Google penalizes web sites that have “thin” content, low-quality pages that are merely designed to build traffic by having keywords, duplicate content, lots of images or links, and other space-filling methods. They’ve been trying to weed out sites that are identified as thin sites, but sometimes a legitimate site (like yours?) has some pages that get caught in the effort and penalized.
Adrienne Erin has a good overview of How To Avoid Google Thin Content Penalties on SiteProNews. It starts with a clear definition of what is considered undesirable, then has some practical suggestions for screening your site to see if there is content that needs attention. Then she suggests you become ruthless and either improve it or eliminate it. Her tips for improving thin content are pretty straightforward:
- rewrite it — go into greater detail about what makes this thing unique
- merge some pages — take two or more “thin” pages and make them one good one
- add interactive content — quizzes, surveys, imbedded maps, etc.
- decrease internal links — a page full of useful information might just be too full of links, so unlink some things
- go into greater detail to highlight differences in similar pages — regional offerings may have a lot of the same information that looks like duplicate content. Adding more detail improves SEO, too.
The less “filler” content on your site, the more legitimate it will be in the eyes of the search engines. What’s more important, it also will have more authority for your readers. For more information on quality web design, visit http://www.reciprocalconsulting.com/web-design.php.
In AdWords, your Quality Score is like a warning light, according to a quote in “Google: Stop Losing the Forest for the…Quality Score” at PPC Hero. It shows how healthy your ads and keywords are, but it isn’t anything more than an indication to look further if it’s low. The warning light is a good illustration, because when it comes on you aren’t supposed to be examining the light itself but the system it is connected to.
This look at Google’s whitepaper on Settling the (Quality) Score (pdf) includes a nice chart on things that matter, and things that don’t. These things make a difference in your Quality Score:
- user device matters, so think about mobile targeting and landing page experience
- performance on related keywords matters when launching new keywords, so invest in relevant searches
- relevance to user intention matters, so make sure ads and landing pages match what they want
However, in terms of that Quality Score, keep this in mind:
- It doesn’t matter how you structure your account, so do what works best for you
- It doesn’t matter which networks you target, so feel free to test new networks
- It doesn’t matter where the ad is on the page, so don’t bid up higher positions to get a higher score–think about user experience instead
The warning light is a valuable tool when it’s used the right way, as a signal that you need to look further into the system it monitors. With the Quality Score, Google is reminding us that it is a tool, not a grade.
You’ll find more insights on PPC Management at http://www.reciprocalconsulting.com/pay-per-click.php.
By now you might have seen the Gallup Poll report on The Myth of Social Media that’s just been published. With 72% of adults in the US on some form of social media, it makes sense that they’d be doing the surveys to assess what is going on. Here are some interesting numbers from their survey:
- 94% of social media users are connecting with friends and family
- 20% are reviewing a product or commenting on it
- 5% of those surveyed say social media affects their purchase decisions
- 62% say it has no influence at all
These numbers are a bit scary to the companies who are investing in social media marketing strategies. According to BIA/Kelsey, that investment was $5.1 billion in the US during the past year. By 2018, the combined expenditure on social media advertising is expected to get close to $15 billion. That’s a lot of ads to be ignored on Facebook.
Why Do We Invest In Social Media If People Ignore The Ads?
The report ends in this statement by Gallup:
“The potential of social media is still being debated. Companies are going to have to experiment to figure out what works best with their customers. The process may involve a lot of trial and error, but there is potential in social media that is not directly related to sales revenue. Companies have an opportunity to build communities with their customers in ways they could not before. But to get there, they must first engage their customers through other channels. Regardless of the hype surrounding social media, consumers are still most affected by their offline experiences.”
Basically, the strength of social media platforms is the conversation and engagement. This is not as easy to measure as a click-through rate, but it is much stronger because it is relationship. Social media provides a way to interact with your customers, providing content they share because it is helpful or interesting. As they share, more people are introduced to your company. It’s the word-of-mouth marketing campaign amplified with technology, and it has always been the best way for a business to be known.
Your social media marketing is part of the entire package you offer your customers, and that’s not a myth. It’s reality.
You’ll find more about social media optimization at http://www.reciprocalconsulting.com/social-media-optimization-SMO.php.
Competitive Intelligence is a fairly recent term, but the idea has actually been around for a long time. High school football teams, for instance, used to spend the week before the big game watching choppy footage from previous games in an attempt to figure out what the opposing team’s strategies were going to be. The coach and the quarterback would go over different plays and analyze as much as they could so a winning strategy would be in place.
