Tag Archives: Best Practices

Why Well-Written Social Media Copy Makes a Difference

Why Well-Written Social Media Copy Makes Difference - Eminent SEO

To succeed in the social media sphere, businesses must populate their various accounts with consistently strong writing (in addition to strong imagery). It might surprise you to learn, however, that not all social media managers deem themselves writers.

The good news is that writing social media copy isn’t complex. Nevertheless, learning how to write for social media is worth it. Here are some tips on how to write better content for social media – and why it matters.

Why Writing Well Matters

Writing For Facebook & LinkedIn - Eminent SEOEach social media post communicates a business’ brand to its clients. A well-written post paints a positive and polished image of a business, communicating to users that this business has something valuable to say and/or offer.

Meanwhile, a social post that is unfocused or disorganized reflects poorly on a business, hurting any rapport the company had built with existing or potential customers. Poorly written content doesn’t do a business justice and can undermine an organization’s success. Therefore, well-written social media posts are important.

Conciseness

A successful social media writer is informative yet concise. A large amount of value has to be communicated in as few words as possible. A strong social media post compels the reader’s attention with carefully calculated word choice. In short, writing well for the internet involves learning the right style, which we’ll get to later.

Consistency

Social media writing must be consistent. A Facebook page must share the same message a connected Twitter page does. Businesses should give an even level of attention to all social media accounts (unless one platform is clearly fostering better results). If a business is raving about a 50 percent off deal on all products on Twitter but crickets are chirping on its Facebook page, then there is inconsistent communication. The only exception is if the company is pushing a platform-specific offer.

Tailoring the Message to the Platform

On the other hand, consistency in content does not mean universal writing styles for all social media websites. A Facebook post has a 63,206-character limit while Twitter allows no more than 140. A LinkedIn post is intended to be formal and informative, while a tweet’s purpose is to be eye-catching and clever.

The same style and word choice of writing will not work for all social networks, but there must be common ground regarding communicated content over all platforms. This makes mastering the art of social media copywriting all the more challenging.

How Long Can the Social Media Copy Be?

This is the wrong question. Instead of asking how long a social media post can be, you should ask how long the post should be. A tweet can be up to 140 characters, but it shouldn’t be your business’s standard to run every tweet right up until the limit.

Finding the ideal character count for a specific Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn post may sound impossible, but thankfully, researchers have done the heavy lifting to produce ideal word count figures. Here are the findings:

Twitter Facebook LinkedIn Character Post Limits - Eminent SEO

  • Twitter: Post limit: 140 characters. Ideal post length: 71–100 characters. Keep in mind that including any link removes 24 characters. Also, many social media experts recommend using 1–2 hashtags per tweet.
  • Facebook: Post limit: 63,206 characters. Ideal post length: 40 characters. The 60,000+ character limit includes the content that stays hidden unless the user clicks “Read More.” In reality, the character limit before the “Read More” link shows up is only 400.
  • LinkedIn: Post limit: 600 characters. Ideal post length: 25 words. As mentioned earlier, it’s recommended to keep your LinkedIn copy more straightforward and professional than on other platforms.

How Should Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn Posts Be Written?

Each social media network is unique. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn posts have different end goals and different audiences they attempt to reach, and keywords can be specially utilized for each. Therefore, your social media copy should be tailored to fit these expectations.

Here is how the different social media networks operate, and how you can make the best use of keywords on each.

Writing for Twitter

Twitter is essentially a news platform camouflaged as social networking. There is a heavy emphasis on retweeting and content circulation. Twitter is the epitome of something “going viral.” A business that intends to share blog posts or promote website content should find Twitter to be a valuable tool.

As a rule of thumb, resharing article headlines as Twitter post copy should be used in moderation. It is best to tailor the social copy to the content an article is conveying. This entails giving a synopsis of the story or a unique insight, rather than a regurgitation of the article’s headline. In general, try to write complete sentences and clear thoughts on Twitter.

Using Twitter Hashtags and Emoji

Getting Your Hashtag On - Eminent SEO

It is a well-known rule to include hashtags at the end of a post. This will ensure they receive extra attention than they would otherwise. A healthy hashtag limit is 2–3 per post, so do not overuse them. Focus on using important keywords as your hashtags. With a high enough volume of sharing, the keywords can become successful.

In the same way hashtags should not be overused, neither should emoji. However, these icons can be beneficial addition to tweet copy when used economically because they add character to the content.

Including URLs

URLs are helpful to add to tweets. Adding them about 25 percent of the way into the tweet is better than including it at the tail end, according to research. This requires formulating a short introduction, embedding the URL, and then adding a longer explanation.

Writing for Facebook

Laptop Writing For Social Media - Eminent SEOFacebook distributes the most website referral traffic. The audience’s expectation of reading a   Facebook post is for both news and entertainment. Going forward, Facebook will continue to place a greater emphasis on video content.

Keywords are difficult to track through Facebook, but not impossible. You can use keywords in your Facebook status updates, and then click the “See All” option near “Insights.” This should help you quantify the number of users your keywords are reaching, and how viral these terms are.

Contrary to popular opinion, Facebook posts should be short: 40 characters short, believe it or not. Facebook also lowers promotion-heavy posts in its feed. This means posts that include phrases such as, “Act Now!” or, “Purchase Now!” should be avoided because Facebook’s algorithm will flag it. The tone of a Facebook blurb for a blog post or article should be concise, witty and conversational.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a business-centric site, so a company’s content needs to appeal to this mindset. LinkedIn is the site of choice for professional content and business article sharing. As a side note, LinkedIn created LinkedIn Pulse in 2015, which is a content publishing and distribution feature.

LinkedIn writing is clear, concise and respectful. The most important rule for LinkedIn writing is remembering that a professional audience is reading the post. Avoid confusing language, get straight to the point and maintain a professional voice.

For keywords, the most important places to use them are in your location, your professional headline (120 available characters), your personalized URL, your summary of experience, and your overall profile summary. Use these spaces to advertise yourself and your business for best results.

Social Media Copy Can Make or Break Your Business

Stellar social media copy should be a weapon in every business’ arsenal. The written word powers social media (although images and video help, too). Guiding this power effectively through deft writing skills and audience reconnaissance leads to success in the social media realm.

Eminent SEO can help give your business’s social media efforts a boost – either through consulting or even taking control of your many social accounts, ensuring that each receives plenty of enticing, head-turning content every month. Click to learn more about our Social Media Marketing Services, or simply call 800.871.4130 today.

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Is Keyword-Rich Anchor Text No Longer Necessary?

Is Keyword-Rich Anchor Text No Longer Necessary - Eminent SEOAsk any SEO specialist about anchor text, and you may unwittingly spark a lively debate. It’s often a source of both angst and confusion.

With the Google Penguin series of algorithm updates, knowing anchor text best practices is even more important. Here, let’s look into all about anchor text, its role in SEO, and how to make it work for you.

Anchor Text Defined

Anchor text is simply any text that is clickable on a webpage that links to another place on the web. For example, in the phrase, “Eminent SEO can help improve your email marketing strategy,” the anchor text (“Eminent SEO”) links back to our website.

If this link were featured on another website, then you have an example of a process called “link building,” and it’s good for SEO. However, the phrasing can either help your search engine rankings or harm it. The difference is in how you approach your own website’s anchor text, as well as that on other sites that link to yours.

