Archive for category White Hat

Fresh Start For Google?

So Eric Schmidt is out, and Google’s original  CEO Larry Page is back in charge.  Hopefully, this will mean an end to policies like the “creepy line” that Schmidt was lampooned for so many times last year.  Since Page was in no small part responsible for Google’s early success, it’s a hopeful sign that this change is going to take the company back to the kind of  direction that made everyone love it in the first place.

Of course, this could mean no difference in the long run, only time will tell what Mr. Page is going to do as the man calling the shots.  The company has the unofficial motto of “Don’t be evil”, though, so hopefully this change will take the company away from the invasive practices that they’ve been tending toward for the last year.  Personally, I think that this leadership change is, as Schmidt said in a recent update to the Official Google Blog, for the best.

So, as long as the company stops scaring us all with the possibility that it actually is trying to become the third half of our brains, that means we can expect things to go a lot smoother for everyone.  Everyone who’s trying to do honest business online may well be able to get things done more effectively in the near future.

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Know The Best Ways To Promote Your Site

There are more and more ways you can go about letting everyone know that your site is great.  It used to be that everything was spread through word of mouth, back before the search engines came along.  Nowadays, there’s link building, web ads, and email messages sent because a company heard about you rather than the other way around.  It’s even starting to be where you need to make on-site videos in order to help your search engine ranking.

That shouldn’t be surprising, when you think about it:  the most important part of SEO services has always been and will always be the work that’s done to your website itself.  People have known for a while that videos can help them because of how communicative they are, so it isn’t a very big step from that to also using them to help the site show up on search listings.  You just have to be sure that, in keeping with the expectations of quality content, your videos are worth the attention of your client base.

Keeping up with things is always tricky if you don’t want to find yourself on the trailing edge – meaning if you’re actually keeping up.  When that’s what you’re doing, it’s far too easy to try to get a little ahead but take a proverbial wrong turn and find yourself left behind by everyone else.  Continual learning is the only way to deal with this, the same as it is with everything else.

So, you need to take enough time to carefully consider your options when you’re looking at getting anything done to improve your website.  You need to make sure that you at least keep up with everyone else, but you don’t want to wind up fully committed to a dead end method if you get too far ahead.  Only hiring the best services can keep you safely on the right path.

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Everyone Should Hate Spam

Anyone who maintains a blog has seen comments come in that look like they might not actually have anything to do with what you’re talking about.  “Hey, you should try this thing I found on http://www.website.com” ring a bell for anyone?  I realize I haven’t talked about this in a while, but it’s on my mind today and I thought I’d share a few things on the matter.

For starters, anyone who actually wants their clients to do well should avoid spamming whenever possible – if a search engine tumbles to the fact that spam is being used, they’ll penalize the site that’s benefiting from it in any number of ways including removing them from a search listing entirely (the searching equivalent of capital punishment, for those who don’t think spam’s a serious matter).

It gets even trickier with the rise of social media in the online community.  People are actually using Facebook and the online games connected with it than Google and all of its subsidiary sites.  That must seem like a ripe field for black hat operators ready to do just about anything to promote their clients.  Even for the rest of us it presents a very treacherous path to walk that can easily see you sliding off into the abyss.  Learning what to look for in your own efforts is the first and possibly most important step in cleaning out the spam from your own content.

Sadly, there isn’t a whole lot you can do beyond that and just clearing your spam filter every so often so that it isn’t stacked up.  I wonder, does a link that’s stored in a spam folder still count towards the ranking of the site to which it sends you?  That would be one for the various search engines to answer, I suppose, but I still don’t want to have them just sitting there in my account.

The interesting thing, though, is that you can now get spam on your smart phone, so that there’s no waking moment when you aren’t at risk of a polluted Internet.  As soon as you open it to your homepage, you’re going to find yourself faced with a lot of links that have nothing to do with what you’re after and some that may even offend your values.  All in the name of helping some company do better online.

As search engine optimizers, it’s perfectly natural that we should want to help our clients be more visible online.  It’s even right, because that’s what they’re paying us for.  But it should never be done at the expense of the people we’re trying to get to go to our client’s with their business.  If you’ll forgive me a Star Wars analogy, black hat techniques are “quicker, easier, more seductive” but in the end will leave your clients looking all rotten and gross, cackling “good, good” whenever someone launches another spam campaign on their behalf.

That doesn’t ultimately do anyone any good.

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SM, Spam, And The Future Of Online Marketing

Lately, SEO companies have been putting a lot of focus on social media in the hopes that this’ll make sure your company can be found online more effectively than just by focusing on search engines.  This is perfectly understandable, because Facebook is now being used more than Google is by people who go online.

The problem is that new methods are still subject to old ideas, and the past few months have heard more and more clamor about the growth of spam within social media.  Facebook especially has been the target of a lot of frustration over this, again because they’ve got the most people using their site.  Even people who understand that this is a great new way for companies to put their best foot forward are upset that their online comings and goings are being (or are going to be) flooded with more of the same old ads in a new packaging.

