This is a big question right now in the SEO industry, since historically, we have always believed that reprints are valuable for linking—provided we attributed proper credit and a backlink in the appropriate place. After all, this was the idea behind the successful “article directory”, sites like Ezine Articles, Helium, and so on.

And to this day, there is no official confirmation from Google or Yahoo that reprints are a bad thing. However, we do have to consider a broader view of the online industry in order to get our answer. When Google Penguin and Google Panda were released, the first sites to suffer from penalized pages and lower traffic were article directories. The shakeup caused major sites like E-How (Demand Studios) and Ezine Articles to restructure the way they accepted and published submissions.

Google has stated repeatedly that they are interested in quality original material, not endlessly recycled material. Well, does reprinting one original article count as original material? Does it make your site a content “mill” like all those other cheap sites that turn out low quality work?

The answer is simply, “use your common sense”. There are still some sites that can successfully run a reprinted article, because of their reputation, and because they make sure the article hasn’t been over-posted. They want to benefit by being one of the “first” sites to publish the article so they can benefit from the seniority of the link. And no, article directories have not been knocked out of the picture entirely. They are still gaining high traffic from some of their pages.

Think about a huge publication like Time or Newsweek. They have every right to run reprinted articles if they choose to do so – and rest assured, when they make this decision they have a specific purpose. Their entire lineup is not reprints but original features. In a similar manner, your website (which is trying to benefit from quality writing) cannot merely be satisfied with reprinted material.

It’s far more impressive to the likes of Google, Yahoo and Bing to publish original features and occasional reprints, so that you can experience the benefits of being a competitive e-zine or blog.

After the Google Panda and Penguin updates of 2011 and 2012, many website owners are just now discovering a dip in overall traffic—quite possibly because of a penalty, or perhaps just a rearrangement of SEO rankings. Indeed, it’s not uncommon to drop from #5 to #50 these days, and more than a few people are unhappy about it.

However, don’t despair. Don’t turn to sour grapes. The truth is, even if you have suffered a loss of traffic because of Google algorithm updates, you can still take steps to make things right. Here are some step-by-step instructions on how to get started.

First of all, do a run through of your site and try to review as many posts and pages as possible. Evaluate what has happened carefully because there may be a clue hidden somewhere; for example, what pages have dropped in traffic? What pages have remained nearly the same in unique visitors? If your entire website seems to have been penalized then it’s possible Google is associating you with a content mill or low quality writing site. If you believe your content on your site is of prime quality then make sure the ads on your page are not too distracting, and that the navigation is easy to work with—otherwise, Google can penalize you just for putting together a bad overall user experience.

If you can identify some weak pages then try to rewrite them. Do not delete them, since page seniority is a factor in your advantage. However, make an effort to rewrite weak pages, all the while paying close attention to your tags; whether they are appropriate to the page title and theme. Be careful about building cheap links. Search engines don’t really consider mindless link exchanges as quality links worth counting (as in “favors”, and particularly link exchanges with sites that don’t match your own theme. You are better off seeking out guest blogging link exchanges. You might also want to consider cutting down or eliminating any reprinted materials. Even if you’re not “scraping”, Google puts the most value in the oldest page and secondary importance to reprints.

If you need help in this regard, don’t hesitate to contact an SEO firm and discuss your goals.

When you have a small business, it can seem daunting to try to compete in the online world, especially since it is so cutthroat competitive nowadays. However, don’t lose hope just because you can’t swim the entire ocean in a day. There are many ways that small businesses can use web technology to their advantage. One of these areas is keywords.

Start with local business. For most small businesses, the main audience is often local clientele. This means you can focus your keywords to those in your local area that are looking for your products and services. Larger companies may use broader terms, whereas you can use local cities, streets, locations and words in order to get more targeted searches. Those looking to buy from somewhere nearby will most likely type in something like “Pizza in Fort Worth” or “Cabinets in Greenville”; so focusing on these search terms will get you lots of local business!

The Internet is a great equalizer when it comes to “mom and pop” shops versus big business. If you have a well-maintained, professional looking website, then most customers clicking on links after they typed in keywords will only know that the website looks trustworthy and has the information or products they were searching for. If you were competing in the real world, i.e. your tiny shop against the mega-giant store, things would not be so even. Build an impressive website and spend time researching your keywords and you have already won half the battle.

In order to use keywords to your advantage for these situations you need to do your homework. Research what the top phrases are in your type of business not only through Google Ad Sense and Ad Words, but also from your local competition’s websites.

Is there a way to modify these other keywords for more focused searches? You will need to try out keywords and keep track on what works. Next, you need to be sure that the content that contains your keywords is top quality and not “spammy”. Spammy articles will result in the top search engines ignoring you and have customers quickly clicking the back button.

You may not be able to compete for the most popular keywords, but by using “longtail” and local targeted ones, you can help educate and qualify your customers while branding your company.

Are you wondering how often you should update your website? The simple answer is: as often as possible! Fresh content is one of the factors that keeps search engines happy and ranking your website high in the results, not to mention keeps your customers coming back for more.