Different Types of Anchor Text

Five Types Of Anchor Text - Eminent SEOSay we’re trying to rank for the keyword “marketing strategy.” There are several types of anchor text that other websites might use to link to ours:

Exact Match

An exact match only anchors the exact keyword we’re looking for:

Example: Eminent SEO can help you hone your email campaign, an essential part of your marketing strategy.

Partial Match

A partial match (also known as a phrase match) anchors the keyword in a phrase:

Example: Eminent SEO can help you hone your email campaign, an essential part of your marketing strategy.

Branded

Branded anchor text would link back to our company, Eminent SEO:

Example: Eminent SEO can help you hone your email campaign, an essential part of your marketing strategy.

Naked URLs

A naked URL has no unique anchor text, just a web address:

Example: Eminentseo.com can help you hone your email campaign, an essential part of your marketing strategy.

Generic

Generic anchor text provides instructions, but does not include any branding or keywords.

Example: Eminent SEO can help you hone your email campaign, an essential part of your marketing strategy. Click here to go to their website.

How Anchor Text Influences Search Rankings

Search engines such as Google use anchor text as a factor in determining a page’s topic and how it should rank. In other words, using the anchor text “marketing strategy” should indicate to Google that the page on the other end of the link is a good fit for that search engine query.

In theory, the more times we score a backlink with the anchor “marketing strategy,” the higher we should rank for that query. But SEO is rarely that simple.

The Problem with Early Anchor Text

When Google’s search algorithm was less refined, the search engine relied heavily on anchor text, perhaps too much so. Around 2008, the company explained that it thought anchors provided more accurate descriptions of websites than the sites themselves. While the practice was sound in theory, it proved to be too easy to manipulate.

SEO specialists could easily cheat the system back then and tie certain adjectival phrases to a specific group or individual. Fair or not, two of the more famous “Google bombs” prior to 2010 were the association of the search phrase “miserable failure” to George W. Bush and “worst band in the world” to Creed.

Google’s Crackdown on Some Keyword-Rich Anchor Text

As a result, the search engine giant began to crack down on the way people could use anchor text for search engine optimization. The largest shift came in 2012, when the first Google Penguin algorithm update released. Its aim? Punishing low-quality and manipulative practices for link building.

Anchor text was one of Penguin’s primary targets, and companies who pursued exact match anchors aggressively saw their Google rankings plunge overnight. The Penguin update was a sort of Black Tuesday for SEO practitioners, who then had to come up with another way to put their websites at the top page of web results.

Companies, too, became twitchy about anchor text, some believing that only branded anchor text was allowed – and that all others would be punished by Google.

How Does Google Punish Anchor Text?

Original Google Penguin Update Affected 3 Percent Of Websites - Eminent SEODoes Google punish everything but branded anchor text? In a word: no. But there’s a right way and wrong way to include anchor text.

Over-optimization of anchor text, for example, is frowned upon. Search engines such as Google and Bing want backlinking to occur naturally. In other words, links should only be in your content if they make sense or if they lead to relevant content. If you have too many links, or if your links look contrived, the Penguin filter could demote the page.

While this sounds harsh, in reality, the original Google Penguin update only affected some 3 percent of websites. If own your content contains links in less than 50 percent of the copy, chances are you will not be affected by Penguin.

What About Link Quality?

Penguin also punishes links that don’t lead to authoritative websites. This discourages rank inflation. Quality backlinking to reliable information ensures your page is relevant. Don’t use anchor text just to grab a keyword. It looks unnatural to Google and will hurt your ranking.

Exact and Partial Anchor Text Still Wields Influence

So, does Penguin punish exact and partial keyword anchor text? A study by Ahrefs sought to find the answer. The study involved analyzing 51 keywords in competitive niches from finance to health, both exact matches and partial matches. Ahrefs found that both exact and partial keyword anchor text continue to have some influence on the top spots in Google searches.

The key here is density. For exact keyword matches, aim for it to be in no more than 1 to 2 percent of all anchor text. Partial matches are more forgiving: 30 percent of anchors containing a keyword phrase are safe from Google penalties.

Anchor Text Best Practices

Google Has Over 200 Ranking Factors - Eminent SEOThe (not-so) final word on anchor text: It continues to influence the top spots in Google searches, especially in competitive niches. But … it’s not as heavily weighted as it used to be since Google now has more than 200 ranking factors.

Don’t be afraid to use keyword-rich anchor text in your own web content, though. If done well, it will help your search engine rankings. Observe some basic best practices:

Make Your Links Relevant

We talked a little bit about the importance of link relevancy in SEO, but it’s more easily understood with an example.

Say you own an aromatherapy store, and you love to blog about it. Ever eager to share your passion with others, you spend a little time each day reading about the newest in aromatherapy. You find an article about a study linking aromatherapy to increased levels of mood-boosting serotonin in the brain.

When you write a blog about this later, you could link back to the study in a couple of different ways:

“To read the study, click here.”

OR:

“A study outlines the effect of aromatherapy on the brain.”

SEO best practices dictate the second phrase (“effect of aromatherapy on the brain”) is more effective, because it is relevant to the topic at hand. Remember, search engines are interested in producing results that are beneficial to the user.

Vary Your Keywords

Google is wary of keywords and anchor text that appear over and over again. If your site’s backlinks all contain the same keyword-rich anchor text, it’s usually a sign those links weren’t acquired naturally.

Shoot for a variety of keyword anchor text, and don’t use the same one each time. This is where the statistics for partial match and exact match keywords come in. In general, try to earn only a few exact keyword matches. Partial keyword phrases are more forgiving, but variation helps in each phrase or term.

And when you’re linking internally or externally, don’t make your anchor phrases too long. Best practice dictates that they should be eight words or fewer for maximum benefit.

For example, if your aromatherapy store is the only store in Atlanta selling sustainable, ethically sourced essential oils, you might want others to link to your website with the keyword phrase “sustainable essential oils in Atlanta.” However, you want the keywords to be varied so you can avoid Google penalties. Similar phrases like these might help:

“Here’s a great site for sustainable essential oils.”

OR:

“Buy quality sustainable oils in Atlanta.”

Each anchor phrase carries pieces of the original keyword, yet they’re varied enough to pass the Google algorithm’s muster.

Bottom Line: Don’t Disregard the Power of Anchor Text

Although dwindling to a degree, anchor text continues to carry weight for current search engine algorithms. Early over-reliance on anchor text has led to a crackdown on the way we use anchor text for SEO purposes. Your mission is to keep earning relevant backlinks with varied keywords, which will help your site earn a place near the top of Google’s rankings.

Search engine optimization is essential for the success of your website. Eminent SEO can help optimize your content (including external links) as well as review your backlink profile. Just call 800.871.4130 if your company needs help with better content and earning stronger backlinks.

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Keep Your Domain Game Strong: Setting Up Your HTTPS Address Improperly Can Cause SEO Issues

Setting Up Your HTTPS Address - Eminent SEO

Be honest: Have you ever tried to fix a problem and accidentally made it worse?

Perhaps you were trying to update your operating system on your computer to make it run faster, only to realize that the new OS isn’t compatible with all your most-used programs.

How about when you’re out to eat with friends and ask the waitress to separate the checks, only to find that you or someone in your party inevitably ends up paying more than they wanted, leaving sour moods and subpar tips for your sweet-natured server.

Or, maybe you added salt and spices to your favorite recipe, only to find out the you’ve ruined the flavor that you grew to love.

Well, when it comes to search engine optimization, there are a few ways that changing up the recipe can result in a less potent presence. Your website may not be broken, but improving your SEO is no simple fix.

