Archive for June, 2010

World Wide Google?

What did we do before Google? Of course Yahoo! has been around for years and helped us filter our scatter brained searches down to a cohesive result that actually made sense, but where did we get our information from before we could simply type in what we needed and get an instantaneous result?  Can you remember the last time you actually researched something in an encyclopedia? What do those large books even have in them?

Google has become so important today because it’s basically all that we’re left with. Of course you could take time and go to the library and search for articles on the materials that you are researching, but we just simply don’t any more. We’ve been handicapped by Google. This easy search and return type of process has simplified our lives and made us a little more lazy at the same time. Google has turned into more than just a search engine. With its’ reader and alert systems, it keeps you continuously updated with all the information you’re actually interested in having. They’ve tailored those scatter brained searches down to useful articles, blogs and content that keeps us coming back for more.

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No Strategy, No Way

It is clear that social media is here to stay.  It has become the new system which companies and organizations must learn to use, in order to compete with today’s industry.

According to a recent study the next generation of consumers will be even more integrated into the social media network.  In this study it was calculated that 90% of girls ages 11 to 18 and 50% of boys say that Facebook and other social media sites are the most important things in their life; second only to family and friends.

As the internet becomes ever more imbedded into the core of our lives, companies must learn to use this vehicle to their advantage.

While it is clear that the corporate market must ‘jump on the band wagon,’ a study by Digital Brand Expressions says that only  78% of the companies polled are using social media; and only 41% of those companies have any sort of strategy in place for their social media.  This means that over 50% of the companies using social media have no real game plan for using it.

Even of the 41% that had a strategy, only 29% of those companies have policies and/or communications protocols in place.  What this means is, most companies that are having the initiative to use social media are not telling their employees how to use it.  This can quickly become disastrous as the employees try to communicate with consumers on their own.

Social media is an important step into the next phase of consumer/company relations, as well as the next phase of advertisement, but if a company is not strategic and concise with their usage of the networks they may be doing more harm than good.

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Write Right, Or Write Wrong

There are two parts to making your site show up online:  The content, which means the stuff people read; and the source code, which is the stuff computers read to make each webpage work.  There are things a Black Hat service can do in attempts to use your code to get a better listing, but all of that amounts to hacking on some level or other.  The White Hat methods, in contrast, are fairly straightforward – what they do is make sure that every page on your site is counted when it should be and that everything works well with the search engines proper.

That leaves the content.  This is also the easiest place for a White Hat service to shine and a Black Hat to get caught:  It’s all about the quality of your site’s content.  Poor quality or plagiarized content will ultimately get you a much lower placement, even if it puts you at the top of the list for a few days.  The search engines will see that it’s causing their users trouble, and that their search spiders were tricked, and will bump your landing page down to a very low position.  Unless they decide you should be blocked out entirely, of course.  That would obviously hurt your business, but that’s the cost of working with a dishonest company.

What you really need is high quality, original content on every page.  Even if that doesn’t get you the eternally desired Number One entry position, it will treat you a lot better in the long run.  Not only will you maintain your high placement, people who visit your site will understand what you’re trying to communicate to them, and they’ll be a lot more inclined to give you their business.  It’s really the gold standard to which every website should hold, whether it hires an outside company to help promote it or not.

The term “Quality Content” can sound a little vague, so here’s what it means:

  • Proper grammar and spelling is employed.
  • Every keyword you want included is used in a relevant, contextually accurate way.
  • The content used is relevant to the pages where it’s put.
  • No content is stolen from any other source – as any college instructor can tell you, plagiarism or copying someone else’s work for your own use is stealing.
  • Content is neither so simple that it’s just a pointless blurb nor so technical that only an expert in your field can read it.

If any firm tries to tell you that these standards, you should immediately remove them from your consideration, because they can’t help you in the end.  If, however, you can find one that is not only willing to meet these standards but is actually intent on doing so, then you’ve found a company that can do you a lot of good on the internet.

Ultimately, the choice is up to you for what you’re going to do.  You can either take your chances with a company that’s willing to lie, cheat, and steal its way to the top, or you can “settle” for the honest one that’s going to do its best and won’t promise impossible improvements in your results.  You’ll see which is which very quickly in the sort of content that’s used.

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Authentic Search Entries

Lately, organic searches have been the number one goal on engines like Google.  Since they want so much to make sure that everything they pull up for people is actually relevant to the keywords and to the ideas behind them, this is completely understandable.  You don’t want your time wasted on someone’s recipes for pie when you’re trying to find a toaster oven, after all.

The term organic searches basically means searches that bring up material relevant to the search, without sites buying placement with the search engine, and without resorting to spam text.  That just means not using the keyword again and again, unnecessarily, just to get a better spot on the engine’s index.  Instead, only real, useful content is accepted into the category of “organic”.

That also helps weed out second rate companies:  if they have to resort of mindlessly repeating keywords over and over to get noticed, it’s a safe bet that they’re not going to treat their customers too well, either.  That extra protection is one of the beauties of organic searches.  It blocks that sort of website from being found with the better engines like Google, partially or completely, depending on the standards and procedures applied.

