It’s hard to understand SEO from a business person’s point of view.  How can you possibly make money or track profit if you don’t understand anything about SEO or what the SEO firm is doing for you?  Relax…here are five easy points to remember.

  1. Measure and document your success.

You will not fully appreciate or comprehend the ROI unless you break down your company data to simple reports.  Create reports on your sales, leads, and on your traffic.  Don’t stop there…take note of where your traffic is coming from, the keywords, the landing pages and the external sites.

  1. Compare the investment to the expenditures.

Track your SEO success by calculating or auto-generating reports in percentages.  Calculate your total revenue and then subtract the SEO investment.  While analyzing brand data is more complicated than this, ultimately, if you’re spending more than you’re making, there is a major flaw in the SEO strategy.  The problem is not with the medium…(trust us, your audience IS online) it’s how some companies approach their online market.

  1. Invest in SEO for the long-term and project ahead.

It’s important to understand that SEO is future work – your profit is coming tomorrow, not within a few days.  So project your profit-loss sheets for at least six months, and trace each time period to a specific SEO campaign.  This will give you more insight into each campaign’s profitability.

  1. Create Customer-Centric ROI Formulas

Remember to focus on your customers in addition to analyzing overall sales.  One effective method is to assign a cost to each (an individual or an average composite) customer, based on how much he/she spends in a year, and how long this person remains a lifelong subscriber.  You can also track the referrals he or she brings in.

  1. Don’t forget to calculate time lost.

Time is of the essence, and if SEO campaigning is sucking away your time to the point of loss, it’s time to consider outsourcing or perhaps adjusting your SEO strategy.  You can easily determine your hourly wage by calculating your time spent in SEO practices (over a week, over a month, and over a six-month period), and then dividing the gross net income by the work hours spent.

Figuring out your SEO ROI plan should be a priority in your campaign!

Google Penguin and Google Panda were the talk of the SEO world in 2012 as well as all of marketing in general, considering how important keyword searches are to today’s modern audience.  There is still a great deal of confusion as to what these algorithm updates have done and how they have changed what we know as the “Internet” forever.

Here are four new rules of Google Penguin/Panda.

  1. No more black hat SEO.

If you’re still thinking of keyword stuffing, hidden keyword, spam links, spam farms, back doors and all the other sneaky tricks that used to work – then you are still living in the 1990s.  Google is spending big bucks to make sure that spamming and all black hat (which means search optimization methods that are unethical) practices are penalized.  And they’re not just penalizing the individual pages…

  1. Protect your entire site.

No, they are actually penalizing entire websites for the mistakes of one individual page.  So don’t think you can take cheap shortcuts by creating one page that uses black hat or other spamdexing methods and a dozen other high quality pages.  The bad web page could affect your overall rankings.

  1. No more over-optimization.

Who knew there was such a thing as over-optimizing a page?  Well, technically there is no such thing as over-writing a page – not in terms of high quality prose or article writing.  However, there is definitely a way to “cheese up” your website’s SEO – namely by going overboard in keyword density, by creating cheap links or bad anchor text, and by creating low quality pages.  Over optimization basically means “bad optimization” – the stuff you do to get noticed that human beings don’t like.

  1. Write for people.

This is what all of it comes down to…writing for people – for human beings, not robots or web crawlers.  Google is adjusting their algorithm to think more like human beings and that is why we are noticing so many changes in SERPs.

Following these new SEO rules for Penguin/Panda will make sure you stay on top of the online marketing world.

If you feel lost, contact us for an assessment of your website

In recent months, you might have heard quite a bit about low quality and high quality links in SEO, especially in light of recent Google algorithm updates.  While it’s fairly obvious what quality content is, (writing that is of higher caliber), the idea of a quality link – as opposed to a cheap link – may be confusing.

This is a relatively new aspect of SEO, and it was practically introduced by Google, the search engine company that works hard to perfect their algorithm and deliver what they perceive to be the “best” results for users.  Years ago, there wasn’t much distinction between links or link quality.  For that matter, the “search engine” simply wasn’t the Internet giant that it is today.  The only search pages returned after a search belonged to websites that were officially submitted to listing directories.

When the modern Google and Yahoo search engines grew and proceeded to dominate the Internet, their algorithms became far more sophisticated – to the point that today, you don’t even have to submit your site to a search engine to be discovered.  The search crawlers will find you, provided you make some reasonable effort to be have search-friendly HTML.

Nowadays, the search engine is paying closer attention to little details, which in the past were ignored or simply nonexistent.  For instance, the authority of the link; Google is now only counting links that are of high quality when compiling its top SERPs.  Quality links are, in effect, related to quality content.  When the site has developed a reputation for having high quality writing, then having content published at that site gives you authority.

Websites like Entertainment Weekly, CNN or Wikipedia obviously have numerous pages of quality content.  However, one of many nameless article directories that prints anything (including works by complete amateurs), or amateur sites that have pages full of “free for all” links, would obviously not be considered a link with “authority.”

So it is of vital importance that you ask the SEO company which article directories and blogs and other pages they are targeting.  Only quality links count in the new age of SEO!

You always heard it said that “content is king” but that adage kind of flies in the face of the newest trends in SEO, which is to penalize websites and web pages that have “too much content.”  Google recently announced changes to its algorithm, and even warned sites against “over optimization.”

Now what in the world does over optimization mean?  How can something be over optimized?  This is a play on words, and does not actually mean that sites that do SEO “too well” are going to be penalized.  On the contrary, the newest algorithm changes are targeting sites that have poor SEO practices, and that attempt to “overdo it” as a means of compensating for poor quality content.

