SEO in 2014 and Onwards

Content is King

2014 has been quite an interesting year in terms of SEO. I’ve also previously written a little bit about this.

One of the most prevalent trends in 2014 has been the rise of Private Blog Networks, or PBNs, for short. It almost appeared to be a new gold rush of some sorts.

Suddenly everyone went out looking for expired domains, manically browsing through auction listings and ExpiredDomains.net to find some golden nuggets to set up blogs on.

It seemed like PBNs was THE TACTIC to use that would skyrocket your rankings.

But like everything else, good things eventually come to an end.

The first signs that PBNs might not be a good idea after all

Back in April, one guy got completely wiped from Google, losing hundreds of sites in the process. The culprit? A massive network of PBN sites.

In September, prominent SEO-blogger Spencer Haws from Niche Pursuits shared his painful story of how his PBN was hit and how he lost several money sites and thousands of dollars of potential earnings in the process. He also made a follow-up podcast episode about PBNs and his thoughts on them.

Spencer wasn’t the only one that got hit. The guys over att No Hat Digital also experienced a partial wipe of their PBN network.

Needless to say, the SEO-community went into a bit of panic mode and some (not just Spencer) swore off PBNs forever.

Are PBNs dead? Is it time to move on?

While some people claim that PBNs aren’t dead – I actually believe so. There’s a lifespan for different tactics and methods, and I firmly believe that PBNs have played out their role.

Besides the scenarios above, I’ve been in touch with a lot of webmasters in different countries that are targeting different verticals and they all say the same – PBNs are not as, if at all, effective anymore.

What’s the alternative? How do I proceed with SEO in 2015 and beyond?

The answer is surprisingly simple: go full-on White Hat-mode!

It’s becoming increasingly obvious that various Black Hat/Grey Hat-tactics doesn’t work and that Google is becoming increasingly smarter and more effective with identifying these tactics.

Of the people previously mentioned, they all seem to have dropped the PBN-tactic and are moving on to authoritative and larger SEO-projects. Sebastian, the guy that got completely wiped, is focusing on his new finance project Smartlend. Spencer and his business partner Perrin are focusing on their own authority project.

In terms of tactics and actionable advice, what should one focus on?

I’d argue that the best way going forward is:

  • Outreach – connect with interesting bloggers and site owners in your niche and try to find a meaningful way to promote your brand via their blogs/sites.
  • Social Media – create connections with potential visitors and customers and nurture that relationship.
  • Authority – focus on authority sites/projects rather than building small and thin sites.
  • Content – invest time and money into creating fantastic content rather than spending your money on links and various link schemes.
  • Engagement – engage your audience on your site and try to get them to stay on the site longer, and if possible, to contribute with ideas or content to your site/project.

Your mileage may wary, but the above plan is what I’ll be focusing on going forward.

Questions and suggestions

I’d very much appreciate your thoughts and ideas in relation to this topic.

What do you think will be the best way forward in terms of SEO in 2015 and onwards?

 

 

PPC on a Limited Budget – Tips & Tricks

limitedf budget

Having a limited budget is never easy, especially with something as important as your Pay Per Click campaign. But just because you’re low on funds doesn’t mean that you can’t take advantage of the great benefits and ROI that a PPC campaign brings. Here are a couple of tips and tricks that can help you squeeze every ounce of juice from your PPC campaign.

Give some love to the Networks

Everybody loves Google AdWords because it drives a lot of the traffic that the Pay Per Click Industry is experiencing right now. But going with just Google AdWords for your PPC campaign can be very costly, especially if you’re on a tight budget. What you should do is to also prioritize Bing and YSM. While they aren’t as popular at driving PPC traffic, they still drive a decent amount of traffic and you will still get good conversions. And another and more important thing about these networks is that they charge pretty much cheaper rates than AdWords.

Schedule your ads

If you don’t pay attention to the schedule that your ads run, there’s going to be a good chance that they’re showing up when your potential buyers might be sleeping or might be at work. If you have the data and you know when your target audience are more likely to go online and make their purchases, then by all means, make sure that your PPC advertisements meet them online during these hours.

Target those handheld gadgets

Handheld gadgets or handheld devices are currently playing a large role on how your target audience goes online. Depending on the data that you have on hand, you can determine whether a particular set of users are making purchases through their handheld devices or not. If they are then you really should make it a point to advertise on mobile devices as well.