The shift from HTTP to HTTPS has left many websites with losses that boil down to improper implementation. Let’s take a moment to address the most common SEO mistakes related to this upgrade, why they’re problematic for your website, and how to fix them.

Everybody’s Switching for the Weekend

34 Percent Google Search Results HTTPS - Eminent SEOAccording to the tech news website Search Engine Land, Google has been making a push for sites to move from HTTP to HTTPS, and reportedly 34 percent of Google search results now begin with an HTTPS prefix.

To give a little context for readers unfamiliar with the differences between HTTP and HTTPS, the former stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol, and describes the process of data exchange between your browser and the server of the website you are visiting. HTTPS contains the same acronym with an added “S” that stands for “secure.”

HTTPS sites are encrypted, which means they have an added security measure to protect confidential online interaction and transactions. Switching to HTTPS makes your site more secure, and Google anticipates many more sites making the switch to this type of domain in the coming years.

Why Would That Affect My Search Visibility?

By switching to HTTPS but keeping your HTTP site live, you run the risk of producing the same content, which would be counterproductive for your search engine rankings. Imagine cloning yourself, and then giving your clone the same name, address, phone number and social security number as you. Many of us are unwittingly doing this with our websites and their search visibility.

While the result is the same – keywords being searched and the user being led to your site – in the competitive field of SEO, the path that leads to your site is a significant factor in determining your site’s search rankings. The overlap of material on two different sites is called duplicate content, and is the biggest mistake web developers make when switching to HTTPS.

Two Roads Diverged in the Woods

Do you know about canonicalization? It’s the simple fix for multiple URLs that lead to the same piece of content or, more commonly, to the same website.

For example, the URL https://www.homedepot.com/shophammers links to the same content as https://www.homedepot.com/store/?home_improvement/hammers. Canonicalization is the process of creating tags so that all similar content points to a dominant site or page. This eliminates the chance of making search engines choose between different pages when delivering a search result.

Link Dilution

Predictably, this is called link dilution – when a single page appears to receive less traffic because it’s being split up between multiple sources. This is the problem that your website faces without canonicalization.

Think of Puff Daddy and all the names he’s gone by over the years. Basically, if he wants to gauge how much search volume he has garnered, then he’ll find a way to point names like “P. Diddy,” “Diddy” and “Sean Combs” to the name he’s going by now. If he’s not able to canonicalize all of his past and alternative names to his current moniker, then he won’t have an accurate picture of his total search volume.

Puff Daddy Mase - ESEO

Basically, proper canonicalization tells search engines which content you’d like them to see and judge for ranking purposes. Will there be alternative URLs out there that basically show the same content? Perhaps, but properly canonicalizing your content means that one source will get all the credit for the alternative versions, and then you’ll have a clearer picture of all related web traffic.

Searching Everywhere for You

These can be difficult concepts to understand, and it gets even more complicated when you consider crawl budget. When Google evaluates your website, it sends its search “spiders” (what better creature to navigate a web, right?) to help the search engine index all topics related to your site: keywords, headlines, synonyms, etc. It also gives you the results in an order that it thinks is most relevant to your search query.

For every website that Google encounters that might contain information useful to you, it searches all the subpages as well. This is known as your crawl budget – the number of subpages Google will sift through to find information useful to the searcher. When you have duplicate content and haven’t taken advantage of canonicalization, the search engines are working twice as hard to find the same information.

Imagine you’re a librarian, and someone asks you to highlight every mention of the word “cake” in the entire library. Now also imagine that someone has made copies of every book in the library, and you still have to find every mention of the word “cake,” including in the copies. You can imagine how much tougher the job would for the poor spiders doing basically the same task!

Give those spiders a break by tightening up your crawl budget and taking advantage of canonicalization. There are plenty of sites tell you more about indexing and crawl budget. Take some time to look those topics and learn more. Google lays it out pretty fantastically here.

What You Need to Do When Setting Up Your HTTPS Address

If You Dont Have Time To Do It Right John Wooden - Eminent SEOTo fix link dilution and other possible errors, Tony Edwards of Elite SEM, in an article for Search Engine Land, suggests 301 redirecting all HTTP URLs of your unsecured website to equivalent HTTPS versions.

This ensures that for every HTTP page of yours discovered by search users, they are automatically redirected to the new HTTPS site. This simple trick minimizes duplicate content and decreases link dilution.

Here are a few more steps that Edwards suggests to fix all of these issues:

  1. Ensure your HTTPS site version is added in Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools. In Google Search Console, add both the www and non-www versions. Set your preferred domain to the HTTPS version.
  2. 301 redirect HTTP URL versions to their HTTPS equivalents sitewide.
  3. Ensure all internal links point to the HTTPS versions sitewide.
  4. Ensure canonical tags point to the HTTPS URL versions.
  5. Ensure your XML Sitemap includes the HTTPS URL versions.
  6. Ensure all external links to your site that are under your control, such as social profiles, point to the HTTPS URL versions.

As far as the old HTTP version of your website, you might as well “noindex” or delete every page from Google’s crawlers once your new HTTPS site is properly set up and you’ve 301 redirected everything. This way, you won’t have to worry about Google and other search engines docking you points for having two versions of the same site live.

Remember This

The internet is becoming exponentially more sophisticated. Don’t let your business suffer by neglecting to optimize your website for search engines (and users). Make your website secure by switching to HTTPS, but also be sure to take extra precaution and avoid the pitfalls discussed above. You, and your business, will be happy you did.

If you need help with setting up your HTTPS address, Eminent SEO can help you find a reputable certificate authority and take charge of the paperwork and many steps involved with making the upgrade. Just call us at 800.871.4130 to learn more!

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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Words Will Sometimes Hurt You: How to Use the Right Words on Your Website to Drive Conversions

Use The Right Words Engagement And Conversions - Eminent SEO

“It’s not what you said. It’s how you said it…”

We’ve all played the role of victim or accuser, whether in a relationship with a significant other, a parent, sibling or even those with whom we work. Miscommunication is at the root of most conflict.

Therefore, effective communication, while subtle, can pay huge dividends – in relationships and business alike. But don’t just take our word for it: Social psychologists and copywriting experts have done the research and strongly agree.

One Word Can Make or Break You

Did you know that a single word can mean the difference between someone buying in or opting out of your message? Social psychologist Ellen Langer once conducted a study that tested the power of a single word. In her experiment, she asked respondents if she could cut in line at a Xerox machine, varying her phrasing slightly in three separate trials to test the effect of her wording.

And what were the results?

  • When Langer phrased her request as, “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine,” she found that 60 percent of respondents agreed to let her cut in line.
  • When the request was rephrased as, “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush,” she noticed that 94 percent of respondents acquiesced.
  • When the request was rephrased to, “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies,” the number changed to 93 percent.

It’s interesting to note the differences between the first and the latter two of Langer’s experiments. As strange as the last question sounds, the real lesson of note is in the barely noticeable drop in positive responses.

What Does This Mean for Me and My Business?

Simply put, if you want people to take action, you need to give them a reason. In fact, the presence of the reason is more important that the reason itself.

People just need a why. If you think about it, it makes sense: Your why is your value proposition, or your mission statement. Which of these requests sounds more enticing to you: “Click here!” or “Click here to find out how to save on your next vacation”?

Clicking on a link, subscribing to an email list, opening an email, and clicking on a new product are just a few examples in a long list of small “sales” that ultimately lead to the final sale, and revenue for your business. And those sales can come oftentimes down to a single word.

