Directory Maximizer

A List of 9 Popular Search Engines Besides Google

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On September 16, 2015, comScore released its monthly analysis of the U.S. search marketplace. As it has been the case for the better part of the last 15 years, Google remains the undisputed king with 64% market share. In fact, the popularity of Google is such that nobody “searches” online; they “Google” the information they’re looking for.

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Similarly, SEO to improve rankings, drive traffic and increase awareness in search engines, evolved to mean “optimizing for Google”. The continued strength of Google as a search engine is based on a number of factors, the most obvious of which is successfully providing the results people are looking for in a timely, efficient and enjoyable way.

However Google is not the only serviceable search engine available. There are numerous others that provide unique features. The trick is to determine if the extra effort it takes to optimize for the other search engines is worth the additional online visibility? For example, Google retains over 60% of all searches but it also has a long history of making constant changes to its search algorithm while incoming traffic from Yahoo! and Bing is more consistent. It’s also worth noting that different search engines are used by different demographics. You need to be where your customers are.

So while Google is king for a reason, if you want to maximize web traffic to your site, you could split your efforts to optimize for the major commercial search engines and reach people looking for what you offer. Aside from Google, some of the most popular search engines include:

1. Bing

Previously known as Live Search, Windows Live Search and MSN Search, Bing is a search engine by Microsoft launched on June 1, 2009. The key features of the search engine include Smart Search, People Suggestions and Bing Rewards. Bing Smart Search, for example, is a faster way for people to find what they are looking for and get things done without the need to open a browser.

2. Yahoo!

Everyday millions of people around the world choose to make Yahoo! a part of their daily digital routines with its popular products such as Weather, Flickr, Tumblr and Sports, which is the world’s most visited sports site. Yahoo! is also one of the top three search engines, despite not producing its own organic results.

3. AOL

AOL is used by many people as a go-to destination for the latest stories impacting everyone including sports, entertainment, lifestyle, finance, weather and videos. It is one of the top 10 search engines with a market share close to 1.2%.

4. Ask.com

In the early days of the web, the question answering-focused search engine founded in 1995 was one of Google’s greatest competitors. Though not nearly as popular as it used to be before, ask.com is a remarkable question answering service that delivers the best answers from the web (and real people) in one place. One of the reasons for its persisting popularity is its accommodation of colloquial language but the results returned lack quality. Read more

Negative SEO | Keeping an Eye Out for the Saboteurs of Search

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Negative search engine optimization! Does it really happen? Can someone who understands the rules of search actually use them not constructively but destructively to sabotage a website’s rankings up the search engine results? If so, should you be worried? And what can you do to protect yourself from potential search saboteurs?

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Those are all excellent questions for any online business relying on Google searches for traffic. So let’s talk about negative SEO and shed some light on the subject.

The Concept of Negative SEO

Negative SEO is the name given to the process when someone (a search saboteur or a competitor) makes an attempt to lower a website’s rankings in the search engine results.

But does it really work?

Hypothetically, if a new website gains thousands of links over the course of a weekend, the site will look like it’s engaging in unnatural link building and pushing its rankings up the SERPs artificially; a tactic known to attract the disfavor of the major search engines including Google in a post-Penguin world. In response, it is highly likely that Google’s search algorithms will punish such a website by pushing the offending website pages into the deep invisible layers of the SERPs.

So, if buying or selling links and excessive link exchanges you engage in can harm your website rankings in the SERPs, it follows that similar unnatural links created by a search saboteur can have the same negative effect.

As a matter of fact, prior to January 2003, Google had statement on one of its website pages. It read:

“There is nothing a competitor can do to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index.”

In 2003, that statement was modified. It now reads:

“There is almost nothing a competitor can do to harm your ranking….”

Clearly negative SEO is a real threat and under certain circumstances, it is actually possible for someone with a vindictive agenda to harm your website by, say, changing your robots.txt file so the search engines don’t crawl your website anymore. As for negative SEO via link building, Google has things included in its algorithms to help them determine whether links are self-made or not and ensure that a competitor cannot hurt your site rankings in the search engine results. But even Google admits that they may not get things 100% right all the time.

The conclusion: Negative SEO is real and if you see a situation where you feel that negative SEO is actually being effective, it does not help to bury your head in the sand. You need to recognize the warning signs.

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4 Creative Link Building Ideas for Ecommerce Websites in Boring Niches

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Since the late 1990’s search engines have used link data in complex algorithms to evaluate sites and pages and their relative popularity and importance. Obviously links are not everything in SEO but many search professionals estimate that link-based factors constitute a large portion of the search algorithms used by popular engines such as Google. Through links, Google can not only measure the popularity of websites but also other metrics such as trust, spam and authority. After all, trustworthy sites tend to receive links from other trusted sources while spammy sites receive very few of those.

