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Does Having an EMD (Exact Match Domain) Help or Hinder Your Ranking?

Posted on May 17th, 2017

EMD

 

An EMD is a domain name that is an exact match with a popular search query.

 

Typically, the name will contain a highly-searched keyword or phrase, such as “buy Nike shoes”. In the past, simply having a URL that contained highly-targeted keywords would boost you to the top of Google’s search results pages for that keyword phrase, regardless of whether the website had quality content or not. Unfortunately, spammers were using this tactic to their advantage, and Google’s search results were displaying low quality, spammy websites at the top of the lists because of the sole fact that they were EMDs, while the legitimate, high quality ones were pushed down the list.

Today, it’s not so easy anymore. Google has implemented an algorithm change that affects exact match domains with low-quality content. It’s aimed at targeting sites that were ranking simply because of the keyword advantage in the domain name. Google wants websites to appear at the top of Google searches because they adhere to “white hat” practices, have solid website design, and quality content that is relevant.

 

That’s not to say that a website that uses an EMD can’t rank well.

 

Google doesn’t penalize all EMDs. If you are a legitimate website that uses solid Internet practices, then you should be fine. Cheapflights.com is a prime example of an EMD that ranks well and remains high on search results pages. But this is because they are a legitimate business, they don’t use shady SEO tactics, and it’s not a spammy site.

The only aspect that is worrisome about having an EMD (when it comes to legitimate non-spamming purposes) is that it can leave you feeling as though you’re walking on eggshells with Google. What if you included a few too many keywords on some of your pages with no ill intentions? Or your website was hacked and now contains malware? This, in combination with having an EMD, will paint you as a spammy website, and as a result your ranking will crumble. So, make sure to keep all these things in mind if you want to use an EMD.

The Benefits of Using “.Brand” Top Level Domains

Posted on May 16th, 2017

.brand TLD SEO

 

Ranking high in search results should be every business owner’s top priority.

 

Not surprisingly, the main question with today’s new .brand top level domains is will they rank equally as well, or better than .com domains? Initially, there was a lot of uncertainty about search performance regarding .brand domains. However, Google has stated that they don’t offer any inherent SEO advantage, and keywords in a top level domain (TLD) do not give any advantage or disadvantage. But not everyone is buying it.

Trends are developing. Some of the world’s largest organizations are starting to change the way they build domain names and how they use them in their digital marketing efforts. There are nearly 600 .brand TLDs currently registered. Most of these organizations have not yet begun to use them, but there are several live examples already on the web. With a hefty price tag of approximately $200,000 USD, you can guess which types of organizations have gone with their own .brand TLD. More than 40 percent have been applied for by Fortune 500 companies. Apple, Microsoft, Walmart, Nike, BMW, and MLB are just a few of the corporate giants that are using .brand top level domains.

 

So if there is no apparent SEO benefit of having these .brand TLDs, then what’s all the hype about?

 

Why are these corporations spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on them? Despite what Google has said, a .brand TLD does have several benefits that make it an attractive option for businesses. Marketing becomes somewhat easier and more flexible. One example would be the ability to register whenever you want without fear that the name has been taken. It also allows companies to create endless second-level domains for campaigns and products with shorter and more memorable URLs. This flexibility is invaluable with today’s big corporations. The ability to avoid domain registration panic when releasing new products or campaigns is huge, and having a short, simple, meaningful URL is not only easier to remember, but it can improve click-through rates from link sharing.

Another great benefit of owning a .brand TLD is that it reinforces consumer trust. As the brand manages all second-level domains, only the brand itself can use their TLD. So any website with a .Nike extension is guaranteed to be the brand’s authentic website. This is particularly beneficial for brands that rely heavily on consumer trust, such as financial institutions. Lastly, creating micro-sites for new products or services becomes simplified and gives businesses the ability to personalize the experience of users landing on their site. A great example would be the .apple TLD. This allows Apple to control how they roll out their new products online, giving them a unique URL. Whenever the iPhone 9 comes out, the website will probably be www.iPhone9.apple.

