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What Killed the Vine App – Or Is There Still Some Hope Left for It?

Death Of The Vine App Social Media - Eminent SEOWhat Caused Vine to Wither?

Social media has exploded since the mid-2000s, when Facebook began to rise to prominence. The social landscape changes every day, with old apps and platforms giving way to new technologies and services.

This was certainly the case for Vine, a Twitter-owned video-sharing service that appears to be on its way out the door. Although Vine was a once-popular and user-friendly app, some analysts say it was a bad match for Twitter.

How the Vine App Worked

Vine was arguably one of the easiest social media apps to use. A user could upload a video from a smartphone or other device directly to millions of Twitter and Vine followers. A popular Vine video or meme had the potential to make someone’s social media presence explode. Through Vine, more people were able to make connections and expand their networks, both on social media and in real life.

Vine videos were able to compress time so a single video could loop millions of times and generate billions of hits. Videos often referenced each other: One Vine could contain a cross reference to a dozen or so others. This kept viewers searching for similar videos and finding new ones to share with their networks.

A classic example is former “Mad TV” comedian Will Sasso’s series of Vine videos involving lemons. These individual Vine clips have all been combined into one YouTube video.

For a short time, this simple video-sharing service seemed like it might carve out a permanent niche.

Why Vine Worked

Before Vine, there was no quick or easy way to broadcast video. Apps such as Facebook Live and Periscope didn’t exist, and people who took video on their phones were concerned about data and messaging limits. In 2012, Twitter acquired Vine, which eventually had a six-second limit. This allowed users not only to broadcast video, but to focus on the most important parts of what they shared.

Even before the six-second limit, Vine was popular for its short-streaming video. The app was aimed at teenagers, who particularly enjoyed trends and memes. However, Vine expanded to include other demographics, including people in their 50s and 60s.

Michael Pachter, a 60-year-old financial analyst, used Vine regularly and built up a following there and on Twitter.

“You’d have to be a technological idiot not to be able to do it,” he told The New Yorker about shooting Vine videos.

Additionally, Vine was popular because it was perceived as fun.

“Vine is not a tool. It’s a toy,” Vine’s then-new general manager Hannah Donovan told Variety back in June.

Vine was the place to find a quick laugh in the form of pratfalls, potatoes spinning from ceiling fans, and other slapstick antics.

For a good example of how users worked within Vine’s parameters, see this simple video that features a cameo from “New Girl” actor Lamorne Morris. (Be sure to turn the sound on.)

As for Vine’s overall brand of comedy, Donovan admitted, “The witty, wordy comedy of Woody Allen or Will Stillman it was not.”

However, it did attract different type of users than those on Snapchat or Instagram, giving social media users yet another outlet to exert influence.

According to Casey Newton, a writer for The Verge, users also loved Vine because it provided a “creative challenge.” Vine “endlessly rewound itself,” causing people to think of new and unexpected ways to use it.

Newton added that Vine had an early advantage over other social video apps due to its ability to spawn popular memes and much-applauded “cultural moments.”

Why Vine Is Shutting Down

Vine was extremely popular circa 2013-14, so what caused it to die so quickly? One former executive cited other apps such as Instagram, saying Instagram Video was “the beginning of the end” for Vine.

Instagram

Instagram Video debuted 15-second video limits in 2013 and has since expanded to clips as long as 60 seconds. Users, especially celebrities, found Instagram Video much more flexible than Vine. Although Vine eventually tried offering extended videos, they never caught on.

Snapchat

Snapchat also played a role in killing Vine, as well. Snapchat allows users to send each other video clips individually and/or broadcast them publicly, while Vine videos were only for all users, and even non-users, to see.

Time allowances also made Snapchat superior: The platform allows 10-second clips rather than 6-second ones. Four extra seconds might not seem like much, but extra flexibility attracted users, just as Instagram did. It doesn’t hurt that Snapchat also has all of those face and voice filters to add some extra dimensions to any video.

Problems Behind the Scenes

Twitter Lays Off Staff And Kills Vine - Eminent SEOInstability was another big issue for Vine. Managers consistently quit to pursue startups and other, more lucrative opportunities. In 2015, Twitter underwent massive layoffs, which involved firing Vine’s creative director. Gradually, Vine usage dropped.

Celebrities who once posted on Vine lobbied to be paid for using the app. However, the negotiations came to nothing. Celebrity users hoped to promote Vine videos the way they did Twitter posts and accounts, thus gaining followers. However, interest in Vine peaked around 2014. After that, it was difficult for celebrities, let alone average users, to generate significant followings.

In 2015, Twitter bought a social media talent agency in an attempt to save Vine. However, neither celebrities nor Vine and Twitter executives were interested in giving more money to a dying app. Additionally, Vine never offered its popular users options for reimbursement once negotiations stalled. Thus, they had little incentive to stick with Vine over other similar platforms. Vine never capitalized on its stars’ relationships with popular brands, thereby severely limiting itself.

Other Forms of Media that Contributed to Vine’s Demise

Although Instagram Video and Snapchat were seemingly the biggest threats to Vine, many other social media apps and forms of media played a part, too. Native Twitter videos are one such example.

Twitter Video

Unlike Vine, native Twitter videos are not a Twitter sub-service. The social media platform now offers more ways to attach and upload videos. With Vine, videos were mostly broadcast through phones. Meanwhile, Twitter now allows uploads and attachments from computers, tablets and several other types of devices.

Native Twitter videos have a maximum length of 2 minutes and 20 seconds, making them as much as 23 times longer than Vine videos. Twitter’s new limit gives users enough time for a quick instructional video, a miniature vlog entry, or even a sketch comedy routine. Native Twitter videos do not rely on pratfalls and endless looping to keep users engaged.

Unlike Vine, Twitter video uses auto-play similar to Facebook Live. Videos also begin playing as soon as users scroll over them in the feed. This draws the eye directly to the video and makes it more memorable.

GIFs

GIFs are another popular alternative to Vine. Although they lack audio, which Vine allowed, they communicate quick, memorable and often comical messages. GIFs usually start up easily and loop endlessly, so users can watch them as long as they like, over and over again.


Additionally, GIFs are often used to enhance text. That is, if you want to write a long blog post broken up with engaging pictures or memes, GIFs will most likely keep the audience’s attention. Some users have tried to use Vine videos in the same manner, but they just didn’t work out quite as smoothly.

YouTube

Finally, YouTube has been a primary alternative to Vine for years. YouTube has no length limit now, and depending on your editing capabilities, a YouTube video of much higher quality than a Vine or Twitter one. Additionally, YouTube offers features Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat cannot, such as the opportunity to create your own channel.

What Was the Major Culprit?

From all the options above, even though they all likely played a role in Vine’s demise, if we had to choose one, we would say GIFs are an unheralded major culprit. As mentioned earlier, for a short period of time, Twitter users were using Vine videos similar to GIFs. That craze eventually died down as users became more comfortable with finding and attaching GIFs, thanks to sites such as Giphy, while Vine videos eventually took on a different purpose.

Some outlets even claimed a couple of years ago that Vine would render GIFs obsolete, but that forecast seems laughable in retrospect.

The problem with using a Vine clip instead of a GIF is that the latter typically accentuates whatever statement the user is trying to make, while the Vine is more of a statement in itself. It doesn’t help that thousands of GIFs capture memorable scenes from some of our favorite movies and TV shows, while Vine mostly featured footage of sporting events as well as original user content.

One the popularity of GIFs was undoubtedly more sustainable on Twitter than that of Vine videos, and when the Vine social network itself began dropping off in activity, the writing was on the wall for the once-prominent video-sharing service. The evolution of human communication is fascinating thing to witness, eh?

