What's Up With SEO?

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English: seo block
English: seo block (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A  Principled Guide To Search Engine Marketing

By Hector Cisneros

When it comes to working the web to win, there have been a lot of changes over the years; 
none more so than Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Since Google's most recent update
 called Hummingbird, many website owners and a number of professional optimizers have found themselves in a quandary when it comes to generating Page One search engine results.

SEO used to have a very specific meaning. Today, if you ask 100 different SEO experts what SEO means, you will get 100 different answers, many of which are still rooted in the way Search Engine Optimization used to work. There is an old saying that goes something like, “If you ask a carpenter how to build a house he will tell you use wood, a hammer and nails. If you ask a mason how to build a house, he will say with brick and mortar. Well Internet marketing experts also follow this line of thought. They base their answer on what they do (their particular niche of expertise) or who they have asked (Google, Yahoo, Bing, or third party research results). This article will aggregate what is known from many sources and provide answers that haven’t changed (even after Penguin, or its new successor, Hummingbird). If you are looking for a leg up on what it takes to climb up the ladder to Search Engine success, read this article and pass it along to your friends so that you, too, will know “What’s Up with SEO?”
English: A Saw-billed Hermit (Ramphodon naeviu...
English: A Saw-billed Hermit (Ramphodon naevius) Deutsch: Ein Sägeschnabel-Schattenkolibri (Ramphodon naevius) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over the last four years Search Engine marketing (a.k.a., SEO marketing) has undergone a radical change. These changes started to occur around 2005 and peaked with the launch of Google’s Hummingbird algorithm release. The entire Internet marketing industry has been paying very close attention to these changes. We have written extensively about this subject over the last three years: over a dozen articles discussing the ongoing changes that have perplexed novices and SEO experts alike. What is interesting to me is that many have ignored what has not changed during that time. In reality, Google search philosophy has not really changed over the last 10 years. It has always sought to provide the best search results for its users. What has changed over the years is Google’s ability to catch people trying to game or cheat their system. During the last four years, our own and our customers’ search rankings have not seen any drastic changes. Ours and our clients’ rankings have moved up and down a position or two (on Page One) but for the most part, have been stable. We have achieved this by taking Google at its word. Google has always stated that the most important factors are Relevance to the search term, followed by Quality and Timeliness of that content. I refer to these elements as the RQT factors of search. These three factors and their overall quantity are the primary factors for search results. The rest of this article will examine and explain these three terms followed by what has changed in search, along with what new to search.

The Mechanics of Your Page Matters

onpage seo
onpage seo (Photo credit: anasshad)
If the content of the page does not match the information designed for the search engine spiders, this miss match may be perceived as deception. The layout, structure, elements used and focus of the page also affect its ranking. If a web page has an unrelated domain name, an unrelated title, no meta or ALT tags, has lots of key phrases, and many headings, it will probably rank poorly. In other words, if the information is unfocused and covers too many subjects, it means the page has too many irrelevance phrases, thereby weakening its focus for a specific key phrase (it becomes a jack-of- all-phrases and a master of none). Focus gives your page celebrity status, especially to the search bots. Another common technical mistake is using too much Java, Flash and CSS code, especially in the beginning of the web page. Previously, these website elements and languages were used to effectively trick the search bots. Now the search bots have gotten smarter so to speak; if they detect anything that looks or smells like trickery, they lower your score. The mechanics of your page can account for about 25% of your score so understand this is still an important part of your overall score.

Now Let's Take a Look at the Term “Relevant”

Relevant Interview!
Relevant Interview! (Photo credit: Dr Case)
When SEO experts talk about relevance, they are referring to how well the search key phrase matches the content in the search directories. This information was gathered from your web pages and ranked by Google for trustworthiness, authoritativeness, popularity and usefulness. Google has always indicated that they are trying to provide the best match for what the customer is looking for. Your contents’ relevance is affected by many factors. First and foremost, is the whether the key phrase matches your Domain Name exactly. Next is the Page Title, followed by the Heading in the content of the document and so on.

On top of this, relevance is also affected by the authority’s trustworthiness and popularity of the links. Links that have highly respected companies back-linked to them have greater trustworthiness. If the links are also popular with high traffic count, this further adds to the importance of the links, because popularity is a vote that these links are better than links that don't have high traffic. The total number of back-links are also important as they are another way of looking at how popular and trusted the links are.