Turning Clicks to Cash

Word Choice Definition - Eminent SEOAs you can see, getting new customers to buy into your brand or product is tricky business. There’s a reason why companies and universities spend millions of dollars annually to study what makes you say yes or no.

When it comes to conversion rate, especially, wording is everything. Fortunately, companies like Ogilvy & Mather have done the dirty work for us, compiling lists of the most persuasive and influential words to use to increase conversion rates.

It should come as no surprise that words like you, free, because, instantly and new are at the top of the list for most persuasive words in the English language. Here are some examples of email subjects using those words to generate high open rates:

  • “Thank you, Chris!”
  • “Sneak peek of our new video”
  • “Update your profile instantly”

Of course, email opens, while important, are not the only type of conversion. David Ogilvy, the marketing mastermind behind Ogilvy & Mather, went a step further and published a list in 1963 of the most influential words in his industry. Some examples are:

  • Suddenly
  • Now
  • Announcing
  • Introducing
  • Amazing
  • Sensational
  • Remarkable
  • Revolutionary
  • Startling
  •  Miracle
  •  Magic
  •  Quick
  •  Easy
  •  Hurry
  •  Instantly

If you look carefully at these words, you should notice some thematic similarities between them. Each of the terms on this list either appeal to a sense of novelty, or to a sense of instant gratification. This is a powerful concept – one taps into the complex wiring of the human brain.

I Want It Now!

Think back to the first time you tried a new flavor of ice cream that you loved, or the first time you made it to a new level on your favorite video game. The rush of satisfaction that you felt was your brain’s production of dopamine, the chemical released in our brains that signifies a reward.

According to Kelsey Libert in her article This is your Brain on Viral Content: What Psychology Says You’ll Click On, the region in the brain that is responsible for motivation and reward-processing (aka consumer decisions) responds better to novelty than to the familiar.

Put simply, “When the brain discovers a novel idea, it releases a reward (dopamine) that inspires us to go searching for more.” In the wrong hands, this is the root of insatiable drug addictions. In the hands of savvy marketing, it is the foundation for an effective conversion.

When you consider that the same rush of dopamine happens when we experience instant gratification, it is no wonder that Ogilvy’s list of influential words all trigger novelty and instant gratification.

Use The Right Words at the Right Time

Thought Corrupts Language George Orwell - Eminent SEOYour work isn’t done once you have chosen powerful words. The best marketing involves the most powerful words in the right situations. For example, Leo Widrich of Buffer and Social Media Today once compiled a list of “189 Phrases That Influence, Persuade, and Convert.” Widrich told us that in order to encourage community, use phrases such as:

  • Join
  • Become a member
  • Come along

Remember that pyramid by Abraham Maslow that you had to memorize in high school Psychology? As it turns out, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs brilliantly explains why marketing that encourages a sense of belonging satisfies a deep psychological need within our brain. Similarly, by using influential phrases that imply scarcity like “only 3 left” or “limited offer,” marketers can appeal to our most basic needs.

Final Word(s)

At the end of the day, it seems that no matter how smart we think we are as consumers, we’re all slaves to our desire. Any self-aware business will partner with a marketing firm that understands these desires and knows how to turn them into sales.

To put it bluntly, we want what we want when we want it. And even if we don’t want it, you can convince us that we want it if you can use the right words at the right time, give us a reason, and associate it with our basic needs.

If you need help with optimizing your website with high-quality, strategic copy that can drive clicks and conversions, try out Eminent SEO. Learn about our Landing Page Optimization Services here, or call 800.871.4130 today.

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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Vol. 57: Eminent Team Photoshoot; Google Offers Final Word on 301 Redirects

Eminent SEO Photoshoot Group Shot Mesa AZ

Eminent SEO News: Team Photoshoot

The Eminent team recently did a professional photoshoot outside our Mesa, Arizona office so we could have some upgraded group and individual pictures to work with. And we’re happy to say the photos are in and ready to use! See one of the fruits of that photoshoot above.

We’re planning on refreshing our website over the next couple of months, so look out for more of these new images when the site relaunches.

More Eminent SEO News: July Birthdays and Work Anniversaries

Jason SanMarco New Headshot - Eminent SEOOur lone July birthday and work anniversary belonged to one individual: Jason SanMarco, our Senior User Experience Designer. Jason had his second work anniversary with Eminent on July 14, and then his birthday on the 23rd. Talk about a big month!

Happy birthday again, Jason, and thanks for all you do for the Eminent team!

What’s New in SEO: Google Says 301 and 302 Redirects No Longer Hurt Your Search Rankings

SEO experts and web developers know all about 301 redirects. It’s when a user clicks on or types in a URL and gets forwarded to another address, usually belonging to the same website.

SEO knowledge has long dictated that you shouldn’t want users to pass through a redirect before landing on any page on your site. It is occasionally necessary to create a 301 (or an entire table), due to a page or pages you want to get rid of or consolidate. In that case, you redirect the old URL to the new address or the most similar page of content on your site. Even so, if any other websites were linking to a page you’ve now deleted, you might have been inclined to make those individuals aware of the new, most-relevant URL, so that their users don’t pass through a redirect when clicking over to your site.

If many users were passing through a redirect to reach a certain page, then that page would be missing out on search-ranking “points,” so to speak, meaning it wouldn’t rank as high in Google Search as it should.

However, multiple Google authorities recently had the final word on 301, 302 (temporary) and other 300 redirects. In a tweet last month, Google Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes confirmed that all 300-level redirects do not lose “PageRank” value any longer. This means that your website is no longer docked a few points if users are reaching it through redirects.
Simpsons Homer Woo Hoo 301 Redirects - ESEO
Search Engine Land notes that Google’s Matt Cutts said the same thing specifically about 301 redirects back in 2013, but that SEO experts weren’t sure if the same applied to all other 300-level redirects, until now. And, apparently, this has been the case for “a while,” according to Google’s John Mueller, as reported by Search Engine Land.

Now, that’s not to say you should start going in a redirecting all over the place, but this is very good news for those of us who manage websites. Search Engine Land reports that some SEO experts simply do not believe Google on this matter, but at the very least, we have several authorities within the company on the record saying that 300-level redirects no longer hurt your search engine rankings.

July Social Media Roundup

Over the last couple of months, we’ve been experimenting with an all-new image strategy for our clients, consisting of bright, beautiful and shareable photos. As for our own social channels, see the highlights of what we shared in July below.

Good Vibes Van On Beach - Eminent SEO
Google Processes 40000 Search Queries Every Second - Eminent SEO

July Blog Roundup

Did you miss any of the July posts on the Eminent SEO Blog? Looking for some website, social media and branding tips? Sure you are! Get caught up on our recent blog posts by reading the recaps below and clicking on the article(s) of your choice. Don’t forget to subscribe to our blog if you haven’t already!

Weighing in on Thin Content: Does Your Website Need to Fatten Up?

Have you heard of thin website content? It comes in various forms, and it hurts your search engine rankings. It could even get you penalized. Learn about several types of thin content here, and then how you can help your website “fatten up.”

10 Ways Social Media Can Help You Stand Out in the Job Search Process

What if somebody told you that they found their job through social media? Sound crazy? Well, it’s not all that far-fetched. Get 10 ideas here on how you can leverage social media to stand out from your competition while job hunting.

Fundamentals of Logo Design: 6 Questions to Ask When Designing a Company Logo

Time to design a brand new logo for your business? Or are you looking to see if your current logo measures up to your competition and reflects your mission statement? Then you need to ask yourself these six questions before, during and after the logo-design process.

