Rajesh De (pronounced Day) knows a thing or two about cybersecurity. Before becoming head of the cybersecurity and data privacy division at law firm Mayer Brown, he served as general counsel for the National Security Agency during the most notorious data breach in history: Edward Snowden’s exposing of the agency’s surveillance programs.
“Back then, nobody knew about the NSA,” he told the audience at the Cyber Security Thought Leadership Forum in New York City on Monday. “[The joke was] the acronym stood for No Such Agency.” Even De’s wife was puzzled by his decision to work for “the agency that sends astronauts into space.”
Having experienced a high-profile data breach firsthand, De imparted some wisdom to the crowd at the forum this week. He explained the top three mistakes that businesses make when responding to a cyber attack.
1. Not recognizing cybersecurity is the responsibility of more than just the tech department.
When thinking about the issue of cybersecurity, organizations must realize that it’s more than a technical issue. “It’s much bigger than that,” De said. “It’s a core business risk, and the consequences of thinking of it as such reaches everything.”
Placing security as a core value means that it impacts prioritization, budget concerns, time management and preparation — both to prevent a breach and to have a response plan at the ready.
2. Share the right amount of information at the right time.
De drew directly from his experience at the NSA when explaining that knee-jerk reactions to share too much and too little information with the public are dangerous. “Generally there’s one faction that will want to be so transparent, to tell everybody in the world anything that is known at any given moment, whether it’s definitive or not,” he said. “Of course there’s value in giving real-time education to customers, but there’s no value in spitting out a lot of info that has to be walked back. That really confuses people more than it enlightens people.”
Going too far in the opposite direction, however, is also ill-advised. “Clearly, that approach runs a huge range of risks, whether they’re reputational or otherwise,” he said.
Finding the right balance depends on a variety of factors — the nature of the attack and how the facts develop, among other details — but striking that middle ground is key.
3. Not having all of the relevant players in the loop ASAP.
While deciding what to explain to the public at what time can be tough to figure out, giving the details to the necessary people on the inside early on is vital. “If you don’t have a communications firm or a law firm built into your crisis response plan, and they have to catch up later, that really does a disservice to the organization,” De said.
Yet ripples from the Snowden hack at the NSA still loom large. On Tuesday, the Senate passed a controversial bill called the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA). The bill encourages companies to share information about hackers and data breaches with both the government and other businesses in the private sector. Although critics say it infringes on customers’ privacy while also failing to adequately prevent cyber attacks, supporters say the legislation is a positive step to protect data from cyber attacks in the future.
The bill is expected to be sent to President Obama for his signature after it’s been combined with two additional bills passed by the House of Representatives earlier this year that also concerned sharing information.
By Carly Okyle October 29, 2015
At least one website you visited today is powered by WordPress. In all likelihood, most of your favorite sites utilize the world’s most popular content management system (CMS). Perhaps your business runs on it too.
According to WordPress, across its network of sites, “Over 409 million people view more than 15.8 billion pages each month.” Furthermore, “Users produce about 43.7 million new posts and 58.8 million new comments each month.”
More content is created than audiences can handle. The challenge for entrepreneurs, then, is to find an underserved segment of consumers that would love nothing more than what you have to offer, whether it is blog posts, products or services.
Fortunately, you won’t need to build everything from scratch. In fact, a powerful website is possible even if you are a non-technical founder. To take your business to the next level with WordPress, here are seven outstanding plugins you will want to install immediately.
There is more to your audience than pure page views. Metrics such as engagement time and return rate are now tracked more closely as we enter an age of holistic analytics.
Chartbeat’s real-time analytics suite enables you to better understand reader behavior to make smarter decisions about what you can do to both capture and offer the most value during audience visits. With it, hopefully, you can begin responding to reader activity with solutions to keep them on site longer, visiting more pages and converting more often.
Spam’s persistence threatens to ruin the web. It is everywhere.
While smart filters and blockers protect you from getting duped by the seemingly honorable Nigerian Prince and his innocent business proposal, you might not even be aware of the spam that lives within your own website.
Built by the team at Search Engine Journal, LinkPatrol aims to help site owners analyze, manage and fix outgoing links to ensure your readers only end up clicking things that add to their reading experience and so you avoid getting on Google’s bad side, which can be pretty ugly.
Email has always been the ugly stepchild of marketing. It’s not as ego-inflating as public relations, and it’s surely not as novel as social media. That said, email marketing holds a valuable seat at the table due to its very intimate opt-in nature, which makes you confident that your lead is genuinely interested in engaging with your brand further.
A product of Syed Balkhi, OptinMonster allows you to instantly build and deploy compelling opt-in forms for your site. Advanced capabilities include page-specific targeting, A/B testing and built-in analytics.
