The Dark Underbelly of Social Media: Do You Know the Threats?

Social media has become an integral part of search engine optimization. Though it’s hard to hear it straight from Google, it’s quite apparent that social signals have become a major factor in ranking ever since they’ve rolled out algorithm updates like Penguin and Panda.

Due to the big hits caused from these updates, it’s common to find advice pointing individuals toward the use of social media to improve brand awareness, community interaction, and (in theory) the chance to increase search rankings through these social signals and mentions.

But lurking in the underbelly of the social media landscape are threats that present a far greater danger than we could have ever imagined.

Social, Reputation, and the Game Changer

In 2013, the Twitter feed of the Associated Press was hacked. A single tweet went out before the account was suspended. This tweet mentioned that the president had been injured by an explosion at the White House. Though completely false, this caused a massive ripple. The S&P dropped 0.9% which resulted in over $130 billion in stock value to plummet and vanish within seconds.

Consider your role as a search engine optimization professional.

No amount of keyword optimization, content production, and advertising could keep up with the spread of disinformation such as that of the Associated Press event.

What we’re dealing with here is a fundamental shift in how people absorb information. It comes to us so rapidly that users of the platforms react before they understand.

It means that the game has changed.

Placing all effort into optimizing a website isn’t good enough in these social times. One has to wonder what the point of a high ranking website if below it are countless negative reviews, status updates sharing disinformation, and YouTube videos belittling the brand.

Social media, albeit an amazing tool for connecting with others, has also unleashed a beast that can destroy reputations as easily as they are formed.

The Growing Problem within Social Media

The allure of social media is that it’s available on free platforms to anyone willing to give it a try. A good majority of individuals use it sincerely to communicate with friends, family, and connections but there are those that use it maliciously to attack brands, destroy reputations, and exploit individuals.

The following are just a few examples of how social media (and its users) have been conned:

·  It’s cheap and easy to buy fake followers. It doesn’t matter that they’re not real because their only purpose is to inflate the follower count. Individuals (and companies) do this to create a false sense of popularity. People, after all, are more likely to follow celebrity-type individuals than those with only a few. By exploiting the numbers a brand/individual may then use their power of influence (granted to them through this false sense of popularity) to push disinformation, mediocre products, or stir trouble with others.

·  The proliferation of short URL’s have led to a host of security issues. These links may disguise malicious files, web pages, or scripts which could exploit those clicking through the seemingly safe link.

·  Parody accounts, though some funny, can be misinterpreted and thought to be the person or brand they represent. One wrong update and suddenly the individual/brand needs to go into full PR mode explaining it was not from the official channels but by then it’s often too late, it’s spread too quickly, and the damage has been done.

To protect themselves from these problems, it’s now recommended web users invest in tools to prevent and thwart social network security threats through virus detection, guards against identity theft, safe search, and more.

Welcome to the Social (Engineered) Future

The use of social media will continue to grow with each passing year and with it will come those that choose to use the medium as a purpose of malicious intent. It could be an individual vindictive about another which results in slander. It could be disinformation about a brand which sends them into free fall. It could be a full-out attack which causes a total loss of control and downward spiral into chaos.

Social media, ultimately, is good but lurking in the underbelly are some very dangerous threats.

Think twice before you post. Ensure passwords are robust. Create a strategy to handle false reports. Your reputation is on the line. SEO can only do so much in terms of keeping you at the top of the listings but it will soon be social media which determines whether that effort is put to good use … or to waste.

DIY SEO: Why You Should Think Twice

The term “professional SEO” is thrown around quite often. In fact, I’d venture to assume that there are quite a few people that stay relatively up-to-date on current tactics and news by reading a few SEO blogs. But being able to read about SEO does not make one an expert. In fact, if this were all it took, then we’d be swimming in SEOs and Google just wouldn’t have a clue what to do in order to make rankings “fair” anymore.

Due to the advent of everyone assuming they are indeed SEO professionals, you see more and more people opting to take the do-it-yourself (DIY) route to search engine optimization. Most fail miserably, and here’s why.