But Wait … Is Vine Really Dead?

Just earlier this week, TechCrunch reported that Twitter is shopping Vine around to as many as 10 interested buyers, meaning the platform could survive after all. However, offers for the video-sharing service are reportedly falling short of $10 million, which is a sharp drop from the $30 million Twitter bought it for in 2012.

It is unclear whether Vine or apps like it will endure, or whether they will have a significant presence in social media in the future. In the meantime, users have more ways than ever to chronicle their lives through video and share their experiences.

What’s your favorite way of sharing video experiences online? Leave us a comment below.

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Team Eminent SEO

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Frighteningly Good Halloween Events in Phoenix: 2016 Edition

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Halloween Events In Phoenix 2016 - Eminent SEO

Every October, there is no shortage of Halloween-themed events in the greater Phoenix area. From haunted houses to family friendly festivities, the Valley of the Sun has got it all.

Here at Eminent SEO, we thought we’d help point those of you in Arizona to some can’t-miss events taking place this month. Activities are going on all over the Valley and, in some cases, all month long.

The following list will let you know a little more about more than a dozen Halloween events worthy of your attendance this October.

2016 Halloween Events in Phoenix and Beyond

The following events are listed in chronological order:

Harkins Presents Harry Potter – 10/13 – 10/20


Harkins at Arizona Mills shopping center has already begun showing the “Harry Potter” films once again. All eight installments of the franchise are in rotation at Harkins’ 6-story IMAX theater. Each showing will offer a sneak peek of “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” as well. Times vary, so check the website before you head on over. The “Potter” event runs until Thursday, Oct. 20.

Tickets are $10 per person.

Arizona Mills 25 w/ IMAX – 5000 Arizona Mills Cir., Tempe, AZ 85282

Harkins Showtimes

Haunted Harbor at Lake UN-Pleasant – 10/21-22 and 10/28-29

Lake Un-Pleasant Haunted Harbor - Facebook

(Facebook Photo/@PleasantHarbor)

Kick your Halloween off early at Lake Pleasant in the Northwest Valley. This family friendly event features trick-or-treating, food trucks, hay rides, hot air balloon rides and zombie cornhole. The nightcap will be a movie shown on the lake, as well as a Halloween bonfire. The event runs from 6:30 to 10 p.m. each night.

Admission is $10, but kids 10 and under are free.

Lake Pleasant Harbor Marina – 40202 N. 87th Ave., Peoria, AZ 85383

Haunted Harbor at Lake UN-Pleasant

Queen Creek Trunk or Treat – 10/22

Queen Creek Trunk Or Treaters - Facebook

(Facebook Photo/@qcrecreation)

Kids can dress up and collect some candy a little earlier this year by heading to the Southeast Valley for Queen Creek’s  annual Trunk or Treat Event. Ellsworth Road between Ocotillo and Rittenhouse will transform into “Trunk or Treat Street,” where children will move from car trunk to car trunk for candy.

The city provides all the candy, and groups are encouraged to sign up and decorate a car trunk for the trick-or-treating. Other fun activities will be on site, such as a bubble zone and various carnival games. The event runs from 5 to 9 p.m.

Admission to Trunk or Treat is free. There is a small fee for some of the other activities at the venue.

Queen Creek Town Center – 21802 S. Ellsworth Road, Queen Creek, AZ 85142

Trunk or Treat

Chandler Halloween Spooktacular – 10/28

Downtown Chandler is always a hotbed of activities anytime a major holiday is approaching. Halloween is no exception this year, as the Chandler Halloween Spooktacular takes over the downtown plaza on Friday, Oct. 28. Visitors can traverse through a haunted house, pumpkin cemetery and inflatable corn maze and then compete in pumpkin bowling, witches broom races and costume contests. The event runs from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Admission is free, but face painting and souvenir photos come with a nominal fee.

Chandler Downtown Library Plaza – 22 S. Delaware St., Chandler, AZ 85225

Chandler Halloween Spooktacular

Pumpkins at the Peak – 10/28

Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak will host its 20th annual Halloween celebration on Friday, Oct. 28. Visitors can play ring toss and bowling games, make Halloween crafts, get their face painted or fortune told, and much more. The event takes place from 5 to 7 p.m. in the resort’s Hole-in-the-Wall’s River Ranch water park.

Admission is $5 per person or 3 cans of food that will be donated to St. Mary’s Food Bank.

Hole-in-the-Wall’s River Ranch – 7677 N. 16th St., Phoenix, AZ 85020

Pumpkins at the Peak

Halloween Kayak in Tempe – 10/28

Tempe Town Lake Kayaking - Twitter VisitPhoenix

(Twitter Photo/@visitphoenix)

Tempe Town Lake encourages you to wear your Halloween costume and come down to the lake for water paddling and spine-tingling tales told by a professional storyteller. Children must be at least 10 years or older to participate. The event lasts from 6:45 to 8:45 p.m.

Admission is $35 for adults and $20 for those between the ages of 10 and 17.

Tempe Town Lake – 550 E. Tempe Town Lake, Tempe, AZ 85281

Tempe Town Lake Kayaking

Salt River Fields Spooktacular – 10/28-29

Salt River Fields Balloon Spooktacular Festival

(Facebook Photo/ @saltriverfieldsattalkingstick)

Head on over to where the Arizona Diamondbacks play spring training games in order to rack up candy being passed out from more than 20 hot air balloons. The venue will also have a haunted trail, and visitors can take a ride in a tethered balloon. Live music will adorn the festivities, which will culminate in a fireworks display each night. The event runs from 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Admission is $15 for adults and $10 for children between 3 and 12 years old. Balloon rides are $25 for grown-ups and $15 for children 10 years and younger.

Salt River Fields at Talking Stick – 7555 N. Pima Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85258

Salt River Fields Balloon Spooktacular

Howl-O-Ween at Phoenix Zoo – 10/28-29

Phoenix Zoo Howl-O-Ween 2015 - Facebook

(Facebook Photo/@PhoenixZoo)

The Phoenix Zoo’s annual Howl-O-Ween event features separate activities for children young and old. Grown-ups and children 8 years and older are invited to walk down Urban Legend Lane as well as Walking Dead Way, where they can fight off zombies. They can also visit a clown asylum and take a post-apocalyptic train tour of the park.

Younger children can go on camel rides, walk down a pumpkin pathway, go trick-or-treating, and meet characters from the Arizona Avengers and Arizona Ghostbusters. The event runs from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

General admission is $12 ($10 for members). Free admission for children 2 and younger.

Phoenix Zoo – 455 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix, AZ 85008

Howl-O-Ween at Phoenix Zoo

Halloween Monster Bash – 10/29

Halloween Monster Bash - Peoria Sports Complex

(Facebook Photo/@PeoriaSportsComplex)

If you’re on the west side, the Peoria Sports Complex might be your destination for weekend Halloween activities ahead of the actual holiday. The Halloween Monster Bash is a family friendly event that will feature inflatable rides and bounce houses, carnival games, trick-or-treating, a rock wall, a scare walk and much more. The event runs from 5 to 9 p.m.

Admission is free if you bring canned goods to donate to St. Mary’s Food Bank, but bring money for food and beverages. Also, some of the activities come with a minimal fee.

Peoria Sports Complex – 16101 N. 83rd Ave. Peoria, AZ 85382

Peoria Sports Complex Event

Trick or Treat Main Street – 10/31

On Halloween day, come to downtown Mesa in your costume to collect candy from some of the local businesses. You can also interact with a balloon artist and purchase kettle corn and other treats during this 5th annual daytime event, which runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Admission is free for everyone.