While a simple (and free) Google form can do you a lot of good, many businesses choose Polldaddy to take advantage of its more powerful and sophisticated survey capabilities.
With it, you can learn a thing or two from your audience when you build engaging surveys which ultimately give you the sorts of responses you need, in an easy-to-manipulate way, to make better informed decisions about product development, customer success and more.
Built by my company, Shareaholic’s fully integrated content marketing suite includes a Related Content app and Social Share Buttons. These tools make it seamless to boost reader engagement and social media traffic.
By algorithmically surfacing contextually relevant articles your audience is most likely to engage with, the Related Content app works to drive targeted traffic to the best content within your website. Those recommendations lead to longer visitor time-on-site and increased page views per visit. Shareaholic’s customizable Share Buttons also stand out, encouraging your users to become active promoters of your content.
For product-based businesses, WooCommerce is perfect. You can take an average WordPress site and turn it into an ecommerce machine.
WooCommerce is developed by the folks at WooThemes, a veteran within the WordPress community. The plugin’s flexibility and expansive extension store allows you to sell anything. Best of all, it helps manage payments, shipping options, inventory management, reporting, marketing and tax, so you can worry about the fun stuff, such as designing your next blockbuster product.
In an increasingly mobile world, we all have to remember the importance of responsive design. A report from eMarketer suggests, “4.55 billion people worldwide will use a mobile phone in 2014.” By 2017, 33.8 percent of our global population will be smartphone users.
A significant number of your visitors already spend a large chunk of their time browsing the web on their mobile devices. Fortunately, solutions such as WPtouch help make your site fully responsive, for both smartphone and tablet users. WPtouch also offers a wide variety of extensions so you can further enhance the mobile browsing experience for your visitors and capture more value from your hard-earned traffic.
Contributor – Danny Wong
WordPress is considered an excellent platform for budding entrepreneurs to create websites for their startup or small business. This content management service (CMS) is used by millions of business owners who live in every corner of the world. More than 400 million websites worldwide are powered by WordPress, including more than 100 million in the United States. WordPress sites around the world publish posts every 17 seconds. Most of the top one million websites in the world are powered by WordPress and related to business. These facts clearly show the significance of WordPress as a content management service for businesses of all sizes.
Simplicity, social media integration and the large number of theme options available are key reasons why startups and small businesses prefer WordPress. However, you need to keep several important facts in mind before you think about using WordPress for your business website.
1. The quality of themes.
Thousands of free and premium themes are available for those planning to create a WordPress-based website for their startup. However, you need to be careful in selecting a reliable theme from those available. The theme should be flexible and you need to have the ability to make modifications without much hassle.
This is another crucial factor when it comes to creating a website for your startup. You need to look for a managed WordPress hosting service that will help you keep your website up and running at all times. In addition, they should provide regular updates and backups.
3. Choose your plugins wisely.
Installing too many plugins on your WordPress website will slow its performance. Only add the plugins that you will actively use and delete the rest.
4. Configuring your website.
After you finalize WordPress installation, you need to configure it accordingly. For example, you should think about how the comments are moderated, permalinks are set up, and other best practices. This is easily accomplished in WordPress settings and should be done during your initial setup.
5. Mobile Interface.
Many website visitors will access your site through their mobile devices, so your WordPress-based website needs a responsive mobile interface that will provide a smooth experience for users. Users won’t tolerate much irritation from pinching and pulling.
Adam Farra, CEO of HostGator says, “It can be a bit of a chore to make certain that your site is mobile-friendly. But it’s worth the effort. Doing so will help to assure that your site ranks as highly as possible in search engine results.”
WordPress comes with decent security features but consider implementing more advanced security measures using plugins and other best practices to deter potential threats. Ilia Kolochenko, CEO of High-Tech Bridge says, “I would say that a popular CMS, such as WordPress or Joomla may be considered secure in default installation if they are properly configured, don’t have third-party code and are up to date.”
7. Search engine optimization.
Consider search engine optimization (SEO) to enhance the visibility of your website on Google and other search engines. Using SEO best practices along with WordPress plugins like WordPress SEO by Yoast you’ll be headed in the right direction. In addition to search engine optimization, it’s important to use the new SEO (Social Engine Optimization) as well. Establish an active presence on the social media networks where your customers spend the most time and you’ll quickly build a brand people trust.
Contributor – Brett Relander
Artificial Intelligence (AI) machines can already do several remarkable things: they are far better than humans at performing complex calculations, and they’re pretty good at playing chess. Researchers have once again tested the limits of AI by putting one of the world’s most intelligent AI machines through its paces with an IQ test, and the results are in: it has the same IQ as an average four-year-old child, as reported by MIT Technology Review.
