700 miles to Los Angeles, California.

My first internship was at a fashion PR firm in West Hollywood.  I spent my days gifting celebrities with free clothes and handbags and then stalking them to see if they went out in public or were photographed wearing them.  Although I loved the west coast, I quickly lost interest in doing nothing meaningful and decided that it was a good time to return to school.  After six months in LA, I headed back to South Florida to start grad school classes at FIU.

I graduated from the two-year Global Strategic Communications program in 18 months, and three days after graduation I started working at BMI Elite, a full-service digital advertising agency in Delray Beach, Florida.  I was hired as a search marketing specialist, something I had never pictured doing and something I knew very little about.  The day I was hired, I only knew the following about search marketing: it had something to do with getting your website on the first page of search engine results, and it was a very big business with lots of promise, if you knew what you were doing.

I immediately began reading everything I could find on search marketing.  This wasn’t my dream job, but I told myself that I would give it a try for at least a few months. As long as I was learning something, it’s not wasted time. If I absolutely hated it, I could leave.

I show up to work every day ready to learn as much as possible, and that I have been doing.  I went from knowing virtually nothing about SEO to being able to explain the basics quite easily.  I’ve learned mostly from reading, writing blog articles about various topics and watching my boss, Darin Carter, do his thing (and asking him tons of questions).  After about two months of being at BMI and doing mostly copywriter work, I shifted more into a role of being Darin’s assistant.  He has been in the Internet marketing industry for over 13 years, and it’s incredible how much he knows, particularly about search marketing.  I try to learn everything that I can from him.

In addition to learning about search marketing, I have also learned a great deal about how to handle and communicate with clients.  When Darin is busy he doesn’t always get back to them right away and although he’s doing a great job for them, they get mad.   I have realized that most clients want their hands held for every step of a project and I can understand why.  Here they are, spending all this money for us to optimize their website or repair their online reputation, and they simply want to know what is happening and whether it is working.  What they often do not understand is that SEO is not instant and results do not happen overnight.  SEO is an art and a science, and beating thousands of other websites to the first page of search results takes time (now I sound like Darin).

I spend a lot of time trying to explain this to clients in the simplest way possible.  The most frustrating part of my job is the fact that I’m still new to this, and I don’t always have the answers.  They will come with time and experience.  I try to learn as much as possible as fast as possible, but like SEO, it doesn’t happen overnight and all I can do is keep going.  I am grateful for what I have already learned, as this is my favorite part of the job so far.

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GoDaddy Goes Down

GoDaddy, the world’s largest domain registrar and one of the biggest web hosts, is experiencing outages today, possibly taking millions of websites down as a result.

“Status Alert: Hey, all. We’re aware of the trouble people are having with our site. We’re working on it,” @GoDaddy tweeted.

While GoDaddy.com’s site is up and running, websites hosted by the company are still experiencing outages. If you are being affected by this, you might be interested in switching to a new registrar as soon as GoDaddy returns.  Here are the steps on how to do so:

  1.  Login to your GoDaddy account and click on the “Domain Management” section.  This will open a page that allows you to manage your domain names.
  2. Next to your listed domains are different icons that allow you to access certain domain features.  Hover over the “lock” icon to check the status of your domain.  If it is locked, follow the next step.
  3. Unlock the domain (it was locked by registrars by default so that nefarious parties can’t transfer the domain out from under the real owner, but in order to transfer a domain you have to unlock it).
  4. Uncheck the box next to “lock domains” and click OK.
  5. Get the authorization code (sometimes called an AUTH, EPP or ACK code) to bring to your new registrars.  Click on the domain name you wish to transfer and on the “Domain Details” page, scroll to where it says “Authorization Code: Send by Email.”  Select this option and then check your email for an authorization code from the site.  You can now give this information to your new registrar.
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What Has Marissa Mayer Been Up To At Yahoo?

Marissa Mayer was well-known during her time at Google for being obsessively dedicated to products like search and Gmail.  Now in her fourth week as the CEO of Yahoo, it’s not surprising that she has been quick to push the company to focus more on its products and users.

While Mayer has not unveiled a detailed strategic plan for Yahoo’s future, her actions at the company so far show that her approach differs from the more business-focused CEO’s like Scott Thompson and Ross Levinsohn.  Mayer is more interested in building great products than focusing on revenue.  She made this clear to her employees when she removed Yahoo’s stock ticker from its internal company website in an attempt to keep them from getting distracted by share fluctuations.

“I want you thinking about users,” Mayer has repeatedly been saying to Yahoo workers, according to people who have interacted with her.

This is not the first time we’ve heard that Mayer is looking to improve Yahoo’s core products. Last month, one source told All Things Digital’s Kara Swisher that under Mayer, Yahoo is “becoming a technology company again,” adding that her focus is on “platforms and products.”

The top Yahoo products that Mayer seems to be targeting are search and e-mail, according to the Wall Street Journal.  She has reportedly been meeting with Yahoo’s product leaders to determine why the company is losing market share in search and to figure out how to revamp it.  The company’s search sites hold a market share of 13.4%, as compared to Microsoft search sites that have 15.4% and Google Search sites, which hold 66.7%.

These products are so important because without them, users have no real reason to visit Yahoo.  Mayer has also told employees that she wants to develop or acquire Web services to take advantage of new technology platforms like social media, mobile devices and location services.

Last week Yahoo announced plans to sell its stake in Chinese Internet company Alibaba for $7 billion.  Mayer warned shareholders that she might not return to them the $7 billion, and my guess is that the money will be used strategically to grow the business.  If Mayer does keep the money, I bet she will spend a good amount of it on purchasing some startups with smart people and monetizable products built for social media and mobile.  I am personally rooting for Mayer’s success because I am eager to see epic new products that will give Yahoo the reinvention that it needs and make the Internet a better place for all of us.