Mesa Main Street – 1 E. Main St. Mesa, AZ 85201

Trick or Treat Main Street (Click on Oct. 31 on the calendar)

Halloween in the Hills – 10/31

Fountains Hills invites you to bring your children and dogs to the town’s long-running, early evening Halloween event. The town’s entire Avenue of the Fountains will close down for the event, which features carnival-style booths, bounce houses, businesses handing out candy, and costume contests. More than 40 businesses and charities are expected to participate this year. This event takes place from 4 to 8 p.m.

Admission is free, but bring money to buy some treats, beverages, jewelry and much more.

Avenue of the Fountains – Fountain Hills, AZ 85268

Halloween in the Hills

Month-Long Events

Several venues around the Valley are hosting events that run until the end of the month. Here are a few worth your attention:

Brick or Treat – Through 10/30

Brick Or Treat Legoland Discovery Center Arizona

(Facebook Photo/@LDCArizona)

Arizona Mills’ Legoland Discovery Center is hosting an ongoing, family friendly Halloween event every Saturday and Sunday until Oct. 30. Kids can collect a Brick or Treat factory brink, and then build a Halloween mask and participate in a scavenger hunt and a costume contest. The festivities run from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturdays, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays.

Tickets start at $17, but Legoland recommends ordering your ticket online in advance.

Legoland Discovery Center – 5000 S. Arizona Mills Cir., Suite 135, Tempe, AZ 85282

Legoland Brick or Treat

Sea Life Halloween Spooktacular – Through 10/30

Sea Life Arizona Pumpkin Carving - Facebook

(Facebook Photo/@sealifearizona)

Watch divers professionally carve a pumpkin underwater on any Saturday or Sunday between now and Oct. 30 at Sea Life Arizona in Arizona Mills shopping center. After watching the pumpkin carvers, head on over to the Bay of Rays and put your kid’s Halloween get-up against others in a costume contest.

Underwater pumpkin carving starts at 1 p.m. every day, while the costume contest takes place at 2 p.m. Spooky Science Workshops are also offered at the top of every hour from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. each weekend.

Tickets start at $10.50. It’s an extra $3 per person to take a Spooky Science Workshop.

Sea Life Arizona – 5000 S. Arizona Mills Cir., Suite 145, Tempe, AZ 85282

Sea Life Spooktacular

Schnepf Farms Pumpkin & Chili Party – Through 10/30

Schnepf Farms Pumpkin and Chili Party Family

(Facebook Photo/@SchnepfFarms)

Every Thursday through Sunday this month, Schnepf Farms is featuring hay rides, a petting zoo, corn mazes, dog shows, and gypsy storytellers. Not to mention, guests can also roast marshmallows, climb a rock wall, take a train or pony ride, and then hop on a number of amusement rides. The party runs from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursdays and Sundays, and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

Tickets are $18 per person, but only $15 if you buy them at Fry’s Food Stores. Extra charges for train and pony rides, food (such as chili), and pumpkins.

Schnepf Farms – 24810 S. Rittenhouse Road, Queen Creek, AZ 85142

Pumpkin & Chili Party

Haunted Houses – Through 11/12

Haunted House Phoenix Halloween

(Facebook Photo/@SanctumOfHorror)

And what would Halloween be without getting your socks scared off at a haunted house? You can find these attractions all over the Valley and beyond, and a couple of them are running until the first and second weekend in November. Also, several of the venues feature more than one haunted house to try to shake you to your core.

We’d compile a list of all of the haunted houses in Arizona, but that would take up an entire additional post, and several websites have already done the legwork. So, to learn more about the various haunted house attractions around Arizona for this Halloween season, visit http://www.azhauntedhouses.com/.

Happy Halloween, everybody! Be safe and have fun!

Team Eminent SEO

Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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More Big-Box Retailers Bite the Dust: What’s to Blame? (Besides Online Shopping)

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RoomStore Sports Chalet Phoenix - Big-Box Retailers - Eminent SEO

A Sports Chalet and The RoomStore are situated next to each other in north Phoenix, and both franchises are in the process of going out of business for good. (Eminent SEO Photo)

It’s always sad to see a business close its doors and leave behind a vacant storefront.

Well, almost always – depending on if the shuttered business personally wronged you in any way.

Over the last couple of months, multiple big-box retailers with a once-prominent presence here in Arizona announced they would be closing all of their locations. The notable closures include Southwest-based sporting goods franchise Sport Chalet and the Arizona-only furniture chain The RoomStore.

So, what caused the demise of these long-standing retailers?

Was it online shopping (ecommerce) options? Too many direct competitors? Failure to distinguish themselves from similar franchises? An economy that simply refuses to kick into the next gear?

It’s likely all of the above, plus another, less-talked-about factor I’ll examine a little bit later. First, let’s look at the particulars of these franchises’ final days, as well as some of the main influences that put them out of business.

Details on The RoomStore’s Closing

The RoomStore is currently having one of the more spectacular going-out-of-business bonanzas I’ve ever seen. Around the metro-Phoenix area, shopping center signs and cargo trucks have unabashedly been heavy on terms like “Liquidation” and “Going Out Of Business Forever.”

RoomStore Liquidation Truck - Eminent SEO

A semi-truck parked near The RoomStore in north Phoenix advertises the furniture retailer’s going-out-of-business sale. (Eminent SEO Photo)

The company’s website impresses the sense of urgency even further, encouraging you to negotiate the price you want and that nobody beats The RoomStore’s going-out-of-business sale.

RoomStore Going Out Of Business Sale

Um, are they excited to be going out of commission? The company even appears elated to point out that several locations have closed and the rest are shutting down soon.

RoomStore Homepage Locations Listings

The Room Store was actually founded in Texas in 1992, and it opened its first Arizona location a year later. When all of the Texas RoomStores began closing down in late-2012, the Arizona locations were immune, since they were owned by a separate company: The RoomStores of Phoenix, LLC.

At its height, The RoomStore owned 12 locations in Arizona, primarily in the greater Phoenix region. The company was perhaps most recognized locally as a long-time sponsor of the Phoenix Suns.


When The RoomStore filed for bankruptcy protection last December, it was a definitive sign that the local furniture empire was on its last legs.

Details of Sport Chalet’s Closing

Sport Chalet’s wind-down process has been much more somber. In April, the company sent an email to all of its subscribers announcing the end of the franchise. A version of that email is currently on the homepage of the website, which appears to be the only page on the site anymore.

Sport Chalet Homepage Closing

You can’t even find which stores are still open through the website. The company has sent several follow-up, matter-of-fact emails that announce extensions of honoring customers’ gift cards and other similar notices. The retailer doesn’t appear to have any sense of urgency in enticing the consumer to visit a store and buy an item on discount before the place closes.

Founded in 1959, Sport Chalet at one point had more than 50 locations in Nevada, Arizona, Utah and, especially, California, where it was headquartered. The sporting goods chain is part of the Vestis Retail Group, which also owns Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS) and Bob’s Stores, all located in the Northeast. Vestis has filed for bankruptcy, but it is keeping most of its EMS and Bob’s Stores open while cutting out the fat that is Sports Chalet.

Too Much Competition for These Big-Box Retailers?

The RoomStore and Sport Chalet were both plagued by lukewarm and negative online reviews. For The RoomStore, complaints mostly concerned returns, refunds, sales tactics and even deliveries and the quality of furniture. For Sport Chalet, sky-high prices and poor customer service appeared to hamper the business most forcefully.