Measuring intelligence through an IQ test is thought to be the best way to determine the intellectual capacity of people from a huge range of human cultures. A team of researchers, led by Stellan Ohlsson at the University of Illinois, decided to apply this concept to an intelligence outside of any normal human culture: an AI machine developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
The intelligent machine, dubbed ConceptNet 4, was given a verbal reasoning examination calibrated for four-year-old children. Known as the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence, it calculates a child’s IQ by asking a selection of questions from five categories.
The vocabulary category contains questions such as “What is a cat?”. The information category asks questions such as “Where can you find a tiger?”, and the word reasoning section asks the child to identify an object after being given three clues as to its identity. The comprehension category tests the child’s ability to understand the motivation behind actions, such as querying why people say hello or shake hands. Finally, the similarities category asks the child to understand the link between two objects, such as “Rain and snow are both made of _ ?”
After modifying ConceptNet 4’s programming to be able to deal with the questions it was going to be asked, the researchers gave it the same IQ test. The answers it gave were strongly linked to how it dealt with the language in the question, so more straightforward, concrete questions were handled well. Consequently, it did very well in the vocabulary and similarities segments, while doing averagely in the information question.
When concepts with inherent meaning or intent had to be handled, however, it dropped the ball. For example, when asked “why do people shake hands?” it interpreted the question as asking “what is the reason people’s hands shake?”. As a result, it decided that people shake hands because they are having an epileptic fit. As you can imagine, the AI scored poorly on the comprehension questions.
It also fared disastrously in the word reasoning category, giving truly bizarre answers unlike any child would ever use. When given the clues “This animal has a mane if it is male, it lives in Africa, and it is a yellowish-brown cat,” its five most common answers were “dog,” “cat,” “home,” “creature,” and “farm.”
As Ohlsson told MIT Technology Review, “if the clues say it is a cat, then types of cat are the only alternatives to be considered,” so this kind of misstep is currently inexplicable.
All categories considered, the AI’s measured verbal IQ was indeed that of an intellectually-average four-year-old child taking the same test. Stephen Hawking recently told BBC News he thought that artificial intelligence (AI) could lead to the extinction of humankind. Although this is entirely plausible, AI clearly has a long way to go to get to the point where it can stage a robot uprising.
by Robin Andrews - October 7, 2015
Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) is one of the most powerful resources in an online marketer’s toolbox — especially when it comes to SEO. Most of us know how to get around in GWT, and are familiar with some of its basic functions. But there’s so much you can do in GWT that will enhance your site’s ranking in the search results pages.
Whether you’re a beginner in GWT or an experienced pro, I think you’re going to discover a few things in this article that will increase your knowledge of Webmaster Tools.
1. View author stats
Author stats is a not-so-obvious feature of Google Webmaster Tools. The main reason for this is because it’s still in beta. You can access it through the “Labs” section of Google Webmaster Tools through your personal login.
There’s another reason why it’s often overlooked. It’s not a website feature, as much as it is a feature to track your personal stats and visibility as a content producer.
If you have a Google+ account, and are a verified author on any websites, here’s how to view your author stats.
•Log in to the Gmail account that is connected to your Google+ account.
•Go to Google Webmaster Tools.
•Click on Labs
•Click on “Author Stats”
In “Author Stats,” you can view the number of all the articles you’ve written, impressions, click-through rates, and average position on Google.
This data is crucial if you’re interested in improving as a recognized author, and enhancing your content personal brand and content marketing efforts.
2. Change crawl rate
Google lets you set the rate at which you want them to crawl your site. You can only change this feature in Google Webmaster Tools. In most cases, you want your site to be crawled as often as possible. If, however, Google’s frequent crawl rate seems to be slowing down your site, here’s how to change it.
Click on the gear icon in the upper right corner of GWT.
Click on “Site Settings.”
Click on “Limit Google’s maximum crawl rate.”
Set the crawl rate to “Low” or “High” depending on your needs.
3. Create structured data highlighter
Sites with structured data (e.g., schema markup) rank four positions higher in search results. If you’re not using structured data on your website, you need to start. According to Searchmetrics, only 0.3 percent of websites are using schema, but a whopping 36% of Google’s search results include snippets derived from schema markup.
(Image via Search Engine Land)
There is a huge opportunity to gain rank and improve your listings in search results pages by using schema.
The structured data highlighter in Google Webmaster Tools makes it easy for you to do so. I’ve written a tutorial on schema markup, that will help you to get started.
Here’s how to access the structured data highlighter in Google Webmaster Tools.
Click on Search Appearance.