Next, Let's Talk About Quality

Many experts banter about the term “content is king” but this is somewhat misleading. The reality is: relevance, quality and timeliness make content king. So what makes content quality? In some of Google’s educational videos, it states quality is related to the value that others place on the content on the page. Just as in relevance, quality is related to a popularity contest
based upon how others perceive and use your content. If a lot of people are reading, commenting and sharing your content, it’s rated as quality. Other factors include: Is it multimedia rich? Is it grammatically well written (which affects users’ experience)? And does it provide some useful purpose? (i.e., provides entertainment, provides useful information, connects people in some way, etc.). If the content has real intrinsic, useful value, people will use it, talk about it, link to it, and share it with their friends family and/or co-workers. Unoriginal content (possibly obtained by Autoblog programs, spammy documents, poorly written content and documents used to trick people, will usually rank low because they will not be utilized in the same ways as quality content is used. Even if someone is able to trick, scam or mislead the search bots for a time, eventually the search engines get wiser and those pages get blackballed to the junk heap.

And Now, Let’s Talk About Timeliness

English: A clock made in Revolutionary France,...
English: A clock made in Revolutionary France, showing the 10-hour metric clock. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It may seem self-evident, but timeliness is a factor that is affected by time and timing. Time refers to how old the document is; timeliness referrers to document’s relevance to the trends, season, fashion or other temporal event. Content can be considered timeless if it is based on principles that do not change (i.e., “evergreen” content). On the other hand, timeliness can refer to passing trends like videos that go viral, seasonal events like Black Friday, trending fashions, or periodic events such as a presidential election. I like to write articles that are based on principles that either don't change or change very slowly. This article is based on principles that have not changed much over the last ten years. (What has changed is the search engines’ ability to “understand” content). If a web page contains content that is based on principles and meets all the criteria for relevance, quality and timeliness, it will rank high for a very long time. Content that is geared for trends, seasonal information, and limited events will still work for those items during its’ “season." And lastly, if an item is seasonal and principled it will rank both during its trending period (seasonally) and beyond the trend, especially if it meets the other criteria for relevance and quality.

New Factors That Affect RQT

Quantity Matters 

Quantity has always mattered, but now quantity referrers more to having more of a multimedia approach (media rich) than in the past. Videos, blogging, podcasts and social posts are, for the most part, less than a decade old. Their influence did not really take hold until
about 2010 when Google started to pay more attention to these factors. In the past, relevance and lots of quality backlinks were the most important factors. Today there are many different types of backlinks, including authoritative, uni- and bi-directional B2B backlinks, directory links, directory rating links, authoritative back links, media rich links, and social networking links. Social links are subdivided into profile backlinks, comments, and shares. Comments and shares are further subdivided into positive and negative posts. Today, the sheer quantity of backlinks comes into play. All things being equal, the company with the most backlinks that are highly rated due to their RQT and that are of a positive nature wins the day. If you're able to surpass your competitors’ numbers with equally positive RQT backlinks you win.  

Social Matters 

English: Infographic on how Social Media are b...
How Social Media are being used,
and how everything is changed by
them. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Today, the number one-ranked website in the world is a social network. Google has publicly stated that it considers social posts very important regarding ranking. Google has jumped on the social bandwagon and actually integrated its social networks (Google+ and YouTube) into its search criteria. Facebook is also one of the highest ranking factors. Google incorporates Twitter profiles, tweet streams, and 
LinkedIn profiles into search. Google also incorporates many other social nets’ profiles and post streams, including Instagram and Pintrest. Needless to say, social post are so important, that not “feeding” (providing RQT content to) your social sites on a daily basis could hurt not only your followers’ numbers, but your search engine ranking as well. The most important type of social posts are positive comments, positive ratings and positive shares. The worst that can happen to you is getting a lot of negative social post traffic. This type of negative press is a business killer, so make your customer happy!

Mobile Matters

Five years ago, mobile was a small part of many businesses’ Internet strategy. Today there are more Smartphones than computers. More importantly, people are using them in large numbers for searching. People are making buying decisions while being mobile. They are checking prices, looking for alternatives, looking to meet up with their friends, picking a venue, buying that special gift and much more. A guess what? If you make them mad while they are patronizing your establishment, they will quickly create and post negative social comments about how they have been treated… real time! Now consumers have an even
read all info here: shamhardy.com/10759
read all info here: shamhardy.com/10759 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
more powerful weapon to deal with shoddy customer service. The best thing a business can do is provide website that is designed to provide an easy-to-use mobile experience, create loyalty programs that build clientele, and then use those same programs to placate those clients that accidently get angered because of poor service or other issues (defective merchandise, ran out of an item, etc.).

