5 Guaranteed Ways to Get Devalued by Google

For website owners and/or managers, there are many paths for online marketing and optimization. From SEO to PPC and content marketing to social media marketing, there is certainly no shortage of ways through which to achieve your goals. However, those options and opportunities for your website come with rules that you have to play by, and if you don’t, you could find your website in hot water.

If you’re reading this and what I’m saying applies to you, then there’s a good chance Google is your search engine of choice for marketing and optimization. In regards to SEO and general website management, Google plays by the rules they’ve carefully developed and continue to evolve over time. The guidelines Google has for website management keeps the focus on providing the best experience and information possible for users while also preventing any one website or brand from cheating their way to the top.

That being said, there are many instances in which businesses end up on Google’s bad side or with a penalty without doing so intentionally. You’ve probably heard horror stories of this happening to website owners, seeing a drastic plummet in rankings overnight or realizing they’ve fallen victim to an algorithm update and earned a penalty. Such penalties can severely hurt a website or business, as they can negatively impact traffic, ranking, and performance. In my experience, I’ve seen plenty of websites from clients that were completely unaware they’d done anything to get on Google’s bad side in the first place.

While there’s a long list of things that can get your website slapped with a penalty or red flagged by Google, there tends to be a few common ways that businesses end up in that position. Check them out below, and ensure that you’re actively taking steps to prevent these slip-ups.

Common Ways a Website Gets in Trouble

  1. Black Hat SEO

One of the single most common issues that gets website in trouble is Black Hat SEO. This includes shady practices like cloaking, keyword stuffing, hidden text, using link farms, and much more. In short, black hat SEO practices try and skirt around the rules to get SEO results in half the time. As I’ve said before, there are no short cuts when it comes to SEO, and any practice that tries to take such a shortcut will very likely get you in a lot of trouble. Unfortunately, some businesses hire what they think is a reputable SEO company and later find out that they were doing black hat SEO for their website after being caught by Google. As a rule of thumb, website owners and managers should familiarize themselves with what black hat SEO is so they can spot it early if it’s coming from an SEO provider or avoid it altogether.

  1. Duplicate Content

Many website owners and managers don’t realize what a problem having duplicate content is. This is especially true for e-commerce websites with hundreds of product listing pages, as it can be difficult to come up with unique content over and over again. However, in the eyes of Google, duplicate content directly equates to low-quality or less useful information for users. It’s a labor of love, but the copy on your website should be well written and unique on every page.

  1. Excessive Guest Blogging

Google just recently issued a warning about abusing guest posting in order to gain links. To be clear, guest posting is by no means a black hat or shady strategy. However, having an article published across many different sites or guest posting low-quality content is considered a violation of Google distributor guidelines and should be avoided at all costs. For bloggers especially, it’s important to focus on building relationships that open up valuable guest posting opportunities. The posts you guest blog should be your best work and in no way reflective of spammy or less useful content, or Google will eventually catch up with you.

  1. Slow Page Speed/Poorly Performing Site

This matters a lot, because Google regularly crawls sites and accounts for how functional and accessible they are. Having a slow page speed, not being mobile friendly, or having a difficult to navigate site shows Google that your site isn’t the best option for users to find in their search results. By now we know that page speed, mobile friendliness, and ease of website crawling are factored into algorithms. Checking to see how your website performs through user testing and testing page speed are both things website owners should check on if they haven’t already.

  1. Hacked Websites

Security is a big factor for Google, because they want to know that user information is secure on the websites they visit. Hacked websites are up 32% in the past year, posing a significant threat to the performance and success of websites as well as the security of users. Securing your website is an important and necessary step all webmasters must take if they intend to be successful on Google. From simple practices like implementing two-step authentication to purchasing more advanced security packages, it’s in your interest to make your website security airtight to avoid a penalty from Google.

is courtesy of https://www.highervisibility.com

Google’s Exciting New Tool for Small Businesses: The Who, What, & How

SEO helps businesses of all kinds optimize their websites to have a presence online. It helps them gain visibility, traffic, and generate leads through business websites that act as a storefront on the web. But what about small businesses? The businesses so small they don’t even need a website?

For some small businesses, having a website is more work than it’s worth. For example, a local mom and pop shop that sells liquor or local groceries doesn’t have a need for a multi-page website. They don’t sell products online, so there’s no need to develop e-commerce functions, and they don’t run a blog, so there’s no need for content pages. So, if they don’t have need for a website but don’t want to miss out on the business that comes from online traffic, what are these small businesses to do?

This is exactly what Google’s new tool for small businesses aims to address.

What’s the new tool and who is it for?

According to Google’s announcement:

“One of the most common actions people take when exploring a Google listing is to go to the web site, but we know that getting a website can still be a challenge for a lot of small business owners around the world: too complex, too expensive, too time consuming. Millions of small businesses (60% of small businesses globally) don’t yet have a website.”

