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A meta tag is a string of HTML code that contains information specific to a Web page. Meta tags are not visible to visitors, unless the visitor views the page source code; however, meta tags can help impact how Web search engines index and display a...


by Jayson DeMers

Few SEO strategies have changed as dramatically or as consistently as link building. Despite some occasional claims to the contrary, link building is still a necessary element if you want to earn any significant rankings in search engines. In fact, Google recently confirmed that inbound links are one of the top two ranking factors in the algorithm. Links have always existed as a
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kind of third-party validation for the trustworthiness, credibility, or authoritativeness of a page or website as a whole; if there are hundreds of sites with links pointing back to yours, clearly you've made a positive impact, and are worth listening to. Therefore, according to Google, you're worth ranking highly. However, without those links, it's virtually impossible to gain any kind of search visibility.

How Link Building Has Changed

Old link building strategies were somewhat straightforward: do whatever it takes to get more links. Link quantity was the main focus, along with anchor text, and there weren't many standards for how you could or couldn't build them. However, thanks to increasing publisher standards and more quality checks in Google's ranking algorithm, the entire idea of "link building" has evolved to mean something more. Links should be earned naturally through the power of your content, and serve a genuine value to your readers. All other links can--and will--be disregarded.

Obsolete Practices

Unfortunately, a number of old-world strategies persist in our modern link building era. Due to ignorance and confusion, these techniques, when executed, actually put your domain in danger of being penalized. So instead of continuing with these obsolete, questionable practices, engage in a modern alternative that can increase your authority and keep you safe.

1. Black-hat link exchanges. The old tactic here was an implied or formal deal between two sites to set up direct link exchanges; each site in the deal would link to the other, improving the relative authority of both sites. This type of scheme also evolved to higher scales; link circles and link networks would involve dozens or even hundreds of such sites, resulting in complicated link networks. Such tactics no longer fly, and generally get every site involved blacklisted from Google. So instead of seeking a valueless exchange, why not come together for a mutual benefit, with value for your readers? Interviews are the perfect opportunity for this; one authority interviews another, members of both audiences get content value, and each participant in the interview earns a link and visibility out of the deal.

2. Including links in forum comments. It used to be common practice to simply post a link wherever you had an opportunity to post anything--and forum comment boxes presented a great opportunity. All you had to do was paste the link to your site and click "submit." Today, posting only a link as a forum comment will get you banned from the forum long before Google even catches up to you. Instead, become an active participant in the community. Once you become known and respected as an authority, you can start including links to your own site--as long as they're appropriate, relevant, and valuable in the context of the conversation. While they probably won't add much SEO value, forum links can drive significant referral traffic, especially when posted by a trusted member of the community.

3. Article marketing with sneaky links. Article directories once provided an opportunity to slap together fluff content and include your link somewhere in the body of the material. Today, article directories are shunned by Google's algorithm, rarely appearing in search results anymore. Furthermore, links from article directories are often completely neutralized or even result in penalties for the websites they link to, if there are enough of them. Additionally, publisher reputations are held in far higher esteem, and "article marketing" has been exposed for what it is; spam. If you want a chance at your contribute content being accepted by external publishers, you need to meet their standards, which means producing original, well-written, detailed material that's valuable for their readership. As long as your links are valuable and relevant to the conversation, there's no need to try to be sneaky with them.

4. Stuffing anchor text with keywords. Anchor text used to be a huge deal for a link building campaign--you had to embed your links in text that contained the keywords you wanted to rank for. The end result was usually links embedded in phrases like "cheap bookshelves Kentucky" or "best tacos Portland." These are clunky, non-descriptive, and clear indicators of rank manipulation. This type of anchor text not only has no positive effect today, it's actually the easiest and quickest way for Google to identify spammy, manipulative link building, which can earn your website a manual or algorithmic penalty. Instead, aim for anchor text that is clearly and objectively descriptive of the content you're linking to--check out any of the links in this article as examples.

5. Plotting a specific rhythm and order to your links. Old-school link building strategies required some level of formalization, identifying potential sources for link building efforts, creating a schedule or calendar for the building process, and putting those sources on rotation. It was all highly mathematical; there was even a term for it: "link velocity." Today, such a process will let Google catch on almost immediately; instead, you have to make your links as natural as possible. And what better way to make your links natural than to just attract natural links? Produce great content, syndicate it far and wide, and readers will link to it, share it, bookmark it, and comment on it.