Trickery Matters

In the old days, trickery was rewarded by high ranking. Website technicians worked long and hard devising all manner of deceptions to fool the search engines. Today, chicanery is much harder to get away with. To make matters worse, Google will penalize any site it feels has engaged in deception. Today, trickery is a fast track to loss of search engine ranking if not outright banishment. Engage in deception at your own peril. It’s time to learn that honesty is the best policy. So we say give “the Gorilla” what it wants. Trying to trick Google is a sure way to lose at this very important marketing game.

RQT is Interrelated

Remember that Relevance, Quality and Timeliness are all intertwined in their delivery, and synergistically affect each other. The term Search Engine Optimization — which once referred on-page elements — carries with it many confusing connotations and some are still using methodologies that once worked in the past, but are now passé. Today, the term SEO needs to be replaced with a new, more appropriate and descriptive term. My partners and I like “Content Marketing.” Some use “Search Marketing.” Either way, these terms are more appropriate in describing how SEO has evolved into a totally different marketing methodology today.

In this article, I explored what SEO once was and how it has evolved into the content marketing model we have today. I have defined the most important elements of SEO today and have explained many of the sub-elements that make up the all-important search. These changes have ushered in a new age for search marketing where search ranking is more dependent on relevant, quality and timely content than on just the use of keywords, meta tags and web page mechanics. Today the emphasis should concentrate on producing relevant, quality and timely content instead of trying to game the system. Following this model will ensure your success and keep your ranking high, regardless of what Google does next.

If you like this article, you can find more by typing “SEO” in the search box at the top left of this blog.

If you found this article useful, share it with your friends, family and co-workers. If you feel you have something to add or just want to leave a comment do so below.  It has been my pleasure sharing with you our view of the current state of search engine marketing. I look forward to reading your comments. Thanks again for reading and sharing.   

That's my opinion; I look forward to reading yours.

If you'd like a free copy of our eBook, "Internet Marketing Tips for the 21st Century," please fill in the form below and we'll email it to you. Your information is always kept private and is never sold.

Hector Cisneros is COO and director of Social Media Marketing at Working the Web to Win, an award-winning Internet marketing company based in Jacksonville, Florida.  He is also co-host of the weekly Internet radio show, "Working the Web To Win" on BlogTalkRadio.com, which airs every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern. Hector is a syndicated writer and published author of “60 Seconds to Success.”

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Facing the Music

New Internet Internet Radio with workingthewebtowin on BlogTalkRadio

By Carl Weiss

MP3 Player
MP3 Player (Photo credit: that one doood)
The music biz has always been a tough one to break into.  For years, the record labels had a virtual monopoly on who got on the radio and on the charts.  All that changed with the advent of the Internet. Now struggling artists have a way of generating visibility and selling their cds online.  A number of unknown artists have made the scene when their music videos went viral.  Outlets like i-tunes have put the recording artist in the driver's seat in a way that would have been unheard of a couple of decades ago.  If you are looking to get your groove on, tune in for this episode of  Working the Web to Win on BlogTalkRadio.

It was 50 years ago this month that the Beatles changed the music industry forever when they first made their way to the US.  So I thought it appropriate that I start this week’s blog with a couple of stanzas from their hit single, "Taxman."

“Let me tell you how it will be. There’s one for you nineteen for me.
If five percent appears too small. Be thankful I don’t take it all, Taxman.”

Sandisk e130 512 mb MP3 player
Sandisk e130 512 mb MP3 player (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The lyrics lamented the fact that British performers at the time were getting hit with incredibly high taxes on the royalties they earned.  However, there was an even more insidious hand taking a huge cut of many recording artists’ pies at the time that had nothing to do with the tax man.  And that was the cut that the record labels were taking from artists under contract.