Double check your keywords

When you started your campaign, you might have a set of keywords that you wanted to target. But now, it’s time to determine which of those keywords are converting and which aren’t. it’s time to get rid of the ones that don’t convert and streamline your list of keywords to the ones that actually create sells for your instead of spends.

Utilize strong landing pages

When someone clicks on your ad, don’t always send them to your homepage. Not unless you have a picture of your product in your homepage and a large button there that visitors can click to make the purchase, no.

When someone clicks on your ad, they’re already looking for something and there’s a good chance that they are going to buy that particular product. Don’t blow the sell by directing them to your landing page. Once there, they still have to find their way to the product that they were looking for. Interneters are a wishy-washy lot and they just might forget or ignore the reason why they were there in the first place and move on.

How to improve your PPC campaigns

improve

PPC campaigns cost money, as such, you should optimize your campaigns to make sure that it delivers the goods without draining your wallet in the process. Here’re some steps that you can take to make sure that your PPC campaigns are working properly.

  1. Know your company

 

Yes, it’s important to know your company. Not just because it’s the company that you run or work for, but because it gives you a better idea of what you’re offering your clients and what your clients are probably looking for. Ask yourself: What products do you provide? Do you have any special promotions? All these as well as other questions will be able to help you determine what is going to work for your PPC campaign and what are not. Because you have a better understanding of your company, you will be able to choose better keywords for your PPC campaign.

 

  1. Review your competitors

 

Do you have any competitors who are doing good right now? Are you jealous of them? If you answered yes to both questions, then that’s probably a very successful competitor right there. Rather than feeling jealous about your competitor, you should instead study their tactics. Reverse engineer their success and you will be able to copy certain tricks that can help your PPC campaign. Study how they created their targeted campaign see if you can’t do the same thing yourself.

 

  1. Know what your consumers really want

 

There’s a difference between knowing what the consumer is going to buy and knowing why they are buying your product. If you’re selling baseball bats and there’s a sudden increase in housewives buying your baseball bats, then you should do a little more study to find out why they are doing so. If, for example, you found out that housewives are using your baseball bats to tenderize their meat, then you can make a PPC campaign that shows how useful your baseball bats are for the kitchen housewife. Now that’s going to be a very targeted campaign right there.

 

  1. Build multiple campaigns

 

One mistake that many make is that they only create just one paid campaign for their products or business. As with keywords, it’s always better to have a number of paid campaigns rather than just one. This lets you cover a lot more areas and reach a wider range of consumers. Taking that baseball bat example, you can always make that one campaign for the housewives, but that won’t let you target the baseball players and baseball teams, who will also be buying your baseball bats because they need them for their sport. By creating two campaigns, you get more value for your money and you’re able to convert your buyers better with targeted PPC campaigns.

PPC campaigns are a wonderful way of reaching paying clients and selling your products. To make sure that you get your money’s worth and that you increase your ROI, then you should do the above tips to further strengthen your PPC campaign.

SEO vs. PPC – what’s best for your business?

head to head

There has always been this silent debate about which one is better for businesses, SEO or PPC. SEO or search engine optimization builds up your presence on the internet search engines to help consumers find you, while PPC or pay per click advertising provides sites or businesses with the means to position themselves where the clients appear.

Both will bring in good business when done properly, so if you can only choose one, which one should it be? Here’s a short comparison of the advantages of SEO and PPC, to help you determine which one is the best for your business.

  1. SEO vs PPC: Budget

 

Obviously Pay Per Click is going to cost you, especially if you want to reach a large number of customers and potential buyers. SEO on the other hand, is something that you can do yourself for free (although, since you are using your own time and resources, it’s not really free). Therefore, if you’re tied to a small budget, the more attractive option would be to go with SEO. There’s budget PPC however, and depending on your budget, this can also be available to you.

 

  1. SEO vs PPC: Consumer Trust

 

A lot of internet users (and not just internet users, a large percentage of the buying public, whether online or offline) don’t trust ads and have trained themselves to ignore the ads that they see while they are browsing. What’s even more surprising is that they don’t only ignore these ads, they are also very untrusting of them. And when you compare it to SEO results, which are viewed as very trustworthy by the people of the internet. Everyone holds Google in high regards and believe almost everything that Google says.

 

  1. SEO vs PPC: Consumer Conversion

 

SEO brings a lot of traffic to a site, especially if the campaign is done properly and continuously, but the thing with the traffic that a successful SEO campaign brings when compared with the traffic that a successful PPC brings is that the PPC crowd does more buying than the SEO crowd. And of course, while a large number of visitors to one’s online store is great, what’s even better is a good chunk of visitors that actually buy something from your site.