Stop and think of your own favorite websites. How often do you check them? The ones you check most probably have a pretty consistent stream of new content, maybe even daily items. Now picture just how often you want your customers visiting your website, and you have an answer of how often you should write for your website.

It may be easy to write content when there is something new and exciting going on, but what do you do during the lulls? Rehashing old outdated information or often repeated information won’t do much for your site. One of the best things that you can do is devote time to keyword researching as well as analyzing your own pages. What pages are still really bringing in the traffic and which aren’t? This can help guide you on what you should write about next. Once you have your keywords and some basic thoughts it is time to brainstorm for new topics to keep things fresh. For example, news-inspired blogs, or articles about developing trends in the industry.

Many people find writing a continuous stream of new content for their business a little challenging. It is time consuming to have to sit down and pound out article after article. How do all those other websites do it? The truth of the matter is that many of the top ranking websites have turned to SEO companies for quantity or bulk articles. SEO firms can help with all manner of things, including researching the appropriate keywords, and really churning out high quality, well-written content.

Don’t let your website grow stale! Keep the search engines coming back for more by having new content as often as possible. If you can find the required free time and have the knowhow, then keeping up with new content will not be too difficult. For those that would rather focus on their business and let the experts deal with all the extras, SEO firms are the best option for your money.

Keyword research is one of the most important aspects of SEO work, and surprisingly, also one of the most overlooked. Keyword research gives you a tool that wasn’t possible before the Internet, to see exactly what people, potential customers, are searching for. Poorly chosen keywords will leave you low in the search rankings, which makes it hard for potential customers to find your site, products and services.

It is fairly easy to find tools and look to see what the top related search terms currently are (and to try to use them), but competition is tough out there. Placing high in search engine results with the most popular keywords isn’t likely for beginners, meaning even with the most popular search terms, you could still be buried in the rankings. If you choose keywords that get your website traffic only and never result in sales then your site won’t make any money regardless. This is why you really must concentrate in order to find the right balance for keywords.

Your best bet is to research your keywords, find your niche, and focus on what will bring in the most targeted results. Search for keywords that are related to your business, popular enough to rank you high, but not so popular that only the biggest and oldest pages are using them.

Keyword research is critical if your business is to succeed online. Researching keywords can be time consuming, but finding the right ones will help boost your rankings and sales. Remember that the “best” keywords can often change with trends, with competition, or with the industry itself. This is one reason that many people turn to SEO firms, as they do not wish to waste any time or effort, and would prefer to have the experts take over this important task.

Keyword research may be one of the hardest aspects of having a successful website, but it is also considered the most important and rewarding in terms of profit and ROI. Do your homework, or have the experts do it for you, and rest assured that your site will now have the best chance of success.

If you hope to stay competitive in a fast-changing world then there are at least 5 things you should be doing or looking into in the near future. Let’s take them one at a time.

1. Blogging

The latest news in the SEO world is that blog sites (particularly company owned sites or niche blog sites) are growing in popularity, whereas article directories are steadily decreasing in relevance. This has led many marketers to refocus their mission on guest blogging and company blogging.

2. Researching Keywords

Now is definitely not the time to be guessing at keywords or simply hoping for the best with your tags. It’s very easy to do keyword research using an online tool, such as the Google Ad Words tool. Ideally, you want to find keywords that are niche popular meaning they are not too broad or mainstream (since the competition is too intense) but with enough monthly searches to make it worth your time investment.

3. Local Linking

Linkbuilding is going local, thanks to such sites as Google Places, Yelp and FourSquare. More and more users within your own city are relying on localized sites to direct them to businesses in their own neighborhood. If you are not jumping into local Internet marketing, you are missing out on the Google Venice incentive—an update that works to the small business person’s advantage!

4. Mobile Marketing

It is a big mistake not to invest in mobile marketing, considering that’s where many people peruse the Internet, at the expense of their old desktop computers. Mobile marketing is similar to SEO marketing but with a local slant and with content customized for small screen technology. Text ads, apps and local listings—all great opportunities to catch your favorite mobile customers.

5. Social Media

Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are so insanely popular now, they are almost outperforming the rest of the Internet! Between social media’s popularity and the new mobile phone market, we wonder what’s left of the old desktop Internet we remember. Regardless, it’s relatively easy to keep a social media page updated, so as long as you have a plan and make it fun for everyone, there’s no reason to avoid this “playground.” Ideally, you want to go where the largest base congregates, and since everyone is on Facebook and Twitter (and six degrees of separation later, you can find even more leads) not stepping into the pool is a mistake. Just remember to keep things light, fun and not blatantly promotional.

If you have any questions, why not talk to an SEO firm consultant about your options in today’s Web 2.0 Internet?

As recently as last year, Ezine Articles and E-How, and other article directories such as these, enjoyed a top ranking with Google Search. They earned top SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages), mainly due to their well-known name, as well as their high number of individual web pages. However, in 2012, (and partly in 2011) Google implemented stricter search filters for SERPs, and began penalizing article directories (and other sites) for having too many low quality pages.