As a significant side note, if you’re going to survive as a brick-and-mortar store in today’s environment, you’ve got to offer an experience, not just lay out merchandise and hope somebody buys it. If you want to look within The RoomStore’s industry, it’s easy to see that the home furnishings giant IKEA offers a distinct shopping experience. Did The RoomStore offer a discernible experience, or did it simply (haphazardly) sling furniture?

If you’re looking at Sport Chalet’s industry, you can see that Dick’s Sporting Goods at least somewhat offers an experience, as each store maintains a locker room feel. Did Sport Chalet offer an experience? Do large photographs on the walls of various sporting activities make for an experience? The franchise initially started out with a focus on skiing equipment and later expanded to scuba gear, but after that, it tried to appeal to a wider audience, and it ended up throwing aside its unique selling proposition in the process.

Also, Sport Chalet wasn’t on its email and ecommerce game the way that Dick’s is. Personally, I was buying online from Dick’s Sporting Goods way back in the early 2000s. Lo and behold, several physical locations started cropping up around town just a couple of years later.

It’s obvious that Dick’s has a two-fold strategy to grow its business. Even if Sport Chalet’s ecommerce sales were vibrant, they weren’t enough to salvage the entire company, and apparently not even worth keeping as an online-only business.

Also of note is that Sports Authority recently filed for bankruptcy and later announced it is closing all of its stores. Same concept here: What was the Sports Authority Experience? Anybody? Bueller? Sports Authority was once the country’s largest sporting goods retailer, but like Sport Chalet, it will soon be no more.

What do these major setbacks mean for the great American sporting goods store going forward?

Did a Sluggish Economy Kill These Franchises?

Well, even if the economy is hurting – which it no longer seems to be, by most indicators – the furniture and sporting goods industries aren’t currently feeling the pain. Here are a few stats that tell the tale, as provided by the U.S. Census Bureau:

  • Retail and food service sales are up 3.5 percent in Quarter 1 of 2016 from the same time period last year.
  • Furniture and home furnishings store sales are up 5.6 percent in Q1 of 2016 compared to the same period last year.
  • Sporting goods, hobby, book and music store sales are up 7.4 percent, one of the largest jumps in any retail and food service niche from Q1 2015 to Q1 2016.

So, even if retail is up this year and the furniture and sporting goods sectors are particularly doing well, those factors apparently weren’t enough to save franchises like The RoomStore, Sport Chalet and Sports Authority. You would think that even a higher-priced store like Sport Chalet, for example, would be able to survive as long as the economy’s in good shape and there’s enough consumer spending to go around, but alas, some businesses are still going under.

Truth be told, these franchises were hemorrhaging profits for years prior to the economy righting itself, but by the time it got better, it was too little, too late – and the writing was on the wall for these once-prominent retailers.

Did Ecommerce Sales Play a Role?

It’s always the elephant in the room every time a big-box retailer goes under: internet sales. Yes, online sales are becoming more and more common as the checkout process continually gets easier, but ecommerce still doesn’t take up as big of a chunk of the market as you’d think.

According to the chart below, ecommerce sales comprised only about 2.5 percent of all U.S. retail sales (adjusted) back in Q1 of 2006. The market share has continuously grown since then, rising to nearly 8 percent of all retail sales in Q1 of 2016.

Yes, 8 percent doesn’t really seem like that much, but that still represents more than $92 billion in transactions in just one quarter of the year. It’s decisively large enough to play a role in putting brick-and-mortars out of business.

Overlooked Factor: Reluctance of Dealing with Sales Associates

Although online shopping is more convenient than ever, I think the issue goes much deeper when it comes to why big-box retailers are hurting. When shopping online, you can line up dozens of items side by side, check out their specs and then make your purchase with one or two clicks of a button, all without having to deal with a salesperson.

While it’s hard to beat physically trying out an item in the store, some might still say, “Why deal with a potentially incompetent, unhelpful or pushy sales associate when I can just buy the merchandise online.”

To some shoppers, it might be a diagnosable social anxiety disorder that keeps them buying their furniture, clothing and other merchandise from a distance. To others, it might be a conscious decision to avoid the hassle and wait that is latent every time you walk into a store – especially one like The RoomStore or Sport Chalet, according to many online reviews.

Many people spend more time with their face buried in their phones or computers than they do interacting with others face to face, so it’s no wonder ecommerce continues to grow. You could argue we’re being conditioned to do more interaction online than we do in “the real world.”

According to a 2015 eMarketer forecast, Americans spent an average of 2 hours and 54 minutes each day on their mobile devices last year, and that doesn’t even count phone calls. That number equates to 44 days out of the year just spent on a mobile phone or tablet. The 2016 average is expected to jump to 3 hours and 8 minutes per day – again, not counting using a phone the old-fashioned way.

Learn More About Internet Addiction

While some can juggle face-to-face interaction and heavy internet usage well, others cannot. If those who struggle with it are able to simply buy merchandise remotely, even if it means the item’s size or color might be askew once seeing it in person, then that’s a risk they’re willing to take. And let’s be honest, you can find some great deals online. Also, the online checkout process is usually easy and you’ll save gas by not having to drive to a store.

It all adds up to a significant threat to big-box retailers, which need to make sure their online sales process is as good or better than their in-store operations.

Conclusion

So, ecommerce sales, stiff competition and possibly the economy are all going to weigh heavily on brick-and-mortar retailers going forward, but I also think we shouldn’t discount the ever-increasing reluctance to social interaction. If someone can buy the same item online that they would otherwise have to walk into a store and deal with sales associates, especially a place that’s not known for its customer service, how can you convince them to buy from you on location?

We’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on why big-box retailers are going under as well as your ideas to keep them afloat. Comment with your opinions below.

Oh, and R.I.P. Sport Chalet, Sports Authority and The RoomStore.

Andrew Gilstrap

Content Manager at Eminent SEO - I enjoy writing, editing and photography. I'm here to make YOUR website read better and rank better!

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Google’s Message Is Clear: Review and Clean Up Your Website’s Outbound Links

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Sweep Bad Outbound Links Under Rug - Eminent SEO

Earlier this month, several reports stated that Google started issuing a specific warning to various webmasters. The message hit at one miscue: “unnatural” outbound links.

Google reportedly first started sending this message out on Saturday, April 9, via email and Google Search Console. While it probably took some webmasters aback, others likely knew they had it coming.

In either scenario, the webmaster is going to have to make some clear changes before submitting a “reconsideration request” to Google in order to get his or her rankings back.

Let’s look further at the heart of the issue plus what the best practices are when it comes to outbound linking.

What the Outbound Link Warning Said

Google warned certain webmasters that it detected a “pattern” of outbound links that is “either unnatural or irrelevant,” violating the search engine’s Webmaster Guidelines. Therefore, the search engine applied a “manual spam action” to the website in question.

Google added that the unnatural links it detected appear to be trying to “artificially boost” other sites’ search engine rankings. Basically, to Google, it looked like the sites that were flagged were trying to pass so-called link juice to other websites, among other suspicious practices.

How Webmasters Were Directed to Fix It

Google’s stern warning about outbound links was essentially a penalty upon the sites that were flagged. Receiving a penalty either hurts a website’s search rankings or kills them altogether. The penalty won’t be lifted until Google does a manual review of the site.

For the websites that received this latest warning, the webmasters behind them were directed to either manually remove the links in question or add “nofollow” tags to each one. The piece of code for asking search engine crawlers to not follow a link, if you’re wondering, is rel=”nofollow”. Once the webmaster has sufficiently addressed the outbound linking issue, Google advised sending a reconsideration request.