You don’t have the experience. While reading SEO blogs and paying for a membership to an SEO forum or two might make you more knowledgeable than most casual followers of this niche, it does not make you a professional SEO. A professional SEO has seen it all, done it all, and knows just what to do when certain situations arise. While we don’t have the answers to everything, we have certainly seen enough to be able to advise a client on their best course of action for specific goals. The casual SEO? More than likely, he’ll have a general strategy that he assumes works for everyone and every type of goal. This isn’t the case.

You don’t have the budget. SEO tools like Moz or Raven cost money. Outsourcing costs money. Generating content costs money. Following up with clients and publishers… you guessed it, costs money. The average SEO has time, but he doesn’t necessarily have the budget he needs to get all of this done. With more time than money, you’ll find yourself wanting to do all of these things using free tools and doing the manual labor yourself. This leads to less effective SEO, and severely limits how much work you can actually do over the course of the day. I mean, you’re not a full-time SEO, right? So that means you’ll probably have a business to run on top of trying to do the work of someone who does this all day, every day.

You’re a one trick pony. SEO is all about links… or on-page optimization… or content… or social media… or local search… or mobile… you’ve heard all of these in the past, but the truth is that modern SEO is a mixture of all of these disciplines, and more. While you might be great at one of these things, chances are that you aren’t even average when you start to mix them all together.

You lack the relationships. Agencies that specialize in SEO and link building have existing publisher relationships in place to ensure that you’re getting the best links for the money. Links are great, but optimally placed links are even better and chances are that without a lot of time, an outreach department, or a significant budget to pay someone, you can’t get your links placed in some of the same locations that professional SEOs do.

Now, I know that there are some business owners and entrepreneurs out there that can definitely handle their own SEO, but the fact remains that most cannot. It’s okay not to be good at everything, and sometimes – especially with something as integral to the future of your business as SEO – it pays to hire an expert.

Blogs and Search Engine Optimization

Blogs are an increasingly popular internet tool, yet increasingly difficult to definitionally pin down. The reason that the word “blog” is slippery to define is that blogs are in many ways portmanteaus, but typically a blog is one individual, or a consolidated group, coming together to make posts on a coherent topic. Bloggers usually convey related information or opinion via their blog. In many ways, blogs may enjoy enhanced visibility due to cannily utilizing search engine optimization.

Search Engine Optimization

The acronym SEO, stands for search engine optimization. The purpose of search engine optimization is to improve the visibility to users of one’s website, blog, or web page. How is this increase in visibility attained? Search engine optimization enhances the primacy of one’s website, blog, or web page in search results among search engine queries.

Logistical Issues

In essence, the earlier the website was created or the more frequent hits and traffic a website receives, the more likely that website is to receive preferential treatment upon searching for particular words via a search engine like Google or Bing. Although search engine optimization can be applied to local, video, or image searches, the same process of optimization the visibility of high traffic websites applies in every case.

The Nuts and Bolts

Search engine optimization is really an internet marketing strategy aimed at utilizing trends to bolster traffic to one’s website. One can enhance a website’s visibility using search engine optimization by employing the following strategies and noticing the following trends: consider how search engines work; pay keen attention to the sites that people visit; notice popular sites that are frequented by many people; notice the search terms or keywords entered into search engines like Google; finally, pay careful attention to the specific search engines frequented by the target audiences to particular websites.

Blogs and Liabilities

Although some of the information expressed via blogs is protected under the freedom of speech clause of the first amendment, sometimes what someone says on a blog can come back to haunt the blogger. For instance, there has been a recent rise in the number of character defamation and libel cases brought against bloggers, especially at it relates to blogs with controversial sociopolitical messages and verbiage.

Actual Legal Cases

Some recent lawsuits related to blogging actually involve bloggers intentionally and perhaps unlawfully rigging the search engine optimization mechanism, as described above. For example, in 2005 a blogger named Aaron Wall was sued by Traffic Power for the publication and dissemination of trade secrets. The case was ultimately thrown out of court for failing to demonstrate personal jurisdiction but the case brought up an interesting question, and maybe some cautions, about what should and shouldn’t be posted on blogs. Because the legal proceedings regarding blog content are oftentimes limited due to the recentness of blogs, there are some controversial things and inflammatory opinion that clearly shouldn’t be expressed via blogs.

