Penguin Everflux is Here – What Your SEO Company Should Do About It


The Google Penguin update now changes persistently in real-time. Make sure your SEO company does these things to stay in compliance.

How do you feel when you see Penguins these days?

They used to be these cute, cuddly, and lovable little creatures that were a little awkward on land and amazingly agile in water.

But it seems like Google does what it can to tarnish their reputation.

Enter Penguin Everflux.

Historically, Google has processed Penguin updates offline and then put the update online at a specific point in time. Then of course, you’d hear about the fallout from all the SEOs out there.

Now, with Everflux, Google says it’s going to continuously update the Penguin algorithm, optimizing it bit-by-bit and making those changes to their live ranking processes.

How Can You Protect Your Website from Getting Hit by Penguin?

Penguin 3.0 is really all about linking. And unless you’re a very ambitious business person, most of the responsibility for that falls on your SEO company.

Ask them which of these they do, and do not do, to make sure they’re doing the right thing for your website:

  1. Have your backlinks analyzed. Too many low-quality (“spammy”) websites linking to you makes Google unhappy. Unfortunately, this can happen even if you have a great SEO company.

That’s because some low-quality websites focus only on linking back to others, or copying their content and reposting it. Not fair to you, but it does happen.

  1. Audit your content. Websites choose to link (or not to link) to yours because of the quality of the content. To get those grade-A links, you must have the very best content of its kind available on the web. You’ll also want to monitor your website’s content for comment spam that could include bad links.
  2. Only link to websites that Google trusts already. Google assumes that high-quality websites choose to link to other high-quality websites.

Makes sense, right? So, if you link to Forbes, Google’s going to trust you more because of who you choose to associate with.

You don’t have to link to big brand names only, but you should be very selective with who you link to. Many websites e-mail you asking you to link to their site, but the majority of those requests are not good news for your site.

  1. No paid links. Your SEO company should never buy you links. Google’s been clear about this from the outset.
  1. Don’t use blog networks. Websites like PostJoint, though well-intentioned, charge a fee (others don’t) to hook you up with guest posts with other blog owners. Google doesn’t want this at all.
  1. Don’t use over-optimized anchor text. Links both on and off your website should include your primary keywords in their text less than 5% of the time at most. If you do any more than that, you are at high risk for a penalty.

It shouldn’t be your job to supervise your SEO company. But as you know by now, it’s something you do have to do.

Make sure they pass these simple checks. But remember to be fair and objective. You can get bad links to your website even with a SEO company with a high level of integrity.

Don’t Fear the Hum of Hummingbird

A mass panic breaks out among SEOs and businesses every time Google releases a major algorithm update.

But, if you’ve been doing SEO ethically all along, you have nothing to fear from any Google update for any reason.  Ever. Period.

SEOs first started noticing changes in Google’s algorithm the last week of August and the first week of September.  But Google denied any major updates.

However, now it’s here.

What Does Hummingbird Do?

Don’t Fear the Hum of Hummingbird

At its simplest level, Hummingbird is a huge leap forward in semantic search.  “Semantic search” refers to the idea that Google now understands the relationships between keywords you type in better than ever before.

Google’s actually been working on this since, well, forever, but Hummingbird signifies a huge leap forward in this regard.

In its earliest days, Google was all about keywords.  If you typed in the keyword in Google’s search 10 years ago, the website with the word on its page the most showed up first.

Now, Google still reads keywords and ranks pages accordingly, but it understands the relationship between those keywords more effectively than ever.  So, you don’t have to focus on having the exact keyword on the page as much anymore.

A Specific Example of How Google’s Functioning Changes

Google’s Knowledge Graph is a database of over 570 million concepts.  Knowledge Graph stores known people, places, and historical events, which allows Google to return more intelligent results for searches along those lines.

Hummingbird expands Knowledge Graph.  Now, you can type in a question on Google, and it will give you an answer to the question.  You can even type in a follow-up question and get an answer to that.

Search Timeline 1997 - 2013

What Does This Mean for Your Website?

Step by step, Google is learning how to understand the web just like a human being.  So, the more you focus on developing your website for humans, the better.  Technical SEO is still important because that helps Google understand what your site is about and helps provide a good user experience.

Specifically, however, this is what to focus on:

  • Using long-tail keywords – Google understands the meanings among words better than ever.  Long tail searches will be more appropriately ranked for their topic, without requiring you to spam the phrase all over the page.
  • Providing value on every page of your website – You still need to get the keyword in there.  But really, the goal of this algorithm and every other one is to provide the most interesting result for every search.  So, make sure whatever you write contains in-depth information difficult to find anywhere else.
  • Treat your website like your physical business – Now, more than ever, it takes a team of skilled professionals to keep your web rankings high.  Just like you hire the best to work at your physical office, hire the best to ensure your website provides the optimal user experience.

Hummingbirds Aren’t so Scary After All…

And neither will any future Google update if you follow these guidelines.  Always do what’s best for your customer and Google will reward you.

How to Optimize Google+ Local without Trashing Your Rankings

The title says it all – that’s what everyone’s afraid of. Work your butt off for hours and then find out you ticked off the king of the search world by accident, seriously damaging your business in the process.