In response to this problem, Google has developed an exciting single-page website builder designed with small businesses in mind. In keeping with the simple and easy nature of this tool, it is simply called, “Website.” Through it, small business owners can easily create a single-page website in minutes from either any device from desktop to mobile phone.

How do you do it?

For small business owners to create a website, they have to have a completely filled out Google My Business listing (Website is an extension of GMB). This is because Google pulls the information from a business’s GMB listing to create the website. From there, business owners have the option of customizing the theme, photos, and text on the website.

Updating the website is as user-friendly and simple as updating your GMB listing is. This, of course, brings certain limitations in terms of how creative business owners can be with the design, but overall it’s a great option for small businesses.

Why this is Good News

This is exciting for small business owners because it presents a way for them to have an online presence without creating a resource they don’t actually need. Best of all, Website is free to use, which makes it an easy and uncomplicated step for a small business owner to quickly take to enhance their business.

is courtesy of https://www.highervisibility.com

Updates to Google’s Local Guides Program: What You Need to Know

Some recent updates to Google’s Local Guides Program expand it to offer more levels and more ways to contribute. It will also bring new perks and overall improve the program for both contributors and users. Here’s what you need to know.

What is the Local Guides Program?

Local Guides is a program that allows anyone to sign up and contribute to Google Maps. Contributions from local guides include sharing reviews, photos, and knowledge about the places around you to help inform other people. Contributors to Local Guides can connect with other individuals who have shared passions, attend meet-ups, and be recognized for their contributions and achievements through the program. Local Guides help Google collect the reviews, map information, and photos to provide as much accurate information and feedback as possible about local businesses.

Why do people do it?

People like being part of the Local Guides program for a handful of reasons. In some cases, people with a passion for coffee shops in their city enjoy sharing information about the best places. Or in other situations, a handicapped person might enjoy sharing information about which businesses are and are not handicap friendly around the city, so that other handicapped individuals can see that information online. Here’s a blurb from Google about some passionate Local Guides:

Luis Duran, from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, is passionate about helping people with disabilities better navigate and explore his city. Kim Flowers, in Melbourne, Australia, believes everyone should think locally and prides herself on helping businesses in her community. Chioma James from Lagos, Nigeria, is working to ensure that victims of sexual crimes can easily find necessary resources like hospitals, police stations and counseling centers. All three of these individuals are Local Guides—people from around the world who help their communities by adding reviews, photos and updated location information to Google Maps.

What’s new about the program?

There are a handful of new perks and features coming to the Local Guides program. Previously, all contributed information was weighted the same. That means that if a Local Guide answered a question, updated a map, added a photo, etc., it was all worth the same amount. Now, these contributions will be weighted differently according to value.

Previously the program only had 5 Levels for Local Guides to achieve and unlock through points from their contributions. Now, there are 10 levels, with unique achievements badges for levels 4-10 that recognize Local Guide for theirs contributions. It also helps users quickly identify Local Guides who contribute the most. You can learn more about this in the video they released:

Changes in Incentives

Per a write-up from SearchEngineJournal, Google used to give out more rewards for contributions from Local Guides. In comparison to the two years of a free terabyte of cloud storage they used to award for reaching level four, the rewards of badges and discounts in the Google Play store seem lackluster in comparison. However, the incentive to connect with others who have similar passions and meet up with local guides who have shared affinities remains a compelling reason to participate in itself.

is courtesy of https://www.highervisibility.com

Google’s Warning About Guest Posting to Build Links: What You Need to Know & Not Do

When it comes to blogging and link building there are a handful of effective ways to make connections while enhancing your marketing strategy. Outreach emails, exchanging thoughts and ideas, and collaborating are all great ways to broaden your reach and presence within an industry. But like many other long-standing practices, some people have abused the practice of guest posting and raised red flags to Google that there may be too much of a good thing circulating.

In late May, Google issued a formal warning about shady guest posting practices. In it, they discuss the notable increase they’ve seen in spammy links contained in articles referred to as contributor posts, guest posts, partner posts, or syndicated post.

While they clarify that guest posting isn’t at all a bad thing when it informs or educates users to another cause or company, they also reiterate Google’s guidelines on link schemes. Link schemes, as referred to as the main intent to build links in a large-scale way back to the author’s site, are a violation of those guidelines when taken to an extreme.

