What’s at Stake When It’s Fake?

Courtesy of  en.wikipedia.org
By Carl Weiss
Forgery has been around for as long as civilization has flourished.  No sooner did humans start using chits burnished onto clay tablets to trade goods, when you can be sure some enterprising lad started turning out fakes.  Through the ages people have forged everything from works of art to currency and stock certificates. Some of the forgers went on to become legends.  Many of them went on to prison.  However, what most people do not realize is the effect that forgery has had or could have had on history. Fast forward to the 21st Century! Today a whole new world of forgery is taking place, not by a few, but by billions of unsuspecting internet users. We have fake business websites, fake government websites, Fake blog articles, fake reviews, fake email solicitations, fake products site, fake social media site, heck, what isn’t being faked on the web. To start with, let’s look at fakery throughout the ages to give you a little perspective.

Social Networking Secrets & Best Practices – Part 1 - Two Sides of the Same Coin

Courtesy of  www.flickr.com
By Hector Cisneros

Have you ever wondered what the relationship is between face to face networking (aka word of mouth marketing) and social media marketing? Have you noticed all the similarities between these seemingly very different marketing venues? I mean, come on, with word of mouth you’re having a one to one meeting at a coffee shop and with social networking you’re posting current events in your industry, right? How could these two very different venues have any similarities at all? Well, in this series I will cover over three dozen similarities that these marketing systems have in common. It is my hope that once you understand the commonality of these venues, you will start to use them synergistically to gain more followers, prospects and long term loyal customers. In part one of this series, I will cover how these two systems are two sides of the same coin. In part two I will cover how both use the “Secret of Giving” and in part three I will explain how both require proactive engagement for your ultimate success.  

Is Online Gambling a Bad Bet?

Courtesy of en.wikipedia.org
By Carl Weiss

Since its inception, the US government has tried to put a stop to online gambling. Yet it has failed to slow, much less stop its spread. With the emergence of paid fantasy football sites, which advertise their games on TV, not to mention New Jersey offering legalized online casino games, is it any wonder that this industry is anything but a bad bet to developers and operators alike? Still, the feds persist in doing everything in their power to put the brakes on one of the most lucrative online industries ever created. In today’s blog we will look at the evolution of the online gambling industry.

Courtesy of  en.wikipedia.org
The birth of the Internet and online gambling occurred at nearly the same time.  In 1994, the Caribbean nation of Antigua passed what was called the Free Trade & Processing Act, which provided licenses for online casino operators.   While providing a safe haven for online casinos, the industry did not exactly start with a bang.  In fact, by 1996 there were only 15 sites offering online casino games.  But as other countries began to bet big by legalizing, regulating and taxing Internet casinos, the tide was bound to turn.  As a result, by the end of 1998 there were more than 200 online casinos generating some $830 million in revenue. 

Curiously, none of these were based in the United States.  That’s due to the fact that while other countries were busy legislating online casinos, the US was doing everything it could to stamp them out.  Granted, in the US in the 1990’s there were land-based casinos in two dozen States, plus an assortment of gambling cruises plying the high seas, not to mention horse racing, dog racing and lotteries galore.  Still, the feds decided that the best way to deal with online casinos was simply to make them illegal. 
Courtesy of  www.flickr.com

That’s not to say that everyone from US based search engines to advertising agencies, magazines, newspapers and online payment portals like PayPal weren’t able to cash in on the online gambling craze.  It also didn’t mean that US citizens weren’t able to play for cash at online casinos.  They could and did in droves.  By 1999, online gambling was so prevalent that it caused the feds to put the first shot across the bows of the online gambling industry when the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act (IGPA) was floated in Congress.  While the bill worked its way through Capitol Hill, it puts casino operators on notice.

A Washington political insider also took notice.  Lobbyist Jack Abramoff was being paid $100,000 per month by a company called eLottery that wanted to sell state lottery tickets online.  The company was founded in 1993, betting that it would be able to create an online business that could be worth billions.  The problem was that no sooner had eLottery inked its first deal with an Idaho Indian tribe to begin selling lottery tickets, when the Justice Department invoked existing gambling laws to shut them down.