There are plenty of modern link building strategies that allow you to earn links naturally and even place some, under the right circumstances. Never again should you have to rely on the kind of black-hat practices that drove search engine visibility growth in decades past. It's important to consider your domain authority and search ranking goals, but don't forget what's most important here--the value you bring to your audience. Keep that as your top priority, and you shouldn't ever have to worry about a penalty.

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Meta descriptions control how search engines present your webpages.When search engines find your website and list it among their results, the meta description provides the search engine with a brief synopsis of the contents of your page. New visitors can determine based on these words whether or not your website is...


by Jayson DeMers

Like them or not, buzzwords have their place in every industry. In 2016, search marketers will need to know a handful of buzzwords in order to remain relevant. Some of them you may already know, while others will be completely brand new. Time to start studying!
The Value of Buzzwords
There's debate in the business community regarding the usefulness and value of
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buzzwords. Do they make you look stuffy and cliché? Or do they allow you to connect with people on an even playing field?
According to marketer Lindsey Davis, the following statement is an example of bad buzzword usage: "To show our client that we are thought leaders, let's think out of the box and bring some gamifacation into the mix by creating an immersive and edgy experience for our consumer."
What does this statement actually say? It's merely a conglomeration of buzzwords that provides little utility to a conversation. "Conversation is meant to be a collaborative process," Davis reminds readers. "When it is ambiguous, it fails."
But Davis also admits buzzwords can be used effectively in certain situations. She provides an example of good buzzword usage through the following statement: "Our client has expressed interest in ROI measurement. Here is an example of how I envision this coming to life and providing value to our client."
"Good buzzword use occurs when affording ground for action," she writes. In other words, if you can use a buzzword in a way that contributes to the conversation and allows you to eliminate superfluous words, then your decision to use the buzzword is sound. 
Another business expert, Steele Champion, calls buzzwords "conformity at its finest." He claims that buzzwords are used to silently tell people you understand them. It's like being part of an inside joke. You want others to know that you know, and you feel a connection to those who understand you (and vice versa). 
6 Search Marketing Buzzwords
It's important to understand the utility of buzzwords as a whole before delving into specific terms that are popular in today's business environment. As you can see, there are times when buzzwords are effective, as well as times when they aren't. It's worthwhile to learn how to use buzzwords effectively in order to put yourself in the right position. 
In the world of search marketing, buzzwords are popular. The troubling issue is that many are meaningless, while some have real value. The key is to determine which fall into the former category and which are found in the latter. With that being said, let's take a look at some of the search marketing buzzwords you need to be familiar with in 2016. 
1. Actionable Analytics
This year, look for "actionable analytics" to be one of the common tech buzzwords. It will rise to prominence as a result of the increased importance of business analytics and big data in both small and large businesses. You'll begin to see more software and tools developed with the sole purpose of offering actionable analytics, which crunch and correlate all types of structured and unstructured data in order to make real time action and response feasible. 
According to this blog post from datapine, a leader in business intelligence software, 2016 will be the year that business intelligence software finally becomes intuitive and, well, intelligent.  "As opposed to older systems that primarily aggregated and computed structured data, actionable analytics tools will be able to reason, learn and deliver prescriptive advice," the post reads.
2. Social reach
While the buzzword has been around for a while, the term "social reach" is finally gaining some steam in the search marketing world. Social reach simply refers to the number of times social media content has been viewed by a unique person. 
3. Device Mesh
Internet of Things was a buzzword of the past that's now considered common language. Could the new buzzword "device mesh" experience a similar path? Device mesh refers to the connective tissue between different devices - including mobile, home, wearable, and auto devices. Device mesh is what's expected to propel the Internet of Things forward.
4. Influencer Marketing
Another popular buzzword that's been around for a while but will increase in popularity this calendar year is "influencer marketing." This buzzword refers to influential people who support and vouch for your brand. Big brands such as Coca-Cola and Under Armor have been doing this for years, but look for smaller brands to jump on the trend in 2016. 
The goal of influencer marketing is to focus the advertisements and marketing messages on the influencer, as opposed to the product or brand. The hope is that, by leveraging the influencer's power, viewers will automatically associate the individual with the brand. 
5. Authenticity
As you know, there's a big difference between authentic marketing messages and obviously-endorsed marketing messages. Authenticity is the buzzword that refers to the former. In other words, it's how you appear to your audience. While authenticity is a big deal in social media marketing, look for brands to begin focusing on authenticity in search marketing in 2016 as they look for higher returns.  
6. Biased Algorithms
Are algorithms actually computer-based, or do humans insert their own biases into these complicated equations? For example, why does Google show more ads for top-earning jobs to men than to women? (This is something Carnegie Mellon University researchers actually discovered). 
While Google and other search engines would probably tell you there are no biases in their algorithms, the data would tell a different story. Look for biased algorithms to get more discussed in 2016 as binary code becomes more politicized. 
Use Buzzwords Sparingly
If you were to boil down the advice regarding proper usage of buzzwords in today's business environment, it would come down to three words: Use them sparingly. There are certainly times when buzzwords are inappropriate and eye-roll inducing, but there are also a number of situations where buzzwords can be used to clarify meaning and convey actionable advice. 
As you consider the use of buzzwords in 2016 and how they fit into your vocabulary, keep the aforementioned buzzwords in mind and do your best to use them in appropriate situations, while avoiding overusing them in the wrong ones. Your ability to do so won't be lost on your peers. 

