“Blog” has become such a common language word that people casually use it in reference to anything written online, whether it’s a short story, a news report or a full length article. This actually causes a bit of indignation among people who feel they didn’t write a “blog” at all, but in fact, wrote a straight forward account in the form of an article. Which brings up the question; exactly what is the difference between a blog, an article and an SEO article?

Blogs are generally narrative in aspect. They are usually written from a first person or second person conversational viewpoint. They can contain opinions, information or short story format dialog. They often draw upon personal experience and can take the form of bulk letter writing to keep friends and family informed on daily events.

Blogs are also used to promote a business, a product or a service through subject specific information. They rely on reflective words, called keywords, that will come up easily in a search engine. The strength of a keyword is dependent on its unique expression. If your category is “law”, you’re in a very broad and highly competitive keyword range. If you specialize in criminal law, it narrows down the search, giving your keywords higher priority. By blogging, your tone stays personal, friendly, yet informative.

An article is a non-fiction document, typically formal. It is written from a third person point-of-view. Articles may be written from an essay format, news format or as a statement. Traditionally, these articles have relied on documentary evidence (APA style, for example) but low quality directories have somewhat tarnished the objective article’s reputation.

Articles can be used to inform the reader or to present a persuasive argument. Articles are written for newspapers and magazines as a means of keeping people up to date on science, social concerns, technology and events and for advertisers wishing to inform the public about a product, business or service.

Regular SEO articles are generally written for businesses advertising products or services. The articles are informative, written from a third person view, but use one or more keywords to give them search engine strength. The keywords might reflect the company name or they might not mention the company name at all in the body of the article, but provide a general description of the type of product or service offered. For instance, if the subject is “Harry’s Auto Shop”, the keywords might be “engine repair” or “transmissions specialists”. The keywords are often repeated several times for reinforcement in an engine search. The SEO article will seek to inform the public on aspects of their particular product or service. If Harry’s Auto Shop is doing engine repair, it might elaborate on the type of damage that can occur to an engine, or the parts used in repair.

Pay close attention to your style of writing and your choice of SEO content before you plan your campaign. A combination of magazine quality articles, blogs, and regular SEO content may be necessary in the long-run.

Another one bites the dust.

News came out last week that a security breach affected at least one million customers of Nationwide Insurance.

This actually took place on October 3, 2012 according to a statement on Nationwide’s website.

Their statement says: “Although we are still investigating the incident, our initial analysis has indicated that the compromised information included certain individuals’ name and Social Security number, driver’s license number and/or date of birth and possibly marital status, gender, and occupation, and the name and address of their employer. At this time, we have no evidence that any medical information or credit card account information was stolen in the attack.”

At this point there is no indication whether the data itself was encrypted or not, however, I would have to assume it was not, otherwise I am sure they would be touting it.

How many times do we have to endure this kind of lax security behavior from the companies that we entrust our confidential information to. I have written in the past about the very same thing (see How much do you really know about your internal computer security) (see LinkedIn security breach). Looks like it is the same story time and again.

The top brass of large companies are rarely in the loop about their own internal security processes. I have spoken to a few of them and almost all are convinced that just because their firewalls are in place, everything is protected. Very few people are taking a proactive look at how their data is secured and whether it is encrypted or not at all points. This air of invulnerably is very dangerous because this means they are not actively protecting customer data and as a result these types of incidences will continue to occur.

Let’s think about some of the pieces of data a typical insurance company will have on its clients:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone (home, work, cell)
  • Social Security number
  • Bank Account info
  • Date of Birth
  • Employment Details
  • Salary Information
  • Net Worth details
  • Medical conditions
  • Credit Card details

This is just a short list. This much information in the wrong hands would result in more than just typical identity theft.

Instead of taking things seriously, many companies often count on the standard response “one year free credit-monitoring and identity theft protection”. Unless there are SEVERE penalties levied on companies who disregard their fiduciary responsibilities, this will continue to happen. Existing regulations are not enough. There are plenty of loopholes in the HIPAA regulations that most of these companies will get just a slap on their hands.

The state insurance commissioners, bank regulators, FTC as well as SEC (most insurance companies also have investment divisions) need to get involved in this and demand that financial institutions get off their butts and secure their customers data immediately.

In the meantime, let’s hope these companies have a good cyber liability insurance policy.

Do you feel confident about this? Are you callling up your financial institution and demanding that they RESPECT your data? What are your experiences? I would love to hear from you.

A lot of the SEO news you are receiving lately is coming to you from Google, and this is no surprise considering that Google is the world’s top search engine. Nevertheless, Yahoo remains a force to be reckoned with. It is still one of the top five websites on the Internet and has an estimated 700 million visitors each month. It is also a consumer-driven site that is available in 30 languages.

Yahoo may not be as successful as Google or Facebook, but don’t let that deter you from considering it. And you’re not the only one to notice; actually the Yahoo brand has averaged one new CEO per year for the last five years, and it is a company trying to reinvent itself. Don’t count Yahoo out yet; it may be only one creative idea away from re-launching itself as a rival to Google and Facebook.

Still, you might as well try to get on Yahoo’s good side now. What does it take to be listed in Yahoo search results? If you have been primarily focusing your SEO strategy on Google and ignoring Yahoo, then it’s not surprising you’re getting very different SERPs for a Yahoo search.

Yahoo favors more on-page optimization than Google does. Yahoo is finicky about link quality (perhaps even more than Google and their current Penguin link epidemic). In fact, you could say that Yahoo is almost elitist in comparison to Google, since they prefer links that promote their own site, from within the same Yahoo network. Yahoo even has a paid listing for businesses, with no guarantees as to results, but the offering is conspicuous enough.

Yahoo insiders might also give you consistency tips, regarding slashes in domain names (not a good idea), high authority page links, caution in linking out, new content on a regular basis, and article-press release directory submission.

Of course, you should be interested in building quality links in general, as opposed to obsessing over Yahoo’s feelings about your site. After all, once your site earns a strong authority reputation with many quality links, you are far more likely to earn attention from Yahoo, Bing and all the major search engines. At the same time, don’t count on Yahoo doing you any special favors. Yahoo follows the crowd and right now, Google is a fairly good judge of popularity. Yahoo mirrors Google’s solid linkbuilding criteria.

The best plan of action is to develop a long-term SEO plan and keep the new content coming. Where possible, try to integrate your site and social media pages in with other Yahoo links, whether it’s Yahoo local or Yahoo Questions. Don’t expect overnight results, but expect to see improvement if you stay the course and differentiate yourself from the competition.