Featured Service: Domain Registration

Ready to purchase the domain on which your company’s website will be built? Sometimes, it’s not so simple, though. What if the domain you have in mind is already claimed? After all, there are roughly 300 million domains registered worldwide.

Did you already register your company’s name with the state, too? Then you’re going to be in for quite a bumpy ride.

This is where Eminent SEO can come in. If your ideal domain is already taken, we’ll do some extensive research on other possible choices, and then we’ll decide on an address that makes sense with your brand and still lets customers find you easily.

Better yet, if you’re in the process of forming a company but you’ve haven’t locked in the business name yet, this is the perfect time to come to us too. We can help with developing your brand name. Market research and URL availability will be part of the mix before we give you our final recommendation.

Get premium brand and domain consulting when you go with Eminent SEO. To get started, visit our Domain Registration page or call 800.871.4130 today!

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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Weighing in on Thin Content: Does Your Website Need to Fatten Up?

Thin Content Ghost Town - Eminent SEO
All you’re looking for is a one stop-shop site to get all the answers to your search. Is that so hard to ask?

But what do you keep getting?

A slew of websites that send you on a wild goose chase, making you frantically click and open new tabs just to get the same insignificant answer over and over again.

We’ve all been there. We just want an easy search!

When They Ask for a Burger, Give Them a Steak!

Eminent SEO - Eat Steak - 7-06-16You don’t want to be a site that overpromises and underdelivers. Consumers want searches to be easy and straightforward, and they hate getting the runaround.

When you provide mediocre, irrelevant or scarce information on your site, you run the risk of losing credibility with your audience, therefore handing over any potential profit to the site that actually delivers.

So, What’s It to You?

The first principle to understand is that search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.) have the right to check for quality and the power to set standards for your website to follow.

Google is, by far, the most-used search engine around the world, so it is important to understand that yes, it is your business, but your webpage and its quality and content also represent Google in a way.

The same way a restaurant sets uniform, grooming and tardiness guidelines for employees to follow, Google does the same for any website belonging to a business or individual. It’s not a stretch to think of yourself as a Google brand ambassador. After all, it’s trying to serve up high-quality, relevant content to its search users.

What Is Thin Content, You Ask?

Well, let’s talk about it! In a nutshell, thin content is not giving your drop-in visitors exactly what they’re looking for in search. Additionally, it lacks substantial content or interest. This can manifest in several different ways, so let’s discuss what thin content is and how to detect and prevent it.

Doorway Pages

Do you remember when you were a child going on a scavenger hunt? One clue led you to the next destination, only to produce another riddle to figure out. Luckily, as a child, part of the fun is there’s nothing at stake other than a handsome reward at the end. Well, in the SEO world, doorway pages are very much like leading visitors on a scavenger hunt, except their time and energy are more precious. And for you, time is money.

A doorway page is one that provides minimal content and instead tries to lead the user to a secondary page rather than providing the direct result or answer, aka the handsome reward. This can be extremely frustrating for consumers looking to gather information on a particular subject, product or service. With attention spans decreasing at an alarming rate, it is imperative that you shoot straight and provide a page with “meaty” and meaningful answers that hit the mark every single time.

Little Giants - Pump You Up - ESEO

The best thing to do with doorway pages is to kick ‘em to the curb! They are not necessary and only serve as fillers on your site. They also give the impression to users that you do not have any relevant, informative or original information to share with them, so they might as well go someplace else. You lose credibility, which means your traffic will go nowhere but down.

Spun Pages

At some point, everyone has had that one friend who hears you tell a joke that gets a good laugh, and then they later deliver that joke to someone else in attempt to get the same laugh. You just sit back and give them the “horse eye” knowing that you were the originator and wait to get the credit that’s due – but then you don’t. A great comedian is an original comedian, and although imitation is the highest form of flattery, it is only so when credit is given.

Spun pages are a lot like a bad comedian: They are a watered-down version of the original. These pages are a compilation of information from other sites, reworded (maybe) and renamed as their own. There is no new or interesting insight that makes it stand out, and no relevant contribution to the conversation. In all likelihood, the goal of your site is to build traffic and give your audience a reason to return. If there isn’t original information, you can kiss another opportunity goodbye.

Billy Madison You Blew It - ESEO

The trick to improving spun pages is to generate content from someone who knows what they’re talking about. Finding writers with experience and a certain expertise in that particular area can increase your rankings and can help you avoid being penalized for having a generic page, while also giving your readers something to look forward to. So, even when the topic isn’t all that original, the key is to write it in your own words and add value.

Low-Word Count Pages

The concept of “thin” is somewhat intuitive, so you can imagine that “low-word count page” means just that: The page is lacking content. Once a standard has been set, usually 300 words, if you have a page that dips below that line, it communicates to your audience that you do not have enough relevant information to provide them or that the content lacks depth. Once again, this encourages them to go elsewhere, taking potential dollars out of your pocket.

A very simple, yet often missed, solution for low word count is to simply increase it – not with “fluff” or “filler” words, but with fresh, engaging information that adds layers to the foundation you’ve already laid.

Granted, not every single page on your site needs to be deluged with paragraph after paragraph (such as “Contact Us” pages), but for everything else, take the time to make it interesting and helpful to the reader. Perhaps bring some statistics and research into the fold, and use your content to answer all relevant questions the average reader would have about the topic that brought them to your website in the first place.

Do You Need to Fatten Up?

New Girl - Nick Eating Burrito - ESEO

So, we’ve jumped in and discussed just a few basic examples of what “thin” content looks like – although there are plenty more scenarios – and touched on how to fix them. Now, let’s rewind for a moment and discuss how you can detect whether your website is “thin” or not.

It’s Time to Get with the Program

The most thorough way to go about detecting thin content is to take a multifaceted approach and tackle it from many angles. Luckily, there are desktop applications like Screaming Frog or Deep Crawl that start with the basics. These applications can do a word count scan and report pages that may need to be “beefed up.” The caveat is that they do not check for quality within the page, and instead focus strictly on word count, so don’t just stop with one of these tools.

Where Screaming Frog or Deep Crawl may leave off, Google Analytics seems to cover the rest of the ground. Google’s tool has the ability to see exactly how much time a user spends on the entire site, and can even break down how much time is spent on each page within a website, in addition to letting you know your “bounce rates.” Google Analytics can also do a general quality check of content within the website to decipher what appears to be relevant and what needs improvement.

However, relying solely on applications can still leave holes in your website that can only be addressed by doing a manual scan and audit of each and every page. Although potentially time-consuming and tedious, a manual audit is a sure-fire way to cover all your bases and ensure your website adheres to Google’s standards, so long as you know what you’re looking for. Hopefully, all you’ve been reading here has given you a clearer idea on how to identify and rectify your own thin content.

Conclusion

Just having any ol’ website isn’t good enough if you have any hope of building a business and reaching consumers. You must stay in compliance with search engines’ guidelines and stay on top of not only your competition, but SEO standards as well.

Thin content can severely impact your website and ROI if not monitored and quickly modified. First impressions are everything, and with the right attention to detail regarding your website – and a little extra “meat” – you’ll be sure to leave a lasting one.

Need help spotting thin content on your site and with producing high-quality information and media to replace or enhance it? Eminent SEO can help. Learn more about our Website Content Services here, or call 800.871.4130 today!