Included in this article were a few specific examples of practices that violate Google’s guidelines:

  • Stuffing keyword-rich links to your site in your articles
  • Having the articles published across many different sites; alternatively, having a large number of articles on a few large, different sites
  • Using or hiring article writers that aren’t knowledgeable about the topics they’re writing on
  • Using the same or similar content across these articles; alternatively, duplicating the full content of articles found on your own site (in which case use of rel=”canonical”, in addition to rel=”nofollow”, is advised)

The warning then goes on to encourage sites accepting and publishing guest posts to ask questions like: Do I know this person? Does this person’s message fit with my site’s audience? Does the article contain useful content? If there are links of questionable intent in the article, has the author used rel=”nofollow” on them?

Quick Dos and Don’ts for Guest Posting

There are always ways to abuse a respected practice, but this warning doesn’t mean you have to abandon your guest posting strategy altogether. Rather, it simply means that content distributors should keep their guest posting practices clean, spam-free, and honest in their intent. To do that effectively, here are a few quick dos and don’ts for your guest posting strategy.

Do be transparent: Be clear about why you’re pursuing guest posts. This might involve you saying something like, “Hey, I think this article I wrote really fits the message of your website well and is something your audience would enjoy.” If you can’t be transparent about why you’re seeking a guest post, then you probably should be pursuing the opportunity.

Do provide quality content: If you’re trying to guest post on another website, it should be your best content. The same goes for featuring guest posts on your website. Remember, Google rewards quality content that provides the best value for users. Low-quality content almost never performs well or is recognized by Google.

Don’t outsource your guest posts: You shouldn’t be sourcing your guest posts from a content farm or broker, firstly because it’s dishonest to the featuring website and secondly because it’s missing the point of guest posting entirely. Write your own guest posts and do them well.

Don’t be spammy about guest posting: Google’s guidelines on this couldn’t be clearer. Don’t keyword stuff or spam the internet with an article by having it published across multiple websites, or it will likely end up marked as spam.

Key Takeaway

It’s always important to remember that you’re trying to build relationships, not just links. While having a featured guest post certainly has its benefits in terms of SEO, it’s also important to pursue opportunities that have a long shelf life. By broadening your network through productive and mutually beneficial relationship, the rest of the link building and guest posting opportunities will follow.

is courtesy of https://www.highervisibility.com

Why You Should Use LinkedIn’s Matched Audiences

In recent years, LinkedIn has expanded to become a worldwide [pillar for professionals, job seekers, employers, networkers, content producers, and learners of all kinds. In fact, it was just recently announced that LinkedIn proudly boasts more than 500 million members from 200 different countries, making it one of the most widely used and recognizable powerhouse platforms available.

Given the widespread popularity of the platform and vast products and services available through it, it’s not hard to understand why advertisers gravitate towards LinkedIn. Recent studies have shown tremendous benefits that come from advertising on LinkedIn:

  • 80% of B2B leads come from LinkedIn
  • 94% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn to distribute content
  • 46% of social media traffic coming to B2B company sites is from LinkedIn
  • 43% of marketers say they’ve sourced a customer from LinkedIn
  • LinkedIn SlideShare reaches 70 million unique visitors a month, making it among the top 100 most-visited website in the world

While those numbers are impressive, they’re certainly not hard to believe. LinkedIn, by its very nature, tends to attract a more pragmatic audience than other platforms. Whereas other social platforms are often used for leisure and recreation, LinkedIn is often used for more serious and deliberate pursuits, making it an ideal place to cash in on purchase intent and lead potential. Now, with a new development in LinkedIn advertising, that will become even truer.

LinkedIn Introduces Matched Audiences

LinkedIn has launched Matched Audiences, which is a set of targeting capabilities that will give advertisers the unique ability to combine LinkedIn’s powerful professional data with their own first-party data. Per a blog post from LinkedIn’s Senior Product Manager,

“With Matched Audiences you can use LinkedIn to retarget your website visitors, market to your contacts from your customer databases and marketing automation platforms, and reach decision makers at target companies for your account-based marketing programs. Matched Audiences helps increase ROI by enabling you to focus your efforts on the audiences and accounts that are most likely to drive revenue.”

Matched Audiences will give advertisers three new targeting tools called website retargeting, account targeting, and contact targeting respectively.

Website Retargeting: This will allow advertisers to re-engage website visitors who have already visited your site on LinkedIn. Using it, you can create target audiences from your website visitors to produce always-on campaigns.

Account Targeting: With account targeting, advertisers can upload a list of target company names and match that against almost 12 million company pages on LinkedIn. This allows advertisers to market to influencers and decision makers at your target accounts (this really caters to the B2B marketing use of LinkedIn we touched on earlier in this article).

Contact Retargeting:  Much like it sounds, contact targeting lets advertisers securely upload a list of email addresses or import lists of contact to engage prospects and contacts on LinkedIn.

