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6 SEO Tips and Tricks for the Holiday Season

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It’s that time of the year again. The holiday season is here! Did you conform your website to it yet? The holidays may be the biggest sales month for most eCommerce and retail companies but getting your customers’ attention above all the promotional noise and web clutter around this time of year is a lot of work. Raising the bar with a resounding, authoritative voice may mean the difference between gaining a customer and pushing him to your competition.

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To get your website ready for this holiday season:

1. Piggy Back on Your Competition

It’s a simple concept: If you want to surpass your competitors this holiday season, you first need to know what they are doing and what marketing strategies they are using. The first step is to get an idea of the keywords they are targeting. To do this, you can use a tool like Mozbar or SEMrush. The next step is to have a look at their backlinks. This can give you a pretty good idea of the sorts of where they are building a relationship, and if it would be worth it for you to do the same for your own website. Handy tools you can use for this purpose include Open Site Explorer and Mondovo’s Link Research Tool.

2. Conduct your own Keyword Research

You can use the list of keywords that you’ve gathered above as a “seed list” that will help you get started with your own KW research. This way, you’ll be able to target the keywords that they are targeting as well as fill the gaps in their keyword strategy.

The key is to not get seduced by high volume phrases. Target a good mix of short, medium and long tail keyword phrases. For long tail keywords, you can use the idea: Seasonal word + Your product + Your city area plus other variations of this phrase.

3. Begin Content Marketing

The holiday season is a surefire period of consumer spending but to capture the attention of people during one of the busiest times of the year, you need a strong content marketing strategy. The challenge is to strike a balance between producing content that your consumers will want to talk about and link to, and that also aids the sales funnel. You can kick start the process by creating an editorial calendar to push holiday-related content at the right times and in the right places.

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How to Find Popular Keywords Using Wikipedia

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It doesn’t matter what niche you are in or what business model you are following; if you want your business to succeed online, you need to do keyword research.

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It’s not only about SEO; it’s about what your customers want. If they cannot find what they want on your page, you can forget about making a sale, getting a lead or even getting a click on your ads, no matter where they came from.

A lot of software and services are available to help you with keyword research, like this one. However, you can also do the research ‘manually’, using Wikipedia. And this is exactly what this article is about! It’s not a conventional way to do keyword research (I don’t see it being discussed on Internet marketing and SEO forums for some reason), but it does result in a lot of high-quality keywords.

Tip #1: The SERP

Okay, this one doesn’t really involve using Wikipedia itself, but it is a big part of the method. Adding the word ‘wikipedia’ to your topic results in informative pages being displayed in the SERPs.

For example: carpet cleaning wikipedia

Instead of being presented with all sorts of carpet cleaning services in the area, I am getting a page full of informative keywords. You should look both at the page titles and descriptions.

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In my example, I came up with:

carpet cleaning

rug cleaning

rug cleaner

truckmount carpet cleaner

steam cleaning

vapor steam cleaner

hot water extraction vs steam cleaning

steam mop

Not bad for 90 seconds of work! And that’s without scrolling down past the first 6 results!

Tip #2: Use Wikipedia Search

The heading is pretty self-explanatory. Go to the Wikipedia main page and perform a search on your topic. The page talking about your topic should contain keywords related to your niche.

Performing a quick search on “suits” resulted into the following keywords:

lounge suit

business suits

dinner suits

black tie

design

cut

bespoke

made to measure

ready-to-wear

And again, I didn’t even have to scroll down to find these.

The takeaway here is this: Wikipedia articles are keyword mines. If you invest some time looking, you will find some nice keywords out there.

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Panda 4.0, Payday Loan 2.0, Pigeon: How Can They Affect Your Sites

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In this article, we are going to talk about some of the updates that Google rolled out recently, viz: Panda 4.0 update, Payday Loan update, and the Pigeon update. This article provides an overview of these latest updates and how they can affect a website’s rankings in search engine results page.

The Panda 4.0 Update

The recent Panda 4.0 update was released in May. It is reported that this algorithm update has already affected about 7.5 percent search queries. This update targets low-quality, thin websites. Although it’s still early to fully confirm its impact on different websites, early results indicate significant disruptions in different industries.