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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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7 Elements to Look for in an Evolving Marketing Agency – and How to Avoid Being Left Behind

Futuristic Evolving Marketing Agency - Eminent SEO

Marketing practices have dramatically evolved over the years, and it looks like changes within this industry are not slowing down any time soon. The boom of the internet has rapidly altered the way we target niche audiences, which means that expectations for marketing agencies have shifted. Clients are expecting a much more symbiotic relationship in which the marketing agency is held accountable for its actions, or inaction.

Building Trust is Key!

Key Icon Orange - Eminent SEOWhen perusing the internet for a specific need, customers support the companies they feel are transparent and which have a simple and effective solution for their dilemma. The same idea applies when shopping for a marketing agency to boost a company’s online presence.

You want your marketing firm to show transparency and point out any inefficiencies in your current tactics or approach. Gone are the days of simply clocking hours and sending an invoice. Clients are looking for creativity, speed and efficiency, as well as an agency that can be proactive rather than trying to keep it “business as usual.”

Just Keep It Simple

With so many new technologies to track demographics, results, etc., marketers will have to take the initiative and become proficient in these programs and software to alleviate client stress. There’s just too much for the average client to keep up with. By becoming the expert, marketers are able to simplify the tasks of the client to save them time and labor dollars, as well as the stress of trying to learn new programs.

Pricing Structure and Effectiveness

Moving forward, evolving marketing agencies are beginning to get hip to the idea of pricing based on effectiveness rather than productivity. Clients now are looking for outside-the-box thinking and proactivity in their campaigns, and many of these tactics aren’t “billable.”

It’s easy to track time spent, projects completed, dollars per hour, etc., but how exactly do you bill a suggestion to change a strategy or creativity? Well, agencies sure are figuring this out if they want to stay relevant!

What About Content Marketing?

Content marketing has evolved and become much more intuitive and niched. Advances in technology have allowed this new generation of marketing to move at lightning speed to rival the shortened attention spans of millennial users.

Content marketing isn’t as simple and direct as it has been in the past. Marketers now have the ability to actually reach out to their demographic of consumers with features like geo-fencing and push notifications. This type of proactive and intuitive marketing allows businesses to gain more traffic by identifying their customers and sending them valuable content, rather than waiting to be searched for.

The Rise of Technology in Content Marketing

The rapid and relatively recent explosion of technology continues to challenge marketing agencies to improve their strategies by providing immediate feedback, tracking and general analysis of websites and content. Since a major goal of content marketing is to generate interest in and traffic on a particular website, simply tracking final sales would be an inaccurate and incomplete measure of success.

Evolving marketing agencies need to look for programs and software that provide enough information to be able to shift tactics in a reasonable time frame, so that they avoid investing time and money into a failing venture.

How Does an Evolving Marketing Agency Measure the Value of Its Content?

Measuring Tape Icon Orange - Eminent SEOThis is a tough question to answer since there isn’t a clear distinction between digital and traditional marketing anymore. Compelling content isn’t as simple and straightforward as it used to be. It isn’t just informational; it’s personal. It requires much more creativity and must possess an empathetic tone to customers.

Keep in mind, however, that the same blueprint cannot and will not work the same for each business. This is why it is imperative for agencies to invest in content creation and stop thinking of it as an expense.

The need for journalists with strong PR backgrounds is also on the rise. This particular skill-set is essential in creating the right type of content to generate “clicks.” The initial investment in this type of content has the potential to drum up business for years to come.

The Blurred Lines of Media Convergence

Another development that evolving marketing agencies need to keep their eyes on is the convergence of media platforms. This means that several current platforms will eventually blend into a single digital form. As this happens, content will become more diversified and the quality and value at which it is produced will increase.

The downside, however, is that as information becomes streamlined, many demographics will become underrepresented and unheard from. Those controlling the technology driven industry run the risk of losing potential customers when content is no longer relevant to diverse markets.

The Business-to-Business Element

As if the marketing game hasn’t changed enough, another element to consider is B2B, or business-to-business marketing. Creating value is the name of the game. Many companies are beginning to understand that other businesses are a huge source of revenue for them. However, some are now realizing they can’t market to a business the same way they market to an individual consumer.

B2B marketing promotes the sale of goods and services to other businesses in a way that adds value to the prospective client’s practices. The trick is to market in such a way that a business that purchases your product becomes willing to endorse your name. You have to make it clear what’s in it for them.

The Change Is Here

Max Monster Looking Out To Future - Eminent SEOThe content marketing arena has proven to be an aggressive force in redefining the slowly dying career track of journalism. Subsequently, evolving marketing agencies are currently paving the way for the future of their industry by quickly adapting to the technological advances in our ever-advancing digital world. Companies must be able to understand how their audiences are receiving and responding to their messages, so they must hire agencies that can provide compelling and creative avenues to reach a range of consumers.

The expectation of marketing agencies is changing, as are the litany of challenges they face in staying ahead of their competition. These agencies are required to be much more transparent and show more empathy toward potential clients. Evolving marketing firms are learning to get out of the driver’s seat and instead walk hand-in-hand with their clients. The relationship is changing, but if agencies and their clients can learn to meet in the middle, the result will be a new and satisfied customer – which is the greatest result of all.

Looking for a marketing agency that offers customized solutions for your needs and meticulously tracks all results while maintaining the utmost transparency? Talk to 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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Social Media Takeover: How the Wrong Social Media Strategy Can Drain Your Marketing Budget

Wrong Social Media Strategy Can Cost You Thousands - Eminent SEO

When we’re living in an era when you can legitimately put a profession such as “Instagram Model” on a resúmé, you know just how powerful a tool social media can be. A once-lonely and overlooked high school girl can instantly turn famous by clicking, posting and creating a massive following. Just like that, she’s a business.

Well, it doesn’t quite work the same if your goal is to grow your business, put money in the bank, maintain a reputation and expand. What too many businesses don’t understand is how the wrong social media strategy can cost them thousands of potential dollars.

So, Where’s the Disconnect Here?

The internet age is actually still in its infancy, but it’s growing and maturing at lightning speed. It’s seemingly impossible to keep up with the amount of information that is constantly generated, no matter how valuable. There’s simply too much.

Additionally, there is a general naivety and lack of awareness about the power of social media and exactly how to use it to generate revenue. Many business owners don’t even know that an actual strategy is needed in social media to accomplish their business goals.

Every click, like, share, comment or request is all potential dollars for your growing business. Using the right social media platform and reaching out to your niche audience are what most businesses fail to comprehend. Instead, they use the wrong social media platform and cater to the wrong audience.

Your goal is to engage with your audience frequently enough to build the type of relationship that will foster loyalty and support your business.

It’s Always Best to Work Smarter, Not Harder

Money Down The Drain - Eminent SEOSocial media is a game and a precise strategy needs to be involved. There are rules to play by if you want to win. It’s not good enough to just show up on the sidelines and expect to get a trophy. You have to get in there, know your opponent, and then play better and harder.

Wasting your time Instagramming when you should be Facebooking can cost you labor dollars and decrease your online exposure – and eventually your ROI. This is why narrowing down your niche audience is so important. Snapchat is used by a much different generation and demographic than Facebook or even Instagram, and you certainly don’t want to waste your time and efforts on the wrong platform.

Don’t Be Afraid to Pull the Trigger!

Now let’s take a closer look at what evaluating a social media strategy looks like for an agency. Let’s say a client was a trendy new yoga studio located just outside of a major city. The social media agency may start with posting content on general health, wellness, the benefits of yoga, etc. to multiple social platforms. The marketers begin to notice that there are very few “likes,” comments and share on all of their posts.