 

Author Pam Johnson is a marketing professional and web designer who works with SEO daily. He also enjoys writing and is a contributor for the Web Designer’s Resource Guide.

What You Don’t Know About Web Hosting Could Cost You

Making a decision on web hosting plans and companies can be challenging. There are a number of important aspects to consider in order to make an informed choice. Below are some issues to be aware of that can determine the success of any website.

1. Programming Language – Programming languages need to support site goals. Because programming code scripts will be the building blocks upon which the website is built, only the most effective programming languages will do. Many programs are tied specifically to different web applications, so it is important to understand how these technical aspects will work with what is planned to be on the site.

2. Downtime – Server downtime can greatly hurt SEO rankings and thus, the online business. In order to avoid this, the site needs to support the highest load times possible. If visitors are not able to quickly access the information they are seeking, there is a strong chance that they will leave the site. Therefore, no site can benefit from host servers that regularly experience significant downtime.

3. Technical Aspects – In order to make the best decisions, business owners need to fully determine what the purpose of the site will be and how much bandwidth is needed. For instance, a blog has very different requirements than an e-commerce site. Rich content with videos requires a more comprehensive hosting plan along with managed hosting to ensure that all technical aspects are met.

4. Control Panel – It is important to ensure that all of the features required will be available. For instance, cPanel web hosting includes all of the main aspects that web business owners need in order to have an effective web presence, such as:

E-mail
Backup
Files
CGI scripts
FTP

The cPanel solution can also create http redirects, custom error pages and spam filters. It also includes more than enough disk space capacity with affordable and reliable hosting management. Also, if you don’t like your host’s control panel, companies like www.roboshift.com allow you to purchase your own cPanel license.

5. IP Address – The host’s IP address can have an impact on search engine optimization (SEO). This is something that few new and even seasoned website owners consider. Due to Global Positioning Systems (GPS), web businesses now have the ability to estimate geographical locations. This makes it possible for companies to reach out to customers looking for their products and services, based upon their location. This is why a host’s location can have an impact in terms of local and mobile marketing.

6. Shared Hosting – Many small businesses choose to start out on a shared hosting network to save on costs. Site owners should understand that some shared plans could require that growing sites migrate to larger plans. Depending upon the web host, this can involve a relatively easy process or one that requires a whole new website. In that case, the business could lose a great deal of the web traffic it has been attracting in its existing form.

The bottom line when it comes to choosing a web host is that proposed site owners need to conduct thorough due diligence. That is the only way that they will fully understand what comes with each hosting plan, what the capacities are and whether the hosting provider can accommodate all of the most important aspects required for the business.

 

About the guest author: Shelby Warden is a researcher who shares this information to help business owners create a solid online presence. As an authorized cPanel distributor, www.roboshift.com provides businesses with their own cPanel license at better prices than the manufacturer offers directly. cPanel (and the WebHostManager backend) continues to be the leading web hosting server control panel.

This is a unique article published on SEO Desk with exclusivity.

Don’t DIY When It Comes To SEO

Small businesses commonly make many of the same mistakes when it comes to their online presence. When you are working with minimal dollars it’s easy to think do-it-yourself (DIY). However, when it comes to your brand, DIY is not always the way to go.

Having an online presence is extremely important in today’s business world. However, having a website or a social media account means little if you are not optimizing every opportunity they present.

How do you optimize opportunities online? By optimizing your presence itself.

Who and Where Are You?

What is your websites Google ranking? If you have a page rank of “1” or less (Gasp!), you have a problem. A website or profile is no good if no one can find it! Search Engine Optimization (SEO) isn’t just the latest catch-phrase, it’s the Holy Grail for online success and if you are not embracing it, then you are harming – yes harming, your business.

But wait! Don’t jump up and think you can fix the problem lickety-split. Do you even know what SEO is and how to achieve it?