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The sites that have been negatively affected by this new algorithm update include renowned Q&A search engines like Retailmenot.com and Ask.com. Press release websites have also been hit badly. Some reputed sites like PRLog, PR Newswire, and PRWeb are losing around 85 percent of the search rankings. Initially it was assumed that eBay.com took a big hit as well. However, later reports indicated that it experienced 33 percent decrease in search rankings.

According to some SEO analysts, webmasters can avoid penalty from Panda by publishing high-quality content, and getting rid of any low-quality content on their site. If you are affected by the newest Panda update, you must include quality content that is compelling and resonates with your audience. Although the webmaster sites may feel that they are unjustly affected by the update, the Panda update together with other updates always reminds you to keep your website content unique. distinct and high-quality. Recently few questions were raised about the softer side of this Panda update. Therefore, small businesses that were affected previously by the update have the opportunity to recover.

The Payday Loan 2.0 Update

Other than the Panda update, the Payday Loan algorithm also received an update in May, and became Payday Loan 2.0. The original algorithm intended to target highly spammy queries (like payday loans or pornographic searches). That update targeted the sites globally and affected international search results in countries from where spam originated. The Payday Loan 2.0 seems to primarily target the international sites and different languages.

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It has been reported that merely 0.2 percent of the English queries are affected. The same figures in certain countries are significantly higher at 4 percent.

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How Bing Picks Your Title Tag

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Before we get talking about title tags, let’s have a look at another type of tag web pages use: Meta tags.

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The Meta tag is hidden and is placed in the webpage’s <head> section. Although these remain invisible, the Meta tags can be useful in telling the search engines what your page is about. Search engines don’t rely just on these tags to identify your pages’ content, but it’s still a good idea to have those filled in: It shows good structure.

The Meta tags are used to describe the web page. Bing or other search engines make use of the description tags to explain your page to their users on the SERPs. An appropriate description tag will make the search result more attractive for the visitor to click on. When creating description Meta tags you must keep these in mind:

  • Don’t stuff the Meta description tag with keywords. Always make sure it is reader-friendly and try to include your main keyword in there. Use keywords naturally because Bing examines natural sentence structure
  • Explain what the page is about
  • The description should be distinct for each page
  • The length should be restricted to 160 characters or less
  • You should check the description for spelling or grammar errors

Title tags aren’t really Meta tags. However, they are often grouped into the same category. This tag is placed in the <head> section as well. The title tag shows in the following cases:

  • When bookmarks are saved, the browser uses the title tag for naming the bookmark
  • The title tag is usually what is shown in the Bing’s SERPs
  • The web browser displays the title at the top of the window

When creating or optimizing title tags for webpages, good guidelines to follow are:

  • The title tag should ideally consist of 60-70 characters. The extra text is truncated by search engines like Bing
  • Avoid putting company or business name in title tags because this wastes space
  • The tiles should be distinct for each page
  • Check the title tags for spelling or grammar errors

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5 Essential SEO Tips for Local Businesses

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You can be sure that your competitors are competing for search results, and if you aren’t trying just as hard, you’re giving business away. As a small business, you have to do everything you can to expose your brand to as many local potential customers as possible. The thing is, these days consumers spend more time online than they do watching TV.

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The best way to reach Internet-savvy customers is to position yourself highly on Google and other major search engines. To sell your prospects on your product or service from the top of the SERPs, you’ll have to set up a plan to optimize social media presence, reviews and on-page elements.

Optimize On-Page Data

Optimizing your on-page data is the crucial first step. You must ensure that your on-page elements align with what Google wants to see. Here are a few tips to get you headed in the right direction:

  • Create an appropriate domain name. Your domain should speak to what you do and where you’re located. The simplest way to do this is to literally combine your business name with the city you’re in. For instance, if you’re “Cici’s Cuts,” and you’re located in NYC, www.ciciscutsnyc.com would be a nice domain for you.
  • Use relevant keywords. Place keywords in your titles and in your pages that are relevant to your business, your product and your location. Use keywords naturally. Another good idea is to go for long-tail keywords.
  • Spread your NAP data far and wide. You should add your name, address and phone number to every page of your site.
  • Share the love. Your content shouldn’t be all about you. Make sure that your copy reflects the fact that you’re part of a vibrant community. A great way to do this is to partner with other local businesses or to co-sponsor a local charity. Then blog about it! Also, mention what part of town you’re in and the landmarks in your immediate vicinity.