Familiarity Breeds Competitive Strategies
The more times football teams play each other, the easier it is to figure out ways to win. In business, you aren’t playing for points on a scoreboard, but you are playing to win something. Businesses compete for customers, sales, search engine rankings, and a host of other contests that depend on the industry. So how do you decide what you need to know?
The more familiar you are with your industry and competitors, the bigger your perspective is on how your business fits into the picture. Analyzing the top competitors in your field will reveal things to emulate, but it will also reveal things that you can differ in so you stand out in contrast.
For instance, keywords are a huge part of search engine optimization, but you don’t have to copy the same keywords that everybody else in the industry uses. A move from the short-tail keywords to longer phrases that are specific to your business just might be what pushes your ranking past the other guys. But you need to know what they are focusing on so you can do something different.
As Sun Tzu famously said, “If you know your enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.”
Competitive intelligence is an essential business tool. Learn more about it at http://www.reciprocalconsulting.com/competitive-intelligence.php#2
The different names Google has for algorithms gives a persona to an enigma. In “Feeding the Hummingbird: Structured Markup Isn’t The Only Way To Talk To Google“, Moz Blog contributor Cyrus Shepard says,
“Ever wonder why Google named certain algorithms after black and white animals (i.e. black hat vs. white hat?) Hummingbird is a broader algorithm altogether, and Hummingbirds can be any color of the rainbow.”
Panda and Penguin were going after webspam. Hummingbird is designed to optimize entity-based search. That means the Hummingbird algorithm is looking at what is said, how the keywords are placed, etc. Since Google uses over 500 algorithms and each one is going after different information, the exact “secret formula” for SEO is always going to be a secret. In fact, since those algorithms are constantly adjusted in an attempt to improve search, the secret formula keeps changing.
The nice thing that is pointed out, though, is that Hummingbird looks at more than the SEO savvy markup and can figure out relationship without it. This is natural search results instead of formulas.
Feeding the Hummingbird
Here’s a quick list of what is important to this algorithm:
- keywords (subject-predicate-object triples)
- tables & HTML elements
- entities & synonyms
- anchor text & links
- Google Local
- Google Structured Data Highlighter
All of the elements are balanced and weighted to figure out how to do Hummingbird’s part of the whole secret zoo at Google. Each one of the algorithms plays a role in where your data comes up on the page. Interesting, isn’t it? The thing to remember is that there’s a big difference between trying to play the system and trying to get quality content available for your audience. Google is always going after the players because they want to stay relevant to the rest of us.
For more information on optimizing your site for natural search results, visit http://www.reciprocalconsulting.com/search-engine-optimization.php.
It’s the mid-year mark, and this is a good time to look at the goals you have set for your business and evaluate how far you have come in meeting those goals. Liane Dietrich of Marketing Land walks us through some of the basics in “Time For A Check-Up: Marketing Strategies For A Successful Second Half.”
Six Things To Check
The Marketing Land article suggests an evaluation of these areas:
- Marketing goals
- Attribution models
- Performance marketing programs
- Joint marketing opportunities
- Analytics data
- Improve your bottom line
Each one of these aspects of your business should have had some goals set in place for the business year and could be evaluated accordingly. But this is not the only place your business check-up should be looking at.
Other Areas To Consider
Everything your marketing department does should be integrated into the entire enterprise so that the real organization reflects who you say you are. If your ad campaigns are eco-minded, for instance, it is wise to be able to show how your daily operations are also eco-minded.
Having set goals for recycling and being able to show improvement gives things to talk about in social media if you are a company that prides itself on being “green.” A tweet or post about a 25% increase in recycling goals or developing a recycling program for the community adds authority to your brand.
These types of goals vary according to the organization, but they are definitely things to evaluate periodically. With the ability for the average smartphone user to look you up online in depth, it’s pretty important that your practices and your marketing line up because discrepancies are easy to find. Being able to use data from regular progress evaluations might come in handy.
For more insight on internet marketing, visit reciprocalconsulting.com/internet-marketing-services.php
The majority of the 600 or so very small businesses that responded to a recent survey by Endurance don’t have a strategy for their social media practices. Chris Crum has a nice infographic that breaks it down for us on WebProNews. Here’s a few of the results:
- 90% of very small businesses are on social media
- 71% don’t have an established social media strategy
- If managed internally, 80% of posts are by the company head when they feel like it.
- About a third don’t have defined brands or profiles and aren’t sure how social media should work for marketing.