“I have a friend who…”

If you have a friend or family member that is willing to help you out with some nerd tech, great, but are they really skilled at what you need? Do you even know what you need? Will they do it in a timely manner? And, will they maintain and update it as needed or do you have to? Do you have the time to?

These are all important questions. What you think you are saving by having a freebie done may cost you exposure, reputation, business, and yes, even dollars in the end.

“The sales rep said…”

Web designers are business people. It doesn’t matter how much they love what they do, they are still out to make a buck just like you. Don’t fall into the complacency trap. Take an active role in the foundation of your Internet success.

Learn about page rank and optimization. Learn about your unique client or customer, learn more about your industry and your locale. All of these things will help you better direct and manage your web designer or host when it comes to increasing your SEO.

“I put offers on my FaceBook page, but…”

You gave up after putting a “two-for-one” offer on FaceBook right? And when you Tweeted news of your “3-Day Sale” no one showed up. It happens. Actually, it happens all of the time because people who do not know how to use social media — through engagement in lieu of advertising, will never impact their connection or follower.

Your FaceBook wall is not the place to run a coupon. It’s a place for constant contact; constant engagement that requires constant (or at least consistent) attention.

You cannot play “hit or miss” with social media. You have to own it.

“I know it’s important, but I just don’t have the time…”

Face it, you need a good Search Engine Optimization company to take you to the next level. It’s OK. You are far from being alone.

Laying the foundation for SEO takes a lot of time as does its upkeep. SEO is not something you can do once and walk away. It is something that takes a constant application of time, skills, and creativity in addition to some little media savvy. An SEO expert can have you ranking at least a “2” in no time!

 

This is a unique article published on SEO Desk with exclusivity.

Top 5 SEO Musts for Local Business

Before you spend a ton of money on search engine optimization meant to connect you to the entirety of the global economy, it’s a good idea to take a moment to contemplate the scope of your current business model, as well as your short- and long-term goals. When you run a local business, chances are good that you have neither the resources nor the inclination to cater to a global community of consumers. In truth, you might not even be able to, especially if you work in a service industry. So if you really want to use the internet to your best advantage when it comes to increasing targeted traffic, your best bet is to focus your SEO efforts on your immediate geographic area. Here are just a few musts when it comes to SEO for your local business.

  1. List with local directories. City pages, the Chamber of Commerce, and other local directories offer you a great opportunity to be found by members of the local community. Just like you might list your business with the Yellow Pages, making your contact information (phone, web address, etc.) available through these targeted online sources can help interested parties to find you. If you run a business that caters to a local community, like a coffee shop, a tanning salon, or a dry cleaning service, just for example, chances are that you’re not looking to attract consumers from other cities, states, and countries anyway. So why waste your time with directories meant for these crowds?
  2. Scout out local search engines. Search engines like Google and Bing are definitely widely used, but considering that you’re competing against literally millions of other sites like yours, chances are you’re not going to be the top dog. Instead, consider putting your effort into more localized options like the Yellow Pages, Yelp, or Angie’s List. Although these sites attract a wide audience, most people utilize them in search of local services.
  3. Use trending keywords, but not exclusively. Trending keywords are an acceptable way to increase traffic, but unless they actually pertain to your business in some way they’re not going to bring in the targeted visitors you’re seeking. So use them sparingly as a means of supplementing your broader keyword strategy.
  4. Utilize your location in text. Keywords, meta tags, anchor text, and so on are designed to bring in targeted traffic. So if you’re trying to boost your local business it pays to use your location as part of your SEO strategy. For example, the first thing you’ll want to do is find a way to slip in both your business name or type and the location in which you operate. You might try keyword phrases like “dry cleaning New York”, for example, or “Elegant Cleaners Los Angeles”. When you think about how local patrons might look online for services like yours, this is likely the exact type of wording they would use as a search term.
  5. Local ad campaigns. While you can certainly participate in launching online marketing efforts on a national or global scale, the truth is that certain businesses are not suited to handle this kind of traffic. If you run a dry cleaning business, for example, it’s not exactly like you can offer your services to anyone outside your local area. Even if your goal is to appeal to visitors to your fair city, you’re better off striking a deal with local hotels rather than hoping visitors will find you online. So hook up with local city pages to get listed and post ads as a way to attract local clientele in the online arena.