Click on Data Highlighter.
Prepare to spend a few minutes acquainting yourself with the tool. It’s not difficult to get started, but it might take a few minutes to completely go through the process of adding schema to any of your pages.
4. Identify HTML improvements
Google tells you exactly what SEO features you should focus on as you optimize your site for search. It’s called “HTML Improvements.”
Go to “Search Appearance.”
Click on “HTML Improvements.”
Here are the issues that Google focuses on:
•Meta descriptions – Search-optimized descriptions are probably not a direct factor in search rankings. This is probably why the tool explains that “Addressing the following may help your site’s user experience.” Meta descriptions are, however, important for users and click-through rate, which have a subsequent impact on ranking. Descriptions should be present on each page, and written in such a way that they are neither too long nor too short.
•Missing title tags – Most SEOs agree that the title tag is the single most important feature of a site’s technical SEO. This is probably why the GWT HTML Improvement tool focuses on every aspect of a title tag.
•Duplicate title tags – Lots of SEOs are concerned about duplicate content. It’s a concern that’s probably well-warranted. The fact is, duplicate content is going to happen. It has to happen, especially if a site needs to include, for example, the same legal disclaimer on multiple pages, or other standardized verbiage. Though no one knows quite how, duplicate content might negatively impact search rankings. You can identify any occurrence of duplicate title tags directly in GWT.
•Long title tags – Title tags that are too long will be truncated or replaced by Google.
•Short title tags – Title tags that are too short are not taking advantage of full SEO potential, and are probably not helpful to users, either.
•Non-informative title tags – Google is all about providing information. If, in their view, your title tags are not providing sufficient information, they will let you know.
•Non-indexable content. – If your site has non-indexable content such as rich media files, Google will alert you to this.
To examine any of these issues in detail, you can click the hyperlinked topic and identify where exactly on your site the problem is located.
5. Change sitelink ordering
Sitelinks are the additional entries that Google lists underneath your main site in the SERPS. They appear when a user performs a directional or branded search. For example, here are the sitelinks for Quicksprout.com.
You don’t get to control whether or not Google shows sitelinks for your site. It’s an algorithmic-generated feature. You can, however, ensure that you have a clear site structure and a Sitemap, which will probably generate sitelinks.
Sometimes, however, Google’s algorithm doesn’t quite get the sitelinks right. That’s where the “Sitelinks” feature of GWT comes in.
Click on Search Appearance.
Click on “Sitelinks.”
Your only option is to “demote” a certain sitelink. If, for example, one of your sitelinks is appearing, but you don’t want it to, you can ask Google to keep it from appearing as a sitelink.
6. Identify internally linked pages
Internal linking is a very important part of a site’s SEO. I’ve explained before how exactly you should conduct an internal linking strategy.
The “Internal Links” feature in GWT helps you see which of your internal pages are most frequently linked within your site. The greater their internal linked integration, the stronger these pages are.
If you don’t see your most important content pages on the first page of the “Internal Links,” you should probably address this by adding additional internal links.
Click on “Search Traffic.”
Click “Internal Links.”
7. Indexation status
I strongly encourage every SEO and webmaster to keep a close eye on their indexation status. Over time, the number of indexed pages can change. These changes may signal an algorithmic shift, which could affect rankings. At other times, indexation drops may signal a negative SEO on your site.
As a general rule, your number of indexed pages should rise in correlation to the consistency of your content-marketing output. As long as you’re creating great content, your indexed pages should be rising.
Check “Index Status” to make sure.
Go to “Google Index.”
Click on “Index Status.”
8. Fetch as Google
If you want to analyze a page’s performance in the search engine results pages, the “Fetch as Google” tool is a great resource.
Click on “Crawl.”
Click “Fetch as Google.”
Type in the URL of the page you want to analyze.
Click “Fetch and Render.”
Using Fetch as Google allows to see how — or if — a page might appear. You’ll be able to identify the HTTP server response, the time of the crawl request, the HTML code, the visible indexable content, and a screenshot of the page as seen by Google. If the crawler was unable to access any of the content, you’ll see this list of inaccessible resources as well.
If you’ve configured robots.txt to block certain elements, this will be listed as the reason for no access. Other times, however, there may be other legitimate crawl problems that can surface during this examination.
I use Google Webmaster Tools every day, both from my own site and others’ sites. The list of eight resources above is only a sampling of the many features available in GWT.
The better you become at using these tools, the better you will become at having a site that is perfectly optimized in Google.
Contributor Neil Patel
Local search engine optimization (SEO) can be tricky. Not only do you have to do all the customary SEO stuff, but then you have to do a new layer of complex SEO activities. Most tech-savvy local-business owners have a decent idea of how to do local SEO, but diving to a deeper level can get confusing.