Here Comes the Judge

While a number of stories about artists who were burned back in the early days of rock and roll are legendary, that doesn’t mean that the practice has stopped.  In fact, the past few years has seen a number of lawsuits against record labels by several notable songsmiths:
  1. In 2007 pop legend James Taylor initiated an audit and lawsuit against Warner Bros. which uncovered underpayment of royalties in the amount of $1,692,726 for the period spanning 2004-2007. (Warner subsequently paid only $97,857 of that balance.)
  2. In 2009 jazz great Chet Baker sued Warner Music Canada, Sony BMG Music Canada, EMI Music Canada and Universal Music Canada for releasing his music on Canadian CD’s without compensating him.
  3. Ytmp3_1b
    Ytmp3_1b (Photo credit: gvgoebel)
  4. In 2011 Pete Frampton sued A&M Records for unpaid digital royalties. He hired music attorney Richard Busch who previously helped Eminem successfully sue Universal, parent company of A&M.
What is even more noteworthy is the fact that many of these suits are seeking compensation for “digital distribution” of music.  Translated, this boils down to “online distribution” of recordings.  And if the recent news feeds is any indication, not all of the ire being vented by recording artists is directed toward record labels.

In 2012, a federal court reinstated a $222,000 damages award against a Minnesota woman accused of illegally downloading 24 songs, Reuters reported that the music industry victory in a case stretching past its sixth year. The U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Paul, Minnesota, rejected Jammie Thomas-Rasset's argument that the fine – $9,250 per song – was excessive and violated her due process rights under the Constitution. She has said her ex-boyfriend or two young sons were probably responsible for downloading the songs.”

She was hardly alone since some 18,000 people were sued between 2003 and 2008 by the Recording Industry Association of America. It didn’t stop there, as talk show host Ellen DeGeneres found out a year later, when she was sued for copyright infringement when she broadcast more than 1,000 songs during the “Dance Over” portion of her popular show.
Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/ellen-degeneres-show-sued-by-record-labels-over-copyrights-20090911#ixzz2wEuSKM9Q

This does not encompass the most litigious online music case of all time: Napster. Launched in June 1999 byShawn and John Fanning, Napster was the first large scale peer-to-peer music sharing site. Wildly popular with the public, the site quickly ran afoul of a number of popular bands (such as Metallica) who took issue with having their music given away royalty free. On top of that the band accused Napster of leaking at least one of their songs (I Disappear) before it was even officially released. Shortly after that a number of other labels piled onto the suit, trying to force Naptster to monitor their service and block access to copyrighted material. A year later, the court of appeals decides in the record labels favor and issues an injunction. In June 2001, Napster is forced to shut down the business in order to comply with the ruling.

What Happened to Napster?

napster (Photo credit: jima)

A side note on Napster: After filing for bankruptcy in June 2002, Napster announced plans to sell the service, since it had hundreds of thousands of members atthis point. However, the judge blocks the sale and orders Napster to liquidate. Less than a month later, Roxio, the digital music software purveyor, buys the Napster brand and logo for $5 million. Roxio then leverages the popularity of the Napster name to revamp a failing music subscription service named Pressplay, later selling Napster once more(in August 2008), this time to Best Buy for $121 million. Best Buy then sells Napster’s customer base and other intellectual property in September 2011 to Rhapsody for an undisclosed sum. (At the time of the sale, Napster reportedly had more than 700,000 customers.)

While the kind of services offered by Napster went against the grain of the music industry, the popularity of being able to download music online did not. What it did was spur the imagination of a number of entrepreneurs to take action in order to capitalize on this efficient means of bringing music to the masses.

“With all the buzz around Spotify and the absolute dominance of iTunes since 2003, it's easy to forget that Napster was the first big name in digital music, and introduced computer users to the idea that they could listen to any song in the universe, any time, on demand. The only problem: the people who made that music wanted to be paid for it, and it took about a dozen years to figure out how that would work to all parties' satisfaction.” Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/napster-is-finally-dead-heres-a-look-back-at-what-happened-2011-10#ixzz2wFNZ8XOa

Steve Jobs and Apple Get Their Jam On!

No sooner had the fur begun to fly in the courts over Napster when Steve Jobs at Apple Computer realized that if he could find a way to deliver music to the masses in a legal and profitable venue, then he would be sitting on the next killer app. The only problem was the fact that he didn’t want to waste a year or more developing an app from scratch.