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Some of the popular link building strategies for ecommerce websites include:

1. Getting your loyal customers to link to you by sending out graphic icons that link back to your site

2. Maintaining a business blog; making it a fresh and entertaining source of industry news and information.

3. Creating content to serve as “linkbait”. In the SEO world, “linkbait” refers to content that inspires viral sharing such as humor.

4. Be newsworthy. Staying in the news by periodically releasing a great product or giving away something for free is a very effective way to earn links.

But what happens if the industry you’re in is very boring? Are some industries too boring to develop a cohesive and long-term link building strategy?

Link Building Opportunities for Websites in Boring Industries

Amid terrific stories being shared and linked to every minute in dynamic industries such as home improvement, footwear and fitness, link builders in the more challenging niches sometimes get stuck on how to even come close to competing.

But boring is a very subjective tern. If you really think about it, you’ll realize that any business, no matter how boring it may come off as on the surface, has interesting stories.

  • Every business has customers with problems they need to solve
  • Every business owner has a story to tell
  • Every employee face challenges at work everyday

All these make interesting human stories. The challenge is for a link builder to be creative enough to leverage and exploit these stories.

1. Do a Google Search and Sift Through What Comes Up for Inspiration

Building and maintaining a business blog is one of the few link-building strategies personally recommended by the engineers at Google. Blogs are unique in their ability to contribute fresh content on a consistent basis. These then go on to participate in conversations across the web and earn links from other blogs.

But if you’re in an industry like, say air filters, chances are, you don’t have much to say let alone something to say everyday or periodically. So it helps to do a Google search and read through the stories that come up. Occasionally you are bound to come across a piece of information or a statistic that would make a link-worthy piece of content.

For example, did you know that according to the EPA, indoor air contains 2-5 times more contaminants than outdoor air? Don’t you think this piece of data has the potential to interest a lot of people and inspire a really nice blog post?

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The Most Critical SEO Elements for 2014

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These days, many webmasters are finding it difficult to figure out what’s still relevant for SEO and what’s no longer important. Two of the main components of a strong SEO strategy remain the same: 1) to publish high-quality content that gets read and 2) get linked to by as many people as possible. Translation: Quality content and inbound links.

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But this year, a third key element joined the ranks of these two components and that’s social media! Social media wasn’t around when SEO first developed into an industry; it only became a factor in the ranking algorithm in recent years. Today social media is a means to increase shareability, distribution and reach of content and this, in turn, provides readers and search engines alike with new data to assess quality.

So the 3 key elements to building a strong SEO campaign in 2014, irrespective of industry include:

1. Content strategy

2. Inbound links

3. Social media

Is Content Really King?

“Content marketing” is beginning to replace the term “SEO”. It’s no longer enough to simply have an SEO strategy. In the wake of Google’s Panda and Penguin algorithm updates, many of the once-popular SEO tactics that used to work no longer do.

“Content is king” is a mantra that is probably repeated more often than any other in the world of SEO. As such, business owners should continue to focus on creating high-quality content guided by solid keyword research. A solid content marketing strategy not only aims to build your business exposure and visibility for many keywords, it also aims to build brand awareness, authority and credibility as well as social media awareness and conversion rates.

Are Links Still the Primary Ranking Factor?

With Google stepping up its efforts to penalize link networks and those who buy and sell links, how important are backlinks to Google’s search algorithm? Have backlinks lost their importance for ranking purposes?

In his Webmaster help video published on May 5, 2014, Matt Cutts shared:

“I think backlinks still have many, many years left in them”

Cutts said links help Google figure out the reputation of a site or pages. But Google also wants to give more weight to pages written by experts. So this means that authority will become even more crucial for websites and in the coming months and years, website owners are going to see an even greater emphasis in the value of authorship.

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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 to Know if You Have Been Penalized by Google

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Online marketers and Google have been engaged in a treacherous dance for over a decade. The moment Google comes out with a new algorithm, online marketers try to beat it. Google adapts. Online marketers follow, and the cycle repeats.

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In the early days, all you had to do to get ranked highly was get a lot of links pointing to you. That was the very basis of PageRank, the system that used the number of links you had as a determinant of page quality. Marketers learned to game the system. So Google adapted, and started using meta tags to determine page relevance. Marketers figured out that to rank, all you had to do was stuff your pages and your meta-keyword tags with the right keywords. Then, Google adapted again.

Since the early days, Google has come a long way. Google no longer relies on just one or two ranking factors. Instead, Google uses over 200 different factors to determine the quality of your website. Everything from your social media presence, the concentration of ads and your website’s loading speed now plays a role in your search engine rankings.

Yet, in the last few years, Google has really taken things to a new level. They’ve released three game changing updates – Panda, Penguin and Humming Bird – that have seriously changed the game for website owners.

Have you been penalized by one of these updates? That’s what this article will explore. But before we get into that, let’s take a quick look at each of these updates.