To make matters worse, by late 1999, the Senate had passed the IGPA and it was up for a House vote to become law.  If that happened, eLottery would be history.  Arrayed against the online gambling industry was virtually everyone on the religious right, from the Moral Majority to the Christian Coalition.  If Abramoff was going to save the day he was going to have to pull the legislative rabbit out of his hat.  Searching for some leverage in the language of the bill that would allow him to turn the tide, he seized on exceptions in the bill for jai alai and horse racing.  What happened next was Machiavellian politics at its best.

Courtesy of  commons.wikimedia.org
To quote the Washington Post, “To reach the House conservatives, Abramoff turned to Sheldon, leader of the Orange County, Calif. - based Traditional Values Coalition, a politically potent group that publicly opposed gambling and said it represented 43,000 churches. Abramoff asked eLottery to write a check in June 2000 to Sheldon's Traditional Values Coalition (TVC).  He also routed eLottery money to Ralph Reed, former head of the Christian Coalition, along with a number of other organizations, including Americans for Tax Reform; Traditional Values Coalition, and a Seattle Orthodox Jewish foundation, Toward Tradition.

Abramoff had previously paid Reed's consulting firms to whip up Christian opposition to Indian casinos and a proposed Alabama state lottery that would compete with the gambling business of Abramoff's tribal clients.  Abramoff's plan: argues that the legislation and its exemptions would actually expand legalized gambling.

On July 17, 2000, the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act went down to defeat, to the astonishment of supporters who included many anti-gambling groups and Christian conservatives.”

Of course, when it came to eLottery, it was a case of winning the battle and losing the war, since it never sold another lottery ticket again.  As for the warriors, Abramoff and several other players would eventually be prosecuted for their activities, including Speaker of the House Tom Delay who was indicted on September 28, 2005.  After his indictment, DeLay stepped down from his position as Majority Leader. He was the first congressional leader ever to be indicted. 
Courtesy of  en.wikipedia.org

You Can’t Tell the Players without a Scorecard

But the game goes on as they say and by 2001 an estimated 8 million Americans were partaking in
online gambling.  Despite the mostly ruthless legislation the online gaming industry would continue to flourish.  As well as Antigua and a number of other Caribbean nations, other countries that legalized online gambling include Australia, France, and the UK.  In Germany, online gambling is illegal with the exception of Schleswig-Holstein, which is the only German state where operators can apply for an online gaming license.  In some provinces of Canada online gambling is illegal, while in others it is not. In India, where online operators are forbidden, the Central Board of Direct Taxes in 2015 directed online poker players in the country to declare their money on foreign gambling sites.

Courtesy of  en.wikipedia.org
The problem with having so many players in the game with different rules is that legal confusion was bound to occur.  In 2004, after being threatened by the Department of Justice, whose broad interpretation of the Federal Wire Act contradicted the US Court of Appeals, the world’s two most popular search engines opted to remove gambling advertising from their sites.  In July 2006, the CEO of BetonSports, a company that is publicly traded on the London Stock Exchange, was detained in Texas while changing planes in route from London to Costa Rica, having been previously charged in a sealed indictment with violations of US federal laws relating to illegal gambling. That same year, Sporting bet chairman Jay Cohen was detained in New York City on a Louisiana warrant while traveling in the US.  Even though the US Appeals court stated that the Wire Act doesn’t apply to non-sports betting, the US Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of Jay Cohen’s conviction since his company offered sports bets to US citizens.

Later that same year, both the House and Senate upped the ante by passing the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, which made it illegal for banks or other financial institutions to make transactions with online gambling sites.  In response to the enactment of the UIGEA, a number of online gambling operators opted to suspend real-money gambling with US citizens.  Others, including such sites as PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Bodog vowed to continue serving customers in the US.

Courtesy of  en.wikipedia.org
In June 2009, the Department of Justice seized more than $34 million belonging to over 27,000 online poker players. This represented the first time that the DoJ had specifically targeted players as opposed to online gambling operators.  Less than a year later, on November 22, 2010, the New Jersey State Senate became the first state to legalize online gambling.  While the legally licensed operators are allowed to provide the public with online poker, casino games and slots, they were prohibited from accepting online sports bets.  They were also restricted to dealing with players who resided in New Jersey.  Are you confused yet?