For example, most people think that in order to have successful local SEO, you must have directory listings. This is true — to a point. First, though, you have to make sure that several other things are in order. (Directory listings don’t come first in local SEO.)
Then you have to make sure that you’re getting listed with the right local directories. Also, you have to know how and where to find the local directories that are unique to your geographical area. Plus, you have to ensure that you are optimizing for your geospecific hyperlocal neighborhood, not just the general location of your business.
Like I said, things can get confusing.
In order to address some of these major issues, I’ve explained the top five things that most people forget about local SEO. If you want local search traffic, you need to make sure that you go through each of the five issues in this article. What you’re about to read could be a huge boon for your local SEO.
1. Accuracy and consistency in online listings.
The most important component of local SEO is a trinity of information known as the NAP. NAP stands for Name, Address and Phone number. Some people call it the NAP+W, adding in the Website for good measure. Any local optimizer knows this much. So far, so good.
What can get confusing, though, is the accuracy and consistency of this information.
A ConstantContact survey revealed some discouraging trends among SMBs. While 85 percent of small businesses say that it’s important for them to be found on local search apps and directories, only half of these businesses have ever updated their online listings! Fifty percent of these businesses know they have inaccurate listings, but 70 percent say that they just don’t have the time to update them at all!
This is bad news. The No. 1 negative local ranking factor, according to Moz, is a “listing detected at false business location.” The third biggest negative ranking factor is a mismatched NAP. Ouch. Inaccuracies like these will kill your local SEO.
Clearly, small and local businesses are facing a severe challenge when it comes to getting local listings. Let me break this down into two specific areas — accuracy and consistency, and why they matter so much.
Accuracy of NAP
Local search engines use the NAP as a measuring stick of accuracy for a business’s existence. In order for the local search engine or directory to validate the presence of your local business, it must make sure that every point of data aligns perfectly.
So, for example, if your business name is Charlie’s Killer Crepes, and you accidentally type Charlies’ Killer Crepes (a misplaced apostrophe) in your citation, then the directory might register your business inaccurately.
Think about it. If it’s just a matter of creating listings, then there could be a lot of confusion between businesses. How many “cupcake” boutiques are in New York City? Or how many “Financial Services” institutions are in Manhattan? In order for a business to be legitimate, it has to have all three of these pieces of information — name, address, and phone — and they all have to correspond in every citation across the local landscape.
Consistency of NAP
The other issue to keep in mind is consistency.The NAP must be consistent across all the local directories, mentions, citations, and listings.
Moz puts it this way:
Consistent NAP information is essential to getting more citations and improving search engine rankings.
The information on Yelp must be consistent with the information on Google+, which must be consistent with the information on Foursquare, which must be consistent with the Local Small Business Association, and on and on.
This is probably the most challenging feature for a company wanting local rank. Why? Because business information changes. One day, your business might decide to change its name a little bit, or to switch to an 800 number. Or you might move to a different location.
How do you prevent your local SEO from tanking due to lack of consistency?
It’s not easy. In order to make sure that every local citation is consistent, you can either hire someone to track down every citation and change it, or you can do it yourself.
All of local SEO begins here — with the obvious NAP. But it goes further, with the not-so-obvious issues of accuracy and consistency. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
•Has my business ever changed names? (Name)
•Has my business ever changed locations? (Address)
•Has my business ever changed phone numbers? (Phone)
If your answer to any of these questions is “yes,” you may want to embark on some local SEO citation remediation. Track down every one of your local citations, and make sure they are accurate and consistent.
2. All the other valuable information in directory listings.
It’s easy to get listed in local directories. It’s noteasy to fill out these local directories to their maximum potential.
Creating a local listing is time-consuming and tedious. But that’s exactly what a local business must do if it wants to rank. This is where we get into one of the oft-overlooked features of local SEO. These directories should be filled out with as much information as possible.
A study from the Local Search Association/Burke Inc. revealed that when consumers search for a local listing, they want to see the following information:
This is why it’s important to fill out those directories as completely as possible. Every added citation gives you a little local SEO uptick. The more complete you make that online listing, the better you’ll do for customers who actually look at your entry. They want information — lots of it.
3. Building full-fledged social-media accounts.
A local business can thrive on local SEO without even having a website. It’s true. Local SEO has come so far and has dominated so much of search that having a conventional website is not required for local SEO success.
In the 2013 Local Search Ranking Factor survey by Moz, they placed the importance of a locally-optimized website at 18.8 percent, calling it “on-page signals.” All the other slices of this pie graph do not depend on a website. (I would argue that the power of “link signals,” in the absence of a website, be directed to place pages or other local listings.) In other words, everything but that measly 18 percent is the power of local SEO, sans website.
