Having your site properly indexed by a search engine seems more difficult with each passing year.  It would seem that search engines are doing everything they can to prevent content from being indexed—and that only huge corporations are benefiting.

The reality though is that these search sites ARE doing everything possible to prosper and increase traffic.  That means it is very necessary to sophisticate the indexing criteria and qualify quality content for their readers.

What are five mistakes you can avoid to prevent being penalized or blacklisted by major search engines?  Let’s review…

1.      Keyword Stuffing

This doesn’t just mean using a set of keywords and phrases too many times; this also means over-using anchor text for subheadings and links too often repeated.  Using the same keywords and phrases in too many articles across the net can also be problematic.  Remember, use keywords sparingly and write for your readers instead.  Make sure your major keywords match those on your meta tags too and update them whenever you publish new articles.

2.      Repeated Webcrawling

This is a habit of most spammers.  It doesn’t matter if you submit them by hand or use an automated program.  Once per site is enough.  If your site’s traffic starts diminishing, only consider resubmitting it weeks or months apart.  So use a program that submits to the major or minor search engines and link directories just once.

3.      Invisible Anything

Invisible text is the worst possible move; spammers use this tactic to “hide keywords” in the background behind texts and frames.  It’s old school SEO trickery and it still continues today.  Hiding links, texts or anything else can get you instantly de-ranked.  The best approach is making it uber-easy for page crawling programs to find everything your readers can see and making all of that visible to your readers.  (i.e. site maps or pings)

4.      Frames and Splash Screens

Frames and splash screens not only impede bot crawlers, but also purveyors of your content.  Most bots will fail to read your content with any frames in the script or splash (also called animated or flash pages).  The bots struggle and fail to read flash and cannot follow links embedded within fancy intro pages.

5.      Bad Link Exchanges

While it may seem great on the surface since linkbacks act as votes for search rank, search engines are being configured more and more to be aware of the quality of where those links are coming from.  While article marketing and guest blogging still work for link building, mindless link exchanges with sites that don’t really match, or spam-commenting, are ridiculously unsafe SEO strategies.

What is the sure-fire way to not get penalized?  Write for your audience and go look for your audience the old-fashioned way with regular relationship building and advertising!

So, by now you’ve heard that guest blogging is the hottest SEO avenue, exceeding article directories and general SEO websites. For good reason, since guest blogging involves writing higher quality content of interest to educated readers. However, the thought of guest blogging may be intimidating to you—especially if you’re used to dealing with the relatively easy submissions process of an article directory.

However, learning the business of guest blogging is not as difficult as it might seem. It not only involves writing content for other blogs, but also involves a new submissions process of contacting the blog owner (or appropriate contact) and making an inquiry about submissions. This process is similar to a traditional “query letter” that writers have to create when submitting material to publishers or agents.

Guest blogging does require writing ability (that will appeal to regular readers of a niche and not just general web viewers) as well as the ability to negotiate and befriend blog owners. So it is a somewhat gregarious position, since you will have to connect with many blog site owners in order to publish these stories on a regular basis. Organizing your guest blogging sites according to niche and scheduling regular submissions will be the challenge.

There is a submissions process, which means there may be a chance of receiving a rejection letter. Do not lose heart if this happens. Since we’re discussing guest blogging here and not an agent in a big New York publishing house, you can assume that if your piece is rejected it will be primarily an issue of scheduling conflicts (i.e. too many submissions written on the same topics) or the wrong sort of niche topic. If you are a legitimate writer and can speak English and form a coherent sentence, rest assured you do have a place in guest blogging.

Naturally, not a lot of lawyers, doctors, marketers, company owners or entrepreneurs have the time to invest in guest blogging, which is why they will often outsource these needs to an SEO firm. An SEO firm has a list of guest blogging networks and sites that can help to publish new quality content.

Whether you handle the reins yourself or outsource this job, it is a wise decision to plan for plenty of guest blogging features in the future. Guest blogging is overtaking article marketing and even company-sponsored blogging in search engine results pages. More than ever, readers and search bots are looking for high quality content designed for well-read and discriminating readers. The real money in web marketing is not just in high traffic but in the number of loyal visitors, and the time they spend reading a site.

Yes, it’s all about targeted content. And that’s where guest blogging can really help you.