 

For more on .brand TLDs, visit https://icannwiki.org/Brand_TLD

Search Engine Optimization Tips for Podcasts and Audio

Posted on May 15th, 2017

podcast SEO

 

Search engines “read” your website based on the text found on your site.

 

This includes the content, meta tags, alt text, links, and the keywords used in all of these things. At this point in time, search engines can’t “watch” a video, and therefore they still remain dependent on the text that is included with the video. So where do audio files and podcasts stand when it comes to SEO? Are podcast websites just out of luck until search engines evolve? Thankfully, no. There are still ways to optimize audio files, just as you would optimize any website. Google can’t index these yet, but as audio files become more commonplace on the Internet, this will more than likely change.

 

For the time being, though, you can make use of these helpful tips on how to optimize them to the fullest:

 

1. Transcribe Your Audio Files
Transcribe your audio file content into an RSS feed. Include this transcription in the item description field to ensure the file gets indexed and included in related searches. You don’t necessarily need it to be word-for-word. A modified script that summarizes the podcast and includes your targeted keywords should suffice.

2. Create a New Page/Blog Post for Each Podcast
Create separate pages for each of your podcasts and blog posts describing them with at least 300 words. Include the keywords you are targeting, but keep it to a minimum. You don’t want to over-stuff. Try and vary the keywords from post to post.

3. Include Keywords in the URL and File Names
The URL where your podcast will be found should include a keyword, inserted as an extension. If you use multiple words, be sure to hyphenate them. Do not use underscores to separate words. For example, if your podcast is about creating a WordPress website, the URL should look something like this: www.yourcompanyname.com/creating-a-wordpress-website. Audio file names share the same rule.

4. Promote your Podcast in Podcasting Directories
There are a number of online directories that freely accept podcast submissions, such as iTunes. This helps to create a backlink to your podcast that will help boost your page rank.

5. Use Social Media Platforms
Facebook likes and Twitter retweets play a huge roll in boosting your ranking. Be sure to share your podcasts on these social platforms. Having highly active social accounts will help to get your message out there and raise your online profile.

 

In addition to these tips, ensure that the quality of your audio files and podcasts are primed. They should be clear and easy to understand without any background noise or interference. Also, include a graphic with your podcast, as this helps to draw additional attention to your listing in the directories. As with audio files, image file names and alt text should also contain keywords. As a final quality control check, once your file is uploaded to your website, blog, or directory, download a test copy to ensure the quality and volume is good, and that the feed is properly formed.

How Negative Keywords Will Save You Money on Google AdWords

Posted on May 12th, 2017

negative keywords

 

The most important aspect of using Google AdWords is choosing the right keywords for your campaigns.

 

But, have you selected any negative keywords? Negative keywords let you exclude search terms from your campaigns and help you focus on only the keywords that matter to your customers. This increased targeting will put your ad in front of the right users and increase your return on investment.

For example, take a car dealership located in Toronto. To run an AdWords campaign targeting the keywords “car dealership in Toronto” without any negative keywords would yield a ton of irrelevant users clicking your ad, racking up your AdWords costs. If the dealership only sold new cars, then “used” would be one of the negative keywords they should use. If they only sold Mercedes, then all other makes (Toyota, Ford, Hyundai, etc) should be added to the negative keyword list. This would result in more targeted traffic, with only users that were interested in purchasing a new Mercedes from a car dealership in Toronto clicking the ad.

The negative keyword “free” would apply to almost every AdWords campaign. Most people will not spend money on a campaign to give out something for free. Although there are exceptions. For example, a free membership trial period for a gym.

 

The following is a list of negative keywords that would work with most AdWords campaigns:

- free
- nude
- naked
- sex
- porn
- cheap
- porno
- youtube
- craigslist
- ebay
- kijiji

Surprisingly, almost half of advertisers don’t add a single negative keyword to their accounts. If you are one of them, stop throwing your money away. Make use of negative keywords, reduce your costs, and increase your return on investment! For more on negative keywords, visit: https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/2453972?hl=en

Is it Worth Switching to HTTPS for the Sake of SEO?