If it Looks Like a Duck

Apparently at least three online poker operators were confused.  Especially when they were indicted in 2011 for accepting wagers from US citizens.  Furthermore, the indictment alleges the companies that were indicted sought to evade US law by disguising online gambling payments as purchases of merchandise. On July 31, 2012, two of the three companies indicted settled with the US Attorney for $731 million without any admission of guilt.
Logo of the Fantasy Sports Association.
Logo of the Fantasy Sports Association. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That being said, as of the writing of this blog, there is one chink in the government’s armor that several wily operators are currently exploiting.  I’m talking about fantasy sports where a number of popular operators are cleaning up at present.  To quote a Frontline blog,

“At the time, fantasy sports were a low-key competition in which bettors assembled their own teams, then watched how their players performed over an entire season. The legal exemption for fantasy sports was based on its definition not as gambling but as a game of skill. Today, fantasy sites offer daily contests, million-dollar prizes and bets on individual sports such as golf, mixed martial arts and Nascar races, magnifying the element of chance and making the exemption tougher to defend… The businesses of fantasy sports and online gambling are increasingly intertwined. Operators of online gambling sites have begun investing in fantasy sports, and some of DraftKings’ senior managers came from online gambling companies or were professional poker players. Some of fantasy sports’ most successful players are former poker players, too.”
Courtesy of en.wikipedia.org

Not only have fantasy sports operators like FanDuel and DraftKings become wildly popular and profitable online, you can see their TV spots airing during many popular sporting events, including NFL Football. It’s a wonder that the DoJ hasn’t gotten interested in an online game that according to the Frontline report grossed $43.6 million in entry fees from 7.1 million US players in a single weekend. 

While fantasy football leagues have to date remained off the government’s anti-gambling radar, the recent revelation that a few fantasy sports insiders had used inside information not available to the public to win big cash payouts has drawn the attention of the NY attorney general along with the FBI.  Whether this multibillion dollar industry will stand the test of time is anybody’s guess.  But I for one wouldn’t bet the farm.

In this article I have discussed how online gambling is trying to make its way back into the US internet arena. In particular I cover the ebbs and flow that has brought us to new online gambling in New Jersey and the latest online market – fantasy sports, like FanDuel and DraftKing. This latest foray will test the government’s resolve for squelching online gambling.

If you found this article useful please share it with your friends, family and co-workers. If you would like to learn more about this subject, visit the notes page on this blog for the BlogTalkRadio show dated 10/20/15. I recommend checking out "Who’s Watching Who In the Surveillance Society?“  You can also search for other related articles by typing in “casinos” in the search box top of this blog.

If you feel your business could use some help with its marketing, contact us at 904-410-2091. We will provide a free marketing analysis to help you get better results. 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 will give you immediate access to it. Your information is always kept private and is never sold. Don't forget to Plus us on Google+.

Carl Weiss is president of WorkingtheWebtoWin.com a digital marketing agency in Jacksonville, Florida that routinely works with bloggers and other online marketers to grow their businesses. 

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Are Social Networks Becoming Antisocial?

By Carl Weiss

Social networks are nothing new.  They have become the conduits that let us tell the world all about us.  But lately a number of social nets have begun displaying alarmingly antisocial attributes.  Case in point: A new social networking app called Peeple, has been described as a “Yelp” for people, is slated to launch in November.  It will employ a star system that will allow you to rate anyone you know, including ex-spouses, former bosses, your friends and neighbors. 

To some, the specter of being categorized like a side of beef is appalling.  Caitlin Dewey, a reporter for the Washington Post summed up her Peeple angst this way, “Imagine every interaction you’ve ever had suddenly being open to the scrutiny of the Internet public.” That’s a pretty scary thought, if you ask me!
What it boils down to is the question of whether social networking, that bastion of online cordiality is going to transform into a place where all our dirty laundry is going to be aired in public?  I mean, its one thing to have a rating system for businesses.  That concept makes perfect sense, since it is designed to protect consumers from unscrupulous business practices.  But it’s another thing altogether to provide a forum that encourages people to publicly broadcast their grievances.  Let’s be honest, even the business rating model has a few warts that allow underhanded competitors to damage a business owner’s reputation by having their minions post negative reviews.   Since many “business rating nets” make it painfully difficult if not downright impossible to face your accusers, this leaves reputable businesses vulnerable to attack.  Now imagine your personal good name and reputation being besmirched by anonymous pranksters or socially unstable and vengeful people.