The difference between social media and search engines, at least from an SEO point of view, is that search engines are more the equivalent of pursuing new clientele and social media is (or at least should be) about maintaining a relationship with repeat customers.  Someone who goes onto Google or Bing and types in a keyword is actively looking for that thing.  Someone who just signed onto Facebook or Twitter is more interested in seeing what friends and family are up to and doesn’t want to have a notice about something they might be interested in shoved into their screen.

If, however, someone actually follows what a company’s doing, they’ll want to know as soon as something new and exciting comes up for that particular company.  It’s just a matter of letting each individual decide whether or not they want to follow you or not.  If you’ll trust them in that regard, you’ll stand a better chance of being noticed by their friends who may also be interested in what you have to offer.  That’s one of the principles on which Facebook’s Top News feed works – a handy tool that’s going to block pretty much all the spam you could send at it.

Of course, there are going to be companies looking for ways around this every bit as much as there’ve been Black Hat SEO firms trying to weasel their clients into #1 placement by any means at all on the search engines.  However, with everyone who uses Facebook now clamoring against further spamming being allowed on the sites, Black Hat just might have a harder time dealing with social media – there’s not a lot you can do besides hack the website when each individual is effectively blocking you from their pages.

With as many people using Facebook as there are, it’s not likely that social media is going to go away any time soon – even if Facebook itself eventually goes the way of a lot of popular web services and eventually gets abandoned or outright hated.  Most companies involved in online marketing know by now that they need solid social media campaigns in order to thrive.  However, they also need to make sure they’re not too heavy-handed when getting it, or they’re going to have the opposite effect from what they want.

The best idea is to get advertising on the same level as word of mouth recommendations, which can only be done when you let people speak for themselves.  The next six months will probably decide whether social media stays the territory of people who just want to keep up with each other easily or whether it’s abandoned by most of these because there’s too much corporate disruption of what they want to do.

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Facebook Advertising Isn’t All Spam

Lately, social media has become the brain-child in which any company trying to advertise online places their hopes.  And there’s validity in this, because people are extremely ready to voice their satisfaction or displeasure with a company on their personal pages where everyone can see it.  So, companies are spending several fortunes on amping up how they’re marketed on social media.

However.  Maybe Facebook has outsmarted them.  Most people don’t look at their entire news feed, just the “Top News” page, because it’s shorter and tends to focus on the things that interest them most.  That’s where Facebook has won over the dangers of spamming.  You see, they ultimately decide what goes into any given Top News feed.  It’s all based on what the individual Facebook user interacts with regularly or most often, so it’s always going to be about things that actually interest them rather than just whatever happens to be put up.

Sure, a lot of those links to the side of the page – most of them, really – are adds.  However, the Top News only advertises the things that each user actually wants to hear about.  This results in much more relevant “impressions” in terms of what you actually value seeing.  Impressions is a term referring to the things you actually see when you’re on your Facebook homepage, rather than everything that happens to be there.

A lot of people will overlook the value of what Facebook is doing here, because it doesn’t help them get any new customers.  However, it’s immensely valuable because it has everything to do with maintaining repeat business from people who liked your services.  Because, if they’re paying enough attention that Facebook puts your posts onto their Top News feed, they’re going to see when you offer some new product, run a promotion, or just want to remind people of how great you are.  That means that those people are more likely to come back for more – they’re happy with you and you’re reminding them that you’re there whenever they want.

This is a very important strategy for the future, since Facebook is becoming the most popular way for people to find things, and since they’ve recently come under fire for giving people a new way to spam each other.  If you don’t actually interact with something, say a group for which someone else signed you up, you don’t have to hear about whatever they’re doing if you only look at your Top News feed.

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White Hat and the Morality of Code

Most people don’t realize it, but a lot of what goes on in your website depends on the source code and meta tags that are used.  Don’t misunderstand and think that this means that your content isn’t important – it’s absolutely vital – but the heavy lifting, so to speak, all goes on behind the scenes, where most people never see it.  So, the code used has to have a code of morality, too.

Here’s the thing: someone who’s good at writing HTML and meta tags can basically lie to Google and other search engines, and get a different rating than they should have.  This might mean they’re further up the list than they should be, but it might mean they get put onto lists where they shouldn’t be included at all – Black Hat SEO firms love that sort of thing.

White Hat companies, by contrast, will make sure that your code is completely legitimate and doesn’t include anything to try tricking the search engines.  Instead, they make the whole website work fluidly with the spiders search engines send out to figure out where, and under what categories pages should be listed.  Each line of HTML involved is written just right, so it makes everything easier to inspect and come to an accurate decision.

They can even make your site more user friendly that way.  Since work on optimizing the site is all about making it more relevant to prospective clients, making it easier to use is a serious possibility when the source code is being worked on.  That’s why it’s important to make sure that you get a reliable, White Hat SEO company to handle everything you need done.

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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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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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