For years, we always heard that content is king…and that the search engines were insatiable for new information.  It wasn’t too surprising that commercial websites and article directories started to over-produce, because that was what everyone wanted at the time.

However, by now we have reached a point where the Internet is flooded with good to great to “okay” content, and now the search engines have started to be a little more judicious when it comes to highlighting new content in SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).  Guest blogging is favored over article directory submission, and company blogs and magazine articles are favored over link exchanges and blog commenting.

Once you set up your website, social network pages and other links, it’s time to focus on keeping the search engines’ attention by pinging them regularly with new content to search and index.

The only question now is, how often should you blog or guest blog?  First of all, be sure that you are not over extending yourself by publishing so much content that you start repeating yourself and resemble nothing more than a content mill site.  (Over-optimized sites are now being buried in rankings)  Find your writing style and then publish at a comfortable pace, whether this is once a month or once a week.

What if you are buying SEO content and have the budget to produce as much content as you want?  You have to carefully consider this question, as it’s not merely an issue of SEO but of your targeted base.  Ask yourself this: how often do you want your potential customers to visit your site?  Is once a day too much?  Is once a week or once a month not enough?  Remember that newspapers are released daily, while popular magazines are released at least once a month.

SEO doesn’t have any specific rules about overproducing, though some SEO experts might tell you that they like to “space out” articles when submitting them to directories, just so they can avoid unloading several articles within an hour.  Guest blogging may have some slightly different rules, since there are so many requests being made and readers may appreciate variety in voice and topics, rather than reading dozens of articles by the same company or writer within a week.

The fact of the matter is that if you are serious about online marketing, you have to budget for as much writing as possible, whether you’re buying it outright or are losing time in writing it.  Make the writing count and do it as often as you can comfortably produce.  Make your web blog a mecca of user activity!  An SEO company can definitely help you to make your content count and to keep it coming.

Local SEO and regular SEO practice is more or less the same thing but with one crucial difference. Local SEO manipulates search engine algorithms so that local results appear in search pages well before generalized pages. In theory, local Internet viewers are looking for fast service, nearby locations and quick help. If there’s a business down the street providing the same information as a general SEO page, it would be to everyone’s advantage to give the local company a boost within its own territory.

That’s the idea behind the Google Venice update, as well as further algorithm changes coming in 2012 and 2013. Local SEO is also getting a big boost because of social media sites, geo-blogging (blogging from specific locations on a map) as well as mobile-centric search technology.

Not taking advantage of local SEO marketing may be a big mistake, since you would be competing with significantly fewer companies for locally popular keywords. In essence, all you’re doing is writing longtail keyword content with specific direction as to location. Besides writing locally themed content you might also find it advantageous to list your company on popular directories such as Google Places or Yelp.

If you find that your company is not coming up for popular keyword phrases, or even semi-popular phrases, the best thing to do is concentrate more on local keyword searches. In addition to writing longtail keyword friendly pages, it helps tremendously to connect your local company with a local social media page, as well as a reviews page. The reason you want to reach out into all these other areas is so you can build links because search engines consider link count when determining popularity. Along with proper keyword usage and quality content, this determines your overall rankings.

Remember, search sites (particularly the top world site Google) are constantly improving algorithms and making web crawling and indexing more human-like in filtering out poorly written content. Now is the time to up the quality of your pages and give people what they want—specific local content they are looking for, whether it’s reviews, instructions, directions, histories and so on.

Take Google Places for instance, one of the top local tools you have at your helm. This site is not just another directory submission page—it actually works with a number of data providers, including Localeze, Infogroup and others. These providers feed data into the Google Places index. All of this data is counted and helps to determine how often your company is mentioned.

So when writing local content be sure to be consistent, accurate, and aggressive when it comes to scheduling high quality content on a regular basis and link your projects throughout the net, building a network of pages. For more information talk to an SEO provider!

This year’s Google Mayhem event for Internet marketers was affectionately called “Penguin”. And if you have felt the wrath of penguin, it can leave you feeling an icy-chill down your spine. If you were one of the few that got ice-burned by Penguin and saw your rankings plummet, what should you do to fix your site this time around?