Ms. Dewey’s article takes this possibility one step further by pointing out,” To borrow from the technologist and philosopher Jaron Lanier, Peeple is indicative of a sort of technology that values “the information content of the web over individuals; it’s so obsessed with the perceived magic of crowd-sourced data that it fails to see the harm it can do to ordinary people.” It's worth noting that the Peeple App, it's website, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube videos have all been pulled off the Internet after  the tremendous backlash from the general public.

Courtesy of  en.wikipedia.org
This laissez faire attitude also doesn’t take into consideration the potential for defamation or even cyber bullying, which has had deleterious and even lethal repercussions. There are a number of infamous cyberbullying cases that revolved around abusive online behavior, including the first one to make national headlines for causing the person being bullied to kill herself. 

In 2006, thirteen year old Megan Meier was befriended on MySpace by a 16-year old named Josh.  The pair continued a strictly online relationship for more than a month that started innocently enough, then grew abusive.  Eventually, Josh wrote Megan that he didn’t want to be friends anymore.  Then he upped the ante by posting a number of hurtful messages which culminated in a post where Josh wrote Megan telling her “The world would be a better place without you.”  The following day Megan hanged herself. Read more about it here.

To make matters worse, it was learned more than a year later that “Josh” wasn’t even a real person.  It turns out that Josh’s MySpace account was created by Megan’s neighbor, Lori Drew.  While receiving national attention, not to mention a federal indictment, Lori Drew was acquitted of all charges by US District Judge George Wu in 2009.

Courtesy of  en.wikipedia.org
Since then there have been a number of other prominent cyber bullying and cyberstalking cases circulating online.  These include a 2012 incident involving a seventh grader named Amanda Todd, who began using video chat in order to meet people online.  This unfortunately included one stranger who talked her into baring her breasts on camera.  The stranger then tried to blackmail Amanda.  When she refused to pay, the photo was widely circulated online, including on a bogus Facebook page that used the topless photo as a profile picture.  When her mother had her transferred to another school, the stalker managed to track her down online. The abuse continued until Amanda, like Megan hanged herself.

While sexual harassment has always been a problem, when the abuse goes online, finding a way to stop the abuse can be nearly impossible.  Even worse is the fact that this crime isn’t limited to females or the social nets.  In a blog posted by the Telegraph called Sexual Blackmail on Skype, an all too familiar case of sexual blackmail was exposed when a 17-year old boy was duped into exposing himself on camera, thinking he was chatting with an available young woman.  Almost immediately he started receiving demands for money with the threat of having the racy images circulated to friends and family. 

Even more telling is the paragraph in the blog that reported, “Search the Skype forums and you’ll find numerous reports from individuals who have been caught out by the scam. Their messages are desperate pleas for Skype to save them from their shame, to hunt down the blackmailers and retrieve the images they have captured. Scammers often take the video and images they record and put it on YouTube, marked private to hide it from public view. They then send the link to their mark with a threat to make it public if they aren’t paid. They will include as much information about the victim as possible in the title and description.” Read more here.
Courtesy of  www.flickr.com

The problem is even more pervasive when people sign up for networks that are adult-oriented.  Users of dating apps like Tindr and Grindr, and photo sharing apps like Snapchat have had intimate photos and even phone numbers posted without consent.  A number of Hollywood starlets have had their smartphones hacked and sexting photos published online.  The problem is that any intimate photos stored on cellphones, tablets or computers can be hacked.