What Is an Outbound Link?

Just to be clear about what an outbound link is, it’s any clickable link that takes the user to an external website, which is why it’s also called an external link.

In today’s SEO climate, it’s recommended to be very judicious about how frequently you include an outbound link on your website. Any link (internal or external) that you don’t add “nofollow” to will be taken into account by search engine crawlers, making it a “dofollow” link, effectively.

If you’re linking to a low-quality website, a dofollow link could actually hurt your SEO value. Also, too many links (whether internal or external) could lower the search rankings potential of that particular webpage. Therefore, it’s best to use nofollow tags every so often when you’ve got a webpage with an abundance of links and/or if you’re linking to sites with low domain authority.

When Google issues a manual spam action on a website, it can apply to either a site-wide match or a partial match. A site-wide match means Google detected an issue on every page of a website, likely in a sidebar, the header or the footer. A partial match means the issue applied to just a single webpage or a certain set of pages on the site in question.

How Certain Websites Ran into This Issue

For quite some time, a common website practice was to link to several other websites either through text or images placed on a sidebar or in the footer of a page. Granted, this was never an SEO best practice, but some webmasters did this either as a partnership with other websites or because they simply liked those sites and wanted to give a subtle shout-out to them.

These type of links could often be paid for as kind of a one-way means of drawing some SEO power from an authoritative website. In other cases, the two sites linked to each other in a type of affiliate marketing scheme.

Today, this practice is going by the wayside, and Google may have just delivered it its final blow with the recent penalization of sites with unnatural outbound links. For a good example, let’s look at the website behind the screenshot that seemingly every media site is featuring when reporting on Google’s outbound link warning: SammiTheBeautyBuff.com.

Sammi The Beauty Buff Homepage - ESEO

While nothing looks amiss when you first land on the homepage, if you scroll just a little ways down, you’ll see a right sidebar that features several logos that link to other websites – all under a section called “Memberships.” Inside each review, there are also several product links (or that may have been for undisclosed free samples – but more on that point later). At first glance, this area may be what earned the website a penalty from Google.

Sammi The Beauty Buff Membership Links - ESEO

The webmaster of this beauty products blog must have gotten the message, because if you dig into the source code of the homepage, these are all nofollow links. If they weren’t before, they are now.

Say Goodbye to Blogrolls

If you used WordPress to create a personal blog in the past, you were practically encouraged to add a blogroll to your site. Also known as a links menu, a blogroll is a way to list other blogs and sites you find valuable or that are relevant to your specific blog. The blogroll can be easily added using a widget in WordPress, and it will show up in the footer or sidebar of your blog or website, depending on the theme you use.

Here’s an example of a blogroll in somebody’s sidebar, without calling out the site that is using it:

Wordpress Blogroll Example - ESEO

WordPress itself still has a support page that talks all about the blogroll, but given the direction of Google’s search algorithm, it’s likely this feature is going to be de-emphasized or abandoned in the near future.

WordPress is far from the only content management system or website builder that features a blogroll option. But, no matter which content management system you use, a blogroll or links menu is a feature you’re going to want to ignore going forward – if you care at all about search rankings.

A More Recent Development: Penalties for Exchanging Links for Free Products

After Google started issuing outbound link warnings, the tech giant eventually clarified why it was handing out penalties. According to Search Engine Land, the penalty appeared to be targeting free product reviews. This is because companies that provide product reviewers free merchandise are often looking for a dofollow link from the reviewer’s website to theirs.

So, Google has effectively put the kibosh on this practice. Can product reviewers still receive free stuff and write about it on their blog or website? Certainly. Google just asks that they disclose when they receive free items and then nofollow any links to the company that provided the product. This explains why the aforementioned Sammi “The Beauty Buff” was called out by Google earlier this month.

If, in fact, only free product reviews were the target of Google’s recent penalties, then most of these penalties would likely be classified as partial matches. An individual product review is generally going to take up only one webpage, rather than resulting in a site-wide external link just for the free item(s) provided.

Did Google’s Recent Warning Apply to Inbound Links?

Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Land reported that he only saw a “few inbound link notification penalties” on the weekend when Google started warning certain webmasters of unnatural outbound links.

So, for the most part, websites weren’t getting penalized for having another site link to them, no matter how spammy or irrelevant the backlink appears to be. Instead, the sites hosting such a suspicious link are the ones that primarily landed on Google’s radar.

What to Do About Your Outbound Links

Even if you’re not a product reviewer, now is as good a time as any to review your website’s outbound links, since Google will certainly continue to target suspicious linking practices.

If your website has a static, site-wide sidebar, are there any external links featured? You can ask the same about the footer. It’s time to nofollow those links or contemplate if they even need to be there in the first place.

Other than those areas, you can also go through some of the individual pages of the site and the blog to see if there’s any area where someone happened to link to a plethora of external sites. You need to go in and nofollow most of those links, if they aren’t already, and consider if each and every link is even helpful for the user in the first place. If not, remove as necessary.

If your website has a partnership with another in the form of a dofollow site-wide link to theirs, tell them that current SEO best practices call for you to get rid of the link. Or, perhaps, you can compromise with them and turn it into a nofollow link – and maybe decrease the number of pages it shows up on.

Are ‘Nofollow’ Links Still Helpful?

Perhaps your site has scored a link on an authoritative website, but their webmaster wants to remove it in light of recent SEO events. See if they can just nofollow the link to your site instead.

Yes, the link juice goes away when someone adds a nofollow tag, but that doesn’t mean the link can’t still have value in a different way. If the hosting site draws tons and tons of visitors, some of them are eventually going to see and click the link to your domain, resulting in increased traffic for you. The number of clicks on your link per visitor is probably going to be pretty small, but it’s still better to give them that option than to not have it there at all, right?

But What if I’m Linking Back and Forth Between Several Interconnected Sites?

If you have a main website and a few microsites, or just several “sister” sites, it doesn’t hurt to feature links to all related sites in the footer of each one of the properties. Google is pretty savvy at understanding when sites are related. You don’t even have to nofollow the links in this case.

However, if we’re talking about dozens of websites, no matter how well they go together, you should avoid interlinking them, even with nofollow tags. In a 2014 Search Engine Watch article, Google engineer and video personality Matt Cutts was quoted as recommending only up to five links in the footer to other related websites. He added that if you operate 50 to 100 related websites and are thinking about interlinking them all, don’t do it – or, at best, only link to the four or five most relevant sister sites.

Internal and External Linking Strategies with Eminent SEO

Need help with evaluating which links to remove from your site and then actually getting it done? Eminent SEO can clean up not only your outbound linking strategy, but we can optimize your site’s internal linking strategy as well. We also can remove and disavow spammy or low-quality links that lead to your site, as well as help you recover from any search engine penalties you may have suffered.

We have been helping clients with their internal and outbound linking strategies for more than 11 years, and we’ve been updating our processes with every step of Google’s evolution. To learn more about optimizing your website with proper linking practices, contact Eminent SEO today at 800.871.4130.

Team Eminent SEO

Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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Looking Ahead to Google Penguin 4.0: How to Remain Penalty-Free in 2016

Google Penguin 4.0 - Eminent SEO

A major Google algorithm update was supposed to launch in late-2015, but we’re still waiting.

Over the second weekend of January, SEO experts noticed some drastic changes in traffic volumes across many websites. Some thought it might be the much-anticipated Google Penguin 4.0 algorithm update, but we now know it wasn’t. Google officials initially indicated this particular algorithm update would roll out before the end of 2015, so it looks like the search engine is still giving webmasters and marketers a grace period before prompting them to adjust their SEO strategy.