Does a website help? Sure, of course. I recommend it. But for local SEO, it’s the local factors that matter most.
This leads me to the point that many businesses miss: Your customers are using your place page or social-media page as your de facto website.
Instead of visiting your website, many customers choose instead to check you out on Facebook, UrbanSpoon, Yelp or TripAdvisor. At least on Urbanspoon, they can see a star rating, or a review.
With a simple query, I can find out everything that I want to know:
Where did all that information come from? It did not come from the website, because this particular establishment doesn’t even have a complete website. All they have is locally-optimized accounts on every meaningful local listing.
If I’m checking out Vicoletto, I want a review. Do I want to read about a dreamy buratta? Heck yes.
With the recent rollout of the new Google My Business platform, local search experts are insisting more loudly than ever that it’s important to fill out all your information as completely as possible. As Greg Gifford wrote in Search Engine Land, “The Google My Business update is the biggest merchant-facing update Google has ever released for local businesses.” And now, you need to make sure that your business lives as prominently as ever on this massive local SEO tool.
4. Begging for reviews.
The good thing about local search is that it’s mostly under your control.
You create your local listings, optimize your Google My Business page, pimp out your Facebook account and do all the other things that bump you to the top of local search results.
There is one thing that you can’t completelycontrol. Reviews. You can’t force users to post their review on Foursquare or Yelp or give you a five-star rating on Google+. But you can encourage them to do it.
There are plenty of ways to motivate users to give reviews. In exchange, you can provide them with free drinks, a shout-out on Facebook, discounts, props — whatever. At the very least remind them to leave a review. Post a sign on the counter or the door so they can leave a review. Put a QR code on the table or menu allowing them to scan and review. Have your service personnel ask for reviews at checkout. Place a kiosk in the lobby for them to leave a review. Sometimes, all people need is a little nudge.
Reviews are so essential for local search optimization that it’s worth it to go the extra effort and beg for these things (in a tasteful way, of course). Why does this matter? Because of local SEO.
Google consistently delivers local results that favor establishments with higher reviews.
In the query above, “restaurant in san francisco,” the first two carousel results feature the restaurants with the highest reviews. Notice that they don’t necessarily have the mostreviews — just the highest.
5. Honing in on hyperlocal SEO.
This final issue is still in its infancy. Google has indicated that they are using or testing a “neighborhood algorithm.”
Local neighborhoods are hard to fit into a search engine algorithm. They lack boundaries and clearly-defined names. Thus, the moniker “informal space” has come to characterize regions. Locals may call an area something different from what appears on a formal map. It can be tricky to rank for local SEO in a neighborhood that has a name different from its official map designation.
This is where the power of a website comes into play. By optimizing your company website with neighborhood terminology, you can make strides in local searches that target the informal space of your neighborhood while also ranking in the official algorithm-selected region.
There are things that you can do to optimize your business for the possible neighborhood algorithm from a strictly local optimization perspective.
Andrew Shotland, in his Search Engine Land article, provides these step-by-step instructions:
•Add your neighborhood name as a descriptor at the end of your business name on your Google My Business page (e.g., “Cabo Grill East Side”).
•Add your neighborhood name to the description on your Google My Business page.
•Add your neighborhood name in text to your website (if you have one).
•Add your neighborhood name to title tags on your website.
•Make sure Google Maps has your neighborhood defined correctly. If not, go into Google MapMaker and submit an update.
•Add your neighborhood to all of your local citation profiles.
As hyperlocal search evolves, it will become more and more important to make the biggest local impact in the smallest geographical area.
All the conventional SEO techniques and enhancements receive a complete makeover when viewed in the light of local SEO. A local business depends on local SEO.
As part of the CTA on my personal website, I use a local-specific subheading. Every user that visits my page will see a message that is customized to their specific geographic region. When I implemented this feature, my conversions shot up. This tells me that local-business owners want to be successful in their geographicarea. The only way to achieve this kind of success is through good local SEO.
Contributor Neil Patel
As Google begins to penalize every known link-building technique, it is going to extremely tough going forward for small businesses with an online channel to build a. high-quality linking strategy. So the success of your business’ SEO is going to depend on how creative you can get.
I asked a few successful SEO agencies and small businesses on the strategies they used to get links for their websites. Here are some of their tips:
1. Build helpful tools for your industry
Every industry has a need for unique tools that will make life easier. While a lot of these tools can be packaged and sold as a product, there are several other smaller tools that are useful but may not actually be turned into a business.