This has spawned an online cottage industry dedicated to assisting those who have literally been caught with their pants down.  One blogpost by techlicious.com entitled, “Your Nude Photos are on the Internet:  Now What?” leads off by relating the 2011 story of Congressman Anthony Weiner’s woes that began when his sexting photos started making the rounds publicly. This eventually led to his stepping down from Congress.  The blog goes on to point out that while most sexting scandals are usually much less public than former Congressman Weiner’s. Many irate ex-spouses, nosy handymen, or curious teenagers have been known to breach the security of many an adult’s electronic devices to then share their torrid photos.  While most of the illicit photos will only be circulated to a few sites, depending upon the persistence of the perpetrator, these images could find their way onto hundreds or even thousands of sites.  

Courtesy of  www.flickr.com
That being said, if you really don’t want to wind up as the latest online porn star, you need to take precautions to make sure that intimate photos are not easily accessible.  You also need to be cautious about the nets and apps to which you subscribe.  The Washington Post’s Caitlin Dewey subscribed to Cuddlr, which was billed as the “Tinder for cuddling.”  It was also promised to platonically connect consenting adults for safe, fun, nonsexual snuggling.

Says Dewey, “That’s kind of where Cuddlr falls on its face. Call it the app equivalent of the popular Internet axiom, Rule 34: “If it exists, there is porn of it.” It doesn’t matter how much Cuddlr insists the app is for free hugs only — in its seven days in the App Store, it’s already turned to distinctly less PG purposes.” Read more here.

Courtesy of  en.wikipedia.org
What it boils down to is that in our app happy, social network sodden World Wide Web, needs a warning label. The term Browser Beware needs to be on the tip of all our tongues, unless the Internet is going to devolve into an online version of a gossip rag where everything goes and nobody is safe. 

Of course it is this very phenomenon that feeds the public’s desire for titillation. It leads this writer to wonder whether the next hot personal review app is going to be named “DateHate,” where you are encouraged to regale the public with the details of blind dates gone bad.  When social networking turns antisocial, the very nature of the genre goes from friendly to downright creepy. 

In this article I have discussed how social networks are moving into a new era where you can rate people anonymously (on a five star scale) or air their dirty laundry without the friends permission. Where this will lead is anybody’s guess. One thing is for sure, some kind of policing must be established to protect individuals from false accusation and slander. My crystal ball reads lawsuit big time.

If you found this article useful please share it with your friends, family and co-workers. If you would like to learn more about this subject, visit the notes page on this blog for the BlogTalkRadio show dated 10/13/15. I recommend checking out "Cyberstalking for Fun & Profit - Is There a Cyberstalker in Your Future?", or "How Do I Hack Thee? Let Me Count the Ways – A Cyberstalking Primer".  You can also search for other related articles by typing in “hacking or social media” in the search box top of this blog.

If you feel your business could use some help with its marketing, contact us at 904-410-2091,We will provide a free marketing analysis to help you get better results.  Don't forget to Plus us on Google+ as well. 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 will give you immediate access to it. Your information is always kept private and is never sold.

Carl Weiss is president of WorkingtheWebtoWin.com a digital marketing agency in Jacksonville, Florida that routinely works with bloggers and other online marketers. 

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15 Ways Social Media Can Build Your Business and Credibility

Courtesy of pixabay.com
By Hector Cisneros

Social Networks are the fastest evolving media in the world. In less than a dozen years, it has gone from relative obscurity to internet dominance. Today, any business that ignores social media does so at its own peril.  Social networking and Social media have become integral to internet marketing, business and social communications. Most importantly, it has changed the dynamic of what advertisers can say, do and get away with. No longer can businesses get away with touting poor products as the latest and greatest. Businesses can’t continue to provide poor customer service and expect to keep it under wraps. Today social networks allow consumers to spread good or bad news at the speed of the internet. Businesses have to be proactive using social networks to stay ahead of the competition and any bad news that may escape into the social “network-sphere”. This article will provide 15 reasons why every business needs to proactively be using social media to win the hearts and minds of the consuming public. They will be listed in descending order of importance (as chosen by me) to help you see the big picture. So let the countdown begin.

Is Your Website a Serial Killer?

Courtesy of  pixabay.com
By Carl Weiss

Nobody wants to upset the 800 lb. gorilla in the room named Google.  Yet, that is precisely what many business owners do when they employ serial sites to do their bidding.  Google hates serial sites with a passion.  That’s because these online clones attempt to generate position by the cookie cutter method, where the same site is used to target a number of individual keywords.  If the Googlebots catches you using serial sites, all your sites could wind up sandboxed (or at the very least lose ranking). 