Looking over his weekend numbers, Cyrus Shepard of Moz.com tweeted that there was significant movement in Google’s algorithm:

SEO expert Christoph C. Cemper of LinkResearchTools.com was initially convinced that it was Penguin 4.0, adding that the weekend update was almost as wide-ranging as the “massive” Penguin 2.1 update of late-2013.

What Google Penguin 4.0 Algorithm Should Look Like

Anytime Google updates its algorithm, it impacts the organic search engine rankings of millions of websites. Here are the speculated attributes of the impending Google Penguin 4.0:

  • It’s anticipated to be larger than Penguin 3.0, meaning it will effect more websites, and traffic to those sites could rise or fall dramatically at the onset.
  • It’s supposed to roll out in real time, according to Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes of Google. The other prominent algorithm update, Panda, is known for rolling out very slowly upon each update.
  • It will likely focus heavily on low-quality backlinks to a website.
  • Like every Penguin update before it, Penguin 4.0 should bring “drastic changes,” according to Cemper.
  • It will effect websites originating from several different nations, such as the U.S., U.K. and Germany.

Cemper noted that Google’s search engine results pages had been fairly active in switching up the order of websites since the start of the new year, but that the phenomenon reached a high point over the weekend. He added that the update may have continued well beyond the weekend, or that what was happening was just a pre-test for something larger.

How to Avoid Penalties When Penguin 4.0 Hits

Receiving a penalty from Google will either bury your website in the search engine results or take it off the map entirely. Getting the penalty removed is possible, but painstaking, so it’s easier to just abide by best SEO practices in the first place.

With Google Penguin 4.0 on the horizon, it’s time to review all links related to your website: external, internal and, especially, backlinks. Failure to do so could not only keep your website suppressed in the search engine rankings, but could result in a penalty from Google, in some cases.

Here’s what you need to look out for:

Exact-Match Anchor Text

If you’re trying to rank for a certain keyword, it looks spammy to Google if other websites link to your site using that exact keyword phrase. If you’ve happened to secure a link from an authoritative site, make sure it doesn’t link to yours using your targeted keyword. Anchor text (also known as link text) that leads to your website needs to look organic and diverse.

Who cares what phrase others use to link to your site, as long as 1) the link is active, 2) the anchor text doesn’t denigrate your company, and 3) it’s coming from a high-quality website?

If there’s one way you shouldn’t mind being referred to in anchor text, it’s your brand name. If other websites are linking to yours using one of your keywords, reach out to them, thank them for the link (if you haven’t already) and then ask if they can mix up their anchor text.

Low-Quality or Spammy Backlinks

Backlinks usually give you a vote of confidence and help with search rankings, but getting linked to from a low-quality or spammy website can often have an adverse effect.

Now’s the time to do a backlink audit and make sure all sites linking to yours are helping you, not hurting. This entails contacting some website owners and asking them to manually remove their link to your site.

Many times, it will be hard to reach anyone associated with such spammy or low-quality sites. If this is the case, you may have to contact Google to disavow the links – in other words, saying you want nothing to do with them and can’t get them removed. Here’s how to start the process of disavowing links.

Poor Internal Linking

Getting ready for Penguin 4.0 means you should review your internal links as well. The internal linking practices of many websites leave much to be desired.

Links from one page of your website to another shouldn’t be too frequent, and they shouldn’t use exact-match keywords. For example, if you have one internal link per paragraph of a blog post or service page, you’re overdoing it.

Only link to another page on your site when it makes total sense to do so, such as when the copy heavily alludes to or leads right into a different section of the website. Remember, search engines’ web crawlers follow all hyperlinks you feature on a page, so if you have too many links, Google will be confused about the content on the page and thus where to rank it.

Unusual Increases in Backlinks

While everybody aims to increase the number of backlinks to their own website, seeing the sheer number of referring pages suddenly and inexplicably spike can be a cause for concern.

In preparing for Penguin 4.0, you should monitor the 1) total referring domains and the 2) total referring pages to your site over the last several months. A dramatic rise over a short time period in either category will look iffy in Google’s eyes, especially when it comes to total pages.

Perhaps some website has added a link to yours on every page of their domain, known as a site-wide link. This looks like a spammy tactic to Google, so you should go about the link removal or disavowal process if it happens to your website.

Tools to Help You with Your Own Backlinks

If you don’t want to spend weeks looking over all of your backlinks and internal links to make sure you’re OK in Penguin’s book, you have a variety of online tools at your fingertips to speed up the process:

  • Screaming Frog: This tool crawls your whole site and analyzes the SEO data as Google would, helping you analyze your internal link data. Free and paid versions are available.
  • Ahrefs: This is perhaps the quickest way to look at your backlink profile and see if your site has experienced any of those previously mentioned spikes. You can use the tool for a 14-day trial before deciding if you want to upgrade to the paid version.
  • Majestic: This company features more than a dozen SEO tools, but its Site Explorer is the one that applies here. This tool is easy to use and will help you analyze the trust flow and citation flow of your backlinks to see if they are considered high-quality. The buy-in here is about $50 a month for the starter package, but you can do a test run first.
  • Check My Links: A Google Chrome extension that quickly scans any page on your site for broken links. This one is free and easy to use.
  • LinkResearchTools: We mentioned LinkResearchTools earlier, but its featured tool will let you see any spikes in your backlinks, as well as help you identify spammy links to your site. You can also see how your competitors are doing. You’re probably only going to want to use this one if you’re a medium- or large-sized business, as even the starter plan exceeds $100 per month, with the premium plan topping $1,700.

Get Backlink Help with Eminent SEO

If you need help with reviewing your backlinks – such as what to look for or simply the time it takes to do it – turn the task over to Eminent SEO. Besides our years of experience, we already have auditing tools at our disposal, so you won’t have to purchase any additionally monthly subscriptions when you enlist us.

Perhaps you’ve received a penalty from Google and don’t even know it. We can audit your backlinks and make sure your site is abiding by best SEO practices. We’ll help you get any spammy backlinks removed or disavowed, if present, and we’ll work on your behalf to make any penalties go away. Click here for more on our Website Audit Services.

Get your website in shape for Penguin 4.0 by calling Eminent SEO at 800.871.4130!

UPDATE:

Google announced later in January that its Panda series of updates has been added to the core search algorithm. This wasn’t what officially caused all of the commotion over the second weekend of the month. Google would only confirm that it did a general core algorithm update. It definitely was not Penguin 4.0, although that update is still slated to happen in the near future.

Panda, if you don’t know, targets and either penalizes or de-ranks low-quality content. This means thin content, heavy duplicate content, spam and ad-heavy pages will get identified and moved down or out of the search engine rankings. Panda’s inclusion in the core algorithm means it will now be a part of Google’s core ranking signals when evaluating a website.

Note: This post was originally written under the assumption that the Google Penguin 4.0 update had been launched. Parts of the copy have been changed to reflect what we now know about Google’s algorithm tweaks in January.

Andrew Gilstrap

Content Manager at Eminent SEO - I enjoy writing, editing and photography. I'm here to make YOUR website read better and rank better!

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Google Reduces 7-Pack in Search to 3-Pack: What This Means for Local Businesses

Google's 3 Pack Algorithm Update

Among all the changes happening at Google, the tech giant made a significant shakeup in local search earlier this month that kind of went under the radar.

For starters, the company separated Google+ from YouTube, meaning you no longer have to have a G+ account to log in to YouTube. Then, Google+ Photos starting shutting down on August 1 in favor of the standalone service known as just Google Photos. After that, of course, Google announced a new parent company, Alphabet, had been created.