Of course there’s more information from the study, but these numbers should give business owners pause. A very small business won’t grow if the social media policy is hit and miss because most of your customers get their information on some form of social media.
There’s a lot of information on developing social media strategies, and business owners certainly should be keeping their finger on the pulse of what is happening. But just like you have to delegate other areas as a business grows, this is a place you can delegate with proper training.
Of course, that training means a focused strategy must be developed, but most very small businesses are realizing that. To quote the study’s conclusions,
“over half of those we surveyed expressed an interest in learning best practices – so it’s not that they don’t want to, they just don’t know how.”
If you are interested in learning more about social media marketing, visit http://www.reciprocalconsulting.com/social-media-optimization-SMO.php
PPC Hero has just come out with Excel PPC Heat Mapping 101, and it offers a way to look at your spreadsheets to see what is going on in one glance. Most of us are visual in the way we process information, so this helpful guide just may be of use to you in more ways than analyzing your PPC campaigns.
Basically, this guide opens your eyes to the way that Excel’s conditional formatting can be used to adjust the cell color and reflect the data in that cell. You can springboard from that basic concept to many other ways to use conditional formatting for PPC analysis.
By individually highlighting each column and assigning color scales based on the numbers you are interested in, you will end up with a heat map that shows exactly what is happening with your data. It’s a lot easier than processing the numbers, because you can see immediately what is getting “warmer” or “cooler” in a big picture.
See Your Data The Way You See
People process information in different ways. Some of us need words, some need numbers, others need charts or visuals. Every way is a valid way to obtain data as long as the data is accurate. What matters is being able to use that data effectively.
The need to analyze data is part of a successful PPC campaign, and good managers are looking at that data all the time. It makes sense to set up your information feed in a way that will be easy to process, because the value is in analysis. Once you set it up, this heat mapping idea is a genius way to keep an eye on your PPC campaigns, and more.
You can learn more about PPC management at http://www.reciprocalconsulting.com/pay-per-click.php
There’s a lot about search engine optimization that relies on algorithms, and marketers spend a lot of time trying to figure out what the secret formula is for page rankings. But really, much of what those algorithms are designed to do is interpret human behavior.
The whole reason Google keeps updating is to keep the human interaction at the forefront of their rankings so they are respected as a legitimate source of good content. If people used Google and got spam, it would not take long for Google to fall, and they know it.
SEO Is More Than A Magic Formula
Good SEO has to be more than figuring out the latest version of Google’s secret algorithm — it has to keep the humans you are trying to engage in mind. If you are consistently engaging your customers and using the language your target audience would use to find something on the internet, there’s a natural keyword development. All the details that make up your site must be geared toward making sense to your target audience, and being valuable to your target audience.
The traffic that results from human engagement is measured in numbers of visits and links, but the numbers are meaningless apart from what they represent. Optimizing those numbers focuses on the quality of what is happening, and that is the true value of SEO.
An alogrithm is a tool, but good SEO practices are an art.
You can’t really reduce SEO to an algorithm, but you can learn much more about the art of good SEO at http://www.reciprocalconsulting.com/search-engine-optimization.php
One of the tasks a webmaster often faces with trepidation is moving content around without taking a hit from Google. So many have expressed this that the official Google webmaster blog has addressed it in the post on Making Site Moves Easier.
3 Kinds of Content Migration
There’s really just two basic categories of site move, but since the second group has two subdivisions, there may as well be three:
- site moves without URL changes
- site moves with URL changes
- site moves to responsive web design
Each kind of move will mean following different instructions, and Google does a good job of explaining the steps.
The Price of Site Moves the Wrong Way
It may seem like there’s no consequence to just shifting around your content on your site on the human level. After all, if your site is logical to you changes will probably will be logical to your customers who are regular users. But the search engines are not reading your site on the human level, and that will affect where your site comes up in the page ranks.
Humans tend to do a search and look at the first page or so. If you want new users, you will need to be found. Moving content around without keeping an eye on the Googlebot will change the way your site comes up on Google. That will change who sees your site.
It makes sense to follow Google’s instructions when you do site moves because then you will be doing things the way their search engine operates, and that improves your chances to be where you want to be in the rankings.
For more insights on web design, visit reciprocalconsulting.com/web-design.php
If you could see a building’s skeleton, you’d see triangles. The three sides of this basic shape are ideally suited to holding up a lot of weight, because each side supports the other sides.
The Three Sides Of The Reputation Triangle
Online reputation management has three sides, too, and they each support the other. Just like the triangles in the girders of the skyscraper, this basic shape does the work of supporting a lot of weight so that a business can be built to last.