For starters, stop thinking “quick cash”. Sites that go up quickly and are aimed at making a few quick dollars via affiliates, product sales, or ads are generally what these updates are aimed at eliminating. Search engines are catering to their readers who want solid information in searches. So the first thing you can do is restart your content from the ground up from the perspective of your reader, not your SEO ranking.

While the definition of spammy sites changes over time and with each new update, penguin is no exception to the general rules of internet conduct. The general guidelines are as follows:

  • Hidden content
  • Flash pages
  • Flash landing pages
  • Excessive use of frames
  • Purchasing links
  • Different content for search engines and readers
  • Cloaking and redirects
  • Repeated titles
  • Repeated content anywhere else on the web
  • Keyword stuffing
  • Excessive use of keyword anchor text
  • Writing for engines and not readers
  • Designs for engines and not readers
  • Generic designs
  • Bad neighborhood links
  • Links from sites that have been penalized

So, if your site engages in any of these practices, fix it immediately! That means today. Then begin the process of engaging your audience rather than writing for search engines. So ask yourself:

  1. How can I improve the reader’s overall site experience?
  2. How can I make my site easy to navigate so that my readers can find any and all pages with no more than two clicks of the mouse?
  3. How can I build a better relationship with my audience?
  4. How can I build a network of relationships for fresh readers?
  5. How can I keep them coming back for more?
  6. How can I contribute to my niche market in a meaningful way?
  7. How can I improve upon my competitors’ offering?
  8. How can I connect in a symbiotic way with complementary businesses?
  9. How can I make my site keyword “organic” and improve its readability flow?
  10. How can I visually improve the appearance and bot usability of the site?


Once you have answered these questions and carry them out, then move on to a long-term action plan as follows:

  1. Use an analytics program to assess traffic, links, rank, keywords, backlinks, outgoing links, and link neighborhoods.
  2. Check your webmaster central account to see if you have any notices.
  3. Create content guidelines to follow and implement on all old and new content immediately.
  4. Create a web-development plan of action to improve your site.
  5. Continually track keywords and adjust as necessary.
  6. Keep a close eye on all in-coming and outgoing links.
  7. Develop a clear, concise, and comprehensive marketing plan that utilizes all healthy forms of networking and advertising.

Even if your site hasn’t been hit by Penguin, or you simply want to ensure it doesn’t on the next wave of updates, immediate and massive action is necessary. Take action on what needs fixing, and then create a solid action plan that addresses any and all issues your site faced or might face. Focus on your readers and relationships, not your rank!

This is a subjective matter that is still being tossed about among content builders. However, the easy answer is that anything less than 250 is vapid and shallow, while anything over 500 may cause loss of interest with a few exceptions. The ideal size is 350 to 500, as long as the article is packed with helpful information and not filled with “fluff”.

For Short and Sweet Articles

Okay, so tiny 200 word write ups aren’t really articles—they’re blurbs, and that’s not usually a problem. Anything less than roughly 200 words (say 50 to 200) should be relegated to product descriptions and minor pages like the “contact us” page. With the exception of bio-blurbs, picture descriptions, and social media blasts, anything less than 300 isn’t really saying much. Relegate this word count to quoted content if you have to do it at all.

The Ideal Article

This article grabs the attention of readers and gets to the point quickly. For this purpose it is generally 350 to 450 words. It has something to say and finishes off with a call to action. It is ideal for most forms of SEO content, most product descriptions, most blog posts, and nearly all press releases and articles used for marketing. You need just enough words to make a point before losing reader interest and preventing them from performing some action—namely backing out of your site.

The Extended Article

Very little content needs to be drawn out to this size. In-fact, most how-to’s and other forms of SEO content that gives a reader quality will fall under the second subheading. However, the 450 to 800 word size range is great for explaining complicated subject matter, longer, in-detail posts that are packed with information a reader needs, and for research reports. Sometimes press releases for SEO purposes are okay at this size, as long as these stories provide the reader with genuine value and are not going on and on just for the sake of filling out a page.

The Research Report

Anything from 850 to 2,500 words is best left for a research report, white paper, PDF file, mini-eBook, or some other form of major reporting. This is especially true when it comes to SEO articles. For most topics, it would be better if they were broken up into a series with clear introductions and conclusions that also referenced the preceding and following articles along with links to the series.