Google says it doesn’t matter if you write 10,000 articles of low to average quality – you should not get any special benefit.  On the other hand, websites that have high quality content, and that establish high quality links (i.e. publishing work at other quality sites) will start experiencing search and traffic benefits.

So in the end, it’s still about “content is king…” but that “content” is now being scrutinized.  Under Google’s new terms, it may be better to publish 10 great articles at high quality sites (or on a company blog) than to publish 100 low quality articles all over the place.

Ultimately, reputation is what matters.  And who among us really wants a reputation of publishing weak content, or giving poor advice?  No, we want to associate our names with quality content.  We want our customers to think of us as an expert in our industry.  The only way to improve a reputation online is to write high caliber articles on a regular basis and to seek out quality links at equally reputable sites.  Are you planning for the future of online marketing through organic SEO?

Are you trying to figure out your SEO strategy for the rest of 2012?  Thus far we have had two major scares with Panda and Penguin.  Panda and Penguin were algorithm updates that penalized low quality content mills, and rewarded higher quality blogs and magazine sites.  So let’s say you’re a small business just venturing into the SEO world for the first time.  What is your first move and how are you supposed to react to all the latest changes?

1.    Focus on local content

Here is one of the smartest ways you can separate yourself from content mills.  Write for your local audience.  When you localize content, you can focus on specifics that no other company would touch – unless of course, they’re also geocentric to the market.  In fact, the Google Venice update focuses on rewarding sites that feature high quality local content.

2.    Write for people…don’t even worry about robots

Yes, this is the new trend for 2012 and onward.  The new Google algorithm change allows search crawlers to find keywords, regardless of high densities, and to focus on intelligent content with natural repetition.  That means using 5-10% keyword density is most likely a waste of time.  Now is the time to start writing for people again.

3.    Make sure all of your pages and links are of high quality

Article directory sites are feeling the heat because they have thousands of pages and “cheap links” (links associated with poor quality content).  The newest trend is that Google seems to be discriminating against websites that have a lot of low quality pages.  That explains why even Google’s own has reported a slight traffic decrease.  The best way to optimize your website’s SEO is to scrutinize all of your pages and your links.

4.    Remember to focus on quantity as well as quality

Now here’s the biggest mistake small business owners are bound to make.  They’re going to invest lots of money and hours in a few quality blogs every few months.  It’s not enough; you have to strive for excellent quality AND high quantities.  Don’t become a content mill…but work hard to ensure you are painting yourself as an expert – always with something to say on the subject.

Pandas and Penguins have never seemed so frightening as they currently do thanks to the colloquially named Google updates.  These updates have redefined search engine optimization by doing away with spam-ridden posts, which up until this point had been getting many top spots in SERPs.  Keyword stuffed articles and rehashed materials are now being overlooked by the big search engine in favor of better quality writing.  Does this mean that article directories are obsolete?  Not necessarily; there is still plenty you can gain from articles directories.

Article directories can still help you with backlinks.  Backlinks help raise your rankings, especially if the writing is authoritative, on popular topics, and linked from a popular website.  Think of it like a “vote cast” for your website.  Each backlink is a “vote” for your site and article.  Not every vote is going to make a difference, but establishing good quality links will only help.

Even though some directory websites are currently taking a hit due to some poorly written articles, they are still popular sites and will still help you in this instance.  Anchor text on those links is another reason article directories are still relevant.  Anchor text refers to the words you use to describe the link.  This description, as long as it is closely related to the article, also helps with search engine optimization.

In short, article directories are still very important to your SEO campaign, even after the Google Penguin update.  However, you may not wish to be as solely reliant on them as you may have been before.  Blogs and other links will help keep your website in the top rankings; however the most important thing now is quality writing.  Before you could simply ensure that your keywords were hit a number of times, and then sit back and relax.  Penguin however requires that we put more effort into our work.  Rehashed articles that can be found on website directories are now penalized, while those with new ideas and new content will work their way up.

So, article directories are still relevant, but a good amount of focus should now be shifted to better quality writing if you want your small business website to stay ahead of the pack.

Has your site been hit by a Google Panda or Penguin update and has your traffic plummeted?  Or maybe you just missed the storm but are dreading the next Google algorithm update which promises to be even more discriminating against “lower tier” content.  Relax; you’re going to be fine!  Here are four emergency tips that will help you to stay the course.

1.    Reevaluate Stuff (content & traffic)

In simple terms, this means taking an honest and critical look, not only at your web content, but also at your entire SEO strategy.  Evaluate where your traffic is coming from and other opportunities you may be ignoring.

2.    Keep Up with the Latest News in SEO

The only way to really anticipate what the next big thing is in search engine algorithm changes is to read the latest news about SEO – not only official announcements but also speculation from some of the big names in the industry.  Twitter and Facebook are great avenues in which you can meet and watch the movers and shakers interact.

3.    Pay Some Attention to Quality Control

Don’t freak out over content so much that you ignore vital aspects of creating a usable, mainstream website.  Another factor that Google considers when penalizing and rewarding sites is the quality of the design – the technical aspects of the site, the authority of the site and the overall user experience.

4.    Diversify Your Web Marketing Strategy

It’s not enough to merely follow the trends and choose only the “biggest” sites on the net to build links.  Instead, diversify and look into alternatives for all the big sites, and even alternatives for the mediums you use.  For instance, don’t just settle on doing SEO work for Google – concentrate more on Yahoo and Bing.  Rather than relying on article directories, look into guest blogging and article writing for magazines.

Stay on top of the issues and you won’t be surprised or injured by another Google algorithm crash!