Encourage User Reviews

Reviews give you immediate social proof, and they increase your visibility in local search results. Importantly, the way in which you engage with reviews also affects your visibility. Here are a few tips to help you engage positively with reviews:

  • Never, ever buy reviews. It can be tempting. Hiring people to post reviews for you can backfire spectacularly. If you lose the public’s trust, you might have to fork over money you don’t have to a PR firm.
  • Encourage organic reviews. On the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with encouraging satisfied customers to leave a review. Checkout flyers, website callouts and email followups are great ways to do this. The more authentic reviews you generate, the more you’ll stand out in local search results. Yes, this means that you will get the odd negative review, but that comes with the territory. There isn’t a credible business in existence that doesn’t have any bad reviews.
  • Encourage reviews across the Web. As part of your outreach, encourage customers to post reviews to as many sites as possible. Your reviews are at their least effective on your own site. Sites like Yelp! and Epinions have huge influence.
  • Respond to reviews. If you’re a hot-head, you might want to have someone else handle this. You want to respond to reviews proactively, but if you’re hostile, you can cause a bad review to go viral. If you come across a negative review, thank the author for their feedback and ask them to get in touch with you so you can go over their issue in more detail.

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How to Recover from a Google Penalty (Manual and Algorithmic)

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It can happen to anyone whether you run a relatively discreet business blog or a successful e-commerce website. You push the limits too far with your link building or you knowingly or unknowingly associate with some low quality directories or forums. It worked for a while so you got comfortable with employing some SEO tactics that are neither white nor black but lie somewhere in the grey color palette.

Then one day it happens!

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You get a not-so-pleasant message in your Google Webmaster Tools account that your site has violated their quality guidelines and that manual action has been taken.

Or, equally possible, you find yourself on the bad end of a new Google algorithm update. Google makes hundreds of changes to their search algorithms each year and these algorithms, in turn, employ more than 200 different signals when ranking pages, any number of which can affect how your site ranks without a manual action by the Google webspam team.

The Common Reasons Why Google Penalizes Websites

1. Over-optimized anchor text

Too many people linking to you using the same anchor text can raise a red flag and cause your website to get penalized for an unnatural link profile.

2. Spammy links

Spammy links from irrelevant websites might have worked in the past to boost your website rankings up the SERPs but this hasn’t been the case for a very long time now.

3. Building too many links too quickly

Have you noticed that when you build too many links in a relatively short period of time, you tend to lose your rankings in the SERPs, which may or may not come back?

4. Junk content

It’s not about creating a large volume of content anymore! It’s about creating high quality content.

The Dreaded Google Penalty

So you think you’ve been hit! You suspect a Google penalty because your web traffic is plummeting. What next?

Well, for one, you need to determine the cause of the penalty. Then, of course, you need to take steps to recover.

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How Web Design & SEO Can (& Should!) Work Hand-in-Hand

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While having an aesthetic appeal is one of the key components of a website, it is only one of the aspects to take into account when it comes to web design. The main concern should always be getting visitors to the site and then working on the statistics when it comes to conversion. Everything else is secondary. When you have a website that attracts a lot of traffic and then converts visitors into paying customers and leads, you know that you are doing something right.

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Working the Game Backwards

A lot of today’s web designers use concepts that have already been proven to work. There are certain models that have proven to make your website SEO-friendly while at the same time able to convert visitors into customers. Some of the key components that a website should have that will help lead to these goals include the following:

  • The site is easy to navigate
  • The Google robots can index it easily
  • It is aesthetically pleasing
  • The site shows well on multiple devices
  • The pages load easily and quickly
  • It is user-friendly for visitors

The Infinite Scroll Design

With an infinite scroll, all of the content will appear on a single page but at the same time the page can load quickly. In contrast, with a regular website that has all of the content on one page, there’s going to be a major problem with the loading time. By using a Bootstrap or Backbone framework, however, the content will load as you scroll down. Think of Facebook. The page pops up quickly when you type in the URL and if you’re looking at somebody’s page, more content loads up the further down you scroll. Google loves this type of web design and it’s extremely user-friendly as well.

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