Be sure and visit our small business news site.


Webmasters often use Google Analytics to track the sources of traffic coming to their website. Two of the commonly tracked sources of traffic are "organic," meaning that the visitor performed a search on a search engine and clicked through to your we...


by Jayson DeMers

In the game of SEO, social media networks are becoming more important than ever. And out of all the social platforms, LinkedIn is perhaps the fastest rising star as it relateIn the game of SEO, social media networks are becoming more important than ever. And out of all the social platforms, LinkedIn is perhaps the fastest rising star as it relates to SEO.
LinkedIn has more
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power to impact rankings than it generally gets credit for. It began as a tiny, networking startup, but as of the start of 2015, LinkedIn has managed to rack up 364 million members in the 13 years since its founding.
A website with that much attention can't be ignored by search engine ranking algorithms. It's especially lucrative for B2B companies, since more than 50 percent of them are finding new buyers through LinkedIn. The underlying networking structure makes it especially relevant for searches in the B2B realm.
The open-publishing aspect of LinkedIn, the ability to post job descriptions, and the capacity to reach out to other firms all provide further benefits. Getting results from these methods isn't easy as you might think, though; it may require some changes to your strategy and a little more effort.
Here are a few suggestions. 
1. Polish Your Profile 
Your profile should be complete to attain the SEO power it's capable of. Many businesses haven't taken the trouble to update their page, however.
It should include information about your company, a link to your website, your company's physical address, a high-quality photo, and any other relevant information. 
A polished profile will strongly improve your rankings for branded search terms, which can go a long way toward protecting your reputation online in organic search results. Take a look at the LinkedIn page for Park West Gallery, one of the largest art galleries in the world, for an example of a polished profile. It not only has information about the business, but also job postings.
With this data on the page, Park West becomes relevant for a variety of search terms, which will add relevance to its desired ranking keywords, boosting its rankings for branded and keyword-related queries not only in Google and Bing, but also for searches conducted in LinkedIn itself. 
2. Optimize Job Descriptions
Job descriptions on LinkedIn can also enhance SEO visibility. When users search for related keywords or branded terms in Google or Bing, your job description published on LinkedIn can display in search results. To achieve this, begin by focusing on the keywords in the job title. The more specific you can be in your job description, the better. Search engines are more likely to display your company profile if it's pointing to something specific rather than generic. 
As a word of caution, avoid keyword stuffing. You don't want to miss out on keywords with your LinkedIn content, but you don't want it to appear spammy either.
Search engines can tell the difference between relevant keywords within an article on a profile page and keywords used with no context. 
3. Reach Out to Influencers 
An effective tactic for getting your page noticed by search engines is bringing it to the attention of important people. Reaching out to super connectors is a great idea, particularly if they're influential within your field.
Following influencers will give you insight into how other companies and marketers are using SEO to get better rankings. Matthew Capela, best-selling author and founder of Alphametic, has developed a list of top SEO super connectors to be following on LinkedIn.
With the help of these social geniuses, you'll be able to discover new ways that LinkedIn can get more attention for your business. 
Creating brand exposure through SEO is a common goal for most digital marketers, and LinkedIn is becoming more of a tool for doing so. Smart marketers are including LinkedIn as part of their strategy in order to attract more brand exposure and search visibility.

