Business Strategy

New Year & 2017’s Big SEO Areas

Happy New Year, CSEOers! Here’s hoping your winter holidays were merry, bright, and more. It’s 2017 now, though, and it’s already go time. We saw some big changes in UX trends and more updates from Google’s Penguin and Possum in 2016. While these changes were great for users and consumers of web content, these updates left a lot of people scrambling to catch up to these changes. But we don’t want you to fall behind in 2017, which is why we’ve put together this list. Here’s what you can expect in SEO in the new year: Mobile First OK, so this isn’t exactly news, but what is new is the way that people are consuming content is. More and more people are using their phones, so having a responsive, UX friendly, optimized mobile site is key. Google AMP, or Accelerated Mobile Pages was all talk this past year. AMP is a framework that Google implemented so pages load faster. This will take a little time to set up on your site, and your users may not recognize they’re using an AMP site, nor will they necessarily care, and switching your framework will involve rewriting some content to fit your new needs. Take some time to see if AMP is right for your needs, but also note that in November of last year, Google announced “experiments” to make indexing mobile-first, which almost definitely means that it’ll happen this year. You’ll have to make the switch sooner or later, so why not add that to your list of resolutions and get it done sooner. Do not, however, neglect desktop, just make sure that the content presented on mobile and desktop pages is the same. Our next trend will see more changes to mobile, but in the way that mobile content is presented. Progressive Web Apps What? Don’t worry if you hadn’t heard of them before now. Google’s definitions is: “A Progressive Web App uses modern web capabilities to deliver an app-like user experience.” Basically, we’ll be seeing mobile sites take the place that apps would, and mobile sites will present more like apps. Theoretically, they’ll be great for any browser, since they’re built with progressive enhancement, they’ll be responsive, and since they’ll look and feel like apps, they’ll feel fresh and exciting. App development will also be an interesting field to watch this year, however, we’ll emphasize: This is not something you need. And we’re not entirely sure on how it’ll rank, but know it’s a cool bonus and we’ll see PWAs a lot more in 2017.  Moz has even more information on PWAs if you’re so inclined. Longer Content Content will always be king, but now we’re seeing emphasis on longer posts. Google Bots have updated to conduct smarter searches, and are prioritizing longer, more informative content (read: higher quality) are now favored over the 300-500 word articles, which bots can flag as “spam”, even if the amount of time spent on the page is the same. The reasoning for favoring 700-1000 word articles is that is the approximate word count/length necessary for an author’s authority to come through. What is also does is give you more room to work out your keyword readability. Keyword density is not totally a thing of the past – keep your buzzy headlines and first paragraph – but Google is now favoring keywords up top and joined association with complementary phrases. Want more? PC Mag made a handy chart of the best SEO tools of 2017 to implement all these new changes. Happy New Year, everyone, and let’s hope it’s better than...

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The ‘New’ Black Hat Tactic for Negative SEO: Complaints

You may be interested to learn that there is such a thing as negative SEO. Along with black hat techniques, there are techniques competitors *may* use to influence your rankings; and not in a good way. Before getting into that, it should be noted that it is always, always, ALWAYS more worthwhile to invest in your own assets and optimization rather than waste time working on attacking your competition in some of the ways listed below or engaging in black hat tactics. The results are often short lived, time consuming and frankly, a waste of resources. Black Hat SEO Black hat for the uninitiated is the use of techniques that violate Google, Bing, Yahoo and other web indexes’ (and some social networks’) quality guidelines but offer limited improvements in rankings. In the past this may have been the oh-so-popular keyword stuffing; in which webmasters would fill the keyword tag (deprecated, please ignore) with their target keywords and variations. Or the popular, circa 2002, block of exact-match links in the footer. Often with a color profile to match the background. Prior to Panda, it was cloaking and link wheels/circles that were the trick. In these schemes, ranking manipulation would come by means of serving search engine robots one set or type of content while offering users something different (cloaking). There is some debate about what cloaking in 2013 looks like but that is another debate all together. Link wheels and link networks (circles) were used to provide instantaneous or quick value to website via blog, micro-sites or similar web properties that would point to either a target website or a tertiary site that would then pass on the gathered value to yet another site. This was particularly hard to catch because the networks often contained some valuable information or maintained ‘quality’ in the eyes of engine robots. I mentioned some of the details of how Google handled these in this previous post. Negative SEO For obvious reasons, you can see why it is called black hat. It’s the dark side of the Force. However, there is another element that some businesses have begun to investigate as a method for handling ‘complicated’ situations. Instead of tempting fate by trying to game the search engines using one’s own site, why not attack your competitor(s); either indirectly or via some hidden method? This is the essence of negative SEO. These types of stupid business practices have existed, and been practiced by some, for a while. My first experience with this was in handling negative press releases (remember when those were great for SEO?!) published via PR.com, PRWeb.com and a few others. On the PPC side there is click fraud. I, and many others, have experienced click fraud. Click fraud is seen when you or an agency is running some type of paid campaign and receive an abnormal amount of clicks on your ad(s). Google got wise to these attacks early on and often ignored the clicks after a while, if certain conditions were met, resulting in a refund of the click or impression charge. This type of attack impacts not only the funds in a campaign, but if unchecked, it can impact the quality score; all of which will make it harder for your true audience to see you. While working on some of our clients’ sites and checking the index statuses recently, I started noticing slips in the number of indexed pages. Upon further investigation, I found this notice at the bottom of a search for one of the keyword phrases: The first link takes you to Google’s view of the Digital...

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What is a calculated risk?!

It is isn’t uncommon to hear the two terms ‘calculated’ and ‘risk’ combined as Calculated risk. To be honest, I have heard the term in a number of instances but never research an official definition. According to the Cambridge business department, a calculated risk is a risk taken because the reward of successful implementation outweighs the impact of failing (Cambridge, 2011). Furthermore, Serbian professors Božo Nikolić and Ljiljana Ružić-Dimitrijević offer the calculation: R = P * F * H * N As the true definition of a calculated risk (it’s calculated cause there is mathematics involved)(2009). (P) is possibility, (F) is exposure to hazard, (H) possible harm, and (N) is the number of people exposed. What this calculation shows an analyst is an actual rating of the risk involved with a given risk or opportunity. In the discussion of vulnerability, exploits, and threats the term risk is often intermingled with the definitions of each of these terms. It is easy to see how one can determine the true ‘value’ of the risks related to any system deficiencies. Whether one uses the final risk calculation or not, the investigation into each of the factors of risk can illuminate clearer elements, issues, concerns and gaps that may go otherwise unrealized. Cambridge University Press. (2011). Calculated risk. Cambridge Dictionary Online. Retrieved from, http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/business-english/calculated-risk Božo Nikolić and Ljiljana Ružić-Dimitrijević (2009). Risk assessment of information technology systems. The Higher Education Technical School of Professional Studies. Retrieved from,...

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