Posted on May 11th, 2017

https

 

HTTPS (or secure HTTP) was developed to allow secure transactions and authentication.

 

When it comes to confidential material such as bank accounts, this is crucial, as the exchange of confidential information needs to be secured in order to prevent any unauthorized access. And since Google started incentivizing the use of these URLs by making HTTPS a ranking signal, their usage has been showing a huge upward trend. The number of websites on Google’s page one search results that are now using an HTTPS URL rose to 30 percent as of July 2016, and SEO experts predict this number will be closer to 70 percent by the end of 2017. So why the sudden change?

 

HTTPS provides three layers of protection when moving data from point A to point B:

1. Encryption – Encrypts the data exchanged to keep it secure.
2. Data Integrity – Data can not be changed, modified or corrupted during transfer without it being detected.
3. Authentication – Verifies that your users are communicating with the intended website.

 

So, it’s definitely safer to use HTTPS than it is to use HTTP, but will it help with your website’s SEO?

 

Google has stated that websites that are secured using HTTPS will receive a minor boost in ranking. Although it’s a minor signal that carries much less weight than high quality content, this could change down the road, as Google is encouraging website owners to switch to HTTPS, in order to keep everyone safer on the Internet. Based on Google’s tests thus far, the HTTPS signal showed “positive results” in terms of relevancy and ranking in Google’s search results.

 

Here are just a few of the big name players that have already switched to HTTPS:

 

- https://www.facebook.com

- https://www.amazon.com

- https://www.youtube.com

- https://www.wikipedia.org

- https://www.yelp.com

- https://www.pinterest.com

- https://www.walmart.com

- https://www.tripadvisor.com

 

If you haven’t already switched over to HTTPS, it’s not too late. Considering what Google is likely to do with HTTPS, switching over is something you should seriously consider. For more information on how to switch over, visit: https://smallbiztrends.com/2015/04/changing-from-http-to-https.html

How Google Qualifies an “Authority Website”

Posted on May 10th, 2017

authority website

 

Google keeps their ranking algorithm fairly hush-hush, but there are several things we do know about it.

 

Google’s ranking system involves over 200 signals. None of these signals today have the kind of “authority” factor they once did back in the days of Google PageRank. Instead, they all work together with each other, and this is what determines how authoritative your website is. One factor that most people don’t realize is that authority is not something that is calculated on a per-domain basis. Rather, it’s calculated on a per-page basis. The reason for this is simple and actually quite logical. If it was calculated on a per-domain basis, that means that for an authoritative site, by default, any additional pages added to that domain would also be considered authoritative – whether they deserve it or not. So, to avoid this inaccuracy, authority is calculated on a per-page basis.

 

It’s also noteworthy to mention that all links are not created equal.

 

PR mentions and links from high-authority websites will pass on that authority. The value of a link varies depending on the authority of the site that is providing the link back. Websites that have 2 high quality links from authoritative sites will acquire a higher authority than a website with 20 links from non-authoritative sites. Websites with high authority will have little to no instances of malware and are fairly fast at loading their pages. On the same note, slow loading web pages or sites that are constantly being hacked with malware will never become authority websites.

Social sharing and audience engagement are also huge factors when it comes to determining which sites are considered authority websites. Google gives a higher authority value to websites that show signs of regular social sharing. When a website has a large number of social followers it shows that the audience is highly engaged with that website and interested in the publication, and Google sees this as valuable, quality content.

Interested in finding out where your site stands in regards to being an authoritative website? MozBar is a browser toolbar offered by Chrome – similar to what the Google PageRank toolbar used to be. When visiting a website, the MozBar will display its domain authority score. It determines a website’s estimated popularity based on multiple factors, but it may not be 100 percent accurate, as it only provides estimates.

