Each quarter, I’ve been trying to write a digest of recent changes in the Internet Marketing, SEO, Social Media and Web Design realms, to keep my clients informed and prepared as they market their business online, but without overwhelming them with technical jargon or superfluous information.
First of all, as I have said many times before, using white hat strategies are always the best policy and prevent hardships down the road. If you are trying to trick Google or any search engine, you may succeed at first but eventually one of their 500-600 algorithm changes will discover your methods and penalize you in the end. So here’s a good checklist of white-hat SEO strategies to increase your page ranking and site visits:
- Start with a professionally developed website that is optimized, easy to navigate with a clear call-to-action;
- Consistent write unique, keyword-rich content on your webpages or via an internal blog;
- Consistently build your catalog of backlinks on trusted, relevant websites;
- Have a consistent, engaging presence on various social media channels;
- Network and engage regularly with your target audience, related industries and partners on social media, on their blogs, on bookmarking websites and on local community organization & media websites, to create leads and increase conversion.
- Utilize email marketing to stay in contact with leads, customers and partners.
- Explore various forms of digital media including videos, webinars, podcasts, infographics, and responsive functionality on your all digital media outlets;
- Have a personable, genuine and inviting voice that engages and creates a positive impression of your brand whether in print, audio or video.
- Continue to use a combination of traditional forms of marketing with print materials, in-person networking events, print ads, and targeted direct mailings.
If you’re a startup business, take each step progressively so as not to overwhelm your schedule or your budget, hire help when you can afford it, and carefully analyze results to ensure you’re getting what you’re paying for. Part of the process of internet marketing is keeping up with the changes, to ensure you’re using best policies and avoiding efforts that are harming rather than helping your brand awareness.
Google+ is Shutting Down in April
It really comes at no shock or honestly much sadness that Google+ is being shut down. Google+ was an effort to compete with such social media giants such as Facebook or Instagram, but it never quite succeeded. Although it’s stats boasted 2 billion registered users, it was misleading as anyone with a Google login (for those using Youtube, Gmail, Google Docs, Google Drive and the various other beneficial tools) received a Google+ account. To back that up, Social Media Examiner states:
“As of 2016, 91% of Google Plus accounts were empty, meaning they were likely created either as spam accounts or just to access other Google services.”Social Media Examiner
While the platform had 395 million supposed active accounts, only about 34 million were visiting the platform each month. That number is severely dwarfed when you consider Facebook’s 2.2 Billion Monthly Active Visitors. Although the stats were never very encouraging, I continued to use the platform and encouraged clients to have a consistent strategy of posting keyword-rich content on Google+. Why? Although it was much harder to engage your audience and expand awareness among other Google+ users, it was the world’s biggest search engine’s social media tool so Google was much more likely to promote Google+’s content, links and keywords more so than it would any of it’s competitors’ social media content. Google+ was always more about SEO than user engagement.
After several recent security breaches, privacy bugs, it’s clunky layout, ineffective functionality, declining stats, and it’s continued failure to compete with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn, they have finally come to the decision to shut down the social media platform, which was founded in 2011. As of April 2019, the platform will disappear as well as any content your brand has been publishing to it all these years. Google’s APIs, which are programming interfaces that integrate to your website or app, will shut down on March 7th. As social media marketers, we bid Google+ a fond farewell.
Google’s NEWSGATE Algorithm Update
So in early January to mid-January, the Newsgate update rolled out, affecting many blog or news websites. The 500-600 search engine algorithm changes per year are made to improve user experience, ensure their searches result in a list of links to quality, trusted content, and to prevent marketers from using black-hat strategies to trick or manipulate their placement on the SERPS. The point of the Newsgate update is to penalize those using duplicated, stolen, scraped or rewritten content from other websites.
- Duplicated or Stolen Content includes content users have nefariously taken (copied and pasted) from other websites and promoted as their own content.
- Scraped Content is content that is collected and taken from other blogs or newsfeeds on the web, often through automated services, and publishing it on your own site.
- Rewritten Content is taking content from other sites, keeping the article’s purpose, layout and meaning but rewriting phrases, terminology and slight verbiage changes to make it appear as your own when it’s really not. I’ve had this happen to me several times. I have worked hard the past few years researching and writing all of my own blog content. making sure it’s original, easy to understand and tailored to my specific audience of small business owners. Granted I use stats, quotes and research throughout but always give credit where credit is due and link back to that article where the user can read the full article.
Over the years during our website and blog trainings, I’ve had many clients ask me if they can copy articles from third-party media sites, paste to their site or blog and give credit to the author, with a link back to the article. Even if you think that you are promoting someone else’s content in this way, you are actually stealing their content and now essentially shooting your SEO strategy in the foot, because you will be now penalized. Instead, if there is a great article you’d like your audience to see, share it on social media and write a blog post about the topic, with an SHORT QUOTE OR EXCERPT from that article with a link back to the author’s website for your audience to read in full. Do not copy the entire article to your site and think you are providing any benefit to your user, to your brand and to your website’s SEO.
Ensuring your Quality is not Seen as Duplicated
Google uses various measurements, scores and tests to ensure your quality is not scraped, duplicated or rewritten. So here are a few tips to ensure your quality, original and keyword-rich content is scored as authentic by the search engines.
Use the E-A-T method. Write content with Expertise – Authority – Trustworthiness.
- Expertise: Are you an expert in this field and on this particular topic, which you can prove and verify? If you’re an expert, ensure you’re creating a personal brand to promote your skillsets, experience, testimonials, training and portfolio. Showcase your expertise in this field and on the topic of your blog or article, by making sure every post includes the author’s name, date of posting, author’s bio, photo and link to your about page. (Ask your web designer to assist you in making this change.) Every website or blog should have crystal clear transparency as to who owns the site, the purpose of the site, the product or service that is being offered and how to contact them if need be. Include an About Us page, Our Staff page, Our Services page (if applicable) and Contact page.
- Authority: Is your website and blog showing consistent and relevant content relating to your industry? If you’re a wedding photographer, can you truly write an article with authority on marriage counseling? Yes, the topics maybe somewhat related, but are you an authority on such an important and sensitive topic? When considering writing any topic relating to medical, emotional, financial or legal advice, such YMYL articles or blogs should be only written by those who are qualified and certified to handle such matters.
- Trustworthiness: Do you have a track record of publishing relevant, trusted and credible content? What is your motive in writing the content? Is it to help others or just to sell a product or service? A trusted source (website or blog) has relevant, trusted backlinks, domain history and is only utilizing white-hat SEO strategies to market it’s content.
If you have rewritten or duplicated content, take it down immediately. Write up a short biography for your post authorship line and make sure all your posts include an author’s byline with a link to their about page. Start building a brand as a trusted author by offering webinars, speaking presentations, podcasts, and videos. Promote your skillsets and experience on social media and your website. Show others and Google that you are a trusted and credible author in your particular industry.
If you’ve seen your site has taken a SERP fall since the beginning of the year, call your web designer or developer so you can begin to address the source of these issues and resolve them. It may take weeks or months to rebuild your original placement, so it’s imperative to start sooner than later.