Unfortunately, a lot of small businesses don’t know how to make their sites friendly to organic searches.  Sometimes this is because they don’t know how to talk to search engine spiders, and sometimes it’s because they aren’t particularly skilled writers.  Sometimes, it’s because they haven’t even thought about being found on Google or Yahoo.  In any case, there are a lot of smaller sites that aren’t found simply because they aren’t trying.

That costs them a lot of money, because of sales that never happen.  When people don’t come to a sight, because it’s effectively invisible on organic searches, they won’t do business there – simple fact.  That’s actually why most people use search engines, too, to find companies where they can take their business.  They just need to know which places are actually worth looking at, and which ones are bogus.  That’s why organic searches are so much more popular than web ads.

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The Power of Google

Everyone knows that Google is the leading search engine on the internet.  Millions of people use it every single day.  That gives Google a lot of power, whether they realize it or not:  They can control what people see when they go looking for anything through that engine.  Actually, they do try to control it to an extent, because they don’t want to waste the time of anyone who decides to use them.

To that end, they are constantly re-working their listings in the attempt to make sure that the sites they pull up are the most worthwhile for browsers that they can be.  Of course, they do let other websites influence them to a certain extent.  If a site wants to make use of paid links, it can get some very effective online advertising through the whole Google network.

However, that is not the only way you can be noticeable.  If you bring in a search engine optimization team, they can do a lot to make your website more relevant according to Google’s standards, so that you will be listed higher in their searches.  The interesting part is that there are actually two different ways of going about this and both have their strengths and drawbacks: White and Black Hat SEO.

The difference between these two is how they go about it.  Black Hat tries to manipulate the search engine into getting you the results you want which is both dishonest and, ultimately, impossible.  You can’t force a fundamental change in Google’s software, and you shouldn’t try anyway.  Instead, you should stick with White Hat SEO and work on improving your own site so that it will work better with the engines.

All that you can do is work on the optimization of your own website.  That can actually involve some very complicated programming, since you want to be sure that you can be very cooperative with the search engine spiders that look through every page on the web.  If the spider chokes on some of a website’s program, it is that much more likely to decide that a page should not be included.

You also need to make sure that your readable content is high quality.  Sometimes that means including very specific technical information, but sometimes it just means making sure that everything is readable for anyone who comes across it.  Proper grammar and easy word usage – without being mind-numbingly repetitive – are both important in ensuring the readability of any web page.  Quality content is always important, because it is a key gauge in determining whether a site is worth the attention of people using keyword searches.

Of course, that means you are more subject to Google’s notions of how listings should work, but there’s no getting around that honestly.  After all, they have absolute control over their own software, so they are the ones directing how their search engine operates.  That is why they can charge for paid links run through their website.  If they didn’t have solid control, anyone could do anything there, whether it was even legal or not.

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Deconstructing the Basics of SEO: Content is King

Many people think that SEO is using a lot of keywords and key phrases in articles and blogs.  Sure, this is part of it, but it’s only one small part in a very large whole.  SEO is more than just adding keywords; it’s about quality marketing.  There is onsite optimization and there is offsite optimization, both very important to improving your rankings.  However, SEO content on both the website and wherever else you drop in your article should accurately represent your business or your client.

Content is king and without it, you will be wading in territory that you don’t want to be in.  Quality content is the driving force behind a quality SEO program.  In order to promote your product, you have to write well about it and you have to accurately represent what it is to your audience.  SEO concepts work for any kind of business regardless of what it is. Visualize who your target audience is and craft a great piece toward them.  Your content should be free of grammatical errors and it should be engaging, fun, accurate, and make people want to buy and use your product.

There are many other things to consider, but this is just one of the few things. Stay tuned for more updates and more information regarding SEO.  You can also follow me on Twitter @techndu1.

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The Art Of Helping The Sought

You might not think so, but it isn’t easy to be found on search engines.  If you don’t have things set just right on your site, the search spiders that go all over the internet will think your site doesn’t matter and won’t include it – except maybe on the last page or so of the total listings.  Since there are thousands of pages for every possible search, that means you won’t be found.

That’s where search engine optimization comes in.  SEO has a bad reputation in some circles, because of Black Hat SEO operators, but the long and short of what it means is that your site gets tweaked so that the search spiders believe you when you tell them your site is worth listing.  Most of this is a matter of using the right programming for your website, but some of it is about the readable content being worth the notice of people who use the search engines.

The difference between Black and White Hat SEO is also easy to understand.  A Black Hat operator does whatever he can in order to get you a high listing, including plagiarizing other sites and lying to the search engines.  They are especially known for flooding the internet with spam pages and text entries that are so filled with searchable keywords that they don’t read well.

White Hat, by contrast, does things the right way.  He may not get you as high a page listing, but his work will last a lot longer, because he won’t get you penalized when you’re caught doing things you shouldn’t – you won’t BE doing things you shouldn’t.

All of that comes down to this one point:  Without search engine optimization, your website will disappear in the thousands of comparable sites, but be careful what sort of SEO firm you hire to help you out.

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