The agency may start to realize that most social media platforms are image-driven, so it begins to repost the same content and add an image. This simple addition generates a significant amount of interest and response from the client’s audience, and then interaction with followers becomes more frequent.

Well, that’s great, but there are still one or two platforms (let’s say Snapchat and Tumblr) that are still not generating as much “buzz” as Facebook and Instagram. At this point, it may be better to ditch those two platforms and pour all social media marketing dollars into the ones remaining.

Now would be a great time to reevaluate the client’s target audience and the overall social strategy. The agency may conclude that there is an older demographic interested in the studio from a few clues:

  1. They are getting most of their responses from Facebook and Instagram.
  2. The studio is located outside of the city, which means the audience is most likely made up of people who are settling down and have families.
  3. Through geo-fencing strategies, this demographic has been targeted and has been receiving ads and promotions.

That’s still not the end of the agency’s marketing efforts. The marketers can now get even more detailed in their approach, and they can better specify exactly which kind of images appeal to the client’s target demographic.

The agency realizes that this “older” Facebook and Instagram crowd may be intimidated by images of yogis bending and twisting like a professional contortionist, so it decides to only use images that a healthy person at any age can easily do. This will show that the yoga studio welcomes all levels and ages of health and wellness. Even a small tweak such as this will boost audience interaction even more, which can quickly translate to direct membership sales for the studio.

The Moral of the Story:

Agencies must be quick to adjust, evaluate and reevaluate, and they can never slip into a place of complacency when strategizing for a business. They must be prepared to ditch any platform that is not producing results, based on the initial goal, and move forward with the others quickly.

But What if You’re Not the Young Instagram Model or the Stay-At-Home Mom Starting Her Own Business?

Social Media Thumbs Up Bar Chart - Eminent SEOA cheeseburger affects an Olympic marathoner differently than someone having a triple bypass. Posting frequency works very much the same. While some individual social media users can post multiple pictures and content all throughout the day, a thriving business using this tactic will quickly be considered spam. In order to capitalize on your platform and not chase away followers, it’s important to follow the rules of engagement.

Your main goal should be to increase followers and keep them engaged with your content. If you “overshare” and flood their timelines, you easily run the risk of getting unfollowed – or those who still follow you will quickly become overwhelmed by your content.

Building your business using social media is a marathon, not a sprint. The more consistent you are at posting on the correct platform, the more traffic you’ll see, and the more likes and shares you’ll receive. Additionally, your brand will make a name for itself and the money will flow – if you stay committed and consistent.

Seems Like a Full-Time Job in Itself, Huh?

Well, you can certainly take advantage of social media dashboards like Hootsuite or Buffer that make creating and posting content much easier. They allow you to create multiple social media streams, post to all of them at the same time, and even schedule out posts in advance. Again, consistency is key! Using these dashboards will allow you to account for human error, forgetfulness and even laziness all with a simple click. These social tools are all about convenience.

Don’t miss out on the chance to generate interaction and engagement with your followers because you didn’t stick with it. Social media is about investing time and constantly doing research in order to reap the rewards.

Don’t Forget to Track Your Progress!

How do you know you’re losing weight without a scale? Just like someone trying to drop weight can’t gauge their progress without a scale, a business cannot assess its progress without tracking it. This means recording the number of likes on a post, the comments left, the number of shares, etc. They all matter.

There’s always room for growth and development, so if one strategy or platform doesn’t work, no need to worry. Just switch up your game until you find your sweet spot. Again, repeat business and a strong brand reputation requires customer loyalty, so it’s important to quickly change and adapt to what your audience wants to hear or learn.

Can You Track Sales Through Social Media?

Now, social media isn’t the easiest way to track precise sales, but it’s possible to get an approximation.

Buffer is an excellent resource to help you calculate tangible goals and project the outcome of your social media campaigns. You can see just how much money you will be able to generate and can soon watch a “click-click” turn into a “cha-ching!”

Knowing is half the battle. When you know your goal and how it translates to revenue, you are able to strategize in the most effective way for your business.

Getting Help so You Don’t Have the Wrong Social Media Strategy

Social media is the way businesses market now. Buying a local ad is a waste of money if you know how to work your social media and maximize your efforts. Not jumping on board and becoming educated on all the tricks can cost your business some serious change, and who can afford that?

It’s all about finding the best strategy for your business and then adjusting it and making it even better as you ramp your efforts up. Eminent SEO is a leading industry professional here to guide you and perform market research on your behalf to quickly decrease your costs and increase your profit!

If you are overwhelmed right now, don’t be. That’s why we’re here! As the internet continues to develop, the type of resources at our disposal will expand, including ones that will help us streamline your efforts. The trick is to stay abreast of your competition and put out more useful content that drives consumers to your website.

Eminent SEO is here to guide you and help you filter through steps to save you time and frustration. We can remove all of the guesswork and tell you which social platforms are working best and what kind of online engagement can be expected. Click to learn more about our Social Media Marketing Services, or call 800.871.4130 to get started now.

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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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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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Why You Shouldn’t Neglect to Optimize Your Website’s 404 Page

Neglecting To Optimize 404 Page - Eminent SEO

A 404 webpage is returned whenever a user mistypes a URL, follows an errant link, or lands on a page that has moved or been deleted.

This type of page is only returned in the event of an error, so there’s little point in putting effort into your website’s 404 offering, right? Won’t users just hit the back button if they see a 404 page, whether they were on your website immediately prior?

Well, the answers to those two questions are no and not necessarily.

Companies who take the time to fill out their website’s 404 page can demonstrate the three following characteristics:

  • Their personality
  • Their level of creativity
  • Attention to detail

Filling out your website’s 404 page signals to your existing and prospective customers that you’re thorough and that you care about your website’s user experience. There’s also some strategy involved in how you attempt to direct visitors from your 404 page. And ultimately, there’s SEO value in how you handle your 301 redirects and when the 404 page actually appears. If numbers like 404 and 301 don’t really ring a bell, learn about all of the HTTP response codes in this comprehensive list from Mozilla.

In this post, we’ll take a look at:

  • Why 404 pages appear
  • How to lay out your website’s 404 page
  • Some top examples of 404 pages across the internet
  • When to redirect 404s and when it’s OK to leave them be

Why 404 Errors Happen

Ideally, a user would never land on a 404 when trying to access any area or any file of your website. But it’s going to happen eventually. Your domain doesn’t cover every imaginable combination of letters, numbers and symbols past your .com (or whichever top-level domain extension you use), so 404s are bound to happen every once in a while, no matter how well you cover your bases with 301 redirects.

404 pages aren’t the end of the world. Someone either just flubbed a character or two in manually trying to reach a page on your site, or maybe another website or social media user tried to link to your site but errantly copied the URL. Anyone who tries to follow a faulty link will land on a 404 under your domain.

Thankfully, Google doesn’t penalize your site for returning a 404 page here or there. But if you have an inordinate amount of 404 errors on your hands, then you have a problem. Running a site-wide crawl and then 301 redirecting any broken links will fix that issue right up for you.

Besides deleting a page entirely or slightly tweaking an existing URL, 404s can also happen when you move your entire website to a new domain. You need to 301 redirect every single old URL to the equivalent version on the new site. Links to your old address will get broken if you don’t redirect them to the new domain. Think of it like forwarding your snail mail to a new address.

404 Page Optimization

While you don’t want the search engines to index your website’s 404 page, your objective here is to entice users toward another section of your site.