Lost in the midst of all of that was a potentially major change to local search results on Google. Last week, Google shrank its traditional 7-pack in local searches to a 3-pack.

What’s Changed in Google Local Search

Not only do companies with a local focus have to do everything they can to optimize their websites and end up on the first page of Google’s search results, but, until recently, a select seven businesses got an extra-special, front-and-center placement.

The Google 7-Pack Is Now the 3-Pack

When conducting a search for a local service, Google used to feature seven businesses between the paid spots at the top of the first page and the rest of the organic search results below. Those seven businesses had verified Google+ pages that were tied in to their websites, and they presumably had put the best local SEO practices in place.

However, the 7-pack has now been truncated to a 3-pack, and some of the features thereof have been simplified, if not stripped down. Let’s look at a couple of examples. If I search for a “Phoenix AC company” in Google, this is what I immediately see:
Screenshot - Google Phoenix AC Search

On the first results page, you can see the pay per click spots at the top (along with some other paid ads on the right sidebar) and then a small map and the 3-pack immediately below. There’s a slight variation to this format depending on what you search for, what device you’re using, and where you’re located.

If I’m looking for somewhere to eat and I type in “Phoenix restaurant,” I’ll get a page that has just one paid ad at the top with the first organic result appearing just above the 3-pack.
Screenshot - Google Phoenix Restaurant Search

If I wanted to be a little more specific in my search, I could type in “Italian restaurant Phoenix” and see the 3-pack at the very top with some ads on the right-hand side.
Screenshot - Google Italian Restaurant Search

Google actually used to have a 10-pack on the first page of search results at one point, so the search engine’s recent move to a 3-pack marks its second truncation of the feature. As you can see, the 3-pack’s placement on the page differs by search, as does the number of ads you see on the sidebar, and this format could change slightly as time goes on. You could search the same term in the morning and again at night and possibly see a variance of the format. Google never lets all of its secrets and rationale out of the bag.

With the change to a 3-pack, Google also brought back the “More (search term)” link right below the last business in the spotlight, as you can see in the three examples above. If you click on that link, it will take you to a map of businesses in that industry in the geographic area you searched. Each page on the map lists 20 results, with the first three listings on page one corresponding to the 3-pack.

Other Features Removed: Addresses, Phone Numbers, Google+ Links

The new 3-pack has a sleeker look than the 7-pack, but some of the information that used to be listed for each business is no longer present. Most notably missing are the full addresses and phone numbers of each business. Presumably, you could have done a search before and dialed up a business of your choosing without having to visit any individual websites. Now, the Google 3-pack encourages you to either visit the websites of the featured businesses or get directions (if applicable) to their location.

Also noticeable in the move from a 7-pack to a 3-pack is the lack of a Google+ link for each business. There’s now no easy way to get to the Google+ page of any of the three in the spotlight. In fact, if you click directly on the name of one of the three companies, it will take you to the aforementioned map.

A Couple of Features Added: Ratings, Business Hours

Google used to only show how many reviews each business in the 7-pack has received (formerly seen as “Google reviews,” now just called “reviews”), but you can now see the rating for each company out of five stars, if there are any reviews. You can also now see the business hours of some in the 3-pack, which will basically tell you what time the company opens up next or, if it’s currently open, what time it closes.

The 3-pack is also more visual than the 7-pack. Besides the snappy symbols that link to the websites of and directions to each business, you might see a photo for some of the companies on the right-hand side of the spotlight. Also, as seen in the first search example, a map might appear above the 3-pack, depending on your search. When Google had a 7-pack, a map usually appeared in the right half of the page, but it wasn’t as visually connected to the spotlight as it is with the new 3-pack.

What the Google 3-Pack Means for Local Businesses

You can bet more companies will be fighting tooth and nail to get slotted in the 3-pack, but all hope shouldn’t be lost if your business can’t quite make it in there.

First-Page Organic Search Results Expanded

When Google produced a 7-pack on page one of your search results, the number of organic, non-7-pack results shrank to 6 or 7, and all were generally below the fold. However, the number of organic results outside of the new 3-pack has been expanded to 10. It’s uncertain at this time if Google simply dropped four from the 7-pack into the organic list immediately below, but this shift may mean that there’s more room for your business to work its way onto page one. If you do make it onto the first page, a strong meta title and description is going to be key.

Google+ Business Pages De-Emphasized for Local Search?

If you didn’t have a business Google+ page before or couldn’t get it verified that it corresponds with your website, Google may no longer be holding your website hostage in the search rankings, as it looks like the company is slowly backing off holding its own social network over users’ heads. This notion still hasn’t been confirmed, so, at this time, we’d recommend keeping your Google+ business page active and continually updated. However, if it’s true that a Google+ business page no longer has any bearing on one’s search rankings, then the field would be leveled for more businesses to contend for a spot on page one, which generates around 90 percent of the search traffic.

Closing Speculation

This major local search change has got many marketers speculating what the future will hold for local businesses. By shrinking the local pack to 3 spots instead of 7, the first page of results shows only Google-approved products above the fold. Could local rankings eventually become ad placements since Google+ didn’t work out?

Share your thoughts on the future of Google local placement in the comments below! If you’d like to learn more about how Eminent SEO can boost your local marketing efforts, including optimizing your website for Google, click here.

Andrew Gilstrap

Content Manager at Eminent SEO - I enjoy writing, editing and photography. I'm here to make YOUR website read better and rank better!

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Has Panda 4.2 Arrived? What to Know About The New Google Algorithm Refresh

Panda 4.2 Google Algorithm Refresh

Have you noticed any changes in website traffic? No? It’s not a surprise that many webmasters have not noticed Panda 4.2 officially rolling out, because this one is a slow rollout: It could take months before it is complete. With that being said, a lot of us didn’t even notice this refresh that started rolling out on July 17, 2015.

What We Know About This Google Refresh So Far

  • Not a full algorithm update, just a Panda refresh
  • 2-3% of queries are being affected
  • A smaller refresh in comparison to older Panda refreshes; the previous refresh is affecting 3-5% of queries.
  • Unsure of how long this refresh will be rolling out for
  • The first Panda refresh in 10 months

Take a look at the MozCast data from the week Panda 4.2 began rolling out:
Mozcast - Google Panda 4.2 - Eminent SEO

You’ll notice a difference with Friday being cloudy, because that’s the day Google began rolling out the Panda refresh. It still doesn’t look like a huge spike, though, which is why a lot of people were unaware.

What Can I Do to Avoid Being Negatively Impacted by the Panda Refresh?

At this point, if you make changes to your website to reduce the repercussions of Panda, it’s not going to prevent this refresh from impacting your site. Once a refresh begins rolling out, you want to make sure your website is already equipped with high-quality content that is not duplicate or “thin.” Any time your website is not abiding by the Google Quality Guidelines, it could see a negative impact from an algorithm refresh or update, especially Panda, which specifically targets websites with thin content.

What you can do is run a quick crawl report for your website. If you notice any canonical issues causing duplicate content, get those fixed immediately.

Another step you can take is run a duplicate content test for internal site-wide content as well as a test for other sites on the web. Make sure there isn’t much common content on your site or worse, duplicate. You want your content to be mostly or entirely unique and high in quality.

The last thing you could do is make sure there isn’t any content on your website that’s lacking in invaluable user experience. If there are any doorway pages on your site, these could harm its search rankings.

How Do I Know if My Website Has Been Impacted?