 

This is an original article published on SEO Desk with exclusivity.

SEO in 2013: Will AuthorRank Play a Huge Role?

For years together, Google’s Page Rank has been on the forefront of search engine optimization to classify sites based on authority. The higher your page rank in Google, the higher is your authority and crawl rate by search engines. In the upcoming year 2013, Google has decided to include a new quality metric that will take the limelight in search engine ranking algorithm and that is none other than AuthorRank. From 2013, I am sure that you will be hearing a lot of buzz about AuthorRank. Let’s dig deep into it.website or blog.

What is an AuthorRank?

AuthorRank is nothing but a measurement of the authority of your website or blog author over the internet. The main intention is to provide the search engine spiders with the nest and the most engaging websites. It is perhaps an enormous accent being directed to customer engagement, website trust and an escalating dilution of external links being one of the major decisive factors in website organic rankings. In fact, Google is not going to replace PageRank with AuthorRank, instead it will use both these metrics to enhance relevancy of results and promote posts of authors with greater influence.

AuthorRank: Is it worth considering?

Definitely it is a big thing to bank upon. AuthorRank is an important factor for judging your content’s quality. It makes it easier for the users to find the work of specific writers and Google leverages its ability to use authors as an element for ranking pages and sites. When it comes to social media, the number of likes, shares and tweets are increasing and is related to the reputation of the authors as well. So AuthorRank is undoubtedly worth considering.

How does it work?

The presence of different linking schemes has made low quality sites to get high page rank without a valuable content structure. Every author’s online activities such as social networking, blogging, participating in forums and debates and other content activities will be measured and evaluated by Google. The more an author writes on a topic and the more social engagement by that author, the higher “grade” in Google’s eyes for that topic. To put in simple terms,

  • Create a quality content on your site and on third party sites that people want to share.
  • Allow the users of Google Plus to share and validate content on your site.
  • Use author markup (i.e.) rel=”me” and rel=”author” wherever you write to link your content and your author page to your Google+ profile

How is AuthorRank Calculated?

Authors will be ranked based on the engagement factors of the content they generate. Some of the main factors that are about to be considered are:

  • PageRank of the author’s content
  • Comments on social networks
  • Social endorsements such as tweets, shares and likes
  • Connections with other high author rank authors
  • The quality and relevancy of inbound links
  • Number of Google+ circles an author is in
  • Level of on-site engagement of author’s content
  • Real world authority indicators such as published works on Google Books or Google Scholar

How will it be implemented?

Google has decided to take into account the PageRank of the author’s content. The above mentioned factors are then combined with AuthorRank to deliver the best possible results to the online surfers. AuthorRank for sure is going to bring the top most relevant websites with good quality content and so those who were using black hat and spam link building techniques can never rise again.

How to build your AuthorRank?

Building your AuthorRank is not a difficult task and is quite different from that of building your authority. Certain promising ways to build your AuthorRank are:

  • Get down with Google Authorship
  • Create a killer content
  • Start socializing your content with other reputable bloggers
  • Connect with webmasters on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc
  • Share your content on social media
  • Get in the circles of well known bloggers
  • Start guest posting on high authority sites
  • Comment on high authority sites
  • Submit your content to directories
  • Promote your author hub
  • Daily checklist to improve your AuthorRank

This is all about AuthorRank that is about to have an upper hand in 2013. So what are you waiting for? Start building your AuthorRank today and no doubt, that’s going to be your imminent brand tomorrow.

 

About the guest author: Alfred is tech savvy who loves to write more about digital marketing trends. He writes for Dot Com Infoway, providing Internet marketing solutions for online business.

This is an original article published on SEO Desk with exclusivity.

America’s got the X Factor – Has your Link Building strategy?