Besides some snappy graphics and language that makes it clear that there’s a problem with the URL, your 404 page should also maintain the same menu layout as the rest of your site. This includes an easily identifiable button (usually your logo) that takes the user to your homepage.

Here are those strategies in action, as seen on our 404 page:
Eminent SEO 404 Page Screenshot

Our error page also includes a search field so users can type in a term if they’ve deliberately landed on our website expecting to read about a certain topic.

Google itself has a few suggestions for creating 404 pages, including the idea of adding links to your most popular pages, blog posts, etc.

Adjusting URLs and Redirecting

And finally, when it comes to optimization, there are two steps you should take that don’t deal with the 404 on-page content itself, but instead concern URLs.

First, cover your bases by directing any logical misspellings of your site’s main URLs to the correct address. What this means is if you have a Services overview page, your URL will probably will look like “www.example.com/services/.” If somebody just types in “service” at the end of that string, you should have them redirected to your Services page, rather than returning a 404 for such an innocent mistake.

Another example is if your About page is structured as “www.example.com/about-us/,” make sure you have “www.example.com/about/” redirect to the correct URL. Take time to do this for every major page of your site, rather than leaving your 404 page as catch-all for common misspellings or variations of primary URLs.

Second, although your 404 page will show up for every errant URL related to your domain, make sure it actually shows up if a user searches for it directly, such as if they type in “www.example.com/404/.” You’d be surprised how many websites with even the best 404 pages have failed to get this right.

Speaking of the best 404 pages, let’s look at some shining examples across the web that may give you a little inspiration on how to flesh out your website’s error page.

Awesome 404 Page Examples

You can tell that many companies and individual website owners have fun with their 404 pages. As I mentioned earlier, it’s a chance to show off your creativity and even the personality of your business. It’s also just one more place where you can reiterate your brand strategy, as you can see in our 404 example above.

While no 404 page category has been created yet for either The Webby Awards or the American Advertising Awards (fka the ADDYs), there seems to be a healthy competition on the internet for who can serve up the greatest 404.

Beware that if you try to use copyrighted material on your 404 page, you may get sued or at least asked to remove the content in question. Two sites on this TIME “Web’s Best Error Pages” list from 2014 have found out the hard way, as you’ll no longer see images from “Dumb and Dumber” and “Jurassic Park” if you click on the links provided in the TIME article.

Here are some exemplary static and interactive 404 pages that you can find across the internet currently:

Stellar Static 404 Pages

Heinz Error Page Ketchup BottleUniversally recognized ketchup-maker Heinz could probably use an update of its website, but its error page has been catching eyeballs for years, and is still top of the line. Not only does Heinz feature its iconic ketchup bottle in a metaphorical way, but the page is optimized in a manner that lets visitors easily navigate toward other parts of the overall site.


eHarmony 404 Page Screenshot
When you land on this page, it’s readily apparent which site it belongs to. The broken heart image easily ties into eHarmony’s overall brand. The page also gives you clear options on where to go next.


Mashable 404 Page Screenshot
Awesome. Mashable’s toe-ripping-through-a-sock image on its 404 page is unforgettable. A search field is also provided and the main navigation is right at the top. This media company certainly put much more effort into its 404 page than most other national news-related sites have cared to.


CSS-Tricks 404 Page Rip
CSS-Tricks is an online community for web developers, and its 404 page plays right into its audience. The only problem here is the page offers no links to the rest of the site, or anywhere else, for that matter. Great image, though. If you look at the meta title, it explains the concept of this 404 page: “You’ve ripped a hole in the fabric of the internet. Love, Chris from CSS-Tricks.”


Impressive Interactive and Non-Static Pages

Blue Daniel 404 Page Screenshot
There’s a lot to see but not a lot to do on BlueDaniel.com, home of Daniel Karcher Film Design Studios. The homepage is just one full-browser video with audio and no clickable buttons or text. The 404 page, however, is as great as any you’ll find. It takes place in a subway station and has a moving passenger train. The motion image features posters for the TV series “LOST” and film “The Missing,” and a subway sign that reads, “Please proceed to the main level.”


Tripomatic Desert 404 Page Screenshot
Online itinerary maker Tripomatic can also make a case for best 404 page on the web. This page features a full-browser scene of a sun and moon setting over a desert landscape. The scene goes from dawn to twilight to dusk, and it loops endlessly. The website’s navigation is not featured, but there is a large button to go to the homepage.


Blue Fountain Media Pacman 404
Can’t find a page on BlueFountainMedia.com (a digital marketing agency)? No problem. Just play “Pacman” instead, as featured on the website’s popular error page. The average time on page must be insane for this creative offering.


Hot Dot 404 Page Screenshot
Hot Dot Productions, a digital artistry firm, offers an error page that features a large “404” made out of tiny, pulsating dots. The page interacts with your browser as well, changing your vantage point of the manic dots.


MailChimp 404 Page Screenshot
Email service provider MailChimp serves up a 404 page that features its recognizable mascot in an eerie forest setting. Fog slowly creeps across the frame, adding to the uneasiness. If this scene creeps you out too much, you can easily access MailChimp’s navigation at the top or search the site using the field right above the green-looking monkey.


Tinsanity 404 Page Screenshot
This error page is currently the best thing about Tinsanity.net, which has no content at the moment and a homepage that only links to two other sites. This 404 page features a panicked cup-and-straw beverage that skips frantically across the screen. There’s also some (very loud) audio to go with it.


When to Redirect 404s

Some websites are coded in a way that any time a visitor prompts a 404 error code, he or she is redirected to the homepage. This is known as a global 404 redirect. Although this seems like a viable way to keep visitors on your site when a 404 is served, it actually frustrates many users. They might think it’s a glitch, or because they came to your website looking for specific information, showing your homepage instead does nothing for them.

Instead of employing a global redirect, just take the time to spruce up your 404 page and run a site crawl to help you mitigate how many times users are receiving this error code. If some of the 404s keep coming from in house (meaning you have a navigational or other internal link that is broken), make sure you fix the error right away.

But What if I Have Backlinks to a 404 Page?

A backlink audit will tell you if other websites are still linking to a deleted or moved page within your domain. For a refresher on backlinks and to see which tools you can use to run this type of audit, click here.

If any external sites are linking to what is now a 404 page on yours, you should be choosy about which links you want to keep. If the page has simply been moved, you can 301 redirect the broken link to the new address, but it’s actually better to contact someone affiliated with the site linking to you and provide them with the new URL for the link. Links that pass through a 301 in order to reach their destination lose a little bit of power in Google’s eyes.

The above tactic should only apply if it’s a link you want to keep. If a low-quality site is linking to what is now a 404 page on your site, it’s actually not detrimental to your SEO to let the link stay as is. Backlinks from highly authoritative sites are the ones you want to uphold. Low-quality inbound links that produce a 404 error can remain in limbo.

If you’ve deleted a page that still has a link you’d like to keep, try to find the most relevant content on your site to redirect it to, or you may even want to create a new page that features the information that inspired the link in the first place. From there, you’ll either 301 redirect the link to the new page you’ve created, or you’ll reach out to the webmaster of the other site to give them the URL for your new content.

Have Fun with It

Spend some time and have a little fun with fleshing out your 404 page. Granted, you don’t want your site to return a 404 response too often, but it’s not catastrophic to have it show up once in a while. Plus, some users might get a kick out of how much creativity you put into it.

If you’d like a custom 404 page built for your website or if you need help with redirecting 404s and seeing how often they’re showing up for your visitors, contact the digital marketing and design experts at Eminent SEO today by calling 800.871.4130.

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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