After looking at and rejecting another potential solution, Steve Jobs approached Robin Casady and Michael Greene to discuss their SoundJam app. Their program had a couple of things going for it, chief among it benefits where the facts it was powerful digital encoding program that had an interface that looked remarkably similar to Apple’s QuickTime player. After negotiating a price, Casady & Greene sold the rights for SoundJam to Apple and Steve Jobs immediately got ready to jam by creating iTunes.

Courtesy Apple Computers
Excerpt from MacWorld: “About 10 months later, at Macworld San Francisco in 2001, Apple debuted iTunes alongside iDVD and the CD-RW-enabled Power Macs. While it wasn’t exactly a show-stopper (though 275,000 copies were downloaded in the first week), the "world’s best and easiest to use ‘jukebox’ software" definitely raised the bar for music players on the Mac, which were relatively sparse and rather pricey (SoundJam cost $40). By offering iTunes as a free download and installing it on every new Mac, Apple essentially cut down the competition at the pass--or at least put a good scare into them. "Apple has done what Apple does best--make complex applications easy, and make them even more powerful in the process,"  said Steve Jobs at the time. "iTunes is miles ahead of every other jukebox application, and we hope its dramatically simpler user interface will bring even more people into the digital music revolution." 
After racking up more than a million downloads in the first month alone, Apple knew they had a hit on their hands. It also spurred Apple into creating hardware that could give their customers the opportunity to take their tunes with them. Thus was born the iPod. More importantly for singers, songwriters and aspiring musicians, this gave them a whole new lease on life. No longer bound by record labels to produce and more importantly distribute their music, iTunes and other services that soon sprang up alongside it, enabled musicians to deal direct and cut out the middleman.

The evolution of the iPod - Courtesy of Tony Fadell

Since then a number of previously unknown artists have not only sprung onto the scene. But a number of them have done quite well for themselves. Take Corey Smith, a country folk musician, who went from high school teacher to high paid recording artist, grossing more than $4 million in 2010. More importantly, he did it DIY style, without signing up with a record label. Mashable had a feature a couple of years back entitled, “15 Wannabes Who Found Fame on YouTube.” This included Julia Nunez, Chantelle Redman and Justin Bieber. http://mashable.com/2011/01/23/found-fame-youtube/

Music Parodies Make a Big Splash

Some other industrious souls have found online fame by posting musical parodies. One such success story is the Gregory Brothers who turn press conferences into ersatz operas with the help of a little voice altering
computer software.

 The Brothers insert themselves into news footage to sing along with political leaders.Early videos saw Hilary Clinton singing about Somalian pirates, while the US Congress debated climate change turned gospel song. While the Gregory Brothers and other parody producers like them aren’t likely to win any Grammy awards, their large fan base on YouTube makes sure that they earn a comfortable living by monetizing their channel via AdSense ads.  And unlike a lot of starving artists, these talented performances have found a way to face the music and thrive online.  That’s more than most musicians can say.

The Impact of the MP3 music format and the wide spread adoption of MP3 plays has had a profound impact on our society and the whole world. We have moved from Record companies monopolizing artist talents to Artist control of their own talents. Prices and distribution have greatly improved. We have less waste and pollution from packing and products and the laws have started to move away from the DRM model to favoring individual rights, allow users to be able to backup music (and videos) they have purchased. The next few decades will continue to usher in changes that MP3 started. We now have MPEG4 as a video standard and soon the Movie industry will start to feel the same pinch that the record monopolies felt when music moved to MP3. The book industry has already seen drastic changes in how people create, publish and distribute books. Needless to say, the internet has had a big part to play in all of this. I can’t wait to see what comes next. 
In this article I discussed the evolution, if not the revolutionary changes that have occurred because of the invention of the MP3 music compression standard and the MP3 player. Large music empires have fallen and the musician now have a chance to rule the roost. If you found this article to be useful, share it with your friends, family and co-workers. If you feel, you have something to add to this article leave a comment below. Thanks again for reading and sharing.  Until next time.

This week’s guests include Toots Lorraine, Chad Mo and the Traffic.

If you'd like a free copy of our eBook, "Internet Marketing Tips for the 21st Century," please fill in the form below and we'll email it to you. Your information is always kept private and is never sold.

Since 1995, Carl Weiss has been helping clients succeed online.  He owns and operates several online marketing businesses, including Working the Web to Win and Jacksonville Video Production. He also co-hosts the weekly radio show, "Working the Web to Win," every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern on BlogTalkRadio.com.

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