Link building is the dominant force in SEO strategy in this age of engaging social media internet marketing. While onsite SEO practices including keyword analysis, meta and H tag population and compelling SEO copy writing will remain the foundation of your search engine optimization stratagem, successful off site optimization in the shape of link building is the “must have” line of attack. This practice even eclipses existing power houses in internet marketing processes like email marketing and social media marketing. Lets be clear though, the later disciplines are not outmoded, in fact a successful integrated SEO campaign needs to have an unyielding underpinning of on-site search engine optimization procedures, matched with social network engagement and informative well structured content written for human readers before web browsers.

However, link building is king!

So before we plan our link building strategy, let’s first respect the importance of a link and define what precisely a link is. The simplest characterization would be to think of a link as a “vote”. When website A links to website B, website A is in essence voting for or endorsing website B.

One of theses things ain’t like the other…!

Not all links have the same authority; let’s use X Factor voting as an analogy to demonstrate this line of reasoning and let’s assume:

  • X Factor Contestant No. 1 has 2 votes – Simon Cowell & Britney Spears
  • X Factor Contestant No. 2 has 3 votes – La Reid, Demi Lovato & Britney Spears

Clearly, contestant No.2 is unquestionably through to next weeks sing off with 3 votes but unfortunately contestant No 1 is out of the competition. However, since Simon Cowell is considered a music industry authority and likes to through his weight around his vote has more influence and therefore Contestant No.1 moves up the ranking and has the X Factor!

Each link passes on a distinct voting weight and it’s entirely possible for a page with only a few links to rank higher than a page with thousands of links. Relevance and Quality is paramount.

3 step guide to killer link building:

Step 1: Compile a list back-link target sites

Before you embark on the link building process, create a list of potential target websites you want to acquire a back-link from. Sort and manage your list by segmenting by target content, relevancy or both, but relevancy is essential. There are several guest blogging portals that can match you with potential target publishers such as myguestblog.com. Alternatively, you can search for prospective targets by using a basic Google command. Simple type “Keyword” + “guest blog” and hit search. E.g. lets assume you are lawyer and your target keyphrase is “legal advice”, then you would type legal + ”guest blog” in Google search. This will return webpages that accept guest posts on legal advice maters.

Step 2: Compelling and unique copy

Spellbinding SEO content can result in greater engagement with your audience who will want to keep reading and share with their social networks. The process involves significant research and planning, but this time is well invested.

IMPORTANT – everyone loves unique interesting content, particularly website owners and publishers.

Step 3: Compile your prospecting E-mail

Drafting your successful prospecting e-mail for your prospective website publishers is indispensable when link building. Try and keep the email relatively personal, replacing “Dear” with “Hi. Ensure each email is unique for each publisher and that your content expresses explicit relevance to the audience of the target website. Doing a little research to find out the publishers/website owners name will give you distinct visibility over vanilla non-personal batch emails.

Good luck with your Link Building!!

I hope you enjoyed my article; I welcome any feedback you may have…

 

About the guest author: Mark Hullin is Director at SEO Crowd, SEO Company specializing in, SEO, link building, engagement internet marketing and social media marketing.

This is a unique article published on SEO Desk with exclusivity.

From Google+ to Facebook: The Four E’s of Social Media

Although even ten year olds seem to be knowledgeable when it comes to understanding social media, there is still so much that can be done in order to fully utilize these tools to both your personal and business based benefit.  You’ve heard it all; Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, but what do these social media tools mean to you?

A lot of businesses still aren’t quite convinced that social media will help them with their productivity and expansion, but every business can utilize these digital tools to their advantage.

Evolve

I have talked with business owners before who said “All of my clients are older though and won’t even know how to use social media”.  Even if you’re the majority of your clients aren’t familiar with social media, it will show them and the rest of your world that your company is constantly growing and evolving with the world around it.  The last thing you want your business to be is “old news”.

Expand

Not only is it a great idea to show your businesses evolvement, but to show its expansion into other countries as well. The great thing about social media is that it is global; which means that anybody anywhere can share your company’s website with people all the way from your home town to Timbuktu.  Take your company global by boosting your SEO from Calgary to Columbia; sharing your company’s website across social media platforms is an excellent way to elevate your search engine optimization on Google.