If you have the budget and you want to make some sales, you are probably going to seesaw between using either PPC or SEO for your business. As mentioned in this article, both SEO and PPC have their own strengths and weaknesses, but they are both pretty good at bringing in the crowd to your little party on the web. In an ideal world, you should actually be using both. Maximizing your budget and getting your money’s worth when it comes to PPC or SEO.

If you can choose only one though, it’s going to have to be the one which works the best with your marketing strategy. Determine what’s important for your business goals and choose accordingly, as both, when executed properly, will increase your ROI.

SEO on a limited budget

limited budget2

Not all of us are backed by a big budget or are working for a large company who can invest in their SEO campaign. Many websites are owned by simple folk like you and yourself. But do not fret; there is a way for you to still do your SEO campaign even with a limited budget. Here’s how:

  1. Make a blog

 

Writing a blog is a very powerful means of conducting an SEO campaign. Search engines love blogs. Blogs also add another level of dynamism to your site. You whole site can be static, in fact, but still get a lot of movement from your blog.

 

One of the biggest hurdles when it comes to making a blog, a good one, is the content. For some people, creating content is extremely hard. But it shouldn’t be. Well, since you have limited SEO budget, hiring a copy writer to provide copy for you is out of the question (although there are sites that offer outsourced copy writing services at a fraction of the cost of hiring an in-house writer and the sites are worth checking out), then what you can do is to rewrite content and curate and aggregate content.

 

There are tons of sources in the internet, don’t be shy about learning from these sources and using the input that they share to your advantage.

 

  1. Write for other blogs

 

Quality inbound links or links that come from authoritative and important sites do a lot of good for your SEO rankings. Normally, you can wait till one of the big, high ranking sites takes notice of your humble site and like you enough to put up a link that points to you.  There’s one rather quick and easy way of getting some nice inbound links from a site in your niche and that is by guest blogging.

 

 

  1. Ask for pro help, strategically

 

Professional SEO help can cost you, but there are ways that you can get professional help without throwing all your money at the SEO expert. Rather than hiring an SEO manager full time, or subscribing to their services and packages, what you can do is to contract with an expert or agency in a very specific or strategic way.

 

One example is to get an SEO audit. Let them go through your site and give you a list of improvements that you should do. That way, you don’t have to pay them for fixing your site’s SEO, but just for the audit. You can then do the changes or improvements yourself.

 

You can also get monthly phone consultations from an SEO expert. This way you get to keep tabs on your SEO standing and also get some valuable insights. Many SEO experts do phone consultations for different individuals and companies. It is much more cost effective for the clients.

 

There are a couple more budget SEO techniques that you can do. The internet is replete with such tips. Just make sure that your source is an authority in SEO and that you keep on doing the changes that you begin. Continually improving on your site is also a good SEO practice.

Common SEO mistakes

mistake

Everybody who owns and manages a website is doing Search Engine Optimization whether they know about it or not. The problem with some SEO mistakes is that a lot of so called SEO experts and some of the more average, everyday type of guy who is running his website doesn’t know he may be committing these mistakes in the first place.

Here is a list of the more common SEO mistakes. Take a look at the list and see if you aren’t committing one or a couple of them.

  1. Poor or Duplicate Content

 

In the internet content is king. It trumps design, baits and whatever else webmasters are putting in their websites to attract more visitors. The simple truth is that if visitors find what they are looking for in your site, in updated and in quality quantities, then they’re bound to return to your site.

 

The opposite happens when your site has duplicate or poor quality content. Bad content drives away visitors like the plague while duplicate content will earn you a bad rep from Google, who values original and high quality content over copy pasted material.

 

  1. Targeting the Wrong Keywords or Not at All

 

A lot of people don’t know that they have to target keywords and that the ones they do should be the right ones for their site. Panda is an update released by Google and one of its main missions is to find the best high quality and find the most relevant content on the internet. If you are a dentist site and you are targeting “portable air compressors” as your keywords, then there is a very obvious chance that you aren’t providing the right content.

 

Another problem that stems from choosing the wrong keywords is that while you have your own set of keywords that you target for your site, your potential visitors just might be using a different set of keywords in their searches.

 

  1. Keyword Stuffing

 

This is a mistake when websites overstuff their pages with different kinds of keywords, to the point that their copies don’t read like copy at all but unnatural sounding text that borders on gibberish. Of course, you need to focus on keywords, but overcrowding your site with them is going to harm your rankings even further. It’s not going to help with Google Panda and it’s not going to help your visitors, so make sure you aren’t committing this mistake.