Be sure and visit our small business news site.


Setting the correct maximum cost per click allows you to maintain profitability while advertising on the Internet. Online advertisement services such as Google AdWords require each advertiser to set a maximum CPC -- the highest amount they'll pay for...


by Kevin Johnson

When it comes to the world of Web development, it seems that trends and
opinions on the most effective options are constantly in flux.
Responsive Web design? Parallax? But at the end of the day, only one
thing should reall
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y matter for small businesses hoping to improve their
online business efforts: making conversions.

Just like any other
aspect of a small business, a website's ultimate goal should be to spur
potential consumers to action. Whether that action is a sale, an online
query or something else is determined by the business's goals, but
either way, the website needs to lead consumers into taking some form of

While this may seem easier said than done for many small
business owners, the truth of the matter is that investing in a
high-quality, easy-to-navigate Web design can ultimately be every bit as
important as (if not even more so) investing in SEO and other forms of
marketing that drive traffic to the site in the first place.

Basic Choices
a successful website that will generate leads begins with choosing a
design that is visually engaging to the audience and logically guides
them to the call to action in a clear and direct manner.

Web development agency Fusion 360 recommends
making a minimalist site that is easily scanned by readers, as most Web
content is browsed rather than read word-for-word. This entails
avoiding the creation of text-heavy pages that can quickly become
overwhelming to Web browsers (particularly mobile users) who are trying
to access desired information as quickly as possible.

All text
should be clear and concise in helping consumers understand how a
company's product or services meet their needs while simultaneously
guiding them through the conversion process. This includes making calls
to action clear and direct. It doesn't help to use over-the-top, hyped
language that doesn't adequately address a potential customer's

Stylistic choices should also remain consistent
throughout the site, allowing for easy navigation. Different areas of
the site should be clearly labelled, and navigation menus should be
placed logically so users can get where they want to go. Generally
speaking, the most important information should be placed "above the
fold"--or near the top of the screen, before a user would need to scroll
down to view more content.

Including a search option is another
important consideration that can help users more easily find the content
they are seeking. The easier a website is to use and navigate, the more
likely users will follow through on the site's call to action,
generating sales leads and other actions that fulfill the site's

Other Conversion Tools
Beyond these Web design basics, other useful features can make a big difference when properly implemented. Business 2 Community recommends utilizing such features as customer reviews, offering live chat customer assistance, and email capture services.

benefit of such features stems from the additional ease-of-use provided
to customers. For example, enabling customers to leave reviews of
particular products builds a sense of trust and transparency that makes
potential consumers more confident in their purchase (just look at how
much Amazon relies on customer reviews for its successful business

Providing live chat assistance can also help when
customers have questions or concerns that they want addressed
immediately while browsing the site, but small businesses should be sure
they have the resources available to such a feature before fully
implementing it on a site.

Email capture helps deal with the
surprisingly common problem of "cart abandonment"--or users filling an
online cart with items, then leaving the site before actually completing
the purchase. Widgets such as Rejoiner enable email capture of these
uncompleted transactions, which then allows for business owners to email
customers to remind them of it (hopefully prompting the sale to
actually take place).

Experimentation and Testing
while an initial design and its accompanying features may appear to get
the job done properly, adapting to current Web design trends is a must
for a company's site to remain relevant and useful to consumers. What
was popular in 2010 is not necessarily still the best choice for 2015.
Before even launching a site, it is recommended to invest in A/B testing to determine which of two competing designs will ultimately yield the best results.

not every small business will have the budget to perform extensive A/B
testing on website designs, every company should test their site before
launch to ensure that it truly is going to be effective in leading
consumers to take the desired action.

The more testing that can
be done prior to a website launch, the better. These tests can allow
designers to identify which elements of a site's layout are not
appealing to users, and where improvements can be made to better enable a
smooth user experience. What may seem like a great idea while in
development may ultimately not provide the best functionality for users.

after a website has been successfully launched, businesses would be
wise to stay up-to-date on the constantly changing trends of the
industry. User experience continues to evolve (as the rise of
smartphones has already demonstrated), and design and layout changes
will likely be a future necessity to ensure the continued effectiveness
of a site.

Be sure and visit our small business news site.

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