The pilot program for these matched audience targeting options showed impressive results with high ROI and lowered costs:

  • 30% increase in CTR and a 14% drop in post-click cost-per-conversion with Website Retargeting,
  • 32% increase in post-click conversion rates and 4.7% drop in post-click cost-per-conversion with Account Targeting, and
  • 37% increase in click rate (CTR) with Contact Targeting

Overall, LinkedIn’s matched audiences present exciting new options that have big earning potential for advertisers.

is courtesy of https://www.highervisibility.com

Facebook Endorses Google’s AMP: What You Should Know

Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen an increasing emphasis on mobile optimization. While mobile optimization has become a total necessity for advertisers and businesses, it has continued to be embraced by other, more established names in the game.

In light of user behavior becoming increasingly mobile-oriented, Google has adapted to include AMP pages in its index. In a previous post, we discussed whether or not Google has started factoring AMP pages into its ranking algorithm as well as the possibility of a “primary” and separate index just for mobile pages. A focus on mobile friendliness and optimization has continued to move forward, and in the meantime, social giant Facebook has endorsed Google’s AMP project.

Why

Facebook recently rolled out its Instant Articles, which allow publishers to create content that browsers can see entirely within the Facebook app without being redirected elsewhere. Facebook will now allow publishers to create content as instant articles, AMP, and Apple News Format using the same markup. It’ll also include customization options.

This comes as an unexpected development from Facebook due to their past tendency to develop their own version of everything. Instant Articles was formerly Facebook’s own version of seemingly instantly rendering content that kept browsers within the network. Now, rather than insisting that publishers use Instant Articles only, Facebook will allow them to create multiple versions of their content across different landscapes.

While this does come as an unexpected move, it’s not all that surprising given the reaction many publishers had to Facebook’s Instant Articles. Many came to see the feature as another step to take to publish content on another platform, and this may very well just be an attempt to lure publishers back to Instant Articles under the guise of having more options. Another problem with the original format of Instant Articles was an absence of monetization possibilities. Over time, it became the less appealing option and was more or less abandoned altogether.

Moving forward, you can probably expect to see more publishers gravitate towards robust usage of Instant Articles, AMP articles, and Apple News formats to ensure healthy content activity. In the meantime, publishers should continue to look at their options pragmatically and keep an eye out for future content developments of this nature.

is courtesy of https://www.highervisibility.com

Make Way for Google’s Assistant on iPhones: What to Expect

Smart “assistants” have been hugely instrumental in changing user behavior when it comes to search and online browsing. In many ways, the introduction of assistants, such as Siri, Cortana, and Alexa, are what facilitated the rapid explosion of voice search.

As we’ve discussed before here, the majority of teens and adults use voice search on a daily basis, and Google has reported that 20% of queries on its mobile app and on Android devices are voice searches. Again, this is in large part thanks to the development of digital assistants. As a result, it’s opened up a whole new area of competition and opportunity for brands and businesses, and Google is about to have skin in that game.

At Google’s recent developer conference in California, announcements were made that addressed the widespread use of artificial intelligence and the expansion of the Google Assistant to a broader range of devices. Here’s what’s new.

What’s New

The Google Assistant is about to get a whole lot more powerful. Since the roll out of Google Home a little more than a year ago they’ve expanded the features and capabilities of the Google Assistant to further pull people away from Apple’s assistant, Siri.

Per a Forbes report, the new features include:

  • The Google Assistant will accept keyboard input and Voice input on phones.
  • The Google Assistant will have Google Lens camera input that can identify objects and let you ask questions about them.
  • Google Actions — the thing that lets the Assistant interact with third-party services like Alexa skills — are going to be available on phones.
  • You can call any phone number for free in the US and Canada with Google Home.
  • There are seventy different smart home manufacturers that will work with Google Home, with an open developer platform to add more.
  • Google Home can add calendar events and reminders and other proactivity, and will pulse a light when a reminder is waiting for you.
  • Spotify’s free service is coming to Google Home along with Deezer and SoundCloud.
  • Third-party hardware makers will be announcing new versions of a Google Home-like device.
  • You can also tell Google Home to watch HBO or Hulu on Chromecast on your preferred screen.
  • Google Home will be able to send visual search results to the Chromecast or other screens when appropriate, e.g.: see your calendar for the day.
  • You can now set reminders and calendar events on Home.
  • Google Home is coming to more countries: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, and Japan.
  • Google Assistant will work in more languages: Brazilian, Portuguese, French, German, and Japanese. Later this year Google will add Italian, Korean, and Spanish.

In light of these new features and evolving developments to the Google Assistant, you can expect a continued commitment to accuracy and efficiency. The artificial intelligence technology that Google continues to implement into different products and services will likely open up new areas of competition and opportunity for users and businesses alike. In the meantime, it would be wise to keep an eye on these developments as they are likely to advance and change quickly.

is courtesy of https://www.highervisibility.com