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Google Launches “Emanuel” Update

There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to search the Internet for information and finding the same content on various different sites.  Hollywood talent agent Ari Emanuel feels the same way and has loudly pointed out his dislike for Google being able to filter out bad things like child pornography but not stolen content.  He pointed out that Google could be doing more to thwart digital piracy by helping to ensure that pirated content doesn’t find its way into the world’s largest search engine.

Mr. Emanuel should be pleased with the announcement that Google SVP Amit Singhal made on the company’s Inside Search blog on Friday, announcing that the company has launched a new update, dubbed the “Emanuel Update,” that will crack down on sites repeatedly accused of copyright infringement.

The blog post said:

“Starting next week, we will begin taking into account a new signal in our rankings: the number of valid copyright removal notices we receive for any given site. Sites with high numbers of removal notices may appear lower in our results.

This ranking change should help users find legitimate, quality sources of content more easily—whether it’s a song previewed on NPR’s music website, a TV show on Hulu or new music streamed from Spotify.”

Google decided to change its algorithm when they began to notice a large increase in the number of copywriter infringement complaints.  They are currently receiving and processing over 4.3 million complaints a month and they plan on using this data as a signal in their search rankings.

It’s not always easy for Google to look at content and determine who owns the copyright.  But by making use of Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) “takedown” requests, they can guess whether there’s copyright infringement taking place.  If there are a large number of DMCA requests filed against your site, you might want to watch out.  If not, sites with a lot of requests against individual pages may find all of its pages ranking lower in search results.

The ultimate goal of Google’s newest update is to continue to help users find good legitimate quality content efficiently.  The search engine has really come down hard on black hat SEO in the past year or so.  First the Panda update was released in February 2011 to crack down on sites with low quality content, specifically thin, stolen or duplicate content as well as sites with a high ad-to-content ratio.  Then on April 24, 2012 Google launched the Penguin update with the intention of reducing web spam and promoting high quality content in search results, penalizing sites that created or supported spam to increase their rankings.  Now Google is cracking down on copyright infringements for movies and music in their fight against unethical SEO practices.

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21 New Statistics About Online Marketing

We’ve all heard over and over again about how important the Internet is and how it is changing the way businesses advertise. HubSpot has recently released some new data about the state of the Internet marketing world that are helpful and surprising. Check it these newly-released facts:

1) The more posts per day, the less engagement — when a brand posts twice a day, those posts only receive 57% of the likes and 78% of the comments per post. (Source: Track Social)

2) The click-through rate on triggered messages is 119% higher than “Business as Usual” messages. (Source: Epsilon and DMA)

3) On average, companies respond to only 30% of social media fans’ feedback. (Source: Factbrowser)

4) The average tablet user spends 13.9 hours per week with the device. (Source: OPA)

5) Text messaging users send or receive an average of 35 messages per day. (Source: Forrester Research)

6) Email opens on smartphones and tablets have increased 80% over the last six months. (Source: Litmus)

7) 27% of TV sets shipped worldwide in Q1 of 2012 had internet connectivity. (Source: Display Search)

8) By 2016, more than half of the dollars spent in US retail will be influenced by the web. (Source: Forrester Research)

9) In any given week, less than 0.5% of Facebook fans engage with the brand they are fans of. (Source: Marketing Science)

10) 45% of the world’s 2 billion internet users live in Asia. (Source: Ecommerce Europe)

11) 61% of emails received at professional email accounts are non-essential. (Source: Mimecast)

12) 20% of Facebook users have purchased something because of ads or comments they saw there. (Source: Ipsos)

13) 17% of the top 1000 search terms on Twitter “churn over” on an hourly basis. (Source: Twitter)

14) U.S. consumers send 2.304 trillion text messages per year, up from 2.052 trillion in 2010. (Source: CTIA)

15) 40% of the accounts and 8% of the messages on social media sites are spam. (Source: Businessweek)

16) 88% of adults in the US have a cell phone, 57% have a laptop, 19% own an e-reader, and 19% have a tablet. (Source: Pew Internet)

17) 64% of smartphone owners are using their mobile devices to shop online. (Source: eDigitalResearch)

18) YouTube users watch more than 3B hours of video per month. (Source: YouTube)

19) About 1 in 3 bloggers are moms. (Source: Nielsen)

20) 73% of smartphone owners access social networks through apps at least once per day. (Source: Lightspeed Research)

21) 91% of online adults use social media regularly. (Source: Experian)

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Why Your Company Should Be Blogging

Does your business blog?  If not, you might want to consider it before you get left behind.  From 2009 to 2011 the percentage of businesses with a blog grew from 48% to 65%.  With 85% of those businesses using the words “useful,” “important” or “critical” to describe their blog, I expect that percentage to continue growing.

There are many good reasons for your business to be blogging, and they go way beyond SEO.  Don’t just blog so that more visitors will be sent by Google to your website.  Do it for the following reasons as well:

  • It forces you to stay up-to-date with news and technology.
  • You’re an expert in your industry, so why not establish yourself as one?
  • It can help you answer customers’ questions more easily.
  • It can help you explain things more clearly.
  • It humanizes the company- people will feel like they know you and be more comfortable.
  • It enhances visibility- consider it free or inexpensive advertising.
  • If you have been criticized, you can defend yourself.
  • You will learn about your customers and what they want through blog comments.
  • It will direct targeted traffic to your website.

The overall reason you should be blogging is because you have a lot to gain from it.  It’s a cost-effective way to expose your business to existing customers and gain new ones.

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