 

  1. Be an authority

Some sites just plain write about everything and anything under the sun. Google Panda isn’t actually impressed with that. What Google wants are sites whose authors are the authority in that particular field or niche. For instance, if you were a motor biking site, then you should focus on things that are related to your field, like: driving right, motorcycle models, helmets, road safety etc. Writing about cakes and proper building engineering isn’t going to help your rankings.

 

There are a lot more common mistakes that SEO people are doing, and it’s reflecting on their ability to deliver their service. So make sure you aren’t committing these mistakes.

SEO in 2014 – What’s Working and What’s Not Working?

Best practices

SEO is constantly changing.

Tactics that might’ve worked yesterday might be frowned upon today and something that might get you penalized.

A tactic that has been extremely popular in 2013 and 2014 has been private blog networks. By private blog networks I mean networks of blogs (often based on WordPress) that you own and that you can place links on.

People find expired domains and then just set up blogs on these domains since they’ve already got decent link power.

Of course this was something Google didn’t like and eventually they started going after people pursuing this strategy.

In April, one guy got completely pulverized by Google and lost all his sites.

In mid September the Niche Pursuits guys had their network and some money sites penalized. Simuntaneously the guys over at No Hat Digital also got penalized.

These guys are definitely not the only ones getting their networks penalized, there are a ton of penalization threads in various Black Hat-forums.

So I’m guessing you’re wondering – should I completely stay away from Private Blog Networks (PBNs)?

While the recent developments definitely suggest to step away from PBNs, some people are even suggesting that they’re going to double-down on their PBNs while others believe that Google is just working on a scaremongering tactic.

I’m personally leaning towards scaling down my PBN efforts, but that’s just because I don’t generally like risk.

If you’re risk averse, I’d suggest to stay away and focus your SEO efforts elsewhere. If you have a bit of a risk appetite, give it a shot, but make sure to cover up your footprints.

If PBNs are dead – what should I focus on then?

What seems to be a bit of a trend right now is to go White Hat and work on Authority Projects.

Sebastian (the guy that got wiped by Google) is working on his authority project Smartlend and Spencer & Perrin from Niche Pursuits are also focusing on authority projects and real business models.

I myself has also started working on an authority project. I’ll probably write a bit about it here on the blog soon – so stay tuned :-)!

How do you become an SEO Expert?

expert

We’ve all heard and read that being an expert SEO is what you should aim to be if you want to be the one your clients will call if they want their websites to rank. Maybe you’re convinced by the promise of wealth or the promise of a luxurious lifestyle, but whatever it is, then you’re probably wondering how to become an SEO Expert. Here are a couple of steps to help you become an SEO whiz.

Get Copy Writing Skills

One of the steps that you need to take to become an SEO expert is to be able to write copy as well. You’re probably wondering why you need to get or practice your copy writing skills, right? Well, some people might say that you don’t need writing skills to be an expert at SEO. If they mention that to you, mention the fact that in the internet, content is king. Content is important for a successful site, so make sure you know even the basics of providing copy.

Learn SEO

Like many things in life, learning how to become an expert SEO is as simple as Googling your query. There are tons of information available on the internet regarding how to understand and learn SEO, so it is a good idea to capitalize this and start reading up on how to become an SEO expert. Also keep in mind that there are good tips and bad tips, so learn early on the difference between white hat and black hat SEO techniques. Remember to

Like What You Do

Providing SEO solutions is providing service to others. One way to become an SEO expert is to like what you do. When you think you just want to do SEO because there is the promise of tons of cash, then you are probably not going to become an SEO expert because you will get tired of providing SEO services. But when you like what you do and when you like helping people out, then you are going to love SEO and will soon become an SEO expert yourself.

Be honest

An SEO expert is honest. When you hear someone say that they know the secret on how to get number one ranking in search engine results, overnight, then they are obviously not SEO experts and don’t know what they are talking about. So learn and start to provide honest feedback regarding a site’s search engine rankings and you’ll be both known as an honest SEO provider as well as an expert one.

There are tons of information on the internet on how to become an SEO expert, and it would benefit you greatly if you started capitalizing on this fact. Aside from that, you should also hook up with other SEO experts and start discussing SEO. Listen to what others have to say and what they experienced. If you keep your eyes and ears open, and if you love what you are doing then there is no doubt that you can become an SEO expert.