Related: 5 Things Most People Forget About Local SEO
According to Dave Davis, the managing director of RedFlyMarketing, free tools for SEO purposes has been so successful for his company that they now have a dedicated budget to build such tools that their peers and competition can use.
2. Target your journalists on Facebook
Press releases are bland, and they don’t really work in getting the word out to the journalists any more.
According to photographer and writer Annalise Kaylor, spending hundreds of dollars in getting these releases syndicated across PR distribution companies is a futile exercise. Instead, she recommends using Facebook ads to specifically target the journalists you want to reach out to. She recommends aggregating a list of journalists you want to reach out to. Once done, search for their names on Facebook and dig out their profile IDs. Finally, create Facebook ads promoting your blog post and target them at these specific Facebook profiles. Here is a short tutorial of the process. This technique is not only effective but costs you pennies to reach out.
3. Local sponsorships
If you are a small business catering to a specific geography, then backlinks from organizations in your town or neighborhood offer a great deal of SEO impact.
According to Jared Carrizales, the founder at Heroic Search, one way to do this would be to sponsor events. He typically does this by first performing a backlink analysis of competition and identifying links got through sponsorships –digital and local. Once the right events are identified, it is simply a matter of allocating the appropriate budget. Jared says this is a great way to build links from colleges, local events and industry conferences.
4. Create something fun for linking
You don’t always have to create ultra-useful tools and resources to earn links. Sometimes doing something fun will bring links too.
This is exactly what Blue Fountain Media did to earn nearly 50 additional links. Austin Paley, the company’s corporate communications manager, explains that the team decided to implement a playable version of Pac-Man on the website’s 404 page. This took the visitors who landed there by surprise — so much so that a lot of people ended up hyperlinking to the site.
5. Identifying dead businesses
While new businesses are created every day, a lot of existing businesses die.
Brian Dean, the founder of SEO training company, Backlinko says he regularly identifies websites in his industry that have shut shop. Analyzing their backlink profiles will help you identify a number of links from high authority websites that are linking to the now-dead website. Brian says he has been able to get a lot of these websites to replace their outdated links with new resources on his website by just emailing them.
6. Turning copyright violations to linking opportunities
Businesses that own their content (like photographers, event organizers, etc.) are vulnerable to copyright violations where photos and videos they own are shared on other websites, often without permission.
Mark Healey, the director of search at ZOG Digital says that instead of threatening these websites with lawsuits, you could turn them into a link-building opportunity. Healy says you could identify such opportunities by simply dragging the images you own from the desktop to Google search bar. This action will list out all the websites using your image with or without permission.
7. Barter services
Depending on your industry, there are services in your area of expertise that you can offer to other website and business owners in exchange for a link.
Chris Dyson from TripleSEO once tried to get a client’s website listed on a Christmas Gift Guide. He was charged $175 by the website owner. Instead of paying for the link, Chris decided to barter a service. He noticed that the website’s header was awful and offered to redesign that in exchange for a link. Not only did Chris manage to get a new header design made over Fiverr for cheap but also managed to get his client’s link included in the website’s Christmas guide.
Contributor Anand Srinivasan
February 05, 2015
If you want to improve search visibility of your business, link building, or increasing the number of inbound links to your website, still remains a critical and powerful online-marketing tool. But it’s getting tougher to build the kind of links that increase organic search traffic and which eventually encourage strategic business growth. But it can be done.
Let’s look at how link-building has evolved and four ways you can use the strategy to improve SEO.
1. Contextual relevance has become super important
Arrival of the Google Hummingbird algorithm update reemphasized the need for building links to amazing content that is extremely relevant to end users. This update focuses on understanding the context of the search query rather than identifying and then chasing specific keywords in the query.
What does this mean for link building? Plenty.
The whole thought process of link building has changed dramatically. Your links not only must help improve search influence but also provide value to target users. Hummingbird has put long-tailed keywords back in business and you need to keep these in mind while optimizing content. This gives you an opportunity to come up with useful content that is need based and not keyword focused. Thus, you have a better chance of ensuring your links will provide real value to users.
It’s about making your web pages “worth it” for intended visitors. Link building has become more about them (users) rather than you (online presence).
2. Building relationships is the next level of link building
Relationship building is the new link building. What you need to start doing is build relationships with websites and the people who are their driving force. For example, if your business is operating in the content-marketing domain, start searching for reputed websites in this domain and the people (influencers) who are behind them.
Identify a common goal that you and this website share, which can act as a catalyst for a meaningful and mutually beneficial relationship with the website.
Outreaching is an integral part of relationship building. You must get your outreach strategy absolutely right. It needs to be personal, must grab attention and lay out in very clear terms why you need to build a relationship with the website and how it will benefit from this association.