The Mini-Novel

Certainly, anything worth saying in more than 5,000 words of intense information packed content should be published into a report, eBook, or manual. In fact, while you are at it, extend the information you provide and create yourself a book to use for both income and site marketing purposes.

SEO content that is directed at garnering readership from a real live audience should be short, sweet, and to the point, but still long enough to say something meaningful and provide value to the reader. It should not be keyword stuffed or contain fluff. So, start with something that grabs reader attention, provide them something of substance in the middle, and end with something that makes them want to take action!

It seems like the loneliest place in the world—a new blog that has no followers, no established audience and barely a website domain. However, that doesn’t mean that your goal of building a site, and traffic, and eventually profit is impossible. It’s just a matter of forming a plan, finding your target audience and maintaining quality.

First off, when creating a new blog, it’s important to prepare your site for search engines. This means creating a sitemap and installing (or inserting HTML for) a plugin for “pinging” (specifically a XML-RPC-based push mechanism). In addition, you can also join blogging directories and local city directories for their targeted markets.

Next, it’s a matter of creating excellent content. Write high quality blogs about topics that people in your market are searching for. Aim for a 1% or at least 0.05% keyword density after researching popular broad and longtail keywords. After developing content and naming each page something keyword friendly, it’s time to check your linking structure and make sure all of your pages are connected and can be easily found by a search robot.

If you want to start spreading the word there is an easy way to do this—begin commenting on other blogs and piquing the curiosity of readers within your market. Choose blogs that cover similar material to your own blog. This “connects you” to the network.

However, don’t simply praise the blog owner and come across as an intelligent Spammer. The best thing to do is to be polite and to either ask a question or comment on an item that hasn’t been mentioned yet. Remember, every time you comment on another person’s comments or posts you get a linkback. Sometimes a happy blog owner may even highlight you or request a guest blog exchange. You could also build your reputation by becoming part of a blog network and connecting with other blogs in your niche. You can link to them first and get their attention and perhaps they will link to you next.

Don’t underestimate the importance of social media and integrating your website with your store and your social media pages. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and the like are well known quality links, and recent algorithm updates actually favor social media pages and blogs over article directories and cheap advertising sites.

One easy way to get big traffic is to create a “resource” page, or something viral-friendly if you have the creative power. Resource content is bigger than company copy or SEO tips. These are very helpful pages to webmasters, marketers, companies and web viewers. Make sure you have plugins or links on your page allowing people to easily share these resource pages.

Last but not least, don’t undervalue incentive. Contests and giveaways make the Internet world go round!

There are actually a massive number of social networking sites out there, though you only hear of the big two.  However, before you start killing hours of time adding friends and sharing content, it is wise to take a step back and think about your purposes in SEO and in social networking.  Most companies develop a list of goals and an agenda on why social networking matters, and what specifically each site can accomplish.

It serves no purpose to create an account on each site, besides building a few links and getting your name around.  When it comes to actively promoting and interacting with your social network account, however, you should only use the sites that you plan to be active on and that can help you in your marketing outreach.  For instance, consider these sites:

  •  Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Google Plus
  • Google Places
  • Pinterest
  • Yelp
  • Yahoo Answers
  • MySpace
  • DeviantArt
  • MeetUp
  • Flickr
  • Blogger
  • StumbleUpon
  • Del.icio.us
  • Digg

All of these sites have their own committed fan base.  Some users that hate Facebook might love Pinterest and vice versa, while others might prefer the business-minded approach of LinkedIn.  So, there’s no use in signing up for all sites if you can’t manage them.

Remember the reason to use social networking lies in SEO purposes.  (Not just wasting time like the rest of the world)  You want to create profiles and share viral content, but you also want to direct attention towards the content you create on your company site and blog.  Ideally you want to link all of your Internet pages together, creating one easy navigational system for new leads.

Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, you have to be careful of simply advertising your new content on your social media pages, since this will not really do much to excite your audience.  You have to work your content into your social networking activity, so as to create a community of friends.  For example, contests that involve visiting your website or indirectly mentioning your blog if a specific topic of conversation comes up and that your blog addresses.  It’s not a big deal to run a solicitation on a social networking site once in a while…but if it’s all you ever do, your friends and acquaintances will eventually tune you out as a commercial, not a real social media presence.