How do I evaluate SEO companies & their services?

inspect

There are a lot of SEO companies providing, what they claim, are the best Search Engine Optimization services and solutions in the industry. With all of these experts claiming to be the crème de la crème when it comes to upgrading your site’s SEO rankings, how are you going to weed through all these so-called experts and find the one who will actually deliver?

Here are a couple of ways that you can evaluate SEO companies and the services that they offer:

  1. If they SEO their own

 

One surefire and very quick way of determining if the said SEO expert is actually an expert, is by looking at their site. If the site doesn’t look organized, or if they don’t appear search engine optimized, then why are you bothering even speaking with them. If these guys can’t even clean their homes, why are you going to hire them to clean yours?

 

 

  1. Promise fast results

 

It’s just not possible to determine when or what the results will be for every particular SEO campaign. So if they are claiming that they will be able to deliver the results fast and within this particular time frame, then run away and never look back. The real experts know that there is really no way to predict the outcome, much less when the outcome will occur. The real SEO will probably say things like, it’s not possible to determine results or they will have to observe your site as the SEO campaign progresses.

 

  1. Use just one software

 

There are many fantastic SEO software available on the market, but no one particular software will be able to do all of the work that an SEO needs. So real SEO experts use a couple of tools and software and don’t just rely on one. If you’re SEO expert says that he or she is using just this one software because its great or if they are using a secret software then it’s time to run away again.

 

  1. Marketing Call Words

 

Another way to determine whether an SEO company is really worth your money is by looking at their copy. Do they offer FAST RESULTS at VERY AFFORDABLE RATES, WEBSITE RANKS NO 1 GUARANTEED? Then you should really look for somebody else. There’s a good chance that these kinds of so-called SEO experts are really just selling snake oils and will most likely just waste your money.

 

  1. If they provide a detailed plan

 

If you’re SEO expert provides you with a detailed plan of what you will have to do to make your page rank, then there’s a good chance that they are a keeper. Most fake experts will just tell you to sit back, relax and wait till your site is magically in the number one spot. A real SEO expert will tell you where trenches will have to be dug and where they plan to aim suppressive fire, or something to that extent. Claims versus plans. Always go with the Plan guy.

Broken Link Building – A Good SEO Strategy?


Broken link building is one of the oldest strategy used to market a site. Now, more White Hat SEOs are building the broken links to increase page ranking. Is this a good SEO strategy to employ? Will this be beneficial for your business?

How does broken links work for your business?

Webmasters are well aware that any page error is a big no-no. Why? Because users will find this frustrating and thus lose their credibility. Rather than asking the webmaster for a link request, you’re doing them a favor by informing them of broken links and providing a solution by replacing them.

What are the tools you can use for building broken links?

CognitiveSEO: This is a backlinking tool that you can use to show backlinks, filter keywords and sort them by type to name a few.

Google Alerts: This tool will help you be more aware of your competition — or notify you when they’re out of business. Take advantage of those opportunities especially if you’re not the only one competing for this type of business.

Check My Links or Link Checker: These are browser extensions off Google Chrome and Firefox that you can use to check broken links or web pages. You can browse outdated websites of industries which you’re building your links for.

Where do you get broken links?

Broken links are found through resource lists. It’s a hit and miss thing, so it’s best to check out the resource link that fits your website’s niche that you’re building your links for. Once you’ve gotten to the most promising results, you’ll need to use a browser extension to highlight these broken links on the page.

Working with local business website? Don’t disregard checking for broken links. Online directories such as Yelp presents a good opportunity for you to look for similar businesses that has closed.

Once you’ve already located these links, the question now is: How will you approach webmasters?

Now that you already have your list of broken links, the next step is approaching the webmaster. Keep in mind that you’ll need to convince them to switch their broken links for yours. Some of these webmasters are someone off the business arena, so it might be best to give out reliable links with similar contents, products or services. For larger sites or blogs, you may opt to give them a sample of your services or products which they can recommend over your competition.

Approaching them as a random visitor or a fan may prove to a helpful method to use with webmasters. Admire the content shared in their site, show concern for bad links that you’ve stumbled upon and give out alternative links is a good alternative to get a hold of having your links recommended off their site.

There’s a good chance that you’re an SEO marketer and using broken links for your site will increase your chances of landing a good rank off search engine sites. The tricky part is getting these broken links from webmasters for a cost. If you’re a little tight on the budget, you can opt to suggest a good alternative to link to your site. This way, you’ll have a win-win situation and everyone is satisfied with the trade.