What you must offer is a quid pro quo; this could take the form of guest blogging on the site (high authority content that attracts more readers to the blog), a product offer the influencer can’t refuse, a mention on your own website, the opportunity to connect with your own followers or something else.
It is the nature of your relationship with the website and the people behind it, which will set the stage for natural link building, the kind that Google appreciates.
Related: 7 Creative Link-Building Techniques to Improve Your Website SEO
3. Think long term
Relationships cannot be built in a hurry. There is a very good chance that a blogger will ignore your outreach for various reasons. He might not consider you and your online presence worthy of building a relationship with (ouch), there might be a trust issue or he might not be interested in the quid pro quo you’ve offered.
Your job is to convince this person that an association with you (your brand) can actually contribute towards his own brand building efforts. As can be imagined, this will take time. It will demand a fair degree of consistency and persistence as far as your interaction efforts are concerned.
It’s all a question of trust. Why would the influencer trust you? He’ll only do so if your brand name has a certain amount of niche credibility and influence. This is where long-term planning enters the picture. Your brand building efforts need to run alongside your outreach strategy.
You can’t come across as somebody who’s only interested in building links and improving rankings on search-engine results pages. If you do, influencers will prefer staying away from you. On the other hand, if you genuinely come across as somebody who wants to make a meaningful contribution to his niche, you will be trusted. It is this trust that helps develop sustainable relationships.
4. Think convergence
Digital-marketing activities — including content marketing and social-media marketing — have intricately woven themselves into the link-building process. If you get your content and social-media tactics right, high quality link building will follow, and it will happen naturally.
If your content goes viral on social media, it will lead to the creation or natural links. Also great content acts like a link magnet — more and more people are willing to link to content that offers tremendous value to its audience.
This is the reason why contemporary link building is actually a convergence of various tactics that are a part of the brand’s overall marketing strategy. For instance, content marketing complements your link-building efforts and vice versa. The same goes for social-media marketing.
The way SEOs look at link building has changed dramatically in the last few years or so. It’s still as important as ever in the scheme of things, but it no longer can be seen from the prism of search visibility alone. It is target audience driven more than anything else. Google wants to fetch only the most relevant results for searchers, and the evolution in link building falls in line with this aim.
Anand Srinivasan August 10, 2015
Blogger conferences have been a great resource for me as an entrepreneur. In July, New York City was host to two huge blogger events, BlogHer and Blogger Bash, where more than 5,000 bloggers gathered to meet with brand representatives and attend sessions to hone their online skills.
Sheryl Simonitis, vice president of marketing at Noodle, a destination education website, shared a few SEO tips that any entrepreneur can use. The startup allows parents and students to make better education decisions in an environment that is completely unbiased so that a child and parent can find the best resources for their needs. Parents need to be able to find the company in an online search, so Noodle is well versed in SEO and are always producing with the consumer in mind. This is an idea every businessperson should follow.
I followed up with Simonitis after the conference to find out the basic SEO principles that make a difference and increase any business’s website traffic.
When you think about creating content, know the words that people are using to search. Every page should be built around keywords that are most important to you and your company. Do your homework. When you are producing pages for your website, use the best keywords on every post.
Google helps you with your keywords. When you start to type into the search bar on Google, it gives you suggestions of popular words or phrases that people use in a search. If you want to take it one step further, you can use a tool called Google Keyword Planner that will tell you popular keywords. It will tell you true numbers of how many average monthly searches are occurring with those keywords.
2. Image tags
People have images all over their websites, and I am always surprised when bloggers don’t identify the images. Google indexing sites need to understand what the image is and when it should be served up. You must tag your images. If there are none, Google does not know how to identify the image.
In WordPress, Yoast is a plugin that reminds you to label your images. With tags, Google will know what the image is, how to index it, where to store it and when to bring it up in a search.
3. Meta description
Right below your URL on the search page is a sentence that serves as the meta description. This is an important summary that tells people what they will learn on the page. You want it to be engaging and truthful and prompt people to click and learn more. Use call-to-action words such as “learn” and “visit” to engage people and encourage them to find out why the information on your page is important to them.
One of the things that is highly valued in SEO are backlinks. Backlinks are incoming hyperlinks from one webpage to another — in other words, people linking to your website because they found value in what you’re saying. In addition, you’ll want to include hyperlinks to give your readers more useful information and to help build relationships with other bloggers.
Make sure that the links add value to your readers’ lives. You can never have too many backlinks for an article. You will build high traffic that will help you rise up in the results.
These are tips you can implement with your next blog post to potentially increase your website’s traffic and gain new followers or customers. Give them a try and see what they can do for your business.
Contributor Deborah Mitchell
August 10, 2015