Ease

Make your business easy and accessible through social media.  People have slowly started to stray away from person to person interaction and are leaning more towards digital interaction such as social media.  Instead of people learning about your company by coming in and personally meeting you, they can just look at your Facebook page, read recent tweets, and look at your blog for a better understanding of what your business is about and why it works.

Although you are making it easier on your clients, social media can be harder to manage because appearance is everything. If you take time with your Facebook page and other social media forums, it will show but if you just throw everything together last minute that will show as well.  So, although you are lightening the load of your clients, the burden might be larger on you personally.

Entice

Social media is one of the best ways to entice readers to buy your product or learn more about it. Take pictures, post often, and have a beautiful site in order to captivate users and invite them to learn more about your business.  Understanding the importance of an enticing website, has never been more important to businesses than it is now.  If a person is searching the web and come across your site but it isn’t functional or enticing, they will just find a more user friendly site.  Make sure you take the time that your site requires and advertise on your social media accounts with pictures and small posts.

 

About the guest author: Diana Galloway puts her studies in marketing and political science to use by writing articles about marketing practices, politics, and the coolest new technology around.

This is a unique article published on SEO Desk with exclusivity.

Changes in Anchor Text Strategy

Over the years, there have been many changes regarding SEO tactics and which practices are best to use. One of the biggest changes in the last two years has been the use of anchor text. Before the Penguin update, the mindset was that links couldn’t hurt a website. This gave SEO companies the opinion that they should get as many links as possible using the exact anchor text they are trying to go after. As we all know, this had a very detrimental effect for a lot of websites in 2012.

To avoid catastrophe with search engines and improve the local online marketing strategy, companies should use different variations on anchor text. I’d like to mention a few different tactics you can use to make sure you are getting the most out of your links. Following these principles should ensure you don’t get hit by the next Google update.

Specific, Rather Than Generic, Terms

After all of the big 2012 updates, people started to see that Google was looking for a more organic linking profile. This encouraged SEO practitioners to start building links with generic terms, such as “page” or “click here,” as the anchor text. We definitely recommend staying away from this practice. In their Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide published in 2010, Google actually put out a warning about using these kinds of links.

Using generic anchor text terms can be dangerous, as you could over-optimize for those terms. You should instead use a term that explains what the page you are linking to is about.

Company and Brand Name

Using company and brand names is a great way to vary the anchor text. However, be careful if the brand name is the same as the keywords you are trying to rank for. Rather than getting the variety you need, you will have more of the same keywords.

URL

This is another good option for getting some diversity in your linking profile. If you are going to use the domain, don’t always use the exact same URL. You can change it up by including the “www” in the URL or by pointing to another page. It also might make sense to point to your blog.

Long-Tail Variations          

Use many different long-tail variations of your keywords. For example, if your company sells tandem bikes, you may want to use the anchor text “tandem bikes for sale” or “accessories for tandem bikes” along with the main keyword “tandem bikes.” This will accomplish two things. First, you will increase your relevancy for the different long-tail search phrases. Second, it will make your linking profile look much more organic.

Co-Citation in Links

One of the new things webmasters have been using is co-citation. The idea behind this strategy is that Google is looking at all of the content on a page and passing value onto the target website through the value of the entire article.

There still needs to be a link pointing back to the promoted website; however, the link can be one of the previously mentioned pieces of anchor text. We should strive to produce high-quality content, which users will consume and share. We can still get movement from our target keywords if they are in the actual article. We could include them as heading tags or use strong tags to show importance.

Links from Other Site Owners

Finally, a great way to create links that are completely organic is to create great content. It may not be simple to write great content, but it is certainly worth the effort. Come up with “link bait” that is engaging and shareable. If you do so, people will link back to your site in many different ways, including on social media platforms and directly on their sites or blogs. This is the ultimate way to make sure your backlink profile is as natural as possible.

 

About the guest author: Jonathan Wickham, the director of SEO at Boostability, has been in the SEO industry for just over 5 years. He studied at Utah Valley University and graduated with his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management. When not at work, he loves hanging out with his family and playing racquetball.

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