Ezine Articles and E-How, along with many other sites, were humbled by Google’s new algorithm update. Millions of dollars have been lost, and sites are still scrambling to get their SEO work optimized for Google’s higher standards. Article directories are now facing the heat, and many sites are actually now going through their archives and deleting articles or pages that may be hurting their overall rankings.

In the midst of all this, blogs have actually been rising in SERPs and traffic. Perhaps years ago, the idea of a company blog was underwhelming to search engines, since blogs were known to be company-sponsored and hardly objective. However, it soon became evident that companies were debuting their best work on blogs, not article directories. And that’s why in 2012, in a post-Google Penguin world, blogs now count as quality links (provided the blog is regularly updated and has quality content).

Does this mean that you should concentrate all of your efforts on blogging instead of article directory publishing? Not necessarily. Article directories are still good sources for objective and basic information, and you will still see article directories come up in various search results.

A new question to consider is this: are you diversifying your linkbuilding campaign by focusing on blogs, magazines and articles? Now is the time to diversify your links and benefit from a stronger overall web presence.

Back in the SEO heyday, people used to say quantity was king. Even if they didn’t say it, they strongly implied it, and implied that buying 1,000 links from article directories was the best investment you could make.

This led to some major abuses within the industry. Website marketers began publishing and republishing as many articles as possible, regardless as to whether they were original or intelligent. Many would also keyword stuff the articles so that they would rank higher, with little thought to an actual human audience. Then came link building. Many people would mass link wherever they could, no matter if the content was related or not, just to boost their rank position in search engines. Google Panda and Google Penguin have basically stopped all of these “gray” practices dead in their tracks.

Google Panda was the first update to be released by Google. It was created by Navneet Panda, and was closer than ever to smart artificial intelligence. This new algorithm bypassed over keyword stuffed articles with no new content and looked for unique quality content by studying what human quality testers actually liked and found helpful.

In April 2012, the newest update, Penguin was released. This algorithm accomplished even more by focusing on duplicate content and linking schemes, penalizing these sites by dropping lower in the rankings. Many companies that had been relying on these “tricks” soon found themselves down-ranked.

The main reason for these updates is to help reduce web spam, and to help Google’s search results gain a better reputation among its users. Common sense would tell those looking to increase their rankings to focus on producing higher quality writing. While building links is still important, building them at trusted sites is now the goal. Keyword stuffing is a thing of the past, and content that is written for human eyes is the future.

So just what did Google Panda and Penguin Do? They simply forced all of these Internet companies to work a little bit harder!

The latest Google Penguin and Panda updates have been penalizing various websites for what Google deems as “over optimization.” This definition has led to mass panic, confusion and plenty of Google hating. However, the truth of what is happening is fairly easy to see.

Google (and surely more search engines are going to follow in its footsteps) is not discriminating or even “penalizing” websites for low quality content. With Panda, they already made a strong statement: do not create a “content mill” (meaning a low quality site that publishes anything and everything, without a filtering process) because it will be penalized in a search. With Penguin, the message has been adjusted slightly. It now stands as: do not publish poor quality writing or your entire site could be affected.

What was once a vague warning, and a general “do not” suggestion, is now apparently a big deal and one of the most important refining criteria for Penguin. If a website publishes many low quality pages then the entire site will suffer. That’s just common sense, because some article directories out there are really undeserving of a top 10 ranking, considering the low quality of information and the poor name brand the website has associated with it.

Instead, it is highly recommended that you seek out quality links, at reputable sites. Some article directories still have clout, but Google is showing preference to blogs, magazines and other websites that don’t merely publish directories but have a strong focus. That strong focus is often associated with the highest quality of writing. And that’s not too coincidental; after all, a blog about gardening is bound to have some great information, probably far more in depth than a website that publishes content on everything from gardening to music to home improvement and pet sitting.

Google is definitely raising the bar on quality content…the question is, are you keeping up with the SEO industry’s newest standards?

Not too long ago, many businesses would tell you that blogging was of little importance.  The main focus was on getting out as many articles as possible, filling up directory sites, and keyword stuffing so as to reach the highest rankings.  With two little updates by Google known as Panda and Penguin, that really has started to change.  These high tech algorithms now penalize content that is written for computers and not people.  This is one reason why blogging is becoming much more important.

A blog producing informative content that can’t be found on 30 other websites is a rare find, especially if a lot of people are interested in it and linking to it.  This means it took time to write, and is something that is worthy of being high in the search rankings.  A blog can be about anything that is fun or informative, as long as people are searching for it, and as long as the content producer is sticking to the rules.

One of the best reasons to write a blog is so you can create a personal connection with your audience!  The people typing in those searches are your target audience.  In the past, web marketers would over-invest in article directory links, or perhaps even in spam links.  This led to users finding primarily gibberish or low quality articles—hardly helpful.

Individual users have, by now, learned to automatically ignore such results, quickly clicking through to find something better without even looking at the other content on the site.  The search engines have caught up to the user’s line of thinking.

A good blog is important for your company, not only for grabbing attention, but for also keeping it.  A well updated blog will bring you repeat clicks, as well as links, and friends telling friends.  This is the best way to grow, by doing the hard work and reaping the benefits!