The real question then becomes one of, “What is a serial site?”  The answer to this question has changed over the past year or so.  In fact, landing pages that were once considered perfectly legitimate by Google have been deemed serial sites. The way the website owners found this out was when their landing pages disappeared from the first page of Google.  Other recent changes in Google’s algorithms also turned out to kill site ranking, including such things as being mobile-unfriendly, using certain kinds of programming languages, specific programming methodologies, as well as where and how your site employs backlinks.  On today’s Working the Web to Win blog, I am going to explore the ins and outs of technology that can kill your site stone cold dead in the eyes of the world’s most popular search engine.
English: a chart to describe the search engine...
English: a chart to describe the search engine
 market (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why all the Fuss?

If you have been working the web for any length of time you have no doubt heard about Google’s algorithm changes that sport cute names like Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird and Pigeon.  The majority of these sea changes were brought out to deal with professional search engine optimizers who for years plied their trade by using a number of no-holds-barred techniques to advance their client’s rankings regardless of the rules.  This is what is known in the business as Black Hatting. 

Up until around 2010, the search engine spiders weren’t sophisticated when it came to understanding what they read on websites.  So Black Hat techniques like keyword stuffing, using invisible text, cloaking, redirecting, content spamming and link farms were employed with glee.  Many black hat SEO pros made a tidy sum by helping clients cheat their way to the top of the search engines. Then a funny thing happened on the way to the bank.  The search engines started programming their algorithms to selectively search for black hat technology.

Courtesy of  en.wikipedia.org
The Panda Pounces

Rolled out in February 2011, Panda was the first time the Googlebots were able to start looking at websites from a contextual standpoint. In other words, they were not only able to read the page, they could also make qualitative judgments on the validity of the text they were seeing.  Among other things, they looked for such things as nonsense statements stuffed with keywords that were typically used by black hatters. They also kept a weather eye alert for factual errors, invisible or micro text, duplicate text, redirects and a number of other telltale hints that a site was employing black hat techniques.    While this didn’t exactly put all black hat operators out of business overnight, it did put a dent in their nefarious business practices.

Penguin Takes Flight

Courtesy of www.flickr.com
The next major update commissioned by Google was named Penguin.  It first waddled onto the ice in April 2012.  Its foremost task was to curtail link farms which had been popping up like weeds.  Google had always put a premium on backlinks and a number of black hat operators were capitalizing on this trend by creating scads of bogus sites that were then employed exclusively to provide backlinks by the boatload to clients near and far.  Once the Googlebots had been specifically programmed to search and destroy sites that were hiring link farms to improve their ranking, it wasn’t long before the farms bought the farm. 

Hummingbird Hums a Different Tune

Courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org
Realizing that more and more people were using smartphones to surf the web, by late 2013, Google mandated that website owners needed to make sure that their content was readily accessible to every available platform.  This meant either commissioning a .mobi site, or employing a dynamic programming language that adjusted the content to fit tablet PCs and smartphones.  This edict was taken to the extreme in April 2015 when Google unleashed what became Mobilegeddon, where websites owner were told to screen their websites to see if they passed the equivalent of an electronic scratch-and-sniff test. By submitting their url to googles online test, they could tell whether a site was considered “Mobile Friendly.”

Courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org
Pigeon Flies the Coop

Released on July 24, 2014, Pigeon was tasked with increasing the value of local search.  What this algorithm tweak was supposed to do was make local searches more intuitive by providing search results based upon the geographic location of the website.  While this change benefited a number of local businesses, it also had the unsettling effect of diminishing the results of a number of businesses that worked on a national or even global scale.  It also gave more weight to online directories and portals that aggregated local listings.  Like most algorithm changes this caused initial panic among those whose page 1 positions were usurped, followed by damage control to reclaim this lost territory.