Optimizing Your YouTube Videos for SEO

Posted on May 9th, 2017

optimizing youtube

 

With over 100 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, videos are a huge part of search results.

 

Taking the time to configure your videos for search engine optimization will help significantly in terms of driving more traffic to your website and YouTube channels. There are several things that YouTube takes into account when it comes to ranking videos, so for the best results, you should keep all these things in mind and act accordingly.

 

Here are the key aspects you will need to focus on:

 

1. Metadata

Metadata refers to the information that is entered regarding the video to help clearly define its nature and subject. With YouTube, the metadata makes up the title, descriptions and tags of your videos. When entering this data, be sure to use your main keywords and secondary keywords.

 

2. Description

Clearly describe and elaborate on the details of your video. Search engines can’t watch or listen to video, so don’t shy away from long descriptions. Search engines like Google rely heavily on the text surrounding the video to understand your video’s topic.

 

3. Tags

A good way to make use of SEO with your videos would be by adding at least 10 tags per video – again, making use of the keywords that you’re targeting. Also, make sure to use them in sentence-form. For example, if the keyword is “digital camera” then you should enter it as “Where to buy a digital camera”.

 

4. Use Speech Bubbles

Speech bubble annotations on your video are not only a great way to clarify your message in the video, but it also gives you the option to add a link to another video, or a “subscribe now” link for viewers to easily click and subscribe to your YouTube channel.

 

5. Group Your Videos Into Organized Playlists

Once you have created at least 5-10 videos, try and organize them by topic. For example, you can have a playlist for all your commercials, another playlist for how-tos, and another for special offers. Videos that are organized this way will drive more traffic between one another because of YouTube’s algorithm. A user is more likely to watch a video about the same subject right after they have just watched another video on that topic.

 

6. Ask Your Viewers to Subscribe to Your Channel

Subscribing and “liking” are two of the most important user signals that YouTube uses to identify a high quality video. Having a ton of “likes” sends a strong message to YouTube that it’s a high quality video and will therefore rank better in video search results. It’s strongly recommended, and is a good practice to ask people to subscribe at the end of every video.  In addition, be sure to encourage your users to leave comments, as this promotes user interaction.

Improving Mail Deliverability: Keeping Marketing Emails Out of the Spam Folder

Posted on May 8th, 2017

mail deliverability

 

Email spam filters were made for a reason – to keep those unwanted emails out of your inbox.

 

Some filters perform better than others, though they all do a pretty good job. But, what happens when a legitimate business owner such as yourself has accumulated a lengthy email list from your subscribers, and you find that your marketing emails are ending up in their spam folder? This is one of the most frustrating problems email marketers face. Spam filters perform their job based on certain criteria that they find in incoming emails. Knowing and understanding what these are will help you to prevent your marketing emails from ending up in the spam folder.

 

Tips on How to Improve and Optimize Email Deliverability

 

- Most spam filters look to see how many messages you are sending at one time. If you have a large list, you don’t want to send out more than a couple thousand per hour. Some email programs will allow you to schedule outgoing mail to be sent out at intervals specified by the sender.

- Avoid large attachments and executable file types. If you’re using images, keep them reasonably small and stick with .JPG, .GIF or .PNG, as they are the more trustworthy formats. Executable files such as .EXE or .ZIP should be totally avoided, as they will surely be flagged as spam.

- Don’t use deceptive subject lines or header information.

- If you are going to include graphics or images with your emails, try to include at least two lines of text for each image, in order to keep a good text-to-image ratio. Also, make sure not to send image-only emails.

- When using HTML, make sure it’s well formed. Also, include a text version of your email, which will benefit recipients who can’t view HTML.

- Keep a clean email list and update it often. If you find bounce-backs from undeliverable emails due to disabled accounts or full inboxes after sending out your email, remove them from your list. Virtually all email providers’ spam filters penalize your domain or IP with a high spam score if they see that you are sending emails to a high amount of bad email accounts.