If you’ve recently seen a sudden decline or incline in organic traffic, it could be that your website has been impacted by the newest refresh. Not many websites are showing much movement yet, but if you’ve noticed a drop within the last week and a half, that could be related to Panda 4.2. If you believe your site has been negatively impacted, read more here on how to recover from a Google penalty.

Looking to find out if your website has been impacted by this algorithm refresh? Our SEO experts can weigh in. Just give us a call to learn more about our website audits and pricing: 800.871.4130.

Lacey Chic

Account Manager at Eminent SEO - Passionate About Digital Marketing. I love music, pitbulls, traveling, hiking, yoga, and learning.

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Eminent SEO is Celebrating 4 Years – A Personal Journey

Eminent SEO is Celebrating 4 Years

How I Got Into Marketing

Roughly 9 years ago I was a young single mom with 2 little kids. I was tired of working the long hours required of a restaurant manager… and I found myself at a career crossroad. Do I continue pursuing the restaurant management path I was on, which, although it was tiring and stressful, offered security – or, do I take a leap of faith and start over in a totally different field?

I made the tough decision to leave restaurants altogether and humbly accepted an entry level position at a young internet marketing firm as a billing assistant. Uneducated, but hungry, I was eager to learn and excited to work in this new space.

Initially I was not required to understand marketing or even the products we offered- I was in billing, so I was to perform basic billing tasks.  I spent several months perfecting my basic daily tasks and found myself questioning processes which lead to many questions and a lot of time researching on my own. I found the idea of organic website marketing fascinating and my desire to learn more continued to grow.

Because the company was small and young, there was a lack of internal process and training, so I took it upon myself to study at home and teach myself as much as I could about Google’s algorithms, keyword research, link building, customer service and strategic marketing.

After a few months of studying and learning, I requested to be considered for an opening as a sales assistant. My boss was surprised at my request and felt I was not equipped for the position. I explained that I had been studying and asking questions and felt prepared. He decided to give me a shot – but I sensed he was hesitant.

I was excited for the chance, but I quickly learned as the only female in the sales room, I was in for some serious testing. I was not only going to have to prove myself as a competent sales assistant, I was going to have to prove that a girl was just as capable as the boys.

You know how the saying goes… what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger? I would happily share the nitty gritty details of how I was treated and the shocking things I discovered… but for now I will leave it at this: Never underestimate a young single mother with multiple mouths to feed.

That year I was top sales person. That year I became the first ever female sales manager. That year I discovered my passion for marketing. That year I found my true career path. That year changed me forever.

Eminent SEO Was Born

Several years later in October of 2009, after many changes, learning experiences and new opportunities, I found myself at a crossroads yet again.

I had a choice to make. Do I leave this space and start over yet again? Or, do I persevere and continue doing what I love, knowing I would have to sacrifice a lot?

What happened next was a blur… two of my best friends and I started working, not knowing then that what we had actually set in motion was the beginning of our own company – what was later to become Eminent SEO.

I like to joke that we started the company with a Hotmail account and a spreadsheet. We literally had nothing. Days ran into nights and for months and months we worked around the clock trying to satisfy the client demands while still learning how to set up systems, structures and build a team.

I thank God every day for my dear friends who stuck by me and worked their asses off to make this happen (a special shout out to Tatiana and Chris). Our team of 3 turned into 4, then 5, 6, 7… then the referrals kept coming in and we were expanding our services and before we knew it, our small group turned into a large team and Eminent SEO is now supporting a full time staff, several dedicated partners, dozens of resellers and hundreds of client websites.

When we started, we didn’t do it for the money. We did it for the people. The client’s that came to us were desperate for help. They had been burned and found themselves at a dead end and needed to find people who they could trust. Chris, my partner, and I knew that in order to find success and also contentment with who we are, we had to build our business on doing the right thing. Sure, it’s easy to make a quick buck doing SEO – but we were in this for more. At the end of the day you have to be able to look at your staff, your clients… your kids… and say, no matter what we always tried to do the right thing.

Eminent SEO has been in business now for 4 years this month. We celebrate client successes regularly in the office and find it extremely rewarding that we are able to put forth products and services that help our clients reach their own business and website goals. Our team is made up of an eclectic group of hard working people who are committed to doing the very best job they can do.

A Big Thank You

I wake up every day feeling blessed for this continued opportunity and I just want to end this blog post with a huge thank you. Thank you to the team for sticking with us and choosing to be part of this exciting journey with us. And, thank you to our partners and our clients. You gave us a chance, some of you even when we were just getting started, and we grew together in the process. Now, as we all continue to grow, I look forward to many more years of continued successes in our business and personal lives.

I love marketing. I love helping others grow. And, most of all, I love knowing that I am investing into something that I can always be proud of.

Wishing you the same.

Cheers,

Jenny Stradling

Eminent SEO, CEO

Owners of Eminent SEO

Chris Weatherall and Jenny Stradling – Owners of Eminent SEO

Jenny Stradling

Owner and CEO at Eminent SEO in Mesa, Arizona. I started doing SEO and marketing work in 2005. I'm a {very} busy mom of 4 and I owe my sanity to my partner in work and life, Chris Weatherall. I love sharing and engaging in business and marketing conversations, and I'm heavy into social media and blogging on these topics. I love coffee, wine, food and other people who enjoy the adventure of seeking out the best places to eat and drink. In my free time (what's that?) you'll most likely find me studying philosophy and spirituality, cooking for my family or relaxing with a nice glass of wine, a funny movie and the people I love.

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Tuesday Is Password Day

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May 7 Password Day

I can’t begin to count how many times I’ve had a new client come to me that has handed over their logins (user names and passwords) for their social sites and website and the passwords are super generic or even guessable based on some basic info I can either Google about the company or the owner.

90% of passwords are hackable

image source: Intel.com

Tuesday, May 7 – is Password Day. lntel has provided a tool that can help you find out if your password is hackable or uncrackable. After I took the tool for a spin looks like I’m guilty of having a hackable password and would take someone roughly 2 hours to crack my password.

I think one of the biggest pieces of advice that Intel provides about picking a password that is going to take some time to adapt to, is moving away from just one password.

Take a peek at the, How Strong is Your Password? tool page – and let us know in the comments below – are you hackable or uncrackable?

Team Eminent SEO

Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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CareerBuilder Survey Reveals Most Wanted Office Perk

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If you could have one perk at your workplace, what would it be?

A recent CareerBuilder survey revealed that half-day Fridays, an on-site fitness center and the ability to wear jeans scored highest on their results. More than 3,900 full-time workers nationwide took part in the survey.

job satisfaction

We currently posed the same question, on our Eminent Social Media Facebook page, so feel free to go contribute your input and answers as well! We’d love to hear what perk you’re leaning towards.

In addition to that same survey with CareerBuilder- two more questions were asked.  “How important is a title?” and “What ultimately entices workers to stay with a company?”

When it came down to the results of a title, 55 percent of the workers polled reflected that title wasn’t the most important factor. The top three to outrank job title were:

1. Flexible Schedule

2. Being Able to make a difference

3. Challenging Work

employee recognition

As far as, “What ultimately entices workers to stay with a company?”, the results weren’t too surprising. Here were the top three:

1. Provide Flexible Schedules

2. Increase Employee Recognition (awards, cash prizes, company trips)

3. Ask employees what they want and put feedback into action

We also decide to share this question on our Eminent SEO Facebook page – so stop by and place your input!

So I suppose, our ultimate question to you is, What determines YOUR overall job satisfaction? 

 

You can see the full list of the results from the CareerBuilder Survey on PR Newswire

Team Eminent SEO

Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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