If you’re not already familiar, Google+ Local replaces Google Places, combining both Places and Plus. It provides both search and map results as people search the web.
Here’s what you’ll need to do in order to make yourself as effective as possible on Google+ Local: Continue reading How to Optimize Google+ Local without Trashing Your Rankings

4 Reasons Link Building Is Essential for Your Business Website


Link Building is about more than just getting click-throughs to your website.

Do you want to survive the competition to boost your digital market share? If so, pay careful attention to this post: it’ll show you exactly what link building is and why it’s not just important but vital to the success of your business.

What is link building?

Google uses links to determine if your website acts as an authority within your niche. Using a simple metaphor, links act like “votes” in that your website popularity increases with each link you receive. Unfortunately, Google does not take a democratic approach in this regard—as some links count hundreds or thousands of times more than others.

Google evaluates the quality of each link source. The idea here is that if you get a link from the New York Times, for example, it should count much more than one from a specific-interest website (e.g., from a handyman who restores antique furniture). Yet, website reputation is just one factor that determines link source the quality. Google also evaluates the relevance of the linking website to your content as well as the actual link text, among other factors.

So, why is link-building so important?

Now that you know what link building is and basically how it works, why are these links so crucial for your website?  Links are essential for several reasons:

1. They’re a huge Google ranking factor. Google uses hundreds of different factors to determine where and how far up your site should rank for various search terms. Not all factors are clear or known, but the quality/quantity of links to your website are 100% an element that will impact your search rankings.

2. They generate quality, targeted traffic. Remember our New York Times discussion?  Imagine if the Times featured you on their website and then linked to yours! You could get 100s, or even 1000s, of visits from that single link. Nevertheless, don’t assume this happens in all cases. Linking is best viewed as hard work, and eventually, you’ll notice a nice influx of traffic as the fruit of your efforts.

3. Quality links attract more quality links. Get your article or content noticed on someone else’s website, and others may choose to link to your site or the article. In either case, you’ll win more quality links and publicity out of the endeavor: ultimately boosting your website traffic.

4. Links are a form of digital networking. People won’t just link to your website—they’ll contact you via e-mail, social media, and/or over the phone too. You might not have in fact realized this, but it does happen often in the digital world.

All This Linking Builds Your Business

Eventually, all these links pointing to your website will increase your chance of business success. After all, links from sites that attract your target market drive additional qualified traffic and build up your search rankings.

Your job is to make sure your website converts these visitors into paying customers once they land there.

What a Blog Is, Isn’t, and What it Can Do for Small Businesses

Blogs have absolutely soared in popularity over recent years. It seems like everyone from our airlines to our hair stylists are keen to publish their stuff online. But why? What makes blogs such an important social media tool that blue chip brands like Marriott and Coke have decided to adopt them? And more importantly, what separates a good blog from a not-so-good one?

The first thing every social media “expert” should know before diving into the blogosphere is what a blog is—and isn’t! Technically, a blog is a website people update semi-regularly with news, information, commentary, or just general day-to-day details about their lives or business ventures. Blogs are either professional or personal, each boasting its own unique set of guidelines. As far as business bloggers are concerned, a proper blog is:

A Whole Slew of Pages Search Engines can Index
Any blog platform worth its salt will assign each of your posts its own unique URL: meaning Google can index every entry you post. If you’re a chef and restaurant proprietor, for example, odds are that you didn’t devote a main page of your site to your love affair with Wusthof knives. However, if you write a blog post gushing about your love of the Wusthof Le Cordon Bleu sandwich knife for slicing cucumbers, searchers can potentially find your restaurant by way of googling a combination of Wusthof + knife + cucumber + sandwich (trust me, stranger search combos have in fact existed).

A Place to Answer FAQs
If you hear the same question over and over again, why not post a thorough answer on your blog? While you should always answer customer queries immediately, of course, you can also direct them to your blog if the answer is particularly long-winded or complicated. Chances are that if many people are asking you, that many more are asking Google—and wouldn’t it be nice if a few of those Googlers stumbled upon your company’s blog and then hired you or used your products/services?

A Place to Demonstrate Your Expertise
When potential customers visit your website, they want to know your company is the best one for the job. If your blog is chock full of well-written and informative posts, customers will know immediately that the people behind the scenes are capable and competent.

Updated Regularly
I’m not saying you need to update your blog every day. Yet, if month-long gaps exist between posts, old readers will lose interest and you won’t accumulate any new ones. A loved blog is an effective blog, so aim to keep your posting schedule consistent.

Now, for what a proper blog is not:

A Billboard
Entries about why your creamed corn/seared tuna/artichoke dip is better than the versions down the street aren’t all that useful. Sure, you can post an occasional announcement or promote a product. However, by and large, blogs aren’t intended as hubs for blatant advertising. Want to post about the 22nd Annual Half-Price Oyster Week at your restaurant? Do so in an interesting way. Perhaps you can share the story of this tradition or discuss which wines pair best with fried and raw oysters.

A Will/Business Proposal/Other Official Document

A blog is a pretty informal thing, so have fun when you’re writing! Use contractions and colloquialisms where appropriate. Joke with the reader. Just remember that the voice behind your blog is the voice of your company. With this always in mind, keep it professional and consistent with your company’s image.

Remember that above all else, good blogs are those people find interesting and valuable. If they like what you’re saying, they’ll come back for more; and there’s a pretty good chance that if something you write is especially useful or fresh, it will get passed around. This, as we all know, can translate into more exposure for your business and (ideally!) more money in your pocket.