In conclusion, try to determine in advance how social networking relates to your website and all of your SEO plans.  Social networking does wonders for SEO and SERPs, but if you don’t know how to connect them altogether, and how to keep your online acquaintances reading your content, then it’s not worth the time investment.

An SEO company can help you with social media pages, and help you devise a plan that will lead to a boost in sales, more connections and more leads.

Have you noticed your search rankings stalling as of late?  You may be utterly confused at this turn of events, especially if you continue to publish high quality content.  Of course, Google Panda was the algorithm update that struck back at low quality content sites.  The newest update, Google Penguin, still ongoing now, is actually more concerned with links than with content quality.  (Though a lack of quality may still lead to a penalty)

Remember that Google bases your popularity (and thus your higher rankings in SERPs) on the number of links that go back to your site.  Years ago, article directories helped tremendously; as they would help you create hundreds of backlinks to your site, since you could literally republish the same article at dozens of non-discriminating directories.

However, Penguin’s new practice of rewarding (or not rewarding) sites with low quality links has changed the game.  Now, websites have to be extra careful about including too many “low quality links” as well as “site wide links.”  The former is fairly easy to understand.  If you are creating dozens or hundreds of links at sites that have very little traffic, or that are associated with low caliber writing or content, then you can see why Google would have to reward another website rather than you.  It’s not a penalty per say, but it is a discriminating evaluative process.

Besides low quality links, the search engine will now investigate the quality of your site-wide internal-external links.  For instance, site wide links (often found on headers or footers of websites and on every single page) might count against you in total SERPs.  In essence, Google considers any untrustworthy links a cause for concern—perhaps even a drop in your rankings.  Not to worry, most of these bad link practices can be fixed in “live time” and Google will reevaluate your site in due time.

The answer to this dilemma is not in intensifying your efforts to create more poor to average links—Google will squash you.  The answer is in diversifying your links, namely by looking into blogging, guest blogging and magazine article writing, as opposed to just dumping articles off at popular directory sites.  Guest blogging allows you a quality link because the context is correct; you are writing an article of interest to a niche-targeted audience.

Yes, guest blogging does require some research.  You (or the SEO firm you hire) must find relevant guest blogs for your subject matter and then write a request letter, and or follow submission guidelines.  However, these quality links will go a long way in establishing your mainstream popularity.  It will be a real success story, given your new followers, and not just a manufactured success made that way thanks to hundreds of easy links.  Talk to an SEO firm for more details!

If you are creating a new website, no doubt you are looking for the best domain name possible to help express who your company is and what they offer. One question that often comes up at this stage is “does it hurt a website to have an .info, .biz, .cc or other extension?” There is really no simple answer to this.

Many people don’t even know what the extensions mean, they have just simply heard .com so often that they are used to it. The extension .com means commercial, .net means network, .info means informational, .biz means business, and a fairly new one is .mobi as in mobile phone.

Some might call the fear of any extension outside of a .com a self-fulfilling prophecy. One could point to the fact that there are few successful businesses with other extensions, but is that due to big companies only choosing the .com extension to begin with? People tend to believe that they don’t rank well, and thus do not choose to use them, but that doesn’t mean it is the reality of the matter. There have been a lot of scare tactics done, especially by the sellers of domain names, as a .com extension will usually cost you much more than the .biz or .info.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, many people believe that .gov and .edu sites automatically rank higher because of this extension. There is also no evidence to suggest that this is true, it is simply that large already established businesses, and authorities on their subjects, often use them.

The good news is that there is no evidence that any of these extensions will affect your SEO work and rankings with search engines. This fact has even been confirmed by those working for some of the larger search engines. The only exception to that might be that of country codes. A country specific extension such as .us or .co.uk can be effective for search engine listings in other countries. They may not rank as high, and this can be a problem if you are targeting the widest possible audience.

So what is the bottom line? People have gotten used to the .com extensions, and nothing more. Your average surfer may not even know what the .info or .biz extensions mean. And simply put, people like the .com extensions that they are used to. So will it affect your traffic? Maybe yes, maybe no, but the point is you must observe the traffic patterns.

The .com extensions may be easier to remember, or it may not matter much at all. Don’t base your choice solely on the myth that .coms rank higher with SEO. Having your choice of keywords, at a more affordable rate may just be the wise move for you after all.