The Panda, The Penguin, The Humming Bird

So, what were each of these updates? And what’s the difference between all of them?

Google Panda. The Google Panda update was all about getting rid of low quality websites. A lot of low quality websites were ranking highly in Google, thanks to blackhat ranking techniques. Also, many Google ranking factors – like the “exact keyword in the domain” factor – helped low quality sites get ranked. The Google Panda update penalized and lowered the rankings of these low quality websites.

Google Penguin. While the Panda update targeted low quality websites, the Penguin update targets low quality backlinks. This was known as the anti-spam update. Google actively penalized websites that over-optimized. They also targeted websites that violated the Webmaster Guidelines, as well as websites that used blackhat SEO techniques.

Google Humming Bird. This was the biggest update of all. Instead of changing the old algorithm, which started from the beginning of the Google days, this was a complete overhaul of the algorithm. In other words, Google essentially rewrote its search algorithm from scratch. Instead of being keyword-based, the new algorithm is designed to intelligently understand what a searcher is looking for. It understands sentence structure and conversational questions. This was an especially important update for mobile searches, which are often dictated in the form of a question via voice command.

Those were the three major updates. Each of these updates targeted a very different aspect of SEO. In each of these updates, some websites improved in rankings, while others suffered. How do you know if you’ve been penalized through one of these updates? And what can you do about it?

How to Know if You Were Penalized by Google Panda

A Google Panda slap can take a couple different forms:

1. You notice your traffic spikes and drops erratically. One day you might have normal traffic, then the next it drops back to zero, then the next it bounces back. This means that Google is indexing and deindexing your site repeatedly. This often means there are duplicate content issues, HTML parsing issues or other structural issues with the site. This is less common.

2. The more common way this occurs is a sharp drop directly after a Panda update. To see if your website was caused by a Panda update, check to see if your traffic dropped sharply within a few days of a Panda update. Here’s a complete list of all the Panda update dates.

If you’re getting penalized by Google Panda, the best approach is to work on your content quality. Remove duplicate topic content, even if they’re unique in words. In other words, before the Panda update, “How to Fix a Motor” and “How to Repair a Motor” would be considered unique articles. After Panda, they’re considered duplicate.

Work on creating content that’s quality and gets people to stay on the site longer. Reduce your bounce rate, increase your average pages per visitor. Reduce the number of ads per page. In other words, right now Google considers your website low quality. Work on increasing the quality, rather than on link building techniques. Here’s a video by Matt Cutts that talks about the steps to be taken when hit by a Google Panda update:

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Don’t Make Your Website Annoying

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So as a website owner, you’ve just heard about this latest and apparently awesome feature that everyone is using on his website. Your first instinct would be to follow the crowd. After all, if everyone is doing it, there should be something good in it for you as well.

Well actually, you can choose to do that. Or not!

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These days, it happens too often that websites adopt a feature only because some other sites are using it. Truth is, just because someone is using a website feature does not mean that you should too. It could do you more harm than good.

Some of the overused website features we’ve seen in 2013 and how they can prove to be bad in regards to your SEO efforts.

1. Infinite scroll

Infinite scroll is an amazing website feature. If you own a website like Facebook where you have information best presented in a never-ending linear manner then it could prove to be quite helpful. However, out of consideration for your visitors, you don’t want every page on your website to be a bottom-less source of information. Only use infinite scroll if you have a story to tell and if the endless scrolling is not too cumbersome. In particular, you want to avoid infinite scrolling for your homepage. A homepage is meant to aim users of the site to different sources of information around the site. Infinite scrolling interferes with that.

2. Sticky navigation

A sticky or fixed navigation is by definition a website menu that does not move as users scroll up or down a page. The navigation bar can be fixed at the top of the page, at the bottom or even on the side.  There are many types of websites where using sticky navigation would make sense but at the end of the day, the content on your site is going to be the best determinant of whether you need a sticky header or not. In many cases, a good site search feature might prove to be a much better alternative for quick site access.

3. Auto-sliders

Put quite simply, don’t bother unless you really know what you are doing. As a site owner, you might be under the impression that auto-sliders are cool but to users of the site, they can be downright annoying.

4. Auto-play audio, video and animation

If you want your website to have a good user experience, don’t auto-play audio, video or any form of animation when users click on your website. The last thing a visitor wants to happen when he or she is redirected to a website is being greeted by an annoying audio or video track and having to scramble around the place to find the source of the disturbance and shut it down. If you want to invest in audio or video content, by all means, go right ahead but make it an option. Don’t auto-play it.

5. Banner ads and promo boxes don’t work anymore

A few years ago, putting up banner ads and promo boxes on your website might have worked because people actually clicked on them. These days, these site features only take up valuable space while simultaneously putting you at risk of experiencing the full wrath of Google’s ad space penalty. Few are those websites that actually make revenue off these traffic detours.

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