- We have all seen spam, so avoid looking and sounding like it. Don’t use a lot of coloured fonts or exclamation points. Don’t use all capitals. Don’t overuse the word “free”. Also, don’t ever use words like porn, Viagra, or drugs, as these keywords are the pioneers of spam.

 

As a last and final step, send a test email to each of the big email providers like Gmail, Yahoo, MSN and AOL. If the test results in most of your emails are going to the junk folder, then you’ll have to make some changes and figure out what flagged your email as spam. Free spam checking services such as SendBlaster.com are also available.

SEO Tricks You Don’t Want to Play With

Posted on May 4th, 2017

seo tricks

 

Quite often, businesses use particular SEO tricks to get more traffic and a higher page rank for their site.

 

With today’s competition in search engine marketing and optimization, its easy to fall prey to shady practices in an attempt to reach the top of the ladder in search engine results. But, the problem is that search engines like Google always find out about this in due time. And when they do, it’s always bad news for your website and its ranking.

 

The following are some of the more common tricks that businesses try to use to boost their ranking:

 

Cloaking
The dirtiest trick and worst offence is probably cloaking – when webmasters make a website look like one thing to the search engines, in order to get traffic, when in actual fact it’s for an entirely different niche. Content is strategically placed in order to draw people in, but is entirely unrelated to the site. Irrelevant content is one of the worst things to have on your website. It serves no purpose for visitors and hinders the overall user experience.

 

Hidden Content
This is when a website displays content to search engines that users don’t see. The most common way of doing this would be to have white text on a white background – making it invisible to the viewer, but not the search engines. Another technique would be to have content that is out of sight, far off of the viewable area of the page.

 

Keyword Stuffing
The use of keywords is crucial, and good SEO practices depend on them. However, to overuse them indiscriminately is a bad idea. Keyword stuffing is basically the practice of using too many keywords and exceeding what would be considered a naturally occurring amount. This is often done in conjunction with hidden content, making it a double whammy in the eyes of search engines.

 

The overall message here is don’t try to be sneaky by using shady SEO techniques.

 

While you might get away with it for a short period of time, employees working at search engine companies are highly trained at recognizing and detecting sites that use these manipulative SEO practices, and it’s only a matter of time before you get caught. Stay within the search engines’ webmaster guidelines and build your SEO strategy around these rules. Otherwise, you may find yourself trying to dig your website out of a really big hole, and this can last for months, perhaps even years.

Important SEO Steps For Your New Website

Posted on May 3rd, 2017

seo steps

 

When launching a website, getting things right in the beginning will save you hours of work in the future.

 

The primary steps you take will have a big impact on your website’s potential to rank well in search engines, bring in traffic, leads, and ultimately sales. It’s important to structure your website properly in order to start off on the right foot when it comes to search engine optimization. Each page on your website should be targeting it’s own set of highly relevant keywords and this should be addressed during the design phase, prior to launching. For example, if you own a landscaping business, you would want a separate page for each of your services; tree planting, hedge trimming, laying sod, tree stump removal, etc. Each page should have its own set of keywords that specifically relate to that service.

This type of structure gives each page greater relevance and will improve its potential for ranking well in search results. On each of your pages, be descriptive using your keywords, while avoiding repetitiveness. The average content length for web pages that rank in the top 10 results (for any keyword) on Google contain a minimum of 2,000 words. Content is king, so try to stay within this minimum for each page. Also, make sure to take full advantage of your H1, H2, H3 and H4 tags. Search engines rely heavily on them when structuring search results, so be sure to use your primary and secondary keywords that you want to rank for.

 

Social media also plays a big role when it comes to your website’s ranking.

 

Remember to make sure that you link up all of your social media accounts to your website. Long ago, ranking was all about link building. The more links you had out there, the better your ranking was. But today, links play a much smaller role and ranking is largely based on how interactive and engaged you are within the marketplace. Social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook are the best way to do this, as they help to multiply your online presence with followers and likes.

 

If you are new to the SEO world and would like to learn more about how search engines work, visit https://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo for a great read.

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