- Side 1: Proactive Reputation Management – This is the stuff you put out there, on your site, in social media, advertising, etc. Most businesses will be very careful to construct a positive reputation online and this is where many stop. It’s important, it’s foundational, but it isn’t enough because it is only one side of the equation for strength.
- Side 2: Online Reputation Management Monitoring – Another side of the triangle’s strong shape is the ongoing attention to what is being said about your business. This can change with one disgruntled employee or customer who posts a negative review and snowballs into vindictive rhetoric on a forum. Other times it will be positive recommendations from satisfied customers. Negative or positive, it all has to be monitored or you won’t know what is going on.
- Side 3: Reactive Reputation Management – The third side of the triangle is the steps taken to repair damage when it happens. It’s easier to fix a leak at the beginning than it is after the flood, and it’s easier to fix a reputation issue when it starts.
If the first two sides of the reputation management triangle are in place, you’ll be able to quickly respond to a problem and deal with it. Action taken depends on what is happening and can be anything from diplomatically calming an irate customer to correcting misinformation on a blog to legal action when appropriate.
It Takes All Three Sides To Be Strong
Kids in science class take toothpicks and make triangles, then use those triangles to build strong supportive structures that hold far more weight than a single toothpick can carry. The strength of the triangle depends on all three sides supporting the others, and the strength of your reputation is dependent upon all three sides of the online reputation management triangle.
For more insights on online reputation management, visit http://www.reciprocalconsulting.com/online-reputation-management.php#2
The vast majority of people need a picture…visual aids to understanding content. This is why you are seeing more infographics being used to explain things. Aleyda Solis does a great job of giving us a picture in The Illustrated SEO Competitive Analysis Workflow. The infographic lays out the process of identifying SEO targets and figuring out how you are going to develop your strategies in four steps.
The picture helps us understand a complicated thing: SEO competitive analysis is a subject that very few of us get a good grasp on at first. But this excellent infographic is in the middle of words explaining and enhancing our understanding of the picture.
We Need More Than Pictures
The visual catches our attention and helps us understand the content of a page, but without words we are interpreting the picture by our own perspective. In order to really understand SEO competitive analysis, you’d have to do a little more:
- read expanded information
- act on the suggestions using the chart as a guide
- come back with questions and get answers
SEO Is Part Of A Bigger Picture
All the pieces of the puzzle are needed to give you the chance to see the picture it will create, and they have to be put together correctly first. Most of us need to see the picture on the jigsaw puzzle box while we are working on the puzzle because it helps us figure out where the pieces go. (Those who refuse to look at the picture have other priorities.)
Infographics like the one Ms. Solis did for Moz on SEO Competitive Analysis are great for helping us put the pieces of the puzzle together correctly. It’s a good reminder that people need visuals to help them understand content. It’s also a good reminder that SEO doesn’t exist in a vacuum but in a context, like a puzzle piece in a box with a picture on the lid.
For more about SEO and the context in which it exists, see reciprocalconsulting.com/internet-marketing-services.php#3
Competition is a funny thing. Have you ever seen that crazy game where an onion is passed around as music is played? When the music stops, the onion holder must take a bite or leave the circle. Eventually, only the competitive people with iron stomachs are in the ring, biting the raw, slobbery onion, and fighting to win before they collapse in agony. Why would they do this? To win a game.
That game is a good illustration of the way we can lose sight of what’s important in the heat of competition. You aren’t competing in an onion-eating game, but sometimes we start competing for the wrong goals in marketing.
Measure What Matters
One example of this game is seen in measuring sales. Only looking at the number of sales is losing sight of the most important thing.
Ultimately, the thing businesses compete for is customers who are loyal. Loyal customers will share their confidence in your business with others and add their friends to your growing base of people who keep coming back to buy. Loyal customers give you feedback and help you develop your offerings and services to their maximum potential. Loyal customers keep your sales growing in the future.
A smaller number of customers who repeatedly buy will be more valuable than a larger number of customers who buy once and go somewhere else. What matters in these two groups is the loyalty, not the initial purchase. In the future, this makes the difference in sales.
Competitive intelligence has to measure what matters in all the areas of your business, looking at what those numbers represent in order to analyze them correctly. Otherwise, you might be like the winner of the onion-eating game, wondering why it seemed so important to win.
There’s a lot to be discovered about competitive intelligence at www.reciprocalconsulting.com/competitive-intelligence.php#2