The Geotargeted Faux Pa

This brings us back to the top of our story since serial sites were often used to regain lost ground by creating geotargeted sites.  If you sold hotdogs online, you might commission a number of sites that were targeting major cities, such as PhiladelphiaHotDogs.com, DetroitHotDogs.com and DenverHotDogs.com. These sites would be virtual clones of one another with the exception of their url and the name of the city in the content.  While initially successful, this technique was also deemed off limits and the Googlebots were once again programmed to seek and destroy those who employed serial sites.  The fallout meant that others who were using legitimate landing pages were also scooped into the serial site net and tarred with the same brush. 
Courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org

However, that does not mean that landing pages have to be abandoned altogether.  Let’s say that you sell apples, bananas, oranges and grapes online.  While you can set up a FruitsRUs website that gathers all these elements under one umbrella, this isn’t the most efficient way to please either the Googlebots or prospective website visitors.  In the first place by featuring 4 different fruits on one site, the Googlebots will not give priority to any single one of them.  This means watered down search results.  It also means that a potential customer that happens upon your site has to hunt for the fruit they seek.  This usually translates into a high bounce rate.

Here's what Google has to say about hiring & SEO Vendor

Pleasing the Search Gods

In order to reduce the bounce rate and improve ranking, what many savvy business owners did was create four separate landing pages, each of which gave priority to a single item.  So ApplesRUs, BananasRUs, GrapesRUs and OrangesRUS were created.  While this was cost and time efficient, it was not effective. If each of these sites were virtual clones of one another, with the exception of the URL, they would soon be deemed serial sites and sandboxed.  In order to avoid the ire of the Googlebots, what needs to be done is that each site, while retaining the FruitsRUS brand (i.e. the look and feel) they need to make sure that the text, graphics, videos and even the offers on each of these pages is unique and focus on the particular fruit.

Courtesy of en.wikipedia.org
To address the need for geotargeted sites, your landing pages need to be focused on the geotargeted area (verbiage, pictures, maps, keywords and URL’s). This also makes them non-serial in nature. On top of that, they also need to be listed in as many legitimate authoritative directories as possible. We post our clients to the top 100 search directories whenever possible to make sure they are listed. If a website is not listed in a search directory, that site can’t show up in search when Google serves up directory listings! Today Googles Pigeon update almost makes this mandatory.

The more your landing pages focus on a single subject, the higher they will rank on those specific keywords (assuming all other ranking factors are equal). So for example: if this particular page focuses on grapes, its keywords are on grapes, its content, offer, pictures, videos, testimonials are all about how great your grapes are, It will rank higher. It also needs to be well shared on the social nets, and has to be back-linked to many authoritative sites. This method of creating landing pages will outrank other sites that are less focused (more than one fruit) or a site not as well connected.

Courtesy of pixabay.com
In the past, we have written about how focused content effects ranking. We have also written about the importance of having all the conversion factors on a page. How having those factor showing above the fold of a website will increase leads and sales and more. Focused pages (single subject) will always outperform general pages (multiple subjects) if all else is equal. Obviously there are many organic page ranking factors involved (my last count was over 250 factors).

It is my opinion that the top ranking factors start with the quality of your content, the timeliness, relevance, the connectedness, along with whether your social engagement and page sharing are positive or negative, have the greatest impact on your ranking. Make no mistake, content is king. Having a focused page that has high quality, relevant and timely content that is being shared and is well connected, will rank higher than any competing page that is not equal in these aspects.

Here is a list of Must Read Articles to help you achieve a page one organic ranking.

As long as you put in the effort to understand and avoid the speed bumps that Google has erected on the Information Superhighway, there isn’t any reason you should be labeled a serial killer by the world’s most popular search engine. At least not until their next algorithm “tweak” rears its ugly head.

In this article, I have discussed how having serial sites (duplicate sites) can cause them to be sandboxed by Google. I also provide details on several of Google’s other algorithms including; Penguin, Hummingbird and the latest one called Pigeon. I have provided an overview of how they differ from each other and what a company can do to mitigate their effect on their search position. I have also provided details for helping businesses deal with the Google Pigeon update, which affects local directory listings and how a company is viewed in Google search locally.
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Carl Weiss is president of Working the Web to Win, a digital marketing agency based in Jacksonville, Florida.   You can listen to Carl live every Tuesday at 4pm Central on BlogTalkRadio

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